Thursday, August 27, 2015

Travelogue: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios with Author Eric Price, Giveaway






Travelogue Series
Hello and welcome to the Summer Travelogue series on the J.Q. Rose blog. You're in for a treat today as fantasy author Eric Price gives us the opportunity to step into the fantasy world of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. If you're a fan of Harry Potter, you'll be as thrilled as Eric who is truly a fan.

Eric is giving away a copy of his YA fantasy, Unveiling the Wizards' Shroud. Just leave a comment to enter the drawing. Winner will be chosen after 6 pm EDT Sunday, August 30.

Winner of the 2014 Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel.

Eric also treats us to an excerpt from his book, soon to be released. Enjoy the sneak peak and find out about Eric Price.

Now, sit back in your arm chair as we fly away to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

A Visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter—Diagon Alley
By Eric Price
I tend to avoid the super popular “thing” of the hour. Be it music, movies, TV shows, or books, I don’t jump on them right away. If they stand the test of time, at least on a small scale, then I’ll check them out. Likewise, when the Harry Potter books started filling every bookshelf, I paid them little attention.
On the day the 2002 World Cup started, I went to a bookstore looking for something to do at halftime and between games. It was played in Korea and Japan that year, so the games didn’t start until around 1:00 am my time. I had adjusted my work and sleep schedules so I could watch the games live, but I needed something to keep me awake during down times. The first three Harry Potter books were out in paperback, and the seller had them in a box set.
I doubt I read any the first night, since they’d have only played one match, but I blew through the first book the next night. It was one of those times when you realize, while it’s happening, your life has just changed. I finished the two remaining books in paperback and the fourth book, which was only available hardcover, that summer. In the coming years I finished the series, anxiously awaiting each new release like the rest of the crazed fans. (Though admittedly, I never waited in line at a bookstore for a midnight release—not my thing.) I’ve reread the series countless times, and currently I’m working through it with my oldest son.
And that brings us to the present, or at least the very recent past, and our family trip to Orlando, Florida, which included a trip to Universal Studios and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Due to time and money restraints, we only went to the side with Diagon Alley. To go to the Hogsmeade side, and ride the Hogwarts Express, it would have cost an extra $200, and we would have missed out on some of the non-HP stuff we did. Not riding the Hogwarts Express was a very difficult sacrifice.
So here it is, a photographic journey into my favorite fictional world.
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On our way to Diagon Alley, we passed by 12 Grimmauld Place. If you look closely, you can see Kreacher in a window.
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If I'd have known we could have taken the Night Bus to get here, I'd have done that instead of driving for three days.
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Nerd Alert!: One of the reasons I didn't go to Hogsmeade first is because I wanted to have my first exposure to the Wizarding World similar to Harry's--passing through the wall into Diagon Alley.
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Here's a closer picture of Gringotts Bank. This really impressed me. I couldn't see it at all from outside of Diagon Alley (as if it's magically hidden from the muggle world), but when I passed through the door, it's impossible to overlook. The ride was awesome too. It's not exactly an intense roller coaster, but it tells a story, and it has amazing 3D visuals. The idea comes from the 7th book, so you may not want to ride it if you haven't read the full series. 
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I don't want to spoil the experience for anyone, but here's one of the creative aspects from the ride...and this is just something you see while waiting in line--yeah, he moves and speaks.
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Pictured above is my very first Butterbeer. Not what I expected, but still good. I had one cold and one hot. They were different, but both good. I didn't try frozen, but I've had several people tell me frozen is their favorite. Maybe next time.
Apparently I didn't take a picture of the Leaky Cauldron, but we had lunch there. The menu consisted of traditional British dishes. I had the Fish and Chips, and I highly recommend it. If you're not extremely hungry, one order could easily be split between two people (I brought my A-Game and ate the whole thing.)
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The rain started, and our day in Diagon Alley ended. Back through the brick wall we headed.
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Oh wait, before leaving the Wizarding World, I did waste some money on one souvenir. I may have been able to resist the urge to ride on the Hogwarts Express, but I left with the wand of my favorite character. I'm trying to think of a clever way to display it, but for now it's on my bookshelf sitting on top of my Harry Potter books...including the box set that started it all. 
Photos courtesy of Eric Price.
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Here's an excerpt from The Squire and the Slave Master, Book Two in the Saga of the Wizards.
Opening the door, she paused to size up the tall, well-built man who stood outside the yard gate. His hair had grown out since she had last seen him, and it looked like he hadn’t shaved for a week. He wore gloves, but she knew underneath, the palm of the right one looked black and charred.

