Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Dreaming Sophia-Book Spotlight-Author Interview w/Giveaway

                 A Giveaway Follows The Author Interview
Book Spotlight (provided by Italy Book Tours)
Dreaming Sophia is a magical look into Italy, language, art, and culture. It is a story about turning dreams into reality and learning to walk the fine line between fact and fantasy. When tragedy strikes, Sophia finds herself alone in the world, without direction and fearful of loving again. With only her vivid imagination to guide her, she begins a journey that will take her from the vineyards in Sonoma, California to a grad school in Philadelphia and, eventually, to Italy: Florence, Lucca, Rome, Verona, Venice, and Val d’Orcia.

​Through dreamlike encounters, Sophia meets Italian personalities—princes, poets, duchesses, artists, and film stars— who give her advice to help put her life back together. Following a path that takes her from grief to joy, she discovers the source of her creativity and learns to love again, turning her dreams into reality.

Available:

About the author:
Melissa Muldoon is the Studentessa Matta-the crazy linguist! In Italian, "matta" means "crazy" or "impassioned". Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master's degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence.

Melissa promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog, Studentessa Matta (studentessamatta.com). Melissa began the Matta blog to improve her command of the language and to connect with other language learners. It has since grown to include a podcast, "Tutti Matti per l'Italiano" and the Studentessa Matta YouTube channel. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Tours, which she co-leads with Italian partners in Italy.

Dreaming Sophia is Melissa's first novel. It is a fanciful look at art history and Italian language and culture, but it is also the culmination of personal stories and insights resulting from her experiences living in Italy, as well as her involvement and familiarity with the Italian language, painting, and art history.

As a student, Melissa lived in Florence with an Italian family. She studied art history and painting and took beginner Italian classes. When she returned home, she threw away her Italian dictionary, assuming she'd never need it again but after launching a successful design career and starting a family, she realized something was missing in her life. That "thing" was the connection she had made with Italy and the friends who live there. Living in Florence was indeed a life-changing event! Wanting to reconnect with Italy, she decided to start learning the language again from scratch. As if indeed possessed by an Italian muse, she bought a new Italian dictionary and began her journey to fluency-a path that has led her back to Italy many times and enriched her life in countless ways.
Now, many dictionaries and grammar books later, she dedicates her time to promoting Italian language studies, further travels in Italy, and sharing her stories and insights about Italy with others. When Melissa is not traveling in Italy, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is married and has three boys and two beagles.

Melissa designed and illustrated the cover art for Dreaming Sophia. She also designed the Dreaming Sophia website and created the character illustrations that can be found in the book and on the Dreaming Sophia websites.

Visit the website here  

Interview with the author...

How exciting to have written your debut novel! If you can tell us what was the most exciting part of actually seeing that finished product?

Thank you Sherry! It is very exciting to have finished my first novel. Thank you also for previewing Dreaming Sophia and highlighting it on your blog.

My novel, published at the end of August, took about two years to write. But if truth be told it has been thirty years in the making! It weaves together many strands of Italian culture in a mixture of fantasy, romance, art, and history. It is as diverse and complex as Italy herself. From start to finish readers are taken on a journey from the vineyards of Sonoma California to Florence, Fiesole, Lucca, Rome, Verona, and Venice. Along the way, they will discover more about Italy, popular legends and illuminating anecdotes, film, music, and food. They will also learn a bit of Italian to boot! The story begins with tragedy, with the main character, named after La Loren, being blindsided by fate. But, “Dreaming Sophia” is also a joyful story. It is a story about turning dreams into reality.

So, in answer to your question as to what it felt like when I completed the story and finally held the printed book in my hands… I have to admit I was quite overwhelmed with joy. I also felt proud and satisfied. I realized I had finally captured on paper a story that I had been keeping inside me for a long time…one that in many ways explains my own journey to learn Italian and my fascination with the country.


The month of March is a special time for me. I’ve heard that this March was very special for you. Can you tell us about it. 

Yes, March is a special month for me. Not only is it a month long celebration of my birthday (my birthday is the 28th!) but I will always remember it as the month in which I met Sophia Loren!

