At least I hope so! I’m trying to get back on top of my writing and keeping my with my blog, and everything else writing related.
Covid didn’t take away my time or creativity, it is having a teenager in the house again and attending all the activities that go with a teenager in sports and her last year of school. When I offered to take in our oldest granddaughter a year ago, after 20 years of no kids in the house, I had forgotten how much time and energy they require.
As I said, this is her senior year, and hopefully, after a year of getting back in the swing of things, I can get my writing back on track.
After taking an online workshop on book covers, I worked with my cover designer to rework the Spotted Pony Casino Mystery books. I went from this:
Trying to add more suspense/mystery, intrigue to the covers. And I feel keeping them clean and simple also helps the reader let their own imagination work more.
Besides we working the covers, I’ve been doing the final read through of Churlish Badger. Book 8 in the Gabriel Hawke Mystery series. This book will be available in ebook on December 1st. I’m excited for the ideas I have for the two books following this one. They will get Hawke back out in the wilderness tracking. One will be set in the Wallowa Mountains in a snow storm and the other will be set in the Montana Wilderness.
I have started gathering information on tracking in the snow and what pitfalls he’ll have to over come while not only tracking a person they believe is a killer but also keeping his significant other safe. I’m feeling the suspense of it already and haven’t even begun writing it!
Before I can write it, I have to finish up House Edge, which has an incident in it that will be the murder mystery in Double Down. Again, I am excited to begin writing that one, but it won’t happen until after I write Hawke’s book 9.
This is what keeps me writing and enjoying the whole process. I get excited about the plot or concept of a book and that keeps me pushing through each one to get on to writing the next one. I will continue to write until I no longer am excited about writing the next book.
Sunday mornings are usually spent hiking on the hills and ridge on our property. I enjoy communing with nature and think about the past week and what I need to work on in the coming week. Today, I had finished my morning chores- feeding horses and shop cats, watered my outdoor potted plants- I headed up the hill behind the house and when I reached the top. I looked out to take a photo and…
Of the 50+ cows that are being pastured on our hay field, 2 had crossed the fence at a low spot I had told my hubby about three days ago. To which he replied, “They’ll be fine.”
Backtrack several hours. Hubby left at 5:30 this morning to take a load of hay to a buyer three hours away. And he planned to spend the night with his mom because he has a dentist appointment in that area tomorrow.
As I stared at the 2 cows in the wrong field, the other cows were piling up at the spot where I’m sure the first two went through. I texted hubby. 2 cows are out. His response. Close all the gates.
I hopped in the Suzuki Samurai we call Sami and headed out to close gates. These are gates that lead from the field they 2 cows were onto the county road. As I headed to close the last one, I spotted the neighbor in his side-by-side with his dog, herding the 2 cows down the fence line to the gate into the field they’d fled. Hubby had called him to help. By the time I reached him, he had the cows in and the gate closed, with the whole herd pushing at the gate wanting out. We chatted a few minutes about how hubby and the person who’s cows they were, both knew about the low fence and had done nothing.
He headed home and I headed to the corral to grab an extra panel to tie up in the hole in the fence. I was able to slip it through the roll bars on Sami to haul it out to the spot. And using the ever present baling twine, I tied it up and hope it will keep the cattle in until they are removed this coming Friday.
It was not the leisurely morning I had anticipated with hubby gone. And as I told him. This morning is a firm reminder of why we not longer raise cattle. They always get out when hubby is gone!
I’m spending a week at Rockaway Beach to get a book planned out. Not so much to work on the book but to enjoy the beach. 😉
It is one of my favorite places to come. I enjoy the sound of the ocean, the power of the water, and the brine in the air.
My first full day here was gorgeous with sunshine, warm weather, and activities all over the town and beach.
There was a show of kites flying at the center of town beach. The synchronized kite flyers were also there practicing. I have a video of that but I can’t figure out how to get it from my phone to here.
Today, my second day started out rainy and foggy, but is turning into a beautiful evening. There were kites being flown today as well.
I love the Oregon coast and my bi-annual trips here to write and soak up the ambiance.
My husband is my consistent beta reader for all of my books. When he read my newest release, one of his comments, “I didn’t know you knew so much about architecture,” made me smile. Research, my dear. I believe a good fiction story has to have the details to make it real for the reader.
