July 20, 2014

Revisit New Hampshire with Nora LeDuc

Buckle your seat belts,  get ready for a road trip. You’re in New Hampshire, the land of Live Free or Die.  Begin your adventure in Portsmouth, or Strawbery Banke, as it was once named in the 1600s during the charm of days long past. In 1774, Paul Revere rode to Portsmouth warning that the British were coming. These days, Portsmouth has something for everyone. Choose a restaurant on the water, sit on the deck and enjoy the food and cool breeze.  Watch the ships passing in the harbor. Walk through the square to find quaint shops. Visit the Children’s Museum or stroll through the preserved Strawbery Banke Museum and be transported back to another era. Across the street is beautiful Prescott Park which sits on ten acres of flower
gardens, walkways and grass areas all designed for public use. In the summer enjoy the trial garden, planted with over 500 flower varieties. In the evenings, sit under the stars and enjoy a play or a musical presentation.                                                                
Head west to Manchester, the largest city. The Red Arrow Diner is open 24 hours so you’re never too early or too late for a meal. Catch a ball game at Fishercats Stadium, a Double-A affiliate of the Toronto Blue Jays major-league club and then watch the fireworks. They’re as good as the fourth of July. The stadium is located in the Mill yard, once a thriving textile center owned by the Amoskeag Manufacturing Company and now the home of restaurants, a science museum and upscale apartments. One of my main characters in Pick up Lines for Murder lives in the Mill Yard.
A northerly direction leads to the Lakes Region. Drive through Concord, the State Capitol and stop for an educational tour of the State House. The New Hampshire State House is the only state capitol whose legislature still sits in its original chambers-no small feat, since the 424 member New Hampshire General Court is the largest state legislative body, and the third largest legislature among English-speaking peoples. After a quick tour, head for Weirs Beach in Laconia and hop on the Mount Washington for a tour of Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire. Once on board, catch a glimpse to the north of the White Mountains. John Greenleaf Whittier, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne Hawthorne are a few poets inspired to write about the beauty of the Mountains.  Those same mountians inspired me to make them home to my hero in Murder by Heart
The cruise lasts about three hours but, for a shorter ride, catch one of the mail boats. The Captian stops along the way deliver mail direct to New Hampsire's local residents. 
A native New Hampshirite, I love books and thanks my family and Memorial High School English teachers.
Exposed to a wide variety of literature, I never planned on becoming a writer. When I began reading romances at a late age I was working two part time jobs in the field of education, taking a course, and caring for my husband and two children.

As if I didn’t have enough to do, I looked for  an entertaining diversion. During a visit to a book store, I discovered the romance section. I devoured every historical by Johanna Lindsey, Julie Garwood, and Amanda Quick then expanded into contemporaries.
My life changed when I found a world of romance on the Prodigy Romance Board in the early 1990s. There, I learned about Romance Writers of America and became a member.
I realized  authorship was my calling.

For another road trip adventure with Nora LeDuc or the characters in her novels, visit her website, www.noraleduc.com or find her on FaceBook.

July 13, 2014

Nevada Via the Alamo with Mary Jean Kelso

Who knew what trails our ancestors might blaze for us when they boarded ships abroad and sailed to America?

As for me, I have been a Nevada resident for eleven years, now. Yet, I knew my roots were in Texas -- a state I had never stepped foot in even though I had crossed it several times by train.

My career was created by my ancestors -- without my knowledge until the last couple of years. 

Reported by interviewers to be "prolific" I now see through research material linking me to William Jennings Bryan, who ran for U. S. president three times, which we have something in common. References state that he was "a prolific writer."

I have ties to the Alamo through my 2nd great-grandfather who was killed there during the battle. Giving me the opportunity to belong to the Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the Alamo Defenders Descendents Association. His son, Samuel K., my great-grandfather, was one of Captain Cady's First Mounted Texas Rangers. They did all the hard work and didn't live to know the glory. While I write western stores, previously unaware that it was my "calling" to do so.
I am sure I am an author due to inheriting the good ol' "stick-to-it-ive-ness of never giving up.

In honor of my relatives' sacrifices to build a state and a nation, my daughter, Wendy Whiteman, and I co-authored my one factual book.  A Visual History Record of Alamo Defender Gordon Cartwright Jennings’ Family released March 1 and introduced March 8 at the Alamo Society Symposium in San Antonio. It has its own Facebook page where it can be ordered through PayPal.

As a Nevada resident, I and my daughter make a yearly trip to Texas to honor the ancestors who did the really hard work at the hallowed grounds of the Alamo.
Since I am charged with writing about Nevada as a Nevada Author, I must fill in the blanks with why I see Nevada as similar to Texas.