It is my belief if you can envision something, you can make it happen. One of the themes Dreaming Sophia is the belief in positive thinking and making dreams comes true. Writing this book is an example of this. Not only did I take a pile of notes and blog posts and envision an end novel, but because of “Dreaming Sophia” I had the opportunity to meet Miss Loren after her one-woman show in Las Vegas last March. I was able to kiss her on both cheeks in the proper Italian fashion and tell her about my novel. What a thrill it was to see her smile at me and say to me: I believe in dreams, dreams become reality.

Now, I’m curious about what makes March for you?


Obviously you love Italy. Are there other places that you’ve traveled that could possibly be a good setting for a book?

My love of traveling began at a very young age, fueled by my parents. My family hosted foreign exchanged students from Chile and Japan. As a family, we traveled to both those countries to visit the families of the students we had hosted. As a teenager I also lived in Hawaii for six months with my parents while my father, a college professor was on sabbatical. My senior year in college I traveled for the first time abroad to Italy all by myself. I choose Florence because of my love for Art History and Painting. At the time lived with an Italian family and traveled around il Bel Paese, visiting Siena, Rome and Venice and other small hill towns sprinkled around Tuscany. During holiday breaks I also went to France - Mont Saint Michel, Chartres, and Paris as well as a few cities in Germany and Austria.

I have visited many places around the globe, and there are other places I’d like to go, but for now I seem to keep returning to Italy twice a year now, where I can use the language that I’ve worked so hard to learn. Italy itself is such a diverse country and every city and every region is unique and offers special and unusual things. For me, it is an adventure traveling to new places within Italy itself learning about new legends, customs, and practices. Italy continues to fire my imagination, and currently, I am working on a new novel concept that will take place in Arezzo, a charming town in southern Tuscany.



I think the location of Italy is obvious but can you tell us how did the story line evolve?

The decision to write a novel came to me gradually, fueled by my years of working on the Studentessa Matta website - a dual language blog I write in Italian and English. I wanted to try my hand at fiction and weave together many of the stories I write about on my blog. I was also inspired by several published women author friends.

When I sat down to develop a fictional story, I tossed around several ideas, but as I glanced up at a picture of Eleonora de' Medici painted by the Renaissance artist Bronzino pinned to my idea board next to my computer, the original draft of Dreaming Sophia began to flow out of me. I was a little surprised at first by the direction the story took right from the beginning and was immediately captivated by the characters of Sophia and her mother.

As I continued to write and began developing the conversations between Sophia her Italian muses—Eleonora de’ Medici and her encounters with Leonardo and Michelangelo and Prince Lorenzo I was thoroughly hooked. I wanted to continue exploring the theme of a young girl rising out of tragedy, learning how to cope with her grief who eventually finds the confidence to create a new life and artistic career for herself in Italy. I also wanted to tie in the many personalities from Italian art and history and have my character “meet” them through her daydreams. Although the story begins with tragedy, ultimately it ends joyfully. It is about falling in love with one’s self and finding inner confidence, as well as falling in love with a country and its culture.


Your book is filled with fanciful characters. Is the book based on fantasy or on reality?

"Dreaming Sophia" is based on a contemporary reality. But there are elements of fantasy and at times a blending of fact with fiction. An important aspect of the book was to explore the reality of living in Italy, its customs, language and current events. But, being somewhat of an imaginative daydreamer myself I also wanted to tell a story in which my character Sophia could talk to famous Italian personalities from past eras—the titans of Italian history and culture—through her creative thought processes.

Originally I thought about calling the book “Sognare ad occhi aperti”. In Italian, this means to daydream. So even though there are fanciful sequences, Sophia’s dreams are very real to her. They are a way for her to process the information she has heard previously from her parents and her teachers. As she heals and grows stronger, she can accept the “advice” and the “gifts” each Muse gives to her, to move on with her life and make positive changes.

Sophia’s journey is about turning her dreams into reality, but it is also about finding a balance between fantasy and reality. Sophia Loren the actress also knew the importance of finding this balance. She grew up in a time of war, famine and poverty to become a famous movie star. La Loren knew how to imagine and visualize a better life for herself. She knew that a fairy tale loses its magic without real life and that the opposite is also true. The most beautiful thing in life is to learn how to walk between the two.

