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…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…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.

Wish you were here…Happy Samhain

Salem Mass. ghostly pictureI thought today I would try to find romance with some paranormal creature.  Of course, to do this I need to travel to places that are a little spooky. I hope on the eve of nanowritmo everyone can find a touch of inspiration, even if they aren’t planning on a paranormal novel.

Bannerman's Island Arsenal on the Hudson River

First let’s visit about 50 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River. The mysterious Pollepel Island, or Bannerman’s Island as some people call it, was believed to be so haunted that some Indian tribes refused to set foot on it.

Castle on Bannerman's Island

 It was originally settled by Dutch settlers, but bought by a Scotsman named Francis Bannerman to use as a storage facility for military surplus items. On the island, he built a huge castle.  This should serve as inspiration for at least one of the sizzler ladies. A Scotsman with a castle here in American!

A spooky view of the castle

Today the castle has decayed to the point that it is easy to see why it would be considered haunted. So maybe I can find romance with the ghost of this Scotsman in his castle. Perhaps he left a treasure trove of ancient military surplus worth millions of dollars and I can restore the castle to its original beauty and together we will live with the rest of the spirits.

Clapham Woods. Do UFOs or satanic cults have anything to do with the colorful trees?

Next I might visit Clapham Wood in the U.K. There are many stories of the strange happenings in this area ranging from a mist that can evolve into the form of a bear or foxlike creature to UFO sightings.

Scary trees in Clapham woods

Romance with an alien…worked out for Karen Allen in Starman and Gena Davis in Earth Girls are Easy.

Hopefully any alien I meet will be as handsome as Jeff Bridges or built like the younger Jeff Goldblum (are all aliens named Jeff?)

Jeff Bridges


Yes, I know this is actually from The Fly, but look at that body

. If I fail to find romance with the mist or an alien,

Ideal of satanic image

I might take a walk on the darker side and hook up with the satanic cult Friends of Hecate.

Sculpture of Hecate

Possible fairy ring in Ireland


If I make a stop to celebrate Samhain in Ireland on my way back home, I hope not to run into a fae known as Gan Ceanach. Not that he is evil, but he is rumored to be a love talker who will seduce young maidens then disappear and leave them forever pinning for him.

Artist's rendition of Gan Ceanach

While this may be good inspiration for sad poetry, it is hardly the way to end a romance novel. If you run across a smooth talker in a forest glen smoking a clay pipe, don’t fall under his spell.

My final stop will be Salem Massachusetts, legendary home of all things witches. While the Salem witch trials mostly spoke of the executed women, there are male witches as well.

Banner for Witch School in Salem

A visit to the physical campus of Witch’s School International or the Salem Witches’ Academy is sure to be perfect places to find one.

Young male witches from The Covenant

Think the boys of The Covenant all grown up.

That is enough traveling and romancing for this weekend. I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Halloween/Samhain. Until next week…a wicked wish you were here.

The old Salem jail....ghosts of witches might be found here

Wish you were here….there’s a bad moon on the rising

Harvest moon

While I tried to stay with real pictures...I just love kitties and couldn't resist

Since next week is Halloween, I will save the spook factor until then.

Full moon over Antartica

But this weekend the night sky has been filled with the light of a full moon. Since I like the night, I find the sight of a black sky with a bright white sphere hypnotizing.

Logo for Full Moon Productions...love the wolves

Throughout history, painters, writers, musicians and poets have been inspired by the mystic of the moon as well.

Lighthouse Kampen

There are so many myths associated with a full moon; to list all of them could fill a whole book alone. Of course the most well-known are those associated with shifters and werewolves. There are also deities of the moon….Luna and Selene are probably the most famous. However, there are other lesser known such as Soma, the Hindu god and Tecciztecati, an Aztec god. The Inuit people of Alaska have a legend of a moon god by the name of Anningan. I won’t list the details of this myth here, it is one better left to those curious enough to research it to do so on their own; however I must warn you it is not a pleasant one. For a happier story there is the love story of Mawu, a moon god and Liza, a sun goddess from Africa.

Moon over water in Cambodia

According to the Farmer’s Almanac each full moon has a name and meaning. I won’t list the meanings, but will list the names in month order. January –Full Wolf Moon, February – Full Snow Moon, March – Full Worm (eww) Moon, April – Full Pink Moon, May – Full Flower Moon, June – Full Strawberry Moon, July – Full Buck Moon, August – Full Sturgeon Moon, September – Full Corn Moon, October – Full Harvest Moon, November – Full Beaver Moon, December – Full Cold Moon. And of course, I would hope as romance writers we all know the meaning of the Blue Moon.

For Jenn....a cowboy in the moonlight

I tried to find a picture for everyone here at Southern Sizzlers to go with their genre of interest. However for our historical regency fan, well…let’s just say it’s hard to go back to an era when digital cameras weren’t around to capture the beauty of the night sky while riding in a coach with Mr. Darcy. I guess you will have to use your imagination.

Until next week, between dodging the spirits on all hallows eve and the trick-or-treaters, enjoy what’s left of the full moon and

St. Alban's Cathedral by moonlight

How many rituals were perfomed here under a full moon I wonder?

wish you were here.

Wish you were here…Rainforest special

Olympic National Park, Washington USA

Morning in the Amazon rainforest

So, first and foremost, I am not a sunshine person. This from someone who has lived almost their whole life in Florida.

Sun? What sun?

Not that I don’t appreciate a beautiful sunrise or sunset, but when it comes to the rest of the time I could just live without a bright, orange orb high in the sky day after day.  And since we have been without rain for longer than I care to mention, with not a great chance of precipitation within the next week either I thought I would devote a day to rain.

