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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August 27, 2017

Ohio, a State with a Rich Spiritual History with Tamera Lynn Kraft

While many think of Ohio, they think of a Midwestern state that decides presidential elections. Some go on the mention Ohio’s contributions throughout history. More US presidents, inventers, and astronauts came for Ohio than any other state. All of that is true, but what many people don’t know about is Ohio’s rich spiritual history.

Ohio was a part of the First Great Awakening. Ohio’s first white settlement was in the 1770s by the Moravians. A band of Moravians moved to Schoenbrunn to become missionaries to the Lenape Indians. The Moravians started the First Great Awakening with a hundred year, round-the-clock, prayer meeting that launched the modern missionary movement. Moravian leaders
were also responsible for the salvation of the Wesley Brothers.

The great camp meeting revivals of first decade of the 1800s swept through Ohio as well as Kentucky and West Virginia. Revival broke out in Cane Ridge, Kentucky in 1801. It soon spread. In June, 1801, a large camp meeting was held at Eagle Creek in Ohio. Before 1804, revival had broken out in the following Ohio cities: Turtle Creek, Eagle Creek, Springdale, Orangedale, Clear Creek, Beaver Creek and Salem. The people at these revivals reported many strange spiritual manifestations such as falling out, jerking, and laughing.

Ohio played a major role in the Second Great Awakening. In the 1830s, two Presbyterian ministers started Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio. From the start, this college was the first college to accept women and blacks as students and allowed them to earn regular college degrees. A few years later, Charles Finney, Second Great Awakening preacher, became the president of Oberlin College. There he started a church that became the largest congregation at the time, draw 6,000 to 8,000 members. Before the Civil War, Oberlin became known for its abolitionist activities, and during the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue when students rescued a fugitive slave, the college was almost responsible for Ohio separating from the US over slavery.

Ohio was also instrumental in the American Missionary Movement. It started with the
missionaries in Schoenbrunn and continued throughout Ohio history. Between 1860 and 1900, 90% of all American missionaries sent forth by the American missionary society were graduates of Oberlin College. Latter in the early 1900s, many missionaries were called in Pentecostal camp meetings held in northern Ohio and traveled overseas.

The Second Great Awakening spurred on various social movement in the last half of the 1800s, and Ohio was a part of all of them. Ohio was a state that was prominent in the Christian feminist movement of the 1800s. Frances Dana Gage organized Women’s Suffrage Conventions all over Ohio in the 1850s. Ohio had strong ties to the abolitionist movement as well. Lucy Stone and Harriet Beecher Stowe, both Ohioans, were strong abolitionists. Sojourner Truth gave her famous ‘Ain’t I a Woman’ speech in Ohio. At a Woman’s Rights convention in Massillon, Ohio. People in Ohio also fought for prohibition. The Ohio Women’s Temperance Society, organized in 1853, was one of the first temperance organizations.

The Azuza Street Pentecostal revival in Los Angeles in 1906 quickly moved to Ohio. Ivey Campbell, a native Ohioan had heard about the meetings and traveled to Los Angeles to attend She was soon baptized in the Holy Spirit. In November, she returned to Akron, Ohio to hold meetings there. Soon everyone heard of her meetings. Revival flourished, and a Pentecostal camp meeting was held in Alliance, Ohio.

There have also been some strange spiritual movements that were birthed in Ohio Mormonism in Kirtland, and they still have the first Mormon church there. Shakers arrived in Ohio in 1805 and established many communities there. The largest was Lebanon.

Through the 1900s, many famous revivalists and evangelists preached in Ohio including Billy Sunday, Kathryn Kuhlman, and Billy Graham. Large churches such as Rex Humbard’s Cathedral of Tomorrow were established in Ohio. During the Jesus Movement of the 1970s, revival broke out at Ravenna Assembly of God. Also the great theologian AW Tozar was raised in Akron, Ohio and is buried at a cemetery there. Ohio has a rich spiritual heritage.

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She loves to write historical fiction set in the United States because there are so many stories in American history. There are strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure in her stories. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and wass a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest. She has two novellas published (A Christmas Promise and Resurrection of Hope). Her new novel, Alice’s Notions, is a WW2 Romantic Suspense.
You can contact Tamera on her website at

You can contact Tamera online at these sites.
Word Sharpeners Blog:

Prizes: I’m offering both prizes to the same person

#1--Alice’s Notions autographed paperback

In this quaint mountain town, things aren't always what they seem.

World War II widow Alice Brighton returns to the safety of her home town to open a fabric shop. She decides to start a barn quilt tour to bring business to the shop and the town, but what she doesn't know is sinister forces are using the tour for their own nefarious reasons

Between her mysterious landlord, her German immigrant employee, her neighbors who are acting strange, and a dreamboat security expert who is trying to romance her, Alice doesn't know who she can trust.

#2--Apple Butter from Ohio Amish Country
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