My character learns to walk this fine line between fantasy and fiction and does indeed move to Italy to pursue a career as an artist. It seems her dreams have come true. But once she arrives in Italy, she is faced with a new set of realities. Sophia must adapt to a new culture, a new language and life with an Italian family. She also must navigate the complexities of a new social network as she also starts to date, Italian men. More perplexing than that, she must learn how to survive the labyrinth that is Italian bureaucracy as well as succeed as an artist in a foreign country. In Italian, there is another idiom: Hai voluto la bicicletta, adesso pedala! You wanted the bike now learn to pedal! You wanted this, now learn to deal with it. And this is exactly what Sophia learns to do.


Where is your favorite place to write?  

I write in various places. I begin writing on my big desktop Mac in the privacy of my home office. I have two large monitors for my graphic design work so that I can have multiple windows open with all my notes and drafts. I am a prolific writer and every day I save my current draft to my iCloud. When I go to the gym, I re-read what I have written on my iPad and take additional notes while I’m on the treadmill. I also often find secluded corners of the house and sit with my lap top and write on that device as well. Every time I read the story on a different screen - big or small, or read it in a new setting I see it in a new way.

I work best early in the morning and very late at night. But, I am always thinking about the story line throughout the day, when I’m shopping, listening to Italian music, or making dinner. Some of my best ideas come to me when I am relaxing or out for a walk with my two beagles. I am also prone to replaying the entire story in my head as I’m trying to fall sleep which often prompts me to get out of bed and fire up my computer and start writing in the middle of the night.

I am a graphic designer and a very visual person, so it helps my creative process to illustrate my characters and have a vision board of all the places the story takes me. It is during the times that I am illustrating my characters additional ideas come to me. You can visit the Dreaming Sophia Pinterest Boards to see my character illustrations as well as all the lovely places in Italy that I write about.


And one last question. Now that the book is finished are you taking a little vacation? 

I have just returned from Italy where I spent a month in Tuscany with my fall Arezzo Italian language immersion group. I am home again in San Francisco Bay Area and am now getting ready for the holidays and spending time with my family. I am staying put for a couple of months and will be busy posting new articles about Italy on the Studentessa Matta blog and Youtube channel. I am fortunate, because for me, writing about Italy is like taking a vacation there every day.   

You can also find me on a new website I have created a Dreaming Sophia. On the Dreaming Sophia website, Facebook Page and Pinterest Boards, I plan to post more stories about Italy and art history. Through the website, I offer items I have designed, such as Dreaming Sophia book bags, t-shirts, mugs, and calendars.

In 2017 I am organizing two new Italian Language programs in Lucca in June and Arezzo September, as well as a “Dreaming Sophia Tour” in Florence in September. It will be a 5-6 day program, and we will visit all the places that Sophia goes in the book, as well as a day trip to Lucca. More information about these programs is available on the Studentessa Matta Blog. (www.studentessamatta.com)

As I said, writing about Italy is like taking a vacation for me and so I am also developing an idea for a new novel and plan to start writing soon! Stay tuned!

Thank you Sherry for featuring Dreaming Sophia on your blog “My Journey Back”. I have enjoyed my “journey” of bringing Dreaming Sophia to life. I hope you too will enjoy your travels with Sophia! Non smettere mai di sognare—never stop dreaming!

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The New Fabulous Party

                
               Come over and link all your Christmas posts! 
Thank you B.J for making our sweet invite! 
              The party will be over at
                   Our Holiday Journey 

Monday, November 28, 2016

Happy Homemaker Monday

One of my favorite places to be in blog land.  I enjoy beginning my week with Sandra for HHM
 

Right now I am::: 
Thinking about my day/week. The crock pot is started and I'm sitting 'my room' which is either a sewing room, or a crafting room.  It depends on the day.  Today and for awhile I am surrounded by Santa Claus.  Maybe is should be called The Christmas Room.  

Thinking and pondering:::
Christmas and all that I still have left to do before I begin my virtual tour on the 1st.  Maybe I'll share a sneak peek here today.   Hmm.

On my bedside table:::
I don't have one.  I should change this prompt.  

Here's one that works  On My Reading List

The Litfuse blog tour begins tomorrow.  I'll be reviewing on the 1st.

