Driving the Al-Can Highway in early 1960’s- Unforgettable Memory #6 by Nancy Radke

While my husband, Walt, and I were attending the University of Washington, we spent our summers in Anchorage with his parents, where I worked one job. Walt worked two 8-hour construction jobs since we had almost 24 hours of daylight up there. We drove up the Al-Can (Alaska-Canada) Highway each spring, and then back to Seattle each fall. We could make enough to pay our tuition for that year.

There were some unique features about the highway that I won’t forget. There were miles and miles of nothing but mountains and forests. Not all that many cars. If you came across a motorist with a stalled car, you stopped and gave him a lift to the next town. The towns were marked on the map, all named, but usually consisted of just one house and some outbuildings; sometimes with a gas station, but always with someone who had a tow truck and extra tires. Unlike Seattle, the gas stations on the Al-Can all had hot water in the restrooms, hot enough you would almost burn your hands, and I remember just how good that water felt.

We carried extra tires, but once blew three in a row, so Walt took one tire and I took another and we rolled them down the road until a truck came by and took us to a farm where the man fixed our tires and drove us back to our car.

The roads were smooth in the fall, but in the spring, after the winter had frozen and thawed the roadway, there were parts of it like a washboard, with a series of humps about a foot high. They appeared unexpectedly and had to be driven slowly or you would ruin your car. After going through the humps, you would drive slowly for a while, and then speed up until you hit the next series. The roadway had no centerline, and no warning signs before you hit the washboards.

Besides the beautiful scenery, the highway offered plenty of wildlife, since what animal would tramp through the tundra when it could walk down the roadway? The moose especially liked it. Once we had to wait for a herd of several hundred caribou to cross near Tok Junction. The roadway was often elevated four to six feet to get it above the permafrost, and one other time, also near Tok Junction, we had a huge bison suddenly jump up on the road in front of us. He stood there, head lowered, while Walt slammed to a stop and backed up as fast as he could. That bison waited a bit, then sauntered across the road and down the other side.

One spot on the highway hadn’t been elevated, and when we drove through the mud, our car’s bumper wasn’t high enough to clear, so we skimmed off the top of the mud as we drove along. It crept up over the hood, then our windshield and finally over the rest of the car. The wipers weren’t strong enough to clear the mud, so I would open my passenger window and wipe it off enough that Walt could see the road. This stretch seemed endless, but was probably only about 20 miles.

Anchorage just had another large earthquake, but I figure the folks there will get out their trucks and tractors and do a quick fix on the roads and throw up some army type bridges to get them through until summer construction time. No problem.

So far I’ve only “visited” Alaska once in my novels. In Stolen Secrets, my hero and heroine fly to Anchorage to try to find out who is stealing company secrets. Stolen Secrets is my story in the Sweet & Sassy Suspense collection.

Nancy Radke

A USA Today bestselling author, Nancy Radke grew up on a wheat and cattle ranch in SE Washinton State. She attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade. She learned to ride bareback at age 3 (Really! It was a common practice.) and when she got off or fell off, she would pull her horse’s nose to the ground, get on behind its ears, and the horse would lift its head so she could scoot down onto its back. Nancy spent most of her childhood exploring the Blue Mountain trails that bordered the ranchlands. She and a friend once took a trail that turned out to be a two day trip. They always rode with matches and pocket knives, so made camp and returned the next day. These long rides worried her parents, but provided plenty of time to make up stories. Her first novel was set in the Blues, and is entitled APPALOOSA BLUES. TURNAGAIN LOVE was the first one published. It rated a four star review from Affaire de Coeur. Scribes World said “Turnagain Love has some fascinating twists and turns, unexpected complications, and charming scenes.” It is light and humorous. Nancy currently has over 30 books written, both modern and western. All her stories are sweet and wholesome.
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Do you believe in the magic of Christmas?

They say Christmas is the most magical time of the year, that miracles can happen on the day when we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. I don’t particularly believe in miracles, but there’s still some magic of the winter holidays left in my heart.

I loved Christmas when I was a child, even though my parents were not wealthy and we never had a pile of gifts under the tree. But we were better off than a lot of other people, and I’m grateful for that now.

As I became an adult, the practicalities and problems that come with being a grown-up took away a little of my holiday enthusiasm each year. Stretching the budget, organizing things, breaking my back in the kitchen… The real tree turned into a plastic one to avoid the hassle and the mess, buying gifts turned into a stressful process, even going shopping is less fun every year because of the growing lines and interminable city traffic.

However, this year I believe in the magic of Christmas more than I ever had. Why? Because my friends in the Authors’ Billboard practically put the most amazing present under my tree: a USA Today bestseller badge!

A little over a year ago, the seed of what seemed like a crazy dream took root in my mind: to become a USA Today bestselling author. Not only that, but I realized that if I made it, I would be the first Romanian in history to achieve this prestigious title. Since that moment, I worked relentlessly toward this goal, and I’m still amazed by how many incredible people I met on the way, people who joined me in my journey and fought hard to help me achieve my dream.

Together, we did it with the anthology Love, Christmas 2!

My story in this box set is a romantic comedy called Boyfriend Wanted for Christmas.

THE DESPERATE YET HUMOROUS QUEST OF AN AMERICAN BRIDGET JONES TO FIND A BOYFRIEND IN THE SEVEN DAYS SHE HAS LEFT UNTIL CHRISTMAS

Thirty-three-year-old librarian Andrea Sachse doesn’t have the time or skills to date. No man can ever live up to her dreamy book boyfriends, so why bother? But with her parents looking more desperate each time she shows up solo for their annual Christmas party, this year she’s determined to find herself a boyfriend by any means—fair or foul.

There are so many people I owe this accomplishment to, and who deserve a special THANK YOU:  Carmen, Mimi, my editor Sue, Jackie, all my wonderful co-authors of Love, Christmas 2 and of course, all of you, our dear readers and friends, who bought this box set.

The most meaningful THANK YOU goes to my husband, for being there for me, for believing in me, for offering moral and financial support, emergency hugs, pep talks, for playing housekeeper, tear-wiper, even chef when I was too exhausted, and never complaining when I worked twelve hours a day until 2 or 3 am, for keeping my spirits up with his endless supply of optimism, and for putting up with me – which is no easy job.

Each and every one of you who read this post, this victory is yours, as much – or even more – than it’s mine.  ♥ ♥ ♥

Now do you believe in the magic of Christmas? Here’s something that will make your holidays even more fun:  We’re looking for Santas and Reindeer! Visit our December Contest and YOU could win gift cards, paperback books, and book bundles. Click here to play! 

Wishing you the best holidays ever!

Must love dogs in Alaska

My contribution to the set Love, Christmas – Movies You Love is The Polar Xpress. Unlike the movie The Polar Express, mine doesn’t have a train as the primary means of transportation. It has dogs. The sled dogs and their ‘lead dog’ (musher) in my story come to the rescue of a downed doctor who is trapped beneath a snowmachine in the mountains near Talkeetna, Alaska.
Why did I change from a train to dogs for my story? Who wants to cozy up to a steam or diesel-powered iron monster? Yes, there are trains in Alaska, but to get up close and personal in the Last Frontier’s back country in the winter, you either need a snowmachine or a dog sled…unless you’re a superwoman and can handle cross country skis like Kikkan Randall!
I saw my first Iditarod dog sled race in 1992. In those days, the roads were blocked off so the dog teams could cross them on their way north. Flaggers stopped traffic while the teams of a dozen or so furry friends and their two-legged pets who ran behind their sleds crossed Tudor Road on the way to Eagle River and beyond.
I remember crying that day at the beauty and irony, Alaska’s traditional mode of transportation being granted first rights to the road as the modern exhaust-spewing cars waited for the fragile yet determined teams to pass. I was close enough to see their foggy breath, their smiles that proved to me that running is what they loved to do.
The race doesn’t start from Anchorage now—it’s only a ceremonial one. The ‘real’ Iditarod begins further north where there’s more snow. Those with pull (like a mother-in-law) or for a donation to a charity (there are many to choose from), regular folks can ride in a dog sled, bundled in blankets and furs as the teams scurry over the hauled-in snow-covered roads, the downtown Anchorage streets lined with folks waving as their favorite dogs and mushers hurry past.
I can’t think of any other sport that takes so long to finish and relies on the stamina and tactical skills of the coordinator who is not only a player, but also the chef, vet, mechanic, tactician and who is the only one who is allowed to take care of any problem that arises. The musher can’t get help from anyone (save a veterinarian). If a person so much as gives her a bucket of water for the dogs, she’s disqualified. Her months and years of selecting and training her dogs, vet bills to keep them healthy, costs of transportation to Anchorage and from Nome and the entrance fee, can all go belly up with one well-meaning spectator.
The trail is about 1,049 miles long, depending on where they start and whether the northern or southern route is used. Essentially, it’s from Anchorage or nearby and terminates in Nome. Note: There are NO roads to Nome.
A fast-paced race might take eight days for the winner. The last place or ‘Red Lantern’ winner—as in the caboose carries the red lantern—might come trundling into Nome thirty-two days after starting. The average is more like ten or twelve days, but either way, it’s a long arduous trail with snow melted over canned heat for water, food mixed in five gallon containers, booties put on the dogs to protect their feet, straw laid out for their beds, and if the musher is lucky, four hours of sleep for him or her.
Do you think you’re as tough as these guys and gals—barely eighteen to senior citizens—who run this race? And I do mean run: mushers might take a break by stepping on the runners, but they trot behind the dogs most of the way.
Enjoy my story of the California doctor who is rescued by the nearly blind woman who started Second Chance Kennels and dreams of running the Iditarod or ‘When worlds collide, there are sure to be sparks!’ Part of Love, Christmas – Movies You Love.

