Chasing Moonlight giveaway: win a free copy!

Chasing Moonlight: Doc Graham giveawayHappy opening day! We’ve got good news for all you baseball fans: we’re giving away TWO copies of Chasing Moonlight: The True Story of Field of Dreams’ Doc Graham, a biography of Moonlight Graham by Brett Friedlander and Robert Reising.

Just released in paperback, Chasing Moonlight proves that truth is more interesting than fiction. The real-life Moonlight Graham didn’t play just a half-inning for John McGraw’s New York Giants, as depicted in Field of Dreams. Neither did he retire from baseball after his lone major league appearance. Rather, he became a fan favorite during a noteworthy professional career, all the while juggling baseball with medical residencies.

Graham’s life apart from baseball was just as eventful. He was a physician who sat with patients through epidemics and wrote a blood pressure study that was required reading at medical schools worldwide. But he was also a failed inventor and small-town character who built perpetual-motion machines and filled his home with tennis balls and empty oatmeal boxes.

Want a chance to win a copy of this book? Go to our Facebook page and “like” the cover image of Chasing Moonlight. We’ll choose two lucky winners from that image next Thursday, April 7. Good luck!

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Angela’s animal adventure at Hawksdene House

Over the next few months, the Blair staff will be going on their own animal adventures throughout the state, armed with Jennifer Bean Bower’s Animal Adventures in North Carolina. First up: Angela, our VP of sales and marketing, takes us to Hawkesdene House in Andrews, N.C., a mountain retreat where visitors can take a llama trek to a mountain top, discover to a” hidden” waterfall, or pan for gold without leaving the estate.

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As soon as I read the first entry in Jennifer Bean Bower’s Animal Adventures in North Carolina, I knew I was going to love the book. Hawkesdene House, described as “a luxurious retreat that encompasses twenty-six acres of picturesque beauty in a scenic mountain valley at the town of Andrews,” was the first to offer llama treks in western North Carolina. After I discovered that this “luxurious retreat” was surprisingly affordable, especially in the off-season, I invited two other couples to join me and my husband, Jeff, at a three-bedroom Robinsnest Cabin for the last weekend in February—and prepared ourselves for a winter mountain retreat replete with llamas!

Although I’d seen pictures of Hawkesdene’s cabins online, I was not prepared for the combination of rugged mountain lodge and luxurious comfort that awaited us. Our cabin featured an enormous screened-in porch with tons of outdoor seating and an eight-person fire pit with complimentary firewood. Did I mention the gorgeous view?

Hawkesdene Animal Adventures in North Carolina

Or that Hawkesdene’s grounds border the Nantahala National Forest with access to a number of hiking trails? Oh, and don’t forget the llamas!

Hawkesdene Animal Adventures in North Carolina

Tempted never to leave the comfort of the cabin, we nevertheless headed out to meet the llamas—Hawke, Dene, Crazy Horse, and Scooter—who are guarded day and night by a loyal Great Pyrenees named Claude. Hawkesdene offers llama treks to the summit of Hawksnest Mountain from April to October, where they then serve guests and visitors a three-course meal at the Hawkesdene Pavilion. Since we visited in February, we hiked to Hawksnest sans llamas. We also enjoyed a two-mile round-trip hike into Nantahala National Forest to a splendid “hidden” waterfall.

Hawkesdene Animal Adventures in North Carolina

We went to the see the llamas, but Claude, the Great Pyrenees, stole the show!

Our group visited Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest off the Cherohala Skyway, where we hiked through one of the nation’s last remaining old-growth forests. Many of the trees are over 400 years old, measuring twenty feet in circumference and reaching 100 feet tall (offering opportunities for fabulous photographs). Our winter hike was especially impressive as the lack of foliage revealed the bare bones of the forest, and a recent ice storm caused many of the dead or dying trees to snap, splinter, and fall in fantastic and frightening ways. We felt we had walked into a dystopian novel featuring a dead forest. Warnings to be alert and not to linger under dead or dying trees added to the sense of danger—we even saw shards of splintered wood jabbing out of the trunks of surviving trees, so much was the force of the wind, storm, or breakage.