On my tv:::
I found Martha Stewart Making and Cooking School  on KERA
Sunday's I love the Flipping Flea Market finds. 

Playing on the radio:::
No radio but I just turned on youtube while I type.  Listening to 3rd Day Your Words 

On the menu for this week:::
Monday -  Crock Pot Beans and Corn Bread
Tuesday - Spaghetti, Salad, Garlic Bread   
Wednesday - Taco's, Leftover Beans and Rice
Thursday - Kid Friendly Blue Box Mac and Cheese, Hot Dog, Salad (for me)
Friday - A new Chinese Chicken Dish I have some new one's saved on pinterest
Saturday -  Grilled Steak, Baked Potato, Salad
Sunday -  Winging it

On my to do list:::
All my laundry.  I only do about 3 loads: Dark, White and red.
Trying to finish up the decorating.  I'm so glad we started last Monday.  It is taking forever.  I think/I hope because it's a new house. 

What I am sewing, crocheting, knitting or creating:::

Nothing at the moment.  I need to get my daughter's Christmas present back out.  I am working on a scripture journal. 

My simple pleasure:::
Spending time with my daughter.  

Looking around the house:::
Santa Claus has come to town.  ☺

From the camera:::

Santa Tree in my sewing room. Http//:myjourneyback-thejourneyback.blogspot.com:
 Not really camera ready but still fun.  Speaking of fun . . . 

Something fun to share:
The Count down to Christmas link party begins over at 
Our Holiday Journey on the 1st. I'd love for you to come over and link all your Christmas posts.  Old or new.  Feel free to link your archived posts! 

Bible verse, Devotional:::
 Bible Journaling Hymn Art Psalm 77:
This is from my yesterdays Simple Sunday post.  Every Sunday I share a printable or scripture art that I have found on pinterest.  This lovely piece is available in an etsy shop.  Click Here.
The blog is where I get some of my inspiration for the book I am making for my daughter.
Click here to visit Growing Meadows

Thanks for beginning your week with me. 
Today I'll be linking with Happy Homemaker Monday
Visit my parties page to visit my other favorite parties.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Simple Sunday

                     
                             
Bible Journaling Hymn Art Psalm 77:
Source
Available Here
Have a Beautiful Blessed Day

Saturday, November 26, 2016

When The Rooster Crowed

Albert!  
The children laugh and giggle each time Farmer Albert 
is called to "Wake Up!"
                      
When The Rooster Crowed by Patricia Lillie is a wonderful children's book.  Perfect for preschoolers!

The book is beautifully illustrated by Nancy Winslow Parker the illustrations are fun yet each animal looks real. 

As each of the farmers animals wake up and restlessly ask for their breakfast the rooster crows.

And Farmer Albert who must have had a hard, long and tiring week asks " 10 more minutes."
Then each time counting down till he finally has to give up and feed the animals. 
The story beautifully tells about all the animals on the farm. 

This book is perfect to read with a Preschooler.  The children loves when the reader makes the
individual sounds of each animal. 

And when the Farmers Wife calls him loudly down for breakfast!


                                           Youtube
Although this fabulous book is out of print the illustrators website has a link to inquire for purchase.
Click here.
The book is available through amazon.  Click here

There's plenty of time to find a copy for your special little one for Christmas! 

              Threview of this book is my opinion.  I was not asked to review it by anyone.   
Linking with. 
For more Christmas present suggestions visit my party over here


Create With Joy Friendship Friday
Sweet and Simple Friday
No Rules Weekend with Sincerely, Paula
Camera Critters
Saturday Critters with Eileen
Share It One More Time Sunday
Snickerdoodle Sunday
Blue Monday
The Art Of Homemaking

Friday, November 25, 2016

A Little This..A Little That. AnD What Do I Do Now?




Today I thought I would share a few pics of our house.  Now that the trees have been trimmed . . . 

 :
I actually don't know which is worse.  The before or after. 
Now I don't know what to do with this space between the very overgrown nandina's that the landlord wouldn't trim.  Said it was our job!

I'm thinking of planting the ornamental grass that I have in a pot. 
Remember it  . . . 
T:

This is what the pots looked like at the apartment.  They were by the front door and got the super hot afternoon sun.  The apartment faced the west.  
 :
This is a similar grass at McDonalds there is one that I think is just like mine at a neighbors house.  

