Merry Christmas!

I hope you are spending this day, or weekend, with people you care about or how you wish to celebrate or not celebrate this time of year.

We are spending the day with our family who live down the road. We see them all the time, and we live rural. One of the perks of being rural. 😉

As always at the end of the year, I figure out what I’ve accomplished and where I want to go with my writing. I am ending a mystery series. The last book is written and will be published in early 2021. I’m starting a new murder mystery series that I’m nervous and excited about. It’s requiring a lot of research because it is set in a business I know nothing about- Indian run casinos. And the protagonist is female disable veteran. Lots to learn!

I’m excited to write the next Gabriel Hawke book which will deal with Missing and Murdered Indigenous women. I know that sounds bad to say I’m excited about writing it. But what I really mean, is I hope by using this as a premise in my book, I can shed more light on the problem. And 75% of the proceeds from this book will go to the MMIW organization.

If you haven’t had a chance to start the Shandra Higheagle murder mystery series, or have been putting off getting the 7th book in the series, Yuletide Slaying, it is available right now at all ebook venues for $0.99. It was picked by Books2Read for a special Christmas promotion. http://d2d.tips/diehardchristmas 

The best part of Christmas to me is finding the perfect gift for each friend and family member. I love the search, wrapping the gift, and then the look on their faces when they open the gift. That and spending the day together, playing cards, visiting, and enjoying good food.

Wishing you a fabulous Christmas and a New Year that brings you all the joy and love you could ever wish for!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

The Rest of the Trip

I can’t believe how time got away from me! Here is how the return trip from Wisconsin went. I’ve had the photos downloaded to my computer since I arrived home and have been so busy with Christmas and writing things that I didn’t realize I’d missed writing about it. I really need to put the days I plan to blog here on my phone so it reminds me.

We picked up the 5 piglets. 4 gilts and one little boar. My daughter was excited because they all came from the original lines that started the whole IPP (Idaho Pasture Pig) breed.

On the way back we buzzed through Wisconsin but not before stopping at a small store and purchasing cheese curds. We’d heard so much about Wisconsin cheese we had to see if it stacked up to our beloved Tillmook cheese. While we enjoyed snacking on the cheese curds as we drove, I have to say, it is really hard to beat Tillamook medium cheddar cheese.

When also buzzed back through Minnesota stopping that night in Fargo, N.D. We woke up the following more to frosted inside windows. All the little piggies in the back of the van had made so much moisture that we had to scrape the inside of the windows before we could take off driving.

North Dakota was flat and would have been a blip if we hadn’t spotted Salem Sue. She was a very large cow on a hill outside of New Salem, North Dakota. We took a short break from sitting in the van to check her out.

Traveling through North Dakota we saw this unique and interesting metal sculpture alongside the road.

Pushing that second day, we made it to Butte, Montana. We crossed the Rockies in the dark so we didn’t get to see them very good, but enjoyed the drive through Montana. It has different terrains and vegetation. My daughter and I were both surprised at the size of Butte. I don’t know why I thought it would be smaller. And it sits down in a hole of sorts surrounded by mountains.

The third day we took off out of Butte, crossed Idaho, and returned home in eastern Oregon by 7 pm.

It was a quick trip which helped me check North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin off the list of states I’ve seen.

How about you? How many of the U.S. states have you been to?

Headed to Wisconsin

I have always said, my bucket list is seeing all 50 states. When my youngest daughter asked if I wanted to accompany her to Wisconsin to pick up pigs, I jumped at the opportunity.

First, I’ve not been to North Dakota, Minnesota, or Wisconsin. Three of the states we would drive through. Second, I didn’t want my daughter and her 16 month-old traveling that far by themselves.

We left home early Wednesday morning, traveling out of Oregon, into Idaho, across the potato state and into Montana. I’d traveled through this part of Idaho and into Montana several times before with my husband. It wasn’t new to me, but it was the first time I’d been there at this time of the year. We spent night number one at Bozeman. We had only a few slightly slick roads the closer we traveled to Bozeman. Of course, this was after dark, making the drive a bit slower. And, it was country that would have been pretty, if it hadn’t been dark. But the Freeway was clear.

Driving out of Bozeman

Thursday morning we were on the road by seven and drove across Montana and all the way across North Dakota. What we saw of eastern Montana was unique rock formations and rolling hills. North Dakota was flat, herds of antelope, and well derricks. The unfortunate thing… all the places I really wanted to see each day, we drove through after dark. Going from west to east, we lost an hour each day in time zones and the darkness descended early. We spent the second night in Fargo, North Dakota. It was larger than I’d thought.