She sprinted and threw herself into his arms. “Owen! How are you?” She pulled away to look at him. “What’s this on your face? Dirt?”

“Yeah, it’s dirt. I thought I should match you.”

Her face grew warm. How much filth must cover her? She hadn’t cared to take time to freshen herself for a messenger, but she would have had she known his identity. It must have something to do with their time apart—they used to spend almost every day together—but as the official heir to the throne, each time she saw him, he somehow looked different in her eyes. More noble. More royal.

He smiled and wiped at a smudge on her cheek. “Did I hear you say something about getting married?”

“Oh no! Father loves trying my nerves. I don’t want to talk about it. Why are you here?” And how much of the conversation did you hear?
****
Author PhotoEric Price lives with his wife and two sons in northwest Iowa. He began publishing in 2008 when he started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. Later that same year he published his first work of fiction, a spooky children’s story called Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast. Since then, he has written stories for children, young adults, and adults. Three of his science fiction stories have won honorable mention from the CrossTime Annual Science Fiction Contest. His first YA fantasy novel, Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud, received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and the Literary Classics Award for Best First Novel. His second novel, The Squire and the Slave Master, continues the Saga of the Wizards. It is scheduled for a September 2015 release. Find him online at authorericprice.comTwitterFacebook, and Goodreads.

Please leave a comment below to say hi to Eric (and me.) Your comment will enter you into the drawing to win his first award-winning novel. Thanks for visiting.

Be sure to get all the posts on the J.Q. Rose blog by submitting your email addy in the Follow by Email box at the top of the sidebar. No Spamming!! Thank you.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

National Park Service Birthday Celebration, Free Admission

You're invited to a birthday party on August 25, 2016. The U. S. National Park Service will  
celebrate their one-hundredth birthday. 
Denali National Park, Alaska
Since 1916 the American people have trusted the National Park Service to take care of our over four hundred national parks. Many critics of the USA, Americans included, find fault with our country, but one thing done correctly was establishing the National Parks system. Since 1916 visionaries set aside eighty-four million acres of lands treasured by our citizens to be protected and experienced by residents and visitors. Awe-inspiring landscapes, seascapes, historical people and places for us and future generations to enjoy.

From the National Park Service Foundation:
WASHINGTON (August 12, 2015) – The National Park Service is turning 99 years old on August 25, 2015, and everyone is getting a present, free admission! Visit a park in your neighborhood or plan a trip to one of the 408 National Park Service sites across the country to join the party! 
On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation to create the National Park Service, which preserves and protects 408 sites throughout the country. Each one, whether it’s a national park, a historic site or a national seashore, was established by a president or Congress to protect, preserve and share its national significance for future generations. Some parks commemorate notable people and achievements; others conserve magnificent landscapes and natural wonders; and all provide a place to have fun and learn.
The National Park Service waived all of its entrance fees on nine days in 2015. The remaining entrance fee free days are August 25 for the National Park Service’s birthday, September 26 for National Public Lands Day, and November 11 in honor of Veterans Day. The entrance fee waiver does not cover amenity or user fees for activities such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.
To find a national park near you, and to learn more about the Find Your Park campaign, visitFindYourPark.com or EncuentraTuParque.com.
Mama Bear and two cubs roaming the countryside in Denali.
I hope you will learn about our fantastic parks and plan a visit in the future. 
Check out the blog post on our visit to Denali National Park from the Alaska Journal series on the J. Q Rose blog. Breathtaking mountain scenery and abundant wildlife.
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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Travelogue: A Soldier's Tour in Kuwait and Iraq with Stan Hampton

Summer Travelogue Series
Hello and welcome to the most unusual travelogue you've ever experienced. Meet Stan Hampton,  full-blooded Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to thirteen wonderful grandchildren, multi-genre author, published photographer, and photojournalist. This man of many talents also served in the U.S. Army. Today he takes us behind-the-scenes during his deployment in Kuwait and Iraq, 2006-2007. 

