September 24, 2017

Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but our authors’ group is far from small, so says Author Julien Ayotte

In 2012, I released my debut novel, Flower of Heaven, and shortly thereafter  decided to attend a meeting of a newly formed group of Rhode Island authors-The
Association of Rhode Island Authors (ARIA).  Back then, we were about twenty-five authors strong.  Today, ARIA’s membership is closer to three hundred authors and still growing.  What works for you may not work for others.  The opportunity to share information among authors almost always leads to better writing, better marketing, and lifetime camaraderie with other authors.

While I live in the Ocean State, my home in Cumberland is actually fifty miles north of Narragansett and Newport, our premier ocean attractions.  The northern part of Rhode Island has a very colonial history with names like Roger Williams, Samuel Slater, and everything associated with the textile industry until the late 1960s.  Now, the old mills, what few that remain, have become condominium complexes, the last visible trace of a once thriving industry.

A Life Before

My wife and I moved into a new home in Cumberland in 2011, a one-story residence which needed a radon gas mitigation system because the level of radon gas emanating from the ground into our basement level was too high.  Then a thought came to me.  What if a devious contractor hid the threat of radon levels from prospective buyers and exposed them to the danger of lung cancer as a result of overexposure to this odorless gas.  At about the same time, I had been reading about factual accounts of reincarnation in India, and decided to see if I could combine the two events into one mystery thriller.  The result was quite satisfying and the ending quite startling.

The research required for the book involved extensive reading on radon gas and its effect on individuals who are overexposed to this gas emanating from basements left unsealed.  When I heard that over 20,000 people a year die of lung cancer from exposure to this gas, I was shocked.  The research on reincarnation was fascinating, especially the true accounts of Shanti Devi whose claims at being reincarnated could never be refuted, no matter how many attempts were made to do so.  Much of my research is included in some form in the novel to allow the reader to do his/her own follow-up if they choose to do so.  Most of the locations in my books are places my wife and I have been to over the years.  It allows me to take readers to places they wish they had been.  According to many readers, “You have taken me to places I wish I had been to, but now I feel like I’ve been there.”

I have always loved a good mystery, and have had the good foresight to solve ones I’ve read or seen before they are revealed to the readers or viewers.  This often upsets my wife who wonders how I do this.

What I enjoy most is when readers tell me how much they enjoyed my stories and that I deserve more recognition than I am getting.  That is quite flattering.  A Life Before has been cited by Jon Land, a USA Today bestselling author, as a work worthy of reading, remembering, and recommending.  US Review of Books and Apex Reviews called the novel a must read and a brilliant novel.  As an author, what more can I ask for?...other than a literary agent and a movie producer’s blessing.

Flower Of Heaven
My debut novel in late 2012 was Flower of Heaven, a thriller about an affair between a young French woman from Paris who has an innocent affair with a young American on holiday.  Once she finds that her young lover is a newly ordained priest, the affair ends as abruptly as it began, but not without its consequences.  Francoise Dupont is pregnant and has twin sons which she gives up for adoption because she is penniless and cannot raise the sons.  Fr. Richard Merrill is unaware for thirty-five years that he is the father of the boys until Francoise informs him.  She is now part of a royal family in a Mid-Eastern oil-rich country and seeks Fr. Merrill’s help in finding the sons who are in danger from enemies of the royal family.  In both Flower of Heaven and its sequel, Dangerous Bloodlines, the reader experiences searches in Paris, Stockholm, Orvieto, Italy, and into war-torn Ethiopia to find the sons.  These two books have each won four national book awards, hold a prestigious Kirkus Review, and carry excellent rating reviews on Amazon.

Dangerous Bloodlines
I am a sucker for a good heroine, and all three of my novels have one.  Clearly in Flower of Heaven and the sequel, Dangerous Bloodlines, the main character is Francoise Dupont, the young French woman who rises from depression after giving birth to twin sons out of wedlock to become a princess in another kingdom.  Her dedication to the betterment of women in her newly adopted country is only overshadowed by her unfailing quest to find the two sons she foolishly gave up for adoption years earlier.  In A Life Before, the heroine is Samantha Collins, the headstrong college student possessed with the mind of a murdered young housewife from twenty one years earlier.  She is determined to rid the demons in her dreams, even if it means she must accept that she is the reincarnation of the slain woman of the past.

