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My New Shop and Let Die Trailer

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SALDe-bookhighresMy cover designer, Hanna Sandvig designed another great trailer for me. If you thought secret shopping was a scam job, you should meet Molly and find out what secret shoppers really do.

 

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Meet Illustrator Hanna Sandvig

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The Ex-Files book cover

 Illustrator Hanna Sandvig Talks Drawing and Cover Design

I’m so excited to feature the talented Hanna Sandvig, of Book Cover Bakery, on the blog today. A few months ago, when I wanted to re-do the cover of The Ex Files to match my new Secret Shopper series, I had to find an illustrator. Luckily, I came across a reference to Hanna, who has now designed two covers and two trailers for me, with two more covers yet to do. I debuted the trailer for The Ex Files yesterday, and if you want to be the first to see the trailer for Shop and Let Die, sign up for my newsletter and you’ll get a sneak peek on Friday.

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New The Ex-Files Has a Trailer

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Every new cover needs a trailer

I’ve already revealed the new The Ex Files cover, but now it is time to reveal the trailer that talented artist Hanna Sandvig did for me.

Isn’t it cute?

I’ve never been able to draw anything other than princesses (circle faces, bell-shaped skirts), so I’m always envious when I see someone else’s artistic talent. But this time, I got to help create it.

Later this week, I’ll share an interview with Hanna, and maybe give you a sneak peek into our working process.

 

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Mother Nature’s Storytelling Prompts

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Devil’s Rock and the Giant Bear

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One of the most frequent questions that writers get is “Where do you get your ideas.” Most writers I know scoff at that question. I don’t. I am as interested in that question as any reader.

My ideas have come from overhearing a conversation, mishearing a phrase (The Salem Witch Tryouts, for example), watching a movie and wondering would what have happened if the a plot choice had gone a different way….in short, there are story prompts for writers everywhere I look. I have notebooks full of them, and I’d need to write for a thousand years to write them all.

I visited one of Mother Nature’s story prompts in Wyoming on my most recent trip out to visit The Best Grandbaby In the World™ in the Bay Area. Devil’s Tower has been inspiring stories for ages. The Arapaho have one, the Cheyenne have one, the Crow, the Kiowa, and the Lakota. They all feature a big bear, making scratches on the rock. And, like most storytellers, every tribe’s story is just a little different.

Me, I wondered why this particular natural wonder inspired so many stories. My trips out west have taught me that there are so many wondrous formations ready to inspire story in travelers. So, here’s my contribution – Devil’s Tower is formed in the same way as many other western natural wonders – carved by rainwater washing away softer rock to leave only the igneous. Most times, the striations this causes are horizontal. At Devil’s Tower, they are vertical. The perfect prompt for a storyteller’s imagining of a giant bear with giant claws trying to reach something at the top of Devil’s Tower (which many of the Native Americans called Bear’s Tipi, or Bear’s Lodge).
Can’t you just imagine the generations of Native Americans camping out under the stars at Devil’s Tower, weaving their stories about why this formation is different from the others?

 

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Revisiting the Wedding Roadtrip

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Our road trip across the country on the way to our daughter’s wedding has begun! We’re taking the slow roads, avoiding the interstates, stopping to walk through the little towns we pass through if they catch our eye. For the next few weeks, we will be footloose and fancy free. And then we will be parents of the bride. So, please welcome my husband, Jim, to the blog. Jim is the photographer in the family, and he will be taking pictures and giving updates on the trip from his perspective.

Drawbridges are Cool!

Day 5: July 19, 2012

A free breakfast of coffee and eggs for both of us. Back on rt 20 and rt f along Lake Erie.  Decided we needed better and more coffee so we stopped in Ashtabulah, OH; yes we finally made OH.  Took a walk up a cobble stone street to Point Park to see the Lake and a coal plant with an amazing chute that looks like a roller coaster (I left camera in car, used cell phone). It was a nice steep hill and Kelly kept right behind me.  While at the top we heard sirens and the bridge we had crossed a few minutes ago began to open; for a small fishing boat. Only a dinghy could get under the bridge when it is down. The Bridge has this amazing cantilevered cement counter weight that swings down. I imagine it falling loose and crushing the waiting traffic as it rolls down hill.

