Monday, November 20, 2017

Plimouth or Plymouth?

by Paula Gail Benson

In school, I learned that the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620.

On the map, there is an oceanfront town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, which is a lovely place to spend a carefree summer day.

Within the town of Plymouth, Massachusetts, there is a living history Museum called Plimouth Plantation.

Why is the Plantation name spelled differently from the town’s?

According to a United States History Project webpage, the definitive journal detailing the organization of the colony by William Bradford had “Of Plimouth Planation” written at the top. “Plymouth” is considered the more modern spelling.

Visiting Plimouth Plantation gives modern guests the opportunity to immerse themselves in 17th century culture, both from the colonists’ and Native Americans’ viewpoints. The museum was established in 1947 by Henry Hornblower II (1917-1985), who worked in his family’s business of finance, but had a love for American history and archaeology that grew from his boyhood spent in the family’s Plymouth summer house. He became determined to present the story of the Pilgrims and the Wampanoag People with the greatest accuracy and integrity possible.

From its humble beginnings, the museum has grown to include a replica of the Mayflower (known as the Mayflower II and now residing in Mystic Seaport being restored for the 400th anniversary of the crossing to take place in 2020--Queen Elizabeth II is expected to be in attendance for the celebration); recreations of an English village and Wampanoag Homesite; a visitors’ center (featuring a café where foods from the 17th century are served), craft center (where artisans use tools, materials, and techniques to create items that might have been used by the early colonists), barn with native and historical animals, and grist mill. All these venues are open to the public with interpreters and other guides.

This summer, I had the opportunity to spend a morning at Plimouth Plantation. As we approach Thanksgiving, here are a few pictures of the buildings and depictions of how the early settlers and Native Americans lived.

Visitors' Center

Nye Barn

Craft Center

Wampanoag Homesite
The Wampanoag Homesite features Native Americans demonstrating skills used by their ancestors. On the day I visited, they were cooking rabbit over the fire.

 Here are photos of the English village and interpreters.

The Grist Mill is at Jenny Pond. Visitors can watch the grinding and purchase corn meal.

May you all find joy in your celebration of Thanksgiving this year!

Friday, November 17, 2017

What We Really Write About--by T.K. Thorne

T.K. Thorne


        Writer, humanist,
           dog-mom, horse servant
and cat-slave,

       Lover of solitude
           and the company of good friends,
        New places, new ideas
           and old wisdom.



Hi ya'll!


With my first two words as a new member of the Stiletto Gang, I have given away that I am a Southern girl. Okay, I am . . . um . . . a bit past the dictionary definition of “girl,” but where I’m from, we are still girls no matter our age.

I never thought I’d be a member of a Stiletto Gang, as I never met a pair of high heels I didn’t run from, but here I am. There is much in my life I never thought I would be or do, such as becoming a police officer after graduating college. Actually, it was an accident (that lasted over two decades), but that is a post for another day. Today, I am introducing myself.

So here are some “fun facts” about me:

  • I’m a 4th degree black belt in the martial art of Aikido.

  • At age 8, I won a ribbon for being stubborn.

  • I dove the Great Blue Hole in Belize, the largest sea hole in the world.

  • As a rookie police officer, I had to devise a different way to hold a gun because my hands were too small.

I once had an M-16 rifle pointed at me while researching a book.

  • Frogs make me smile.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to have adventures. I blame my Granny for inspiring that desire. She read Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to me long before I could read them for myself. For many years I decided the biggest adventure ev-er would be to meet aliens (the kind from outer space). Every night I checked out the back window to see if the spaceship had arrived to pick me up. I guess that is why, after life had twisted my path a few times, I picked up a gun and badge.

As you can imagine, being a police officer provided plenty of adventures and enriched my writing. I never met aliens, but I did encounter lots of strange people. Another way to say that—my experiences exposed me to a side of humanity I would never have otherwise encountered and deepened my understanding of human nature. And that, I truly believe, regardless of the genre, is the real essence of what we all write about—what it means to be human.


T.K. has written two award-winning historical novels, NOAH'S WIFE and ANGELS AT THE GATE, filling in the untold backstories of extraordinary unnamed women—the wives of Noah and Lot—in two of the world’s most famous sagas. The New York Post’s “Books You Should Be Reading” list featured her first non-fiction book, LAST CHANCE FOR JUSTICE, which details the investigators’ behind-the-scenes stories of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing case. Her next project is HOUSE OF ROSE, the first novel of a trilogy in the paranormal-crime genre. She loves traveling and speaking about her books and life lessons. T.K. writes at her mountaintop home near Birmingham, Alabama, often with two dogs and a cat vying for her lap. She blogs about “What Moves Me” on her website, Join her private newsletter email list and receive two free short stories at “TK’s Korner.”


P.S. After the holidays, my normal day to post will be the 4th Friday of each month. See y'all then!

Thursday, November 16, 2017


By Cathy Perkins

What's the appeal of a writing retreat? There are as many types of writing retreats as there are writers. Some are world famous organized affairs, while most are events planned with friends. Drop “writing retreat” into your internet browser and pages of links will fill the screen.