The MacKenzie Chronicles stories require me to research a wide variety of subjects, and, luckily, I have a connection to each one. That could be why I haven’t minded researching for this series. This part of writing used to be one of my least favorite tasks, but the subject matter for The MacKenzie Chronicles is right up my alley.
Pulling a few of the file folder names from my Research File: clairsentience, Jerome, AZ, auras, 1960s slang, hippies, 1920s architecture, flora and fauna, Jerome climate, 1970s, sun/moon, present day jewel prices.
I was born and raised in Arizona and have been in and out of the state all my life. My favorite area of the state is from central to north. We live in the high desert, and we’re only thirty minutes away from the pines of the Mogollon Rim, which mean snow in the winter. I’m inspired by this part of Arizona. The MacKenzie Chronicles is set in present-day Joshua, Arizona, an 1800s mining town, turned ghost town, turned hippie haven, and now a tourist town, hanging on the side of Spirit Mountain. The past always plays a part in the present.
My inspiration for Joshua and the stories of the MacKenzie family is a real-life Arizona destination, Jerome. Once dubbed “The Wickedest Town in the West,” the history is rich with tales of mining, brothels, and ghosts from another century. Add to that history the hippie settlers of the 1960s and 1970s who revitalized the crumbling town into an art mecca. The streets are stacked on the side of the mountain. There’s a jail still intact that literally slid down the mountain decades ago. Wine, food, ruins, and adventure await the tourist. The town looks much the same as it did in the early part of the twentieth century. If you get to Arizona, you really must visit Jerome.
Mystery on Spirit Mountain is book two in The MacKenzie Chronicles. You can preorder the book right now so it will be delivered to your eReader on September 15.
The past never sleeps.
The truth never dies.
Only Harlan MacKenzie can sense the troubled history of the Big Purple House. When he’s hired to restore the historical mansion, he doesn’t foresee the secrets—secrets that entangle his family in deceit and murder.
Phaedra is selling the house that has been in her family for decades. As her friends-to-lovers relationship with Harlan escalates, she puts her values on the line and chances losing him.
After a stranger comes to town, weaving her web of deception, hell-bent on correcting an old grievance connected to the house, dark revelations of the past implode the present. Harlan and Phaedra are thrown on a dangerous path, not only risking love but possibly their lives.
Brenda Whiteside is the author of suspenseful, action-adventure stories with a touch of romance. Mostly. She and her husband are gypsies at heart having lived in six states and two countries. For now, they’ve settled in Central Arizona, but won’t discount the possibility of another move in their future. They share their home with a rescue dog named Amigo. While FDW is fishing, Brenda writes.
The latest Gabriel Hawke book I’m writing starts at Freezeout Trailhead in the Hells Canyon Wilderness on the Oregon side of the Snake River. An abandoned vehicle is found there by my character State Trooper Gabriel Hawke.
While most of this series is set in Wallowa County where I grew up, I didn’t travel around the county as much as my brothers did. I tended to stay home and read, while they were out fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing, and other out door activities.
When I start a book, I look at the maps of the area, and use google earth to discover how or where I want the murder to happen. Then I use the maps, google earth, and hiking books to help me get a feel for the terrain. But it never fails, I always need to make a trip to the area to see it for myself.
That’s what my husband and I did a few weeks ago. We drove to Imnaha. It had been a long time since I’d been to the store and area. We went inside, visited a bit with the owner and I took a couple photos. Then we took the upper Imnaha road to Freezeout Trailhead.
I was so good we made the trip. The area at the trailhead didn’t look a think like what I’d envisioned from the photos and google earth. It wasn’t as flat nor as large as I’d thought. When I returned home, I had to change up some scenes to accommodate the location and size.
Traveling up the road, alongside the river, we saw some nice farms and wildlife. Some of the farm ground would have been thrilling to try and farm back in the day they used horses. I would have been a bit leery of using modern equipment on some of the side hill fields.
We stopped at a Hells Canyon viewpoint, but it was so smoky from fires all over the Pacific Northwest that we didn’t see much.
We could see how families would have lived off the land and enjoyed the solitary life at the bottom of the canyon along the Imnaha River. Since we were headed back to SE Oregon, we continued on up the river and on over to Halfway, Oregon. It had been years since we’d been to this town. Neither one of us remembered it being as populated. We remembered only a couple of buildings. Unless we had mistook another small town for Halfway. We’re still puzzling that. We are excited to go back there again and check it out more.
