Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Moonshine Murder Takes a Field Trip

A local homeschool group studied Moonshine Murder using the free teaching guide accompanying the novel. Their end-of-unit reward and last day of school celebration was a Moonshine Murder Field Trip. I was blessed to be able to lead the group, and would like to share some of our adventures with you.

We had a packed agenda, starting at 9am in Silverton, Colorado. Each student was given an agenda with questions to answer throughout the day.

Our first stop of the day was the Old Hundred Gold Mine tour where we rode in ore carts deep into the same mine the main character, Lenora explored in the novel.

We then panned for gold before heading to the base of the mine--where the old mill was located--to enjoy a sack lunch.

This is a view of the Old Hundred boarding house located 2,000 feet above the mill and main mine entrance.

The next stop on the tour was the Grand Imperial Hotel located downtown Silverton. The photograph above is a view of a hidden tunnel leading from the Grand Imperial Hotel to Blaire Street, several blocks east. Men would walk through the tunnel to Blaire Street where brothels were legal. It was also used as a place to smuggle moonshine during Prohibition. We were very lucky to see this tunnel. They don't give tours and they don't advertise that it exists. We all smiled very nicely to receive this honor!

Here is a picture of the two homeschool gals, Kaleena and Alexx, wearing flapper dresses they made in home economics class (how cool is that)!

After our private tour to the hidden tunnel, the group made their way over the mountains back to Durango where we met at the swinging bridge. Yes, the same swinging bridge mentioned in the novel. Here the students answered their questions and received their awards.

Kaleena and Alexx each earned a signed copy of Sirens, another 1920's YA Fiction, written by Janet Fox. They were thrilled!

The last stop of the day was at the mural of Jack Dempsey boxing at the Gem Theatre. Alexx, pictured here, chose boxing as her research topic, and was extra excited to see this amazing painting.

The Moonshine Murder Field Trip was a wonderful experience. This group was amazing and what fantastic homeschool parents, Gayle Early and Melissa Hackett, for going above and beyond in educating these young students. I hope to lead many more trips in the future, so parents, teachers, and grandparents, plan your trip soon!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Interview with Award Winning Author, Leslee Breene

This month I'm featuring an amazing writer and a fellow Women Writing the West member, Leslee Breene. Leslee's recent release, Journey to Sand Castle, is a tale of love and redemption. Leslee will be giving away a free copy of her novel to one of my blog visitors today. Be sure to leave a comment to qualify! Please enjoy meeting another Colorado author!

First of all, thank you, Erin, for inviting me to be on your awesome blog!

Thank you, Leslee, for stopping by. What are you currently reading?

I just finished Jeannette Walls’, Half Broke Horses, a true life novel. Told in the first-person voice of Ms. Walls’ no-nonsense, resourceful, and compelling grandmother Lily Smith who survived Texas tornadoes, droughts, floods and the Great Depression. A great read!

What/who has influenced your writing?
The Rocky Mtn. Fiction Writers and Colorado Romance Writers were the first groups that provided conferences and critique. In earlier years, I was influenced by authors of short fiction/novellas such as Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway, western writers Jessamyn West and Annie Dillard. Later, romance authors LaVyrle Spencer, Laura Kinsale and Maggie Osborne mesmerized me.

What do you do beside write?

I have a passion for western music and support events like the annual Colorado Cowboy Poetry Gathering (some poetry, lots of music). The Arvada Old Town Pickin’ Parlor hosts a monthly concert with a continuous list of outstanding western, blue grass and dixieland singers and musicians that I find irresistible.

Do places you visit pop up in your writing? How so?

During leisure time away from the computer, I enjoy scouting for book settings with my husband in the Colorado Rockies. Some memorable research sites are Leadville, Georgetown, the Colorado Sand Dunes, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming. And, yes, several of these historical settings have led to storylines, characters and published novels.

Here is a little bit about Leslee and her new release.

Leslee Breene, award-winning author of novel and short fiction, takes pride in being a Denver native. She lives beneath the Colorado Rockies with her husband and, hopefully soon, a beloved rescue canine.

Her newest release, JOURNEY TO SAND CASTLE (June 2013), is a contemporary inspirational romance set in the San Luis Valley next to the Sangre de Cristo mountains. "Leslee Breene confronts conflict, resistance, and a well-written story of love and redemption." ~ Heidi M.Thomas, WILLA Literary Award.

To read the first chapters go to:

Journey to Sand Castle Synopsis:
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Tess Cameron, a divorced teacher, becomes the unwitting guardian of a bi-racial orphan. She is compelled to take the little girl to the Colorado San Luis Valley to meet her grandfather. Estranged from the child’s missing mother, he is unaware of the granddaughter’s existence and doesn’t want her.
Grant Wilder, a widowed outfitter, offers Tess temporary employment on his ranch. This gives Tess a reason to stay in the area and continue with her reuniting efforts. But can Tess’s wandering spirit find the faith to accept permanent responsibility of the child? Can she open her heart to love again in this land of amazing beauty and haunting secrets?

Other works by Leslee:

STARLIGHT RESCUE, (2011- Treble Heart Books) a western romance, is available in soft cover through, and is set beneath the Wyoming Big Horn Mountains on an animal rescue ranch. It received an RWA PASIC Book of Your Heart Award in the contemporary, single-title category.

HEARTS ON THE WIND (2008 - Five Star), a Denver bestselling historical romance received an “A” review in the Rocky Mountain News. LEADVILLE LADY (2006 - Five Star) received the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers PEN Award. The RWA Valley Forge Chapter awarded second place to her debut novel, FOXFIRE .

Ms. Breene’s short fiction has been published in various magazines, won national awards, and finaled in the 2009, 2011 and 2012 Women Writing the West LAURA (Ingalls Wilder) competitions.

Ms. Breene attended the University of Denver, received a Denver Fashion Group Scholarship, and graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City. For several years, she worked as a newspaper fashion illustrator in San Francisco.

She is an active member of RWA, Colorado Romance Writers, and Women Writing the West and is available for Denver/suburban area library and group speaking engagements. She welcomes visitors at her website: and