Wish You Were Here…Algeria Africa

The Sahara Desert in Africa

This week is the beginning of an alphabetical journey around the world. I thought I would try to begin with the historical place of Algeria, Africa since it is almost at the top of the list and one of the oldest.

Ancient Roman influences in Algeria

Cirta, Algeria's oldest continuously inhabited city

It has been populated since approximately 10,000 BC. The natives to this area of North Africa are known as The Berbers. The daily life of these prehistoric people can be found in cave paintings in the Tassili n’Ajjer, a mountain range section of the Sahara Desert.

Ancient cave painting

There was a time when this climate was moister, a savannah rather than desert.

Painting by Eugène Delacroix called Women of Algiers (in their apartment) depicting concubines in a harem smoking a Hooka

Muslim Arabs arrived in Algeria around the mid-7th century then numerous local Berber dynasties emerged. Today nearly all Algerians are Muslim or mixed Arab-Berber. Its boundaries have shifted over history depending on its conquests. Today’s boundary was established by the French which declared Algeria independent on July 3, 1962

Martyrs Memorial for those who lost their lives in the fight for independence

Algeria Coast - photo credit by Jelena - Aurorae Travels

While his isn’t an area that a person might consider for a romantic destination, the rich history as well as the political diversities could make for a great romantic adventure with an international flair. (Blatant promotion for fellow sizzler Jillian Chantal novels) I could picture a developing romance between one of the Algerian players competing for the world cup and an American “TechWoman” in the country to mentor Algerian women in the field of technology. (Yes, this is a real program)
The purpose of this day is not only to find the usual romantic destinations, but also include some places you might not consider. One thing that is universal is the emotion of love. Throughout the ages, world history and literature has shown even the most unlikely of couples can find their happily ever after.

The Sheraton in Algeria

With images like these, who couldn’t find a way to create a little romance in the most unlikely of places?

Constantines Gorges - photo credit World Travel Guide

Next scheduled destination Back Bay, Bahamas.

Wish you were here…Pensacola Beach Silken Sands Conference March 16-March18

Today I am going to feature Pensacola and Pensacola Beach in anticipation for the 2012 Silken Sands Conference. There has been a lot of publicity over the last two years about this wonderful beach and the tragic BP oil spill. Today our beaches are beautiful and ready for visitors. The conference is scheduled during one of the best times of the year for visiting the beach.

March is a great month to visit for any reason. The weather is usually at its best during the two month period of March and April. I can’t promise perfect weather, but if I had to choose an almost perfect month it would be March. Spring is evident everywhere, trees are returning to lush green, flowers in a variety of colors are blooming, the temperature is warming up, but not to the point where you work up a sweat just walking out the door.

Furthermore, Pensacola is one of the oldest cities in the United States. With so many historic sites to visit, I couldn’t begin to list all of them in this post, but anyone writing historical romance should take advantage of one the historic village tours in downtown Pensacola or explore it on your own.

During one of the breaks you can even visit one of the old forts and visitor centers located in Ft. Pickens or the large white cross memorializing the first Christian mass in 1558 without leaving the beach.

Finally, the theme of this year’s conference is Take Your Muse to the Beach. As you can see from these pictures, you and your muse can just simply sit and enjoy the white sands and tan bodies while your story unfolds.

All of the members of the Greater Gulf Coast Romance Writers Association hope you come for the conference and stay for the fun. It is not too late to register for the whole weekend or just Saturday so you can meet with editors and agents and pitch your story.

