August 20, 2017

Flashback-North Dakota! Lori Orser's Land

I’m told by people from other states that North Dakota is a “fly-over” state, as opposed to a destination state. People fly over, looking down at fields and pastures, or drive across the state on I-94 at the posted 75 mph, not really bothering to look. Nobody comes to North Dakota, unless they’re coming home. And you know what? That’s all right with me. We North Dakotans like our prairie home pretty much just the way it is.
North Dakota is my home; I was born and raised here, got my BA at the University of North Dakota, and reluctantly left to get an MA in Lawrence, Kansas (where my “accent” was laughed at by all the other linguistics students. Apparently I sound more like Lawrence WELK, than Lawrence KANSAS). Actually North Dakota has two major accents: Norwegian, and “German from Russia” (not to be confused with German from Germany). We also have a small group of Icelanders, and in the west, a group of Ukrainians. Their architecture, traditional religions, and food add a, dare I say cosmopolitan?, touch to the state. After a move to Nevada, where I stayed for 12 unforgettable years, with entirely new landscapes and a lot of life’s ups and downs, until I decided it was time to go home. 
People who read about our winters here ask how anyone in their right mind would want to live in a state that has snow from October to April (in good years). My answer is, it’s home, and that’s what most North Dakotans say. I could list statistics like most of the durum wheat in the world comes from North Dakota (that Italian pasta you’re eating? Made from ND wheat!); how we have more four-year colleges (and graduates) per capita than any other state; how our state is always in the top five safest states lists, usually at the top. But that’s not why I love my state.  I could never live in a bustling city. I like clean air, and elbow room. I like people saying “hello” or “good morning” when they pass you on the street, even if they don’t know your name. I like knowing all my neighbors, and who to call when I have any problems. I’ve heard of “Minnesota Nice,” but I think “North Dakota Nice” is nicer (OK, I’m biased).
I’ve also heard that we have no scenery, and I’m reminded of a joke. Ole and Lena went to Colorado (Ole and Lena figure in most North Dakota jokes, just as they do in Minnesota, but outs are Norwegian and theirs are mostly Swedish), and when they returned, Sven asked them what they thought about the scenery. “I don’t know,” said Ole. “You couldn’t really see it with all dem mountains in da way!”
The plains have a subtle beauty all their own. In late spring, when the grass moves with the wind, you can see why settlers called their wagons “prairie schooners;” the grass does move with a current like the sea. Even the National Forest here is a National Grassland. When flax is in bloom, there appear to be beautiful blue lakes, albeit oddly square, across the state. In the prairie pot-hole regions of central North Dakota, the wetlands, you’ll find teeming wildlife, including waterfowl of all kinds, and small animals you might not even see unless you get out early and stay very quiet. Beavers, mink, and other small former victims of trappers share the land with deer and antelope, not to mention a garden of wild flowers, including orchids like yellow ladyslipper, and a rainbow of penstemon varieties. Turtle Mountain, a glacial remnant in north central North Dakota, rises like a fortress over the prairie, and is home to the only state forest in the state, as well as one of the four reservations located here. 
West of the Missouri, there are the Missouri breaks, an area of stream-filled ravines and buttes,  green in the spring, and golden by late summer. Keep going west and you’ll reach the badlands, a geologist’s dream of stratigraphy exposed by thousands of years of winds. There you’ll find bison – both “domesticated” (ha! Like you can domesticate a buffalo!) -- and running wild in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Mule deer and antelope thrive, despite predation from mountain lions. The bighorn sheep are hard to spot because they’re good at hiding, and can nimbly hop up the side of a butte that no human would try to climb. Prairie chickens, pheasants, wild turkeys, ruff grouse, and other birds dot not just the west, but the entire state. Watching this land change with the seasons fills my heart.  And believe me, you haven’t seen a sunset until you’ve seen a prairie sunset. 
My writing reflects my home, I hope. We are a small state in terms of people, but a large state in terms of land, ancestry, micro-environments, history, and myth. I try to incorporate landscape and myth in all my work. My first book, Spooky Creepy North Dakota is a collection of ghost stories, mysteries, and myth and legend from across this state. My fiction in progress attempts to include the land and the weather as characters, or at the very least, a constant presence throughout the book. And a good dose of nice, too.
Lori Orser's Site:

August 13, 2017

A North Carolina Writers Group

Lack of a North Carolina volunteer led me to this group, North Carolina Writers Network .  The membership fees for this group are a little higher than some and less than others.  That membership offers the usual discounts for conferences and classes that most writers group’s offer and the benefits of local support if you live in NC but that’s not a requirement.  
They’ve got an event in November which, in my opinion, is a great time to visit North Carolina so check it out on their website listed above.