Hawkesdene Animal Adventures in North Carolina

For more recreational activities around Hawkesdene House, check out Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads by Carolyn Sakowski (the third edition will be published this October), North Carolina Waterfalls by Kevin Adams, Hiking North Carolina’s Lookout Towers by Peter Barr, and Fishing North Carolina by Mike Marsh. Animal Adventures in North Carolina is available at your local bookstores and through online booksellers, and Jennifer Bean Bower has events scheduled at bookstores across the state (visit our events page for an event near you). In the meantime, check out this top-ten list of some of the lesser-known animal adventures in North Carolina. Happy travels!

take a llama trek to a mountain top,

Here I am with my husband, Jeff, and our Akita, Uma.

Meet Toby Bost, coeditor of The Successful Gardener Guide TONIGHT

Successful Gardener Guide by Leah Chester-Davis and Toby Bost

Toby Bost, coeditor of The Successful Gardener Guide: North Carolina with Leah Chester-Davis, is signing books tonight at the Single Brothers Workshop at Old Salem. Toby will share a slideshow presentation and talk about his book, then answer your toughest gardening questions. The event will end with a raffle drawing–one lucky attendant will win a garden-themed gift basket. So what do you need to know to get there?

When: Thursday, March 24 at 5 p.m.
Where: Old Salem Museums & Gardens’ Single Brothers Workshop (go here for directions)

(And after Toby’s booksigning, head over to Greensboro’s Barnes and Noble, located at 3102 Northline Avenue, to meet Jennifer Bean Bower, who will be signing her book Animal Adventures in North Carolina. She’ll also bring two Geoffroy’s cats from the Conservators Center–you can’t miss this!)

Ten N.C. animal adventures you didn’t know

Did you catch Jennifer Bean Bower on WFMY yesterday morning? She joined the morning show to discuss a few of the lesser-known animal attractions in North Carolina, and we’ve got a few more to highlight for you today. You can find more about these sites (and 60 others) in Animal Adventures in North Carolina. The book is available at your local bookstore, through online booksellers, and at our website.

all-a-flutter Butterfly Farm

Monarch butterflies at all-a-flutter Butterfly Farm.

Llamacaddy: Head out to the green with a llama in tow, carrying your golf clubs. Children can feed and pet the llamas, and you can even trek out to one of the nearby waterfalls with a llama carrying your picnic lunch. (Brevard, N.C.)

all-a-flutter Butterfly Farm: Surround yourself with free-flying butterflies in the site’s flighthouse. Buy a lifecycle kit and watch your own caterpillars turn into butterflies. (High Point, N.C.)
Lazy 5 Ranch: Go on safari without a passport. This 3.5-mile wagon-ride adventure features 750 animals from six continents. You can feed the park’s wildebeests, water buffalo, yaks, and other animals that follow the wagon. (Mooresville, N.C.)
Thompson’s Prawn Farm: This is one cookout you can’t miss. Watch Joe Thompson and his team harvest giant Malaysian freshwater prawns, then enjoy the fruits of their labor, hot off the grill. (Cedar Grove, N.C.)
Sylvan Heights Waterfowl Park: See more than 1,500 birds from around the world, including many endangered species, and learn how the park is actively ensuring the survival of these birds. (Scotland Neck, N.C.)

Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue

Franklin poses for a photo at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue.

Horse Protection Society of North Carolina: Here, you can adopt a rescued horse, or volunteer to care for those recovering at the facility. (China Grove, N.C.)


Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center
: Watch as Jean Beasley and her team of volunteers help wild turtles recover from illness and injury. Don’t worry; if you get attached to one, you can follow its progress on the center’s website. (Topsail Beach, N.C.)

Carolina Raptor Center: Observe raptors—or birds of prey—as you walk along a self-guided trail. On certain days, you can watch a vulture feeding or attend “PhotoWild”— a four-hour photoshoot with resident raptors. (Huntersville, N.C.)

Full Moon Farms' Ambassadog wolfdog

River, the "ambassadog" at Full Moon Farms. "Like" her on Facebook!

