October 15, 2017

Hi Y’all from Middle Tennessee-Linda Thorne

Tennessee is not where I was born, raised or even lived the longest, but Hermitage, a suburb of the state capital, Nashville, is where my husband and I relocated 10 years ago with plans to make this our final stop, our last hometown—our last hurrah.

 Since we are transplants, I’ll give you a quick update on where we’ve lived. I was raised in Arizona, my husband in Ohio. We’d both moved to Denver, Colorado where we met and married. Fifteen years later job opportunities took us to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, our first taste of Deep South living and the place I chose as the setting for my debut novel, Just Another Termination. After eight years on the Mississippi Gulf Coast another job opportunity took us to the Central Valley of California.

I worked in human resources at a manufacturing plant that was closing its doors at about the same time my husband’s job was ending. We knew we wanted to return to the South, but Hurricane Katrina had completely changed the Mississippi Gulf Coast we’d come to know. 

Okay, so where to begin about our life in the volunteer state? Do we start with Gatlinburg or perhaps Dolly Parton's Dollywood? We could hang out in downtown Nashville and take a ride on the Trash Nash tour bus, be entertained, drink wine, and visit places like the Country Music Hall of Fame or go down Broadway and stop in at famous honkey tonks like Tootsies. Buy Titans or Predators souvenirs. 
Take a trip down Printers Alley, go to the Ryman Auditorium or visit the Men's Room at the Hermitage Hotel (seriously, google it). On the edge of town let’s visit the Parthenon. Then there’s Music Row. So that's where Elvis cut his records. Going to the outskirts of town lets go to the Grand Ole Opry.

Ever hear of Granville, Tennessee? This bustling metropolis - population 424 or 15 people per square mile is an hour’s drive east/northeast of Nashville and has been compared to Mayberry, the fictitious community of the Andy Griffith show. Granville runs along the Cumberland River and will take you back to the 1800s. The main store is named T.B. Sutton that, although renovated, holds its old country store history and charm.

On the opposite side of Nashville, to the west, is the famous Loveless Café. The café serves southern style cooking, and is most famous for its biscuits and country ham. Carol Fay Ellison, locally known as “the biscuit lady”, showed off her southern cooking on many television programs. It's a hangout for celebrities many of whom have left signed photographs which are neatly displayed on the restaurant walls.

Our home in Hermitage is located between Nashville to our West and Mount Juliet to our East. The Nashville suburb was named after the plantation called The Hermitage, the historic mansion and grounds of our seventh president, Andrew Jackson. The mansion was restored and a museum added to this amazing 1120 acre estate. Below is a picture of the bridge in Hermitage over the Cumberland River along a couple of Fall Fest held at The Hermitage last year. I’m in an author’s tent in one of them.

While Nashville is also called the Music City because of its country singers, entertainers, and song writers, there’s also a huge writing community. We have the famous Killer Nashville International Writers’ Conference which I attend every year since 2009.
Below is a picture of me on one the author panels at Killer Nashville this past August.
We also have the Southern Festival of Books each October.  I felt fortunate to get assigned to an author panel.

And there’s more. Middle Tennessee has a Sisters in Crime chapter. I also discovered the Nashville Writers Meetup group, either the largest or close to largest one of its kind in the United States. Meetings on different aspects of writing occur almost every day. In 2011 this group used a blind selection process to gather short stories from members for a group anthology. I submitted six of my stories and four were selected and included in Soundtrack NOT Included published in 2012.

I didn’t know about the amazing network of authors when I first moved to Middle Tennessee. What a perk. The community facilitates writers, fosters their growth, and provides avenues to publication and success. All I can say is, Life is good in Middle Tennessee.

For those who comment, you will have a chance to win both Soundtrack NOT Included and Just Another Termination along with some mementos from the Nashville area. Leave a form of contact with your comment.

And here’s links to my work:

(all info provided by author)

October 8, 2017

The Redlin Art Center-Watertown, South Dakota.

This post isn’t about writing but it is about art and, after visiting this art museum with my dear friend Jodi, who’s wanted to visit since she fell in love with Terry Redlin’s work, I found that he paints like authors write.  He paints series, something I didn’t realize because I didn’t follow his work more than seeing it on calendars and such.  Jodi knew.  As a birthday gift to her this year, she and I piled into my car for an extended girls weekend and headed six hours south.  I don’t have a South Dakota volunteer this year but I took some great pictures of our girl’s trip and developed a crush for this painter's work. 