Fall Conference 2017 -November 3-5, Wrightsville Beach
The Fall Conference attracts hundreds of writers from around the country and provides a weekend full of activities that include lunch and dinner banquets with readings, keynotes, tracks in several genres, open mic sessions, and the opportunity for one-on-one manuscript critiques with editors or agents. Conference faculty include professional writers from North Carolina and beyond. Held every year in a major hotel, the conference rotates annually. 

The Network's Mission
The North Carolina Writers' Network connects, promotes, and serves the writers of this state.  We provide education in the craft and business of writing, opportunities for recognition and critique of literary work, resources for writers at all stages of development, support for and advocacy of the literary heritage of North Carolina, and a community for those who write.  The North Carolina Writers’ Network believes that writing is necessary both for self-expression and a healthy community, that well-written words can connect people across time and distance, and that the deeply satisfying experiences of writing and reading should be available to everyone. 
A Statement of Belief

We believe that writing is necessary both for self-expression and community spirit, that well-written words can connect people across time and distance, and that the deeply satisfying experiences of writing and reading should be available to everyone. Again, their web address is:
(All info downloaded from NCWN site) 

August 6, 2017

Childhood in New York Inspires Fran Orenstein

It has been said that once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker. I have lived many different states, but if I had my way, I would be living somewhere in lower New York. Alas, I have reached a point where the icy, snowy, cold weather are not the draw they once were when I was young. Today I am a writer and a poet, which began at age seven living amid the mystery and aura of New York City and the
Catskill Mountains just across the Hudson River. Some of my books set in this area, include Murder in Duplicate, a contemporary adult novel that takes place in Manhattan. It features a young professional editor/author seeking romance, love, and marriage, but finding deceit and betrayal instead. Can Lily survive the machinations of the love of her life?

For older ‘tweens and younger teens, The Book of Mysteries, a trilogy in three novels in a single volume, pits Manhattan teens, Tyler and Zack against a disappearing bookshop, a magical bookseller, fantasy creatures and adventures that test their survival abilities. 

 My two poetry books, First Footprints and Winding Ways speak to the wonders of growing up in New York City and the Catskill Mountains. Can you guess the world-famous boardwalk on the cover of First Footprints? For a budding poet and writer, the Catskills provided a nest to nurture the imagination of a child, swinging under the Ghost Tree, climbing mountains, wading through poison ivy to pick blueberries, back roads to explore, and watching a UFO hover overhead at dusk. [Note: Aliens did explore the Catskills in the mid-20th century and I was there.] 

Over the past twenty years I have written books for kids, ‘tweens, teens, and adults in a variety of genres. Book four of the Shadow Boy Mysteries for ‘tweens is expected to be released shortly by Saguaro Books, LLC. Watch for Mystery in Gram’s Attic. The mysterious boy, Huby is back, but to really get to know him, first suprise the kids in your life with Mystery Under Third Base, Mystery of the Green Goblin, and Mystery of the Stolen Painting.

How could I, as a child who spent every summer in the Catskill Mountains of Southern New York State where Rip Van Winkel wandered, not fall in love with literature written by such a magnificent writer as Washington Irving? Violent thunderstorms evoked the vision of 17th century Dutchmen bowling nine-pins in the mountains while Rip slept, his beard growing long and white. In the darkness of night, I shivered under the covers listening for hoof beats, picturing the headless horseman crashing through the trees carrying his head. This genre influenced the paranormal aspects of many of my books, such as Death in D Minor, an historical murder mystery set in the Philadelphia area in the 19th century. Danse Macabre is a short story anthology filled with spirits, vampires, and evil.

I was a child who grew up in Brooklyn and the Bronx, NY and spent the summer in the Catskill
Mountains that ranged along the western side of the great Hudson River, facing small towns in the east settled by the Dutch in the early sixteen hundreds. What would the English explorer, Henry Hudson think now if he were to once more sail the Half Moon into the bay that would one day house the greatest city in the world for the past four centuries? The Dutch East India Company sent him to find a northern route to Cathay, but what he found became the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. The Hudson River named for this explorer flows from the bay north to Fort Orange [now Albany, the NY state capital], winding alongside the Catskill Range.

All my books are available on line at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other sites in Ebook and paper back. Visit Fran’s World at

The first governor of New Amsterdam, Peter Minuit bought the land from the Manahatta Indians in trade for beads and Beaver pelts. Peter Stuyvesant, the next governor has streets, communities and a school named for him. However, he could not prevent the English from claiming the area for themselves a few decades later. Thus New Amsterdam became New York as a gift to the Duke of York. 