We saw many silos in Minnesota

Friday, I was excited. I was to meet up with a writer I’d known online for 14 years but had never met in person. We had lunch with Lauri Robinson, a Harlequin author, at her home. It was fun to see she was just like I had envisioned she’d be. She made us a wonderful chicken and wild rice soup and bread for lunch. We visited a couple of hours and then moved on to Wisconsin. We spent the night in Crandon, Wisconsin about 10 miles before where we would pick up the pigs.

One of the lakes in Minnesota.

I’ll tell that tale next week. 😉

My #2 Happy Place

While I am a HUGE homebody and love being at home more than anything else, I love going to the Oregon Coast. In fact, I try to go a couple times a year for week long writing retreats.

This week I am at Rockaway Beach trying to get at least half of the next Shandra Higheagle book written. I’m getting close!

The week started out with wicked waves and wind. The trees were practically leaning sideways and the old log home that I stay in creaked, moaned, and screeched as tree limbs scraped across the windows.

The waves were not only the largest I’ve ever seen here, they were rolling north rather than straight at the shore. The water level, even at low tide was washing clear up to the edge of the embankment. I didn’t feel safe to walk the beach on those days.

water lapping at the steps to walk onto the beach

Then the wind calmed and the water went back to normal and I was able to take a couple of walks each day. The walks are my reward for getting so many words written in a session.

This photo shows the end of rainbow out in the distance after a night of pouring rain, thunder, and lightning.

This next photo looked like a petrified seagull digging its way out of the sand. What do you think?

The other photos were a bit of color and I always see beached jellyfish. I can see a story in just about anything I look at. I haven’t decided if it’s a blessing or a curse. LOL

I don’t know where the colorful leaf came from but I like the colors. The Jellyfish seemed to me to be looking for a hiding place in the kelp.

Down the road in one of my mystery books, a story that came to me while I was walking on the beach another trip, will be used as the premise/plot in a mystery book.

I need to get back to my writing. I have 8,000 more words to write today so I can go home tomorrow with the number of words I wanted to get done on this trip.

Here is a parting photo:

Itching to Decorate for Christmas & Party!

As hubby keeps saying, “It isn’t Thanksgiving yet!” However, last year for some reason, I can’t remember, we only had the decorations up for a few weeks and I felt slighted. I feel like I need to get the decorations up so I can enjoy them longer. I’ve already started listening to Christmas music- Penatonixs- but I’m still not ready to gorge on Hallmark Christmas movies.

I’m also going to be gone all next week at a writing retreat on the coast. Which will cut into time to get other things done *cough* Christmas presents *cough*. I always sew something for the grandkids. I know my kids enjoyed when my mom would give them things she made herself.

And, I’ll lose a week in December when I travel to Wisconsin with my daughter to pick up pigs. You can believe I’ll be blogging about that trip!

My Norfolk Pine with lights

The more I think and write about this, I will take down some of the Fall decorations and be prepared to have our oldest daughter and her girls along with another granddaughter help me decorate the house the day after Thanksgiving! Then it will be finished and I won’t have to worry about it when I’m on the trip.

How about you? Do you like to decorate or have your house decorated for the holidays? I tend to do something for every season/holiday. It makes the house look happy.

I’m having a “Where in the world is Isabella Mumphrey?” Facebook party to reveal the new covers for my Isabella Mumphrey action adventure/suspense/thriller trilogy. There will be clues and those who leave the correct answers will be in the running for some great prizes. Books, gift cards, tote bags, swag, and other goodies.

So join me Nov. 14th on Facebook. Sign in that you are attending today so you will be ready to join the fun at 5 pm PST.

https://www.facebook.com/events/471554667120961

And book 1 Secrets of a Mayan Moon is on sale in ebook for $0.99 through the weekend.

Secrets of a Mayan Moon

Book one of the Isabella Mumphrey Adventure series

Move over Indiana Jones and MacGyver- Isabella Mumphrey has arrived!

Child prodigy and now Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her job. Unless she can decipher an ancient stone table—and she can. She heads to Guatemala at the request of her mentor, but drug trafficking bad guys and artifact thieves wreak havoc on her scholarly intentions.

