December 21, 2014

THE WINNER OF THE 2015 END OF THE YEAR CONTEST IS:


CONGRATULATIONS TO: S. Buttaci
You stopped by in May during Ken Weene's segment and left a comment.
Ken Weene had the most comments during that month and 
His name was thrown into the hat.
Ken drew your name from the list of people who commented!

S. Buttaci, just because you stopped by and commented, 
you've WON the 2014 END OF THE YEAR CONTEST!! 

S. Buttaci and Ken Weene-CONGRATULATIONS TO BOTH OF YOU! 
You'll both be getting a hand selected gift from Fifty Authors from Fifty States Blog and me, Annette Snyder, creator of this blog. Check your emails for prize details.

A BIG THANKS to everyone for participating in my project during 2014 
and helping with its continued success.
Make sure to watch here during 2015 for more awesome reads, 
exciting contests from each guest blogger 
and your chance to win next years end of the year prize!




December 14, 2014

Bearlodge Writers of Sundance, Wyoming



With Wyoming being a state with many writers, one subject of my personal favorite, the cowboy, and a norm in fiction though there are many other genres written in Wyoming, I have a hard time filling that spot each year.

Here’s a call out to Wyoming residents involved in the writing industry, email me if you’d like to fill the Wyoming blog spot. Until then, I am more than willing to find your talent on my own, which is what I did for the blog this year with the Bearlodge Writers http://www.bearlodgewriters.com/index.html

Bearlodge Writers is open to those who are looking for a serious literary critique group to attend on a regular basis. We welcome all types of writing and writers at all levels. Our literary group welcomes all without regard to sex, religion, race, color, politics, brand of false teeth, and occupations other than writer.

And one member, of the many, I found particularly interesting is:

Patricia Frolander, who says, on her bio page:

 

I try to balance family, ranching, and writing and have a passion for each of them. My husband, Robert, and I own his family ranch in the Black Hills of Wyoming. Ties to land and livestock have provided a wonderful variety of subjects to journal and pen. Our family includes three children, seven grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, all of whom live close to the ranch. Managing family or ranching is like trying to rope the wind. In Wyoming, the wind is either bringing a storm or ushering in sunshine. I love the changes, although as I age, moderate weather is appreciated.

Winner of:
The prestigious National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum Wrangler Award 2011
Women Writing the West WILLA Literary Award 2012
High Plains Book Award Winner of Best Woman Poet 2012

You can find info on Patricia Frolander, and links to her work, and links to all the members work at the site for BearLodge Writers http://www.bearlodgewriters.com/index.html   
Definitely worth checking out and, if you’re a Wyoming resident looking for a critique group, worth a look as well.

And here’s some info about Sundance, Wyoming-
Nestled in the western part of the Black Hills, Sundance was established in 1879. Population in 2000 was 1161. Primarily an agricultural community, the population is increasing due to the mineral boom in nearby Campbell County. Its scenic beauty, low taxes, schools and hospital make this a sought-after area in which to live.
If you go to the Bearlodge Writers site, and investigate there, you’ll learn the link to a pretty famous outlaw.

I’m intrigued. That area of the USA is one of my favorites so I might have to take a visit to Sundance on my next trip to that neck of the woods. 

December 7, 2014

Lakes, Forests and Hills of Wisconsin by Fiona McGier



Wisconsin to me is the land of gorgeous lakes, forests and hills.  I'm a life-long Illinois-ance which I prefer over FIP, which is the acronym that some residents use to describe their southern neighbors who intrude into the state on weekends hoping for some peace and quiet, without realizing that their sheer numbers and propensity to head for the same places as everyone else, will make it impossible for anyone to find peace and quiet!

Any blurb on tourism in Wisconsin has to start with The Dells.  Mirror Lake State Park is just a short drive off of the highway in Baraboo, and a longer drive off the highway gets you to Devil's Lake State Park, with a fabulous lake with huge bluffs that offer spectacular views. Despite camping in Wisconsin for over 30 years, I've still never seen The Tommy Bartlett Water Show, though we did drive across the Baraboo River after the damn burst a few years ago and drained the lake the water show is held on. Husband and I "did the Dells" by ourselves first, by camping at Rocky Arbor State Park, just 5 minutes from the action.  Paying only $12 per night to camp there allowed for us to have more money to spend at Noah's Ark Water Park, and in the local restaurants.  Of course you're right next to the highway, so you'll be "lulled" to sleep by the sound of semis all night.  But we enjoy sleeping in our own bed at night, which is why we own a pop-up. When we took all 4 kids up there with us, we blew the vacation budget in   They wanted to go to the water parks and the amusement parks, as well as to do the boat tour to see the Dells, which are rock formations along the river.  We've never ridden the Ducks, vehicles designed to navigate on water and land, but they're quite popular. And some of the lodges up there have indoor water parks, so you can enjoy the combination of indoor amenities with even winter outdoor sports.
one day.

