August 30, 2015

O-H-I-O! My home state by TC Booth

Ohio is known as the heart of it all, is nestled between Lake Erie and the Ohio River. Ohio is the Iroquois Indian name for “good river”. Pretty awesome.
We experience all four seasons in Ohio and offer something to do in each. Expect to see Amish buggies no matter the season as Ohio has the largest Amish population of any state. Snuggle up at a cozy bed and breakfast in Berlin, Ohio after spending a day visiting the many unique shops featuring Amish made products. 
My favorite being the Berlin Village Gift Barn. Oh, and don’t forget to stop in at one of the many restaurants for some homemade Amish cooking.

The island life is for me. One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to take a ferry across Lake Erie to Kelley’s Island. The quaint little Island harbors the most complete glacial grooves in the country. Nature’s masterpieces don’t end there.
The north side of the island provides beautiful parks and beaches. You can boat or fish on one of nature’s Great Lakes, or just soak up the sun on its sandy beach.

Did you know Ohio has the largest performing arts center outside of New York? Yep, it’s true. The Playhouse Square in Cleveland hosts a diverse array of entertainment for all tastes.

Best of all, we are the home of the Cleveland Cavaliers! I frequent Quicken Loans Arena during basketball season to watch LeBron, Kyrie, Kevin Love, and all the other awesome Cavs

I just touched on my favorite things to do in my home state. There’s so much more. I hope you come visit and discover all that Ohio has to offer. No matter what story I’m writing, my home state influences the setting of the story. 

Leave a comment to be randomly selected to win a digital signed copy of my new young adult novel, To Be Honest.

TC Booth was born and raised in a small town in Northeast Ohio where she currently teaches. She lives with her husband and four children ranging in ages from 13-23. Her pets include one dog named Sammy, and two cats- Sheldon and Sasha.

TC Booth views books as the best form of entertainment and her escape for life’s stresses. She prefers reading a book over watching a movie, and writing over almost any other way to spend her time.
When not attending her children’s sporting events and running them around, you’ll see her writing on her laptop, iPad, and even jotting ideas down on her phone apps.
She enjoys the escape from the adult universe into the adolescent world. The passion in which young people experience life is contagious and the driving force of her writing.

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(All info provided by author)

August 23, 2015

GREETINGS from North Dakota and Author Aeryn Traxx

I’m not a native of the state but am very pleased to call this place home for the past 18 years. It’s true we only have two seasons up here- winter and NOT winter. But honestly the state is beautiful no matter what day of the year you might want to drop in. We are one of those states hip deep in history. You can’t go more than a few miles before you see one of those little signs “point of interest straight ahead”. I’ve been waiting for them to put one of those at the end of my street but I think they lost my request to be a point of interest. Teddy Roosevelt had a huge impact on the state during his lifetime. When not in the white house or traveling abroad he was in or around North Dakota and his two ranches. “It was here the romance of my life began” is supposed to be a quote about his love of this state. We owe a great debt to Teddy and even today we have the town of Medora that is only open during the summer. It has a dinner show and a very quaint atmosphere. It’s not hard to imagine what life was like back before running water. Our primary source of income these days is oil but we’ll always have Teddy’s legacy to share when the well runs dry.
We are also the epicenter of some really amazing scientific finds. A few years ago we were fortunate to find the first “Dino Mummy”. They named him “Dakota” and he was featured on all the NatGeo channels. For nearly a year everyone was abuzz about the first and only dino autopsy. Since then more and more fossils have been unearthed giving scientist valuable data about what dinosaurs REALLY looked like. I’m not sure there will ever be a definitive answer about what they looked like as each generation of explorers
find more and more clues but it is exciting to be in the middle of all the discoveries.

In addition to all the official accolades we also have the unofficial ones of being the state with the most car farms and abandoned farm houses. I’m sure we’re going to end up on some vintage car TV show or pickers delight hour with all the treasures we have hidden in the overgrown brush. It was the prospect of what I could find in an abandoned farm house that gave me the idea for my book “The Ghost Story”. Between General Custer’s old home front and a leaning three story farm house at the end of a dusty dirt road I found while exploring my characters sprang to life.