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Dani Haviland

Dani Haviland, formerly of Connecticut, Arizona, and Alaska, recently semi-retired from selling tractor parts, tools, and roses. She moved to a more temperate climate in western Oregon to pursue her passions: writing, gardening, and photography.
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#Writing like a Beast #Romance #mgtab

dont wish for it work for it calligraphy

Photo by Bich Tran on Pexels.com

Have you ever been up against a deadline and the words won’t come? Yep, welcome to my world.

 

I have a holiday novella due by the end of September and it’s kicking my butt. Some people thrive under stress- I’m NOT one of them, lol.

I’ve been staring my climatic moment in the eye for weeks now and it just won’t cooperate. My vision for this story is a sort of cross between Beauty and the Beast (not the Disney® version but the 1987-1990 television series) with a sensitive, lonely ‘Beast’ and the beautiful kind-hearted woman who draws him out of his shell.

 

 

And the Hallmark® Christmas movie, The Mistletoe Inn featuring an aspiring writer 🙂 who signs up for a writing retreat after being dumped by her novelist boyfriend.

 

 

I took these two concepts and came up with my hero, Noah Kincaid, a scarred, lonely man (though he thinks he’s fine) in need of a new publicity partner after the recent death of his aunt, and the young and pretty single mother who takes the job.

Molly McCarty is used to tough challenges. Divorced and raising a five-year-old boy is no easy task, especially when she’s surrounded by her ex’s friends and family who all want to help get them back together again.

Desperate for some breathing room, Molly searches the web for opportunities and comes across the position of innkeeper in Christmas, Michigan. Her curiosity about the town named after a famous holiday leads her down a road filled with possibilities.

If only she can break through her partner’s tough shell.

 

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Here’s a short exclusive excerpt

Molly hurried to keep up as Leo wove in and out of the evergreens on display, the air tinted with the scent of pine and balsam. His childish laughter warmed her heart. He’d was unhappy leaving Alberta and his family behind. She couldn’t blame him, she’d been feeling down herself. Ever since her divorce from Jason, she’d been coasting, searching for… well, she wasn’t really sure. She just knew it wasn’t in Edmonton. That was her past, Christmas was her future.

Or, so she hoped.

“Leo, where are you?” she called, half laughing, half worried. The fairy lights strung in graceful arcs across the large gazebo-type structure were pretty, but they didn’t make finding a little boy in a dark jacket easy. Nearby couples glanced in her direction, then joined in the search. It wasn’t that big an area, but there were a lot of hiding places a mischievous little boy might discover.

“I’ve got him.” Noah strode out from between two thick conifers with Leo in his arms. He looked like an outdoor magazine model with his lived-in face and burly shoulders. Molly heard the appreciative sighs from the women around her and her heart stuttered. He really was a handsome man.

She thanked the searchers and shook her head as Noah reached her side. “He was there one minute and then he was gone. You seem to be making a habit out of coming to our rescue.”

He gazed at her with those dark eyes, his hair ruffled by the chilly breeze, and she had the strongest urge to reach up and kiss those uncompromising lips. He’d probably think she was crazy. She’d have to be to try, he hadn’t given any sign of a mutual attraction, and besides, they barely knew each other.

“He was just chasing after a puppy. I’m sure he’s sorry he worried you.” He nodded to Leo. “Better apologize to your mother, now.”

Leo looked at her, excitement sparkling in his eyes. “Mommy, you gotta come see. The puppy is so cute. He’s as white as snow and has blue eyes. Can I have him, Mommy. Please.” He kicked his booted feet, narrowly missing Noah’s groin. Noah winced and set him down.

Molly gave him an apologetic glance, then crouched beside her son. “Honey, you need to calm down. First, Noah is right. You should say sorry for disappearing the way you did. That’s a dangerous thing to do, and I don’t expect you to do it again. Capisce?”

Chastened, Leo scuffed his feet in the snow. “Capease.”

 

 

I’m close. I just have to rip out their hearts so I can hand them back again.

Easy, right?

You can pre-order the boxset below. I promise I’ll get it done!

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LOVE CHRISTMAS 2

25 Holiday Stories Movies You Love!

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Sprinkle a little Christmas magic into your life with 25 ALL-NEW, never before released romances. Each title – exclusive to this set – is inspired by a favorite holiday movie, spun into a fantastic love story by a NY Times, USA Today, and/or award-winning, bestselling author and delivered to you in this wonderful collection full of cheer for the coming season.

 

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Jacquie Biggar

JACQUIE BIGGAR  is a USA Today bestselling author of Romantic Suspense who loves to write about tough, alpha males and strong, contemporary women willing to show their men that true power comes from love.

Jacquie lives on Vancouver Island with her husband and loves to hear from readers all over the world!

Free reads, excerpts, author news, and contests can be found on her web site:

http://jacqbiggar.com