I didn’t buy a print, I bought wine, but Jodi was lucky enough to afford a couple of nice limited editions.  And she cried when she came upon the original work of her favorite of those during her stroll through the art center-so I had to snap a picture. 

A little about the Redlin Art Center https://redlinart.com : Charles Redlin wanted to preserve his father’s original oil paintings. He wanted everyone to be able to experience his father’s works in their original form. Charles developed a plan to collect and display these paintings in a public space. 25 years before the Redlin Center opened, he planted the seed: “I told Dad I wanted him to stop selling his originals,” said Charles. “I wanted a place to display them after he was gone.”

Since South Dakota sent Terry Redlin through art school on a scholarship for disabled students, he wanted to build it in Watertown as a gift to the state and the community.  Many of his pictures reflect his experience in Watertown. 

It’s a beautiful town.  They’ve restored much of the business district to original late 1800’s as well as the mansion of the first Governor of South Dakota.  Much wasn’t open when we walked around so our view was from outside, but they were statuesque buildings.   We could hear geese while walking so we jumped back in the car and drove until we reached this cute little pond with an island in the middle.  I don’t remember if the place had a name but there’s a Lion’s Club right on the shore.  It was early Sunday morning and that wasn’t open either.  We were really just killing time before the museum opened so we enjoyed a cruise around town just to see what was there.  

The town is full of water-- hence the name Watertown.  According to the US Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 25.04 square miles of which 17.45 square miles is land and 7.59 square miles is water. Watertown sits on the Big Sioux River and two major lakes, Lake Pelican and Lake Kampeska.  We stopped several times to hike over bridges.  There was also a very cool stone bridge in a park that I just had to drive over and, when we got to the museum, we found Terry Redlin did a painting with that bridge as well as other places in Watertown.  

The Redlin Art Center is one of the coolest museums I’ve been to.  Its design is beautiful.  Its three floors of original art by one artist, a theater that shows a really interesting piece about the artist and gift shops that were happy to see us.  I dropped good money on some locally made wine.  I recommend the Chokecherry and part of the purchase of that bottle went to Alzheimer’s research.   Jodi bought a couple of limited editions and, before we went, I researched the difference between prints, author proofs and limited editions.  

I also emailed the art center to make sure they had both author proof and limited edition of Jodi’s favorite because I felt if she traveled all that way, she ought to have something the guy actually signed.   We were probably the second getting to the art center at opening and they were closing up when we left—but they didn’t kick us out.  Big thanks goes out to the two women in the gift shop for helping us with the prints and to the other two or three patient enough to wait before they turned all the lights off upon closing at 4:00.  
On the way up to Watertown, we stopped at the Dam Fish Shack. https://www.facebook.com/Dam-Fish-Shack-134220576987287   It’s an interesting little outside place by Yankton right off the Lewis and Clark Reservoir and then also at Madison, another cute town. 

 On the way back, we made it as far as Crofton, Nebraska before we stopped at Jeanie’s Antique Store. http://www.jeannesantiques.com   We were the only ones there and one of the proprietors helped us find some cool old stuff.  

Every South Dakota person we encountered was wonderful and welcoming from the business people to others who happened to be near us at the time.  All in all a great weekend away, a dream fulfilled for Jodi and a bunch in between. 
(Some material downloaded from listed places websites and pictures provided by Annette)

October 1, 2017

Linda Nightingale of South Carolina

You can take the girl out of South Carolina, but I’m not certain you can ever take South Carolina out of the girl’s heart. I was born and raised in the red clay of a smaller town in the South Carolina Foothills.  Anderson is about halfway between Atlanta to the South and Greenville/Spartanburg to the North on I-85. Most people drive by never knowing it is there except for the highway signs. Or at least this used to be true.  Now Lake Hartwell ensures people stop for a day of swimming, boating, or sunbathing on the sandy beaches of the lake.  These beaches are man-made, hauling tons of sand to dump over the red dirt.
My favorite city, perhaps in the world, is Charleston.  Charles Towne as it was originally called was founded in 1685 by Charles II of England.  I’ve always had a special place in my imagination for this interesting monarch. Old Rowley sired many a bastard but never an heir to the throne.  Now famous for its rows of pastel houses and the famous homes facing the Atlantic on the Battery, Charles Towne once was the essence of its founder.  I set one novel in Charleston, and this charming city always seems to infiltrate every one since in some way.  In Charleston, says the hero, the seamy treads the Antebellum skirts of the historic inner city.

