October 21, 2018

Sounds ClichĂ© but All in Texas Means Big—So Go Big with Texas Talent

Nancy G. West Novels with Texas Settings: Aggie Mundeen Mysteries

As is true in many parts of our beautiful country, various landscapes in Texas affect the people who live there. I choose specific areas of Texas where Aggie Mundeen, a Chicago columnist transplanted to Texas, can react to people in different locales who have quirks and customs unique to the area. Her ability to solve the mystery can depend on her understanding the idiosyncrasies and mannerisms of people she meets. 

For example, in Fit to Be Dead, Aggie decides that since she writes about strategies to stay young, she better get in shape before people in San Antonio read her column. So she joins Fit and Firm Health Club, but stumbles into murder. The suspects are fitness groupies who relate to each other Texas style, even while they exercise. 

Lefty Award Finalist http://tinyurl.com/FitToBeDead

In Dang Near Dead, Aggie and friends vacation at a dude ranch near Bandera, Texas, dubbed the Cowboy Capital of the World. Surrounded by dudes, wranglers, ex-cons, sharp-shooters and critters, what could go wrong?   
Chanticleer Award Finalist-Mystery/Suspense. http://tinyurl.com/DangNearDead

In Smart, But Dead. Aggie, approaching forty, is terrified of slip-sliding into middle age. She returns to college to study the genetics of aging, learns about the Human Genome Project and DNA, and discovers a dead body. The San Antonio detective tells her to steer clear of the investigation. But dangerously curious and programmed to prod, she races to solve the crime and stirs up the academics. She winds up prime suspect and is on target to become next campus corpse.  

Short-listed, Mystery/Mayhem Award.  http://tinyurl.com/pxg2bmt

Having helped solve crimes at a Texas health club, a dude ranch and a university, what other Texas location could Aggie explore? The River Walk. The winding river running beneath San Antonio’s streets with its unforgettable sights, sounds and ambiance, is the perfect place for Aggie Mundeen and Detective Sam to vacation. Away from crime, they might improve their dicey relationship. But crime never sleeps, even in River City. In the midst of Fiesta, Aggie and Sam face challenges in River City Dead.                                                                    
Winner: Raven Award for Mystery/Suspense                             

Nominee: Killer Nashville Award                                                       http://tinyurl.com/RiverCityDead

Like every state, Texas has unpredictable weather and natural disasters.  What if Aggie and Sam, despite their different approaches to crime solving, make progress toward improving their relationship only to be caught up in a natural disaster?  
With over 5600 square miles of inland water, copious amounts of wind and rain can produce widespread calamity across Texas. 

The calmest river can be placid, with hints of Utopia then the sky can turn ominous.  
In The Plunge, gale force winds and massive rainfall turn the lazy meandering Guadalupe River into a raging force. As darkness descends, lightning highlights two people arguing on a dock across the river. When lightning flashes again, they are gone. Do Aggie and Sam witness an accident? A drowning? A murder?
The river rises higher and higher, creeping across land and into houses. Aggie and Sam are caught in disaster. They question their stamina, their abilities, their significance, their priorities, and their fate.
The Plunge infects readers with the threat of looming tragedy and the helplessness of plunging into a rampant river and being swept by an untamable force. Do survivors really survive if disaster changes them forever?

Have you been swept up in a disaster in your state? How did the experience change you?
I’m offering a print copy of THE PLUNGE-my new release and you can be one of the first to get one right here! Just leave a form of contact to enter.                                         

James R. Callan Brings MORE Big to Texas:
I was born in Texas. But living other places has given me a chance to understand what people love about this state.  My family spent several years in Oklahoma while I was in a Ph.D. program. Oklahoma is an interesting state and despite being one of the youngest states, has a very interesting history. Connecticut was our home for twenty years. What a lovely place. The new England foliage in the fall is truly inspiring. But in a good year, the east Texas foliage rivals Connecticut's.