So I think I speak for all of us when I say…Wish You Were Here -MARCH 16 -MARCH 18, 2012

The Happily Ever After

Wish you were here…Blue Lake, St. Bathans New Zealand and a computer without a Trojan

Creative Commons License

What a fantasy world

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

This is going to be short today because I am so flustered with a computer that won’t let me travel the internet to do the research and find the pictures needed to do justice to this beautiful place. Once again this place was one of the random daily photos on my phone and I just LOVE the color blue, I couldn’t help but try to check it out.
The Blue Lake at St Bathans used to be a 120m high hill. It’s origins came from the miners looking for gold, who manually created a 60m crater which later filled up with water creating what is now know as the Blue Lake. The clay cliffs surrounding the land have eroded over the years to make up this surreal landscape. It is named for the distinctive color of the water caused by the left over minerals in the water.
I wish everyone a great rest of the weekend.
Hopefully on another day I will revisit this magical place that almost looks otherworldly.

photo by Jason Law

Wish you were here…The Romantic Road in Bavaria Germany

Snow Covered Cabin
What could be more perfect for the romance writer to find some inspiration than traveling a road actually called the Romantic Road? I learned of this road when my “smart” phone put up a random picture of a pretty little snow covered cottage and a link to a site about the road.
 I would’ve never guessed a phone could really be smart enough to send a link about a romantic road to a person who desires to be a published romance writer. But sometimes life is stranger than fiction.
The Romantic Road and points of interests
The road was once a major trade route in the middle ages and still maintains that old world charm in a fairytale like setting. Surely any writer can find inspiration along the almost 400 km journey from Wϋrzburg to Fϋssen in the Allgãu.
Beautiful Lake “Alpsee”
Follow your heart along this road to ancient towns, towers, hidden monasteries, and medieval castles. Whether you choose to take a guided bus tour, drive, bike or hike, you are sure to find a picturesque setting for your hero somewhere along the route.
Old World Village
Perhaps even your rebellious heroine runs from her overbearing family to take her own journey on this road and unexpectedly finds romance along the way.
Castle Hotel Colmberg
For the paranormal writer, don’t miss the chance to spend the night in the 1,000 year old Castle Hotel Colmberg where there is sure to be at least one ghost wandering the halls searching for his or her departed loved one.
Romantic dinner at Colmberg Castle Hotel
One tip suggests you avoid the crowded summer season and plan a visit in the spring, fall or winter. Who could resist snuggling up in the little snow covered cabin in front of a roaring fire?
I hope you enjoy the trip down the aptly named Romantic Road and find your own vision of what makes something or someplace romantic.

Castle Neuschwanstein

Wish you were here…Shelby Montana

 

ImageToday I thought I would take a virtual journey to Shelby, Montana. Why? The town started as an inspiration for the fictional town in my Golden Heart entry. I needed a small town where everyone knew everyone, a town with a privately run prison and located near the Canadian border.  Luckily, this town served all these requirements. 

But as I said, my fictional town of Summerland, Montana is only loosely based on Shelby but the real town has an interesting history. And although the story was inspired by a dream, it seems an incident similar to my story already happened.

Shelby is located approximately 35 miles from the Canadian border and has a population around 3,300 people. In contrast to the rest of the State, the economy in Shelby is better by far despite having less college educated percentage of the population. It is in the top ten percent for having well paid men, which make up a majority of the population.

 

So for a heroine looking for love, the prospects seem above average, right? Unfortunately for my heroine, the biggest employer in town is the prison and her father is the warden. She promised him long ago to not get involved with anyone who works for him; which means, of course, the man who attracts her interest works at the prison.

photo courtesy of BigSkyFishing.Com

Some interesting facts about Shelby: the event it is most famous for is a heavyweight boxing championship fight on July 4, 1923. While an excellent idea to put the town on the map and draw tourists, a series of unlucky circumstances starting with the reported cancellation of the fight left the town without the expected tourist and most of the people who did see the fight were locals and got in without paying by knocking down a fence and rushing the entrance. This left the town broke, but still on the map.

photo of arena built to hold 40,000 people for boxing match that no one came to see

It is located only an hour and a half from Glacier National park so it still draws tourists to the various hotels. It has two major train routes running through it so there is no shortage of people passing through the small town.