Natural Science Center of Greensboro: Discover science, technology, and animals at one place, in one day. It is the only facility in North Carolina to exhibit the South American maned wolf. While you can’t pet the maned wolves, animals at the Friendly Farm are happy to be petted and admired. (Greensboro, N.C.)

Full Moon Farm Wolfdog Rescue & Sanctuary: Attend a monthly “Howl-In,” where you’ll meet wolfdogs that can’t be placed in permanent homes. After the tour, stay for a potluck meal. (Black Mountain, N.C.)

Animal Adventures in the Triad: Jennifer Bean Bower’s upcoming booksignings

A perfect guidebook for families or anyone who just loves animals, Animal Adventures in North Carolina shares 70 animal attractions that Jennifer Bean Bower personally discovered throughout her travels of the entire state. Each entry provides contact information, driving directions, possible fees, hours of operation, and useful travel tips, accompanied by photographs and detailed descriptions of the attraction’s offerings.

As a Winston-Salem resident, Jennifer Bower will kick off her statewide book tour with signings in the Triad, just in time to plan some exciting excursions for the kids before spring break. Don’t miss either Triad event–some special guests will join Jennifer at each signing:

Tuesday, March 22, at 7 p.m.
Barnes & Noble
1925 Hampton Inn Court. 
Winston-Salem, NC
SciWorks will bring a live salamander and other animal-related goodies.

Thursday, March 24, at 7 p.m. 
Barnes & Noble 
3102 Northline Ave
Greensboro, NC
Conservators’ Center will bring two irresistibly cute Geoffroy’s cats (miniature leopards that max out at about 10 pounds).
Photo by Kim Pyne.

 You can view Jennifer’s full tour itinerary here.

If you can’t make it to the Greensboro signing, you can see a Geoffroy’s cat (and many others from the Conservators’ Center) in action, playing an iPad “game for cats”. Enjoy!

Five Blair titles are Book of the Year finalists

ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Finalists

We’re so pleased to announce that five of our titles have been selected as finalists for ForeWord Reviews’ 2010 Book of the Year Awards:

ForeWord Reviews’ Book of the Year Awards program was established to help publishers shine an additional spotlight on their best titles and bring increased attention to librarians and booksellers of the literary and graphic achievements of independent publishers and their authors. Award winners are chosen from real librarians and booksellers, who are on the front lines everyday working with patrons and customers.

The finalists were selected from 1400 entries in 56 categories. These books are examples of independent publishing at its finest.

Look for the winners to be announced in June. Congratulations to our authors for their stellar work!



Remember the Alamo…and Davy Crockett

Yesterday marked the 175th anniversay of the fall of the Alamo. If you didn’t already know, the battle  was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near present-day San Antonio, Texas. All but two of the American-frontier defenders were killed–including Davy Crockett–and the mission fell.

Davy CrockettFor those who want to learn more about that “king of the wild frontier,” check out In the Footsteps of Davy Crockett. The book, by Randell Jones, shares the fascinating life of America’s favorite frontier hero by taking you to 49 sites in 10 states plus the District of Columbia where Crockett’s adventures are commemorated. He ran away from home, fought renegade Indians, hunted bears, campaigned for office, served in Congress, and died a hero in Texas. This book reveals a man who was even more interesting—and certainly more complex—than the myth surrounding him. This book tells his story at the very places where he lived and breathed.

In Baltimore, you can visit the waterfront where the young Crockett tried to sail for England as a cabin boy.

Around Reelfoot Lake, you can see the country where he killed 105 bears in one season.

In Memphis, you’ll see where he arrived in town stark naked following a barge wreck on the Mississippi.

Around east-central Alabama, you can find the markers describing a massacre of Indians by Crockett and soldiers.

In Philadelphia, you’ll see where he railed against President Andrew Jackson while promoting the sale of his own autobiography.

Throughout east Texas, you’ll visit the places along his route to the Alamo.

Crockett was born poor, had little education, and was labeled a buffoon by some. Yet he is revered today as a unique hero of the American frontier. There’s more to learn at Randell Jones’s website. Enjoy!