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My Fab, Funky, Fashionista Friend Nan is stopping by today! Yay!

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1045088_10200349981337522_27382779_nI’m so excited to have my Fab, Funky, Fashionista Friend Nan stop by today.1000816_10200271401453074_535258932_n 

Here are just some of the fashions she finds at Abby’s Boutique in St. Cloud.

Glad you could pop by, girlfriend.

Thank you, Brenda, for wanting to interview me. You are a great person and I enjoy doing your hair.

Thank you. I appreciate you for being my stylist. I find you’re a very creative person. Could you tell something about yourself?

I grew up in upstate New York. My father passed away 17 yrs ago and my mother is still living in my home town. I have three sisters, two older, and one younger. I went to beauty school  while still in high school and graduated from high school and beauty school in 1985.

My childhood was the best and we were always a family unit. My father would come home on a Friday, and before dinner, we’d be on the road to a camp site with anywhere from 4-6 other families. We definitely were a close family and weekends were fun. It’s kind of sad for the kids growing up today where family units just aren’t there for each other anymore. We grew up without a lot of money, so we all worked very hard for all the things we got and appreciated every bit of it. This is still true today and I work hard and appreciate what I work for. Giving is better than receiving is the way I grew up. I have three nieces, one nephew, and a great niece who all live in New York. I really miss being with my family. To me, family means the world. I cherish my family very, very much, in the same way I cherish my friends.

It must have been hard moving away from them.

I moved to the Great State of Florida 21 years ago. At first, it was so hard for me to leave my family and friends. I was the last to leave my family nest, and I was the first to move 1200 plus miles away. I moved in with an old boyfriend and his parents (who were friends of my family for years). I broke up with him and lived with a co-worker from Walmart (a job I took when I first moved here just until I got my hairdressing license transferred from NY) But by age 25, I had my own apartment—which was a scary thing for me.

That had to be difficult, but through your own creativity and passion you formed a new family.

No, not an easy time for me.  I found a job in a hair salon. I worked there for 5 years, but then I quit and went to work at Shear Connection. I have been working here for about 17 years, and just since 2009, I’m now the proud owner!!! I have 7 girls working for me and I just am so Blessed to have such talented and wonderful girls that work for and with me. We truly are all like sisters. I tell them that I love working with them and I don’t miss my own sisters up North because they act just like them. LOL! I consider all my customers like my extended family. I have lots of grandmothers, moms, dads, sisters, brothers, and tons of extended nieces and nephews.

 

What hair procedure do you like to do that most expresses your creativity?472491_3938296019673_887168423_o

It’s hard to try to figure out what I like to do the best in hairdressing that expresses my creativity. I like just about all of it. I really like doing perms. When I wrap a perm, I usually don’t like talking because I concentrate so much on what I’m doing. I guess that I kind of zone out while doing the  perm. I also enjoy cutting long hair off to create a new look. When the customer says do whatever you want, wow, after that, it is game on. Usually I have no clue what I am doing once I get started, then the madness of the creative brain takes over and I just go with it. My fingers do most of the work.

I know you have another passion that expresses your creativity in another way. Could you share that?

I absolutely love to craft things. I like finding new crafty things to make. Once I get going on a project then I go all the way. Hobby Lobby, by far, is my favorite store to shop in for getting my crafts. I also enjoy making my crafts for others. For the past two years I have made Christmas ornaments for my co-workers, customers, friends, and family. I think making and giving homemade decorations is much more meaningful than buying something. Making things with my hands means a lot to me, and I hope it does for the people that I make it for. My other true passion is antiques. I love to look at antiques and try to imagine who used it and what time in history did they use it? I love the history and love to hear stories from the past—I mean a very long time ago. I love the time periods from the 1900’s, up until about the 60’s. I own an antique wedding dress made by a niece for her aunt to wear on her wedding day, September, 1911. I don’t know why I had to have this dress, but I wanted it, and now have it and I love it.

I can buy a dress for twenty bucks and think I’ve done great, yet you go into a (resale shop) and get a sack full of clothes for the same price? Hmmm! What’s your technique?

I really don’t have a technique for clothes shopping. I recently discovered a new clothes shop here in St. Cloud called Abby’s Boutique. I was told about it in my salon and decided to check it out one day. I walked in and said to the manager of the store, “As you can see I am stuck in the 80’s. My coworkers always tell me that I am stuck in the 80’s and need to come out. Although they won’t really let me because they gave me a hair cut that I had in 1984—so that being said—I‘m fashionably challenged. The manager said, “ Oh gosh, I love to dress people.” I responded enthusiastically, “YEAH BABY, DRESS ME!” So ever since, I’ve now become the store’s BARBIE DOLL and they dress me. Just like in “Pretty Woman,” I walk into the store and they start getting clothes and telling me “Oh Nancee, try this on! Oh Nancee, you will look great in this, try it on!” That’s my simple secret. Just plead fashionably challenged, and bam—they’ll dress you.