When undercover DEA agent, Tino Kostantine, meets Dr. Mumphrey it’s obvious she’s never been in a jungle or outside of the States. Entangled in helping her discover the truth in the tablets may make both of them lost casualties buried forever.

https://books2read.com/u/bzQEE4

Fall Trip to the Steens Mountains

Our granddaughter had this past Thursday off from school for the end of the 9 week period. I told her we were going to the Steens to take photos of the trees changing.

We were about a month too late from the looks of the naked trees. The good thing is Aspen trees are pretty even when they don’t have any leaves.

Aspen trees at Fish Lake

Our first stop was the Peter French Round Barn near Diamond, Oregon. It was built in the late 1880’s by Peter French a cattle baron of the time and area. They used it to continue to train horses to ride and drive wagons during the winter months. Because I had been there several times before the only thing I took photos of were the pair of barn owls roosting on the main center pole of the building.

From there we continued to the mountain.

At Fish Lake, we stopped an took photos of the water, the trees, and the ambiance. It was a peaceful and a beautiful day.

Fish Lake

The canyon where we usually stop to take photos of the golds, yellows, and reds on the aspen trees was a barren sight. The trees had already lost their leaves.

Alas, we were too late. This canyon is usually filled with color.

Traveling on, we stopped and took photos at Kiger Canyon. It’s named for the wild Kiger mustangs that were found in the area in the early 1900s.

Kiger Canyon

Then on up to the top. Here we looked over the edge at the Alvord desert below, some irrigated fields, and the road on the SE side of the mountains. Here while our granddaughter tried capturing photos of a small bird, I found a rock with half a dozen ladybugs wandering around on it.

View from the top.
Lady bugs on the rock

Moseying on, and heading down the south entrance road, we stopped at one of my favorite spots about halfway down a canyon. There is a small trail and some interesting rocks and vegetation.

I liked this dead looking tree.

And to cap off our day of traveling the loop on the Steens, we must have seen nearly a hundred wild horses. It is the most I’ve ever seen on a trip up to the mountain. They were scattered all along the ridges and gathered near watering holes.

Wil horses on one of the hills.
Granddaughter taking a photo

I need to get our granddaughter’s photos put on the computer so I can see what kind of photos she took. She tends to like to take photos from ground level or of interesting things, I wouldn’t think to photograph.

She would squat down and get certain plants in the photos or rocks. She would also hold the camera near the ground. She has made some awesome photos on other occasions.

It was a fun day. I hope you enjoyed my little photo collection of a Fall trip on the Steens Mountain Loop.

It’s November!

My! Where has the time gone? I saw my last post was about October… I’m slacking! In defense, I’ve been trying to get several large projects finished.

One is the latest Gabriel Hawke book which is with a critique partner and a beta reader. Waiting for it to come back, I’ve been updating the Isabella Mumphrey books to make the insides as shining and spectacular as the new covers!

I’m having a “Where in the world is Isabella Mumphrey?” Facebook party on November 14th. Come on over to the party and join in the fun. I’ll be giving clues to find my character Isabella Mumphrey, famed anthropologist and Indiana Jones fan who uses a survival tin like MacGyver.

At the party I’ll be revealing new covers, picking winners for prizes throughout the two hours, answering your questions and will give out to larger prizes to two people who discover where Isabella is. To join the party just go here and say you’re going to attend! https://www.facebook.com/events/471554667120961

I’ve also been busy working out the kinks in my new mystery series that will be coming in 2021, while also starting the next Shandra book and gathering information for the next Hawke book. Yes, I have been occupied!

Took this photo while scouting the area where the latest Gabriel Hawke murder happens.

And I’ve been working on the binding on one quilt and piecing together another one and coming up with handmade gifts for the grandkids for Christmas. Life is never boring for me!

This is the quilt I’m putting the binding on.

Come hang out at my party on the 14th! I’d love to visit with you!

https://www.facebook.com/events/471554667120961

It’s October!

I don’t know why but I’ve always loved the month of October. I think it’s the cooler weather, pretty leaves on the trees and bushes, and gearing up for the end of the year holidays.

I have my house decorated inside and out with fake Fall leaves, pumpkins (scary and plain), and lights and candles. I’m not a huge fan of it getting dark earlier. That means the feeding has to be done earlier and that cuts into the afternoon writing and sewing time.

Yes, you saw sewing. This time of year and through the winter, I tend to sew in the later afternoon and evening. It just feels like I need to stay busy but my brain is fried from writing during the day and sewing is kind of a no-brain work thing. Especially when I’m sewing or cutting pieces for quilt tops.

This is what I’m working on now.