Otway National Park, Victoria Australia

Rainforest in Peru

Well at least some lovely pictures of rainforests anyway.

When I think of rainforests, the first thing that comes to my mind is a man in an animal skin loin cloth, a la Tarzan.

Alright, I know Taylor isn't Tarzan, but couldn't resist this picutre of him swinging in a tree

Can you spot the Mossyleaf Tail gecko in this picture?

Unfortunately these lush, beautiful landscapes are endangered; risking the existence of plants, animals and insects that only appear here. Less than a century ago, almost 15% of the earth consisted of rainforests. Today, less than half of that still exist. At this rate of destruction, it is said the Amazon forest could be gone within 50 to 100 years. While the Amazon is only one of many forests that remain, losing even one would be devastating to the world as we know it. Scientists continue to find new medicinal properties of plants that grow only in these tropical paradises, many that treat cancers and other deadly diseases. 

Rainforests across the world are going from this...

Right now, they have only tested one to two percent of the species present in forests across the globe. Think of how much we could fail to

...to this due to man made destruction

discover if the world allows mining, logging and ranching for profit to wipe out the last remaining pure places on earth.

A self sustained village in Finca Bellavista

I may never find my own jungle man hero to swing in on a vine and take me to live in his treetop hideaway. But just so I can temporarilyforget the brilliant, dry, rainless sky outside, I give you some photos of the vivid, colorful, and semi-dim forests across our world.

Flower in Gamboa Rainforest

Harpyeagle from the rainforests in Central and South America

The green areas show where rainforests are still located across the globe

Wish you were here…

Wish you were here…wish I could upload

I had decided to be really lazy this weekend and take my birthday off. So no real wish you were here this week. Instead I was going to post some pictures from the island of fairies and magic that I have used for inspiration in some of my fantasy stories. However due to technical difficulties, either on my part or the site, I only get a message that none of the photos meet the security requirements. Therefore, my Irish wish you were here will have to wait for another week. Hope all of you ladies have a great week.

Wish you were here…Nova Scotia

View of the Wharf

September 18, 2010 

Dear Sizzle Ladies…

Finally found a minute to drop you a line. You all know how adventurous and outgoing I am, so earlier this week I was watching the old movie If You Could See What I Hear and thought about the beautiful location, hopped into my little sports car, and the next thing I knew I was standing on weather-beaten wharf as a crisp, salty evening breeze caught the brim of my Gator’s ball cap (sorry Arabella-you know my daughter is diehard UF fan) while I watched boats returning to dock filled with fish and tourists alike.

Standing on the Lunenburg Wharf

As much as I wanted to check out some local night life, the long trip drained my tired, old body so I sought rest and relaxation and put exploration on hold until the next day.  One glance at the multitude of local accommodations, I knew there was only one place to call home during my stay. 

The host and hostess at the Greybeard Bed and Breakfast

A Bed and Breakfast called Greybeard’s had to be it!  I found the charming house built in 1887 by a sea captain and now ran by a lovely couple. In true authenticity, the proprietor does sport a hearty grey beard.  There are four guest rooms to choose from, and I was lucky enough to stay in the Captain Hebb room, named after the sea captain who originally owned the manor.

The Captain Hebb room

Just before I retired for the night, I spent time in one of the guest parlors with the only other guest. She was a spunky octogenarian named Helga. Her grandparents emigrated to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia from Germany. Helga regaled me with tales of her courtship long ago with a handsome mariner named Josef, with whom she spent 52 wonderful years with before he passed on just a little over three years ago. Although Helga now lives with her grandson and his family of seven children near Boston, she still returns to Lunenburg every September to celebrate the anniversary of Josef and Helga’s first kiss along the picturesque shores of the tiny town. If I wrote historical romance, Joseh and Helga would make for a charming seaside love story.

Bridgewater Nova Scotia

I woke early this morning, eager to begin my exploration of the area. I had a second or two of shock when the early weather report stated it was a comfortable 15°, until I remembered to convert from Celsius to Fahrenheit. Therefore, at a much more acceptable sixty and sunny, I set out in my t-shirt and jeans. Imagine my surprise to find a salon way up here finding a way to remind me of home. It was by pure chance I wandered into the Sunny Oasis salon in Bridgewater to find that for the past several months they’ve been saving discarded hair and sending it to help with the gulf oil spill.

Staff at Sunny Oasis Salon

If any of you ladies find yourself near this remote north shore town and in need of styling services, be sure to stop in and say hello to stylist Stephanie Williams and thank her for her support.

The Old Fish Factory

By mid afternoon I was starved and stopped by the Old Fish Factory Restaurant and Ice House Bar which is located in a former fish processing plant. While sitting at the bar, I met an elderly man who was quite a character and shared with me some fanciful yarns about his younger days fishing the cold waters of the Atlantic. By the end of my meal, I felt as though I’d known the salty old dog my whole life. Just before I bid him farewell, his handsome son arrived and I had a sudden change in plans for the day.

Mystery surrounds Oak Island

The charming Trevor, a real son of a son of a sailor, took me on a tour of the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic before we snuck onto the mysterious Oak Island and tried our hand at treasure hunting. Although we were unsuccessful, it was still an unforgettable experience to see the legendary site.

After returning to town we hit some local hot spots before I called it a night. A true gentleman, Trevor walked me back to the door of Greybeard’s with the promise of new adventures tomorrow after I watch him participate in the Terry Fox charity run.

Perhaps you can see Trevor in this previous Terry Fox charity event

He is sure to be quite striking in his tank top and running shorts.

Until next week ladies…wish you were here!  

(Yes, this is a work of fiction…sadly I haven’t left the south)

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