Saturday, July 31, 2010
Friday, July 30, 2010
Today I'm sending you on a tour of some of the world's most unusual bathrooms. You can check them out here (and be sure to click through the ads so you don't get bogged down).
Thursday, July 29, 2010
My hubby is away at camp this week, so when a friend told me about this movie making site, I thought I'd try it out with a camp promo. This is VERY rough, but it's easy and fun to work with. Need a little movie for your site? Here's a great place to start. What will they think of next?
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
What would you do if you were on the subway and this happened? Looks like fun!
If this is Wednesday, I'm flying out again--EARLY. Am going to Colorado Springs to teach at one of Jerry Jenkins' craftsmen's residencies, so I'll be away from home for the rest of the week. The summer seems to be flying by, probably because I haven't been home for much of it!
Wonder if they have sweet tea in the Springs? That's one thing I've been missing from the Great Ten Day Train Tour . . . :-)
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Monday, July 26, 2010
On this blog, we have celebrated the Wrinkle Ladies, the Mom Song, and all sorts of female-oriented song celebrations. Well, it's time to give equal time to the men.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Photos: The interior of the lovely Tampa train station, our train pulling away, and the exterior of our train station.
Ginger and I woke up this morning in Jacksonville, went to the station, and realized that for the FIRST time, someone was getting serious about checking IDs and boarding the train in an orderly fashion. Truly, until that point, train boarding and de-training was a truly relaxed affair. But today they checked IDs and even assigned seats. Ginger and I were told the train was so full we wouldn't be able to sit together, but as we boarded, we found a seat with a large stain (and I'd swear it was a pee stain. All I could think about was Poppy on Seinfeld.)
Friday, July 23, 2010
Photos: a mannequin in the old jail, one of the loveliest streets in America, Magnolia Avenue, the must-visit Lu Li's Cupcakes, a key lime cupcake (yum!), Florida kitsch--gator heads, the ubiquitous trolley cars.
Whew! The journey is drawing to a close, and it's been fun. But today was a long day again!
Thursday, July 22, 2010
Big sigh. :-) Today was our day off. Even on a vacation, sometimes you need to take a breath and breathe.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Photos: The strawberry shortcake, the filet, the first course at our cooking class, Chef Joe Randall at work, me standing under a mister because of the heat, mounted police near a park, Chef Joe Randall at our cooking class.
Oh, my. I am so stuffed as I write this . . . because tonight Ginger and I went to cooking school.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Photos: me and Debbie Hopkins at Starbucks, one of the carriage rides, two ladies in makeshift rain gear, a hidden garden gate, a haint blue porch ceiling, and one of the outhouses at the wealthy Aiken House.
Charleston, South Carolina--what a city. Brimming with history, color, and people! Ginger and I took a cab downtown and arrived in the morning. Fortunately, we had both been to Charleston before and we had taken one of the ubiquitous buggy rides, so we pretty much knew the area and the history. We had never, however, been to the Aiken-Rhett House, a house that stands in the downtown area and is managed by a historical Charleston society. The house is unique because it was built in the early 19th century and was only updated once--around 1858. So the wallpapers and most of the light fixtures are original. The house has been preserved, not restored, and it is fascinating--especially the slave quarters and stables in the back of the house. It is perfectly easy to understand where and how the slaves lived by studying the house. There are even two rather elegant privies (outhouses) at the back of the property--amazing. The home is loaded with history and is definitely worth a visit.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Today was one LONG day on the train. Ginger and I caught the train at Williamsburg (which has a darling depot, BTW--it reminds me of Disney World) and arrived in Richmond about ninety minutes later. There we had to get off our train and get on one going south. We got on the second train at about noon, and arrived in North Charleston just after seven p.m.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
Photos: Ginger looking at a candy necklace, goodies at THE PEANUT SHOP (click if you want to drool over the details), restored colonial homes, chocolate covered Twinkies, me 'n Anita at Starbucks. ;-)
Dateline: Williamsburg, VA
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Today was our first actual day on a train--and it was the first time either Ginger or I had actually traveled on a train.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Wow. It is HOT here in DC.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
We did it. Ginger and I met in Tampa, and we flew to D.C. Arrived at about 2 p.m. and we finally arrived at our hotel about three.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
I've been spinning my wheels long enough. Tomorrow--Thursday--my cousin Ginger and I are taking a jet to Washington D.C., then preparing to board a train for the Great Ten-Day Southern Train Tour.
