Coffee, Anyone?

coffee, cup, laptop, memeThe weather here in Kentucky has taken a definite turn toward winter. I’m warming my hands on a fresh cup of coffee as I work on the answers to some of last week’s questions. Most of those were easily addressed in the comments section (last week), but my friend, Jennifer Hallmark did her best to stump me with several more difficult ones. I’ll handle those, starting with today’s post–so pour another cup, and join me.

Oh, Kentucky! I love my beautiful home state. Yes, it can be steamy-hot in the summer, but most of the time, it shines like an emerald. Some years, the grass stays green all winter. Last year, the neighbors were still mowing their lawns in December.

They call it bluegrass, but it’s really green. And honestly, bluegrass is not all that hardy. Many Louisvillians replaced it in their lawns, after an especially dry summer killed their bluegrass.

I love this picture! ❤

When most people hear the name Kentucky, they think of “My Old Kentucky Home,” horse racing, and a few famous drinks. But Kentucky is a lot more. We have plenty of lakes and mountains (small mountains) and rivers, and in between, lay peaceful rolling pastures lined with black fences. Follow the narrow roads–the scenic byways–and you’ll catch sight of some gorgeous animals, along with their equally beautiful abodes. These thoroughbreds live quite well.

Over the mountains and through the woods, you’ll find one of nature’s more incredible phenomenons–the natural bridges, along with some awe-inspiring scenery, as you approach our border with West Virginia.

Ever seen a moonbow? Certain times of year, you can witness one over Cumberland Falls (picture from many moons ago, and not at night, when the moonbow appears).

And a really big ark park. Encounter a replica of Noah’s Ark, in Williamstown, Kentucky, near Lexington and within easy distance of Cincinnati, Ohio. I’ve never been, but we’re planning a trip soon. I’ll write an entire post, complete with pictures! 🙂

Photo by Karen Jurgens

We have a little cave–OK, a Mammoth Cave–situated near I-65, on the Green River. Hike through the underground caverns, then take a relaxing cruise on the river. No matter how warm it is outside, take a jacket or sweater, it’s cold underground.

Bardstown, Kentucky is a beautiful small town, one you won’t want to miss. My Old Kentucky Home is located there, along with some wonderful home-cooking restaurants. The countryside in all directions is scenic, sometimes breathtaking. Watch for deer, though. Especially early morning and early evening.

I’ve saved Louisville till last. Churchill Downs is open year round, though a lot more exciting in spring and summer. This resident has never attended a Derby, but I have been to the races on less hectic days. They also have a wonderful museum.

Visit the Louisville Slugger in downtown Louisville, if you’re into baseball, or just interested in seeing the big baseball bat (photo-op!). Located nearby, the beautiful Muhammad Ali Center, the Ohio River,  and its locks and riverboats.

Some of the top cuisine in America is located in Louisville. And we have a miles-long riverside park with a ped-bridge over the Ohio. Down River Road a ways, toward the beautiful new East End bridge, is a place called Captain’s Quarters, a restaurant best known for its scenic views and ambience. One of my favorite spots.

And there’s so much more.

I know, this sounds a bit like a travelogue. Can you tell I’m proud of my home state? (And I didn’t even mention basketball).  Yes, we’re land-locked. We don’t have ocean access, but if your vacation needs don’t require hot, sandy beaches, you might like it here. Especially if you love beautiful horses, lakes, and rivers.

By the way, this post is by no means an exhaustive list of the many places to visit in Kentucky. You’ll find that here: Kentucky Tourism.

Have you visited Kentucky? What’s your favorite attraction?

Click to Tweet: #Kentucky – a beautiful place to visit, and a nice place to live. #travel #ontheroad

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Up the Down Side

Happy Fourth of July!

Fireworks! Yay!

Fireworks. Yawn. Every night for a week before and after the fourth. Diminished sleep. Dogs freaking out. Are those mortar rounds? Really?

Have you ever noticed? There’s a down side to everything.

Yes, it’s summer. I love summer. Downside? Hot. Humid.

Upside? Take a look–

Homemade stuff. Yum!
Gorgeousness!

Downside…yeah, well, they have a purpose, too. As long as they stay on their side of the screen, I’m okay.

We’ve had a mild summer so far, but I know the heat and humidity are…

Just around the corner…

It’s not really that bad in Kentucky. Some days it’s more like a swamp (without the alligators). Air so thick, you can slice it with a knife. Monsoon-like rain, coming up from the Gulf of Mexico. Tropical storms. Hurricane remnants.

Upside? Oh, yes. →

 

 

 

I don’t know, looks like to me, the upside far outweighs the downside. Bright, sunshine-filled days. Birds singing. Squirrels frolicking in the yard.