I love to read David Baldacci, James Patterson, John Grisham, and Dan Brown, all excellent and accomplished mystery thriller authors.  For me to be mentioned as writing like they do is quite humbling.

My wife and I have traveled the world during our fifty four years of marriage and, at age 75, we don’t have much of a bucket list.  At this stage of my life, I plan to write at least one thriller a year for the next ten years, god-willing. It would be rewarding to land a literary agent and a good publishing house that could get one or more of my books into a screenplay or major film series on television.  Perhaps one day that will happen.  Until then, I keep writing.  By the time this appears in Annette’s blog, I will have released my fourth thriller, Disappearance, about the troubles within the witness protection program.

To learn more about me, visit my website,, where you can connect to all the links for my books, including my email address.

The person with the best comments to this post here will receive a signed copy of my new release, Disappearance, and a surprise gift unique to Rhode Island. Please leave some way for me to contact you, preferably an email address.
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September 17, 2017

J. R. Lindermuth’s Pennsylvania Inspiration

Too a large degree--and I think this is particularly true of writers--we're influenced by the places where we grow up or live for extended periods.

As writers, whether we love or loathe these places, they tend to show up in our work.
I know it's true for me. Most of my published novels and short stories are set in places where I've lived. I grew up, and now live again, in Pennsylvania's anthracite coal region, right on the edge of what's known as the Pennsylvania Dutch country.

So my environment is a mix of what some might term bleak and harsh (the area ravaged by centuries of coal mining and now depressed by lack of economic opportunity) and the more romantic Amish and non-Amish tourist destinations. In fact, there is beauty and despair in both areas.

The beauty can be found in both scenery and people, though it may be less obvious in the former.
Interested in geology? The Whaleback Anticline near my home in Shamokin is considered one of the most impressive geological formations in the eastern United States. Plant fossils are common in shale in the surrounding area, which is considered a natural laboratory for the geologists, students and others who annually visit the site.

If you'd like to get an idea what it was like to work in the mines, I recommend a visit to Pioneer Tunnel in Ashland. You can descend 1,800 feet into the mine tunnel where a guide will explain how coal is mined. Bring a sweater, because temperature in the mine drops to an average 52 chilly degrees.

History is abundant throughout the region. Thomas Edison came to my hometown Shamokin in 1882 and the world's first three-wire electric light plants were opened under his direction in July 1883 in Sunbury and Shamokin. The first church to have electric lighting was St. Edward's (now Mother Cabrini Catholic parish) in Shamokin.

I serve as librarian for our county historical society in Sunbury and we're quartered in the home of the last commander of Fort Augusta, a bastion formed for defense in the French and Indian War. Just across the river in Northumberland is the home of Joseph Priestley, dissident minister and scientist, the discoverer of oxygen. Lorenzo DaPonte, Mozart's librettist, also lived in Sunbury for a time before being tempted to New York by Clement Moore. DaPonte had a role in Schlussel's Woman, my first novel.

Three writers who've had influence on me also have roots in this area. Though he spent much of his career in New York City, John O'Hara was a native of Pottsville (Gibbsville in many of his best stories), just up the road from Shamokin. Then there's Conrad Richter, born just over the hill in Tremont, who came back to live in Pine Grove after a sojourn in New Mexico. His historical fiction is set in Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Mexico, places he knew well. Darryl Ponicsan, whose fiction and screenwriting cover a wide spectrum, showed his roots in the 1973 novel Andoshen PA., a transposed spelling of his hometown, Shenandoah.

Though my most recent novel The Tithing Herd is a western, my home area continues to provide the most inspiration for stories.  I’m giving away a copy of The Tithing Herd to one lucky person.  Leave a comment for your change to win.  Please include a form of contact.

A retired newspaper editor, J. R. Lindermuth is the author of 16 novels and a non-fiction regional history. Since retiring, he has served as librarian of his county historical society where he assists patrons with genealogy and research. He lives and writes in a house built by a man who rode with Buffalo Bill Cody. His short stories have appeared in a variety of magazines. He is a member of International Thriller Writers and the Short Mystery Fiction Society, where he served a term as vice president. You are invited to visit his website at:
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September 10, 2017

My Oregon, Jane Kirkpatrick

“Oregon, My Oregon” is my state’s song but it’s also how native Oregonians and converts like me feel about our great Northwest home. Despite what you may have heard about Oregon — that it rains all the time, that we’re all moldy and that we want visitors but not new residents— Oregon is an all season, all weather, all welcoming state. She welcomed me 43 years ago (from my native state of Wisconsin) and I’ve become a true convert meeting my husband here and beginning my writing life here. 