Mountain goats at Glacier National Park

Crossroads prison in Shelby

My story ends with a prison break involving hostages, as fate would have it the Montana State prison did have an escape attempt in 1908 where the inmates killed the deputy warden and took several guards and the warden as hostage. While this might not seem very romantic, if you change the circumstances and have the heroine as hostage and the prison guard she loves as her savior, you have the happy ending every real romance story should have.

one railyard in Shelby photo coutesy of http://www.bigskyfishing.com

Photos courtsey of www.bigskyfishing.com

So from Shelby, Montana…wish you were here.

Wish you were here…Scotland

Photo by Tom Gardner...sheep grazing

For today’s return to our journeys, I am sorry it will be rather short and sweet. I have a story to finish editing for the Golden Heart Contest.                                   

Beautiful photo of landscape by Helen Morton

 

I chose Scotland for the topic in honor of a Christmas tale I wrote a few years ago for my sister as sort of a Christmas gift. First let me say thankfully she was never involved in an accident that made her blind, nor does she live on a large farm in Scotland. That was just the way the story came to me at the time. She does, however, have her very own protective “elf” in her husband Shane.

Snow covered farm in Inverness-inspiration for the farm in the story

 

A moonlit night -Photo also by Tom Gardner

I also took some creative license with “Oskoreidi” and his legend. I called upon an ancient pagan belief practically forgotten after Christianity took over. Before Christmas, the pagans or heathens celebrated this time of year around the Winter Solstice. There is a blurry line separating the customs of Yule as it was known at the time around Celtic lands and Christmas traditions that replaced it.

 

There is a yule custom which involves this Rowan tree. What is it?

Many cultures view “Oskoreidi” also known as Odin”, :Oski” or Yule Elf” as stern or terrifying, carrying off rude or ill-will persons. However I used his persona as the bringer of blessings, fulfiller of desires and granter of wishes to those who were courteous or clever.   

 

The lights of the city of Dundee in Eastern Scotland

So I know this is an early Christmas post, but I do it in celebration of the release of the book Christmas Angelsfrom Whortleberry Press. http://whortleberrypress.com/  It’s a pleasure to share the honor of having a short story  published with a fellow Southern Sizzle Romance blogger. Since she seems to have a magical gift of her own for writing wonderful short stories, I feel a great sense of accomplishment to have one good enough to be included with hers.

Edinburgh at Christmas- credit to Helen Morton for a wonderful eye with the photo

 

So until next time, like the character Wendy in a Magical Christmas Vision, I hope you enjoy these beautiful scenes from Scotland.

Wish you were here…Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein

The Prince and Me

I spent the last few weeks watching stupid tv shows and movies as well as being force fed a daily dose of latest progress on the upcoming royal wedding in April.  The wedding is sure to be as beautiful and captivating as Princess Diane’s, which I skipped school to watch like most of the world (for clarification: most of the world watched, not skipped school).

One of the movies I saw during my three week hiatus was The Prince and Me. Cute little movie even if not Oscar material. It made me wonder about the lesser known royals around the world. With so many tiny countries headed by monarchies, I discovered there are quite a few eligible bachelor princes out there. Unfortunately most are right around the same age as Princes William and Harry, so while we Sizzlers probably missed our window of opportunity to become say, Princess von Hohenzollern or the like, there is still hope for our daughters. 🙂

While checking out these available royals, I found the Country of Liechtenstein has more than one.  

Prince von und zu Liechtenstein

First Prince von und zu Liechtenstein, Count of Rietberg, given name Wenzeslaus (yes, like the Christmas song) who was born in 1974. Another Prince von und zu Liechtenstein, Count of Rietberg, given name, Josef-Emanuel Leopold Marie was born in 1989. Wenzeslus does have a brother, Prince Rudolf Ferdinand who is also single and born in 1975, however there is very little information about him.

Wenzeslaus

Personally I suppose I should bone up on my geography since I wasn’t aware there was a

A Kinight's Tale

Country of Liechtenstein. I thought it was just a made up title for the movie A Knight’s Tale (for the record, I was even more surprised to discover there actually was a REAL Ulrich von Liechtenstein in the 13th century).