I think the grass might do better in the ground.  So that is my task for tomorrow.    
                      Image result for fall blog post dividers
One of the things I love about Texas is once we get past the summer our weather is gorgeous.  It might be cool in the morning but the afternoons are always nice.  
 :
Here's a shot looking toward the nandina's you can barely see the house behind them.  I was grateful the beds have decent edging. 
There were two chrysanthemums one was purple.  The other wasn't watered well so the blooms were dead.  But the plant is green.  You can't see from this shot but there is one in the pot with the crazy begonias.  I'll put it in the bed too.  

The caladiums will be dug out of the pot too and stored for winter. 

A close up of the begonias
 :
I don't think I have ever seen any this big.  They are like a bush. They love it here!  There were originally 6.  All crammed in a hanging basket.  I got them  from my daughter and grandson for mothers day.  I separated them about the end of June.  This is what they look like now. 

This is one of the chrysanthemum's . . . 
 :
And some weeds.  I'll be pulling them up when I replant the one I have in a pot. 

I'm hoping to get a few pansy's, dusty miller and lambs ear for this area. 

Here's a shot of the same bed from the front . . . 
 :
This is where the 'What do I do now?' comes in.  You can barely see that pot of caladiums.  I have no idea what to do with this rose bush.  I'm thinking they should have cut it waaay back almost to the ground.  It's really tacky now.  

This is the other side of past the nandina's . . . 
 :
I don't know if you can tell but this is a crepe myrtle.  It was taller than the house.  Just past it was completely covered in scrub brush and trees.  Actually the entire front bed was covered in the scrub trees.  They were all 4 ft. high or more. 

I should have taken a picture of the pile of brush before they hauled it off!

There are three crepe myrtle's in the back yard along the side fence.
 :
An old ball was uncovered from all the mess. 

And now a shot of probably my favorite part of the house . . . 
 :
I love this room.  It is so cozy.  I sit inside almost every evening and read till it get's too chilly.   I was sad that they didn't trim the huge overgrown crepe myrtle that is beside it.  

One bad thing I found out about the property. It might be hard to tell from this shot.  But just past the foreground is a sunk railroad tie.  Then there is pea gravel covering the ground all the way to the house. 

Here's a better shot...
 :
You can see how big the bush is.  The area behind it was completely overgrown and covered in weeds and scrub.  

I planned for the area to be a vegetable garden.  Sadly I found out from the neighbor that 3 years ago and for about 2 before that it was a fenced off area.  A kennel for dogs.  A lot of dogs. 
So I don't think I actually want to plant in the area.  

Which I guess is o.k. but now we'll have to do raised beds which will be more expensive.  Not sure how many we'll be able to afford for the spring.   

Since we won't have a huge budget; I'm considering something like this . . . 
pallet raised bed:
There is a great one over on my pinterest board but the pic is water marked so I didn't want to use it here.  But if your interested here is the link. 

So I'm wishing and dreaming and doing some planning.  

  • And wondering what to do about that  rose bush.
  • What to do about that open spot between the bushes in the front. 
  • And how to get a vegetable garden in that back yard. 



 Any suggestions? 

Did you see my parties page?  I've been trying to get it updated to list all the parties where I link.  I'll be linking to some of my favorites.  

Leave me a comment and give me your suggestions for fixing up this yard!  

I'm tired thinking about it.  
                         I'll just put my feet up for now.                                                 


Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Image result for thanksgiving
 "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High: To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, [...] For thou, Lord, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands" (Psalm 92:1-2,4).

                                 Image result for thanksgiving

May your day be filled with words of Thanksfulness

Wishing you a wonderful day filled with blessings and fun!
Image result for thanksgiving
I'll be over at Our Holiday Journey beginning at noon
Come over here and join the party!


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Westobou Gold-Book Spotlight-Author Interview-Giveaway


About the book (provided by IRead Book Tours)
The Indian Queen would risk torture and worse to keep her secrets from these barbarians in suits of metal and their search for cities of gold. They never found the gold. Empires rose; empires fell, the centuries passed. Legend became fireside myths, but no treasure was ever found. Yet, among the grey-green drapes of wisteria and wild jasmine along the misty shrouded lowlands of bayous and marshes of the Westo River, the folktales persist.