While Texans are deeply Western in their lifestyle, there must be some competition as to which state is more "Cowboy" -- Nevada or Texas. I'm sure they must be close in their bragging rights to be Country.
I have been a journalist most of my life. Besides holding down a full-time job, and raising a family, I worked writing articles for newspapers and magazine while my true desire was to write fiction, Children's fiction. When that was nearly impossible to break into, I turned to Young Adult and had some success. (My first book, Mystery in Virginia City, has been reprinted 3 times and is now released as Goodbye Is Forever).

Even then, in 1984, my subconscious drew from historical senses while writing a contemporary story about Virginia City, Nevada. I set the story in the historic site and used the town's original locations for a backdrop.
Thousands of people who visit Nevada plan a side trip to the old town where Samuel Clemens transformed into Mark Twain. 

I was honored, at a book signing recently, to speak from Mark Twain's personal podium that was one of very few items to be saved from a church fire many years ago. Truly an honor in an author's journey!

If you come to Reno, Nevada, plan a visit to Virginia City. Gather you children and show them what life was like a hundred and fifty, or more, years ago. I believe it will make history come alive for them. I know it did for me.

I am convinced that growing up hearing about family history is what led me to write, naturally, about homesteading and pioneering. I enjoy imagining how the people would have moved about their daily lives when their activities, to us, are now so antiquated.

And, when you think about it, whether I set a story in New Mexico, Texas or Nevada, life wasn't that much different when you crossed the borders from one state, or territory, to another.

There is much to see in Nevada, whether it is a lively ghost town, like Virginia City, or ghost towns mostly inhabited by the spirits when the tourists return to evening entertainment in the casinos. 

Outdoor activities are abundant whether it is Lake Tahoe nearby or a hotel facade on Virginia Street in Reno that boasts one of the tallest climbing walls in existence. Museums are plentiful -- many geared to children.
River rafting and other sports are plentiful as well as hunting and fishing in season.

There is truly something for everyone in Nevada. Check this site for more information: http://www.travelnevada.com/.

Why did I title this piece "Nevada Via the Alamo"? I believe I had a grandmother that was as headstrong as I am. And, we are told, her grandmother, Catherine Overton Avery McCutcheon Jennings, was even more so. (She led the settlers away from Santa Ana's army that was coming to kill them.)
When things didn't work out for my grandmother's family in Texas, they hit the Chisholm Trail and headed to ranch in Montana. Leaving most of the Jennings/Williams relatives behind. Since my father worked for the railroad he transferred to various locations in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Eventually he moved his family to Oregon, where I was born and lived most of my life until moving to Nevada. 

Still, although I didn't have my feet on Texas soil until two years ago, when I did, it answered many questions for me. Questions like, "Why do I write Historical novels instead of Sci-fi?" "Why do historic buildings feel comfortable to me?" And, "Why do I so enjoy visiting these places?"
I suggest you look into your genealogy. What you write just might be in your genes.

Visit Mary Jean Kelso here:  http://maryjeankelsoauthor.wix.com/mjkel
(all info provided by author)

July 6, 2014

Visiting the Off-Road Avenues of Nebraska with Writing Talent:

Nebraska is Plains, that’s true.  It’s also hills and bluffs, rivers, freshwater ponds, all surrounded by communities full of great people.  With a new tourism slogan, “Nebraska Nice,” our state wishes to promote those things that bring the good life to, well, the good life of our state.  Going off the main interstate system is the easiest way to find our gems of ‘Nice.’
Along with the classic Nebraska Huskers, the new PBA in Lincoln and the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska has a lot to offer as far as tourism.  We also have ingenuity and historical writing talent.  Willa Cather is just one of a long list of authors who loved and lived here.  And, in this present day, we offer more.  

We begin our tour this year in Gage County with G. K. Fralin.
Author G.K. Fralin,  http://www.gkfralinbooks.blogspot.com, shares her inspiration.
The fact that we are away from the interstate allows people traveling along the two lane highways  to come close to historic sites, modern recreation, restaurants and architecture from years when beauty was as important as utility. 

Along Hwy 77 south of Lincoln, Nebraska the traveler sees signs leading to recreational lakes. In fact there are many natural lakes that are part of the Corps lakes, originally maintained by the army corps of engineers. All offer unique recreational and sightseeing opportunities.  Towns of Beatrice, Blue Springs and Wymore find parks like Chautauqua and Arbor State Park. Wymore is also the home of the Welsh Heritage Center.  Continuing on south from Wymore and turning west, watch for signs to Big Indian Lake with areas for camping, archery, boating, and easy to reach beach and swimming areas.

