August 17, 2014

Author Sheila Webster Boneham is Walking Southeastern North Carolina

I’m a walker. In the best of times, I walk three to six miles a day. I developed the habit a few years ago when we were still living in Indiana where my Animals in Focus mysteries are set, and I’ve mostly kept at it since we moved to North Carolina in 2009. I walk “unplugged”—no music, phone in pocket for emergency only. I walk for exercise, to clear my mind, to feel my environment, and—yes—to work out problems with plots, characters, pacing, and other elements of whatever I’m writing at the time.
I live in Wilmington, a beautiful city in the “lower Cape Fear” corner of southeastern North Carolina. Although many people come to Wilmington and neighboring towns for the beautiful Atlantic beaches, Wilmington was and remains a river town with a rich, complex, and sometimes disturbing history. Luckily for me, this area is also rich in beautiful places to walk in a variety of natural and developed habitats.
One of my favorite places to walk is Airlie Gardens, a sixty-seven acre private garden that dates back to 1867. With my annual membership, I visit the garden several times a week, and no two walks are ever quite the same. The gardens, of course, change as the blooming seasons take us from camelias to azaleas to saucer-sized magnolias, and the annuals bloom and die, and the perennials blossom in their turns. One thing that doesn’t change much, though, is the grand old Airlie Oak, a massive five-hundred year old live oak tree dripping with Spanish moss.

On one side, Airlie borders the saltwater marshes and open channel of Bradley Creek, which links directly to the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway and, from there, to the ocean. Airlie is a birdwatcher’s paradise, and one of the highlights is the osprey pair who nest high above the marsh’s edge. A freshwater lake meanders through the center of the gardens, and it’s a rare walk that doesn’t include views of Great and White Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Red-headed Woodpeckers, and many other birds. On warm days, oodles of turtles sun themselves on logs in the lake, and occasionally you might glimpse one of the non-venomous snakes that live in the gardens. Every time I walk there, I think that a fictional garden like Airlie would be the perfect setting for a novel.Another of my favorite places to stroll and unwind is the New Hanover County Arboretum, Although only seven acres, the grounds of the arboretum include a large pond alive with waterlilies, papyrus, water hyacinths, and other water plants, and a big school of humongous koi who love to be fed from the fish-food vending machine. A small bog garden winds along one edge of the property, and I love to walk there among the dragonflies. At the back of the arboretum, a Japanese garden, complete with tea house and Zen garden, provides a peaceful retreat.
Finally, and first, I love to walk on the beach and along the salt marshes, especially on the two islands that make up the town of Wrightsville Beach, just east of Wilmington. The best times to walk there are, I think, early morning and just before sunset. The many birds of the coast are busy, and if I’m very lucky, I’ll see dolphins leaping beyond the surf line. I can’t think of anything more calming, or inspiring, than that.

Sheila Webster Boneham writes, among other things, the Animals in Focus mystery series published by Midnight Ink and featuring 50-something animal photographer Janet MacPhail, her Australian Shepherd Jay, and her orange tabby Leo. Book 1, Drop Dead on Recall (2012) was named Best Fiction Book of 2013 by the Dog Writers Association of American and a Top Ten Dog Book by NBCPetside. The Money Bird (2013) continues Janet’s adventures into amateur sleuthing with the help of her friends, and Catwalk, the third book in the series, will give Leo and his ilk a bigger share of the spotlight this fall. Sheila is also the award-winning author of seventeen nonfiction books about dogs, cats, and animal rescue. Sheila’s books are available from all the usual sources, and personally autographed copies can be ordered from Learn more at, or connect on Facebook at and 
Sheila Offers a Prize to one Lucky Person Who Comments:A Sheila Webster Boneham Autographed book of winners choice to one poster.  Include your email for contact info in your post. Visit her website to check out all her work!
(All info provided by author Sheila Webster Boneham)

August 10, 2014

From the Boring to the Bizarre with Justine Goldberg of New York

For a long time I believed my suburban New York City upbringing to be among the most boring imaginable. In a lot of ways, it was. Nothing much ever happened—nothing of note, anyway. At any given moment, I feel confident that all is as I left it. Life in that place is relentlessly unchanging.