Vaduz

Liechtenstein is a small land-locked country in Germany. The entire country is approximately 62 square miles and has a population of around 36,000. Despite its small size, the country has a strong financial standing. If one has to rule a country, I guess a strong economy would be advantageous.

A royal residence

The Principality is located entirely in the mountains of the Alps, yet despite its location has a relatively mild climate. The summer temperature ranges between 70˚ and 80˚, while the winter may drop to 5˚, but rarely below.

Area attractions include skiing Malbi-park; watching falcon training at Galina Falcon Center;

Falcon Center

a wild-west experience at Neuguthof Adventure Center;

Neuguthof Adventure Center

touring the Schädler Ceramics Workshop; or wine tasting at the Wine Cellar of the Prince of Liechtenstein (not sure if one of the princes will be there as well, but it’s worth finding out).

So here ends this week’s journey, chasing around royals so to speak. Hope you had some fun and wish you were here.

Triesenberg Liechtenstein

Wish you were here…The World?

Mobile living at its finest. The World

For today’s travel, I thought I would feature “The World” which I saw on the travel channel this past week.

For anyone who is not familiar with this ship, it is not your ordinary cruise liner. It is a living community where those with wanderlust and the ability to afford the finest mobile lifestyle can live in luxury while traveling the globe. While enjoying the convenience of your own home, you can still enjoy the perks of all luxury cruises, fine dining in excellent restaurants or dinners to bring back to your own room and enjoy with friends.

Aboard you will find a cinema with first run movies, a fully stocked library, and lectures offering insights into regions the ship visits. There is an onboard medical center, a shopping center, a night club, casino, art gallery, and business center with internet café. Finally no ship is complete without the sports deck, residents share a pool, a golf club, jogging track that encircles the ship and tennis courts, complete with pros to improve your game.

Unlike a run of the mill cruise ship with upward of 1,000 or more cabins and sometimes twice that in passengers aboard the ship while sailing, aboard The World there are only 165 residences spread over 12 decks designed for permanent, extravagant living or the unusual vacation home around.

Imagine spending your evening on your private balcony overlooking the city of Liverpool only to wake the next morning in your own bed to the sights of Glasgow. The ship travels take the residents to exotic ports of call and to some of the most famous events on every continent.

If you were living on The World in 2011, you would have started your new year in Ushuaia, the southernmost city on the globe and end the year spending the last week of December in Cape Town. You can find a map of the 2011 Itinerary at the following link  http://www.aboardtheworld.com/our-journey/map/

Five leading interior designers were commissioned to decorate the living spaces, each with a unique and distinctive idea. In addition, every residence can be modified to accommodate the needs and lifestyles of the occupant. 

Until next week, wish you were here.

Wish you were here…Snowdonia

Panaorama view of the mountain range around Mt. Snowdon

For today’s destination, I chose a spot I came across while researching settings for one of my fantasy/paranormal stories. I have several tied together by reoccurring characters of a fae line. In one the young heroine of the story happens to meet the legendary Welsh goddess Rhiannon, most of us probably know thanks to Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks.

While reading about Wales, I found the beautiful location of Snowdonia, (Eryri in Welsh). Just the names alone are almost mystical enough to be inspiration. 

The English name comes from Snowdon, the highest mountain in Wales and in the middle ages rulers in the region used the title of Prince of Wales and Lord on Snowdonia together. One person to use this title was a lad by the name of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, personally, I am glad today’s Prince of Wales is named Charles, because I would hate to try spelling the other name, let alone pronounce it. I’m quite sure reporters across the world feel the same.

national park

One of the most visited places in Snowdonia is the Snowdonia National Park. One article describes the park as Lakes, castles, waterfalls, and steam railways create a surreal experience right out of Lord of the Rings. More than 26,000 people live within the park and over six million more visit annually.  While the park itself would be enough of a draw, there are many other sites that offer something to stir the creative mind.