I'm afraid you won't get tips on where-to-go for a great meal or what tour companies to use for sight-seeing. Stan said, "O
ther than three missions into Iraq, or going further south into Kuwait to a big camp, most of my time 'in Iraq' was working and watching DVDs or listening to music in my tent." Join Sergeant First Class Stan Hampton as he experienced his tour through pictures and stories.

Learn more about Stan and his books after the "travelogue."

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A Soldier's Tour in Kuwait and Iraq with Sergeant First Class Stan Hampton

            It used to be that a journey began with the words, “All aboard! Tickets please, tickets!”
            Then journeys began with, “For the safety briefing, please direct your attention to the stewardess closest to you.” (Or words to that effect.)
            My most memorable journey began on a hot, humid day in southern Mississippi as I and other Soldiers watched a large airplane being loaded with some 400-600 duffel bags (average weight 40-50 pounds each), to be followed by us (some 300 Soldiers) with full backpacks and individual weapons.
            To back up for a moment, the Coalition Forces in Iraq were supplied in great part by logistics (supply) convoys escorted by gun trucks that rumbled out of Kuwait all hours of the day and night. A Wisconsin Army National Guard field artillery battalion was given such a Security Force, SECFOR, mission. They were short of personnel; Cavalry volunteers from Nevada and Arizona, and volunteers from Maine, stood up Company A, and supplied a few individual Soldiers to the other companies.
            Our destination, after two months of pre-deployment training in Mississippi, was Convoy Support Center (CSC) Navistar, a mile south of the Iraqi border. Convoys bound for Iraq picked up gun truck escorts, and convoys coming out dropped off their escorts. During the coming year many Soldiers would spend six months or more escorting logistics convoys on the most dangerous roads in the world.
All aboard!



            Mississippi, July 2006 – someone (I claim it was not I) after watching the loading of the aircraft and as we prepared to board, announced with some trepidation, “That thing better have some big b***s to get us off the ground.” We refueled in Maine, but less than hour over the Atlantic we had to turn back due to a maintenance problem—but that is another story.
Dust storm

            First Dust Storm, 2006 – the average 130-135 degree heat was unbelievable. There are no photographs or video that gets across that feeling to those who did not deploy. People saw the first eerie dusty tendrils stretching toward us from the west, and a lot of people rushed outside to get photographs of this first dust storm. It sure wasn’t our last.
First mission

            First Mission, September 2006 – aside from insurgent activity (which I never experienced), traffic accidents were a common hazard during these convoys. After taking the driver of an 18-wheeler to the medical clinic at CSC Cedar, located off of Main Supply Route Tampa, after such an accident, the gun truck I rode in returned to help with security as the pair of damaged vehicles were recovered. It felt a little strange to be carrying a real weapon with real ammo, and ready to use it. By the way, I was 52 years old when I deployed. This mission lasted from shortly before midnight until after dawn, and I slept for close to 10 hours after returning to Navistar. War is definitely for the young.
Homw away from home

            December 31, 2006 – noteworthy not for the event, but for where I was; a desert with a 3,000+ year old history. Here is my air conditioned corner of home. It was also the first time I heard gunfire in celebration of New Year’s. The night sky over the Iraqi village a mile away was lit up like a curtain of World War II anti-aircraft fire.
American Soldiers are the greatest tourists.

