October 4, 2015

A Hidden Charm of Coastal South Carolina by C. Hope Clark

My mystery settings are in South Carolina, period. Nowhere else. Loving this state like I do, having visited and worked in every single of the 46 counties, I can talk it because I’ve walked it. So my protagonists do, too. But recently I received a huge challenge from my publisher. Write a new series.
My Carolina Slade series takes place in various rural reaches of this beautiful state: Edisto Island, St. Helena Island, and Pelion . . . so far. I was ready to jump into two more books in Newberry and Pickens, near my alma mater Clemson University, both gorgeous areas with fantastic culture, tales and ghosts to draw from, but this time the publisher wanted an entire series set in one locale. That meant it had to be unique, and special, and not the cliché of Charleston, Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head.
I knew it had to be Edisto Beach.
Edisto has no franchises, no neon, no traffic, and you’ll never find a taxi. Forty-five minutes from Charleston, in the direction of Savannah, this tucked away beach has become a mecca getaway to many. The visitors always come back, and some have ritually frequented this obscure piece of paradise for many years.

The grand majority of rentals are homes, not motel rooms. Every block has public access to the beach. The restaurants are mom and pop, and the grocery store runs out of bread all the time.

Big Bay and Scott Creeks discretely divide the scythe-shaped beach from the much larger Edisto Island providing the coastal residents a sense of seclusion. The natives have left another life behind to settle where it doesn’t matter what you do, who your family is, or where you were born. But the Southern is still there, steeped rich and proud, and you accept it when you cross the bridge.

Plantations still exist on the island, some dating back to the 1700s. Wildlife of deer, gators, raccoon and more still commands the marshes and wooded areas, and the birdlife of egrets, terns, herons, pelicans and gulls is rivaled nowhere else in the country. Sea island cotton created some of the wealthiest Southern landowners pre-Civil War, and Gone With the Wind’s Tara had nothing on the ante-bellum era of Edisto. 

Edisto heals, relaxes, and welcomes you to reconnect with nature from dolphin watching to kayaking, from bike trails to salt-water fishing from sand or boat deck. No night clubs, and they prefer your porch lights stay off at night so as not to confuse the hatching Loggerhead turtles. 

My character Detective Callie Jean Morgan loses her husband and daughter, and returns to Edisto to heal and come back to life. As in any good mystery, she does not achieve that end as she had hoped. Murder follows her, and she must dig deep, reclaim her investigative skills, and capture a killer before he nails her. She has her son to safeguard, her sanity to reclaim . . . as well as the entire population of Edisto Beach to protect, because Edisto has a reputation, a history, and a way of life that deserves saving. 

And and exciting prize: C. Hope Clark offers her newest release, Edisto Jinx.  Leave a comment and contact info in case you’re the winning draw! 

C. Hope Clark: 
Murder on Edisto is C. Hope Clark’s debut book in her second mystery series, The Edisto Island Mysteries. A lover of all things South Carolinian, she’s Southern through and through and lives half the year on fresh water Lake Murray, and half the year on salty Edisto Beach. She is also editor of FundsforWriters.com, chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers, for the past 14 years. Her educational newsletters for writers reach forty thousand readers each week, and she has freelanced for Writer’s Digest, The Writer, Writer’s Market, Guide to Literary Agents, Turf Magazine, Landscape Management and more. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com

September 27, 2015

The Ocean State-Visit Rhode Island with Kelly Kittel

I live in the Ocean State on an island now-named Aquidneck but originally called Rhode Island. Most folks know us as the smallest state in America but it’s a little-known fact that, conversely, we have the longest name—The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Rhode Island is comprised of over thirty islands and my island is the one to which our title refers. In our unique Constitution, we’re guaranteed the right to access our 400 miles of coastline to swim, fish, gather seaweed, and as passage to the sea. As Rhode Islanders, it is also our individual right to dig our toes in the sand daily and collect one-half a bushel of our state shellfish—the quahog


I am part fish. I grew up floating and swimming in the Atlantic for many hours of each summer day. Second Beach in Middletown  remains my favorite place to swim. Even in winter, when sculpted snow defines the tideline and ice floats offshore, I return to the sea. Once a month, with one or two friends, I head for Surfer’s End and immerse myself in my salty home. The first minutes are painfully cold, but our motto is, “Once you’re in, you’re in.” As our bodies adjust, it’s both refreshing and exhilarating. We swim out and into Purgatory Chasm, a giant glacial cleft in the rocky shore some ten feet wide and fifty feet deep.  We don’t stay long, but our return to the sea feels necessary. It’s positively addicting.

We have in our blood the same percentage of salt that comprises the ocean. We sweat salt water and cry salty tears. Our bodies contain the same two-thirds percentage of water that covers our Earth. We are tied to the ocean and when we visit, we greet ourselves. The daily pushing and pulling of the tides mimics our own cycles, defining our human existence. Raised on my island, I’ve since traveled the world and lived in many other places. But I’ve never been far from the sea.

I spent much of my career working as a fish biologist but for the past decade I’ve been undergoing metamorphosis into an author. All things oceanic are my favorite subject and when I need a break from writing, I swim. Isak Dineson wisely wrote, “I know of a cure for everything: salt water . . . in one way or the other. Sweat, or tears, or the salt sea.” Here in our Ocean State, we understand this viscerally.


Kelly gives a lucky person one hard copy of the 41N Magazine referenced in her blog post AND one guided tour of Purgatory Chasm with author by land or by sea when you visit Aquidneck Island! Leave a comment and contact info for your chance to win.

Bio: Kelly Kittel has completed her metamorphosis from a fish biologist who writes to an author formerly known as a fish biologist. She lives on Aquidneck Island with her husband and three of their five children. She has been published in a number of anthologies and magazines, including 41N in which she’s written articles about her favorite bi-valves—scallops and quahogs  Her first book, Breathe, a Memoir of Motherhood, Grief, and Family Conflict, was published in May 2014 and was an Award-Winning Finalist for the International Book Awards.

Kelly Kittel
Mom, Author, Part Fish

September 20, 2015

J. R. Lindermuth and His World of Pennsylvania

We’re often advised to write what we know. A majority of my stories and novels have been set in my home state of Pennsylvania, since it’s the territory I know best.
My Sticks Hetrick crime novels are set in a fictional town near Harrisburg, an area where I lived for 20 years. Much of my historical fiction takes place in the anthracite coal region, where I was born and raised and now live again.
Some might suppose the coal region a dismal area with little to attract visitors. In fact, tourism has become a major industry for many of our communities, focusing both on the history and resources for outdoors

For instance in the small community of Ashland visitors to the Pioneer Tunnel http://www.pioneertunnel.com/home.shtml can descend into a mine and learn how coal is mined and/or take a ride on a narrow gauge steam train. Just off the Pioneer property there’s a state-operated mining museum.

Then there’s Jim Thorpe (named for the Native American athlete who is buried in the community), which is even more focused on tourism http://jimthorpepa.com/. The town offers a variety of attractions: The Asa and Harry Packer mansions, the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway, tours of the old jail where a number of Molly Maguires were hanged, a butterfly sanctuary and a variety of unique shops and restaurants, as well as rafting on the river, mountain and trail biking, and hiking in the surrounding mountains.
Or you might go to Pottsville and tour Yuengling, America’s oldest brewery https://www.yuengling.com/over21/over21.php?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.yuengling.com%2F.

Had enough of history? The region is also home to Knoebels, America’s largest free-admission amusement park https://www.yuengling.com/over21/over21.php?referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.yuengling.com%2F. The park has more than 60 rides for adults and kids, an historic carousel, a swimming pool, golf course and camping facilities.

Care to just get back to nature? Ricketts Glen State Park http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/rickettsglen/ offers hiking (22 beautiful waterfalls along the trails); swimming, boating and fishing on Lake Jean; picnic facilities and camping.

A retired newspaper editor, J. R. Lindermuth is the author of 14 novels, including six in his Sticks Hetrick   crime series, and a non-fiction book about Pennsylvania coal mining history. He currently serves as librarian of his county historical society and writes a weekly column on local history for two newspapers. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and is vice president of the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

Comment for a chance to win a copy of A Burning Desire, latest in the Sticks Hetrick series.
(All info provided by Author)