Time Flys

Wow! It is already the middle of September and it feels like I’m still in August!

I had a wonderful time at the Sumpter Flea Market with Mary Vine, a granddaughter and my new dog Nia. We sold books, visited, and had lots of laughs.

Mary and I at Sumpter

I came home and judged two days at the Harney County Fair. The first day was 4-H static exhibits. That means I judge food, art, photography, leathercraft, llama wool, scrapbooking, and educational displays. I was sad there wasn’t any sewing, knitting, or crocheting. And fewer entries than in the past. The following day, I judged open class textiles- so sewing, quilting, knitting, and crochet. The next day I watched a granddaughter show her pig and a grandson (who I watched show is goat the day before) show a guinea pig.

This week I had a critique meeting with local writers and am headed today to Mt. Angel, Oregon where I’ll be manning a booth with other NIWA authors at Oktoberfest. I’ll be at the booth from 4-10 pm on the 15th, from 10 am- 4pm on the 16th, then I hop over to the coast to visit family and come back on Sunday from 2-6 pm to man the booth and help take it down.

After I help take the booth down, I’m back to the coast for a week of writing and hanging out with family.

My favorite place on the Oregon coast

I need to write, because I am behind schedule with the books I had planned to write this year. I’m going to be one book shy of what I had envisioned having finished by the end of the year.

But the events that have been intruding on my writing time won’t be a part of my life in the coming year so I can concentrate on more time at home and writing 4 books a year. Unless the ideas start to dwindle. So far, they haven’t. I’m still 3 books ahead with ideas for the Gabriel Hawke books and 2 ideas ahead for the Spotted Pony Casino books.

Speaking of the Spotted Pony Casino, book 3, Double Down, is now available in ebook and print.

Double Down

Spotted Pony Casino, book 3

A donkey, a three-legged dog, and a war-scarred veteran outwit the killer.

Dela Alvaro is the main suspect in the stabbing death of a man she stopped from beating his wife to death. The detective she abhors is ready to toss her in jail and not look for any other suspects. When FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce is called in and Tribal Officer Heath Seaver is forbidden to work the case, Dela decides to find the killer.

Was it the wife, the drug dealer, or the man wanting to take over the victim’s business? Dela and Heath ask questions and work to prove her innocence. If she is found guilty not only will she lose her new life but she’ll never be able to solve the secret of her father.  

Universal Buy Link:

https://books2read.com/u/4D6Wa7

Getting Ready for Sumpter Flea!

The past seven years I’ve been attending the Sumpter Flea Market every Memorial and Labor Day weekend in a small town in NE Oregon with my author friend Mary Vine. She had been attending the event for several years before she invited me to join her. We both have books set in the area and enjoy visiting with one another as well as selling our books.

We started out with just a couple of tables, book stands, and a canopy for our spot. We now have a tent, more tables, and more book stands. We have also established ourselves there and have repeat readers coming back to see what we have new or to add to their book collections from us. It’s fun seeing these people. I remember their faces but have a heck of a time remembering their names.

Cracker Creek behind the cabin

When I first started attending, Mary and her husband owned a cabin at Bourne, a ghost town 6 miles beyond Sumpter up a bumpy gravel road. It would take me nearly 30 minutes to drive the 6 miles in my car. That and the beautiful scenery and usually pretty weather. At Bourne, I would stay in a one-room cabin with bunk beds, no plumbing or electricity. The best part was sitting on the tiny deck of the cabin watching and listening to Cracker Creek.

I would take my dog, Tink, for company. We’d go for walks or when I wrote she’d sleep on one of the beds. There were sometimes several families staying at their cabins while I was there and sometimes there would only be a couple of families. A couple of times I’d wake up to it snowing or having snowed during the night.

Bourne one of the snowy mornings.

Mary said some people who have stayed up at Bourne have heard saloon music during the night. And others said they heard children playing. I didn’t hear either. I enjoyed my stays in Bourne, but Mary and her husband sold the cabin and now I Airbnb in Baker City.