Yeah, well, that could pretty much happen any time of year here in Kentucky.

Here’s just a few of my favorite summery things:

  • Summer festivals
  • picnics!
  • produce stands
  • swimming holes
  • long hikes through the woods
  • walking the ped-bridge over the Ohio River

I think maybe, just maybe, the way to go is not to look for a downside at all. Maybe just look up. Enjoy the view. Live like it’s summer all the time. OK, maybe that would be hard if you live in Minnesota or Wisconsin. But you can find an upside to every downside if you try.

My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord;
In the morning I will direct it to You,
And I will look up.–Psalm 5:3 NKJV

What’s your favorite thing about summer? What makes your heart sing on a brilliant sunny day?

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Springtime and Ordinary Days

It’s raining as I write this, washing away the green dust that coats every outdoor surface. I call it “oak dust.” It makes me sneeze. Makes my eyes water.

0417121830I’m happy for the rain. My flower garden was a bit too dry, and I’ve a bumper crop of iris blooms. Gerbera daisies, red geraniums, roses, and sage are open for business. I love this time of year.

This is Derby week where I live. Many of my friends already bought their hats. I don’t go to the Derby–I watch  it on television. I love to see the horses run, and oh, those hats! If you’re anywhere near Louisville, Kentucky on Derby Day, you’re bound to see women decked out in colorful hats, on their way to Churchill Downs.

For my husband, Derby Day means golf. For me it means I can plant annuals without fear of frost killing them. Both of us have our priorities well in place.

TakeoffAs the excitement of spring fades into ordinary days, I turn my attention to summer. Instead of our usual vacation this year, we’ve opted to spend our time serving others on a mission trip. I’m writing this post just a few days after the devastating quake that hit the coastal region of Ecuador. We may see some of the damage as we leave Guayaquil, but our travel plans will send us into the Andes mountains, to Cuenca, Ecuador.

For a writer, every new scene in life is an opportunity to tell a story. I assure you, my eyes will be wide open, and my imagination will be well engaged. I hope the beautiful sights and sounds of Ecuador will inspire a story or two. The long journey may provide plenty of time for contemplation. If I’m awake. In which case, my eyes will not be wide open.

hiking-1220297_1280I have several friends who are full-time in the mission work of Ecuador. Some of them trek into the Amazon region, carrying gifts from the outside world, along with the message of the gospel. Yes, this is the region where several missionaries were killed in the last century.

One thing these men and women share is a call. They’ve turned their backs on the world and its desires to fulfill the call on their heart. A purpose they believe is God-given.

There’s nothing ordinary about that.

Have you ever experienced what you believe is a call from God to leave your home and family and go to another place? If so, did you heed the call?

Whether or not you accepted that call, I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment here or on my Facebook page. If you’d like to help with the mission efforts in the Amazon region, check out the links below.


10425158_10205772526809279_9049688175581175135_nUnsion Foundation, a Christian World-View television network is actively “Engaging the culture with the gospel.”
http://www.lacworldmissions.org/home
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lacworldmissions
Ecuador Hope House
Joil & Leah Marbut, Jungle Missionary

Sobre Cuenca (about Cuenca): http://www.ecuadorexplorer.com/html/cuenca.html

Owens to Ecuador Facebook Page

Virginia Smith – Authorview

Virginia Smith Headshot Reduced

Today’s guest is multi-published Virginia Smith, a fellow Kentucky author.  She’s really showing versatility with her latest release, The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade, The Tales of Goose Creek B&B. It’s been compared to Jan Karon’s Mitford series, with intrigue, humor, and romance. I love the sound of that.

So, Virginia, tell us a little about your new series– The Tales of Goose Creek B&B

Parade - website lgIt’s about the lovable, laughable residents of a small town called Goose Creek, Kentucky. In The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade, we meet Al and Millie Richardson, a near-to-retirement-age couple who are at odds over her desire to sink their retirement funds into the purchase of a falling-down Victorian house with the idea of turning it into a bed and breakfast. Al is absolutely against the idea and digs his heels in, but in a match of wills, he secretly fears Millie’s is the stronger. In the meantime, the town’s iconic water tower needs to be repainted, and the community is in an uproar over the mayor’s idea to hire an outsider for the job. And meanwhile, a new veterinarian moves to town and unknowingly insults one of the oldest—and most influential—residents.

The publisher summarizes the series like this: “Get lost in a novel that reminds you why you love reading.”

In writing the first book, what inspired the story/situations?