In the lazed creep of a near-tropical dawn lit the pungent Turkish coffee permeates Moccasin Hollow. Beyond the kitchen door Lucky, Craige Ingram’s German shepherd gnaws a favorite bone. Looted burial mounds seem a world away until plundered mounds on Moccasin Hollow land brings amateur archaeologist PI Craige Ingram into the cross-hairs of kidnapping. Stealthy hideaways are concealed in old colonial brick-lined river grottoes beneath the big house of Ardochy plantation. Sex-tape underage blackmail and thrill killings on federal land spur a medical examiner’s preliminary postmortem to more than a hired cleaner’s quickie cover-up passed off as drug deals gone sour. Greed tangles a witch’s pigswill of illicit affairs and murder-to-hide-murder. Shady investigators and shadier politics stir an unexpected concoction that threatens the lives of those at Moccasin Hollow in a spiteful plot against ex-SEAL Craige Ingram and the woman he loves.

Author interview 
 Thanks so much Hawk for taking the time and allowing me a few minutes to chat
about Westobou Gold and a little about your writing style

I haven’t had the pleasure of reading any of your work before so let’s start at the beginning.


Can you tell us what kind of story Westobou Gold is about and what Genre?

Westobou Gold is the second title in The Moccasin Hollow Mystery Series. This second book is a tale of greed complicated by out-of-control compulsions that become paranoia. My favorite characters in the series are the women with the swirl and dash they add to the historical backstory of the romance genre and the contemporary chase of mystery…the same covert intrigue that the serial character Craige Ingram brings from Book 1, Hidden Chamber of Death.

Did the character of Craige Ingram come before the Moccasin Hollow Series?

Yes…the distinct backgrounds of an unnamed figure of Welsh, French, and Scottish kith-and-kin laid out a wealth of character/personality traits long before placing the figure into outlines, themes, settings, plot, etc. to become The Moccasin Hollow Series. The serial aspect of the protagonist-character theme, the Ingramme/Ingram name went through several changes and backgrounds to become an uncompromising principled Southron with the will from his forefathers—and Grannie—to survive. Craige Howelle Graeme Roynane Ingram...with questionable branches of twined family trees and heraldic honors with Coats of Arms—I researched hundreds of single-spaced pages, ancient genealogy bloodlines…stirred and mixed the character that eventually would become Craige Ingram. Much of the shaping of the protagonist was nonfiction woven into deniable fiction…like most of our immigrant European, Welsh, Irish, Scottish ancestors.

Did you develop the series to give Craige something to do?

With such hot-blooded powerful ancestors, land barons and their industrial legitimate and illegitimate prodigy, PI Craige Ingram needs no prodding. He doesn’t lack for places to be, things to do, or people who need help and know he can be trusted. He picks his cases, and lucrative investments have given him the opportunity to be lazy when he wants to retreat/recharge at his ancestral home, Moccasin Hollow. As a SEAL, Ingram was tasked as the Commanding Officer to select the men to outfit an antiterrorist covert unit. He stays close to his serial-characters SEAL buddies across several states…lawyer, forensic doctor, sheriff, and police lieutenant. SEAL to the core, unit members retain their code of ethics in their civilian pursuits—considerate of others and of the consequences of their decisions. They can be animal-intense when the situation demands it.

I see that our main character in Westobou Gold, Craige, is a retired Navy Seal. Is there a little bit of you in Craige’s character?

Absolutely…probably more than at first intended…which is nothing new with writers of any genre. I am not a SEAL, but my military career positioned me in some of their support units. They live hard, fast, sometimes crude, but always there when needed…no matter the hangover. Writers pull from themselves and from the brew of life around them, then wrinkle non-fiction yarns into a fiction brew that isn’t fiction at all. Nor does most tales told fit snug and neat into any genre. There’s a bunch of romance with the serial characters in The Moccasin Hollow Series…especially in the historical romance, Moccasin Trace, which gives the historical background to the present-day mystery series.

When you began The Moccasin Hollow Series did you have a plan for how many books
would be a part of the series, or is that developing as the series moves forward?