There was always the call to return to Texas.  Why?  For one thing, it has just about everything.  It is large and you can travel, take vacations, study dinosaur tracks without ever leaving the state.  Although many think of it as a lot of flat land, Texas has the highest mountains east of the Rockies.

If you like the beaches and the salt water, Texas has 367 miles of coast line with the Gulf of Mexico.  It has the advantage of being warm water, thus ready for vacationers  year round. There are dissolute dunes, and vibrant marshes, the untouched sands along Padre Island, and the quiet backwaters of Laguna Salada.

Big Bend is an immense and amazing national park.  It has the largest protected area of Chihuahuan desert topography in the United States. It ranges in altitude from 1,800 feet at the Rio Grande river to Emory Peak at 7,832.  It is one of only ten sites in the world certified for dark-sky stargazing. There are deep canyons, hiking and backpacking trails, and more than 450 species of birds.
The Palo Duro Canyon, located in the Texas Panhandle, is second only to the Grand Canyon in size.

Then there are major metropolitan areas that provide all the "city features" one might want.  The Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex has a population of about seven and a half million.  The Houston metropolitan area is seven million.  San Antonio metro population is two and a half million.
We live in East Texas. Unlike the plains of Texas featured in old western movies, East Texas gets rain, and is home to a large lumber industry.  Of course, oil and cattle are still very important industries.

Texas has produced many great writers. Among them are Larry McMurtry, James Michener, Molly Ivns, Cormac McCarthy, Elmeer Kelton, Joe Lansdale, John Erickson, Rick Riordan, Wendy Davis, Janet Dailey, J. Frank Dobie, Jodie Thomas, Caleb Pirtle III, and Willie Nelson (who wrote so many great songs).

If you haven't been to Texas, it's worth a visit. Or maybe several.

My books are generally set in Texas. Metro Dallas and rural East Texas are close enough I can utilize both easily, thereby incorporating the sophisticated big city people and the unpretentious rural folks. It works well. In my latest novel, Political Dirty Trick, a highly educated Dallas woman and a country sheriff join forces to solve not only the fake news that is changing a gubernatorial election, but also a major art theft, two murders and several attempted murders.  Political Dirty Trick is available in digital, paperback, hardcover, and audio formats.

I’m offering a copy of Political Dirty Trick.  Just leave contact information for your chance to win this brand new release!  

My website:  http://www.jamesrcallan.com
My Blog:  http://www.jamesrcallan.com/blog
My Author Page:  http://amzn.to/1eeykvG

Author Bio
After a successful career in mathematics and computer science, receiving grants from the National Science Foundation and NASA, and being listed in Who’s Who in Computer Science and Two Thousand Notable Americans, James R. Callan turned to his first love—writing.  He has had four non-fiction books published.  He now concentrates on his favorite genres, mystery/suspense/thriller. His twelfth book released in May, 2018.

October 14, 2018

Middle Tennessee – Lots More Than Hee Haw and Honkey Tonks with Linda Thorne

My husband and I chose Tennessee as a new home base without having ever been here. In 2007 we were both out of work and, after some online research, decided to look for jobs in this beautiful state, specifically the Nashville suburb of Hermitage. We started answering ads for jobs in Middle Tennessee. We didn’t use our California address knowing that would be an obstacle when looking for a job on the other side of the country. Instead, we sent resumes with a Nashville post office box and began getting calls. I was the first to be invited to interview for a human resources manager position at a company near Nashville and I packed up and moved here. I didn’t get that job, but my husband joined me in early 2008 and I was gainfully employed a few months later.