The Emerald State is bordered to the south by California and the north by the Columbia River. For twenty-seven years, my husband and I “homesteaded” not far from the Columbia River on a remote ranch. There my writing career began with my memoir Homestead the story of pursuing a dream. Very Oregonian as thousands crossed the plains seeking a dream.  Our homestead, seven miles from the mailbox and 11 miles from a paved road. 

My state was once a territory that ran from the Pacific Ocean to the Western slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Noted historically for its many indigenous people who welcomed Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery in 1804-06, the first settlement of Astoria wasn’t formed until 1811. One woman, an Iowa Indian woman named Marie Dorion, made that journey west to establish that fort with 60 men, her husband and two little boys. (She inspired my three books called The Tender Ties series and fed my own interest in writing novels based on the lives of historical women). The pioneering spirit of strength, innovation, neighborliness and endurance shown by early settlers continues today. 
Emigrants arrived here on the now famous Oregon Trail from the 1840s onward.  This Road We Traveled is one of my Oregon Trail stories about a 66 year-old woman traveling west from Missouri who was later named the Mother of Oregon by the legislature. Free land meant homesteaders made their way into the lush Willamette Valley where, honestly it does rain a lot.  

But the state boasts several unique landscapes. The Oregon coast has both rugged and serene beaches that lure kite flyers  and surfers. We celebrated our 50th year of Oregon’s Beach Bill allowing public access to all of Oregon’s beaches, a unique and rare law. Travel east over the coast range and you’re in the Willamette Valley (that captures the University of Oregon Ducks in Eugene and the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis. Such gentle water-related mascots we have!) The state capital Salem, and the largest city in the state, Portland (home of National Book Award Winner Ursula LeGuin), and most of Oregon’s population, is in that valley between the coastal mountain range and the Cascades. Southern Oregon brings us the Shakespeare Festival in beautiful Ashland, OR. Not Game of Thrones; better. Our one National park is in southern Oregon as well: Crater Lake. 

The Cascade mountains like a string of beads graces our state from north to south. (Remember the volcano Mt. St. Helen’s? Not in Oregon, but close and part of the same mountain range). Residents and visitors pursue- skiing on Mt. Hood and Mt. Bachelor and Mt. Thielson along with mountain climbing, mountain biking — the longest mountain bike trail of more than 600 miles just opened in Oregon— hiking, hunting, camping and fishing. The Pacific Coast trail goes through the entire state as well. Three Sisters Mountains The view on the way to my favorite Independent Book Store, Paulina Springs, in Sisters, Oregon.

What many people don’t know is that the largest land mass of Oregon is high desert with less than 13 inches of rainfall a year. Big wheat ranches and orchards frame the Columbia River region to the north. Small farms dot the area east of the Cascade mountains where the largest city is Bend (where I live). Bend was chosen as Dog City USA a few years ago by Dog Fancy magazine. Bend sits in the 4th fastest growing county in the US and has more microbreweries than dogs. Well, maybe not.

The largest demographic of our growth in Central Oregon is for people between the ages of 20-35. I came here first in 1974 (in that demographic). Met and married my husband next to the Deschutes River, directed the mental health program, stayed ten years then left for 27 years to homestead and write. We returned a few years ago. It’s a different place but I love the vibrancy, energy and young people and families drawn to our “green lifestyle” and the great landscapes. The region blends old ranching and logging lives mixed with University students, high tech and clean energy jobs. Oh, we also have a lot of retirees here who love the sunshine and being 15 minutes from the airport and the many golf courses.

Our Central Oregon region boasts over 300 days of sunshine so no web feet here! Today’s newspaper reported that outdoor recreation brought in $16 billion dollars to our state last year. Reporters had stories about biking with dogs, fishing in the high lakes and the results of the Cascade Cycling Classic.  We have nearly 200 State Parks to enjoy the many landscapes of this state, too.