You’re very petite, and there are some of us who (gulp!) have fuller figures. Yikes! Is there hope for us in this kind of shop?

Yes, this shop has all kinds of sizes so people of all shapes and sizes will find something in this store. My motto is that IT’S IMPORTANT TO SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL SHOPS—so that’s what I do.  (Abby’s Boutique Upscale Resale Gallery, St. Cloud)

In the fall, you go on a special road-trip to Kentucky in search of the perfect funky items. Where do you search and what do you look for?

I find all my “treasures” on my trip that I go on every year with my sister-in-law. We go to Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, the second weekend of every October. They call it Court Days, and what they do in downtown Mt. Sterling is close the streets and a bunch of vendors, antique dealers, art dealers, and local artisans come and set up booths, allowing people to buy from these vendors. Then, a couple of counties over in Preston, they have their Court Days also. In Preston, they have fields of nothing but antiques. This is where I go crazy. The first thing I buy usually sets the tone for the rest of the shopping frenzy. The last two years it’s been hats, old clothes and some jewelry. This year who knows? My kitchen is decorated with antique kitchen articles. I have 16 washboards hanging on my walls—two of the washboards are made of glass and one of them belonged to my Grandma Stephens. I treasure that one the most.

How do you know when you’ve gotten a good deal?

 How do I know I got good deal . . . hum . . . if it feels good when I hand out the money and I have no regrets when I bring it home, then I know I did good.

You also express yourself through hats and chunky jewelry. Where do you find your cool stuff?207094_1650883551800_4615957_nThis is Nancee in Barbie doll mode!

For me, the one thing that I find important is to express myself and not be like everyone else. I do and think and wear whatever makes me happy. I have never followed anyone else’s fashion style. In the summer before my junior year of high school, my family and I visited my mother’s best friend from her high school in New York City. Well, I’m a girl who loved the 80’s, so I came home with some pretty interesting outfits from there. Going to a small high school (which has K-12 all in the same buildings) I was kinda the laughing stock of the school. I didn’t wear the traditional polo shirts, I didn’t wear a cheerleading outfit, and I certainly didn’t wear shirts with pocket protectors on them. No, I was the first to wear the neon colors, homemade earrings, and all the wild crazy colors the great 80’s fashion world had to offer and I still love that stuff. It’s then that I learned that expressing who I was through my clothes was more important that trying to fit in with everyone else. I guess that’s when I became something of a rebel.

I think that’s what passionate, creative people do.  

What’s the take-away for those who love to express theirselves through fashion and other creative ways?

I am definitely not a follower, nor do I consider myself a leader. I just am who I am. Crazy, caring, thinking of others before my own needs is important to me. I just want to try to make everyone that is in my life happy. Sometimes that isn’t always good for me, but I keep doing it even if I get my feelings hurt from time to time when people don’t get me. But I think it’s important for people to always be true to themselves.

So you are saying that it’s important to ‘pay it forward?’

I just think if I am good to the people around me now, hopefully when I get older, I will have someone like me to make me laugh and feel good. People will take care of me, even if they do something as little as open the door so I can walk through the door with my cane or walker, or if they make me a gift using their own hands, taking the time to figure out what I like and making it just for me. Gifts from the heart mean more to me than something bought in a store. I love antiques and one day when I get old I want to be the Best, Funniest, Antique Lady walking around. LOL!

Thanks for taking the time to share some of your bargain hunting and creative shopping techniques, and your wonderful suggestions on how to just be ourselves and express who we really are through actions as well as fashion. You are definitely a passionate, creative person and thank you for taking the time to stop by. Sometimes, just fitting in isn’t what it’s cracked up to be and really  living is taking chances and not being afraid to let people know who we really are.

Do you have any links you’d like to share today?  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Shear-Connection/110995168963680                        

                                                                                                         

Linda is here with her latest book AL CAPONE AT THE BLANCHE HOTEL. It rocks!

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Linda Bennett Pennell is here today talking about her new release, AL CAPONE at the BLANCHE HOTEL and it is a cool read!

 

I have to ask what drew you to write about the period of the 1930’s, and most particularly, Al Capone?

I love anything with a past and I have always found the first part of the twentieth century fascinating. I suppose all the stories I heard from my older family members who grew up during that time drew me in. As to Capone and gangsters in general, that’s an easy one. Both the TV show and the movie based on Elliot Ness, The Untouchables, have been longtime favorites.

 What was the catalyst for your novel and did Al Capone actually visit Lake City’s Blanche Hotel?

The Blanche Hotel has stood on Marion Street in Lake City, Florida since 1902 and is home to the state’s first elevator. It is purported to be haunted by a woman who killed herself over love gone wrong and children who died while staying there. It is said that one can hear the sounds of children’s laughter and a woman weeping when all is quiet. I’m not sure about that, but here is what I do know. Al Capone really did stay at the hotel in transit from Chicago to his Miami property.  I have always been interested in the hotel’s history, especially from its early days. Knowing that Capone stayed there got my imagination churning and Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel is the result.

