50 State Tour

Right Here In Nebraska

The blog post title is a reference to one of my favorite little songs. Check it out when you get to the bottom of the page and learn a bunch about Nebraska.

Today’s special treat is an interview with one of my favorite writer buddies, Sabrina Zbasnik, aka Ellen Mint!

Thanks for being on the blog today, Sabrina! We’ve been friends online for awhile and I’ve enjoyed following your creative career. I have one of your paintings and a lot of your books. You’ve done a lot of SFF and recently started doing romance under the name Ellen Mint. What do you think ties all of your creative endeavors together? What is your oeuvre?
The question of “Can I do this?” seems to be my biggest driving factor. I just started making themed yule logs because I wondered if I could. There wasn’t much thought process put into how useful it would be for my brand, I merely wanted to try. My first NaNo I started three days into the month wondering if I could actually write a single novel. Now I’ve done at least 9 and counting in various states.About the only thing that’s usually in common across my various projects is a dry wit, a tendency to upend tropes, and stabbings. So many stabbings. 

Everyone probably knows by now, but in case they don’t – you are the one who started this crazy food challenge part of the blog tour! It’s turned out to be a great way to learn regional dishes so I have to thank you for that. Still think the whole chili and cinnamon roll thing is a little crazy, but also pretty yummy. Speaking of cinnamon rolls, you’ve written Cinnamon Roll heroes since before they were cool. What makes a good hero in your opinion?
A hero who genuinely cares about someone beyond himself, who isn’t manipulative emotionally, and who doesn’t treat those around him awfully to build himself up. What I’ll never understand if why the Cinnamon Roll heroes aren’t more popular.

You’re a big gamer. What is your favorite game right now and what are you looking forward to?
At the moment I’ve embroiled myself in the God of War remake which I really enjoy as it’s got both Christopher Judge (Teal’c) and real character and plot! Funny enough, the original God of War game was on my wedding registry for me, which was more of a parody of hyper-masculine action games. As the series kept going it became that which it parodied. Now it’s reinvented itself as a response to toxic masculinity which it’d originally poked fun at without challenging. It’s interesting.As for the most exciting on the horizon, Dragon Age 4. All we know is that it exists, but the Dread Wolf is going down!

Since we’re both tomboys it cracks me up a little that we have a Holiday Pampering promo going on right now (link for readers to enter). My favorite self-care is to do yoga and meditation. I also have a thing for fruity soaps and lotions. What kind of pampering do you like?
Nail polish. So many pretty colors you can layer, so many glittery sparkles, some with clovers and snowflakes and other fun shapes. I own way too many bottles, though I’m more of a wintery color person. There’s at least ten varying shades of blue and not a single pink in my collection. 
I want all the colors in the world!

Last but not least, what is something you think I absolutely can’t miss if I make it out to Nebraska?
Runza. It’s something only true Nebraskans know about, it’s something only a real Nebraskan would show someone they trust, and if you call it a hot pocket we will put you in the cornfield.

Thanks to Sabrina for coming by today! You can find her at:

What shouldn’t I miss in Nebraska? To my Nebraskans, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!

50 State Tour

Montana, I’ll Be Your Huckleberry

Growing up I had a THING for western horses, and Montana was definitely on my list of states that sounded perfect. There is a tiny part of me that still wants to saddle up and ride out. But the truth is that I’m far more of a dude (in the rancher sense) than a rancher. We all have to face facts at some point. (For those who don’t know, dude in this case means fashionable townie type – i.e., NOT a real rancher type.)

But part of my fantasy is kept alive because I have in-laws who are LIVING THE LIFE with a ranch out there. And one of my favorite things is that our aunt sends us huckleberry EVERYTHING. I will admit to being a little addicted to huckleberry tea. Yum.

What shouldn’t I miss in Montana? To my Montanans, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!

50 State Tour

Show Me, Missouri

Don’t tell Kansas, but I spent most of my Kansas City time hanging out with you. No matter what else happens we will always have barbecue and 9/11 between us. Yep, I was in an underground training facility in Kansas City, MO on that fateful day.

That also means I saw quite a bit of you as I drove home. All the airports being closed and whatnot. Some of the rock formations near the highway reminded me of Tennessee, which surprised me a bit. And I did get to see the Gateway Arch from a distance, which was really cool.

What shouldn’t I miss in Missouri? To my Missourians, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!

50 State Tour

Mississippi Girl

When people ask me where I’m from there’s always a pause. I’m *from* Virginia. But I *grew up* in Mississippi. I usually chuckle and say “I spent my formative years on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi.” If they want to know what that means I say the ages of seven to seventeen were mostly spent there. You know, the years when everything about being a kid happens.

Mississippi is where I was on the swim team. Marched in a parade as a baton twirler (believe it or not). Took tap lessons. Wrote my first stories. Hung out in a university library as a tween. I could do 50 story posts on Mississippi alone. So many stories, so little time.

Not to be too maudlin, but Mississippi is just as bad as you think it is. And so, so much more amazing than you can imagine.

What shouldn’t I miss in Mississippi that I might have? To my Mississippians, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!

50 State Tour

You Betcha, Minnesota!

The first thing that comes to mind is Prince. Sorry, y’all, BUT I LOVE PRINCE. And Prince loved Minnesota. Minneapolis specifically. So he’s given me a good impression of the area is what I’m saying. Consider him your ambassador.

Otherwise when I think of Minnesota I just think COLD. So you can imagine my surprise that one of my buddies from there is a huge water skiing nut. So you have a few minutes of summer, I’m thinking.

You also have the Mall of America which, as an 80s girl, means YOU ARE AWESOME IN MY BOOK. Biggest mall in America? I’m suspicious that’s a place I could still get a Swatch.

In case you didn’t know, that line from Frozen’s “Let It Go” – the cold never bothered me anyway – came from Prince. He actually just said it to the songwriters offhand because IT WAS COLD, THEY WERE IN MINNESOTA and they were like THAT WOULD BE PERFECT.

What shouldn’t I miss in Minnesota? To my Minnesotans, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!

50 State Tour

Hey Michigan

Michigan. MICHIGAN. You are the state that confuses me because I feel like we met somewhere, but we haven’t, not yet. Maybe it was in a different life? I don’t know. But somewhere in my heart there is already knowledge of Detroit and the U.P. and other things that don’t make sense when I haven’t been near you. On the other hand, I just learned that your nickname is Mittens. I did not know that. Is that even true? Someone may be writing lies about you on the internet.

Maybe sometime I can come by and we can enjoy the cold and whatnot. I’ve been promised some Superman ice cream. I want to check out Kalamazoo since some family used to live there. Let’s get together, Michigan.

What shouldn’t I miss in Michigan? To my Michiganders, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!

50 State Tour

Wicked Massachusetts

I remember the first time I saw a highway sign to Boston. That’s when I knew I’d REALLY made it north. It took another couple of years to actually GET to Massachusetts, though. We went to Boston and stayed at a charming downtown hotel. And I ate at a REAL DAMN BOSTON IRISH PUB because of course I did.

Probably the thing I really know about Massachusetts is that I need to go back and see a lot more of you. You have Salem (this appeals to my inner Scorpio), a ton of beautiful nature (I love nature), and although we drove by it, I’ve never even made it inside Cheers (although a friend worked there in college).

What shouldn’t I miss in Massachusetts? To my Bay Staters, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!

50 State Tour

Joust On, Maryland

Clearly I’m impressed that your state sport is jousting. That’s awesome! Unfortunately I was too young to know or enjoy that when I lived there. Yep, back in the 70s I lived in one of your haunted farmhouses.

Since then we’ve seen each other quite a few times. You have the closest Medieval Times. You have the Waterfront. You’re between me and a lot of places I go…

What shouldn’t I miss in Maryland? To my Marylanders, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!

50 State Tour


At first I thought it was going to be hard to write about you, Maine. All that came to mind was Stephen King, lobsters, and cold, moody cliffs. You’re kind of remote, especially to a girl who didn’t make it north of the Mason-Dixon line until she was 30.

The only other thing that came to mind was one of my friends went to college up there and called himself ‘the blackest man in Maine’ because he hosted the school radio station rap show. No, reader, he is not black.

Then — THEN — I found out you are home to the International Cryptozoology Museum. Oh, Maine, why didn’t you tell me this before? I would totally visit you for this museum alone.

What else shouldn’t I miss in Maine? To my Maine people, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!

50 State Tour

Long Time No See, Colorado!

Another state I’ve visited! I remember your prairie dogs around Denver. Driving out from the airport I commented, “How cute!” My friend who had been there nearly a year rolled her eyes, “Not if you live here.”

We had a great time on that trip. My friend Sue (yep, another Sue) kept me hydrated for the altitude and we went to All The Places. Boulder, Golden (hello Coors plant), and Red Rocks. I made her take me to Sheplers, too. Man, I loved those Sheplers catalogs as a kid.

My family has a history with Colorado. The family on my dad’s side lived there 1880-1920. My great-great-grandfather owned a saloon… until he lost it in a card game. I didn’t know any of that by the time I visited, so it is clearly time to go back and check out where we lived.

What shouldn’t I miss in Colorado? To my Coloradans, drop a comment with a tour or food suggestion for a chance to win a book!