Fall is in the Air in Western North Carolina

In October in western North Carolina, the leaves are brilliantly colored and there’s most likely a definite chill in the air. Here the Appalachians crouch beneath a thin layer of smoky haze. This is where we’ll run into Mara Adkins once again, on her way to visit yet another of her former conquests. But that’s another story told on another website (here).

Fall is a beautiful time of year, when harvest yields her bounty. We’re gearing up for the holidays and various family celebrations. And looking for places to go to view the wonderful scenes Fall provides. One such place is on my list of destinations I so want to visit. The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, with its extensive gardens…ah…who would want for more?

Well, there is more. There’s an arboretum nearby, botanical gardens, Carl Sandburg’s home, and Pisgah National Forest.

Weather permitting, you can stay busy for several days. And if you’re not into all those outdoor activities, they have the Asheville Mall, a Folk Art Center, an Art Museum, and the beautiful Basilica of St. Lawrence. Plenty for you to do while your more outdoorsy-type family members hike around gazing at flora and fauna.

And please don’t leave the area without a drive through at least a part of the famous Blue Ridge Parkway. That’s where I like to make my entrance to the area. The scenery is breathtaking and there are so many wonderful stops you can make a long the way. I won’t name them here. You can follow the Blue Ridge link to find them. Quaint little towns, lots of antiquing opportunities, and so many natural trails and byways you couldn’t possibly visit all of them. Well, unless you plan to stay in the area for a very long time.

I daresay, Mara Adkins enjoyed her short spell in western North Carolina. She encountered a bit of a mystery there, so if you haven’t already read Chapter Ten of A Dozen Apologies, you might want to head on over there now. And be sure to stop in at On the Ledge to read the hero interview (see links below).

Thanks for stopping by––

Welcome to the Bluegrass!*

Whether you’re coming into Kentucky from the north, south, east, or west, or southeast, like Mara Adkins, you’ll notice the horses right away. After all, Kentucky’s logo “Unbridled Spirit,” boasts a racehorse. Kentucky produces more thoroughbreds than any other state. 
But that’s not all. There are over 450 horse farms in the region and most are working farms. These are not all race horses, but saddlebred as well. The Bluegrass Region lies in the heart of Kentucky, and includes Shelbyville, Frankfort, Lexington, Georgetown, Harrodsburg, Richmond, and Berea. 
From its earliest days, Kentucky has supported the horse breeding industry. Daniel Boone introduced a bill for “improving the breed of horses” at Kentucky’s first legislative assembly. And it’s not just thoroughbreds. Shelbyville, Kentucky is known as the saddlebred capital of the world.

I love to drive Old Frankfort Pike between Lexington and Frankfort. The narrow road winds beneath a canopy of maples and is often flanked by hand-piled rock fences. The beauty of the gently rolling green pastures is only outdone by the animals who graze there. It’s part of the Bluegrass Country Driving Tour. If you take this drive, be prepared to stop often. The roads are narrow, so do be careful, but don’t worry about the horses, they’re used to gawkers.
Mara visited the Bluegrass during July, so she missed the gorgeous daylilies in bloom. They line the drives of some of the well known horse farms, as well as the entrance leading into Keeneland, Lexington’s racetrack. 
She didn’t get to see much beyond the inside of the barn she worked in, thanks to July’s bachelor. But if you plan to visit, I can suggest a few sights not to be missed, if you’re a horse enthusiast.
The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington is the place to go if you love history and want to see the horses up close and personal. Or you might want to book a couple of nights at a bed and breakfast that’s also a working horse farm. You can do that.
There is plenty to do in the Bluegrass region. If your pockets are deep and you plan well ahead, you can book a night at the Storybook Inn in Lexington. But if you visit in spring, you probably won’t get a room. There’s the Beaumont Stakes at Keeneland in April, and that other big race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, the first Saturday of May.
There is even a burial place for horses at Normandy Farm in Lexington. Normandy was part of the historic Elmendorf Farm, owned by Daniel Swigert. Fair Play and Mahubah, sire and dam of Man O’War are buried there. 
Many of the horse farms do allow visitors, but don’t just show up. You have to call ahead. And if you decide to visit a farm, here’s a little-known fact (or horse country etiquette). When visiting a horse farm, it’s customary to tip the groom or farm representative who shows you around, five or ten dollars, depending on time spent with you. On guided or private tours, always ask if the fee includes tips.
One thing you’ll notice and it’ll be abundantly clear after the drive, many of these horses live better than we do. Their stables are state-of-the-art. Some are air-conditioned and they even have hot tubs and swimming pools. Those are for exercise and rehab, of course. And don’t be surprised if you find a television or a dog or a goat in a horses’ stall. Horses seem to like those things. There are divas in the equine world, oh yes.
I hope you’ll stop in, next time you’re in the area. Cruising down I-75 or across I-64, you can’t miss it. You’re bound to fall in love with the scenery and the animals, but if you wander into Lexington, sorry about the traffic. With all the horse farms, and the world famous University of Kentucky, it’s a fact of life there.