I make book bags for each weekend. All during the year I either sew on quilts for grandkids or I sew book bags. These are bags that I give away with each book sale. It makes it easier for the buyer to carry their purchases. One time I had a woman show up at our booth saying she saw one of my bags and it reminded her she had to come get the next book in a series from me. So they do work!

book bags

Mary and I enjoy visiting, talking about writing, life, and watching the dogs that go by. Yes, nearly everyone who walks by has a dog or 2 or 3. We discuss what breeds we think they are and if the owner comes near our booth we ask to see who was closest to the right breeds.

This weekend, I’m taking my new puppy Nia and a granddaughter to puppy sit. She has to learn to go everywhere with me and be used to people, so we are starting her “training” now. It will be fun to travel with a dog again. The dog I lost in February, Tink, had traveled everywhere with me and I’m looking forward to a traveling companion again.

Nia enjoying the warm grass

It looks like it should be in the 90s. Hopefully, we’ll get a bit of a breeze or it can get hot in the tent, even though we put the sides up and are under large pine trees most of the day.

If you’re in the Sumpter, Oregon area come on by and say “Hi!” I also have some freebies I hand out.

My New Co-writer

Last February, I lost my writing buddy. She was 15 and had gone on all my writing research trips, some book signings, and always lay on a doggy bed next to my desk when I wrote. Losing Tink, a min-pin Chihuahua cross was hard.

I received her as a gift from an older couple we knew. They had been given a Min-pin/chihuahua male from their granddaughter as a gift. Whenever we visited them or they visited us, I would hold, pet, and enjoy that dog.

Tink liked to ride on tractors, so hubby made her places to ride.

Several years after they’d received Mokie, they showed up at my house and said we were going for a ride. We drove out to what is called Crooked River Ranch in central Oregon and walked into a house with 8 puppies playing. Their male had fathered the litter and they were giving me the pick of the litter. I sat down on the floor and watched the puppies play. One waddled over to me, they were only 5 weeks old, and I picked her up. She had the same coloring as her father and little kink in her tail. After holding her for only a minute, I said, “This is the one I want.”

Instead of them keeping her for a few more weeks they told me to go ahead and take her as the mother didn’t have enough milk and they had been feeding them puppy chow anyway. So I carried Tink home in my cupped hands. That’s how small she was!

It was November and we had snow on the ground that was deeper than she was. I cleared a spot to take her out to go to the bathroom, but she would shiver and not take care of business. That winter she was trained on pee pads in the laundry room. She was a quick learner and smart.

Tink at a booksigning

Because my husband worked and there weren’t any kids at home anymore, Tink went everywhere I did rather than leave her home alone. She loved the research trips where we’d travel on gravel roads and walk through historic places. She didn’t care for other dogs and thought she was a person.

She went to outdoor booksignings with me and on walks and even horseback rides.

I think our favorite trip together was Silver City, Idaho. Tink rode shotgun as we wound our way up to the near ghost town on the top of a mountain.

And when we arrived, we walked all over the old town. Tink liked the creek that ran down between the town and the cemetery.

I miss her and had said I wasn’t getting another little dog for a while…

A month ago, hubby and I were in the Verizon store getting his phone looked at. We walked out, sat down in the car, and we both saw a sign at the same time- Puppy Love. Puppy adoptions. We glanced at each other. “It doens’t hurt to just look,” he said.

We walked around looking at all the puppies. A shy chiweenie (chihuahua/dachshund cross) caught my eye. I picked her up and she tucked her head under my chin. Yes, I fell in love. However, hubby took one look at the price and said, “Let’s go.” I put her down and followed him out to the car.

On the 3 hour drive home, I mentioned the puppies a few times. The next morning, we got up and hubby asked me if I’d dreamed about the puppy. I said yes. I was going to be back in the area on the weekend and he told me I could get the puppy.

And that is how I ended up with Nia- She is not so shy anymore! She loves to run, to play, and to bark at my poor husband. He wants to make friends with her, but she hasn’t come around completely to thinking he’s okay.

Nia being tall.