I have incorporated the sights and smells in my book hoping to convey some of what I was lucky to experience. Beeswax and polish smells from the antique wood stairwell transported me for a short time back to the olden days when candles were made out of tallow and laundry hung on the line to dry. I hope I have made you all curious about my state and how I have added a touch of the past in “The Ghost Story” at the Barnes and Noble online Nook bookstore. A sequel is in the works and should be in the
Barnes and Noble bookstore in December 2016.

Bio: Aeryn Traxx writes gay romance with a hint of the paranormal. Along with three dogs and a life partner she has put roots down in small town North Dakota, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the big city. After a lengthy break from writing Aeryn is back and hopes to have a follow–up novel ready for fans of “Were is He” by 2016.
Aeryn gives two journal pen and pencil gift sets to the lucky people who comment and win the draw!  Good luck!
(all info provided by author)

August 16, 2015

Marni Graff-Lesser Known Parts of North Carolina

Most people think of the Outer Banks beaches when they conjure up an image of North Carolina: Kitty Hawk and the Wright Brothers Memorial; lazy days spent surfing, sunning, fishing and boating; Blackbeard, Virginia Dare and the Lost Colony. I live in an area called the Inner Banks, on a river that’s part of the Intracoastal Waterway. Every day I see Great Blue Heron, deer, osprey, and the occasional black bear. It’s the perfect retreat for a writer!

But North Carolina is so much more than its coast. A long, narrow state of close to 54,000 square miles, NC is usually described in three distinct areas. There’s the 2/5 of coastal plain that contains the Inner and Outer Banks; the middle Piedmont 2/5, with gentle rises giving way to rugged hills; and the 1/5 Mountain area, containing the southern Appalachians, Blue Ridge and Great Smokey Mountains.

The lesser-known Piedmont area contains the Research Triangle, cities such as Raleigh and Charlotte, a banking and commerce hub, and many of the state’s most noted colleges and universities and their sports teams, including UNC Chapel Hill’s Tar Heels and Duke’s Blue Devils, whose rivalry can split families in two.

The mountains, whose furniture shops are world-renowned, provide amazing vistas, a hub for the arts and crafts of the Carolinas, are home to one of my personal favorites sites: The Biltmore Estate.

Built by George Vanderbilt starting in 1889 after acquiring extensive property, it took six years to complete the 250-room French Renaissance Chateau. When George died in 1914, his widow Edith sold 87,000 acres of forestry surrounding the estate to the U. S. Forestry Service for less than $5 an acre, guaranteeing unspoiled nature for generations to enjoy. The house remains on 8,000 acres, and now contains a successful winery started in 1971, as well as an Inn and Cottage for overnight stays. There are restaurants and tours of the house, in all its glory, guided and unguided. My favorite is the Upstairs-Downstairs tour, which shows the house from the viewpoint of the butler and housekeeper and describes the grand parties given. There are extensive grounds and gardens, hay rides, and tours of the winery, too.

In 2012, The Biltmore received the Asheville GreenWorks Hall of Fame Award for environmental stewardship for its work with solar arrays and its tree protection project.

Famous North Carolinian’s besides everyone’s favorite Andy Griffith include Ava Gardner, Roberts Flack, Charles Kuralt, Edward R. Murrow and Thelonious Monk. It’s state bird is the cardinal and state flower the dogwood. And that nickname the “Tar Heels?” The exact truth is unknown, but most folklorists believe its roots come from the fact that tar, pitch and turnpentine/ created from its vast pine forests, were some of
North Carolina's most important exports early in the state's history. For a time after the Civil War, the name Tar Heel was derogatory, but it was later affectionately appropriated by the people of North Carolina.
I hope the next time you think of visiting one of our wonderful states, you’ll consider my adopted home of North Carolina! There’s something for everyone in the Tar Heel State.

Marni Graff is the author of the award-winning Nora Tierney Mysteries set in England. Her newest is DEATH UNSCRIPTED, the first Trudy Genova Manhattan Mystery. Leave a comment and one lucky winner will be chosen to receive a signed copy.

(all info provided by Marni Graff)