It took the magic of distance (twelve years and 2,000 miles, to be exact) and the insight afforded by my writing to make me realize finally that this static, stale lifelessness that I always perceived and despised is in fact the source of my creative vision.

I write short stories primarily and those stories tend to be pretty strange. I shy away from realism, tending instead towards the extraordinary. I always have. These are the images that come to me: real people living real lives in which unreal things happen. Sometimes the unreal is merely unfamiliar; other times, downright bizarre. A lonely woman’s possessions disappear; a loser is driven mad by his inability to access an aspirin; a father trades in his child for a better model. I’m working on a collection now that explores mental abnormality in its many guises.

I admire writers like Kevin Brockmeier, Aimee Bender, Paul Auster and Marilynne Robinson whose creative work successfully marries what is of this world with what is not.  Because that’s what’s interesting to me: the stuff that lies between.

Would I favor the fantastic in my fiction if my upbringing had been fantastical? I doubt it. In writing, we seek out what we lack and, if we’re lucky, are rewarded with what we need.

About New York
One of the many things I love about New York is that it’s bursting with resources and opportunities for writers. Here are just a few.
About the Author
Justine Tal Goldberg is an award-winning writer and editor of both fiction and nonfiction. Her work has Anomalous Press, Whiskey Island, The Review Review, Publishing Perspectives, The Texas Observer, and other publications. She lives in New York City where she owns and operates WriteByNight, a writers’ service dedicated to helping writers achieve their literary goals.

Visit Justine's webhome:

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(All information provided by author)

August 3, 2014

New Mexico for Unusual Historicals--Jeannine D. Van Eperen

I do not currently live in New Mexico nor was I born there, but to me New Mexico is always the place I think of as home. Why do I? You may wonder. I ask myself the same question. Perhaps it is because my family lived there for many years. I attended the University of New Mexico. I think it is interesting that a nephew, a niece, my son and I all had the same professor for an Anthropology class. My son was born in Albuquerque as were most of my nieces and a nephew. My entire family including my sister, brother, a cousin and her family followed us to Albuquerque and we spent weekends together exploring the wonderful beautiful mountains, small lake areas, interesting towns such as Taos, Santa Fe, Truth or Consequences and places like Inscription Rock not far from Grants.

New Mexico is often the setting for many of my romance novels. I’ve written some modern romances as well as several historical. Set during the Great Depression of the 1930s  is Rose of the Rio Grande . Daughter of Spain that takes place during the first settling of Santa Fe. Daughter of Spain is the book of my heart and I am very proud of it. It is set in the time of the Conquistadors and the Inquisitions of Spain. It is about people who are trying to make a new life. I pride myself on the books authenticity.

For those who wish to visit beautiful, historic New Mexico, I usually advise not to stick to the big highways, but take some of the smaller roads and byways. To get from Albuquerque to Santa Fe, for instance, don’t take the freeway but drive through the Sandia Mountains to the east of Albuquerque, and while you are at it, drive up to the top of Sandia Peak before heading on to Santa Fe to see the interesting sights the capitol city has to offer, and it has many.  While you are in New Mexico try a Chili Cheese Burger at a Blake’s Lotta Burger. If you are anything like me and my family you’ll go back for more. In fact while writing this, I must have had a senior moment. I couldn’t think of Blake’s. I sent out an email request to my family and all answered in minutes with Blake’s.
New Mexico lives up to its Land of Enchantment nickname in many ways. Visit and you’ll see.
My books set in or partially in New Mexico are: Highway to Love, Interlude; Rose of the Rio Grande, No Escape from Love, You Can Bank of it, Golden Rod and Daughter of Spain. Wydecombe Manor, I believe could be regarded as unusual is a historical romance set in the present and in 14th century England. My website features all my 25 books as well as reviews by me on other writers’ works. Please visit my site
(all info provided by author)