As a historical novelist, I love Oregon’s commitment to history. Local historical societies keep that history alive. I find dozens of story ideas in this state including in those parks like Shore Acres, five acres of formal garden on the Southern Oregon Coast.

My latest historical novel, All She Left Behind, is an Oregon story based on the life of one of the first women physicians in the state. Readers will meet Jennie Pickett Parrish who reflects many of the state’s pioneering values: people who learned to put their past behind them in order to move forward and to accept the help of others in tough times, then pass the goodness on. Maybe it’s my mental health background…but I find these historical women have much to teach us as they touch us with their lives.  

Jane Kirkpatrick me and my dogs Caesar (l) and Bodacious Bo (r). 
So if you haven’t taken the modern Oregon Trail by plane, train or automobile, this might be the year to do it. You’ll find rest and relaxation, history and inspiration for whatever kind of writing life you’ve chosen. And you’ll be welcomed — with or without your dog. Don’t forget to comment to be eligible to win a signed copy of All She Left Behind. Thanks for making room in your life for these stories!   Don’t forget to comment in order to win a prize! Please leave a form of contact. 

More about Jane Kirkpatrick and her extensive talent of fiction, short fiction and nonfiction right here at her site:

September 3, 2017

Some Interesting Facts About Oklahoma! Brought to you by Marilyn Clay

I’m a native Oklahoman born and raised among the waving wheat (which really does smell sweet) and acres and acres of cotton fields and alfalfa. My Grandpa Clay was a cotton farmer in western Oklahoma, near Anadarko, where every year since 1930 a huge Indian Pow-Wow is held. The American Indian Exposition at Anadarko in Caddo County features the arts, crafts, and traditions of fourteen Plains Indian Tribes. The dance competitions with the Indians dressed in buckskin and feathers, their feet pounding the earth in time to the throbbing drumbeat is mesmerizing.

I grew up in Ardmore, which is in southern Oklahoma, just south of the Arbuckle Mountains. Rock formations within these mountains lay curiously sideways. Another attraction of the Arbuckle Mountains is Turner Falls. This picturesque 77-foot waterfall cascades down a mountainside to form a natural swimming pool at its base, where nearly everyone in the southern part of the state has been swimming at one time or another. This area is also famous for its natural caves and even an abandoned rock castle, complete with a ghost!

Turner Falls is also home to the Falls Creek Baptist Camp ground, the state’s oldest church camp and also the largest youth encampment in the United States. For many summers during my childhood, I attended church camp at Falls Creek. At the end of the week I carried away enough memories of fun and fellowship to last until summer camp rolled around the following year.

Most everyone knows that Oklahoma is famous for its quick-changing and oftentimes treacherous weather, tornadoes in the spring, flooding and scorching heat in the summer and blizzards and ice storms in the winter. Yet, when the weather turns nice, we all emerge from our homes to enjoy thousands of acres of Oklahoma State and National Parks plus ten mountain ranges. In addition to the Arbuckle Mountains, we have the Wichita Mountains, the Ouachita Mountains, the Kiamichi Mountains, the Quartz Mountains, and the Oklahoma Ozarks. All our mountain ranges are home to a variety of animals such as river otters, red foxes and even black bears! Who knew Oklahoma had bears? Oklahoma also boasts over 200 lakes that create over 55,646 miles of shoreline. So, Oklahoma definitely offers plenty in the way of fishing, boating, and water sports, not to mention hiking and camping.

Lake Murray State Park is the park I’m most familiar with as it is only nine miles (through gorgeous forest-land) south of Ardmore. I spent many pleasant summer afternoons on Lake Murray swimming and water skiing with my friends. My high school prom (and several high school reunions since then) have been held in the spacious ballroom at Lake Murray Lodge. Lake Murray also offers scores of quaint redwood cabins and multiple campsites. My Dad fished on Lake Murray and I caught my first catfish there. I still love eating fried catfish! Hmmm, now that’s good eatin’.

Here are a couple of other fun facts about my state that other folks might not be aware of. The first shopping cart used in grocery stores around the nation was invented and patented in 1937 by an Oklahoman named Sylvan Goldman, who was born in my hometown of Ardmore. Goldman introduced his innovative device in a Humpty Dumpty supermarket in Oklahoma City on June 4, 1937. (FYI: I wasn’t yet born.)