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Monday, July 12, 2010
A repeat announcement that I'll soon be boarding the train and may be coming your way! If you can join us at a Starbucks, we'd love to see you1
D.C. Area, July 16th 3-4 p.m.
800 7th Street NW, suite 305
Williamsburg, VA, July 18, 3-4 p.m.
Starbucks at Marketplace Shoppes
4655 Monticello Avenue, #103
Charleston Area, July 20, 3-4 p.m.
Starbucks at International Blvd and Bentonville
5060 International Blvd.
North Charleston, SC
Savannah, GA, July 22, 3-4 p.m.
5500 Abercorn St.
Jacksonville, July 23, 7 -8 p.m.
1980 San marco Blvd.
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Stephen Bly is one of my favorite people--he's a preacher, a mayor, a novelist, and a justice of the peace . . . all in one little town. He and his wife, Janet, are good friends of mine, and I'm tickled to tell you about Steve's latest book: Cowboy for a Rainy Afternoon.
A 10-year-old boy with red straw cowboy hat, cap gun, and silver-painted wooden bullets. Six story-telling, cribbage playing old cowboys. A ’49 Plymouth with open trunk. A damsel in distress. All the fixings for a summer’s day adventure at the Matador Hotel in 1954 Albuquerque.
Maybe you weren’t born 100 years too late!
Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon is a twist on the traditional Western story.
In 1954, six men who spent their youth as cowboys in the Southwest, now gather at the Matador Hotel lobby in downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico, for weekly games of cribbage. One rainy afternoon, one of the men brings his grandson. They’re delighted with this captive audience. They all play cribbage and the men tell stories of their exploits in the old days. The eldest was born during the Civil War. All of them cowboyed from the late 1880s until the 1940s. They tell first-hand stories of what the West was truly like.
Many years later, the boy looks back and remembers the day he heard of a way of life and western tradition that’s quickly becoming extinct. He also recalls the lessons he learned and the excitement of a drama that unfolded before them that provoked the cowboys’ last stand.
This reminiscent account of real cowboy lives resonates like Andy Adams’ book, The Log of a Cowboy, written in the early 1900s.
Author’s suggestion: this book is best read aloud, as though around a campfire, by someone who gets the hang of the rhythm of the language.
EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER ONE: http://snipurl.
Miscellany Quotes from Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon:
The Matador Hotel died on July 5th, 1965, but they didn’t bother burying it until last fall.
New Mexico heat blanketed Albuquerque that July like too many covers in a stuffy cabin. . .the kind of day that you sweat from the inside out and feel sticky dirt in places that you don’t ponder much except in the shower.
Cribbage and cowboys . . . I figured I fit right in.
The early May rain came down hard, the kind of cloudburst when the drops slap your face and you take it personal.
There’s a quiet buzz from antique ceiling fans, like six thousand crickets, all out of tune. You don’t even notice, until there’s silence.
Folks today think that 1954 existed in some other galaxy, on some other planet. Maybe they’re right. It’s hard to believe that world and this one are made of the same stuff.
“If you feel prodded, Shorty, it’s the shovel of the Lord. He’s diggin’ you up and intends on restorin’ you.”
“I have always been a fan of Louis L’Amour but I must say your book is as good if not better than anything of his. I shall remain a fan of Stephen Bly.” -- Jimmy Dickens, Grand Ole Opry
“Bly offers a kinder, gentler Western that should appeal to fans of Louis L’Amour.” – Library Journal
And now, a few questions for Steve:
Q. What is meant by the term “cowboy philosopher.” What is it about the “cowboy life” that lends itself to philosophizing and a closer walk with God?
A cowboy’s friendships were shaped by tough work and tragedy, companionship and daily battle with weather and critters. Only the battlefields of Europe and the Pacific would equal the old West in producing men of courage and character. This stark reality on the land, with lots of nights around a campfire and under the heavens, goaded them to storytelling, philosophizing, and wondering about God.
