Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The 2017 #Amtrak Autumn Express Hudson River Loop experience

Jersey City skyline
I've been a railfan since I was a kid. This past Friday I traveled down to NYC with my husband for the 2017 Amtrak Autumn Excursion--Hudson River Loop--which would be departing from Penn Station on Saturday, October 14. This is the fifth year Amtrak has offered this special trip (each year the location changes) and it's my first time taking it. Since the train was scheduled to leave at 8 a.m., we left our hotel (which was across the street) and arrived inside NYP around 7: 15 a.m. A long line already formed inside the station, as passengers awaited a track number on the board. There were people of all ages, families, couples, individuals, and all seemed to share one thing: a love of trains.

Finally, around 7:30, the line began moving and we were seated by 7:40. I spoke to an Amtrak volunteer and he told me that both weekend trips were sold out. For our ride there were fifteen cars, three engines, and two cafe cars. We exited Penn Station a little after eight and headed west along the Northeast Corridor to Newark to pick up some passengers. Afterwards, we reversed directions and headed east on the Conrail line. We went into the Bergen Tunnel and turned north on the (former) Erie-Lackawanna Railroad. After traveling over forty miles, the train switched onto the CSX River Subdivision and we soon entered New York State.

Bear Mountain Bridge
Now let me give you some background on me. I've been a resident of the Hudson Valley for over twenty-three years and have traveled the Metro North Hudson Line numerous times. We took that line down to Grand Central on Friday which felt like an opening act to Saturday's event. As a teen growing up in NYC, I spent many hours hanging out, sometimes fishing, other times talking or whatever at the Riverdale and Spuyten Duyvil stations. I lived right alongside the Peekskill station, spending much of my free time at its riverfront park when I wasn't commuting down to my job in the Village. I've also visited many of the river town parks. Any time I have been beside the banks of the Hudson, I've looked out across the river and wondered about those tracks over there. What did the views from there look like? What visually stunning treasures did they hold? For decades I'd watch freight cars pass over them and think, "Wouldn't it be great to ride them some day?"

One of the many gorgeous views
Well, my wish came true this past weekend when I was able to experience riding those tracks firsthand. This year's Autumn Express excursion held an extra special treat for this train buff because we traveled on those CSX-owned rails all along the Hudson, the ride gifting us fortunate passengers such unique views from our Amcan seats. Those memories will be cherished for the rest of my life. Hearing from our announcer, Danny, that passenger trains had not been on those tracks since 1959, only cemented my feelings--this indeed was a grand occasion and a true case of rare mileage.

Alfred H. Smith Memorial Bridge
There was so much natural beauty of the lower and Mid-Hudson Valley surrounding us. The trip afforded us a different perspective of such breathtaking views of the area's various mountains and bridges. From the Bear Mountain Bridge, Newburgh-Beacon Bridge, Mid-Hudson Bridge, past the amazing Walkway Over the Hudson (Poughkeepsie Bridge), Alfred H. Smith Memorial Bridge, Rip Van Winkle Bridge and Kingston-Rhinecliff Bridge, we saw them all. The views were fantastic! The skies had been heavily overcast when we first began our travels, but as we moved from town to town, the clouds soon cleared and the sun highlighted our trek. We couldn't ask for a more perfect autumn day.

We traversed the lower and moved up to the mid-Hudson Valley, passing by so many historical landmarks and towns, from West Point to Indian Point, past numerous lighthouses and barges escorting their cargo on the water. Sailboats caught the wind as we viewed the terrific Marist College campus, the Culinary Institute of America and other sights, and passed over the Catskill Creek. From river towns our trains then took us inland for awhile. I believe we saw two freight trains pass us by during the day. We also stopped for one and watched as the many cars went by before we continued on to Selkirk, a town north of Albany. Then we began to make our way to cross the mighty Hudson. The trip was called the Hudson River Loop simply because that is what we did. We 'looped' over the mighty Hudson, traversing rails and a bridge which hadn't had passenger cars on them in decades. I felt spoiled.

Skillpot Island in the Tivoli Bays wildlife management area
Amtrak volunteers passed out itineraries and lunch in nice zippered totes with the Amtrak trip logo and a special pin. Lunch was good, the location even better. A highlight in the afternoon was riding across the Alfred H. Smith Memorial Bridge in Castleton-on-Hudson, across the Hudson, to begin our journey back to NYC. We saw the Amtrak Hudson Line below us, which we would soon meet up with. When we did, we toured over one hundred miles of Hudson River scenery, passing through various river towns, heading east. We saw Rogers Island, the Saugerties Lighthouse, stopped at the Rhinecliff station for photos, then climbed back aboard to continue our jaunt to NYP.

We saw Bannerman's Castle and I marveled at all of the work being done to save that majestic piece of New York history. I will admit the river views in many towns have changed over time, with numerous developments giving some of the areas a cookie-cutter type of image. I only hope we don't continue to take away the natural beauty in lieu of capitalism. Passengers waved at many of the trainspotters photographing the cars throughout the journey. I loved hearing the train whistle and the sound of the cars on the rails. Seeing the many red flashing lights at X-crossings brought me back to my childhood when such a sight fascinated me. We pulled into Penn just before six o'clock. What a great day. From there, my husband and I made it back to Grand Central and took the Metro North Hudson Line up to New Hamburg. Unfortunately, we couldn't see much since it had turned dark, but I suspect nothing could match what we had already captured on our Hudson River Loop excursion. Thank you to all involved in this great day and thanks to Amtrak.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Fall into Cash $250 #Giveaway starts today


Fall into Cash $250 Giveaway

October 15th to November 15th

The holidays are just around the corner.
Are you in need of some extra cash?
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  The winner of this giveaway will receive $250 in Paypal Cash 
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$250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 Amazon.com eGift Card Ends 11/15/17 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal or gift codes via Amazon.com. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   

Monday, October 9, 2017

Moonlight Magic: A Limited Edition Collection of Supernatural Tales available on Halloween #romance

I've taken the next step in my publishing journey and have a novella appearing in a boxed set. Boxed sets seem to be very popular and are thriving in the markets I watch. They're a great, economical way to discover new authors for cheap. There are so many different types of genres to choose from with varied forms to read, from full-length novels to novels and short stories. This is exciting time for me, and as a newbie, also a bit nerve-wracking. My work is included along with so many talented, more experienced authors in this collection (over 20 novellas) and I am honored. Here's what the set is all about:

Moonlight Magic: A Limited Edition Collection of Supernatural Tales
Whether it is the witching hour, dawn, day or dusk, you are sure to find a thrill with these supernatural tales of the paranormal. This collection of stories caters to every taste. From steamy to sizzling with witches, werewolves, leprechauns, dragons and even Greek gods, your pulse will pound and your heart will race. Proceed with caution when you read this compilation because what is read, can never be unread, especially not under the magic of moonlight. 

Click on the logo to go the boxed set's page.

The stories in the collection are all adult paranormal romances on the steamy side. My story is a New Adult tale about a college student and her adventurous winter break. Here's the blurb from my novella, Wayward Souls:

Home alone on winter break, college junior Holly needs to figure out where to finish her degree. She never imagined she’d lose her heart and soul to an otherworldly being.

Instead of finding the answers she wants, she discovers an injured young man in her family’s woods. Before passing out, he makes her pledge to protect him. She learns he’s no an ordinary man, he’s a fae prince. Now Holly must keep the prince safe from those who want him dead. Being a Good Samaritan to a mysterious stranger might cost her life. 

My cover was designed by Megan of Emcat Designs. Find her on Facebook. I absolutely love it and think it captures my characters perfectly.