Stepping back, though, let’s look at the big picture. What’s mentioned most often as the key ingredient for a writing retreat?


A retreat reduces our usual distractions for guilt free writing time. Away from home, spouse, family, friends, pets, day-jobs, laundry, and stacks of unopened mail, we can relish the time and the freshness of a new place. When we step through the door of our temporary haven, there are no defining expectations, no history. In this place we are Writer rather than cook, chauffeur, pet walker, diaper changer, Scout leader, event planner, or any of the myriad roles layered on by our usual routine.

Of course, this giddy freedom can also produce overly ambitious goals. I’ll work day and night and crank out a hundred new pages, thousands of words!
Given how difficult it can be to carve out time away from our jobs and lives, we might feel pressured to be uber productive. We feel guilty if we’re not making every minute count. But that’s missing the other primary goal of a writing retreat – a chance to rest, renew, and refill the creative well. The goal is not to return home feeling you’ve just pulled a series of all-nighters.
Somewhere in between these two goals lives an individual balance point. I have friends whose ideal writing retreat is a hotel room with in-room dining service and a view of the roof top air-handling equipment. They are there to write. Period. End of sentence. Maybe they have a deadline to meet or that’s their personality, but the separation from the world is purely functional.
Other friends roll the retreat into a mini-vacation. Write a couple of hours in the morning and afternoon and then indulge the rest of the day with friends or, as The Artist’s Way calls it, feeding the inner child. Visit galleries, spend time with writing friends, walk on the beach or hike a mountain trail. Read in a clawfoot bathtub or bing-watch a complete season of Outlander. The writing time flies by with flowing words and the writer goes home ready to tackle the rest of the novel and the rest of her life.

I’m somewhere in the middle of these extremes. 
For several years. I’ve go to our fall retreat to write and I always get a lot done. “Done” can be words written, a story spine planned, or the minutia of an upcoming release scheduled. 
But it’s also a time of creative renewal for me to visit with friends, to talk story with people who don’t roll their eyes (cough, cough, family) and to walk for hours on the beach. 

What does your favorite or ideal writing retreat look like?

An award-winning author of financial mysteries, Cathy Perkins writes twisting dark suspense and light amateur sleuth stories.  When not writing, she battles with the beavers over the pond height or heads out on another travel adventure. She lives in Washington with her husband, children, several dogs and the resident deer herd. Her latest release is Double Down, available at major online retailers. 

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

If Austin Starr Could Talk to You *

By Kay Kendall

My dear friend Larissa is in big trouble. She just called me long distance to say she’s a suspect in a murder case. Good grief, it’s only been a year since my husband David was suspected of murder, and now it’s Larissa. This is too much. I’ll need to get a trench coat and fedora—pretend I’m a private eye—if I keep getting pulled into these cases on a routine basis. 

            Larissa wants me to fly across the continent to give her moral support. The Mounties say she’s the one who killed the leader of her women’s lib group. Of course she didn’t do it. The idea is ludicrous. And, I know I owe her, big time, and want to help her, but I don’t see how I can. Believe me, I’d leave right now if I could. But things have changed since we talked.

            The life-changing event is, well, I’m a mother now. Wyatt is three months old and cute as can be. I can’t possibly take him with me because last time I went sleuthing around, I was almost killed. However, I can’t go alone and leave Wy at home either. David would have a perfect fit if I asked him to babysit. Of course I juggle Wyatt’s child care with my own courses work, but that’s expected. After all, I mean, gosh, I’m the mom. Dads don’t do things like that—not much anyway.

           Still, I cannot leave Larissa in the lurch. She’s the only real friend I’ve made since I pulled up stakes and left my home and family in Texas to join my new husband up here, in the Great White North, Canada. You know, it really was kinda neat—how Larissa and I clicked right away. Usually I avoid anyone who is petite like she is. They make me feel like such an oaf. Here I am at five feet eleven, and Larissa is a good ten inches shorter. But she is so much fun, and smart too. The two years difference in our ages seems like nothing. She just turned twenty-one and is still an undergrad.
            I tell Larissa everything. For instance, she’s the only one who knows I was being trained as a spy by the CIA right before I married David. But I could never tell him that. He would not approve, that’s for sure. But Larissa knows and keeps all my secrets. Here’s a funny thing, though. Why didn’t she confide in me she joined a women’s lib group?

            Oh my gosh, the more I think about it, I must fly out to be with her during her time of trouble. I’ll have to put a plan in place. She’ll call me back in an hour and ask if I’m coming.
            Hey, maybe you can help me out. What do you think I should do?  

* Austin Starr is the amateur sleuth in Kay Kendall's two mysteries. Here Austin sets out on her second murder case, Rainy Day Women, the sequel to Kay’s debut Desolation Row. Both are published by Stairway Press.

Meet the author                                                                 

Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of historical novels and now writes atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit and turbulence of the sixties. A reformed PR executive who won international awards for her projects, Kay lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to her bunnies, she loves them anyway!
Her book titles show she's a Bob Dylan buff too. Rainy Day Women  won two Silver Falchion Awards at Killer Nashville in 2016.
Visit Kay at her website
or on Facebook