“Little Brother, a man don’t jump into the stream until he sees which way the water’s flowin’,” says a character in my newest release, Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon (June 1st, hardback). It’s told from a 10-year-old boy’s point-of-view, but years later as an adult. He learns many life lessons one summer’s day in a lobby at the Matador Hotel in Albuquerque. He gets a graduate degree in cowboy philosophy.
Q. Why did you pick Albuquerque, New Mexico for your setting in this newest novel?
Because I’ve been there many times to vacation or do research. I enjoy this state very much. The only other place I’ve been that possesses such wonderful layers of culture stacked one upon another is Rome. The old cowboys at the Matador Hotel in Albuquerque share one layer of New Mexico’s history, a fairly modern era.
Every chapter I wrote in Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon made me miss New Mexico. The state motto is “land of enchantment.” But it’s more than a Chamber of Commerce slogan that tugs me. It’s an intriguing state to explore. This state’s ripe for numerous stories.
Q. How did you get the idea for Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon?
This novel is not based on my life, per se. However, what makes it personal, like a memoir: as a 10-year-old boy in 1954, I spent many afternoons playing cribbage with my grandpa, just like Little Brother in the novel. And I also heard many accounts about the “old days.” Many images from those times together in the 1950s embedded in my mind. I finally wrote about it.
Q. What was one of your challenges in writing Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon?
A rather technical one…Albuquerque is tough to spell right every time. In fact, it ranks #4 in the most misspelled list on none other than ePodunk.com. The other contenders are Cincinnati, Tucson and Pittsburgh. I finally started to get it right on the second draft by remembering an old song: A-L-B-U-Q-U-
Gotta go, gotta go back to New Mexico, where my true love waits for me. Gotta get on the tracks cause I'm on my way back To A-L-B-U-Q-U-
The tune, of course, is integral to teaching the spelling. I can’t help you there, even if we met in person. But my musical wife could hum it just fine.
However, I did discover that there are definite advantages to setting a story mainly indoors, as most of this book is. It’s easier to research. Take New Mexico, for instance. . .as soon as I move my characters out into the woods, I’ve got to decide which tree they’ll hunker next to. Hey, it’s not easy to pick the right tree. Picking the right weed can be tougher. So, I stayed most the time inside the Matador Hotel. Except when all the main characters hop into that ’49 Plymouth with the open trunk.
Q. What other kind of genre would you be interested in writing besides westerns?
My wife and I have enjoyed writing together what she calls ‘cozy mysteries’. We did The Hidden West Series (contemporary) and The Carson City Chronicles Series (historical) and so much enjoyed the research on location and process. I’d be delighted to do more these with her.
Q. What’s next for you?
I’ve got a contract for a historical romance western, set on a train from Omaha to Sacramento, with the working title Throw Away Heart. In addition, I’m thinking through a mystery story set in the early 1900s on the Oregon coast on a golf course, starring Stuart Brannon, one of my early cowboy protagonists, as an old man. He’s invited to a golf tourney by friends and feels very awkward on the links, but finds plenty of adventures anyway. As ardent fans of my books know, Stewart Brannon makes some sort of cameo appearance or mention in every Stephen Bly novel, whether historical or contemporary.
Stephen Bly has published 103 books of historical and contemporary fiction (37 classic westerns) and Christian life and family nonfiction for adults, teens, and kids (9-14 yrs.). Eighteen books were co-authored with wife, Janet. Four of his novels were finalists for the Christy Award. His historical western, The Long Trail Home, won a Christy. The Blys have 3 married sons and 3 grandchildren and live in north-central Idaho at 4,000 ft. elev. on the Nez Perce Indian Reservation.
Learn more about the Blys at their website www.BlyBooks.
Cowboy For A Rainy Afternoon (hardback, Center Point) is available by order through your local bookstore (Ingram Distributors) or online www.Amazon.com or www.BlyBooks.
Personal Note to you bloggers:
If you’re ever doing a blog focus on writing or different genres. . .I’ve got blog-sized articles on several topics, such as, “How I Got Into Westerns,” “Western Lilt: Dialogue & The Western Novel,” “The Novel As Memoir,” “Do They Sweat In Duke City?/Fiction As Research,” and one on “Why We Need Side-Kicks.”
Oh, and just for fun. . .how about “When Ben-Hur Met Billy The Kid.”