            Doing the Tourist Thing, 2007 – someone once claimed that American Soldiers were the greatest tourists there are. Based on the number of film and digital cameras, and cell phones in use, I believe it. Long story short, after escorting some asphalt trucks to a small plant in Iraq, we checked on the progress of the “Bitumen Road” under construction, and visited a Persian Gulf War battlefield littered with Iraqi tanks taken out by A-10 ground support aircraft. I am carrying a replica 1863 Cavalry guidon; whenever I went into Iraq I carried guidons, Army bears, 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment (ACR) shoulder patches (the parent unit of our Nevada Cavalry squadron), and 11th ACR pins, that I mailed, with letters, to my children and grandchildren. Not long after this photo was taken, Iraqi Police showed up from a nearby post. Talk about the OK Corral! But, after several tense moments of armed Americans and Iraqis facing one another, all ended peacefully—but that is another story.
Camp Virginia

            Camp Virginia, 2007 – the Iraqis and Kuwaitis wanted the border crossing near Navistar for trade/economic reasons, so as soon as the Bitumen Road was completed, we had to move. In May. Two months before we were to leave Kuwait. Air conditioned tents look the same no matter where you go, but Camp Virginia was like a vast desert metropolis compared to the little hamlet of Navistar.
Company Headquarters Building

            The Front Porch, 2007 – the porch of our Company Headquarters building. And another sand/dust storm. Once, after a long storm, I entered the large mess hall (dining facility), and I could barely see the opposite end of the huge interior. The dust hanging in the air was that thick. Breakfast still tasted good, though a little crunchy!
the Great Ziggurat of Ur (Talil Air Base)

            The Birthplace of Writing, June 2007 – my original enlistment was up in October, and I wanted more time to think about staying in the Guard. So what better place for a writer to do a one-year extension, than the Great Ziggurat of Ur (Talil Air Base) in ancient Sumeria, where writing was invented? This was after the ceremony. Italian food followed shortly afterwards.
Going home

            Going Home, July 2007 – there are no words to describe “The Day” of loading duffel bags, and waiting for buses to take us to Ali Al Salem Air Base. That night, with gun truck escort, we were driven to Kuwait City to catch a midnight flight home.
Ft. Lewis, Washington

            Fort Lewis, Washington, July 2007 – and there are no words to describe the smell of rain in the air, the smell of trees and green grass, and hearing real trees rustling in the wind. Or the caress of the cool night air. Or the feeling of being at the end of the deployment.
Back home

            Home, July 2007 – after demobilization processing we flew back to Las Vegas. A pair of old buses, escorted by siren-blaring police cars, carried us from McCarran Airport all the way down the Strip to the Armory on the north side of Las Vegas, where families and friends waited.
            By necessity, I have omitted a lot of details, including feelings of loneliness, looking forward to mail, holidays with an extended Soldier family and friends, dinner at an Italian place surrounded by tall blast walls (in case of mortar or rocket attack) at Talil, and the emotional shock and grief about fellow Soldiers Killed In Action and Wounded In Action.


            So, this is my travelogue from 2006-2007.
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Mainstream Military Fiction
Better Than a Rabbit's Foot by S.S. Hampton
Back Cover:
Sergeant Jerry Stanton is a young soldier serving in the War in Iraq. He is a gunner on a gun truck nicknamed “Lucky Bear,” one of those tireless workhorses that escort supply convoys from camps in Kuwait to destinations scattered throughout the war-torn country. In the early morning hours before a scheduled mission, a dust storm howls across his camp and threatens to bring convoy operations to a halt. Worse, the camp receives word that a gunner from his company was killed by an IED while on a convoy mission in Iraq. Unlike most soldiers, Jerry doesn’t carry a lucky charm, but upon receiving news of the death of the gunner, he begins to mull over the merit of a good luck charm—only, what would work for him? Perhaps mail call will provide the answer.
Read an excerpt from Better Than a Rabbit's Foot at MuseItUp Publishing
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Author Stan Hampton
Stan Hampton, Sr. is a full-blood Choctaw of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, a divorced grandfather to 13 wonderful grandchildren, and a published photographer and photojournalist. He retired on 1 July 2013 from the Army National Guard with the rank of Sergeant First Class;he previously served in the active duty Army (1974-1985), the Army Individual Ready Reserve (1985-1995) (mobilized for the Persian Gulf War), and enlisted in the Nevada Army National Guard in October 2004, after which he was mobilized for Federal active duty for almost three years. Hampton is a veteran of Operations Noble Eagle (2004-2006) and Iraqi Freedom (2006-2007) with deployment to northern Kuwait and several convoy security missions into Iraq.