The other big tourist area is Door County, which we've never been to. A friend of mine spends 2 weeks at Peninsula State Park every year with her family. She loves the beaches which have events like bonfires and sing-alongs for the kids, as well as excellent swimming.  She also loves the nearness to the town chock-full of places she enjoys visiting, like antique shops, book stores and movie theaters.

My family prefers to be off the beaten path a bit more. Beginning with those closest to the southern border, we've enjoyed doing weekend trips up to Wyalusing State Park, on the southwestern corner, where the hiking trails take you along the bluffs overlooking the confluence of the Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers.  During the fall the colors can be spectacular, and when you're up high, you're looking at Iowa on the other side.  There are even some caves to explore. 

Governor Dodge State Park was referred to by our kids as "our second home" when they were younger, since we went there so often for weekends.  There are two lakes with beaches.  One of the lakes has a concession stand there that rents boats and canoes, and sells ice cream and park souvenirs.  There are trails running through the entire park, which is huge, and we've hiked along bluffs, ledges, and up and down hills, as well as on the more level forested trails.  The town of Dodgeville is very close, and the best A and W restaurant is near the park, with carhops who still come out to deliver your food! 

Kettle Morraine South State Forest is near Eagle, Wisconsin, on the southeastern side of the state.  We drive through the area around Lake Geneva to get up there.  We've never stayed in the towns around there, since it's too crowded for us.  But there are many lodgings and beaches up there. The town of Eagle has the Hen House, with the very best breakfast we've ever been lucky enough to find so near a campground. There is also a Kettle Morraine North State Forest, a bit further north, with very nice, quiet camping and great hiking trails.


In the north-central part of the state is the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest, with 14 campgrounds, offering the perfect places for any tastes and budgets. This is near Minocqua, which is smaller than the Dells, but still with various amenities including a Paul Bunyan restaurant.  Fishing and other water sports are the big draw up to this area.  I love it up there so much I used it as the setting for one of my books: Two For Tuesday. 

 
 Drive up to the northern-most tip of the state, to the town of Bayfield, and you're in a quaint tourist town.  But we went up there to ride the ferry, complete with our camper, to the biggest of the Apostle Islands, Big Bay State Park.  The sites are private and wooded, and the pristine beach has a beautiful bay with very shallow water that manages to get quite warm from the sun, despite being a part of Lake Superior, truly the coldest lake I've ever jumped into.
called Madeleine Island, to camp at the

Head back onto the mainland and you're near Copper Falls State Park, which has a gorgeous waterfall with trails on either side of it.  Take a drive to Amnicon Falls State Park for more splendid hiking and take a lot of pictures.  Warn the kids to look out for black bears.  You probably won't see any, unless you're Pattison State Park, with the biggest waterfall east of the Mississippi.  There are actually two waterfalls along the hiking trail: Big Manitou Falls and Little Manitou Falls.
camping there, but it's fun to watch them being extra-alert and hopeful. Then on the northwestern corner of the state is

Head south and east a bit, to camp at Brunet Island State Park, which has camping right on the lake, on the island, allowing you to fish from right your site. During the day, take a drive along the Chippewa River to Chippewa Falls, and you can take a tour of the Leinenkugel Brewery.
(http://www.wisconsinbeautiful.com/northern-wisconsin-tourism/leinenkugels-historic-brewery-tour-chippewa-falls-wisconsin.html) Then on your way back, stop and have dinner at one of the supper clubs along the river. When you get back to your site, sit in your chair and enjoy the peace and quiet as the moon and stars are reflected off the lake. 

Obviously I've only mentioned a few of the parks we've enjoyed over the years.  I urge you to go visit the state website and find a place that's perfect for you. (http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/findapark.html)


I invite readers to come visit my website, to learn more about my work www.fionamcgier.com 
For those who leave a comment here, I'm offering a free autographed paperback (to residents in the USA--if other country, will get eBook) of my latest erotic romance, which is set in Minnesota and called Only One Man Will Do.    I'll choose a winner at random from the people who comment-Good Luck!
As an added note, the state of Wisconsin just created an app for smart phone users that includes GPS mapping for places to hunt and fish, game species identification, severe weather alerts and lots more, including ways to stay in touch with family/friends while outdoors via sharing your apps.  Users can access maps and save them for later, when they won't have internet connection anymore.  To find out more, visit: dnr.wi.gov and search "mobile apps."
(All pictures and info provided by author)