We didn’t have a destination today, just head west and get across the metropolises of Cleveland and Chicago. I spent two summers in Cleveland, and Kelly one, when I was at NASA and really liked the city and area but did not see the need to “do it” again. Similarly we spent 3 days or so in Chicago a year ago.  Without a fun destination I made one up, Geneva-on-the Lake, OH. Turns out Geneva is a candidate for this years Rand McNally/USA Best of the Road “funnest town”.  Since we (Kelly) were desperate for coffee we stopped, as I mentioned before (I am completing this blog two days later so continuity may be a bit rough) we stopped at the first nice place we saw, even though it was only about 15minutes to GotL (Geneva-on-the-Lake).  Turns out it was a long 15 minutes as we got our first downpour of the trip while we were snug in the coffee shop. Kelly caught up on some web stuff and I decided that Eddies would be our lunch stop, a 50’s ish food place in GotL.  It was still drizzling when we arrived but found parking as some one pulled out of the lot as we pulled in. Place was crowded but a few tables open.  A burger for me and a foot long hot dog for Kelly was good, and pretty cheap.

Last we were in Cleveland the new stadium was just going up, very impressive as we drove by.  Ended up in Toledo area. While we intended to stop and eat we didn’t until 8ish. Came to a very busy area and ate at a Chiles (salad for me, steak for Kelly and Sangria for both). While we ate we looked for hotels but were suspicious of very low priced places (I was pretty tired). Food was fine and we decided to drive some more. In a mile came to Petersburgh (I think). A lovely little town that had a farmers market we had just missed. If we had known we would have eaten someplace here.

Few miles later found a Comfort Inn and got one of the last rooms for 99. Took a quick swim then bed.

Tomorrow is another day without a destination.

 

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Revisiting the Wedding Roadtrip: Maid of the Mist

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Our road trip across the country on the way to our daughter’s wedding has begun! We’re taking the slow roads, avoiding the interstates, stopping to walk through the little towns we pass through if they catch our eye. For the next few weeks, we will be footloose and fancy free. And then we will be parents of the bride. So, please welcome my husband, Jim, to the blog. Jim is the photographer in the family, and he will be taking pictures and giving updates on the trip from his perspective.

Maid of the Mist is Misnomer – More Like Maid of the Sluice

Day 4 – July 18, 2012

I woke up at the Holiday Inn in Waterloo, NY and Kelly was gone! She left a note saying she was getting caffeinated. I took this opportunity, after a few sips of hotel coffee to revisit the fitness room (Kelly used it after our swim last night. I chose instead to sit in the Jacuzzi and a few minutes in the sauna), the usual cardio but also a Universal machine.  Got a few sets in. Moving weight does feel different than my usual BowFlex workout.

Kelly and Yelp identified a good breakfast place called Connie’s. The only downside was it was cash only.  The place is a diner and fairly busy, We had timed it to be a big rush that came in a bit after we did. We both had big and fantastic omelets.  I had Rye toast and Kelly had wheat.  Bill was only 13.02 then back on the road.

Took Rte. 20 most of the day. Driving not as much fun as the day before.  Together we picked todays destination, Niagara Falls and Maid of the Mist.

We arrived in Niagara later than we planned, about 2.  I have been to the Falls 3 previous times. The second time we were returning from my stint with NASA in Ohio near Christmas.  I inadvertently drove over the bridge and entered Canada. While this was pre 9/11 we didn’t have anything but drivers license for the adults so we turned right around and were readmitted to the USA. Second time was three years ago when I was on my way to Kent State to work on some experiments. We got totally confused and drove around and around, unable to find the Falls and intent on not going to Canada.   We mistakenly wound up on Goat Island, with a $10 parking fee. It was a great mistake as we got a great view of the Canadian Falls as well as the US ones.  Reminiscing complete.

The parking lot was filled but there was a garage with $5 parking all day (it was late in the day and all the open pay lots were $10. A short walk got us to the Falls and a sprint to Maid of the Mist. We  were sure we would have to wait hours to get onboard.  4 entrances with a line of about 3 people so we quickly got the observation deck and opted tp go straight to the Maid. ($15.50 each for observation deck and Maid). No line whatsoever. We picked up our fashionable blue ponchos and walked right onto the boat.  We climbed to the observation deck and made our way to the stern and within 3 minutes we were off.  First “stop” was the American Falls with Horseshoe Falls in the distance on the right.  Soon we were face on the Falls and I understood why we needed the ponchos!  I made the good decision to not bring the new camera so was relegated to snapping with the cell phone.  The wetness or fast clicking caused the app to fail and the phone to lock up (I couldn’t read the display in the light and mist). Removed battery, rebooted and took some more.  Google Goggles later showed I did get some good shots but I haven’t looked to see if they were from land or see.  We then moved to a closer look at the much more magnificent Canadian Falls.

