So pleased to report, the winner of the signed copy of Midnight Thirsts 2 is Denise Zaky. Denise, Tara will be emailing you shortly to get your addy 🙂
I am thrilled to welcome Tara Fox Hall as this week’s Guest Blogger. As well as sharing her experiences with us of Letchworth State Park, and her wish to make as many people aware of its existence as possible, Tara has also kindly offered to donate a free Signed print copy of Midnight Thirsts II to one commenter chosen at random.
I first went to Letchworth State Park for my honeymoon close to ten years ago. I had never been there before that, never even heard of the park that is called the “Grand Canyon of the East.” The recommendation came from my stepfather, who had been there years before on a romantic trip with my mother. Lavish descriptions of many miles of trails, waterfalls, and succulent food at the restaurant inside the park were enough that I booked a heated house—Caroline’s Cottage—after only a cursory inspection via website.
My honeymoon in early October consisted of days of rain, and even some snowflakes. There wasn’t much chance to enjoy the park, or walk the trails, though we enjoyed the restaurant in the Glen Iris Inn immensely. So the next year we came back in mid-September, for another try. This latter trip was filled with glorious weather, and we got to explore the park, and try some activities, like horseback riding, and whitewater rafting in the gorge. In the sunlight, the trails led us to gorgeous views of the three separate waterfalls in the park, and also miles of beautiful ornate stonework, including bridges, tables, walls, culverts, and stairs. When we left, I was already thinking of how I wanted to come back again. When the chance came a few years later in the form of a girl’s getaway with my mom, I grabbed it with both hands.
As I walked the trails with her, talking, I noticed something. Stones were missing from the top of stonework walls in places. Flooding in recent years had washed away areas at the base of stairs, making deep holes. In one section, part of the trail had fallen into the deep gorge, and was blocked off with orange fencing. The passage of time was taking its toll on the park. The stonework and trails had been built by thousands of men from the Civilian Conservation Corps back in the 1930s, close to eighty years ago. With so many miles to upkeep (Letchworth Park is 17 miles long, consisting of 14,342 acres) and the recent recession, the park was in dire need of support and funding to ensure that its majesty survived. We needed a millionaire to step in, and save the day, but that likely wasn’t going to happen. Letchworth needed not one supporter, but many. If enough people loved Letchworth the way I did, they would support the park. The easiest way to get people to love the park was to entice them to visit. People had to know the park existed for that to happen. I had lived in New York my whole life, and never known of it. What could be done?
I would do something.
Maybe I didn’t have the millions needed, but I did have the talent for storytelling. What better way to draw attention to a place I loved than to use Letchworth State Park’s spectacular settings for stories? If I could entice people to visit, that was half the battle. I just needed a story so compelling that it would move people who had never visited the park to want to see the places mentioned for themselves.
I went back that afternoon and began the outline for the vampire romance Night Music. It will be the first of several stories set in Letchworth State Park.
A little about Letchworth State Park:
The cliffs (550 ft high in places) that line the gorge in Letchworth State Park were created by Genesee River, one of few rivers to flow north. Letchworth is the 5th largest of New York State’s parks, and has 3 major waterfalls (the highest being Middle Falls at 107 ft.) and many minor waterfalls throughout the park.
William Pryor Letchworth was a businessman and philanthropist who left his home (now the Glen Iris Inn) and his 1,000-acre estate to the people of NY to be preserved as a park for all to enjoy when he passed away Dec. 1, 1910.
Letchworth State Park offers a wealth of activities for everyone: hiking on the many trails throughout the park, biking, swimming at the north end pool, horseback riding, white water rafting (Adventure Calls Outfitters), hot air ballooning (Balloons Over Letchworth), picnicking throughout the park, fishing at the Trout Pond, hunting in late fall, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing/sledding at Trailside Lodge, snowmobiling, camping in cabins or in a 270 site campground and also dining at the Glen Iris and lodging. In summer, there is a Learn About Letchworth series, and also various events in the park including concerts, interpretive programs throughout the year, and a museum featuring artifacts, including a mastodon skull.
Night Music by Tara Fox Hall, from Midnight Thirsts II:
Grieving Krys Markman has come to lose herself in family memories at Letchworth State Park, and try to figure out her next step. Yet the unearthly beautiful music she hears each night stirs her soul to romance. Can its creator, the attractive vampire David Helm, heal her broken heart?
Krys walked slowly toward the low stone wall, the roaring of the falls capturing all her attention as she rested her hands on the cold rock slabs. The view was as magnificent as ever; the towering waterfall spanning the wide river, the trails beside it framed with stone and concrete walls more than fifty feet below. The early spring afternoon felt more like late summer, the air balmy and comfortable, even in her T-shirt and jeans.