Conwy Castle

Conwy Castle and medieval town walls are some of the best preserved in Europe. The walls are a little over ¾ of a mile in length with twenty two towers to explore while weaving a tale of a prince cheated out of his throne or a princess masquerading as a maid to escape an unwanted arranged marriage.

Stone walls in Conwy

Another villiage in Snowdonia with a name that just begs to be in a story is Rhos on Sea. There is a legend which states  Madog, son of the Welsh Prince Owain Gwynedd, sailed from Rhos on Sea to discover America in 1170, over three hundred years before Christopher Columbus. If your heroine finds her true love while visiting here, the couple might elect to say their vows in the Chapel of St. Trillo, believed to be the smallest church on the British Isles. It would need to be a very small, intimate ceremony however; the church only seats six people.

St. Trillo Chapel

Inside view of the chapel

Before we leave, there is one place left to visit. The Snowdonia Society is a registered charity and is ran by a group of volunteers devoted to the protection of this spectacular region. If you need directions to their headquarters, just ask a local to direct you to the “ugly house” for that is the name of the house used as office and showcase for visitors. According to legend, it is a crude house built in the 15th century by two outlaw brothers as a ‘Ty Un Nos’ – or house built overnight. Under ancient law, he who built a house between sunset and sunrise, with walls, roof and smoking chimney, could claim the freehold. The house has been restored over the centuries by subsequent tenants, and is far from ugly.

This concludes this week’s travel into a magical land across the ocean. Sorry it is late, I really hate shopping for Christmas however when you take on the role of parent and now grandparent it is an evil requirement. I hope Shoe Station, TJ Max, Sears and J.C. Pennys are happy.

Until next week, wish you were here…

Snow in Snowdonia

Wish you were here…nights of shooting stars

Meteor over a marina

Hoping that this will get my butt in gear to start some serious work on my floundering NaNo story, I am devoting today’s post to not a place but an event…or several events.

A whole new meaning to April Showers

2001 Leonid shower

In the story, two teens with nothing in common start to realize they have feelings for each other while watching a meteor shower, hence the title Misty….with a chance of shooting stars.

Perseids shower over Stonehenge

I never realized there were quite so many annual showers until I needed to make sure one would coincide with a late October date. 

Orionid shower highlighted in my story

For my story, I settled on the Orionids meteor shower which occurs mid to late October each year. This one worked out perfect since it stems from remnants of Halley’s Comet so it offered lots of information to drive the conversation in the story.

Even as an adult, what could be more romantic than sitting on a blanket under a clear night sky and watching shooting stars with someone you love? I hope everyone enjoys the pictures of previous showers and below you will find a list of annual meteor showers along with the month they usually occur just in case the writer inside you wants to take the hand of a special someone and create your own love story under shooting stars.

romance and shooting stars

 

Meteor Shower Month            Constellation to
  look towards
Approx sightingsPer hour Originates From
         
Quadrantids January     Bootes 120 not known
Lyrids April   Lyra 18 Comet Thatcher
Pi-Puppids April     Puppis variable not known
Eta-Aquarid May   Aquarius 60 Halley’s Comet
June Bootids Late June         Bootes variable not known
South.Delta-Aquarids Late July     Aquarius 20 not known
Perseids August     Perseus 100 Comet Swift-Tuttle
Aurigids Aug/Sept   Auriga variable not known
Draconids October     Draco variable not known
Orionids October     Orion 23 Halley’s Comet
S. Taurid November         Taurus 10 not known
N. Taurid November     Taurus 29 not known
Leonids November     Leo 15+ Comet Temple-Tuttle
Alpha-Monocerotids November     Monoceros variable not known
Dec Phoenicids December     Phoenix variable not known
Puppid/Velids December     Puppis 10 not known
Geminids December     Gemini 120 Asteroid 3200 Phaethon
Ursid December   Ursa Minor 10 not known

 

Until next week…wish you were here.

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