Dutch names from the early 17th century still prevail, although anglized over the centuries. Of the five boroughs, Manhattan remains as a tribute to the original Mannahata Indians. A Dutch settler, Jonas Bronck had purchased the land above New Amsterdam, which today is called The Bronx, home of the New York Yankees, the Bronx Zoo, the beautiful botanical gardens and my middle-childhood home. Brooklyn, where I was born and lived early and then teen years was originally called
Breukelen after a village in the Netherlands. Staten Island was once Staten Eylandt for the States General government body in the Netherlands. Finally, Queens, the most diverse of all the boroughs was named by the English for Queen Catherine, wife of King Charles. But the Catskill Mountains still stand in juxtaposition to the greatest city in the world, towering over the Hudson River. If you close your eyes during a thunderstorm you can still hear the rumbling cracks of balls hitting nine-pins, as Henry Hudson’s lost crew lures another hapless fool to their clearing. Beware the drinks they offer, or you too may fall asleep for forty years.

Answer this question here in your comment for a chance to win a signed copy of your choice of one of my novels:  Name the Boardwalk on the cover of First Footprints.  Make sure to leave a contact link with your comment in case you’re the winner!   

(all info author provided)

July 30, 2017

New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, and Lynn Crain Plus a Bonus Post

Every state has a saying and I must admit mine has intrigued me for over thirty years. It was in the mid-1980s that I told my husband I wanted to live in New Mexico. See, I’d had been enchanted since I was a child and after a few field trips there with my geology classes, I knew it was the place I wanted to be.

It took me over forty years to fulfill that life-long dream as we did not move here until July of 2016. Yet I can remember driving through New Mexico as a kid as we moved from southern Ohio to
Nevada. At that time, we passed through Albuquerque and I could tell even then it was special.

But the trip that sold me not only on New Mexico but the southwest as a whole was a trip through the area. We stopped at places like Navajo National Monument, Monument Valley, Chaco Canyon – the only place that was in New Mexico and right then I knew there was something very sacred and special about the land of enchantment.

Even more than that, New Mexico is the land of George R.R. Martin, Georgia O’Keeffe, the Conquistadors, the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, the Pueblo Indians, the Apaches and more. There is something so special here, that it has been painted, used in movies and fought over since the very first moment that the Spanish stepped onto its soil. History runs deep here and can be seen in every corner – from the plazas in Santa Fe to Taos to the town square in Las Vegas where Longmire was filmed.

When I first moved here, I fretted over not fitting in but I shouldn’t have worried as diversity runs the gamut from foreigners to Native Americans. Of course, the Natives were here when the Spanish came. There is a big difference, and I didn’t realize this when I arrived, between someone with a Spanish heritage versus a Mexican heritage. Those from Spain were mainly from merchant stock until later when a few of the upper class arrived to put their stamp on New Mexico. If your heritage is Mexican, you are actually part of the Native American culture as that’s who was here when the Spanish arrived.

Americans came when Mexico put out the call for settlers. Sure, there were a few of us here before then but it wasn’t until after the War with Mexico and we got Texas and much of the southwest, did our countrymen come in droves. Discrimination was rampant on all sides and no matter what your color or religion here, you were in a minority somewhere in the past. Eventually, the mish-mash came together quite nicely resulting in this wonderful and vast state.
Don’t get me wrong, there are still issues today but there isn’t one place in this world where there aren’t. Someday everyone will take the ideas of the Native Americans and make them our own. There is an inherent oneness with nature and all its bounty according to their philosophy and I have to agree.

I love living in the mountains and am thankful this is where we came. The temperatures average in the low 80s in the summers with the occasional 90s peak. Still, it’s a long way from where we lived in the past as they just have had over 30 days with temps above 105. Even Albuquerque doesn’t have temps that high.
Our house sits on the edge of a mesa, those flat top mountains you read about in Tony Hillerman’s or Craig Johnson’s novels. We look down in a canyon and have been blessed with abundant wild life. I remember the first time my husband told me to slowly come to the kitchen window as there was a buck standing just right outside. We see deer and rabbits almost every day.

Then came the night when I heard something hit our trash can and knew it was big. Next morning, there was trash all over the yard. My husband was on travel and I let him know when we talked that it might have been a bear. He told me that he’d believe it when he saw it. The next weekend after he came home, our dogs went crazy in the back yard and we discovered they’d treed a bear in the yard next door. Yet, my husband wasn’t quite convinced because he thought it was a fluke. The next week, we continued to see garbage dumped and hear neighbors tell us there was a bear about. One night we were walking the dogs at night and two houses down the dogs inside those homes were going nuts. When I commented that I hoped it wasn’t us setting them off, his casual reply, “Maybe it’s the bear in the tree.” I suggested we hightail it back home and he agreed not only with us leaving but that there was a bear in the neighborhood.

And these things are only after two summers! Imagine what it will be like in twenty years…I can’t wait!