 I’m curious if you’ve visited this place, and if you did, what was your reaction to it? Did you see any of the ghosts that are supposed to reside there?

When my parents and I moved to Lake City, the Blanche was still operating as a hotel and we stayed there for a few nights until our furniture arrived. In the years that followed, we ate many a Sunday dinner there after church. I am sad to report that I didn’t hear or see the ghosts. As to my reaction, the hotel as such was in a period of decline when we stayed there. I remember large rooms with dark Depression era wallpaper, worn carpets, and Art Deco era furniture. The bathroom was much as one would expect – claw foot tub, old fashioned pedestle sink, small black and white octagonal floor tiles.

Your protagonist, Liz, is a professor at a university and also a writer and I know that you’re a teacher and a writer, so are her passions related to your passions?

On a personal level, Liz’s passion for bad boys is based on my observations of young women and their sometimes skewed perspective of what romantic relationships should be and what they want in a man.  Liz is very accomplished professionally, but the cost of achieving professional maturity is that she has neglected her inner life.  She doesn’t know herself or what she really needs very well.  Of course, this is her personal journey in the story.

Professionally, there are times when I wish I had completed the path toward a Ph.D. in history and taught at the college level, but my career in public education has been very rewarding, so I have nothing to complain about.

Sometimes you gotta love the bad boys!

In the beginning of your book, one of Liz’s assignments is to generate interest in the flagging enthusiasm of young people for history at her university. For those of us who love history, that’s a very sad commentary. Do you think historical novels can regenerate interest in history?  

I absolutely believe that novels can stimulate an interest in history as long as they are well researched and the reader is not led to confuse fiction with fact.  As a professional reading specialist, I taught reading improvement through novels. My colleagues who taught Texas and US History used novels in their classrooms as well.  Novels can be wonderful teaching tools!

In my own paranormal historical, some of the quirkiest details were actually true facts. Can you tell some of the more unusual facts in your book that might sound more like fiction than actual fact?

Well, I suppose the fact that the Santa Fe River disappears underground at O’Leno State Park and really does suck things underground might qualify. The river surfaces again some several miles from where it descended. Some years ago, a diver thought he would try to follow the river through its underground passage. Sadly, he never emerged and his body has never been found, at least according to what I have been told. 

In your book, the setting shifts back and forth from contemporary times to the thirties. Did you find writing this way more freeing than if you kept the setting to one specific era?

Writing a story with dual time lines was something I wanted to try. I found it fun and, yes, I think I can say freeing as well. It helped me accomplish some goals that I had for the story.  I wanted to explore some points about romantic relationships and personal growth.  Writing from Liz’s perspective allowed me to do that.

Do see yourself writing more books in the 1930’s era?

That remains to be seen.  My historical passion covers most eras, so it is certainly possible that I will return to the 1930’s at some point. Presently, I am working on a WWII novel set in Casablanca.  I’m learning so much about spies and desert warfare!

I can’t wait to read that one!

This is a great book and so can you give a little taste of what AL CAPONE at the BLANCHE HOTEL is about?

Thank you so much for your kind words and this opportunity! Here is the back cover blurb.

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Al Capone at the Blanche Hotel tells a story of lives unfolding in different centuries, but linked and irrevocably altered by a series of murders in 1930.

Lake City, Florida, June, 1930: Al Capone checks in for an unusually long stay at the Blanche Hotel, a nice enough joint for an insignificant little whistle stop. The following night, young Jack Blevins witnesses a body being dumped heralding the summer of violence to come. One-by-one, people controlling county vice activities swing from KKK ropes. No moonshine distributor, gaming operator, or brothel madam, black or white, is safe from the Klan’s self-righteous vigilantism. Jack’s older sister Meg, a waitress at the Blanche, and her fiancé, a sheriff’s deputy, discover reasons to believe the lynchings are cover for a much larger ambition than simply ridding the county of vice. Someone, possibly backed by Capone, has secret plans for filling the voids created by the killings. But as the body count grows and crosses burn, they come to realize this knowledge may get all of them killed.

Gainesville, Florida, August, 2011: Liz Reams, an up and coming young academic specializing in the history of American crime, impulsively moves across the continent to follow a man who convinces her of his devotion yet refuses to say the three simple words I love you. Despite entreaties of friends and family, she is attracted to edginess and a certain type of glamour in her men, both living and historical. Her personal life is an emotional roller coaster, but her career options suddenly blossom beyond all expectation, creating a very different type of stress. To deal with it all, Liz loses herself in her professional passion, original research into the life and times of her favorite bad boy, Al Capone. What she discovers about 1930’s summer of violence, and herself in the process, leaves her reeling at first and then changed forever.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk about your book. Could you give the links on how to purchase your book or learn more about you?

Again, thank you!!  I so appreciate your having my on your blog! Here is the buy link: http://amzn.to/16qq3k5    This is the link to my author website:  http://www.lindapennell.com/

 

Please feel free to post any questions or comments you have for Linda.

Thanks for stopping by.

Bren 

 

   

 

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