A series wasn’t planned until character sketches were expanded. Character back-and-forth relationships expanded until red flags warned of too many twists, plots and subplot-plots were flying for Hidden Chamber of Death. There were rewrites, hard edits and storyline cuts…with Book 2, Westobou Gold in the offing. It hasn’t stopped. How many books? I’ve no idea, but certainly more than I’ll ever get put together.

The story is interesting in that it has an underlying historical significance. Did you come up with the historical/legend of the story first?

I’d like to claim that was planned/outlined from the start. It wasn’t. The legend fed the story, a tale waiting to be jig-sawed with murder, greed and gory madness. From all manner of researched notes Ingram and Graeme and Greer and DeWorthe characters/plots warped-and-woofed into Moccasin Trace, the historical romance of the Ingram bloodlines. The scenes/settings and characters’ backstories of Moccasin Trace were trimmed to a draft of the first and last chapters in both Books 1 and 2, Hidden Chamber of Death and Westobou Gold in the mystery series. Through the generations, family names changed from Craige Howelle Graeme Roynane Ingramme to Craige Ingram—a whole basket of learning and a lot of fun to weave the characters through each title. Book 3 is with the editors…and away we go.

How did you choose the location of Westobou Gold?

Why Westobou Gold? The legend, locations, landmarks and settings came near readymade. Some characters blended with other caricature-cutouts or moved from other sites; unrelated but juxtaposed in the tale being spun. Timespans were crunched or expanded; the pieces waiting for Craige Ingram and his significant ‘others’ to have the webs spun around them. The decades of writing through my teens were west of the Mississippi except for cousins and creek-cousins in the Cajun lands south of New Orleans. Making a home east of the Ojibwas’ Big Muddy Mississippi River in the Southron heartland was a land steeped with histories and sites and whispered tales and “…gran’mas what dun knew ever’thang from the livin’ of it”…most ’specially family histories. It certainly wasn’t part of my homegrown horse and dogs and gone huntin-shootin’ southwest upbringing. One of my college majors was history. Heaps of Southron lore was waiting. Baiting me like a bass on a hook. A whole world of histories, and my wandering roots dun took deep-hold. I luv it!

I’m always interested in the research that an author does for a story. Did you
have to do any special research to develop the story or plot in Westobou Gold?

With all the gran’mothers that know their history cold—that’s a most explicit and definite YES. One of the dictates of the research, it is imperative to keep historical events/places and characters historically correct in a work of fiction like Moccasin Trace. One glitch—something inaccurate—and it’s a solid platinum promise, more than a few razor memories will spot it. Senior moments blown to blazes…some of the Southron octogenarians are sharp. It is critical to fact-check and research from more than one or two sources. Internet browsers are a great tool, but reference librarians are way-beyond-awesome in digging up often-archived details.

Just one more question and I’ll let you get back to writing…
When you’re not writing do you have a hobby that keeps you busy?

My hobbies are varied. The well-worn comment, “Reading a well-written book.” More to the point, a nonfiction well-written history by a writer that was contemporary to that history; i.e. the unabridged The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It was a slugfest and in many places a real drag, BUT it had some hidden treasures in it as well. Another hobby—collecting original contemporary Southron watercolorists to place them in museum collections for everyone to enjoy instead of secluding the pieces in some underground Hidden Chamber vault.

Thank you so much for spending some time with us!   

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Little Thanksgiving Crafting with GiGi

A few days ago I had a little help making some things for 
our Thanksgiving table . . .

The plan was to make harvest corn.  We started with 
yellow, orange and white paint.
 :

 :
Then we dipped legos and duplos into the paint and stamped a file folder.
 :
This process was done in between Disney t.v. shows.
But we had to let the paint dry.  


The finished product will be cute to add to these other element...
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The paper bag turkey my DIL made last year.  
A few weeks ago my grandson made the foam kit cornucopia's.

Our fun kid friendly Thanksgiving table is coming together.  


What should we make next?  
Do you have any ideas?

Linking at The Fabulous Fall Party. And my regular party places.  Visit my parties page for links.

I'd would love for you to visit me Thanksgiving Day or over the weekend for the 1st annual book reviewers Christmas Present suggestions.  The party is over here.
Come and get some ideas or link your suggestions!