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Shopping for Inmate Made Goods at Arizona’s Prison Outlet Store #quirky #travel

Join me for an A to Z Road Trip! I’m taking you on a road trip with me by sharing travel photos for this year’s A to Z Blog Challenge. So come along as we explore some of my favorite offbeat, overlooked and just plain interesting places in Texas… and beyond!   Today is letter I: Inmate Made Goods at Arizona’s Prison Outlet Store Unique shopping experience One of the most unusual shopping experiences I ever had was browsing the shelves of the Prison Outlet Store in Florence, Arizona. At first glance, it looks like any other old timey store you…

Historic Haunted Hotels of Texas

Join me for an A to Z Road Trip! I’m taking you on a road trip with me by sharing travel photos for this year’s A to Z Blog Challenge. So come along as we explore some of my favorite offbeat, overlooked and just plain interesting places in Texas… and beyond!   Today is letter H: Haunted Historic Hotels Staying at hotels and motels is an exciting part of any road trip. And some of the most interesting hotels I’ve stayed at have boasted guests who never checked out! Here are a few of my favorite historic haunted hotels in Texas:…

Gorgeous Greek Monastery in Arizona

Join me for an A to Z Road Trip! I’m taking you on a road trip with me by sharing travel photos for this year’s A to Z Blog Challenge. So come along as we explore some of my favorite offbeat, overlooked and just plain interesting places in Texas… and beyond!   Today is letter G: Greek Monastery in Arizona St Anthony’s Greek Orthodox Monastery In 1995, six Greek monks from Athos, Greece moved to the countryside near Florence, Arizona and created a beautiful monastery. Called St Anthony’s, the monastery features garden pathways, fountains, citrus orchards, olive groves, chapels, guest quarters,…

Fire Dancers at the Mai Kai Tiki Bar in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Join me for an A to Z Road Trip! I’m taking you on a road trip with me by sharing travel photos for this year’s A to Z Blog Challenge. So come along as we explore some of my favorite offbeat, overlooked and just plain interesting places in Texas… and beyond! Today is letter F: Fire Dancers at the Mai Kai in Fort Lauderdale, FL I love Tiki Bars Maybe it’s from all those Gilligan’s Island episodes I watched growing up, or because of the Polynesian dance lessons I took as a teen, but whatever the reason, I absolutely love Tiki…

Elvis Presley Statue in Shreveport, LA

Join me for an A to Z Road Trip! I’m taking you on a road trip with me by sharing travel photos for this year’s A to Z Blog Challenge. So come along as we explore some of my favorite offbeat, overlooked and just plain interesting places in Texas… and beyond! Today is letter E: Elvis Presley Statue in Shreveport, LA Elvis Presley’s first big break Even the king of rock and roll had to start somewhere! In the case of Elvis Presley, his first big break came when he played a gig at the Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium. To commemorate this event,…

Tell me about your “big but,” Simone!

What is IWSG? IWSG stands for “Insecure Writers Support Group.” It’s a monthly check-in for writers of all stripes. Its creator, Alex J. Cavanaugh, describes ISWG like this: “Purpose of IWSG: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!” – Alex J. Cavanaugh My big writing fear: My big writing fear is that I won’t be able to keep up with everything. I love all my writing projects, and I do…

Dinosaur Sculptures in the Elberta, Alabama Woods

Join me for an A to Z Road Trip! I’m taking you on a road trip with me by sharing travel photos for this year’s A to Z Blog Challenge. So come along as we explore some of my favorite offbeat, overlooked and just plain interesting places in Texas… and beyond! Today is letter D: Dinosaur Sculptures in the Elberta, Alabama Woods An Artist’s Dream Come True I’m sure many a struggling artist has daydreamed about a wealthy patron requesting their work and paying a handsome sum for it in return. Well, that’s exactly what happened to Mark Cline! Who is…

Comic Con in Weatherford, Texas Benefits Texas Pythian Home for Children

Join me for an A to Z Road Trip! I’m taking you on a road trip with me by sharing travel photos for this year’s A to Z Blog Challenge. So come along as we explore some of my favorite offbeat, overlooked and just plain interesting places in Texas… and beyond! Today is letter C: Comic Con at Texas Pythian Home First Annual Weatherford Comic Con I had so much fun this past weekend at the first annual Weatherford Comic Con! The event took place at the Texas Pythian Home (1825 E Bankhead Dr, Weatherford, TX 76086), which is a non-profit…

Barefoot Mailmen of Florida

Join me for an A to Z Road Trip! I’m taking you on a road trip with me by sharing travel photos for this year’s A to Z Blog Challenge. So come along as we explore some of my favorite offbeat, overlooked and just plain interesting places in Texas… and beyond! Today is letter B: Barefoot Mailmen of Florida Florida’s treacherous terrain One reason southern Florida remained sparsely populated for so long is because of its dense undergrowth. Even today, most public parks feature raised wooden boardwalks through the woods for visitors rather than mere trails. Boating, walking and swimming mailmen…

Cemetery Roundup: Quirky Graves, Headstones & Epitaphs

FREE Cemetery Symbols Guide: Would you like a FREE guide to historic cemetery symbolism? If so, click the image below: April Fool’s Day fun… at the cemetery? Since it’s April Fool’s Day, thought I’d share a round up of some of the more playful interments I have come across while researching my upcoming book, Messages from the Dead: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbols. In fact, this afternoon on the Para Mysteries show, Teal Gray and I will be chatting about these quirky graves, as well as recent archeological finds pertaining to Hell Hounds lore. Tune in or catch the…

A to Z Challenge Theme Reveal *drum roll please!*

What is the April A to Z Blog Challenge? Every April, bloggers from all over the world participate in the April A to Z blog challenge, and you can too! To play along, all you do is make a blog post for each letter of the alphabet during April, then use the blog hop linky to visit as many other bloggers as you can. This will be my 4th year in a row doing the A to Z blog challenge. I keep coming back because it’s so lively and fun! Plus, it’s a great way to find interesting new blogs to read.…

Para Mysteries: Mortsafes & Caged Graves

FREE Cemetery Symbols Guide: Would you like a FREE guide to historic cemetery symbolism? If so, click the image below: Historic Cemetery Symbol of the Week This week’s Historic Cemetery Symbol post is about mortsafes and Resurrectionists. The topic was inspired by my friend, Teal Gray, when she told me about the mysterious Caged Graves of Catawassa. In fact, Teal and I will be discussing everything in this post during a one-hour radio show, as you can see in the graphic below:    Historic Cemeteries: Who were the Resurrectionists? These days, people often make arrangements to donate their body to science…

8 Years & 34K Tweets Later – I still love Twitter!

You just never know… (well, eventually you do!) February’s IWSG post about dealing with jealousy was rather long-winded, so I’ll try to keep this one short. The main thing I’d like to share with other writers this month is that: You just never know where things will lead! The magic of Twitter Take Twitter. When I posted my first tweet (as seen above) I had no idea where it would lead. (To find *your* first tweet: click here.) Eight years and some 34,000 tweets later…I have had so many opportunities, both directly and indirectly, come my way simply by tweeting. I’ve…

Road Trip Photos: Vehicles on a Stick

Quirky road trip themes Every road trip I take seems to have its own unintended theme, such as witty church marquees, strange billboards, or bizarre town names. In fact, my husband and I are on a road trip right now for which the theme seems to be “Random Vehicles on a Stick.” Here’s what we’ve seen so far: Car on a Stick It all started in Louisiana, when I caught sight of this Ford Fairmont lofted high into the sky as we we whizzed down the road. We weren’t at a good place to stop, so I’m not sure what this particular car…

Photo Essay: Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, Florida

Worth Avenue: Iconic Shopping Street Voted #3 in a list of the Top 10 Iconic Streets in the USA, Worth Avenue is an upscale shopping street in the resort town of Palm Beach, Florida. People watching & pedestrian friendly With names like Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Giorgio Armani, Neiman Marcus, Cartier, Louis Vuitton and Saks Fifth Avenue, the businesses lining Worth Avenue read like a veritable who’s who of luxury shopping. But don’t let that scare you off! People watching on Worth Avenue is just as fun as window shopping. On the day we visited, I saw men, women, and even…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: Monkey Grave at an Upscale Restaurant

2 Graves at an Italian Restaurant? Voted #3 in a list of the Top 10 Iconic Streets in the USA, Worth Avenue is an upscale shopping street in the resort town of Palm Beach, Florida. So why are there two graves on Worth Avenue – one for a monkey and the other for a dog – tucked away in the courtyard of an Italian restaurant? Jazz Age eccentric: Addison Mizner It all starts with Addison Mizner (1872-1933) a quirky architect who settled in South Florida in 1918 after having lived all over the world, including China, New York, Guatemala, Alaska, and…

Historic Cemetery Symbols: Disgraced Widow’s Revenge

The Tale of Annie & Sidney Saunders For Valentine’s Day, I bring you this tale of a lovelorn widow tormented by malicious gossip, who used her husband’s grave to set the record straight: In the late 1800’s, Sidney Saunders was a wealthy grocer and saloonkeeper in Monroe, Louisiana. Like any successful businessman, Mr. Saunders had detractors. In his case, many townspeople suspected that the bulk of his fortune came from illegal channels, including brothels and gambling. But the gossips really had a field day when Sidney Saunders left on business and returned with Annie E. Livingston on his arm. Although they claimed…

Road Trip Fun: Quirky Nautical Antique Shop in West Palm Beach Florida

Culpepper & Co in West Palm Beach, Florida People often ask how I find so many quirky, offbeat, and overlooked places to explore on road trips. The answer is pretty simple: I do a lot of research in advance, but I also keep my eyes open. Planned Spontaneity I call it “planned spontaneity.” And yes, that sounds like an oxymoron. But all it really means is that even though I spend hours researching and planning road trips, I’m not rigid about it. Fun Nautical Themed Shop At home I’m “Planny Plannerton,” but once I’m out the door, all bets are…

4 Quick Tips to Make Jealousy Work for You

Jealousy: Out of the blue, you suddenly turn green! Like most unpleasantries, jealousy often strikes without warning. There you are, happily scrolling through Facebook when you see a photo of your friend holding a trophy and… *bzzzt* There it is: jealousy’s sting. While I don’t particularly like jealousy, I no longer let it drag me into a vortex of self-loathing and despair. In fact, I now consider jealousy a helpful tool. Here are 4 tips that help me cope when the green-eyed monster comes calling: My experience with jealousy I’ll start with a quick example of how I’ve used jealousy as a tool…

Lost & Found: Valentine’s Edition – Love as an Undertow

Lost & Found: Valentine’s Edition This post was inspired by the Lost & Found: Valentine’s Edition blog hop which I ran into over at Arlee Bird’s blog: Tossing it Out. Do you remember that special feeling of love found? And who hasn’t experienced the emotional experience of love lost? Some of you might have even lost a love only to find that person later for another go around. Tell your story about love lost or found in our special Valentine’s blogfest. Your post can be a short fiction, an essay, poetry, or even a song–let your imagination run free. Any genre is…