Nashville is the capital of Tennessee and often called “Music City” for good reason. Artists flock to downtown Nashville in hopes they’ll strum and sing their way into celebrity status. It’s not just country music the city is known for. We have rock and roll, symphonies, and blues. Nashville is the home of the Nashville Jazz Workshop and B.B. King’s Blues Club. Since I’ve been here I’ve worked in a building that used to be the recording studio for Willie Nelson. I  know the man who found the stolen guitar that Gibson Guitar Company gave B.B. King for his 80th birthday. Eric Dahl found the special guitar and returned it in person to B.B. King, and then wrote a book about it. Here’s the link to that story: https://www.ericdahlpublicity.com/book

You can hang out in downtown Nashville and never be bored. Have some of our great barbecue ribs or hot chicken and take a ride on the Trash Nash tour bus. Visit places like the Country Music Hall of Fame or go down Broadway and stop in at one famous honky-tonk spot after another or visit Printers Alley and the Ryman Auditorium. While in town, you’ve got to see the Parthenon, which is a full-scale, honest-to-Pete, exact replica of the real Parthenon in Greece.

We've got sports galore. Tennessee Titans, Nashville Sounds, Nashville Predators, Nashville Metro’s Pro Soccer and some great college teams like Vanderbilt, Austin Peay, UT, MTSU, and more.

For a writer, I hit pay dirt moving to Nashville and didn’t even know it until I’d settled in. Every year I attend the Killer Nashville International Writers Conference held close by. https://killernashville.com/

The picture below is of one of the two panels I served on this past August at Killer Nashville.

Before I moved here, I didn’t know that Nashville had about the largest writers’ meetup group in the United States. I eagerly joined them and also the Sisters in Crime Middle Tennessee Chapter. Click the SinC Middle Tennesse link below for more information : http://www.sistersincrimemiddletennessee.org/

How convenient to have Fall Fest in Hermitage, three miles from my home. I attended last week and sold books with a group of other local authors.

We also have the Southern Festival of Books each October. The 2018 event ended today. Here’s a picture of the most recent past panel I was on at the SF of Books.

And, on the outskirts of downtown Nashville, there’s the Grand Old Opry and another hidden gem outside of downtown called the Loveless CafĂ© famous not only for its southern style cooking, but its biscuits made by someone cooking on a television program who was known as “the biscuit lady.”

I’ve stuck primarily with Nashville on this post because I have not spent much time outside of this area, but I’ve seen some other spots and heard of many more. There’s honestly way too much in this state for a post the size of mine. I could talk about Gatlinburg. The famous Dollywood in nearby Pigeon Forge. Or Memphis and its Beale Street and the famous Graceland, the Elvis Presley home.

In my third, yet unwritten, book in the Judy Kenagy mystery series, I plan to relocate Judy to the Nashville area of Tennessee. Once she is here, like me, this will be her home for the remainder of the series.

For more about me visit: http://www.lindathorne.com
My Amazon Author Page

For more about my book: Amazon – Hyperlink to Your Amazon
                                                   Barnes and Noble

Black Opal Books: http://www.blackopalbooks.com/shop-our-store/blackopalstore/just-another-termination

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--just leave a form of contact to be entered so I can find you if you're the WINNER!!  Thanks for stopping by and learning all about me! 
(All info provided and released by author)

October 7, 2018

Virtual Library of South Dakota

The South Dakota State Library is a fedral depository library and provides access to print and electronic federal government publications.  Print publications are available via interlibrary loan.  Electronic publications are linked from the state library online catalog.
Electronic resources are provided for FREE to ALL South Dakota citizens through a combination of funding from the South Dakota State Library and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

More information on this versatile virtual program is listed here https://library.sd.gov/

Library Services and Technology Act South Dakota State Library:
LSTA funds have provided considerable benefits to the people of South Dakota over the years. Currently the use of these funds is focused on statewide services including an important core collection of electronic resources available to every South Dakotan; training and development for South Dakota’s public libraries, especially those in rural and underserved areas; support for summer reading programs throughout the state; and support for interlibrary loan activities. In addition, the LSTA funds provide critical support for services to visually or physically impaired South Dakotans. Through surveys, focus groups, and other stakeholder feedback, it is clear that our current use of LSTA funds has wide support throughout the state. This new plan anticipates continuing this same approach to the use of these funds. If funding permits, this new plan will allow judicious expansion of support services, most especially for school libraries as they retool to meet the 21st century “Future Ready” pedagogy and instructional trends within our state. This LSTA Five-Year Plan includes an optimal list of goals and activities which may be pursued by the South Dakota State Library if adequate funding is available. When funding is limited, some of the goals and activities may not be fully realized. In addition, this LSTA Five-Year Plan does not encompass the full strategic plan for the State Library, only that portion which may be financed with LSTA funds.

