August 18, 2019

Two Locations One in North Dakota and One in South Dakota-Zandbroz Variety

A bookstore that has so much!
In 1988, Jeff and Greg Danz had a dream. They would open a store that they would want to shop. So they bought an empty turn of the century building in the heart of downtown Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The brothers spent a year restoring the building and developing the concept for what would become Zandbroz Variety.  When the doors opened in May of 1989, Zandbroz was a bookstore with an eclectic mix of other inventory, an old fashioned soda fountain and coffee bar. The store was a hit and a couple of years later a second location was opened in Fargo, ND.  Zandbroz Variety started in a world before Barnes and Noble, Starbucks and internet shopping were part of the landscape. That of course all changed and so too Zandbroz has evolved and changed –twenty six years later and we are still here.  


Visit in Fargo, North Dakota and in Sioux Falls, South Dakota or online.
Both stores look charming and fun!
(All info downloaded from website)

August 11, 2019

Rosemary Poole Carter -That North Carolina Mover

How did a girl born in Forth Worth, Texas, end up writing historical Southern Gothic novels set in Louisiana? Annette Snyder’s kind invitation to write a piece for 50 Authors from 50 States got me thinking about the influence of my home state on my writing.

Texas is big, offering plenty of scope for imagination. Mine was captured at an early age by ponies. My father used to turn me loose to ride around the Benbrook Lake area, while he played a little poker and drank a little whiskey in the Fort Western Saloon. All that unsupervised time I spent exploring fields and woods, talking to a pony, and living my make-believe adventures helped shape my writing destiny.

When Six Flags Over Texas opened in 1961, I saw my home state’s history become a theme for amusement park rides, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Of course, Texas was populated by numerous indigenous tribes long before the various flags were hoisted. Flags of Spain, France, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States of America, the Confederate States of America—and back to the USA—have all served as banners over the clashing and combining of diverse cultures.

While the colorful history of Texas interests me, it is a way of life for my friend Jack Edmondson. For as long as I’ve known him, he has made pilgrimages to the Alamo, and he re-enacts history and portrays Texas heroes. Jack sent me this recent photo of him with his beloved horse Jake, ready to welcome tourists and lead the parade at the Fort Worth Stockyards. Fills me with nostalgia!

From Fort Worth, I moved to Austin for college and got to know a bit about the famous laid-back lifestyle of the Texas Hill Country—wildflowers and Willie Nelson. Then I moved on to the sprawling international port city of Houston to work, raise a family, and begin writing novels. There, I also became active in Mystery Writers of America’s Southwest Chapter, which includes the Gulf Coast states of Texas and Louisiana.

While the Sabine River forms the border between the two states, Interstate 10 links them and bridges the gap for travelers driving back and forth between Houston and New Orleans. On many such drives, I’ve thought the piney woods of East Texas look a lot like the forests of Western Louisiana and have been charmed by the water birds and the wetlands in both states, where cypress trees are draped with Spanish moss and live oak branches hold resurrection fern. 

Houstonians and New Orleanians, alike, understand the effects of humidity and the perils of hurricane season and can find much to appreciate in one another’s cities. New Orleans—with its unique history, culture, and cuisine—has certainly called to me in the writing of four novels, but for the fifth, I’m heeding a call from the Texas coast. Time to look homeward.

Rosemary Poole-Carter explores an uneasy past in her novels Only Charlotte, Women of
Magdalene, What Remains, and Juliette Ascending, all set in the post-Civil War South, and
her plays, including The Familiar and The Little Death. 

Fascinated by history, mystery, and the arts, she is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Mystery Writers of America, and the Dramatists Guild of America.

A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she was a long-time resident of
Houston, where she practiced her devotion to reading and writing with students of a college system. She now lives and writes by the Eno River in Durham, North Carolina.

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August 4, 2019

Views of New York

From Author, Carole Ann Moleti: 
The Non-Sleeping City

I opted to stay close to home for a political event, so I was not in Manhattan on 7/13/19 when the power went out for a few hours. But I was no longer unsure what to focus on for this year's Fifty Author's blog from New York. The latest power failure--and the simultaneously disturbing and hysterical images of battle hardened New Yorkers dealing with the aftermath allows me to offer a historical montage of what happens when "The City That Never Sleeps" is plunged into darkness.

I was a college student in 1977. NYC was in bankruptcy, and decaying before our eyes. Half of the campus of Lehman College was boarded up. Construction on the new buildings was halted for three years when the State Dormitory Authority went into default.

The Bronx was burning down, so that landlords could collect insurance money and get out. Son of Sam was murdering young couples sitting in parked cars, in my neighborhood. I knew Donna Lauria, one of his victims. The filthy, graffiti adorned subways were so dangerous you were always relieved to see Curtis and Lisa Sliwa--or pair of their Guardian Angels standing side by side near the subway car door as the train rattled through the long dark tunnels.