After disembarking we found some steps winding halfway or so up the American Falls so we climbed and did a mini version of Cave of the Winds. Any of you do Cave of the Winds and Maid before? Should we have done Cave as well?

After many more pictures we descended then reascended via elevator and walked out on the observation deck.

Hungry (no lunch again) we walked a bit and decided to get out of Dodge so we retrieved the car and asked GPS to plot a route to Cleveland.  We are doing a mostly “blue road” trip so we told gps to avoid freeways.  I didn’t like the route it picked so looked at its map and picked my own.  Kelly was helpful with her IPad as were looking for 62 and I was having a hard time making sure I was on it. Turns out there are 3 62’s all parallel to each other one block away, the merge when we leave town.

Kelly and Yelp, with my navigation ignoring the annoying gps telling me to take a U turn  found the French Pub. It’s name must derive from a family name as it is as American as French Fries (which we new via Yelp).  Very nice and very reasonable. I had a steak sandwich while Kelly had a huge vegitable lasagna (plus soup and salad bar). Unlike the steak sandwiches invented by the gods in Philadelphia this was a real steak on a roll.  I ended up using a fork and knife. The French Fries were too good to pass up so Kelly and I shared them.

Car continuing to deliver about 45 mpg indicated, gas gauge fixed itself.  We did have a stretch on day 3, with the gauge problems where I was down to 38 mpg or so.  Gas is 3.55 to 3.60’s. I miss the 3.20’s in Bangor a few weeks before out trip.

We finally got close enough to see Lake Erie. Pulled off at some town beach, open only to town residents. The water was closed due to pollution however. Wind turbines lined the shore with Buffalo in the distance.

Finally arrived in PA near Erie. Kelly and Yelp identified a Quality in near Erie for only 69 so that became our destination, arriving about 9:30 pm.  I was re-hungry so Kelly offered to stand me to an appetizer and a drink.  The hotel had a restaurant that closed right after we ordered. Appetizers didn’t delight me so I went for an Angus burger and a rum and diet coke. Kelly went for beer battered mushrooms and a Corona. She did not like the mushroom and picked some steak fires off my plate.

Too tired to write up the days adventures, will wait for morning of Day 5.

 

 

 

 

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Revisiting the Wedding Roadtrip: Howe Cavern

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Our road trip across the country on the way to our daughter’s wedding has begun! We’re taking the slow roads, avoiding the interstates, stopping to walk through the little towns we pass through if they catch our eye. For the next few weeks, we will be footloose and fancy free. And then we will be parents of the bride. So, please welcome my husband, Jim, to the blog. Jim is the photographer in the family, and he will be taking pictures and giving updates on the trip from his perspective.

Secret Cave narrowIf the surface is hot, go underground

Day 3 – July 17, 2012

I slept very well, had not slept much the night before. Kelly got up first and asked if I wanted coffee or anything as she headed off to the free breakfast.  As expected it was all carbs but, much worse, a $40 charge if you took ANY food out of the room or ANY drink. She couldn’t even get her coffee.

She decided we would hit the road.  We were not having any luck and hunger won out, we stopped at McDonalds. Blueberry oatmeal for me and big breakfast for Kelly (thanks for the piece of bacon). I had a large coffee and Kelly a small. When oh when will I learn that I DO NOT LIKE MCDONALDS COFFEE. It does not sit well, it does not taste good.  I drank very little. A good thing about the McDonalds was that it had a hotel coupon book we had been looking for.

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Revisiting the Wedding Roadtrip: Report From Jim: Ben & Jerry’s

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Our road trip across the country on the way to our daughter’s wedding has begun! We’re taking the slow roads, avoiding the interstates, stopping to walk through the little towns we pass through if they catch our eye. For the next few weeks, we will be footloose and fancy free. And then we will be parents of the bride. So, please welcome my husband, Jim, to the blog. Jim is the photographer in the family, and he will be taking pictures and giving updates on the trip from his perspective.

Hole in Door

There used to be a deadbolt in that hole.

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Wedding: Vermont – A Nice Inn, with Undertones of Stephen King

Day 2 – July 16, 2012

K went to get breakfast and work while I showered. She couldn’t get the door open. The dead bolt knob turned but the bolt would not retract.

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A Visit to Mall of America

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So Not a Shopper, But…

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…I finally visited Mall of America in Minneapolis Minnesota. It was overwhelming. 4 stories of shops and things to do.

I went into a store that sold only salsa and hot sauces of every different kind. Sampled some, but ended up not buying any, as we were on the road.