The South Dakota State Library, in collaboration with Siouxland Libraries and K.O. Lee Aberdeen Public Library, are hosting these events where you can view a variety of different performing acts all in one day! These events are FREE!  

(All info downloaded from https://library.sd.gov/)

September 30, 2018

Greetings, Human! Sherri Fulmer Moore’s Character Speaks Out

It is my honor to give you my impressions of the State of South Carolina for this prestigious blog. My research indicates that much has been written about the locations and geological diversity of this state, so I would like to share other facts about South Carolina that I find fascinating.
Earth is an interesting planet, and planting our alien leader in the State of South Carolina might seem a curious thing to most humans. Why would we pick this location when we have the entire planet to choose from? Certainly, I could have chosen a host residing in a more temperate location. Our race arrived in August, and the first thing I learned about South Carolina is that it isn’t the heat, it’s the humidity that gets to the human host. Humidity levels are high all summer, but August seems to be the peak season when the temperature and humidity combine to make it “famously hot,” as the slogan for the City of Columbia indicates. Be prepared to be hot if you are in South Carolina between April and October. Thank goodness Lake Murray is nearby to cool off for recreational activities.

The subtropical location of South Carolina contributes to a mild climate that creates opportunities for outdoor activities. One thing humans enjoy are festivals. You can find a festival to attend many weekend in the spring, summer, or fall in South Carolina. Some popular events include: The Poultry Festival in Batesburg-Leesville in May; the Lexington County Peach Festival on the 4th of July; the South Carolina Tobacco Festival in Lake City; the Chapin Labor Day Festival; the Columbia Greek Festival and Irmo Okra Strut in mid to late September; the SC State Fair in early to mid October, the Craftsman’s Classic Art & Craft Festival (in Columbia in March and November, and Myrtle Beach in August); the SC Oyster Festival in November; and various cultural festivals throughout the year. The Soda City Market is open on Main Street in Downtown Columbia every weekend, and there are various Farmers Markets offering seasonal treats in the summer months. Riverbanks Zoo and the Greenville Zoo are open year round to offer many recreational and educational opportunities. Many are in the central part of the state, but the Low country is known for various seafood festivals, and the upstate boasts good art and cultural events.

There are no major league sports, but there are many colleges in the state who have been successful in competitive endeavors. Clemson University won the national football championship in 2016. The University of South Carolina won the national baseball championship in 2010, and the ladies basketball team won the NCAA tournament in 2017. The College of Charleston also won the national baseball championship in 2006 and 2014. People said there must be something in the water to contribute to winning these titles, but I didn’t detect any anomalies that would enhance athletic performance. Still, the residents of this state are enthusiastic about their alumni schools and teams of choice. Stadiums are often filled on weekends in the fall and spring here.

The good weather and diversity of geography also contributes to a great deal of variety in this small state, but it might be bigger than you think. Previous writers on this blog and elsewhere online have told you about the bustling capitol city of Columbia (where my host resides), the historic beauty of Charleston, the tourist charm of Myrtle Beach, the artistic communities in upstate Greenville, and the charm of small towns all over the state. One thing I find interesting is the dichotomy of the growth of the major cities like Columbia, Charleston, and Greenville. South Carolina has become the number four retirement destination in the nation. Add population growth due to many colleges in the state with normal migration of young and middle age adults, and the result is that many cities in South Carolina have seen exponential population growth in the past two decades. The state population has grown by nearly 900,000 since the 2000 census, and is projected to top 5 million by 2020. This small state offers opportunity for all people regardless of age, demographics, educational status, or profession. 

You can achieve many goals and dreams in this small corner of the world. That’s amazing considering that it’s still a rural state, and there are many small towns if you take an adventure off the beaten path. Aiken and Beaufort are both in the top ten of “The South’s Best Small Towns 2018” by Southern Living Magazine. Most lists will give you locations on the coast, like Hilton Head Island, Beaufort, McClellanville, and Georgetown, but the rest of the state has charming locations. For example, there’s York (just south of Charlotte, NC), and Traveler’s Rest in the upstate. And don’t forget the countless state parks that offer a variety of natural, cultural, and recreational opportunities in forests, beaches, lakes, and the mountains.  Make reservations well in advance if you wish to stay in a State Park, as they book up quickly year round!

Another great place to seek peace and solitude is Mempkin Abbey in Moncks Corner. This Trappist Monistary welcomes the public to visit for tours and prayers. Retreats can be scheduled if you desire more solitude and reflection. This is one of many beautiful, peaceful locations in South Carolina to “find yourself” if the hustle and bustle of those crowds and your full life are getting to you. My host needs a respite from activity from time to time, and am happy that this state offers locations away from the crowds for personal reflection like this.

Spiritualism isn’t limited to Mempkin Abbey, as the entire state is rich in history and spirit. The state is filled with ghost stories. You can find spirits that connect you with the past anywhere in this state. The Battery in Charleston (also called White Point Gardens) is one of the most haunted places in the state, where the spirits of countless pirates who were hung in the area roam to exact revenge on their executioners. Ironically, this is also a popular spot for engagements and weddings (during the day). 

Also on the list of top haunted places are the South Carolina Lunatic Asylum in Columbia, and the Greenville Tuberculosis Hospital in Greenville. The Salem Black River Church in Sumter is haunted by a priest whose family was wiped out by the plague. Then there’s The Abandoned Mansion in Santee, so named because there are no government records of who built it, who lived there, or why it was abandoned. People report seeing lights flickering in the upstairs windows. Hell’s Gate in Spartanburg is the most haunted cemetery in the state, with strange lights, mysterious mists, child’s laughter, and mysterious cell phone disruptions and calls that result in a busy signal. I must admit a level of impression over spirits who can manage your technology!

No doubt, this is an interesting state in all ways. It’s rich in history, diverse in geography and culture, and full of opportunity for all people. Best of all, it’s easy to travel to and through, as it had a number of Interstate Highways and secondary roads, four Amtrack passenger routes, and seven airports. There’s something for everybody here, no matter your age or life purpose. Perhaps that’s why this area was so appealing to me: it might be a small area, but it’s big in heart and history, and boundless in beauty and opportunity.

Humans, the author is giving away a free ebook copy of any of her titles through Amazon. Comment on this post for a chance to win. Leave a form of contact so we can find you. 

Sherri Fulmer Moore says:  Most writers use their bio an explanation of who they are and why they write. I'll make this simple. My name is Sherri Fulmer Moorer. I write because I've always loved to do it, and ebooks gave me an opportunity to share those stories with readers that I just couldn't pass up. Plain and simple, I'm an opportunist. When the ebook revolution hit, I dove in because I wanted to be involved on the front end of this new wave. Who doesn't want to be part of a revolution?
I write in a variety of genres because I can't be pigeon holed into one area, and I'm many other things in addition to being an author. I work full time in professional licensing, which is great for keeping me in touch with people and reality and, in turn, inspires to write more. I'm married with two parrots that keep our hearts, home, and lives filled with joy and silliness that most people find strange. I'm a social media rambler, church volunteer and borderline introvert/extrovert who's kindred spirit, according to online quizzes, is Scooter from The Muppets when the introvert wins, and a Sith Inquisitor when the extrovert wins.

Visit my website: http://www.sherrithewriter.com

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