From Halfway we headed to Baker City and then on home. It was an 850+ mile round trip that weekend, but it was worth it for me to see the area I was writing about.
Summer is slowly taking a bow. We, here in SE Oregon, need rain badly, but it doesn’t look like we are going to get it any time soon. The good news it has finally cooled down. We can sleep well at night now that our house isn’t sweltering.
The other bit I like about summer ending is Labor Day weekend. It means I’ll be spending time with another author who is fun for three days. We set up a booth at the Sumpter, Oregon Flea Market every Memorial and Labor day weekend. There we sell our books, watch the myriad of dogs go by some on leashes, some in strollers, and some on their own. We also visit with other vendors and locals who stop by every time.
I like wandering around and seeing what types of things are being sold and maybe get and idea of two for projects I’d like to make.
It’s also a few days, to myself. No cooking, cleaning, laundry. Just me hanging out at the flea and then spending the evening blissfully by myself. Sometimes I write on those evenings. Sometimes I watch movies or read a book. It doesn’t matter, it’s just me and whatever I want to do. Those types of days come far and few between as a mom, grandma, and wife.
I am looking forward to my week by myself at the Oregon Coast in October. Again, I write, take walks, and only have to prepare food for myself. I always take easy to prepare foods, because, I’m not there to cook, clean, and do laundry. I’m there to get many words written and catch up on my writing schedule.
Which, I have fallen behind on this year. Too many family things going on, I guess. Of just starting to feel the burn out of trying to get 5-6 books written a year. I’m thinking of slowing down to 3 or 4 which is what I will have accomplished this year. There is a little more wiggle room for doing things other than writing.
Sixteen years ago I participated in an online Feng Shui workshop. I am a believer in making things happen. And I believe my taking the workshop did make things happen for me.
Through Feng Shui you arrange things based on the principles of Bagua. Ba means eight and gua means area. So you place items with different energy or focus in each of the areas. The areas are: Prosperity, Fame & Reputation, Relationships, Health & Family, Foundation, Creativity, Wisdom, Career, and Helpful People. This workshop showed me that you can make things happen by how you set your life and your workspace up.
Before the workshop, I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere with my writing. I had written seven books, had been a finalist in multiple contests, but couldn’t get a publisher or agent to take the step to contract me. After the workshop which happened in December of 2005, I received my first book contract in May of 2006. I believe it was because I opened myself to new things and faced my opportunities.
When I started the workshop, my desk faced the wall in a loft. There was a small window to my left, and I had bookcases filled with reference books to my back. I learned that the front of the house has lots of energy. I moved my husband’s desk, which he rarely uses to the back of the loft and placed my desk out to the front of the loft, facing the main door and large windows that revealed green fields and mountains.
With my room set up in the proper areas of Prosperity, Fame & Reputation, Relationships, Health & Family, Foundation, Creativity, Wisdom, Career, and Helpful People, I moved on to set up my desk to bring more energy, creativity, and wealth.
Using the same quadrants on the diagram of my desk, I incorporated the items in the correct areas to enhance the “Action” I want to happen in my life. See photo below: This is a photo of the handout Bella Andre gave us during the workshop.
While our grandson was visiting, I had to shift things in the office so the Murphy bed was easy to lower and raise. I ended up facing the wall and my back to the door. During this time I wasn’t feeling productive and was out of sorts when I’d sit down at my desk to work.
As soon as he was on the plane back home, I turned my desk around and reset my tone and mood for getting work done. I am still in the process of Feng Shuiing my desk, but I have already written more words in a week than I had in a month while my desk was turned. I have felt like my writing life is taking another good turn.
I’ll let you know if something good comes from this switch. Anyway, something other than me being more creative!
The first book of my new Spotted Pony Casino mystery, Poker Face, has released. I really like writing this character, though she is tough for me to write. She is a lower-limb amputee. I have joined a lower-limb amputee group online to help me understand the struggles. I hope I can do a good job of showing how strong a person has to be mentally to continue life as close to normal as they possibly can.
I also like the face most of the books will be set at a fictional Indigenous run casino on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. By making it a fictional casino, I can run things as they best work for my stories. However, I’m still trying to keep it working much like any other Indigenous owned casino.
Here is the info on the book.
Spotted Pony Casino Mystery
Dela Alvaro is a disabled veteran who grew up on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. When an IED in Iraq ended her military career, she came home to reassess her life and landed a job in security at the Indian run casino on the reservation.
