Tuesday, April 25, 2023

10 Things You Might Not Know From the Blake's Folly Romance Trilogy by J. Arlene Culiner

By 2023, the silver boomtown of Blake’s Folly, once notorious for saloons, brothels, speakeasies, and divorce ranches, has become a semi-ghost town of abandoned shacks and weedy dirt roads. But unusual settings attract unusual people, those forced to adapt to new circumstances in order to survive, and those who have never really fit into mainstream society. But none are humdrum. All have dreams and a chance to fall in love.

A Room In Blake’s Folly

In 1889, when Blake’s Folly boasted silver mines, saloons, and brothels, the adventurer, Westley Cranston, fell in love with Sookie Lacey a former prostitute. Their romance was doomed but never forgotten, and these six stories tell the tale.

All About Charming Alice

Alice Treemont cooks vegetarian meals, rescues unwanted dogs, and protects the most unloved creatures on earth: snakes. What man would share those interests? Jace Constant is in Nevada, doing research, but he won’t be staying long. He hates desert dust, dog hair and snakes terrify him. Even if the air sizzles each time Alice and Jace meet, any romance seems doomed.

Desert Rose

Rose Badger is the local flirt, and settling down is the last thing she intends to do. Geologist Jonah Livingstone is intriguing, but with his complicated life, he’s off limits for anything other than friendship. The sparkling and lovely Rose Badger fascinates Jonah Livingstone, but she doesn’t seem inclined to choose a favorite, so why fret? Jonah’s secret life keeps him busy.

10 Things You Might Not Know from the Blake's Folly Romance Trilogy

Blake’s Folly, Nevada, once a silver boomtown, is now a backwoods community of clapboard shacks and scraggly vegetation. The local saloon is a leftover from another century and, inside country music whines, while eccentrics dish up tall tales, and suspicion. But living in an unusual setting does have advantages. It makes us sit up and take notice of our environment and gives us a good knowledge of unusual local history. For example…

1) Nevada was once covered by a warm shallow sea filled with reefs, mollusks, and ammonites. There were also ichthyosaurs — large marine lizards — and they appeared around 250 million years ago, evolving from a group of unidentified land reptiles that returned to the sea, like the ancestors of modern-day dolphins and whales.

2) In the first half of the 1800s, women were scarce in the West, and husband-hunters, whether ugly or good-looking, mean-tempered, sharp-tongued, or sugar sweet easily found partners. By the 1880s, things had changed. Women fleeing domestic service, poor farms, millwork, or factory toil, were arriving in abundance and men could take their pick.

3) Like all Western boomtowns where the male population outnumbered the female, there were many brothels. Being out in the wasteland, panning for gold, trudging over empty space hoping to find silver, working hard in the mines, or ranching on poor soil and barely surviving, all made for a pretty lonely life, so brothels and saloons were oases. What could be more appealing than an oasis where scantily clad women served alcohol and pleasure?

4) Although their silks, gaudy jewels, and perfumes set them apart from “decent” town women, brothel madams made certain their “girls” were well behaved and lady-like in public. In reality, they had no reason to be otherwise: although a few were tough, gritty women, most were those who, through bad luck, circumstance, betrayal, or personal choice, had come to work in the sex trade. They were as sentimental and vital as any woman, crying each Christmas over the memory of faraway homes, inaccessible families, and a way of life no longer open to them.

5) Local wives detested the ladies of pleasure, and their disapproval condemned them to the last row at social events, theatrical performances in the local community hall, and church services. But these less respectable “ladies” were welcomed by local shopkeepers, for they spent their hard-earned cash on fans, furs, clothes, all manner of fluffy and shining gewgaws.

6) Despite all the lovely stories we hear about western romances, the reality was less romantic. Men looking for wives in the Far West usually went for young, fresh, strong women who would raise children, attend to harvests, garden work, laundry, scrounge for firewood, and cook. Many of the men were looking for women to replace their previous wives who had died during childbirth or from sheer exhaustion.