            He has had two solo photographic exhibitions and curated a third. His writings have appeared as stand-alone stories and in anthologies from Dark Opus Press, Edge Science Fiction & Fantasy, Melange Books, Musa Publishing, MuseItUp Publishing, Ravenous Romance, and as stand-alone stories in Horror Bound Magazine, The Harrow, and River Walk Journal, among others.
            As of April 2014, after being in a 2-year Veterans Administration program for Homeless Veterans, Hampton is officially no longer a homeless Iraq War veteran.
            In May 2014 he graduated from the College of Southern Nevada with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Photography – Commercial Photography Emphasis. A future goal is to study for a degree in archaeology—hopefully to someday work in and photograph underwater archaeology (and also learning to paint). He is currently studying in a double major in Art and Creative Writing at University of Nevada-Las Vegas.
            After over 14 years of brown desert in the Southwest and overseas, he misses the Rocky Mountains, yellow aspens in the fall, running rivers, and a warm fireplace during snowy winters.
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Hampton can be found online at:





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Thank you for your service, Stan. I was certainly enlightened by your account of your experiences in Kuwait and Iraq. 

Please say hi to Stan and ask questions. I guarantee you he'll have some answers!
And add your email address to the Follow by Email box at the top of the page so you won't miss blog posts on the J.Q. Rose blog. Thank you!!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Sunflowers, Vegetable Garden, and Internal Dialogue

Sunflowers in our garden
Summer is a wonderful time of the year. I can make that statement because:
1. We've had some fun-filled times together with our family. (Even getting the grandkids all to ourselves so we can spoil them!) 
2. Our garden is growing fantastically-super-great!


New beginnings for gardeners in the spring
Every year Gardener Ted faces a blank plot of soil, but he doesn't see it as an impossible piece of work. He sees it as an opportunity. Gardeners are the most optimistic people in the world in the spring time. They work up the ground, plan where each veggie will be planted, and can practically taste the first red tomato on their taste buds even as they place the tiny seedling in the ground. Time is carefully spent nurturing the plant, covering it when the frost bites, watering when Mother Nature doesn't provide, fretting when the sun doesn't shine. The entire spring is filled with enthusiasm and hope that this will be THE garden, the best ever grown this year.

Finally, this year, THE garden sprang from that soil, a very successful, rewarding, delicious garden. 

That empty plot of soil kind of reminds me of facing the blank page or blank screen on my laptop. I don't view it as hopeless, but I am thrilled to begin a new story/project and "nurture" it into a piece of writing to entertain, inspire, and inform readers.

Garden Update with pictures by J.Q. Rose:
Our sweet corn is beautiful.
Sweet corn graced by cheery sunflowers
Sweet corn close up


Lip smackin' good boiled in the pot.
So sweet and tasty you don't need to butter and salt it.
(but of course, I do!!)
I hope you don't think I'm bragging. I don't have bragging rights. I don't grow the corn or pick it. I just cook it in the pan. Gardener Ted is in charge of growing and harvesting, and he would never crow about his hard work.

At this moment we are getting tons of green peppers, tomatoes, corn, lettuce, carrots, and he and our granddaughter just picked twenty-five pounds of potatoes this weekend!
Quite a team. Grandpa digs up the taters
and our granddaughter throws them in the buckets.
How about you? Do you grow a vegetable garden? Are you being rewarded for your hard work?
How do you cook corn-on-the-cob? Boil? Grill? Microwave?
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Internalized Dialogue
In a post last week, I offered two examples of how I treated thoughts or internalized dialogue in the manuscript--in italics or paraphrases. I came across a helpful blog post on this subject by Marcy Kennedy. Here's a bit of what she said on the Writers in the Storm Blog.

