June 16, 2019

Subterranean Books-An Independent Missouri Bookstore

Located at 6275 Delmar in St. Louis, MO, Subterranean Books has a staff of 6 avid readers, or so the About Page says.  It looks cute and quaint and fun!
Here’s a bit from the About page from their website: https://store.subbooks.com/

We opened in October 2000 focusing on the independent book store best sellers, cult classics, small presses, timeless literature and anything else that catches our fancy. And, despite what the internet may have told you, you won't find any used books here. We still field calls on that account about every day, even though we phased out that segment sometime around 2004.  There are other stores in town, though, that have fantastic assortments of used books. Our big categories are fiction, essays, poetry, music, science, nature, mind/body/spirit, children’s, cultural studies, memoirs, history….Our smaller (but no less important) include graphic novels, film, art, religion, cookbooks, travel, and more.  We also stock journals, t-shirts, pins, tote bags, and whatever else catches our fancy!

They have this program that I find EXTREEMELY COOL-a Book of the Month program!! 
They select and send a book a month for the reader based on their preferences.  Here’s why I think this would be cool—my mom just entered assisted living and she likes to read and this program would send her a new book each month according to what she likes to read.  It would be something new each month for someone who doesn’t get around as much as they used to.  Just saying-I liked the idea.  It’s not that expensive either!  I know I’d like something like this. 

Check out their site.  They have a spot to browse and an employee read section for suggestions.  And the site itself?  Super easy to navigate.  https://store.subbooks.com/

(Anyway, all info downloaded from Subterranean Books https://store.subbooks.com/)

June 9, 2019

Mississippi: The Birthplace of America’s Music by S.J. Francis

You may notice when I speak that I’m not native to the Southern states, certainly not to the beautiful state of Mississippi. My penchant for speaking and writing correct English and a lack of a Southern drawl immediately give that away. But despite many drawbacks down here, I love living in the South. When I lived in the frigid cold and snowy winters up North, I often found myself singing the tune,
“Oh I wish I was in Dixie, Hurrah, Hurrah. I wish I was in Dixie Land.” Don’t ask how that came to be, it just did. Music is sometimes mysterious that way popping up into our lives without a rhyme or reason. I write by music and exercise to it.

When you think of Mississippi, what thoughts come to mind? Cotton? Deep South? Magnolia? Crepe Myrtles? Laid back attitude? Slow moving? Good food? Civil War sites? Barbeques by the miles? How about music? Mississippi is known the world over as the birthplace of American Music. Whether it is Charley Patton and Son House's interpretations of the Delta Blues, Elvis Presley’s hip moving and shaking Rock 'n' Roll from Tupelo, or Jimmie Rodgers the Father of Country Music from Meridian, America’s musical tradition was born and refined in the culture, diversity and struggles of Mississippi. Music is the lifeblood of Mississippi. Everywhere one visits in the state are reminders and markers of the birth and love for music. What comes to mind when you think of music and Mississippi? Elvis Presley, the “King of Rock and Roll” once stated, “I happened to come along in the music business when there was no trend.” Gospel, country, jazz, bluegrass, and rock n’ roll have deep-running roots here. The sound is still alive and well. I know I hear it often.

My debut novel, Shattered Lies begins in Yazoo County, in the Delta region of Mississippi, and ends in New York City.  Blues had its birth in the Mississippi Delta.  The idea for this book came to me in 1999, but the story didn’t write itself until I moved down to Mississippi.  Two famous blues singers are associated with the County of Yazoo. Arnold Dwight "Gatemouth" Moore was an American blues and gospel singer, songwriter, radio disc jockey, community leader and pastor, later known as Reverend Gatemouth Moore. During his career as a recording artist, Moore worked with various jazz musicians, including Bennie Moten, Tommy Douglas and Walter Barnes, and his songs were recorded by B.B. King and Rufus Thomas. He was noted for his mellow singing voice, much in the style of Billy Eckstine.

Another American blues singer was Robert Leroy Johnson, a songwriter and musician. Johnson's vague documented life and death have given rise to much legend. The one most closely associated with his life is that he sold his soul to the devil at a local crossroads to achieve musical success. Before this so-called encounter with the devil, Johnson was at best a mediocre guitar player. Suddenly over night, he became a Blues wonder. He is now recognized as a master of the blues, particularly as a progenitor of the Delta blues style. His landmark recordings in 1936 and 1937 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that influenced later generations of musicians. Music is entwined in Mississippi life as evidenced by the establishment of the Mississippi Blues Trail. The Mississippi Blues Trail was created by the Mississippi Blues Commission in 2006 to “place interpretive markers at the most notable historical sites related to the birth, growth, and influence of the blues throughout the state of Mississippi. Within the state the trail extends from the Gulf Coast north along several highways to Natchez, Vicksburg, Jackson, Leland, Greenwood, Clarksdale, Tunica, Grenada, Oxford, Columbus, and Meridian. The largest concentration of markers is in the Mississippi Delta, but other regions of the state are also commemorated.” (Wikipedia)

Synopsis: Thirty-year-old Kate Thayer has a good life as a veterinarian running the family horse farm in the South until she uncovers an act of unimaginable treachery by those she trusted most and discovers that everything she knew about herself was a lie. Her paternal grandmother, the woman who raised her, is behind a number of devastating secrets Kate is compelled to discover. But the deeper she digs, the more betrayal she finds, changing her life in ways she could have never foreseen.

Thanks for stopping by to read about my debut novel and my new home state of Mississippi. I have two prizes to give away to a lucky winner —a copy of Shattered Lies (Kindle version OR Paperback, winner’s choice) and a Mississippi souvenir.  Simply leave a comment and your contact info in order to contact you should you win. 

You can read more about the award winning Shattered Lies, a mainstream/contemporary/family saga at my website: http://sjfranciswriter.com    There you’ll be able to connect with me and learn more about the award winning Shattered Lies, me and my blogs.

For more info about Mississippi and America’s Music:

June 2, 2019

Books Revisited of Minnesota

This looks like an awesome place for the reader in you.  In Minnesota, St. Cloud to be exact, in a cool area with lots to do, sometime when you're visiting, you might want to stop at Books Revisited. 

Recently voted the “Best Bookstore in Minnesota” by WCCO-CBS viewers, Books Revisited is 12,000 square-feet of used books and has been making St. Cloud readers very happy for a quarter century. Few independent bookstores—new or used—are this big anymore, and the musty book smell and creaky wood floors are like a breath of fresh air on a springtime walk. https://bestthingsmn.com/bookstores/

Our primary store was established in 1991, a tiny bookshop, with crowded isles, books to the ceilings, and all the charm and character of a day gone by... Many things have changed over the years - we have moved to a much larger location, expanded our selection ten-fold, and continue to evolve as we transition to the electronic age and Brave New World of bookselling.  Despite all of these changes, the commitment to our customers has remained unchanged: To provide unique and top quality books at a reasonable price. Whether you are looking for an antiquarian copy of a collectible book, or a current selection of best selling fiction, you can rest assured that we will put our experience to work to offer the best books and service available. 

Visit the storefront here:  607 W. Germain St., St. Cloud, MN

May 26, 2019

Sleeping Bear Dunes: Rich in History and Relaxation with Cherry Christensen

Every summer I looked forward to spending the week at a cottage on Little Glen Lake with my family. Our car was crammed with suitcases, games, and food. Mmm… I can still smell the sweet scent of homemade cinnamon rolls! Nothing beat food, family, and fellowship on our own slice of paradise near the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

One can’t help being fascinated by the lore of the area. According to an old Chippewa legend, a raging forest fire on the western shore of Lake Michigan forced a mother bear and her two cubs into the water. Swimming several miles toward the opposite shore, the cubs lagged behind and drowned. The Great Spirit created the North and South Manitou islands in honor of the cubs. A lone dune represents mother bear.

Sleeping Bear Dunes covers 71,000 acres along Lake Michigan’s shoreline in the Lower Peninsula.  Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Yellowstone National Park are both on the 45th Parallel, which sits halfway between the equator and North Pole.
It was no surprise to me when I read that Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore was named the “Most Beautiful Place in America.”  In addition to its natural beauty, the Lakeshore boasts a rich combination of maritime, agricultural, and commercial history. It’s home to hundreds of historic structures, including the South Manitou Lighthouse standing 104 feet above the ground.

In the village of Glen Haven, one of my favorite buildings remains:  the old cannery.  Throughout the summer months, its red paint and white window frames contrast with Lake Michigan’s sapphire blue water.

The cannery originally was used as a warehouse. In the early 1920s, the building became a cherry cannery. Today, it serves as a museum of historic boats from around Glen Haven and the Manitou Islands.

Historic Faust Cabin was built in 1929 by George and Mary Faust using a design by Frank Sohn, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright.  Today, their home is part of the National Park Service.  Every year, many visitors marvel at the log cabin, which overlooks Glen Lake and sits nestled on the hill next to Inspiration Point.

D. H. Day farm is an iconic landmark south of Glen Haven. It has a 116-foot-long dairy barn and numerous outbuildings that were constructed in the 1880s and 1890s. They represent the agricultural heritage of days gone by.

Enjoy stunning vistas from the Pierce Stocking Scenic Drive. The 7.4 mile drive curves its way through a covered bridge, forest, and sand dunes. Along the way, visitors can stop at overlooks to view the Glen Lakes, the Sleeping Bear Dunes, and Lake Michigan.

With a name like Cherry, how could I resist hanging out at Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor? I still have a worn out t-shirt with their slogan: Life, Liberty, Beaches and Pie. If you’re ever in this neck of the woods, stop by and savor the flavor of a cherry boomchunka cookie!

My Secret Series is set in Glen Arbor. The main character, Hannah, shares snippets of the region’s history with readers. If you like mysteries with a smidgen of religion and a smattering of romance, I invite you to give them a go.

Happy reading from the Mitten State!
Cherry Christensen

Cherry's Bio:  Cherry hails from the Great Lakes state of Michigan, where she lives with her husband and two adorably mischievous cats. She does most of her writing at night because she is not a morning person, and wholeheartedly agrees with the anonymous saying, “I could be a morning person, if morning happened around noon.”
In addition to writing, Cherry has traveled overseas, exploring castles in Scotland, soaking in the sights of London, and gazing at the beautiful English countryside out a train car window. Closer to home, she’s gone dolphin watching and parasailing in Florida.
Cherry’s husband is also an author, but he doesn’t share her love of football. Her favorite teams are the Michigan Wolverines and Denver Broncos. Go Blue! Mile High Salute! So, what’s better than watching football? Eating chocolate chip cookie dough during a game!

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(All info provided and released by author)