Appalachian Thursday – What do diamonds, women who dunk, and stalagmite sitting have in common?

Today is WV Day. But you probably already knew that. My home state is turning 156 and in honor of the day I thought I’d share some unusual facts about the Mountain State. The largest diamond ever found in North America was discovered in Peterson, WV, by the Jones family. They kept it in a cigar box for 14 years before realizing that it wasn’t just a piece of quartz, but rather a 34.5 carat diamond. About 75% of the state is covered by forests with nine state forests and 37 state parks. The New River in WV is actually among the world’s oldest rivers and runs from south to north instead of north to south like most other rivers in the U.S. The first woman to dunk a basketball in a college game was WV University center Georgeann Wells in 1985. In the northern panhandle the city of Weirton touches Ohio on one side and Pennsylvania in the other. In 1972 spelunker Bob Addis set the world record for stalagmite sitting in New World Caverns in WV. He stayed up there for 16 days. When it seceded from the Union, plans were to call the state Kanawha, but they went with a shortened version of Western Virginia since that’s what everyone was already calling it. And cursed natives to hear, “So you’re from Western Virginia–right?” from then on. Happy birthday, Mountain state!

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When Silence Sings Launch Team

Do You Have Influence? If you’ve enjoyed my books and maybe even recommended them to someone, I want to talk to you for a minute. I’m in need of a few good influencers to help promote When Silence Sings, which releases this coming November. To be clear up front, an influencer is different from a reviewer. Influencers are people who want to jump in and help promote an author’s book. If you’re interested in helping me get the word out about my latest story, then please click through and take my Influencer Quiz to learn what that would look like. If you’re chosen, you’ll receive an early copy of the book and can help launch novel #5 into the wide world! For years Serepta McClean has towered over the coal-filled hills of West Virginia, taking more than her share of trade–legal and illegal alike. She’s intent on securing the future of the McClean name, despite two unreliable sons and a long-standing feud with the Harpe clan that’s once again exploded in violence. While many fear her and many more hate her, few dare stand against her. Especially not someone like Colman Harpe—a railroad man with dreams of being a preacher. And yet it’s a reluctant Colman, her sworn enemy, who finds himself in Serepta’s territory, supposedly sent by God himself to preach stories of love and redemption. With the feud growing ever more dangerous and the entire region at risk, […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Decoration Day

Monday is Memorial Day–the unofficial start to summer. And in Appalachia it means time to start planning for Decoration Day. Usually held on a Sunday in June, this is a day when cemeteries would be tidied and flowers placed on the graves. I’m not talking about those silk monstrosities either. I’m talking roses and daisies and mountain laurel. Maybe some […]

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Appalachian Thursday – Time to Plant the Garden

I still have to work hard to resist them. The catalogs filled with beautiful, full-color images of corn and strawberries and squash and green beans . . . The displays of candy-colored seed packets at the store . . . I don’t even have a garden. Oh, sometimes I grow a pot of tomatoes on the porch or plant some herbs in the flower bed, but I don’t have a place to grow rainbow blend carrots no matter how gorgeous they are in that picture. All clean and perfectly straight. The problem is, I know all too well how wonderful fresh garden produce is. And it’s been long enough that I’ve mostly forgotten the agony of weeding, harvesting, and putting up. So when the catalogs start rolling in and the displays start going up, I begin to have delusions of grandeur. I can envision glossy, yellow ears of corn; watermelons that split open with a satisfying crack; and multi-hued peppers hanging like Christmas ornaments. Bush beans, sugar snap peas, heirloom tomatoes, and baby lettuces wilted in a little bacon grease. Oh, the seed companies have my number! When we were kids, Dad would sometimes let us choose something to grow in the garden. One year it was popcorn (which didn’t do well at all!). I always wanted watermelon, but the only time I remember it growing satisfactorily that far north was when we pitched rinds over the fence and the […]

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