I had a summer class on the sticky, sweltering evening of July 13, 2017 and was anxious to get home to go for a swim. I'd just left the campus when the power went out, glass started breaking, the looters took to the streets, and I barely got to my car in time. With no traffic lights, my gas tank on empty, I battled my way home prepared to run over anyone who swung at my windshield with a baseball bat.

The legendary Sister Mary Assumpta and certain other Sisters of the Divine Compassion maintained order in a classroom of 52 students with iron fists, yardsticks and rosary beads as lassos. They'd taught us more than we gave them credit for: Never flinch or you’re done for.
For some vintage images from the citywide blackout of 1977--and haircuts--check out this clip from The New York Times:
In the summer of 2003, the power went out in NYC and multiple others cities in a chain reaction failure of the power grid. Midday, in the blazing heat (hint: climate change and energy inefficiency is straining the power grid past capacity). Luckily, I was upstate, which also lost power, but it was a lot cooler.

In the summer of 2011, there was an earthquake that had New Yorkers fleeing swaying skyscrapers into the streets and Hurricane Irene with long-term power outages in the same week.  I was using dry ice to keep my milk cool and writing by flashlight for at least a week. Odd coincidence.

Then, in 2012, Hurricane Sandy roared through the Tri State Area (during which they actually tried to evacuate Coney Island but that's another topic). Many people were out of power for over a month. My husband had to siphon gas out of our lawnmower so he could go get on line to fill the tank. I had to change dressings on a wound my son had sustained in an unrelated incident with a flashlight held under my right armpit.

On July 13, 2019, forty-two years to the day of the Big Blackout of 1977, J-Lo's concert was cut short. The lights of Broadway and Times Square East went dark, but Times Square West stayed lit. Major subways lines stopped dead, and people had to be evacuated from trains stuck in the tunnels, in oppressive 80 plus degree temperatures, which is the most scary (and disgusting) part, with all those aromas, rats, bugs...

And most New Yorkers took it in stride, because it was only half of the West Side this time. And some actors continued Broadway shows on the street. The inhabitants of in NYC, and the entire Tri State area may have PTSD after the horrific events of September 11, 2001, but we're battle hardened. There's always someone that will try and take advantage of a bad situation, but most New Yorkers in 2019 are in a much more united we stand, divided we fall mood than we were in 1977--and candlelight vigils were already planned to show solidarity with immigrants, so many of us had illumination right at hand when the need arose.

Carole Ann Moleti lives and works as a nurse-midwife in New York City, thus explaining her fascination with all things paranormal, urban fantasy, and space opera. Her nonfiction focuses on health care, politics, and women's issues. But her first love is writing science fiction and fantasy because walking through walls is less painful than running into them.
Excerpts of Carole's memoir, Someday I'm Going to Write a Book: Diary of an Urban Missionary range from the sweet and inspirational in A Quilt of Holidays to the edgy and irreverent in Not Your Mother's Book: On Being a Woman.

Carole's work has appeared in a variety of literary and speculative fiction venues. Short stories set in the world of her novels are featured in several of the Ten Tales anthologies. The Unfinished Business Series, a three volume paranormal romance, was published by Soulmate.

From  Author, Eleanor Kuhns:
Paul Bunyan, lumberjacks, and Simply Dead

Paul Bunyan and his blue ox Babe are part of the mythos of the frontier United States. The stories about his exploits are part of a uniquely American body of stories; the tall tale. Usually accompanied by Babe, an enormous blue ox, Paul Bunyan roamed the country performing feats that showcased his size and superhuman strength.  He is credited with forming landscapes like the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota (his footprints) and the Grand Canyon. (by dragging his axe through the ground.)

Like so many folktales, the stories about Paul Bunyan contain elements of the truth. They portray an exaggerated and idealized version of the lives of lumberjacks – as it was before 1945 when only hand tools were used.  (Logger is the term for the men who do this work in the 21st century.) A job done exclusively by men, lumbering was seasonal and was frequently migratory as the lumberjacks traveled wherever the trees were being harvested. American lumberjacks were first centered in north-eastern states such as Maine, where Simply Dead is set.

In an era where wood was used for everything, especially those all -important masts for the sailing ships, lumbering was an essential job and lumberjacks were much in demand.  It was physically demanding, dangerous and low paid. Before various kinds of machinery took over some of the jobs, all of them were done by men with axes, cross cut saws, ropes and other simple equipment.

The high climber (also known as a tree topper) used iron climbing hooks and rope to climb a tall tree. He would chop off limbs as he climbed and then chop off the top of the tree. Other specialized skills included chokers and chasers. The choker setters attached steel cables (or chokers) to downed logs so they could be dragged into the landing. The chasers removed the chokers once the logs were at the landing. Despite the common perception that all loggers cut trees, the actual felling of trees was also specialized job. Chokers and chasers were entry level; the fellers were a higher level and a position the chokers and chasers aspired to.

The cut logs were ‘skidded’ down a road or, as was done in Maine, floated down a river to a sawmill. Every spring, logs were floated down the rivers to Falmouth.  Log rolling, or controlling the logs by walking on them as they floated, was considered a great skill and is still demonstrated in Maine as a tourist attraction.

The lumberjacks prided themselves on their physical strength and their ability to do this hard and dangerous job. With few females present other than the wives of cooks and foremen, this was a very masculine culture that glorified competitiveness and aggression.

In Simply Dead, Rees first meets a lumberjack when he travels into the mountains in search of the men who abducted the midwife’s daughter. And a threatening and frightening individual this man is too.

By the 1960’s and 70’s, many of the jobs formerly done by the lumberjacks had been taken over by specialized machinery. Taking down trees is still treacherous and risky. Just ask the man hired to remove the dead trees from your yard.

All that’s left of the culture personified by Paul Bunyan are the stories and the statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe, most notably in Minnesota and Bangor, Maine.

Eleanor Kuhns is the 2011 winner of the Minotaur Books/Mystery Writers of America First Crime Novel. A lifelong librarian, she received her Masters from Columbia University and is currently the Assistant Director of the Goshen Public Library in Orange County New York.

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Twitter: #EleanorKuhns

From Author, Frankie Y. Bailey:
If Someone Made a Movie
I think most writers hear this question sooner or later – from the moderator of your panel, or a reader who stops to chat as she’s buying your book, or maybe it’s a question you ask yourself. I think you’ve guessed from my title what that question is:  “Who would you want to play [name of protagonist] in a movie?”

Let me admit up front, I have spent more time than I should have on the Internet trying to come up with a good answer to that question. After all, Lizzie Stuart is my character. I should know who I would like to play her in a movie – or on a television series. So, I’ve looked at photos of the talented African American women who might portray Lizzie, my female sleuth. I keep looking and thinking, and I still don’t have an answer.

Not that I’m anticipating needing to know. First, Hollywood is not sending me or my agent emails begging to option my series, and second, even if a director were interested, I would probably have no say-so at all regarding casting. And, then, there’s the third issue. Lizzie is a first-person narrator. She doesn’t spend a lot of time looking at herself. She only comments about herself in the context of haircuts or pet hairs on a skirt. I know that other characters find her attractive. But I – perhaps intentionally -- have never tried to imagine her face feature-by-feature.

You’ll notice that there is an illustrator that we assume to be Lizzie on the cover of both Death’s Favorite Child and A Dead Man’s Honor. These are new covers, created for the books as they were being reissued. I really love the look of these covers and the connection they establish among books in the series. But I also really liked the covers on the first editions published by Overmountain Press on which she did not appear. And I thought it was really cool when “In Her Fashion,” my first short story in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine (July 2014) included both an illustration of Lizzie and of another character in the story. (If you’d like to listen to that story, it’s at

I’m fine with all of this because I’m interested in how other people imagine Lizzie. I may never find a photograph or see someone on the street or movie screen and think, “That’s her! That’s Lizzie!” It’s more important that I, as author, know who she is and how she thinks and feels.  

I have a much better idea how John Quinn (the Philadelphia homicide detective that Lizzie meets in Death’s Favorite Child) looks. Lizzie describes him to the reader. I would be able to pick him out in a crowd. And, no, I don’t know who should play him in the movie. But I do know the feel of the chemistry between Quinn and Lizzie that would be crucial to make their relationship work on the screen. I have spent some time looking at white male actors because Lizzie and Quinn are an interracial couple. But they aren’t a “cute couple” (in the cozy sense). In fact, if I ever “saw” them in a café, they’d probably be having a rather intense conversation about suspects. 

Her mystery novels feature Southern-born crime historian, Lizzie Stuart, in five books, beginning with Death’s Favorite Child and A Dead Man’s Honor. The books are being reissued by Speaking Volumes. Frankie’s two near-future police procedurals feature Albany police detective, Hannah McCabe in The Red Queen Dies and What the Fly Saw (Minotaur Books). Frankie has also has written several short stories, including “In Her Fashion” (EQMM, July 2014), “The Singapore Sling Affair” (EQMM, Nov/Dec 2017), and “The Birth of the Bronze Buckaroo” (The Adventures of the Bronze Buckaroo, 2018). She is currently working on a nonfiction book about dress and appearance in American crime and justice, a historical thriller set in 1939, and the plots of the next Stuart and McCabe books.