She lays on a bed by my desk while I write. She is proving to be a good traveler. We’ll see how well she does when we go to the Sumpter Flea Market on Labor Day weekend and spend three days selling books.

She likes to grab rugs at the corner and pull them back. And she has a stubborn streak when we go on walks if she finds something that she wants to sniff longer, she straightens her little legs and pokes them in the ground to make her harder to pull away. She is definitely not as willing to please as Tink, but I think she will be a lot of fun.

Now to wake her up to help me plot the next book. 😉

More Adventure

While my sister-in-law and I were on the research road trip in Montana last month, we discovered a wonderful museum. Ninepipes Museum of early Montana History. The museum was fun and filled with both Flathead Indian history as well as information about the people who settled in Montana.

Ninepipes is a nonprofit museum built by Laurel and Bud Cheff Jr. You can wear headphones as you walk through the 11,000 square foot building. Bud Cheff is the voice you hear telling you about both the equipment and day to day items used by the settlers and the tribes of the area. Photos weren’t allowed. Otherwise, I would have them here for you to see the wonderful exhibits and displays.

There were so many items we went through the museum twice. The displays were nicely set up with easy to read signage.

Besides the museum with the exhibits there was also one large room with stuffed Montana animals and birds in their habitat. It was a unique site after looking at regalia, western wear, and saddles to step into a room of life-like wildlife.

Also in the building were beautiful items handcrafted by Native American artists. I fell in love with several items but since it was early in our trip, I refrained from going crazy and buying everything I would have liked. 😉

Outside, there was a buffalo wagon. It was built in 1906 so the U.S. Government could haul buffalo from Flathead Indian Reservation to make room for settlers. They hauled 700 buffalo to the railroad Ravalli to ship them to Canada. These wagons hauled the buffalo, one male, or two females or small bulls 30 miles to the railroad station in Ravalli, Montana. A crew of men were kept busy repairing the wagons.

Buffalo wagon

Before the museum we stopped at the St. Ignasius Catholic Church in St. Ignatius, Montana. The church was built in the 1890s on the Flathead Indian Reservation. It has 58 beautiful paintings that are made even more spectacular by the colors and detail work that surround them.

altar

The nod to the people who lived in the area first is seen in the two life sized paintings at the back of the church. They are Christ as an Indian Chief and the Lord’s Mother an Indian mother with a baby in a cradleboard.

The woman working in the gift shop at the mission answered my questions about Jocko Road, the next destination on our trip. I’ll have that adventure for you on another blog post.

Cool Off with a Book

With the warm weather of summer, you might be interested in reading a book where the characters are battling a snowstorm to help cool you down. Book #9 in the Gabriel Hawke novels, Owl’s Silent Strike, is now available in ebook and print and soon in audio.

This book was fun to write and took a bit of research. It is set in the Wallowa Mountains of NE Oregon in December. An early snowstorm hits the mountain as Hawke is helping his friend Dani travel up the mountain on horseback to retrieve her helicopter at the Lodge Resort she runs during summer and fall.

I had to read up on frostbite, do an experiment on blood drops in snow, learn about setting a facture, and my retired LEO explained some police procedures and protocol after reading the first draft, which meant I had to change three scenes. 😉 But that’s why I have beta readers. My daughter also had me changing up things in my scene where Hawke set Dani’s fractured leg. They both had excellent information that made the book better.

Then I had to contact a person who is my go-to for aircraft information. I wanted to know if Dani could still fly the helicopter with a broken leg and if the radio in the helicopter could be used to call for help. He was very informative and answered my questions with added information to make my character sound like a pilot. That is always a plus!

Here is the blurb, cover, and buy link if you are looking for a “cool” read this summer.

Unexpected snowstorm…

Unfortunate accident…

And a body…

What started out as a favor and a leisurely trip into the mountains, soon turns State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s life upside down. The snowstorm they were trying to beat comes early, a horse accident breaks Dani Singer’s leg, and Hawke finds a body in the barn at Charlie’s Lodge.

Hawke sets Dani’s leg, then follows the bloody trail of a suspect trying to flee the snow-drifted mountains. Hawke is torn between getting the woman he loves medical care and knowing he can’t leave a possible killer on the mountain.

Before the killer is brought to justice, Dani and Hawke will put their relationship to the test and his job on the line.

https://books2read.com/u/bw19DG

I Love Powwow Music and Atmosphere

June was a full month and July is even fuller!

On July 2nd I attended the Wildhorse Powwow at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla outside of Pendleton Oregon. I had hoped to talk to three people I have been corresponding with at Umatilla via text, email, and phone.

One person was one of the emcees for the event. He was kept busy the five hours I spent at the event. Another one had been spending time with his family, and the other wasn’t attending the powwow until the next day. Since it had been a spur of the moment idea to attend, I hadn’t asked them ahead of time if they would be there. That’s on me.

beautiful beadwork on the regalia

When I arrived the vendor booths were just opening. I wandered among the booths ogling the pretty jewelry and I did go home with a pair of studs with various colors of stones. I also brought home a beautiful rain/wind proof jacket that was designed by a family from the Warm Springs. I had a nice chat with the gentleman selling the coats. I liked the bright colors, but it was the paint brush flower on the back that pulled me into the sale. That wildflower is my favorite.

I finished looking at the vendor booths and they had started a singing competition. The contestants could us a hand drum if they wished and could only sing two verses of a song. They sang in their language and then the translation in English. I thought some of the songs were prettier in their own language. There were two young boys about seven and eight who sang. The emcee kidded with them they were a bit young to be singing such a sad love song. The emcees with their witty comments and introductions were fun.

After the singing the dancing began, with first the flags and Grand Entry where all the dancers enter the dancing area. Wow! So many people and beautiful regalia!

The start of Grand Entry

While I like the traditional dances, my favorites are the women’s fancy dance where they dance with more energy and use a shawl like wings of a butterfly. These dresses and shawls are colorful.

Women’s Fancy Dance

I like the men’s chicken dance. This dance the men where elaborate regalia of feathers. They squat and bob their heads like a bird. Each has their own little movements that defines them individually.

I also like the jingle dancers. Their dresses have rows of cone shaped metal jingles that make noise as they dance.

Jingle Dancers

The dancing starts with the children and then the elders. It is wonderful to see families during the procession and when the children were dancing, many parents were by their sides to make them comfortable.

The men’s fancy dance is an array of flying colors! My video is not very good and I couldn’t figure out how to edit it. But here it is:

The beat of the drums feels like a heartbeat. I find the music soothing and enjoy it as much as the dancing. The comradery of the dancers, the grandmothers, mother, and fathers helping the young dancers with their regalia, and the overall feeling of joy and gratefulness that they are here and can dance as their ancestors is why I enjoy watching the dancing. And is one of the reasons I like to have Native American characters in my books. Their resiliency, adapting to technology but not losing their sense of self and their people, and their wit all show that they will be here long after many other cultures have been absorbed into a mix of many cultures.

Roaming

So far this month I’ve been to the Tamastslikt Museum outside of Pendleton, Oregon at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Then over to Orofino, ID and the Dwarshak Fish Hatchery and Dam. Then I went to the St. Ignasius Mission on the Flathead Indian Reservation. After that, I took photographs of the area around Salmon Lake in Montana, and then I spent several days with my cousin and her husband.

It’s good to be home but most of my travels had to do with making my Spotted Pony Casino mysteries and Gabriel Hawke books better.

I was on a research trip. Though a few of the things I researched aren’t for the book in progress.

At Tamastslikt Museum, I wandered through the exhibits, reading and trying to connect myself to the characters I write who live on this reservation. I enjoyed the videos that played at some of the exhibits. The voices of the people and their thoughts helped me to understand a little more about the Umatilla people. I’m slowly making more and more contacts there and reaching out to be able to portray my characters in a realistic way.

A display at the Tamastslikt Museum

At Orofino, I spent the night with my brother and sister-in-law. My brother works for Dwarshak Fish Hatchery. They were getting ready for a ceremony at the hatchery that Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland attended. While there we took a walk up to the dam. I visited when there had been a lot of rain and the Clearwater River was running over its banks.

normally 1700 cubic ft of water per second comes out- this was 25,000 cubic ft per second

My sister-in-law (SIL) and I drove to Missoula, Montana where we had an Airbnb for two nights. The next day we drove north to check out the St. Ignasius Mission and the Flathead Reservation. While investigating the routes we would take, I noticed a gravel road that went from Highway 93 to Highway 83, near Salmon Lake that I also wanted to check out. At the church we asked the volunteer guide if she knew anything about the road. She said it was navigable and it would be a pretty drive.

She was correct! The drive was gorgeous through timber, brush, and many overflowing streams and waterfalls. The best part of the drive was seeing a black bear not thirty feet from the road. My SIL rolled down her window and talked to him while taking pictures.

By the time we reached Salmon Lake we had traveled through rain and snow and it was raining. We circled back on the highways to our Airbnb. The following morning we took the highway back to Salmon Lake and with overcast skies and no rain, I took photos of the Island Resort that will be a setting in my next Gabriel Hawke book. I had wanted to get on the island, but I couldn’t as only guests (and I couldn’t afford the price for a night) were allowed. I tried to talk to one of the staff who arrived at the boat house on the land side of the resort, but he blew me off. I took photos from the boat house and then a road up higher and more north on the highway to get as many angles of the island and the resort as I could. There was a smaller island not far from the resort island that may play into the story as well. I’m hoping the scenario I had in mind for the beginning of the book will work once I do a little more research.

Island Resort

Once I had all the photos I wanted, we continued north and spent two nights with a cousin in Lakeside, MT on the north end of Flathead Lake. Our second day there, our hosts took us to the National Bison Range. There we saw deer, elk, antelope, bison, and grizzly bears. We spent the most time watching a young sow grizzly grubbing. She was up a hill from the road where we had spotted her. She rolled a piece of log to get the bugs underneath and the hunk of wood that appeared to be about two feet around and three feet long tumbled down the hill, jumping and rolling! It was a fun thing to see. Up around a corner of the road we were on, there was an even younger grizzly, also grubbing, in a more hidden spot.

Young Grizzly sow

I would say my research trip was very successful. Now I need to get the Spotted Pony Casino book I’m writing finished so I can start on the Hawke book set in Montana!

Stay tuned as I will be going more in depth in several of the places we visited on this trip in future blog posts. I wanted to get something up as I am late this month with this post.

Cold Spring = Slow Growing

Life on the farm is slogging along. We are three weeks behind schedule. Meaning the weather has been so cold that the grass and alfalfa aren’t growing well. That means we will be cutting hay three weeks later than usual and we will be lucky, unless the summer turns around and stays warm, to get three cuttings of hay.

Several of my plants that require warmth and sunshine haven’t even put on leaves. They look as sparse and grim as they did during the winter. The peonies are leafy and have buds but have yet to bloom. I have a nice garden box, hubby and I built during the winter to plant my garden in, but it’s so cold, I think I’ll wait until after my trip in two weeks and hope the fall is warm enough to allow everything to mature to be harvested.

Our grandson who likes to ride my mare, Patty, took her to a branding last weekend. He is a novice roper, but he and Patty managed to rope one calf and they both looked like they knew what they were doing.

Grandson and Patty keeping the rope tight.

As soon as I get caught up on blog posts (mine and a couple of group blogs I’m on) and get Double Down finished, I plan to start riding my gelding Jan every other day. Right now, it takes less time to go for my 3-4 mile walk a day than it would be to catch, saddle, ride, and unsaddle him. I need that extra time to get writing things done.

We lost our little dog, Tink, earlier this year and while my hubby said we couldn’t get another lap dog until one of the larger dogs is gone, he has sure been clingy with his sister’s little apple head chihuahua. LOL I would like a little dog, but I also want to wait. It is easier to travel with smaller dogs and one a piece. We took a few trips with the three dogs and it was not as relaxing. Harlie is lovable, but she is big and I swear she sheds every single hair she has every day and they grow back over night! I have never swept up so much hair from a dog before. I will miss her on my walks when she’s gone, but dang, I won’t miss her hair!

I’ll be heading out on a research trip in a couple weeks. I hope to get some good info for a book and to share with you on this blog later on. For now, send us some warm weather if you are having too much.

Spring Musings

This week we are finally getting some weather that feels like spring is here. I love the long days of sunshine and blue skies. Most of this month has been cold, windy, and wet. The wet I’m all for because it brings spring flowers and puts moisture in the ground for the hay crops.

I also like spring because it brings Memorial Weekend. The reason for the weekend is to remember the men and women who gave their lives so we can live free. I always donate money for a small red memorial poppy. There is a woman who brings them around in a basket at the Sumpter Flea Market. I’ve been attending this event with fellow author, Mary Vine for over five years. We set up a tent and sell our books over the three-day weekend. It has become as much a fun weekend with a friend as it has been about selling books. The fun part is having fans come back each year to buy the latest books.

Sumpter booth

This month I’m also trying to finish the third book in the Spotted Pony Casino mysteries. It has been slow since I’ve been attending track meets to watch the granddaughter that has been living with us the past two years. If I don’t have it finished by the time I go to Sumpter, I’ll be writing in the evenings. It needs to be finished because I’m going on a week-long trip with my sister-in-law to research the next book in June.

With the sunnier weather, I plan to get out and ride my horse more. As I get older, I have become a fair-weather equestrian. LOL I enjoy riding with the grandkids and riding by myself. My horse, Jan, is a mellow fellow and he has a slow easy stride that I like. I hope to go on several long trail rides this summer. If I do, you’ll see a post about it here.

Me and Jan

Earlier in the month my hubby traded some hay for a manure spreader. We weren’t sure what he was getting as an older man we knew called him up and asked if he wanted it. When he drove up with the spreader on the trailer behind his pickup I smiled. It is the cutest thing! The size is perfect to pull behind my little purple tractor and to use in the two small fields we use or the horses and steers.

That’s the end of my musings. I hope you enjoyed this brief look into my life, both writing and personal.

My Current Writing Project & Road Trip

Right now, I’m working on the next book in my Spotted Pony Casino mystery series. Double Down, has been fun to write so far. A couple of Sundays ago, I was in the area of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation where these stories are set.

I believe in learning as much as I can about my settings. Therefore, I spent about an hour sitting in the Mission Market on the reservation and watched the people who came and went and their interactions. Studying people is one of my favorite pastimes and that day was no exception. I had a fresh, tasty salad made in the store while I people watched.

From the market I went to the tribal police station. I had hoped to get inside the building and talk to someone in law enforcement, but the building was locked. I peered in the windows as I walked around the building learning the entrances and exits and seeing the lay of the building. I have a scene in the current WIP (work in progress) where my character goes to the police station.

After the police station reconnaissance, I went to the nearby casino. While the casino in my books is fictional, I like to keep things close to real as I can. In this instance I wanted to see how real casino guards looked and did their jobs. I flitted from slot machine chair to slot machine chair watching six security guards and studying their uniforms. Then I followed a group of three who were refilling the ATM machines. That was a job I hadn’t thought the security guards would do. I would have thought that would be a job of someone from a bank. That little fact gave me an idea for another book premise. 😉

Yes, it doesn’t take much to spark my imagination. I won’t give the details away, but it would be a plausible premise.

Ignore the dirty windshield. This is Tutuilla where my character lives

I also made a side detour to the area on the reservation where my character lives. I wanted to make sure she could see some things that I had mentioned in the book.

George

Using what I already know, my main character now has a donkey as one of her pets. Since we have had two donkeys, one was Jethro (the same name as my character’s new donkey) and now with us still is George. Donkeys have so much personality, I thought it would make a great secondary animal for my main character. Her large, three-legged dog and now a donkey give her a reason to get out of the casino and go home. I will use some of George and Jethro’s antics to give a personality to my fictional Jethro.

So stay tuned for Double Down, book 3 in the Spotted Pony Casino Mysteries, hopefully releasing in August.