Archives for 2017

Irresistible Shed Makeovers

artist shed, courtesy of Lowe's

Courtesy of Lowe’s

Today I’m sharing a post I wrote for HGTV.com about transforming an ordinary garden shed into –well, whatever you like. Turn it into a she-shed, a yoga studio, a place to paint or just a personal escape. Click here the to explore all the possibilities.

Woolly: A Book Review

Occasionally, publishers send me complimentary copies of books to review, or I’m approved for a title I’ve requested on Netgalley.com, like Woolly: The True Story of the Quest to Revive One of History’s Most Iconic Extinct Creatures (Simon and Schuster) I’ve got to admit: I thought this was a novel after I read the first few pages. Author Ben Mezrich is a really engaging storyteller, and this non-fiction book has a Jurassic Park quality that might make you think it’s all made up. But surprisingly, it’s not, and the way Mezrich writes about real-life scientists and their research work makes for a terrific read. Highly recommended, even if you’re not a woolly mammoth fan.

The Nebraska Sandhills: Tanking

As a travel writer (I work for the Travel Channel), I get to take some pretty cool trips now and then. Recently I visited the Sandhills of central Nebraska, where we did something you can’t do in most places: we went “tankin'”.  That’s Nebraska-speak for floating down the river in a tank once used to feed and water cattle.  (Yes, it floats just fine!)

 

 

 

This photo is pre-launch. Once we climbed into the tank, we sat on benches inside, and had room for a cooler packed with sandwiches, fruit and cookies. A picnic on the Middle Loup River = unbeatable summer fun.

The water’s not very deep here; maybe 4 feet in spots. It was shallow enough that one of us to get out and give us a shove when we got stuck on a sandbar. The tanks drift with the current, so paddling is optional.

The sun coming through the cottonwood trees on the bank was glorious. If we had had more time, we could’ve pulled our tanks onto the shore and picnicked there. Floating was so peaceful and calming. Nothing but the sounds of songbirds and the gurgle and bubble of the water.

See the sand on the bank? That’s why this region is known as the Sandhills. There’s very little topsoil to support trees, but the sandy hills, which cover about 1/3 of the entire state, are home to mixed prairie grasses.

More to come in part 2!

The Rush of the Mush

I’m a bit late posting pix from my trip to The Resort at Paws Up, in Greenough, Montana. But since it’s May, and it’s supposed to hit 87 degrees today, this is a good time to look at some ice and snow, right?

I was in Montana to write about dog sledding for Roam, the Travel Channel blog. This was my first ride–and I hope it won’t be my last.

Resort at Paws Up

Morning at the Resort at Paws Up. Just another day in a wintery paradise.

 

 

I drove up to find see the dogs had arrived in their own “car.” Yes, those cut-outs are customized for their ears.

 

 

Hannah, my guide, let me peer into her truck to see the dogs’ harnesses and other gear. Dogs peered back at me.

 

Hannah could barely restrain the dogs, once they were hitched to the sled. It’s true–they’re born to run.

 

The dogs stopped to scoop up snow when they were thirsty. In case you’re wondering, bathroom breaks  are taken on the go.

 

At the end of the trail, Hannah and a few pups were happy to pose for pictures. This was a fantastic experience–thank you, Paws Up!

 

 

Dorothy M. Place and The Heart to Kill

I have a guest blog post to share with you today, from author Dorothy M. Place. Her new book, The Heart to Kill, was released late last year. Be sure to read the excerpt at the bottom of this page.

NEW:

As of June 30, 2017, SFA Press is offering a thirty percent discount on the novel, THE HEART TO KILL, by Dorothy M. Place. This story, about a horrible crime and an enduring friendship, was awarded gold by the Literary Titan book reviewers and Sarah, the protagonist, was nominated as one of the five best characters (2016) reviewed by “My Train of Thoughts.” To read about the book, how it came to be written and to take a virtual tour of Eight Mile Junction, the town in which the story takes place, please visit the author’s website, www.dorothymplace.com.

To order the book and obtain the discount, visit  http://www.tamupress.com/product/Heart-to-Kill,8673.aspx and enter the code 3B in the appropriate box.

 

The Heart to Kill, by Dorothy Place

 

“Dorothy M. Place lives and works in Davis, California. Since submitting her first short story in 2008, she has had eleven stories accepted for publication in literary journals; three have been awarded prizes and one, a fellowship. Her debut, literary fiction novel, The Heart to Kill, was published by SFA Press (2016). A collection of fifteen short stories is being prepared for marketing to agents/publishers this spring. Her second novel, The Search for Yetta, is in process.

“The Heart to Kill is a story of a horrible crime, an enduring friendship, and personal illumination. Sarah Wasser, a student at Northwestern University Law School, returns to her apartment one evening to find two telephone messages. The first is that she has not been chosen for a coveted internship for which her father has arranged an interview; the second is that Sarah’s best friend in high school, JoBeth Ruland, has murdered her two children.

“To mislead her father about her failure to obtain the internship, Sarah secures a position on JoBeth’s defense team and, against her father’s wishes, returns to her family home in Eight Mile Junction, South Carolina. She sets out to become a vital member of her friend’s team and regain favor with her father, only to find that she is not well-prepared for working in a community rife with chauvinism, malice, duplicity, and betrayal. Her efforts are met with the benevolent amusement of the senior law partner, the resentment of the expert trial attorney, the rush to judgement by the folks of Eight Mile Junction, and the discovery of the role of several individuals in the degradation of JoBeth. The Hungry Monster Book Reviews awarded The Heart to Kill its gold award (February 2017).

“The story was influenced by Euripides’ play, Medea (a barbarian princess of Colchis), who gave up everything to help Jason, who married her, find the Golden Fleece. When they return to Greece with the prize, Jason leaves Medea for a Grecian princess. In revenge, she murders their two sons and his intended bride. That play, as well as the stories of several women who murdered their children, inspired Sarah’s journey. The book’s title comes directly from Euripides, where he has the Greek chorus ask, ‘How does she have the heart to kill her flesh and blood?’”

EXCERPT FROM THE BOOK:

“She looked to the sky, searching for the moon. Now a small sliver, it seemed to be hanging precariously from the branch of a nearby tree, like an ornament, belonging more to the tree than the sky. Then, after taking a few steps back, Sarah watched the moon fall off the branch and return to its proper place among the evening stars. Funny thing about perspective, how a small change in one direction can dramatically affect everything else.” – The Heart to Kill, by Dorothy M. Place.