February 23, 2020

JoAnn Balingit of Delaware, Poet and Writer

I am a poet, teacher and arts-in-education advocate, and have taught creative writing classes at the University of Delaware, Delaware Public Libraries and Delaware Division of the Arts writing retreats. As state coordinator for Delaware’s Poetry Out Loud program I also teach poetry writing and recitation in schools and community centers.

My full-length collection of poems, Words for House Story (WordTech Editions 2013) was a 2015 Best Books selection at Beltway Poetry  I have two chapbooks, Forage (2011), winner of the Whitebird Chapbook Prize, and Your Heart and How It Works (2009), awarded the Global Filipino Literary Award.

I have been fortunate to find writing community through a writing residency at Hedgebrook, and through VONA/Voices of Our Nations as a 2017 Resident in Prose. I held three fellowships at Virginia Center for the Creative Arts  as a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Creative Fellow, and I am grateful for a 2014 Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo Foundation Fellowship which allowed me to work on family stories that are part of my memoir-in-progress. This memoir project was my focus at Hedgebrook in April 2019. It’s a story of surviving family violence and coming to terms with intergenerational trauma, my mixed-race identity and my parents’ secrets.

I grew up in Lakeland, Florida, where my Filipino father and German American mother settled our big family after many moves. For the past 25 years I have lived in the woods of northern Delaware. I like road trips, hiking, gardening native plants, surfing, drunken noodles, libraries, and hanging out with family– especially my kids and granddaughter.
Visit JoAnn Balingit at her website http://joannbalingit.org/ to find out more and contact her from there. She does classroom visits and her poetry is awesome—and I’m not into poetry so that says something.    

February 16, 2020

Connecticut Author, Eric Berlin

Eric Berlin is the author of the Winston Breen series of mysteries for children: The Puzzling World of Winston Breen, The Potato Chip Puzzles, and The Puzzler’s Mansion, which together have been nominated for over a dozen state reading awards. He has talked about the joy of puzzles and creative thinking in his school visits across the country.

Eric has had dozens of crosswords and other puzzles published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and many other places. He has created live puzzle events for the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, the Connecticut Library Association, the Trivia Championships of North America, and New York City’s Museum of Mathematics. In 2015, Eric founded Puzzle Your Kids, which provides a weekly pencil puzzle to thousands of students around the world. In 2019, Puzzle Your Kids was rebranded as Puzzlesnacks, and a collection of his puzzles was published by Simon & Schuster.

Visit https://ctstatelibrary.org/ for information on more Connecticut talent.
(All Info Downloaded from Eric Berlin website)

February 9, 2020

Colorado Living with J.v.L Bell and Dori McCraw

J.v.L. Bell Enjoys this Colorado:
Today, when folks visit Colorado, they enjoy skiing in deep powder, climbing up a 14,000-foot peak, rafting through Glenwood Canyon, or backpacking the Colorado Trail. These are all wonderful things that shouldn’t be missed, but while visiting Colorado, don’t forget to learn a little about the state’s vibrant history, and more importantly, make sure you read at least one good Colorado yarn.
Colorado yarns started back when early mountain men roamed through the Rocky Mountains, now and then meeting around a campfire to share a story, a bottle, and a bit of human company. Yarns were tales filled with accurate details but, like the bigger-than-life lives of many of these men lived, truth was often stretched. Soon prairie schooners cut ruts over mountain passes—ignoring the Native American’s ownership of the land—and miners told tales of gold nuggets the size of watermelon seeds, grizzlies that hunted men for fun, and little people and tommyknockers who warned of trouble in mines. Colorado yarns can be found throughout Colorado’s turbulent history, including in some newspapers.

One such story happened on February 8, 1860, when the Rocky Mountain News published details of the “Turkey War” of 1860. In this war, never-do-gooders—nicknamed Bummers—made off with a wagonload of turkeys, proving as ‘59er Uncle Dick Wootton once said, “Stealing is the only occupation of a considerable proportion of the population.” During the Turkey War, excitement ran high as witnesses identified the criminals, including my personal favorite, “Chuck-a-luck” William Todd.

The war turned violent when the key witness, W.H. Middaugh, had a bullet graze his head as he exited the Vasquez House. “Noisy Tom” Pollock was attacked and struck his assailant “over the head with a heavy Hawken’s rifle, laying open his scalp and effectually rendering him hors du combat for the remainder of the campaign.” There were numerous skirmishes and the good townspeople worried the Bummers would try to fire the town—it was, after all, built mostly from wood. Fortunately, good prevailed over evil and by dawn the Bummers had fled to “parts unknown.” The war ended with the townspeople issuing a proclamation: Chuck-a-luck and his compatriots had five hours to leave the city or be hanged. 