Frankie is a past executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime.

Twitter:  @FrankieYBailey

Amazon: A Dead Man’s Honor

Amazon: Death’s Favorite Child
(all info provided and released by participating authors)

July 28, 2019

Northern New Mexico: Where My Heart Is--Janie Franz

When most people think of New Mexico, they either think of hot desert country like Arizona. In truth, though the whole state is considered high desert country, it isn’t very much like Arizona except in the far south. Up here in northern New Mexico where I live, you’ll find it a much different landscape with its own ambient charms.

I live on the edge of Santa Fe, in an ancient village community called Agua Fria. Francisco de Madrid started farming the area in 1603, participating in a long history of native peoples who had farmed the flood plains of the Santa Fe River for over 4000 years. Originally the village was called Ca-Tee-Ka by the Tano and Tewa peoples. Both Ca-Tee-Ka and Agua Fria mean Cold Water. It became an official town in 1640, spanning the area around present day Aqua Fria Street, which is part of the original El Camino Real from Mexico City to Santa Fe. The capital city was originally named La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Francisco de Asís, the Royal Town of the Holy Faith of Saint Francis of Assisi.

I live off San Isidro Crossing, along Rivers Edge Lane, a caliche road along the Santa Fe River. There is a Texas crossing along San Isidro Crossing, which means in very wet years like this one you have to ford the river there to get up to Agua Fria Street. The crossing is named for San Isidro Church, which was built in 1835. Because Santa Fe raised its reservoirs in 1945, farming is no longer possible in the village.

Yet here sprang a rich culture and community built upon a different landscape than arid deserts. It is part of a wider grouping of small towns in northern New Mexico. Less than an hour outside of Santa Fe, going east on I-25, is part of the lush Santa Fe National Forest where the Pecos River begins and rushes southward. Here among its stands of pinon pine and burr oak, there is respite from the rushing of city life.  The Santa Fe National Forest encompasses 1.6 million acres around Santa Fe and spreads northward both east and west of the city.

Farther up I-25 is the sprawling city of Las Vegas, NM. At one time it was called Meadow City and was established because of the vital sheep ranching in the region. It was established in 1835 around a single plaza in the traditional Spanish Colonial style.

When the railroad came in, a Harvey House was built near the rail center to accommodate visitors. Harvey Houses were started by Fred Harvey as chain hotels with fine dining restaurants. Though the business has long since closed, it is being restored by the community as a museum.

Las Vegas is a welcoming community that holds a 4 to 5 day fiesta around the 4th of July. Norteno music is at the heart of this fiesta, often featuring legends such as Al Hurricane, Jr, Chris Arellano, and Carlos Medina.

Northwest of Santa Fe, Route 285 takes you to Espanola where can go further north to Taos, NM. Founded ouside of Taso Pueblo, the city, like Santa Fe is an artist mecca and home of local musicians, including Billy Stewart and his old time banjo. Just outside of Taos lie vast acres of public land where even wild horses roam.

And sometimes you catch a farrier at work, such as Alexander Gavurnik of Circle G Horse Shoeing.

If you take another route out of Espanola, you’ll find pasture lands and wooded mountains around Chama, NM. It boasts steam train excursions throughout the year. Chama is the gateway to Colorado yet offers great hunting, fishing, and camping. It is another idyllic region in northern New Mexico.

So next time you think of New Mexico, consider coming to northern New Mexico. Explore the hospitality of the people, listen to the music, enjoy the great food, and, most of all, breathe the fresh mountain air.

Though my latest book, Ruins Legacy, takes place in Arizona, I am researching a spin-off, a murder mystery, that will start out in Arizona but will be mostly in New Mexico. It’s a whole different genre for me!

Janie Franz comes from a long line of liars and storytellers with deep roots in East Tennessee. Her anthropology degree is a refection of her wide curiosity. She is an author, a professional speaker, the US acquisition editor and a content editor for MuseItUp Publishing, an academic editor, ghostwriter, and reviewer. Previously, she published an online music publication (Refrain Magazine) and was an agent/publicist for a groove/funk band, a radio announcer, a yoga/relaxation instructor, a music festival publicist, and private chef.  She is the author of twelve titles with MUSE, a freelance writing manual, co-author of two wedding how-to books, and a self-help book. Refrain, Book 2 of The Lost Song trilogy, was a Top 10 Finisher, Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy, 2013 Preditors & Editors Reader Poll. She lives in Santa Fe where she writes fantasy, archaeology thrillers, paranormal, and contemporaries—and can be found on a dance floor.

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