7) Without experience in the working world, older women who were widows, or who had been abandoned, or divorced hoped their grown children would take them in. However, not every couple wanted a mother, or mother-in-law in residence unless she was still strong enough to help out with the drudgery. The very many who found no home with their children were often reduced to begging in the towns.

8) Although prohibition effectively cut off Nevada’s much-needed tax revenue, it didn’t reduce social drinking. In one year alone, 90,000 Nevada residents managed to wangle 10,000 prescriptions for medicinal alcohol.

9) The names of the old railway companies still sound familiar to us — the Philadelphia and Reading, the Erie, the Northern Pacific, the Union Pacific, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe. However, all those companies failed during the depression of 1893. Even back then the politicians lied, claiming the economy was prospering as 500 banks closed and 16,000 businesses declared bankruptcy.

10) And for those who want to know about me, the author J. Arlene Culiner, I’ve spent my life shifting from one country to the other, and I’ve often done it in an original way: on foot. I also travel on slow trains, get off in out-of-the-way places where I can’t speak the language and where I don’t know a soul. I now live in a small, sleepy village in France where there’s nothing going on. There are no shops. Occasionally a tractor passes through. There is a main square with a 13th century church and houses that date from the 16th and 18th centuries. There are many wonderful bats, quirky pigeons, and other lovely birds that I delight in.


Writer, photographer, social critical artist, and storyteller, J. Arlene Culiner, was born in New York and raised in Toronto. She has crossed much of Europe on foot, has lived in a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, on a Dutch canal, and in a haunted house on the English moors. She now resides in a 400-year-old former inn in a French village of no interest and, much to local dismay, protects all creatures, especially spiders and snakes. She particularly enjoys incorporating into short stories, mysteries, narrative non-fiction, and romances, her experiences in out-of-the-way communities, and her conversations with strange characters.

 Website: http://www.j-arleneculiner.com

Blog: http://j-arleneculiner.over-blog.com

All sites: https://linktr.ee/j.arleneculiner

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jarlene.culiner/

Storytelling Podcast: https://soundcloud.com/j-arlene-culiner

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Top Ten Things You Might Not Know About Author Mary L. Schmidt


Visions of her Cherokee grandmother, Cordie, flashed through Mary’s mind as her mother, Marguerite, informed her that her stepfather shot himself and was in the hospital. Oh no! Did she use me last night? She’d never use her scapegoat! No, she couldn’t! Even Marguerite wouldn’t sink that low! Or would she? Marguerite had always been abusive and vile to most people, and especially to her children and husbands, but would she shoot Paul? Chills raked Mary and triggered her shuddering. Was she more shocked that her mother shot her stepfather with murderous intent, or that she left Mary as her alibi? Amazon: https://amzn.to/3mKRbOw


Top Ten Things You Might Not Know About Mary L. Schmidt


1. Mary uses two pen names on occasion, S. Jackson, and A. Raymond.

2. With a huge passion, Mary won’t eat Spam or Liverwurst.

 3. Mary has written more than 35 books and contributed to four anthologies.

4. Mary holds a university degree (cum laude) in Nursing and was inducted into the Sigma Theta Tau International honor society in nursing.

5. Mary has spent years working with the American Cancer Society, March of Dimes, and both cub and boy scouts.

6. Mary owns an online art gallery, and she makes all her book covers and illustrations.

7. Mary has the gift of easily chatting in different settings, meeting new people from other countries; on hold due to Covid.