Like any good story, romance and tragedy played a part in any good yarn. The tale of Clifford Griffin is a perfect example. Clifford, an English gentleman of good birth, arrived in Colorado in 1880 and moved into a cabin near the Seven Thirty mine, high above the mining town of Silver Plume. Clifford was a poet, a violinist, and by all accounts, he managed the Seven Thirty mine well, yet on June 19, 1887, his young life ended with a bullet. In his memory, his brother placed a ten-foot-high monument on the mountain near where he died. The monument still stands there today.[1]

Newspapers for the next hundred and thirty years would retell Clifford’s story, embellishing it until in 2017, it was published in the Loveland Reporter Herald with the romance of a good yarn. Clifford had become a tragic hero, his fiancĂ©e dying on the eve of their wedding, his haunting violin melodies heard every night by the miners in the town below. They listened on the night of June 19, 1887 when his exceptional performance ended with the sound of gunfire. Heartbroken, Clifford had dug his own grave, played his last concerto, and ended his young life.

It’s a lovely yarn, embellished at times with a suspected murder and other intriguing details, yet the truth, as researched by MaryJoy Martin in her book Suicide Legends, Homicide Rumors, is harder to read. Young Clifford suffered from depression and eventually got drunk and took his own life. His suicide was covered up by his wealthy brother.
Perhaps the yarn is the better way to remember Clifford.

One of my favorite historical stories involves nineteen-year-old Ada LaMont. At 17, she married the young minister of her church and two years later, in 1859, they headed to the Pikes Peak region, not to search for gold but to carry the gospel into the wilderness. Unfortunately, while crossing the Great Plains, Ada’s youthful clergyman husband disappeared. That same night, a young lady of doubtful reputation also vanished, leaving Ada heartbroken.

Poor Ada said nothing until she reached Indian Row in the Cherry Creek settlements. Then the beautiful young woman climbed onto a barrel and made an announcement: “As a God-fearing woman, you see me for the last time. As of tomorrow, I start the first brothel in this settlement. In the future my name will be Addie LaMont. Any of you men in need of a little fun will always find the flaps of my tent open.” Thus sin came to the Rocky Mountains, or so they say.[2] [3]

In a state where a mountain, Mount Silverheels, was named after a dance hall girl, and where an entire town, Independence, turned survival into a game—a ski race down from the high-altitude, snowbound town—it is often difficult to separate truth from a story. So next time you visit Colorado, put your feet up by a warm fire and pick up a good yarn. In the flickering firelight you’ll laugh, and you’ll cry, but as the firelight dies, you’ll still be reading. Because a good Colorado yarn is many things, but it is never, ever boring.

J.v. L Bell Bio: 
Author J.v.L. Bell was born and raised in Colorado and has spent her life hiking, biking, rafting, backpacking, and climbing throughout Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. At an early age, she fell in love with Colorado’s vibrant history, but it was the state’s lore and stories that captured her heart. She loves reading Colorado yarns that intertwine history and tall tales, leaving the reader delighted, yet wondering about fact versus fiction. Her novels, The Lucky Hat Mine and Denver City Justice, follow in this old tradition, although she did try and tell the truth, and nothing but the truth, in her biography Elizabeth Byers: Denver Pioneer.

Website: www.jvlbell.com
The Lucky Hat Mine, 2018 Will Rogers award winner in Western Humor
Elizabeth Byers, Denver Pioneer, Filter Press
Denver City Justice, The Hansen Publishing Group

Doris McCraw Writing as Angela Raines:

Ah, Colorado. There is so much to love about the state. The mountains with skiing in winter, and hiking in summer. Lakes, National Forest and Parks along with fishing, hunting and sightseeing. I love them all, but its the history that inspires me and my writings.

This year, 2020, is the anniversary of women getting the right to vote nationwide. In honor, I thought it might be interesting to see where Colorado and the women who lived here were involved. Here is the story of the women in Colorado and their work on behalf of women’s suffrage.

Almost from the beginning Colorado and the Kansas Territory before that, was sympathetic to women’s suffrage. By 1874 Alida Avery, one of the early doctors in the state, arrived from Vassar, where she was on the staff as professor and doctor, to take up a practice and also work for women’s suffrage. She was followed by many other female doctors, most who were also active in the movement along with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

By 1890 there was a concerted push to get the right to vote. One of those who help re-energize the fight was Dr. Mary Helen Barker Bates, who had arrived in the state before 1880. She along with Ellis Meredith, Minnie Reynolds, Patience Stapleton, Martha Pease and Elizabeth Ensley renamed the Colorado Equal Suffrage Association to the Non-Partisan Equal Suffrage Association. They began networking with other women’s and men’s groups to spearhead the move to add the amendment.

The work payed off. In 1893 Colorado voted to add an amendment to the state constitution which gave women in the state the right to vote. Once Colorado women had the right to vote they set their sights on  the national suffrage movement, working to secure the right to vote for all women.

These women, ones who followed their dreams, worked for causes they believed in, are not only inspirations to me but for my writing as well. As a writer of action oriented stories in both Medieval and Western Historical Romance, the stories of these amazing women can be found in pieces of my own works.