Starting from Tecumseh enjoy the scenery of well kempt farms and pasture lands. Watch for a sign on the south announcing Rockford Lake, popular with campers, boaters and fishing enthusiasts.
Passing through Beatrice, travelers can turn onto West Hwy 4 and visit the Homestead National Monument where they’re entertained with a real pioneer cabin.

 Heading back to Beatrice, visit the Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian churches with some of the most beautiful architecture of late nineteenth and early twentieth century, all of which are popular for weddings.
Many historic and attractive places invite the traveler to stop in and take a look. Towns like Cortland, Adams, Pickrell and Odell just start the list. 
While traveling Southeast Nebraska, don’t miss the scenic drives in the counties of Jefferson, Saline, Johnson, Nemaha, Richardson and Pawnee. Traveling off interstate affords the opportunity to maximize the experience of Southeast Nebraska. 

Travel northeasterly to Author, Annette Snyder’s small town home of Brainard, Nebraska and find that it lends plenty of inspiration for her novels and essays.

One spring day not long ago, she was driving somewhere and saw horses tethered to the band pavilion in the city park.  The horsemen, across the street at the local cafĂ©, rode in to grab a bite.  Where else but in a small, country town can you see that?  

And she’s seen cattle drives.  More prevalent when she was a kid living on the south edge of Brainard and farmers would drive their herd past her parent’s house in route to another pasture.  Occasionally she’d see that awesome cow parade now, as an adult. Sometimes, she only sees hints of such rallies on her weight maintenance walks around the section, deep divots in the gravel in hoof shapes, and she smiles.  Is it weird that she feels fortunate to see something so basic to country living?  

 Annette also enjoys the relationships reaped from living in a place where most peoplespent their entire lives.  They all know each other, maybe not well, but enough to greet a quick hello as they pass on the street and that happens every day.  A fast trip to the post office to grab the mail can take up to half an hour with a visit the postmaster and whoever happens to be there at the time.   If Annette drops in the local tavern for one quick glass of wine?  By the visiting with the owner, the bartenders, the farmer who just baled first cut alfalfa for the year or the man who owns that lovely property with the pond just outside of town, one of many places, it could be hours before she gets back home.  The Husker Bar is more than that.  It’s a local gathering place for anyone who wants to learn the newest in town—it’s like having a community center open sixteen hours a day.  If  help is needed  moving a piece of furniture or leaving a message for -insert name here-that’s one of the several businesses to search.  
Annette lives next door to an aunt, and a family who attended the same high school.  Her kids attended the same school, as did and her mom and her grandpa.  She also lives half a mile from her childhood home, a place her parents still reside.  From Brainard, she’s fortunate to live within an hour any direction from any of her four kids.  

Annette admits she misses the bigger cities.  The traffic, the noise, the few minute distance to movie theaters and fast food. Those conveniences were lost when she moved a twelve mile distance away from a grocery store.  Many times she considered moving back to the hustle and bustle but, doing that would lose the short drive to the children and small town atmosphere.  Besides, her house, the one purchased from her Great-Grandfather’s estate for $9000 twenty five years ago, is now from the wreck it was almost to the point she wants.  She’d have to start all over with a new house and someone else would live in her work of art.  Annette doubts she could seriously consider giving that up.  

Those are the cool, small town things that lend inspiration to Annette’s writing work. 
You can find everything on about that right here on this blog using the tabs or visit her website http://annettesnyder.atspace.com maintained by another aunt, thank you very much, who lives ten minutes away.  
Just for commenting on this post this week, visit Annette's site, pick a novel you'd like to read.  At the end of the week, Annette draws a name and contacts you! 
Then head southeast to Lincoln and visit Author, James Buehler’s world.
James says, ‘One of my favorite views of Lincoln is the drive down I-180 coming off I-80. You first see the Capitol building towering above the skyline. Then, one by one, Memorial Stadium, Haymarket Park, and the new centerpiece: Pinnacle Bank Arena all blend into view. It is an impressive site highlighting the entertainment Lincoln has to offer downtown. Combine these with many fabulous eating establishments, and any visitor will leave with warm memories and happy, smiling faces.’

James is currently working on part two of his five part Swords of B'ajj fantasy epic due out this fall. When Michele Wolfe is kidnapped, her brother Steve must use Pathfinder's ability to track her life essence before sacrificing their friend, Erin McNamara, to the villainous group led by Arsenal who needs her to rejoin their boss and take over the world.
While you're waiting for The Swords of B'ajj: Pathfinder, you can find part one, The Swords of B'ajj: Truthseeker, at these retailers: