January 14, 2018


Radine Trees Nehring of Arkansas Asks: 

Wouldn’t it be fun to live the life of a travel writer?  They get free trips to luxury destinations—don’t they? They get fabulous meals, free entry to events, and much more. (Yes, they do. I did travel writing early in my writing career.) 

So, why did I end up becoming a full-time mystery writer?  Was it just because I enjoyed reading mystery novels, and wanted to try writing one?

No, dear reader. It was also because I fell in love with a state that had many prime destinations and events for tourists to enjoy and I wanted to share that with the world. In what was my own fun decision, I fell into writing about (fictitious, mostly) crimes in some of those real places and in real buildings.

Did the people responsible for those destinations yelp with rage when they learned I planned to set a crime novel that included a murder in their prime place and would depict the location as it really was? Far from it. They realized, when I hadn’t, (remember, I was doing this for fun and to share great news about Arkansas) what an advertising bonus such a novel set in any tourist destination could be. If mystery readers learned about their location and the exciting events that took place there, even if fictitious, it would be good advertising for them. “Their” novel would be a terrific promotion venue and I was going to do all the work. So it’s no wonder that staff members in various locations often jumped enthusiastically into my research sessions. They took me into all kinds of places not normally open to the public, and frequently made plot suggestions: “Radine, look here, couldn’t you hide (something) here? And then we could .  .  .  . What do you think?” 

If anyone ever noticed that I did not use most of their plot suggestions, no one ever complained. And I have remained friends with individuals at most of the locations I chose, another added bonus. Not only that, many continue to sell copies of their location’s novel.

Your bonus? By looking at my web site you may select any one of the novels described there and enter to win it by commenting on this post. I will blind-draw an entry. Please include a form of contact and the novel you select when you comment. Thank you, chose your destination and enjoy the trip!   

Radine Trees Nehring, 2011 Inductee, Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame
Sharing the magic and mystery of the Arkansas Ozarks in award-winning
articles, essays, short stories, and To Die For novels

January 7, 2018

Krista Lynn, Kenneth Weene and Heidi Thomas: Sharing the State of Arizona

We Begin with Krista Lynn: Mother Earth and Father Sky This is Arizona
What I experienced as a child growing up wild on the desert of Arizona left its brand on my heart for all time. Wide open spaces, dry, dusty dirt roads that dodge hard rock outcrops and skirt around determined Saguaro cacti stubbornly standing their ground—this is the landscape that so often conjures in quiet, still moments of contemplation of my life. This is the terrain that formed my love of nature, my ties to earth and my love of the clear night sky that can only truly be seen far away from the lights of the city. 

And away from the city we lived – about twenty-five miles of dirt road northeast of a tiny roadside town, named New River, Arizona. In the 1960’s, the little settlement was about 50 miles from the outskirts of Phoenix. (If you’ve visited Phoenix in the last few years, you know that the “outskirts” have pushed outward in all directions, a sprawling urban landscape that is incredible. New River is now almost a suburb.

New River consisted of a roadside gas station/café, a dude ranch named Wrangler’s Roost, a one-room school house, several cattle ranches and dirt-poor prospectors like us. Ten miles further north on Black Canyon Highway, now Interstate 17, was Rock Springs. It boasted another café and a dry goods store with a post office. It was a real treat to go there and gawk at the “goods”:  Indian jewelry, moccasins, cowboy boots and hats. 

This environment, imbued with the spirit of Native American culture and history, is the backdrop for several of my speculative fiction stories. One should write what one knows, correct?  Below, I explain further how the real-life mysterious haunting of Superstition Mountains near Phoenix is echoed in my fictional story of Prospector’s Mountain.

I’m biased, obviously, but Arizona is the most beautiful state in the Union.
If you haven’t been to the Grand Canyon, you are missing something extraordinary. It is about a mile deep and several hundred miles long. I can attest to how far down it is, as I’ve climbed up from bottom to top. It is a switch back trail that took me several hours to trek. Switching back and forth – I’m sure it was a hundred miles.

A few years back, I had the good fortune to join a Colorado River rafting trip. After nine days of working the river with two other rafters on our three-man boat, I hiked back up to the top from Phantom Ranch.  Phantom Ranch is a lodge located within Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. It is on the north side of the Colorado River near its confluence with Bright Angel Creek and Phantom Creek – at the bottom of the canyon.

I’ll never forget my sometimes harrowing trip on a wild river at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The pictures above were taken on a smooth stretch of the river during the trip and during one of our hiking jaunts up into the rock cliffs. But when we hit the many rapids along the way – this is what it was like!

Toward the end of the nine days, we arrived at the confluence of the Colorado River and the Little Colorado River. This is one of the most beautiful places on the planet – where the dark green to tan colored Colorado meets the aquamarine Little Colorado. The day we were there, we maneuvered our boats to the shore and took advantage of the opportunity to swim in that incredible blue water. What makes it so blue? The limestone rock into which the river has over millennia cut its course!

Havasupai Falls Arizona is a major destination for hikers who want to visit the blue green waterfalls. Hidden in the Grand Canyon, and difficult to get reservations for, this paradise is for those who can plan ahead and enjoy hikes of 8 miles or more. The Havasupai people live near the Havasupai Falls in the Supai Village. The Havasupai people, or Havasuw `Baaja, the people of the blue green waters, are the traditional guardians of the Grand Canyon. Related to the Yuman, the Havasupai have from the beginning, inhabited the Grand Canyon and its environs.

This picture is by a fabulous photographer, Steve Bruno. His work is simply amazing. http://www.stephenbrunophotography.com/

The best time to be in Arizona is fall through spring.  Though winters can be a bit chilly at night, the average January temperature is between 62 and 74 degrees F. That’s why so many “Snow Birds” from Michigan and Minnesota and other northerners flock to Arizona at that time. For me, even summer is fine – 110-120 degree F and all - as long as I have a bucket of sun screen, a hat, a cool place to sit, and someone to make my margaritas, I’m good to go!

One can’t live in The Valley of the Sun - as the general area of Phoenix is called - and not know about Superstition Mountain. Many TV specials have been done about the Lost Dutchmen’s Gold Mine which is thought to be located somewhere in the rugged terrain of this mysterious mountain.  Many prospectors have entered the area and not returned. The stories abound. As a youth and as an adult, I have visited the area. Haven’t done much hiking there – seriously, one can get lost. It’s eerie! Doesn’t it look scary?
What’s behind the disappearances?

Well, some say they’ve solved the mystery of where the mine is, but I have my doubts. And where are those missing people? And who killed those whose bodies have been found?
Great questions and premise for a romantic suspense. Blood Stones: The Haunting of Sunset Canyon, the first book in my Sunset Canyon Series. It is set in a fictional place in central Arizona – a haunted canyon in Prospector’s Mountain.

My fictional location is a reflection of the general area of New River, Arizona with the geology of the higher desert terrain in the north. There is even a gas station/café in the story, borrowed from my recollections of the one that is still there, but renovated and modernized. For the characters in the story? All fictional, of course. As a writer, the best part is creating in your mind the world in which the drama unfolds. The hard part is getting it down on paper.

For my giveaway – I’ll chose randomly from those who comment and send that person a copy of Blood Stones and a turquoise bracelet with feather charms. The bracelet is the perfect talisman to wear when you go into the haunted canyon – you’ll see why when you read the book.  

Continuing Arizona: Then Saguaro -Author Kenneth Weene:
“They’re spirits,” my wife said. “Each one has its own story, its own… Like they’re alive and watching… talking to us.”

For all our years of travel, we’d never been to Arizona before, never seen a saguaro, those distinctive armed cacti of the Sonoran dessert. Having arrived late the night before and driven along a busy highway to our hotel, we had no sense of Phoenix other than that for us—having flown from New York the freezing February day before—it was delightfully un-wintery. If pressed, we probably would have said balmy, and yes a dry balm at that.

Now, after a standard motel breakfast bar meal including one too many of those sugar-covered pastries and—okay, I admit it—more bacon than human digestion is designed to process, we’d packed our bags in the trunk of the rental with our heavy jackets stuffed in first. We wouldn’t need those for a week.

The timeshare was, according to our maps, way to the east of our motel. My wife had the map in her lap; another of the entire state was in the pocket of her door just in case I managed to lose my way outside the boundaries of greater Phoenix.

East was easy. The Ford we’d rented came equipped with one of the latest in automobile navigational aids, a compass. Driving was easy, too. After New England with its narrow byways and New York with it floods of humanity, the broad streets of Phoenix seemed like speedways. I probably would have been speeding had I not been squinting against the morning sun. Even with sunglasses, the sun was bright and came almost directly through the windshield.

“Stop!” my wife had yelled.

Terrified that I might have hit some unseen animal or worse, I screeched the brakes. From behind me there was a complaining horn and then the rev of an engine as that person flew past us.

“I love them.” She pointed out her window towards a business complex.

“Very nice,” I replied trying to keep my composure. Meanwhile thinking, “You could have caused an accident because you like some buildings. Give me a break.”

“They’re spirits. Each one has its own story, its own… Like they’re alive and watching… talking to us.”

Only then did I realize she was talking about the six saguaro standing guard in front of that complex.

“Yes,” I agreed. I said no more. There was no need. We were both hooked. We were both ready to find a new home far from our native Northeast roots. Indeed, within the week we had purchased that home.

That evening, finally settled into the timeshare, I wrote an haiku.
six saguaro sisters
stand against the orange drought—
a wren shops for shoes

We’ve lived in Phoenix for sixteen years. Now, using a GPS we’ve driven all over the state and beyond. I’ve tried a few times to find that office complex, to again glimpse those saguaros, perhaps to thank them for their invocation, perhaps to read them their poem. I’ve never found the spot, but I have loved many a cactus since. Not just saguaro, but they remain my—our—favorite. It is my hope that if I am to be reincarnated I will come back as one and after fifty years have the energy to raise my thorny arms in greeting to the dessert sun.

If you’d like to know more of me and my writing, visit http://www.kennethweene.com or look for me on Amazon. And, if you want to find a beautiful place to live, I suggest you visit Phoenix and meet the saguaro.

 I’m giving away a copy of one of my books to one lucky winner.  Leave a comment and form of contact to enter.

And Finally, Award Winning Author, Heidi M. Thomas:
Contrary to popular opinion, Arizona is not all sand dunes and saguaro cactus. Drive north from Phoenix about an hour and you will come to the other “Mile-High City” of Prescott. Nestled in the Sierra Prieta and Bradshaw mountains are numerous lakes, the Granite Dells, pine, cedar and juniper forests.

Prescott was the territorial capital from 1864-1867, had a ten-year hiatus, then held the title again in 1877 until 1889, when Phoenix became the capital.

This “high-plains desert” area is known as the “Quad-City” area—Prescott, Chino Valley, Prescott Valley, and Dewey-Humboldt. Ninety miles north of Phoenix, the temperature is typically 15-20 degrees cooler than “the Valley.” Surrounded by mountains, a Ponderosa pine forest, and home of the Granite Dells, the area is a haven for hikers.

I live in the small, rural town of Chino Valley, about 15 miles north of Prescott, where we often see Pronghorn antelope grazing on the prairie-like fields nearby. This area reminds me a lot of eastern Montana, where I grew up on a ranch.

The Sharlot Hall Museum, the Smoki and Phippen museums are home to much of Prescott's territorial history. Whiskey Row in downtown Prescott (known until 1956 as a notorious red-light district) boasts many historic buildings, including The Palace, Arizona's oldest restaurant and bar. The city was named after author William H. Prescott, whose writings were popular during the Civil War.

Prescott also has a place in western folklore with the fact that Virgil Earp, Wyatt Earp's older brother, lived in Prescott in 1879 and told him of the boom town in Tombstone, Arizona. It is also rumored that Doc Holliday spent some time in Prescott just before heading to Tombstone, as well as his common-law wife, “Big Nose Kate.”

This area boasts the “World’s Oldest Rodeo” and Prescott is also known as “the Christmas City,” as well as “Everybody’s Home Town.” Hundreds of movies have been filmed here, including "Billy Jack," "Junior Bonner," and "Transamerica."

My book Cowgirl Up! A History of Rodeo Women fits right in to this “cowboy” area. Other novels based on my grandmother who rode roughstock in Montana rodeos during the 1920s are Cowgirl Dreams (EPIC Award winner), Follow the Dream (WILLA Award), and Dare to Dream (Finalist International Book Awards). My newest novel, Seeking the American Dream, is based on my mother, who emigrated from Germany after WWII.

Giveaway: If you leave a comment related to cowgirls or following a dream, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a copy of your choice of one of my books.

Learn more about this award winning author at her website http://www.heidimthomas.com

(All Info listed author provided. Also http://www.stephenbrunophotography.com/)

January 1, 2018

About the AVL

Happy New Year!  Welcome my blog and some awesome opportunities for readers to win and writing professionals to get the word out about their work.  Today, in my area of Nebraska, its 17 below zero outside.  I have no idea what the wind chill is because I'm ignoring that!  I have no plans to go anywhere past the shed, which is only 20 yards away, to get a sheet of plywood for my bathroom project.  Yesterday the pipes at my daughters house froze-she did get them thawed and we walked to the local bar for a New Years beverage then home for a movie because it was just too cold to venture farther.  

In the spirit of not leaving the house, I share Alabama and a virtual library-a wealth of information and no one has to leave the house on days like today.  

Like I said before, there's new opportunities this year and one of those is the Monthly Grand Prize for people who comment.  AND-Leave a comment on each post each week for your chance to win not only that grand prize but a prize from each blog participant. At the end of each month, we'll pick the winners and let them know what they've won so leave a form of contact. Readers can also send their contact info via the Contact Me tab at the top of this blog--we'll need to find the winners if they win! 

Good Luck and Enjoy this Alabama Treasure:

The Alabama Virtual Library provides all students, teachers, and citizens of the State of Alabama with online access to essential library and information resources. It is primarily a group of online databases that have magazine, journal, and newspaper articles for research. Through the AVL, an equitable core of information sources is available to every student and citizen in Alabama, raising the level of excellence in schools and communities across the state.

Participating Agencies:

The AVL project is managed by a governing council with representatives from the Alabama Department of Education, the Alabama College System, the Alabama Council on Higher Education, the Alabama Public Library Service and the Alabama Supercomputer Authority. If you have questions about your eligibility to access AVL resources, please contact the following:

Public Libraries
Alabama Public Library Service, 334-213-3900 or 1-800-723-8459
NAAL Colleges and Universities
Alabama Commission on Higher Education NAAL Office, 334-242-2211
Two Year Colleges
K-12 Schools & Libraries
Alabama Supercomputer Authority

Connect to AVL here: http://www.avl.lib.al.us/

Additionally, Alabama is 200 years old-Check out the link on the homepage.

Leave a comment on this post-make sure to include a form of contact-for a chance to win January's GRAND PRIZE. 

Thanks for stopping by for this first post of 2018 at 50 Authors from 50 States blog!

(all info downloaded from http://www.avl.lib.al.us/)

December 26, 2017

2018 Brings Changes to 50 Authors from 50 States Blog

I love how far this blog has taken us!  Countries all over the world stop in each week to learn about publishing and writing avenues, talented authors and the states they love and live.  I want to thank all visitors for continuing to support this project.

In thanking you, I’ve decided to offer even more during 2018.

Once again, you’ll have the awesome experience of learning about books, places and people who write in the USA and you’ll still have the chance to win great prizes each week. 

Unfortunately, the END OF THE YEAR GRAND PRIZE is gone for 2018. 

INSTEAD: If you stop over and leave a comment on this blog during the month, you’ll be eligible for the MONTHLY GRAND PRIZE!!!  That’s correct: At the end of each month, 50 Authors from 50 States is giving away a GRAND PRIZE to one person who leaves a comment during that month.

SO-if you comment, not only will you have the chance to win each week, you’ll have the chance to win for the month! You'll have to comment and you'll need to leave a form of contact 
(or email your contact info to Annette using the contact tab on this blog after you comment-so we can easily find you if you win.)

I’m really excited about the new direction 50 Authors from 50 States is going and I’m looking forward to sharing the talent across the USA.

Starting the year, I’ve highlighted a Virtual Library from Alabama.
Finding this made me investigate more of these across the states-which reminded me of the origin of this blog in the first place-to increase my awareness of the writing world and its professionals and learn about more places to visit. I'll be on the lookout for these reading nook's of the future this year for sure.

Also joining us in January is Ken Weene, a veteran of this blog, and a unique voice in the written word,

Linda Carroll-Brand, a new talent here,

and Author, Pamela Nowak, who is
passionate about the American West, those who lived there and relationship stories. With freshly-crafted characters, unique conflicts, and a complex interweaving of actual history, her award-winning historical romances bring new perspective to the concept of “western.”

All of these, and so many more, will guest in 2018  so check back every week to find something new!   If you follow this blog, you'll be immediately clued in on the posts as they air.

Have Safe and Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New Year and Thanks for Visiting,
Annette Snyder-50 Authors from 50 States Blog Owner