So, I’m off to check on Mara. I know she left out of here in a big hurry, but I’m wondering…will she be back? I hope so. I’d sure like to meet her.––Betty Owens

Read Mara’s story, A Dozen Apologies, beginning Monday, January 20th at www.writeintegrity.blogspot.com or “Like” my Facebook author page to keep up with Mara’s antics. 

*Originally posted at http://www.beyondmybluedoor.com

What is a Novella?

Novella (nō-ˈve-lə)
John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea––what do they all have in common? They are all novellas. 
What is a novella? A work of fiction, longer than a short story, shorter than a novel; a common literary genre. As you can see from the examples listed above, it’s not a new idea. 
From Robert Silverberg (Sailing to Byzantium): [The novella] is one of the richest and most rewarding of literary forms…it allows for more extended development of theme and character than does the short story, without making the elaborate structural demands of the full-length book. Thus it provides an intense, detailed exploration of its subject, providing to some degree both the concentrated focus of the short story and the broad scope of the novel.
Whatever its origin or purpose, the novella is a lovely idea. 
A Dozen Apologies is a collaborative* novella from Write Integrity Press. As the story begins, a beautiful young woman named Mara Adkins has lost her job, her confidence, and most of her self-esteem. She ends up back home with her parents. You can read the opening chapter here.
I was asked to contribute one chapter, creating a destination, a hero and his occupation. And the story would need to flow together with the chapters of eleven other writers. And one more thing––our readers would be asked to vote on their favorite hero. That guy will star in the final chapter and have the chance to win Mara’s heart. Sounds like fun, right? Especially since the readers––I hope that includes you––won’t know who wrote which chapter until it’s all over.
So there you have it. What began as a brilliant idea in the mind of the very talented Fay Lamb, (you can read about her idea here) and with the help of her editor, Tracy Ruckman, is now on its way to you. 
I hope you’ll have time to read the chapters as they become available. And when all the chapters are posted, please vote on your favorite hero. When the votes are in, the final chapter will be added and the completed novella will be released as an ebook on Valentine’s Day. Oh, and here’s the best part of all––it will be a FREE download on February 14th, 15th, and 16th. 
*produced or conducted by two or more parties working together

Jennifer Hallmark – God’s Plans vs. My Own

A Dozen Apologies

Mara Adkins

In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job that she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

But which one?

Join us on Monday, January 20th for the release of the first chapter of Mara’s journey, then each weekday afterwards for subsequent chapters. Once you’ve met the twelve heroes and read Mara’s apologies, you’ll have the opportunity to vote on your favorite. The winning hero will star in the final chapter when the ebook is released on Valentine’s Day.


The Arctic Blast & A Dozen Apologies

Coming in January!

Just a few days ago, we were hunkering down indoors, trying to escape brutal cold as an Arctic blast moved through. The wind chill dipped down into the minus 30’s. Today the thermostat says 34º, sixty degrees higher! I look out my window to find the lawn filled with robins. They’re a a little early. Each year, they return en masse and devour the berries on all the holly trees in the neighborhood. Within hours, there will be no red berries on any of our trees.

Spring creeps in, a day at a time, taking its own sweet time. We’re weeks away from the actual day, but the robins’ return reminds me it’s coming. The days will lengthen by minutes then hours. The pain of the harsh cold will become a memory.

Mara Adkins

2014 is only ten days old at this writing and already, it has been busy and exciting. In the next few days, I will see the release of A Dozen Apologies, a delightful Valentine’s novella, I was honored to work on. The lovely heroine, Mara Adkins, is having a difficult year as she journeys through her past and offers twelve apologies. Which one will lead her to the next phase of her journey? It’s a fast, fun read! Watch for it here and on my Facebook author page.

I hope you’re staying warm through these early January days. And as the weeks of winter give way to the warmth of spring, may God bless your days with Joy and Light.

Thanks for stopping by!