I picked up the “fat quarters” while I was in Hawaii last year. I have always like batik fabric and wanted to make a quilt out of it to represent our 40th Anniversary trip.

We have four cats who stay in my hubby’s shop. I check on them and feed them every morning and evening. Cautious- seen below, is so named because he usually is cautious about people. Lately he’s been coming down off his high perch and greeting me when I feed.

Our daughter raises IPP pigs (Idaho Pasture Pigs). She has a litter that were born not too long ago. This is a photo of one that I thought was cute.

On the writing front- I finished Turkey’s Fiery Roost, book 6 in the Gabriel Hawke series. It is off to critique partners and a beta reader.

Now I’m formatting Collateral Love, novella 4 in the Tumbling Creek Ranch series. That will be publishing for a low price next week, so stay tuned or get on my western romance newsletter list- https://bit.ly/2JVGe4j

And I’m getting excited about my cover reveal party for the new covers of my Isabella Mumphrey Adventure series. That party will be happening in November. Stay tuned to learn more about that.

This month, October 24th, the Cowboy Kisses Authors will be having a Facebook Party on our Facebook Page. I’m scheduled for noon Mountain Time. We’ll be giving away books, prizes, and having fun. Drop by if you have a chance: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CowboyKisses

Looking forward to the rest of this month. I’ll keep you posted of all the fun going on.

Enjoying the Fall Weather

The weather has cooled, we’ve had a bit of rain, though not enough to make things wet. I enjoy wearing sweatshirts and snuggling in blankets while reading books and watching television.

With the cooler weather and more time to go horseback riding, I’ve been riding my horse more.

Looking from halfway up the hill

Since we’ve been riding on the hill, I purchased a breast collar to keep my saddle from sliding back on my barrel shaped horse. LOL I like that Jan, my gelding, doesn’t get fat, but that also means he doesn’t have a belly to keep the cinch from sliding backwards when we go up a hill.

On two of the rides, I had to stop after going up hill, get off, release the cinch, pull everything forward, and tighten the cinch back up.

Jan and the new breast collar hooked to the latigo rings. Too low.

On another ride, I tried the breast collar but it set too low across his chest and shoulder, buckling it to the latigo rings. My saddle is now with a friend to does leather work getting two D rings put up higher on the saddle skirt.

When I get the saddle back, I can get back to riding with my granddaughter.

It is also the time of year when we trek up to the Steens Mountain to see the aspen trees change colors. I would love to do it by horseback, but that’s not happening this year. My daughter is still struggling with finding the best horses for her and her kids. But, I’m looking forward to taking photos of Fall aspens to put on the blog.

Time and Focus

Lately I’ve been struggling to find the time for things I want to do and staying focused when I do get the time.

Writing is one of the things I do for me. Not only to have some money to spend how I wish but also because I don’t feel settled if I’m not writing. Years ago, I would fantasize bad things happening to the people I loved when I was apart from them. Once I started writing, I stopped having those fantasies. My imagination had a creative outlet by writing stories.

These days, I write nearly every day. It is very rare that I find my mind going to places I don’t direct it to. I enjoy the flexing of my brain while trying to figure out a new book’s plot or coming up with characters.

Writing mysteries is my favorite thing to do. I can bring justice to the world in my imagination while I can’t to the real world.

I’m getting ready to reveal something big in the coming months. One is the fact I will be publishing my 50th book, the other is a new mystery series.

So stay tuned for all the new fun things that are going to happen in 2021.

And I’d like to add that this week only you can purchased the first three Gabriel Hawke Novels in an ebook box set for $0.99! That’s at all ebook vendors.

Books 1-3 in the Gabriel Hawke Novels

Oregon State Trooper Gabriel Hawke works the Fish and Wildlife Divison in Wallowa County. He not only upholds the law but protects the land of his ancestors.

Murder of Ravens

Book 1

State Trooper Gabriel Hawke is after poachers in the Wallowa Whitman National Forest. When he comes across a body wearing a wolf tracking collar, he follows the trail of clues.

Mouse Trail Ends

Book 2

Dead bodies in the wilderness. A child is missing. Oregon State Trooper Hawke is an expert tracker, but he isn’t the only one looking for the child.

Rattlesnake Brother

Book 3

State Trooper Gabriel Hawke encounters a hunter with an illegal tag. The name on the tag belongs to the Wallowa County District Attorney and the man holding the tag isn’t the public defender. 

Universal Book Link: https://books2read.com/u/3LgqpJ