8. Mary loves to travel and see the USA, especially with her lifetime national park pass.

9. Mary and her husband, Michael, have four children, and two grandchildren.

10. Mary is the daughter of a king.



About the Author: Mary L. Schmidt writes under her given name and a pen name, S. Jackson, along with her husband Michael, pen name A Raymond. She grew up in a small Kansas (USA) town and has lived in more than one state since then. At this time, Mary and her husband split their time between homes in Kansas and Colorado as they love the mountains and off-road four-wheeling. Traveling is one of their most favorite things to do and Mary always has a book to read on her Kindle. Books are one of her favorite things. When she was younger, it seemed like every time she turned around, a new library card was needed due to the current one being stamped complete. Diving into a good book made any day perfect and you would be surprised at the number of books she read over and over. Mary and Michael love to read, fish, play poker, go Jeeping, and travel, especially to visit their grandson, Austin, and granddaughter, Emma.


Website:  www.whenangelsfly.net  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryLSchmidt

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MMSchmidtAuthorGDDonley

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/mschmidtphotography/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/marylschmidt/

Art Gallery: https://www.deviantart.com/mschmidtartwork/gallery

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

7 Things You Might Not Know About The Shade Under the Mango Tree by Evy Journey



After two heartbreaking losses, Luna wants adventure. Something and somewhere very different from the affluent, sheltered home in California and Hawaii where she grew up. An adventure in which she can also make some difference. She ends up in a place steeped in an ancient culture and a deadly history. Raised by her grandmother in a Honolulu suburb, she moves to her parents’ home in California at thirteen and meets her brothers for the first time. Grandma persuades her to write a journal whenever she’s lonely or overwhelmed as a substitute for someone to whom she could reveal her intimate thoughts. Lucien, a worldly, well-traveled young architect, finds a stranger’s journal at a café. He has qualms and pangs of guilt about reading it. But they don’t stop him. His decision to go on reading changes his life.

 Months later, they meet at a bookstore where Luna works, and which Lucien frequents. Fascinated by his stories and his adventurous spirit, Luna volunteers for the Peace Corps. Assigned to Cambodia, she lives with a family whose parents are survivors of the Khmer Rouge genocide forty years earlier. What she goes through in a rural rice-growing village defies anything she could have imagined. Will she leave this world unscathed? Inspired by the healing effects of writing, this is an epistolary tale of love—between an idealistic young woman and her grandmother and between the young woman and a young architect. It’s a tale of courage, resilience of the human spirit, and the bonds that bring diverse people together.

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08KFMR9SG

7 Things You Might Not Know About The Shade Under the Mango Tree

  1. A small, short journal I unearthed from a box in my garage inspired me to use the epistolary device to tell much of the story.
  2. I’ve made the mango salad in the story using a Vietnamese recipe for green papaya salad, substituting green (unripe) mango for the green papaya.
  3. I usually situate my stories in places I’ve lived in or have visited. But I’ve never been to Cambodia, where half of the action takes place. To learn about Cambodia, I interviewed a young man who grew up in Cambodia and lived for a while in the west. I also read books and online articles about its current society and traditions, as well as the experiences of survivors of the Khmer genocide. I also watched a few movies.
  4. Two movies currently on Netflix depict the Cambodian genocide: Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father and a French graphic animation, Funan. Maybe, the first film ever made of it is The Killing Fields (1984), about five years after this particular holocaust ended.
  5. Towards the middle of writing the story, I switched the male protagonist’s profession from computer science to architecture as a tribute to my husband’s frustrated wish to be an architect. He became a clinical psychologist, instead.
  6. I interviewed an architect from one of my Facebook groups to learn more about the profession. I also took a brief online introductory course on architecture.
  7. The coffeeshop where the protagonists meet is also featured in Books 4 and 6 in the series, Between Two Worlds  


About the Author: Evy Journey writes. Stories and blog posts. Novels that tend to cross genres. She’s also a wannabe artist, and a flâneuse. Evy studied psychology (M.A., University of Hawaii; Ph.D. University of Illinois). So her fiction spins tales about nuanced characters dealing with contemporary life issues and problems. She believes in love and its many faces. Her one ungranted wish: To live in Paris where art is everywhere, and people have honed aimless roaming to an art form. She has visited and stayed a few months at a time.

Website or Blog: https://evyjourney.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ejourneywriter/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14845365.Evy_Journey