My publisher, Harvest House Publishers, contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in trying something new. They were looking for a series about a small town with quirky residents, lots of humor, and subtle wisdom. They thought my writing style was well suited to that kind of book. Was I interested? You bet I was! My first three novels were exactly that—small towns, lots of humor, quirky characters. I’ve written in a lot of styles since then: romance, suspense, mystery, historical, contemporary, even biblical fiction. But from the moment I put the first words on paper, I was in love with Goose Creek. In some ways, this style of writing is like returning to my roots.

Wonderful! Please tell us about your main character(s). What endears them to you?

This book has several main characters. In fact, you could almost say the town, Goose Creek, is a character itself. But among the residents there are a few who take center stage. There’s Al and Millie, the late-middle-aged couple who buy the old house in order to open a bed and breakfast. I have to confess that there is a lot of my husband and me in that couple. I absolutely love their relationship, quarrels and all. Then there’s Dr. Susan, the veterinarian. I love her blundering mannerisms and sincerity.

Is the location real, or based on a real location?

Goose Creek is a fictitious town, but it is based on Midway, Kentucky. Midway is a charming town not far from my home in Frankfort, and like Goose Creek, its Main Street runs one-way on each side of a railroad track. Midway is one of those towns that cropped up around the railroad back in the mid-1800’s, and while many of those communities closed up, Midway survived. Its claim to fame is that Jesse James’ mom was born there.

Can you give us a sort of “snapshot” (brief description) of any important secondary characters you love?

Since this book has an ensemble cast, there are several characters who aren’t necessarily center-stage, but give the story so much flavor and fun. One is Mayor Jerry Selbo. There’s an interesting story behind his character. My church holds an annual auction as a fundraiser, and people donate all kinds of stuff to be auctioned off. When I was working on this book, my donation was the chance to be a character in one of my books. Jerry Selbo, one of my friends, won the auction. At first I was simply going to name a character after him. I made him the mayor of Goose Creek. As I was writing, I couldn’t help but picture the real Jerry as I was writing about Mayor Jerry, so some of his mannerisms and personality came through. I loved him so much he’s become a continuing character in the series. In the next book, Renovating the Richardsons, Mayor Jerry Selbo has a significant role.

I like recurring characters. They give a series continuity and draw the reader in faster. I haven’t read the book yet, so tell me what you hope will draw readers to this series?

The humor, of course. I love to laugh, and I think there’s a lot of funny stuff in these stories. But the messages really do run deeper than that. They’re about relationships, and cooperation, and compassion, and the need to see other people’s viewpoints.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Horatio - website lgThough The Most Famous Illegal Goose Creek Parade is officially the first book, I launched the series on August 1 with the release of an e-only novella, which is a story roughly one-third of the length of a novel. It’s called Dr. Horatio vs. the Six-Toed Cat, and it takes place five years before the opening of Parade. In that eBook you’ll meet Millie and Al, and you’ll discover the origin of the town’s beloved six-toed feline pets.

I read the novella and was delighted with it. I look forward to reading the series. What’s up next for you?

At the moment I’m working on the third full novel in the Goose Creek series, The Room with the Second-Best View. I really do hope this series is well-received by readers so I can keep writing Goose Creek stories. We have to wait and see what the readers think of Parade. In the meantime, I’m working on an unrelated book. I don’t want to say too much, but I’ll tell you this: I’m taking pottery lessons as part of my research.

Oh, boy! One of the things I love about writing is research. I know from past experience, you love to actually get into the roles you write. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions.

Local readers, Virginia Smith and Ann Gabhart will be signing books at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington, Kentucky on October 6th at 7 p.m., so mark your calendars and plan to attend!


Virginia Smith is the author of more than two dozen inspirational novels, an illustrated children’s book, and over 50 articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. Visit her on the web at www.virginiasmith.org. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ginny.p.smith

Links to purchase The Most Illegal Goose Creek Parade:

Parade - website lgAmazon.com:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0736964770/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0736964770&linkCode=as2&tag=nexstecri-20&linkId=KRYS6RDH4HZLXXIR

Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-most-famous-illegal-goose-creek-parade-virginia-smith/1120894191?ean=9780736964777

Christianbook.com:  http://www.christianbook.com/most-famous-illegal-goose-creek-parade/virginia-smith/9780736964777/pd/964777?event=ESRCG

Links to purchase Dr. Horatio vs. the Six-Toed Cat:

Horatio - website lgKindle:  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00X4WA3R6/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00X4WA3R6&linkCode=as2&tag=nexstecri-20&linkId=U6E2VKMYRP4O3KNT

Nook:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dr-horatio-vs-the-six-toed-cat-virginia-smith/1121879000?ean=9780736964838

CBD.com:  http://www.christianbook.com/horatio-the-six-toed-cat-ebook/virginia-smith/9780736964838/pd/77087EB?product_redirect=1&Ntt=77087EB&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP