I have a penchant for color. I like vibrant colors. Bold purples, pinks, orange, yellow, blues, and reds make me smile. Whether they are on clothing, flowers, dishes, blankets, paintings. I love color!
I know there is a place for black, brown, gray, and tan. They make great backdrops for splashes of color. Somber tones are needed to evoke certain moods.
When there are dark gray or black clouds in the sky, they inevitably spark flashes of lightning to brighten the darkness and illicit tingles of excitement, and in some, fear.
I love flowers, but, alas, I do not have a green thumb. It is a feat when I can keep a plant alive long enough for it to produce flowers. This summer I had several that exceeded my expectations, coloring my summer with joy.
When I told a friend about how I have trouble keeping plants alive he gave me a cactus. It bloomed this spring. The color was gorgeous and I hope it will grace me with blooms again next year.
I planted sunflowers in the same bathtub as I’d planted a peony from my dad’s yard. the peony had only a couple of blooms this year. I hope it will be full next year, but the sunflowers bloomed brightening the last of summer with they yellow cheer.
I try to add color to my writing without dragging the description on and on. I’ve received several reviews that comment on how I give just enough description without overdoing it. That is something that makes my heart sing as much as vibrant colors!
I am slowly creeping back up to speed on the writing after the busy summer. I have the items gathered around me that I need to maneuver Hawke around the Hells Canyon area in Idaho. And as this story is progressing, the person(s) he’s following may just cross the river into Oregon.
The idea to have the murderer slip across the river and into the area where the woman Hawke is soft on, keeps knocking at my brain. I’m not ready to have him make any drastic changes in his lifestyle and I like keeping the readers guessing about the outcome of Hawke and Dani, but putting her in danger ups the need for Hawke to stop the person he’s tracking.
If you really want to know what goes on inside my head as I’m “stewing and brewing” a new project, leave a comment below saying you would like to know, and I’ll put some of my wandering thoughts up here on the next Shandra book as I start stewing and brewing it.
Right now I’m all in on Chattering Blue Jay the next Hawke book. I’m trying to find photos I took while jet boating the Snake to use for the cover. It has to be one that we can put a Blue Jay on and make it look natural. That could be a feat I hope my cover designer can tackle.
Up above I have a photo of some of the items I’m using to “map” out this book and Hawke’s trek through the Hells Canyon. I would be lost without good resources to “see” where my character is going and discovering obstacles in their way.
I love Google Earth for seeing areas up close. It helps a lot to decide which direction the characters are going to head and what they will encounter. I brought a lodge that is along the river into one scene. I didn’t know it was there until I used Google Earth and spotted it. Then I looked up and they had a website. This provided me with photos to see the area better and decide how to proceed with this discovery.
That’s the best part about writing. Not always having a blueprint and going with the things I come up against and figuring out how they can be used in the story and how the characters will react to them.
I’ve been so busy running around the state judging at county fairs, I forgot to update my own blog.
The county fairs I judged at were a lot of fun. Some I watched 4-H members knit, crochet and sew, others I judged their foods, clothing, knitting, photography, educational displays, and presentations. And there were were a couple where I judged the open class foods and clothing.
I have to say while judging open class is easier because I don’t have to interview or write down what is good and what needs work on an item, I do enjoy the interview process with the 4-H members the most. I love their enthusiasm about the item they made or baked. If the recipe or pattern came from a family member. What I found most about the clothing and knitting projects the patterns for many were found on Pinterest. How times change!
I’m looking forward to this coming weekend. Labor Day, not for the camping and family time but because it is my annual pilgrmage to Sumpter, Oregon to set up a booth with another author at the Flea Market. It has become one of the events during the year I look forward to.
It’s fun talking with Mary Vine, the other author, and watching all the people who wander among the booths. The best part, is when someone hurries over and say, “I was hoping you were going to be here, I need the next book in your series.” That’s why we go back every year. To provide winter reading for the people in NE Oregon. LOL
I’m way behind in my writing, but I do have a new release, the last western romance I’ll write for a while. Freedom: Silver Dollar Saloon.
Their dreams brought them together. But will violence
tear them apart?
Freedom longs to be out of the Silver Dollar Saloon, with a family of her own.
When a white man promises marriage and children, she takes the biggest risk of
her life, and follows him to the wilds of Montana Territory. Where he shows his
Water Runs Fast, a Crow off the reservation, comes upon a white man whipping a
brown-skinned woman. After stabbing the white man and riding off with the woman,
he realizes she is the woman from his visions. The one who pledged to help him
and his people survive in the white man’s world.
On the run from the tragedy, the two grow close. Together, they begin a life as
husband and wife. But will they have their chance at a life together, or will
they hang for murder?
If all goes well, I should have a book out this month and one next month. I’m behind in getting my latest books written and out. I’ve been doing too much playing this year, but I think it makes me a better writer to experience things before I write a story.
The first book to be released is Freedom, book 3 in the Silver Dollar Saloon series. The background for the cover was easy. We use the same background on all the books. We just add the character the book is titled after. In this case, Freedom, a young black woman.
I spent hours going through photo galleries online where you can purchase photos to use on covers. I wanted a fresh face, not one with makeup, and she needed to have her hair a certain way. When I’d found four possibilities, I started looking for a body with a dress from the 1800s. I found the perfect one on Pinterest. It was from an auction house. I contacted them, they responded if I could tell them the numbers on the photo (auction date) they could send me a good photo. After I sent the date to them, I never heard from them again.
Which sent me looking elsewhere,and I finally found a dress online and purchased it. Then I sent the women I’d found to my cover designer and she began playing with putting the heads on the dress. After several tries we were both finally happy with the way it looked.
I now have to find a photo for Toxic Trigger-point a murder that takes place on a massage bed in a spa. I’m trying to decide if I want a body on a massage bed or a spa as the cover image. What do you think would make the better, more eye-catching cover?
On my quest to learn all I can to portray my American Indian
characters as real and correct as I can, I attend any event that will help my
This past week I attended “Savages/Chiefs/Warriors: the Language
of Stereotypes” at the Tamástslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton, Oregon. The speakers were Dr. Phillip Cash Cash and Charles
F. Sams III.
Dr. Cash Cash started the talk with a PowerPoint
presentation that had a photo the Declaration of Independence and the words, “the
merciless Indian Savages” circled in that very first American document. From
the beginning, when all the American Indian wanted to do was protect their way
of life, they were called names by those who didn’t understand them.
Included in the PowerPoint were photos of old westerns with
most of the Indian parts being played by White actors. Then a slide with brand
names that use or used unflattering Indian words or photos of Indian men in war
bonnets, or an Indian maiden. He showed how the derogatory words had been used
over the years without thinking about how it demoralized the First Nations
Another slide had four romance book covers with Savage in
the book titles and a male Indian embracing a White woman. Dr. Cash Cash said that not only was there stereotyping
but a trope being used as well. Tropes were another way the American Indian has
been “put down” over the years. Portrayals of drunken Indians, calling them
Nomads when they are hunter gatherers and travel with the seasons.
His portion of the talk dealt mainly with how long stereotyping
has been going on and how in the 70s & 80s when there was more of an awareness
of treating everyone equal that the derisive words and advertising started to
Charles Sams III talk the second half of the program. He
started off telling us how the Umatilla bands, specifically Cayuse came to this
earth and how from the story, which he couldn’t tell in full story mode because
stories can only be told in the winter, when there is snow on the mountain. But
he told of the coming of the People. And how they came from the earth and how archeologists
have discovered how long ago people lived on the earth by middens, the dumps or
refuse that humans leave behind. He said he doesn’t believe that American
Indians came from Asia. There has been no middens found along the path they
have been presumed to have taken. As an Indian, he believes the stories of
coming from the earth. As an educated person with a science background he knows
there has to be an explanation. 😉
He said the biggest influence in getting the American Indian
more respect was Richard Nixon pushing through The Indian Self-Determination and
Education Assistance Act of 1975. It gave the tribes a chance to better
their lives and the generations to come.
The American Indian believes they are a steward of the land. They don’t
want to own land, but will to make sure that the animals and land flourish.
The believe in the constitution because it is under the
constitution that all treaties were drawn up and signed. If the constitution goes
away, they could lose the lands that were given them by the United States government.
It is this reason that Charles grandmother made her seven boys join the
military during World War II. They didn’t understand why their mother would
send them all off to fight for a country that didn’t give them the same rights
as others. She told them because if the U.S. lost, they would lose their treaties
and the land the land they had now. He said all seven came home from the war
and went on to fight for the rights of the American Indian.
During the discussion at the end it was said, that Indians
laugh at themselves to cope with the frustration they feel every day.
Here is a list of stereotypes or wrong assumptions that were
And here is the Youtube video that was shown at the end of
I’ll have another post on what was said about hunting and gathering.
It seems like ages ago, when it was only about a month ago that I and four friends took a jet boat ride down the Snake River. When my friends mentioned they were going, I invited myself along because I had planned to do the trip as some point this summer for research for the next Gabriel Hawke book.
The only drawback was the trip was three days before I left for Iceland. That is why you haven’t seen photos or heard about the trip. 😉
I had planned to visit my dad in his Senior Living Center that same week and make a round trip by spending the night at my younger brother’s house on his birthday. So tossing in one more day and jet boating worked out perfectly!
Except, the weather! Because it was a cloudy and not very warm day, the clear plastic side awnings, I guess you’d call them, were down to keep use from getting too wet.
We put in at Pittsburgh Landing on the Idaho side of the Snake River.
I wanted to take photos of the terrain. The best place to do that was either in front on in the back of the boat. I chose the back. I have quite a few blurry photos because of the speed we were going but the photos will allow me to remember what I saw.
We stopped at a ranch that is now a museum. The old fruit trees that had been planted years ago had fruit beginning to show. There were a few wildflowers, but we were lucky to not see any rattlesnakes. When I’d participated in our Senior Sneak before graduating from high school, our senior class rafted a different part of the Snake. There was a raft for the boys and one for the girls. Several stops along the way the boys would catch a rattlesnake and throw it on the girls’ raft. Not cool! But ever the tomboy, I’d pick it up and throw it back at them. Then it wasn’t so much fun. 🙂
On this particular trip, we enjoyed wonderful cinnamon rolls made by a woman who takes the trip every year on her birthday. I have never had such delicious, light cinnamon rolls before! From there we watched a fisherman catch and haul in a sturgeon. He was large!
We also saw some rafters trying to right a raft that had capsized. I was glad I was rafting this time!
We rode the rapids, one a class 5, and had a great time. We stopped at the Hells Canyon Dam for lunch that had been packed for us. It was delicious. Then we checked out the visitor center and climbed back on the boat for our trip down stream to the landing where we put in.
To me it felt like the rapids were trickier going back down then gunning upstream through them. I enjoyed watching our guide who had been doing this for nineteen years. When we were in the regular water, he’d relax behind the helm, crossing his ankles. As we neared the rapids, he leaned forward, both hands on the levers. His feet would uncross, and he would eventually stand as he guided the boat through the rapids. When the rapids were behind us, he’d settle back down and cross his ankles.
I guess you’re probably wondering, will Hawke be on one of these boats? At this point, I say no. Only because while talking to the boat’s crew, I learned that there are always boats going up and down this section of the river. If it’s not tour boats, it’s fishermen. The river is open year round. Which made me decide most of the action will take place up on the peaks and rocky sides of the canyon walls. And that is why I wanted to take the trip. To see the terrain and learn what I could about activity on the river.
Friday, my birthday! I didn’t tell anyone on the trip because they had made a big deal out of someone else’s birthday earlier in the week. I just enjoyed the day and being on a grand adventure!
We drove up to the Presidential residence of Bessastaoir, the President of Iceland. It was a large home with farm type buildings out in the middle of open ground. There was a large pond and some geese.
I loved the drive to Lake Kleifarvatn and could see my character Hawke bringing a tracking class out to this moon-scape type surroundings to learn to look for tracks that weren’t there. It had large volcanic rises, sifting ashy dirt, minimal plants, but a beautiful lake.
On the southern end of the lake our noses crinkled. Hot springs, mud pots, and boiling pools of mud and water were just beyond the parking lot. The sulfurous steam that came up from the earth needed to be kept down wind. But the mud, steam, and sulfur made for colorful rock features. Here I had the idea of perhaps Hawke could discover a body half in one of the boiling mud pots. The upper half, making it hard to discover who the victim would be.
Our “relaxation” for the day was an hour in the Blue Lagoon. It was a spa or sorts with geothermal mineral water. We all brought our swimsuits and entered the waist high water. The silt of the minerals was so think you could only see a few inches into the water. I don’t know what the minerals were but it made my body float even more than usual. I could barely stay seated on the cement bench along the inside of the pool.
After the Blue Lagoon we drove to the Viking World Museum. Here we walked on the deck of Islendingur (the Icelander) a Viking replica ship finished in 1996 by shipbuilder Gunnar Marel Eggertsson. They used information gathered after the excavation of a ship in Norway in 1880. They believe the ship excavated had been built around 870. Using the same tools that would have been used in 870 Eggertsson and a crew built the ship. After it was built they sailed in it from Iceland to North America.
We returned to Reykjavik in the afternoon and met a specialist on the Icelandic language. He told us about how they are trying to preserve the language using more of a Norse language than other Norse countries and sticking to the odd characters in the spellings. He said many of the Norse languages these days are adding in English words and dropping some of the sounds that make the language so distinctive.
After the talk, while walking back to the hotel, I spotted a jewelry store and popped inside. A pair of earring that looked like ice caught my eye. I inquired what the price would be in dollars and purchased myself a birthday gift that will remind me of this wonderful birthday trip.
Dinner our last night was in the Harpa. A concert hall we’d been staring at every day from our hotel. After dinner and a delicious dessert of berry sorbet, a caramel nougat and berry cream slice on a nut crust, we attended a play. Icelandic Sagas: The Greatest Hits. It was a two person show that quickly ran through many of the Icelandic Sagas in a witty and hilarious depiction. I left the theater laughing until I realized I had to get up at 3:30 am to catch the bus to take me to the airport.
I’m so glad I took the chance to go on this trip. I enjoyed the other nine participants and made friends. And I traded emails with the guide so I can contact him when I need information for the book I plan to set in Iceland. I hope the Authors Guild can come up with another interesting trip next year. It could become a yearly trip for me.
Thank you for reading my blogs about my trip to Iceland. Keep checking in as I post about my jet boat trip up the Snake River and other adventures in pursuit of research for books.