May 21, 2017

The Writer’s Loft, a Unique Writing Group in Massachusetts



My Massachusetts post dropped and my standbys were all swamped with work.  That’s a good thing for a writer.  It’s even better that, in the event of a drop, I get to highlight another writing group so, here’s something unique I discovered on my search.


The Writers’ Loft is a writing community organization located at 20 North Main Street in Sherborn, MA. It’s in a big red building, off of Cemetery Lane, and across from a Walgreens. 

Mission Statement 
The Writers’ Loft is a community which helps local writers foster their creativity, strengthen their spirit and grow professionally by providing them with quiet writing space, educational programs, opportunities to connect with supportive colleagues, and access to industry experts, as well as opportunities to give back to the greater writing community.

About once a month, they hold one social/writing event and one informational workshop with an industry professional. They also have ongoing critique groups and think tanks.  Those are listed under their Groups tab on their website.

When you become a Lofter, you join a community, even if all you do is come to quietly write. Our goal is to provide whatever it is a writer needs to get to the next level. Think about what you can offer to help someone else reach that goal.

Annual membership and quarterly membership are the two levels at which a person can participate or, people can donate at the door.

As of this post, there are five events scheduled thru June of 2017. 
Visit their website for more information.  


 

 (All info downloaded from http://thewritersloft.org)



May 14, 2017

Robin Bayne’s Maryland: America In Miniature



 Ah, Maryland My Maryland. I’ve lived in Maryland all of my life. In fourth grade we learned that Maryland is considered “America in Miniature.”  We experience all four seasons, and we have vacation spots that range from the mountains’ ski resorts to the sandy beaches of Ocean City.  We have the Atlantic Ocean, and the Chesapeake Bay.  We’re close to the nation’s capital and a short drive from Pennsylvania and Virginia.  Anytime my husband and I have thought of moving, we’ve been unable to decide on another state which has as much to offer.  I could never live in a state that didn’t see the leaves changing to fantastic colors every fall.


If you haven’t eaten steamed blue crabs, you haven’t experienced Maryland cuisine. People who move across the country order these to be shipped to their new homes--  crabs seasoned with “Old Bay” is a classic Maryland summer feast.  Add corn-on-the-cob and potato salad and you’ve got an afternoon to remember. My grandparents lived on the bay when I was a kid and we spent every Sunday swimming, boating, digging up clams, catching crabs and playing horseshoes. 

If you’re up for a historical outing, you can visit For McHenry, where Francis Scott Key penned our national anthem.  Tours of the old fort are educational and interesting. From there you can go to the National Aquarium and Maryland Science Center, which have fun activities for the whole family.  Also within driving distance for a day trip are the Civil War battlegrounds of Gettysburg, PA, Antietam, Md and the historical town of Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia.  If you’re more into sports, Baltimore hosts both the Ravens football team and the Oriole’s baseball franchise.

The story I’m working on now is set in Fells Point, a popular tourist area and waterfront scene  in southeast Baltimore. Fells was established in 1763 as a seafaring town and you can feel the atmosphere as you stroll the cobblestone streets, enjoying the largest concentration of bars and restaurants in the entire city.  My protagonist owns a small shop, one of many in the area. Most of the stores are townhouse style, set in rows throughout the area. You can find antiques, clothing, shoes, hats, artwork, souvenirs, record albums, ice cream, pet toys and surfing gear. And that’s all on just one street.  Once you tire of the ancient, bumpy streets, walk out on the piers along the bay. Looking across the water, you can see Maryland’s famous “Under Armor” plant, the historic “Domino’s Sugar” sign and a variety of huge ships at any given time.  Want to get closer?  Take a ride on a water-taxi and see all the sights.  At night there are ghost tours through Fells Point.  The oldest tavern in the US--  “The Horse You Came In On Saloon,” established in 1775, is rumored to be haunted. It was the last place Edgar Allan Poe visited before his death, and the only bar in the state that existed before and through prohibition. 

My heroine doesn’t chase ghosts or drink in taverns, but she does spend time arguing with her handsome neighbor about the lack of parking spaces and who has the right to them, another common activity in Baltimore.  She loves to steam blue crabs and eat them on her roof deck/patio, another common feature of Baltimore homes. The next time you visit Fells Point, be sure to keep an eye out for the charming brown brick bookstore called “Peyton’s Place,” which I hope to bring to life with my next novel.  And I hope you find many open parking spots.



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Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of my novel “The Artist’s Granddaughter” (print or ebook) and a packet of the famous “Old Bay” Seasoning mix! please leave contact link so I can find you if you’re the winner.
(All info provided by author)

May 7, 2017

Author Nancy Fraser’s Maine Squeeze



For me nothing says “kick back and relax” like the beautiful state of Maine. Whether it’s the open, luscious farm land or the seaside antique shops, my beautiful “adopted” state calls to me in words befitting a romantic novel ... preferably one of mine.

My go-to place in the summer is always Acadia National Park where an abundance of beautiful scenery, fresh water, and activities abound.

Also worth a visit all year round is the Farnsworth Art Museum and Victoria Mansion, both excellent examples of this wonderful state and its history.

Personally, I love traveling Route 1 along the coast for a bit of restorative antiquing. Known as the Maine Antique Trail, you’ll find shops specializing in rare objects and every kind of collectable you can imagine. One of my favorite finds was a beautifully carved box made, much to my surprise, in the woodworking shop at the local prison.

For those of you (like me) who love a good lobster dinner, you’ll find none better than along the Maine coast. If you’re an adventurist, you can also take an early morning fishing expedition to catch your own feed of tasty goodness!

Once fall rolls around the excitement of leaf-peeping near Bar Harbor draws not only the locals but also people from all along the eastern part of the U.S. Resplendent in shades of orange, yellow and red, the state takes on an entirely different look.


How’s a writer to get any work done when surrounded by so much to do and see? Well, for starters, you plot a book around an area near and dear to your heart. Then, you spend a good amount of time visiting and doing research (of course), and then when the weather starts to cool, you write the book.

Such was the case with my recently released novella, Kilty Pleasures. Set in the fictitious, coastline town of Glencoe, it even includes a mid-October snow storm not totally unheard of in this northern state.

Even though you could live forever in the state and never want for anything, another feature Maine has going for it is its close proximity to a foreign country ... although very few of us would call Canada foreign. Just a hop, skip and jump up I-95 to Houlton, or along Route 1 to Calais, and you find yourself at an international border. Crossing at Calais also gives you the opportunity to visit the Ganong Chocolate Museum. I mean, after all, who doesn’t want to know the history of chocolate!

My current work in progress is also set in the state and includes many references to the area, including a national park setting for my reunited hero and heroine. I look forward to sharing this book with my readers when it’s complete.

Whether you’re a summer person, winter person, or prefer the fringe seasons of spring and fall, I invite you to come to Maine, enjoy our sights, sounds and activities. But, most of all, enjoy the talent and commitment of our people.

I’m giving away Two prizes, actually. The first is a $5.00 Amazon gift card and the second is the winner's choice of any book from my back list. I'll choose from those who comment.

Author Bio:
Like most authors, Nancy Fraser began writing at an early age, usually on the walls and with crayons or, heaven forbid, permanent markers. Her love of writing often made her the English teacher’s pet, which, of course, resulted in a whole lot of teasing. Still, it was worth it.

Published in multiple genres, Nancy currently writes for four publishers. She has published twenty-two books in both full-length and novella format. In November 2016 Nancy celebrated twenty years as a published author and will release her 25th book in mid-2017.

When not writing (which is almost never), Nancy splits her free time between her five grandchildren. She’s also an avid traveler with Las Vegas being her favorite destination. Nancy lives on the east coast where she enjoys the relaxed pace and colorful people.

Media Links:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/nfraserauthor  @nfraserauthor

April 30, 2017

Kentucky lives inside T.L Cooper in a way no other place can.



I grew up on a farm in a holler in a small town called Tollesboro. As a child I explored the woods and creeks around my family home and pretended I was exploring the world. I dreamed of moving some place exciting where I could meet lots of people and have a whole bunch of sophisticated experiences. The books I read voraciously shaped what I imagined those sophisticated experiences would be.
When I left Tollesboro to attend Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky, I felt like I was on my way to making those imaginings real. I could take walks at midnight under the streetlights while enjoying the moon and the stars. There was always someone to talk to and meet on campus. Going downtown to whole streets of bars where I could dance the night away gave me a sense of what I envisioned as the city life, at least at the time. 

While at Eastern, I also discovered The Pinnacles, a wonderful hiking experience in Berea, Kentucky. It’s not as famous as places like Natural Bridge or Red River Gorge, but it offers beautiful views and tends to be much less crowded. There are even little alcoves just off the trail where one can find a private moment to enjoy the view with relatively little interruption. 

On a recent visit to Kentucky, my attempts for nostalgia were met with the progress time brings. While much of campus remains, much has also changed. The streets filled with bars had been converted to buildings housing family court services. The Pinnacles had changed so much I barely recognized the trail and couldn’t be sure if I found my favorite perch.

We often think everything we leave behind stays just the way we left it…

A few years ago while doing research for a novel, I visited the Kentucky Horse Park and Cumberland Falls, two popular Kentucky destinations, because my characters will visit both. I wanted to refresh my memory because it had been years since I’d visited either. 

I spent a day by myself at the Kentucky Horse Park touring the grounds and looking at the history of the horse, seeing horses in shows representing myriad cultures, and reengaging with the relationship between horse and human as seen from the human perspective. As I walked around this park dedicated to celebrating the horse and looked into the eyes of horses in the pastures and the stables, I, perhaps for the first time, wondered if the horse would describe the relationship in the same way...

The next day a close friend from college and her daughters accompanied me to Cumberland Falls. Carved into the middle of a forest, Cumberland Falls stands as an undeniable example of the power of nature. I stood next to the waterfall and stared at it feeling a bit discombobulated, I barely noticed when my friend and her daughters stepped quietly away. I stared at a waterfall I’d seen a couple of times prior in my life, but it felt different somehow. I couldn’t quite figure out why it didn’t match the waterfall in my memory. As I relaxed into the moment and released the memory, I saw the beauty and heard the power of the water crashing over the fall and splashing back up.

There’s a sense every time I return to Kentucky that nothing has changed yet everything is different. I see it in the faces and the rolling hills. I recognize it in small towns clinging to yesterday and horse farms lost to new development. I feel it in relationships that have changed even though the affection remains. I hear it in the words spoken and the ones that go unspoken. 

Growing up I longed to leave Kentucky, and I did, but Kentucky has a hold on my heart that never lets go. It repeatedly pulls me back and reminds me who I am at my core. My writing is informed by Kentucky more than any other place I’ve lived or visited. My descriptions of place tend to reflect my place of my birth.


I want to close with a poem I wrote several years ago when I was feeling particularly nostalgic for the Kentucky of my youth. It appears in my book of poetry, Memory in Silhouette.

Memories of Kentucky Summers
The lush green hills of Kentucky
Humidity-laced, tobacco- scented air
Sunshine casting a blue tint on grass
Fields of corn waltzing in the air
Horses grazing lazily
Tails swatting flies from their backs
Cattle wading belly deep in a cool pond
Long, hot days in the fields
Trying to look attractive in shorts and bikini tops
Sweat trickling between breasts
Picking green beans, tomatoes, and blackberries
Hoeing fields of tobacco
Preserving garden food for winter
Swimming in the local creek
Exploring the woods around the house
Softball at the old vacant red brick school
Drive-in movies with friends
Passing notes about boys during church
Sundays playing cards at Grandma and Grandpa’s house
Friends and family wandering in and out of the game
Talk of crops, rain, and gardens
Catching up on the latest news and gossip
Laughter amidst hard work
Kentucky summers growing up
At heart I’ll always be a Kentucky girl

Leave a comment about Kentucky, your state, writing, or books to be randomly selected to receive a signed copy of my novel, All She Ever Wanted. Please include a contact link.

T. L. Cooper is an author and poet whose work aims to empower and inspire through an exploration of the human condition. Her poems, short stories, articles, and essays have appeared online, in books, and in magazines. Her published books include a collection of short stories, Soaring Betrayal, her Silhouette Poetry Series, and a novel, All She Ever Wanted. She grew up on a farm in Tollesboro, Kentucky. When not writing, she enjoys yoga, golf, hiking, and traveling. She currently lives in Albany, Oregon with her husband and three cats.
(Info Author Provided)