And, the first parking meter in use in the nation was installed in Oklahoma City on July 16, 1935. It was called the Black Maria (don’t ask me why) and was designed by a professor at Oklahoma State University named Holger Thuessen and a student named Gerald Hale, as part of an engineering project requested by Oklahoma newsman Carl Magee. Magee is the one who applied for and received a patent for the parking meter on May 24, 1938.

The following “fact” is not a first, but Oklahoma’s State Rock is certainly unusual. Known as a Rose Rock, these crystallized barium sulfate formations were created 250 million years ago during the Permian Age (although some say rose rocks are still forming today). These unusual rose rock formations are found in only a few rare places on the planet, among them Oklahoma and Egypt. However, it’s Oklahoma’s red sand that gives our Oklahoma rose rocks their reddish hue. Rose rocks found in other places are lighter in color. An Oklahoman named Tom Redwine is said to have used a butter knife to cut a small sandstone formation out of a hole in the ground. After crumbling away the grit, he exposed a rock formation that looked like a rose.

Geologists aren’t sure why rose rocks are common in Oklahoma. But the legend surrounding Oklahoma’s rose rocks says that when gold was found in Georgia in the 1830s, the US Government forgot its treaties with the Indians and drove those living east of the Mississippi to a stretch of land in Oklahoma that had been designated Indian Territory. The Cherokee Tribe made the 1200-mile long journey on foot. Because they were being forced against their will to move away from their own land, and one fourth of them died on their journey west, the arduous trek became known as the Trail of Tears. Legend says that God, looking down from Heaven, turned the blood of the braves and the tears of the maidens that fell to the ground into stones shaped like a rose. And, because The Trail of Tears ended in Oklahoma, rose rocks are common here.

My most recent home in Ardmore, Oklahoma was built in the late 1880s before Oklahoma became a state in 1907. Today that house and many other Victorian gingerbread houses in the southern part of Oklahoma are known as Indian Territory houses. While living there, I found numerous rose rocks in my back yard. Sometimes only a single rose rock is found, sometimes a cluster. The largest cluster of rose rocks found to date by Tom Redwine weighs 788 pounds! He named it “Redwine and Roses.” The last I heard, that rose rock cluster is still on display in Ardmore.

Famous people born in Oklahoma include singers Blake Shelton, Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, Toby Keith, Vince Gill, Kristin Chenoweth, Woody Guthrie, and Gene Autry, who has an Oklahoma town named after him; plus movie stars James Garner, Ron Howard, Rue McClanahan, Brad Pitt and even Dr. Phil and baseball player Mickey Mantle. Who knew?

I hope you’ve enjoyed my presentation of little-known facts about Oklahoma and I also hope you will enjoy reading some of my novels. Two of them feature the Powhatan Indians who lived alongside the early Jamestown settlers in Virginia. Both of these novels were originally published in hardcover and are titled: Deceptions, A Colonial Jamestown Novel; and Secrets and Lies, which follows the lives of four young English girls who travel to the New World in search of love and the adventure of a lifetime.

Seven of my earlier novels are set during the English Regency Period and were all originally published in paperback. My most recent novels are Regency-set Mysteries. Their titles are: Murder At Morland Manor, Murder In Mayfair, and the recently released Book 3 in my Juliette Abbott Regency Mystery Series: Murder In Margate. Many of my fiction and non-fiction titles have attained Best Seller status on Amazon. Most all of my books are available in both print and Ebook formats from major online retailers. Happy Reading!

Before becoming a full-time writer, MARILYN CLAY enjoyed a career as a fashion illustrator and graphic designer in Dallas Texas, where she owned her own graphics design studio. In the early 90s, after joining Romance Writers of America and winning their contest to design RWA’s new RITA award, Marilyn went on to write seven Regency Romance novels, all published in the late 90s by Kensington Books. Since then, she has written and had over two dozen books published. To learn more about Marilyn Clay’s novels, visit her Amazon Author Central Page or her Marilyn Clay Author website. 

Be sure to leave a comment below for a chance to win a paperback edition of Marilyn Clay’s Jamestown novel Secrets and Lies.
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