Not even a year into being the assistant to the head of security, Dela is promoted on a trial basis. When one of the casino employees is found stabbed and stuffed in a laundry chute, she knows she can kiss head of security good-bye if she doesn’t find the killer before the media gets hold of the story.
While she is in over her head, she can’t decide if the FBI Special Agent called in to help is a blessing or a curse. It’s a man she ran across in Iraq who overrode her authority. When a second casino employee is killed, Dela has to decide if she can trust the special agent with not only keeping her job but keeping the rest of the casino employees safe.
This book is available in ebook and print. I am currently working with a narrator to get it made into and audiobook.
I am gathering swag and putting together a booklet of first chapters of my mystery books to take to Bouchercon in New Orleans in August. Yes! I will be attending my first ever Bouchercon. It is one of the largest mystery fan conferences in the U.S. I will be doing Speed Dating with 200 fans. Whew! I am going to be on a panel: Empathy: The Art and Practice of Relating. I’ll have books there and I would love to connect with anyone who wants to meet up. I will be at the New Orleans Marriott from August 26-29th.
A large portion of my family tagged along on my annual birthday trek up on the Steens Mountain. I would have to say that it is my second favorite place to visit. My first, of course, being the Oregon Coast.
The mountain is never the same. Some years when we go up the end of June on my birthday, we are met by blankets of wildflowers. Other years, not so many. And one year we couldn’t even get up on the mountain until July because of so much snow.
This year there was still some snowpack. The 77 degrees was welcome since it was one of the hottest weeks we’ve ever had in June. The temperature wavered around 100. The wildflowers weren’t as tall and easy to see as they had been in years past. Many of the colorful blooms were hidden in the sagebrush. The aspen trees were green and lush. Fish Lake was blue and inviting. The grandchildren who went with us all took a swim in the lake while the adults watched.
Standing on the top of the Steens, looking down at the green circles of irrigations pivots around the dry Alvord Lake bed you get a feeling of the vastness and contrast that is SE Oregon.
The abundance of wildflowers either hiding in the sage or hanging precariously on a rock thousands of feet from the valley floor, is one of the unique things I enjoy about the mountains.
I can find beauty in all the outdoors but I do believe nothing is better for my soul than the Oregon Coast and the Steens Mountains. Although, staring at the Wallowa Mountains, also stirs me and brings me peace. Hmmm… I need to spend some time there soon.
There are so many things I love about this month. This month is usually when the weather starts getting warmer, deer have their babies, and the flowers start blooming. It means longer days, with breathtaking evenings and bright cheery sunrises.
I always think of myself as a person who loves fall. I love the colors, the briskness of the days, and the holidays. But I think, truly, I’m a summer lover. The smell of freshly mowed grass or alfalfa. The scent of a sweaty horse after a long ride. Even the earthy scent of hay makes me smile.
Last month, hubby brought now a new to me horse trailer. We’ve been without one for several years now. It wasn’t too bad when I didn’t have anyone to ride horses with, but now that I have a granddaughter down the road who is ready to ride whenever I am, it’s nice to have a way to haul my horse over. I had expected him to pick up a smaller stock trailer, because he has always been partial to having a trailer with a dual purpose. To my surprise, he brought home a “real” horse trailer. It has a tack room in front and bars to hang sweaty saddle blankets. I was shocked when I saw it. But I love it! I’ve made a couple trips with my horses in it and it pulls like a dream. They were a little unsure of it at first., It’s all enclosed and looks short because of the angle on the tack room in front, but once they rode in it, I think they liked it!
My roses are blooming! Love roses. And all my other flowers. I would have masses of flowers if I could keep them alive! I do not have my mother’s green thumb. I water and beg Mother Nature to keep my plants alive. LOL
We made a quick overnight trip to the coast at the beginning of the month. I love the coast. The smell, the energy of the water…. I wish I could have stayed three for a week. Hopefully in the fall, I can get ack over there for a writing retreat. WE lucked out. The weather was gorgeous for both my evening and morning strolls. There were very few shells or ocean life on the beach., When I go in the spring and fall, I find all kinds of cool things to take photos of.
If you would like to celebrate my birthday month, the best way would be to purchase Stolen Butterfly, book 7 in the Gabriel Hawke novels. Proceeds from the sale of this book will be going to the MMIW/MMIP movement. I talked about it in my last blog. If you would like an autographed print copy, just drop info for me to contact you in the comments.