Molly has got to shop this place in an upcoming book! It’s huge, and there’s always something going on. We skipped the roller coaster (although our friend Roz assured me it wasn’t quite as awful as a full version adventure park version).

Instead, we went to the Star Trek exhibit. Fun. When are they making the next movie? I’m curious to see where they go from here.

20140609-065427-24867355.jpgBest thing of all? The giant Lego Transformer. Now I know what to get my grandson for the next dozen years. It will take us that long to make something like this.

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Revisiting the Wedding Roadtrip: Mount Washington

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Our road trip across the country on the way to our daughter’s wedding has begun! We’re taking the slow roads, avoiding the interstates, stopping to walk through the little towns we pass through if they catch our eye. For the next few weeks, we will be footloose and fancy free. And then we will be parents of the bride. So, please welcome my husband, Jim, to the blog. Jim is the photographer in the family, and he will be taking pictures and giving updates on the trip from his perspective.

A funny thing happened on the way to the Cog Railroad

Mt. Washington Summit Sign

Day 1 – July 15, 2012

Left about 30 mi utes behind schedule at 8:30 am.  First stop was to top off the gas. I had filled up the day before and logged 15 miles when I got back to the gas station.  Put in an additional 2.4 gallons, too nervous to see if could over fill it more.

Then a car wash for ” the ultimate” , the car is “looking good”. Kelly said that if anyone told her I’d stop and get a wash before hitting the road she would have said they were crazy.

Hit 95 s to Newport then onto rt 2.  Since all either of us had that morning was coffee we were both interested in breakfast: we had no half/ half so I tried whipped cream in the  coffee, very rich and very good.

The fast food in Newport was not enticing so we kept driving.  In the small town of Norridgewok we drove by a busy little place called “What’s for Supper.

I had a good cheese omelet, bacon, held the home fries but could not pass up the toast. And I am glad I didn’t. The toast was great, thick home made wheat.

Kelly wanted a low carb breakfast as well but her eyesight betrayed her, she orderedm” the double” which was French toast, home fries, bacon, sausage and two slices of thick cinnamon bread. Oh and 2 soft boiled eggs. She gave me 1 sausage. [I thought I was ordering the 2 egg, 2 bacon, 2 toast breakfast...I left a *lot* on my plate...but I did sample everything.]

Breakfast was 16 so 20 with tip.

Pleasent drive into the white mountains of nh and the town of Gorham.  We planned a trip to. Mt Washington but how to get there? Drive or cog railroad. I thought the cog would be fun, and easier on the car. But I couldn’t find it! The gps did not have a listing for cog railroad but did find the co way scenic railroad. So a pretty long slog past the auto,road through bustling N Conway. Pull in as talk to a guy helping with parking, conversation reveals this train is not the cog and doesn’t go to the top of mt washington. Just another 35 miles, turns out the cog will cost about 125 for both of us.

Turns out driving would have cost about 33 and taking a van would have cost 60.

About an hour to the top on the cog, pretty cool and we concentrate on scenery.

In the 60s at top. Pretty decent views, some fog. Spent an hour exploring and using the new camera.

Trip down was 35 minutes.  Slight rain below 3000 ft.  As we walked to the car I remarked again on what a great looking car. It was parked next to a very clean nice looking Lexis. I think the Sonata looked better. [Still boggled he washed the car. Already over hearing how good it looks...although it does look good.]

Where to eat, to sleep or drive.  The astute among you will note no mention of lunch, as there was no lunch.

There is a beautiful scenic overlook in Conway that we went to a million years ago when the boys were small. We watched a sunset while eating Subway we bought across the street. Subway was still there so we parked, ran across the road, ordered and went back to eat at a picnic table.  We each got a foot long and switched half. I had roast beef on flat bread and Kelly had turkey and cheese on some good bread.  Diet iced tea for me and water for Kelly.

Used hotel coupon app to find a hotel.  Big problem, the hotel needs the coupon and we have no way to print. The nice checkin lady at Merrill barn let me email her a picture( used iPad to snap a picture of coupon on the screen). 89 bucks , which means 97,  includes a breakfast of carbs, home made muffins, cereal and fruit.  Can I pass the muffins by?  I have been strong, but human this past week.

A big challenge will be exercising and eating low carb.

Car Info: In addition to looking sharp, got an amazing 45.7 indicated, 267 miles traveled; we are only 175 miles from home however.

Nearly 400 miles of range left. And the driving is in the white mountains, amazing.

 

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