Letchworth State Park. The place was exactly the same, but everything was different. Her parents were gone, and now her brother was, too. They’d come here as a foursome every summer and stayed for a week, renting a rough built cabin. It had been bare bones, lacking heat, water, or even a private outhouse. But it had always been a good time to her and Bill: fishing, hiking, playing games, and encountering the wildlife. Each summer, her parents always treated Krys and her brother to one special adventure. For Krys, that had been the whitewater rafting outfit that operated below the lower falls. For her brother, Bill, that had been either horseback riding or a ride over the river via hot air balloon.
They’d had such good times here…
Pretending to brush back her hair, Krys brushed away a tear, conscious of the many tourists still snapping pictures of the falls. Why had she come here? What had she hoped to find?
“Excuse me,” an old woman said, tapping her elbow. “But we’d like to get a picture together. Would you take one of us, please?”
Krys nodded, then snapped a few pictures as the couple posed in front of the falls. Handing back the camera, she hurried inside the Glen Iris Inn, calling herself an idiot. Ringing the bell, she waited.
A desk clerk came in quickly. “Can I help you?”
“Krys Markman,” she said. “I’m checking in. I’m staying in Caroline’s Cottage.”
“Please fill this out.” The woman handed her a form. “And I need a credit card to make an imprint.”
Krys handed over her credit card, then took it back a few minutes later, handing in the filled out form.
“Staying with us all week?”
And probably going to rue it, Krys thought miserably. “Yes.”
“Have you stayed with us before?”
“Yes,” Krys said quickly. “I’ll just need one key.”
The woman began reciting the checkout times and other rules, all of which Krys knew by heart. She fidgeted, then grabbed the key, not replying to the startled clerk as she ran outside. A couple jumped back as she nearly banged in to them.
“Hey!” the man said, throwing an arm in front of his wife to shield her. “Watch where you’re going—”
“Sorry,” Krys stammered, flushing.
The couple gave her another dirty look, then walked upstairs hand in hand. Krys sat down in an empty wrought iron chair, rubbing her eyes.
Enough already. This was her vacation, a long break to recoup before embarking on a new chapter in her life. Relaxing was the first step. Walking was out; the lamps scattered around the Glen Iris Innwere coming on. So it would have to be alcohol instead.
* * * *
Krys sipped her wine flight, while looking around at her setting, marveling that so much was still the same, and still so beautiful. She’d been in these same surroundings so many times, yet they were still magical to her, even as their familiarity soothed her…
“Will you want dinner?” her waiter asked delicately. “Or would you like to try one of the wines you sampled?”
Where had the time gone? Krys had finished all three samples already. While another flight and more reminiscing sounded wonderful, it was better not to tempt fate, not when she had a hell of a climb in the dark to reach her rented house. “Yes.” She chose an entrée at random from the menu, then one of the wines she’d sampled.
As the waiter walked away, Krys noticed a tall man sitting by himself off in the corner. He was writing something by the light of the table candle. What was compelling was he was doing it in longhand in a small paper book instead of via electronic device. The act was so uncommon that she stared at him. Within a few seconds, the man raised his eyes and caught her staring, his dark eyes meeting hers. Krys immediately looked down, flushing. By the time she gathered enough courage to look up again, the man was gone, his seat empty.
The waiter came back, her wine on a tray. “We’re all out of the salmon, Ma’am,” he said apologetically. “Would you like to choose something else?”
The only craving Krys had was to find out who that handsome man had been. Food could wait. “There was a man sitting out here. Do you know who he was?”
The waiter shifted uneasily. “We’re not allowed to give out information on guests, Ma’am. Sorry.”
“So he is staying here?” Krys said hopefully. “Will he be here a few more days?”
The waited leaned down slightly, his expression secretive. “Aren’t you staying for a few days in Caroline’s Cottage?”
“Yes,” she answered conspiratorially.
“They I’d advise you to get to know your neighbor during your stay,” the waiter said meaningfully.
Krys looked at him in puzzlement. “What?”
The waiter straightened, then set down her glass of wine. “Will you have another entrée, Ma’am?”
Comprehension dawned. “No,” Krys said, hastily grabbing her purse. “Put my drinks on my bill.”
* * * *
Tara Fox Hall’s writing credits include nonfiction, horror, suspense, action-adventure, erotica, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal action-adventure Lash series and the vampire romantic suspense Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice.
Buy Link for Midnight Thirsts II (active Sunday) http://www.melange-books.com/authors/anthologies/midnightthirsts2.html
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For info on my other recently published books Lash and Promise Me, click here: http://www.amazon.com/Lash-ebook/dp/B007UJ6KGC and here http://www.amazon.com/Promise-Me-ebook/dp/B0086G4GDC
Links for Letchworth State Park:
Glen Iris Inn: http://www.glenirisinn.com/
Caroline’s Cottage: http://www.glenirisinn.com/accommodations.cfm?dsp=Carolines_Cottage
Friends of Letchworth State Park: www.friendsofletchworth.com