My favorite Charleston artist is Jim Booth, and I own his works of The Storm and Night Before the Storm which represents the Battery during Hurricane Hugo in 1989.  There were 27 fatalities of this storm in South Carolina alone. I visited Charleston months after Hugo hammered the coastal town, and the destruction was heartbreaking.

Charleston is rich in history.  In 1861, the first shot in the Civil War was fired in the Battle of Fort Sumter.  Confederate troops under Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard fired on Fort Sumter and the U.S Army retaliated.

South Carolina also boasts Myrtle Beach, an entertainment mecca both for its beach and its carnival-like atmosphere, and Hilton Head of golf fame.

Whether you like the mountains or the beach, South Carolina offers visitors and residents alike southern grace and charm coupled with modern industry, for example, the BMW plant in Spartanburg.
I now live in Texas and love the Lone Star State.  In my heart of hearts, I am still a South Carolinian.  The state motto is While I breathe I hope. And with that thought I’ll leave you to make travel plans to beautiful South Carolina.

The book set in Charleston is Sinners’ Opera, the hero of which is Morgan D’Arcy, an English lord, a concert pianist…and a vampire.  My latest release isn’t set in Charleston, but it stars Morgan in a collection of short stories chronicling his romantic adventures over the centuries.  Available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and The Wild Rose Press as well as other quality book sites, it is available in paperback and eBook.
After you’ve booked your travel, curl up with Morgan D’Arcy: A Vampyre Rhapsody and take a stroll through history.

 Reviewers have called Morgan:
 “…Morgan…is a tour de force of egotism, wit, sensuality, and talent…” ~Author Toni V. Sweeney
 “Morgan D’Arcy is a class act and the most arresting vampire I’ve ever encountered in literature or films.” ~ Historical and Paranormal Romance Author Beth Trissel

Blurb:  The greatest enemy of a vampire is boredom. Four centuries of existence have taught Lord Morgan Gabriel D'Arcy to fear nothing and no one. Humans and their weapons have little chance against his preternatural speed and arcane powers. Vampires are viral mutations of human DNA. Still, the Vampyre code requires secrecy, and he has learned to hide his nature from the world. The lure of mortality, of a life in the sun, puts Morgan again and again at the mercy of calculating human women though they fail to consider his charm and determination into the equation. However, even grooming a future bride from infancy proves to be fraught with heartbreak. And second chances are not always what they seem unless... you are Morgan. Immortality and beauty, aren’t they grand?

YouTube Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlbRLTFQUHE&feature=youtu.be
You can find me:
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/LNightingale - @Lnightingale
Web Site:  http://www.lindanightingale.com – Visit and look around. There’s a free continuing vampire story.
Blog:  https://lindanightingale.wordpress.com/ - Lots of interesting guests & prizes

Linda is giving away a PDF copy of Sinners’ Opera, set in Charleston, South Carolina, along with a signed bookmark and another signed bookmark from Morgan D’Arcy: A Vampyre Rhapsody. The connecting feature across the Obsession series is the hero Morgan D’Arcy.
(All Info Provided by Author) 

September 24, 2017

Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but our authors’ group is far from small, so says Author Julien Ayotte

In 2012, I released my debut novel, Flower of Heaven, and shortly thereafter  decided to attend a meeting of a newly formed group of Rhode Island authors-The
Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA).  Back then, we were about twenty-five authors strong.  Today, ARIA’s membership is closer to three hundred authors and still growing.  What works for you may not work for others.  The opportunity to share information among authors almost always leads to better writing, better marketing, and lifetime camaraderie with other authors.

While I live in the Ocean State, my home in Cumberland is actually fifty miles north of Narragansett and Newport, our premier ocean attractions.  The northern part of Rhode Island has a very colonial history with names like Roger Williams, Samuel Slater, and everything associated with the textile industry until the late 1960s.  Now, the old mills, what few that remain, have become condominium complexes, the last visible trace of a once thriving industry.

A Life Before

My wife and I moved into a new home in Cumberland in 2011, a one-story residence which needed a radon gas mitigation system because the level of radon gas emanating from the ground into our basement level was too high.  Then a thought came to me.  What if a devious contractor hid the threat of radon levels from prospective buyers and exposed them to the danger of lung cancer as a result of overexposure to this odorless gas.  At about the same time, I had been reading about factual accounts of reincarnation in India, and decided to see if I could combine the two events into one mystery thriller.  The result was quite satisfying and the ending quite startling.

The research required for the book involved extensive reading on radon gas and its effect on individuals who are overexposed to this gas emanating from basements left unsealed.  When I heard that over 20,000 people a year die of lung cancer from exposure to this gas, I was shocked.  The research on reincarnation was fascinating, especially the true accounts of Shanti Devi whose claims at being reincarnated could never be refuted, no matter how many attempts were made to do so.  Much of my research is included in some form in the novel to allow the reader to do his/her own follow-up if they choose to do so.  Most of the locations in my books are places my wife and I have been to over the years.  It allows me to take readers to places they wish they had been.  According to many readers, “You have taken me to places I wish I had been to, but now I feel like I’ve been there.”

I have always loved a good mystery, and have had the good foresight to solve ones I’ve read or seen before they are revealed to the readers or viewers.  This often upsets my wife who wonders how I do this.

What I enjoy most is when readers tell me how much they enjoyed my stories and that I deserve more recognition than I am getting.  That is quite flattering.  A Life Before has been cited by Jon Land, a USA Today bestselling author, as a work worthy of reading, remembering, and recommending.  US Review of Books and Apex Reviews called the novel a must read and a brilliant novel.  As an author, what more can I ask for?...other than a literary agent and a movie producer’s blessing.

Flower Of Heaven
My debut novel in late 2012 was Flower of Heaven, a thriller about an affair between a young French woman from Paris who has an innocent affair with a young American on holiday.  Once she finds that her young lover is a newly ordained priest, the affair ends as abruptly as it began, but not without its consequences.  Francoise Dupont is pregnant and has twin sons which she gives up for adoption because she is penniless and cannot raise the sons.  Fr. Richard Merrill is unaware for thirty-five years that he is the father of the boys until Francoise informs him.  She is now part of a royal family in a Mid-Eastern oil-rich country and seeks Fr. Merrill’s help in finding the sons who are in danger from enemies of the royal family.  In both Flower of Heaven and its sequel, Dangerous Bloodlines, the reader experiences searches in Paris, Stockholm, Orvieto, Italy, and into war-torn Ethiopia to find the sons.  These two books have each won four national book awards, hold a prestigious Kirkus Review, and carry excellent rating reviews on Amazon.

Dangerous Bloodlines
I am a sucker for a good heroine, and all three of my novels have one.  Clearly in Flower of Heaven and the sequel, Dangerous Bloodlines, the main character is Francoise Dupont, the young French woman who rises from depression after giving birth to twin sons out of wedlock to become a princess in another kingdom.  Her dedication to the betterment of women in her newly adopted country is only overshadowed by her unfailing quest to find the two sons she foolishly gave up for adoption years earlier.  In A Life Before, the heroine is Samantha Collins, the headstrong college student possessed with the mind of a murdered young housewife from twenty one years earlier.  She is determined to rid the demons in her dreams, even if it means she must accept that she is the reincarnation of the slain woman of the past.

I love to read David Baldacci, James Patterson, John Grisham, and Dan Brown, all excellent and accomplished mystery thriller authors.  For me to be mentioned as writing like they do is quite humbling.

My wife and I have traveled the world during our fifty four years of marriage and, at age 75, we don’t have much of a bucket list.  At this stage of my life, I plan to write at least one thriller a year for the next ten years, god-willing. It would be rewarding to land a literary agent and a good publishing house that could get one or more of my books into a screenplay or major film series on television.  Perhaps one day that will happen.  Until then, I keep writing.  By the time this appears in Annette’s blog, I will have released my fourth thriller, Disappearance, about the troubles within the witness protection program.

To learn more about me, visit my website, www.julienayotte.com, where you can connect to all the links for my books, including my email address.

The person with the best comments to this post here will receive a signed copy of my new release, Disappearance, and a surprise gift unique to Rhode Island. Please leave some way for me to contact you, preferably an email address.
(all information provided by author)