One lucky person who comments will get a copy of my latest novel, “The Outlaw’s Letter”. Here is the best to all of you as you traverse this year of 2020.

Doris McCraw, who writes fiction under the name Angela Raines is a historian who focuses on Colorado and Women’s History. She is a member of the National League of American Pen Women, Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West and Western Fictioneers. Her works can be found on Amazon under her author page: https://amzn.to/2QQ0rhT  Also, watch for her new website to go live in the next month or so. Www.angelaraines.net

[1] Photo of Monument from Denver Public Library.
[2] Zamonski, Stanley W. and Keller, Teddy, The ‘59ers: Roaring Denver in the Gold Rush Days, pp 14-15.

(all info provided and released by authors)

February 4, 2020

California Schemin? What on Earth is That? Michelle Drier Tells Us Here

It’s a take off on the Mamas and Papas song and could get you $75.
Bouchercon is the world’s oldest and largest mystery readers and writers and this year, it’s in Sacramento, California’s capital city. When we began discussing a short story anthology for Bouchercon 2020 I wanted a strong California connection and voila!
Here are the submission guidelines:
California Schemin’—Bouchercon 2020 Short Story Anthology

Bouchercon 2020 Sacramento invites you to submit a short story for the conference anthology, California Schemin’, to be published for Bouchercon 2020, October 15-18, 2020, in Sacramento, California.
California Schemin’—Bouchercon Anthology 2020 will feature stories by the conference’s guests of honor:  Scott Turow, Walter Mosley, Anne Perry, Anthony Horowitz, Cara
Black, and Catriona McPherson. Editing the anthology will be Art Taylor—winner of the Agatha, Anthony, Derringer, Edgar, and Macavity Awards for his own short fiction. The collection will be published by Wildside Press in late September 2020, with all profits from book sales donated to 916 Ink, a creative writing nonprofit that provides workshops for students grades 3-12 in the Sacramento area to help “transform them into confident writers and published authors.”
The deadline for submissions will be March 1, 2020; see full guidelines below. Authors will be notified when the final selections have been made, sometime in June 2020. An announcement about contributors will be made on the Bouchercon 2020 website after all contributors have been confirmed.
Anthology authors will receive $75 and one copy of the anthology and will be invited to participate in a Bouchercon anthology panel and signing at the conference.
1.      Submit your story as an email attachment, in Word .doc or docx, to Bconanthology2020@gmail.com.
2.      The email subject line should read: [your last name goes here], Anthology Submission, [title of story goes here].  For example, Smith, Anthology Submission, All That Glitters Is Not Gold
3.      All author contact information must be in the COVER EMAIL ONLY. Include your real name, your pen name (if you want the story to be published under a different name), your address, phone number, preferred e-mail address, and word count for the story.
4.      There should be no identifying information anywhere on the story.
5.      Stories must be original – not previously published anywhere else.
6.      Stories should be between 1,500 and 5,500 words.
7.      One story submission per person ONLY.
8.      Deadline for submission is midnight on March 1, 2020. Manuscripts MUST be received by that date.
Mandatory Manuscript Guidelines:
1.      Word count: 1,500 to 5,500. Theme: California Schemin’—following that phrase wherever it might take you.
2.      Attach your story to the email. Word doc or docx only. There should be no identifying information in the manuscript. ALL identifying information must be in the cover email.
3.      Use a legible standard font such as Courier or Times New Roman at 12 pt size; no fancy fonts or formatting, please. Italicize (don’t underline) words that are to be italicized.
4.      Indent the first line of new paragraphs by a half-inch tab. Do not simply add additional spacing at the start of each paragraph.
5.      Denote scene breaks with a centered hashtag: #.
6.      Double-space with one-inch margins on all sides.
Questions? Contact Michele Drier, co-chair, Bouchercon 2020: Info@bouchercon2020.org.

Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series. She is the past president of Capitol Crimes, the Sacramento chapter of Sisters in Crime and co-chair for Bouchercon 2020 the world’s oldest and largest convention for mystery writers and fans.
Her Amy Hobbes Newspaper Mysteries are Edited for Death, (called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review), Labeled for Death and Delta for Death and a stand-alone, Ashes of Memories.
Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was named the best paranormal vampire series of 2014 by PRG. The series is SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, Danube: A Tale of Murder , SNAP: Love for Blood, SNAP: Happily Ever After?, SNAP: White Nights,  SNAP: All That Jazz, SNAP: I, Vampire and SNAP: Red Bear Rising . The first book in the mystery Stained Glass Saga, Stain on the Soul, is slated for publication in late spring, 2019.

Her webpage is under reconstruction but visit her facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/AuthorMicheleDrier or her Amazon author page, http://www.amazon.com/Michele-Drier/e/B005D2YC8G/ or find her on Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram.