December 4, 2016

Wisconsin, Taylor Fenner’s Little Corner of the World



To me, Wisconsin is more than a random state on the map or the backdrop for my first two novels, The Haunting Love and Finding Elizabeth. Wisconsin is home. Allow me to show you my little corner of the world through the eyes of my sometimes untraditional twenty-something-year-old self.
Sure, I could tell you about Door County, the Wisconsin Dells, or about the Packer Stadium in Green Bay; but I’m all about the hidden gems, the off-the-beaten-path places you’d never know were there until you stumbled across them. 

Come summertime my favorite place in the world is the Clear Water Harbor restaurant on the Chain-O-Lakes on the outskirts of Waupaca. You can’t beat the view as you sit on their back deck and enjoy quite possibly the best burgers in the world, especially as the sun is setting over the lake.

If you’re a car buff you won’t want to miss the Iola Old Car Show in Iola, Wisconsin held every year on the second week in July. Be sure to stop and say hi to the lady with the VW Beetles if you’re able. My mother makes sure to show one or two of her bugs at the show every year. 

If you’re a music lover like me you’ll love Summerfest, the world’s largest multi-genre music festival, which calls Milwaukee home. While you’re there explore the Historic Third Ward, home to many unique boutique shops and Brady Street in the middle of the Italian District. Stop in and bulk up on Italian groceries at Gloriosos Italian Market across the street from The Emperor of China restaurant which boasts some of the best Chinese food in Milwaukee. 


If you’re a ghost and paranormal fanatic like me, book a night at the Brumder Mansion Bed and Breakfast on Wisconsin Avenue and see if you encounter any paranormal activity. 

Closer to home I find weekly entertainment in Appleton, Wisconsin. Downtown College Avenue comes alive with various festivals, a large farmer’s market, and in the summer it shows its support to local artists with monthly outings called “Art on the Town”. College Avenue is also home to my favorite store: Angels Forever, Windows of Light; an eclectic gift shop with an uber friendly staff. 

Have a love for ink? Stop in and get a new tattoo at Colt’s Timeless Tattoos, either on College Avenue or in their Fox River Mall location. They do amazing work and I would never go anywhere else. 

I myself may live in a small Wisconsin city but if you look hard enough there's plenty of stuff to do in Shawano County. For the sports lover kayaks, canoes, and tubes can be rented to take down the Wolf River in the summertime. Every fall Shawano County hosts a "Miles of Art" weekend showcasing local artists including the amazing murals painted on the sides of local businesses in Wittenberg. For the equestrian in your life, you definitely have to check out the Caroline Colorama in the fall. Imagine riding your horse through the beautiful autumn foliage. North of Shawano County sits Peshtigo, the location of The Great Peshtigo Fire of 1871 - the same night as the great Chicago Fire. What few know is that the Peshtigo Fire was larger and more destructive than the more famous fire to our south. I’m sure there are a few ghosts still hanging around there too! 


With all of these interesting places to spend time, how could I not be inspired?
***
Taylor Fenner grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. She's been an avid reader with a vivid imagination since she was very young. Most of her childhood can be described as having her nose stuck in one book or another. She's a strong believer in ghosts and the paranormal, which led to her interest in writing paranormal romance.

When she's not busy writing you can find her reading and reviewing YA novels, adding to her extensive book collection, experimenting with new recipes, and fighting with her cross-eyed cat, Tiger.

Taylor still currently lives in Wisconsin, not far from where her first novel, The Haunting Love is set. Taylor is the author of The Haunting Love, Finding Elizabeth, and the Eternals Trilogy. Into the Light, the second book in the Eternals Trilogy will be available in eBook, Paperback, and Hardcover on December 13, 2016!
You can connect with Taylor online on Facebook: www.facebook.com/taylorfennerwrites , on Twitter: www.twitter.com/taylorfenner , or on her blog: https://taylorfenner.blogspot.com  

Leave a comment to be randomly selected to win an eBook copy of the first book in the Eternals Trilogy, Out of Darkness!

 


Book Buy:
Finding Elizabeth: Amazon: http://amzn.com/B00ZVDL5I
Out of Darkness: Amazon: http://amzn.com/B01BGDETG0
Into the Light Pre-order Links: Amazon: https://amzn.com/B01LYU7255

November 27, 2016

Belinda Anderson’s Log Cabin View of West Virginia



A red-tailed hawk flies across a woodland, unaware of the political boundaries that during the Civil War created a state in the shape of a frying pan with two handles. West Virginia’s visible landscape offers shrouds of thick forest, winding rivers, fields of corn, coal excavation and other industrial sites, a few cityscapes and numerous small towns.


So begins Wolf Creek Mountain: Remembering a Vanished People. This project, co-sponsored by Alderson Main Street, began with my collection of oral histories and is developing into a narrative. My previous four books are fiction – three short story collections and a middle-grade fantasy novel. All of them pay tribute to West Virginia, a land of beauty. And stories.

Like the story of the woman on Wolf Creek Mountain who got so mad at her husband that she took to her bed and never got up again. She outlived her husband and most of her children.    
Like the story of French, the friendly lion that ran the streets of Alderson until the town enacted a leash law.
Like the story of the man in Greenbrier County who was convicted of the murder of his wife by the testimony of a ghost, as related by the victim’s mother. (Check out the details at www.wvencyclopedia.org.)

Stories told to me and stories found in books filled my childhood. I grew up in West Virginia on a small farm surrounded by woodland, in a house framed around a log cabin. It was the perfect incubator for a writer. As a teen, I’d take paper and pen into the woods, find a log for a perch and scribble my thoughts. Nature and writing for me are twined like the decorative potato vines my mother encouraged to wind around the front porch posts.

Now I live in my own log cabin, where I can now sit comfortably on the back deck, scribbling and gazing at the woods behind my house. Wildlife parades through my yard and meadow – turkeys, deer, turtles, skunks, raccoons, and even a fox and a coyote. At first, spotting the coyote in the twilight through a window, I thought, wow, that fox is pretty scraggly. He looks more like the cartoon Wile E. Coyote. Pause for brain cell processing. Oh, that’s because he is a coyote.



Nature motifs frequently find their way into my writing, as in this bit from the short story collection Buckle Up, Buttercup: “Crows laughed and gossiped in the high branches of the hemlocks shading the walking trail.” Here’s a character description from the same book: “She presented the impression of a dandelion nearly gone to seed, with a head of wild silvery hair stuck on a skinny stem of a body.” The similarity of Queen Ann’s Lace to a poisonous plant is one of the key plot elements in my children’s novel, Jackson vs. Witchy Wanda.


Whenever I see turkeys, I’m reminded of the time a flock showed up at my childhood home. My father could have grabbed his rifle and rushed out the door, bagging as many turkeys as possible – more food on the table. Instead, he took the time to look up the state hunting regulations and then proceeded to take out only one turkey, the state limit. He was on his own land, with no one around to observe his honesty. But that’s the kind of man he was, and it’s a trait of many West Virginians.

So are the qualities of resiliency, compassion, humor and hope, traits that show up often in my writing. In fact, for my second collection of short stories, I added the fictional setting of Hope County to West Virginia’s geography.

Much of my writing voice derives from growing up with story telling rich in imagery and detail. My Aunt Reta said about my grandmother, “Mommy could whip a bear when she was younger.” In describing one man, she said, “You could use his shoes for a mirror. He never let a piece of dirt touch him. He went shining all the time.” He went shining all the time. How many writers, including me, would love to produce a sentence like that! 

Sometimes my characters do. Twilight Dawn offers this wisdom in The Bingo Cheaters: “ … maybe a human life can’t be designed as neatly as a quilt. I thought about how some folks would ask to see samples of my work. I couldn’t just open a trunk and point to a packed quilt. I’d lift one out, unfold it, shake it a little to air it out, and spread it on a bed. Then the pattern could be viewed and appreciated for its beauty.

“Maybe a life has to completely unfurl before its design truly can be seen.”

Belinda Anderson, an award-winning freelance writer, is the author of four books, published by the Mountain State Press, West Virginia’s oldest literary press, based at the University of Charleston. Her first three books are short story collections: The Well Ain't Dry Yet, The Bingo Cheaters and Buckle Up, Buttercup. Her most recent book, Jackson Vs. Witchy Wanda: Making Kid Soup, is a middle-grade novel.
Her literary work was selected for inclusion on the first official literary map of West Virginia, published by Fairmont State University.  

Belinda teaches creative writing workshops and makes author presentations at conferences and schools. She works individually with writers, too, having been selected as a mentor for the Monroe Arts Alliance scholarship program and a Master Artist working with emerging writers through a grant program of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History.

Visit Belinda’s web site at www.BelindaAnderson.com , where you can read a story from her first short story collection.

           
Belinda offers a chance to win a copy of The Bingo Cheaters. Comment here for your chance to win. Be sure to include your contact information. Thank you for stopping by!



                                                                                            (Material provided by author.  Wildlife Photo Credits to Theresa Winstead
   https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alderson-Artisans-Gallery/1745176799036052  Photos provided by Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center