"Technique #4  Save direct internal dialogue for the most important thoughts.
Direct internal dialogue is dialogue that’s written in first person, present tense. I’ll show you an example to make sure it’s clear what I mean.
Emily pasted a smile on her face. I still hate you. I’ll never stop hating you. “Long time no see. How have you been?”
Because direct internal dialogue is in first person, present tense—even when we’re writing in a third person, past tense story—we need to italicize it. But the italics draw a lot of attention to it.
Most internal dialogue can be written as indirect internal dialogue (where we stay in the same person and tense as the story). I’ll give you another quick example so you can see the difference.
Emily pasted a smile on her face. She still hated him. She’d never stop hating him. “Long time no see. How have you been?”
That’s indirect internal dialogue, and staying in the same tense helps it flow naturally with what’s around it.
Emphasizing a thought through direct internal dialogue should be done sparingly, when we really need to draw attention to an important thought. It’s like exclamation marks. They lose their oomph if you pepper your pages with them.
Find the complete blog post at Writers in the Storm Blog-5 Techniques for Amazing Internal Dialogue by guest blogger, Marcy Kennedy.
Check out Marcy's book, Internal Dialogue, for more information.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Travelogue: Camping in Michigan with Author Joselyn Vaughn, Seeing You Again

Travelogue on Thursday
Hello and welcome. I'm thrilled to host my friend, crit partner, and best-selling author, Joselyn Vaughn, today! Joselyn has a brand new release (August 11), Seeing You Again. A warm, laugh outloud worthy romance. Be sure to check out her new story below.

Today Joselyn takes us on a family camping trip in scenic  Northern Michigan including views of Sleeping Bear Dunes, voted #1 in Good Morning America’s Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in America in 2011. Take a peek at this magnificent view of the dunes in abc's video of the Sleeping Bear Dunes.

Grab your roasting sticks, hot dogs, marshmallows, and sleeping bags for a fun camping escape.

Campfire ready for roasting
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Camping in Michigan by Joselyn Vaughn

We spent a weekend in Glen Arbor, Michigan in June. Despite predictions of rain that never materialized into more than a few sprinkles, we had a pretty good camping trip.
Michigan: Sleeping Bear Dunes
Camping is not my favorite adventure and with the new challenges of dairy- and gluten-free diets for myself and my daughter, I feared cooking over an open fire would be too much of a hassle.

Unfortunately, the availability of hotel room  that could accommodate three kids and a very large dog were in short supply. We loaded up the boat with three tents and a variety of camping supplies. (Given how  many trips my husband made to the store for must-haves, I think a resort stay would have been cheaper.)

We chose Glen Arbor as a destination because I wanted to do a half marathon there that circled Glen Lake. The course was beautiful, although my race photos show how tired and sore I was. After the race, we went back to our campsite, so I could take a shower (my main requirement if we have to camp).

Half marathon course around Glen Lake
Photo by Joselyn Vaughn
Joselyn in blue shirt in front.
Photo by Joselyn Vaughn
In the afternoon, we unloaded our supplies from the boat and took a tour of Glen Lake. From the lake, we could see the monstrous dune climb at Sleeping Bear Dunes. The water was an amazing Caribbean blue, despite the cloudy skies. One of the super tired kids and the dog got a much needed nap.
Sand and Lake Michigan
Photo from Flickr: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Later we went to the other side of Glen Arbor and saw Lake Michigan. The public beach was small and a cold wind was blowing off the lake.

We intend to visit the Sleeping Bear Dunes area again this fall for the Sleeping Bear Marathon. Hopefully we will be able to explore more of Glen Arbor and Empire during that trip.
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Back of the Book:
After twenty-five years with Sam, their lives revolving in circles that barely touched let alone overlapped, was it time Margie consigned their marriage to an album of faded photographs? The Christmas ball at her mother-in-law's retirement home would either be the final straw for their failing marriage or the perfect chance to reignite the old flame. Can the happy-go-lucky shenanigans of the retirement community remind Margie and Sam that falling in love has no age limit?

Now available at amazon


I am a stay at home mom who has walked on the dark side of potty training. When not traversing that valley of shadow, I write, run, and sew. Sometimes with successful results. For more, check out my website.

I love writing romance because I enjoy stories where everything works out all right in the end and the main characters have a happily ever after. My stories are set in small towns with quirky characters that take on a life of their own.