Now, I want to introduce you to my latest story. It’s in a very different kind of desert. Here’s the scoop on Escape to Africa:

Take a trip to fascinating, breathtaking, beautiful Africa, without ever leaving your home! These stories will send you on a journey filled with danger, love, and excitement. Travel from Casablanca to Morocco, across the plains of the Serengeti, to the ruins of Carthage, from the desert of Algeria, to the shores of Tripoli. Six international romance authors share spellbinding love stories told across time.
This collection includes romantic suspense, and contemporary, historical, time travel, and paranormal romances by Award-Winning and Multi-Published Authors: Denyse Bridger, Lynn Crain, Alicia Dean, Gemma Juliana, Marie Laval, and Jenny Twist.
Interested yet? Here’s a little more on the stories themselves:
Dangerous Liaison - Historical Romance by Denyse Bridger
In late 1942, Casablanca, liaisons can be deadly, especially those that involve intelligence the Germans are willing to kill for...
A Pirate’s Lady – Time Travel Romance - Lynn Crain
The Pirate’s Lady is a time-travel romance about Amanda Hoskip, a Time Travel Bureau agent, intent on discovering who is tampering with time. But when she’s captured, she must pretend to be the wife of fellow agent and rescuer, Trevor Haines, which seems impossible because he thinks she’s failed her mission.
Dying to Love You - Contemporary Romance with Paranormal Elements by Alicia Dean  
To avoid purgatory, unloving and unlovable Autumn Baines is sent to the Serengeti where she must perform a selfless deed, and find someone to fall in love with her. What she didn't count on was falling in love herself, or that her selfless deed could save a life, but sentence Autumn to eternal damnation.
Treasured Times - Romantic Suspense - Gemma Juliana
Nerissa Noir is a woman with many secrets. Leon Rizzo intends to figure them out, without revealing his own. From the shops of the exotic souk in Tunis to the ancient ruins of Carthage and beyond, deadly mysteries must be solved before time unravels… can they trust each other?
The Ravine of the Wild Woman - Historical Romance by Marie Laval
Algeria, North Africa, 1865.
Lenora Sharp is Azerwal's perfect woman. Brave, determined and unconventional, she is also related to the man who stole his name, his childhood and his identity - the very man and he has vowed to destroy, even if it takes him all the way to hell. Will love get in the way of revenge, or will Azerwal lose his soul before he loses his heart?
An Object of Desire - Romantic Suspense by Jenny Twist
Two students on holiday in Morocco discover that two sinister looking characters are following them. They meet an attractive man who offers to take them to their next destination.  All seems well until one of the girls disappears.
Great your copy today at the wonderful price of just $0.99 here:

Amazon Universal Link ~

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look into my wonderful state of New Mexico!

I’m offering up 3 fantastic prizes:

Grand Prize ~ copy of Escape to Africa AND one copy of Letterbox Love Stories OR Holiday Magic PLUS something exclusively from New Mexico. The winner  and I will work out the choice.

Next prize ~ copy of Escape to Africa

Last prize ~ copy of Letterbox Love Stories OR Holiday Magic

Leave a comment with a form of contact to enter. 

Award winning author Lynn Crain has done it all in her life. From nursing to geology, her life experiences have added to her detail rich stories. She loves writing full time as she weaves contemporary, fantasy, futuristic and paranormal tales, tame to erotic, for various publishers. Her home is in the desert southwest and she’s just returned from her latest adventure of living in Vienna, Austria while her husband worked his dream job. She loves hearing from her readers at

(all info provided by Lynn Crain)

Now Check out This Bonus Post: SouthWest Writers: 

SouthWest Writers (SWW) is an organization devoted to helping both published and unpublished writers improve their craft and further their careers. Located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, SWW serves writers of all skill levels in every fiction and nonfiction genre.

SWW had its beginnings in the early 1980s as New Mexico Romance Writers-NMRW- with five members. By 1985, the organization had grown to about 150 members — and NMRW voted to change its name and open the group to writers of all genres.

Take a few minutes to browse the site and learn about their anthology, classes and workshops, and the benefits of membership. If you have any questions, please contact the SWW office. Better yet, visit one of the free, twice-monthly meetings.

If you’re in the area August 5th, there’s an event that might be of interest. 


Saturday: August 5, 2017    12:30 pm to 2:30 pm
Location: New Life Presbyterian Church (after the regular Saturday meeting)
$20 Members, $25 Osher, $30 Non-members
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jodi Thomas will present a hands-on workshop for writers to create characters that will walk off the page. This workshop will also include suggestions on how to write a deeper point of view.

Consider becoming a member.  Membership is $70 a year payable through PayPal. Its a mid-range amount for a year.  That membership gets you discounts to classes, workshops and advertising both on the website and through their electronic newsletter. Those are great advantages and I'm sure there's more to it but, to be honest, the website doesn't point that out as much as I'd like when I look into membership.  Their board is extensive.  If you have questions, click on the contact tab at the top of the site.
(All info downloaded from SWW site)