Photos to Covers

I find the best feature on my cell phone is the camera. I usually have the phone with me every time I step outside or go on trips.

That means I always have a camera. I enjoy taking photographs of nature. A billowy cloud can have so many colors and textures in it that I want a photo. The blue of the sky can capture my attention. The way the grass is leaning in the wind. Dust swirling or hiding the hill across the valley. A lizard, snake, horse, cat, bird.

Taken at the Oregon Coast

I can find many things to photograph. Buildings, rocks, hills, fence posts. If I see something unique, I want to capture it.

When I go places to research settings for my books, I take a ton of pictures hoping one will work for a cover of the book. When I am researching, I also take along the camera featured at the beginning of the post. Using the photo I pick, my cover designer then places the added elements the story needs.

Waterfall in Maui

I used a photo I took while in Kauai, Hawaii for the cover of Abstract Casualty. We, my cover designer and I, are currently working on the cover for Capricious Demise. I’ve scanned through all my photos and have found a couple that might work and have given her some ideas of some that can be purchased.

My photo with bird added

On the Gabriel Hawke novel covers, we add the animal that is in the title of the book. And maybe take liberty of adding a trail sign that wasn’t in the photo but adds to the “story” the cover tells. This was Murder of Ravens. The cover for Mouse Trail Ends the cover designer took a photo of mouse prints in the dirt and added a backpack and mouse. Rattlesnake Brother is produced from two photos I purchased. The steps of a courthouse and a rattlesnake. My jet boat trip on the Snake River doing research for Chattering Blue Jay gave me many photos to choose from. Once I decided which one, my cover designer add a blue jay to the photo in a realistic way. And Fox Goes Hunting, the cover photo is a photo I took while in Iceland. It is of the Krysuvik boiling pools. I purchased a photo of an Arctic Fox that my cover designer inserted in the photo.

Sometimes finding the right cover art can be as much work as writing the book. Don’t be me started on coming up with a good title!

June Adventure

After visiting my dad on Father’s Day at the Senior Living Center in Wallowa County, (where my Gabriel Hawke Novels are set) I headed to the setting of the next Hawke book.

While riding with a State Police Trooper also working Fish and Wildlife when I had the Hawke novels in their conceptual stage, the trooper pointed out a site that had been deemed an accidental death, but he thought otherwise. After he explained the whole thing to me and I saw the spot, I agreed with him.

Griz Flat Camp area

Ever since that ride-along, I’ve known that would be the scene of one of the murders that Hawke would help solve.

So, on the sunny June Sunday, I made a 93 mile loop to get photos of the area and acquaint myself with the roads and area.

The drive from Enterprise, Oregon in the NE corner of the state is pretty just about any time of year, but this time of year… the greens, the wildflowers, the fields, it is a visual delight!

Flora, Oregon

From Enterprise, I went north and turned west onto the Flora Highway. Flora is a small community that was a town at one time. The remnants of businesses, the school, and houses can be seen among the buildings still in use.

After Flora, I traveled through farm land and started down the steep winding Redmond grade to reach the Grande Ronde River. I crossed the river and continued into Troy, OR. The small community has houses, a motel, store and other conveniences for fishermen and rafters. Troy is set at at the crook of the Grande Ronde and Wenaha Rivers.

A photo from Griz Flat road toward Troy.

After taking photos of the campground where the murder will take place, I headed back on another route that followed the Grand Ronde River for several miles. I took a photo of a group rafting. The colorful rafts caught my eye.

Rafts on the Grand Ronde River

Along the way I had to stop and wait for cattle to move off the road. I thought it was a funny coincidence that when I came upon the cattle with white and black faces a song by Sia, the singer who wears a white and black wig, was playing on my radio. That’s why I took the photos of the cattle. LOL

It was a great day. I captured the photos I needed for the book cover and saw what I needed to see to write the book. Now to sit down and make my suspect chart and start pushing around ideas for a title. On the way home I toyed with Fire Ant Bites- but I’m not completely sold on it. I’ll have to play some more with ideas.

The drive was 90% gravel roads, which didn’t matter, I’m used to driving those. I went slow and enjoyed the tall green grass, the wheat and hay fields and even some cattle on the road.

My Birthday Month is Here!

It’s hard to believe that nearly half a year has gone by and most of it has been CRAZY! It’s June and that means it is my birthday month!

I was excited to have book 5 in my Gabriel Hawke Novels, Fox Goes Hunting, the book inspired by my birthday trip last June to Iceland, released this month. It came out on June 1st. Has had some great reviews, ones that made my day when I read them. I also received replies to my newsletter saying how much the readers enjoyed my stories to help them through these difficult times. Those made me choke up!

Then on June 1st I received an email from the Selfie Book Awards- this is a contest for self-published books. Murder of Ravens is in the top 5 finalists for that contest. I’ll find out later in the month who wins. The books were read by librarians and people from the book publishing industry. The reason I placed my book in this contest was the prize- $4000 worth of promotion.

I don’t have anything exciting planned for the rest of the month other than get the next Shandra Higheagle book finished and off to Critique Partners. Then I’m thinking about working on a novella in the Tumbling Creek Ranch series. Just to “clean my writing brain” from one mystery character to the next before I write the next Hawke book. We’ll see. It will depend on if the premise of the next Hawke book starts invading my thoughts more than writing the contemporary western romance.

I’m anxious for the weather to make up its mind if its going to be cold and rainy or hot and melting. LOL

Enjoy the beginning of June. Get out get some sunshine, check out the pretty flowers, and drink in the air. And if you can hike in the woods, go for it.

Pre-order your piece of Kaua’i

We’re almost out of winter and cold days, but in case you were looking for something to read to warm you up, you could try my book, Abstract Casualty.

This Shandra Higheagle Mystery is set in Kaua’i Hawaii. I tried my best to keep the story flowing and bring a bit of the island to the reader. I’m not sure which is harder–writing a book when you have been to the place or researching to make sure you get the ambiance and atmosphere of a place.

You’re probably shaking your head. It’s a no brainer. If you have been to a place it is easier to write about it. Yes, and no. Because I was there, I found myself trying to add in everything I experienced and remembered about the island. In other words, I was over telling and had stuff that had to be cut to make the story flow at the normal pace.

When I research, I pick and choose the elements of the place that will enhance my story.

But I must say, there is nothing like being able to travel to the real thing. I’m working on the next Gabriel Hawke book set in Iceland. That was a trip that will help enhance the book. But at the moment I’m having to rewrite the first 5000 words because I realized, I have only a short amount of time for the murderer to be discovered and I need to have the victim die during the pre-conference events. So off to rethink and re write the beginning of that book.

Here is the blub and pre-order link to get Abstract Casualty added to your ereader for you to start reading on March 30th.

Hawaiian adventure, Deceit, Murder

Shandra Higheagle is asked to juror an art exhibition on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

After an altercation at the exhibition, the chairwoman of the event, Shandra’s friend, arrives home with torn clothes, scratches, and stating she tried to save an angry artist who fell over a cliff. Shandra and Ryan begin piecing together information to figure out if the friend did try to save the artist or helped him over the edge.

During the investigation, Shandra comes across a person who reminds her of an unhealthy time in her past. Knowing this man and the one from her past, she is determined to find his connection to the dead artist.  When her grandmother doesn’t come to her in dreams, Shandra wonders if her past is blinding her from the truth.

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

Audiobooks are Work

I have 9 audiobooks out in the Shandra Higheagle mystery series. They didn’t seem to take as much time to go through after they were narrated and sent to me. Even though that narrator made a few more mistakes than the one reading my Gabriel Hawke books.

But I also write better now, thinking about how the sentence will sound when it is read, and I have to change things less in stories too.

However, I have trouble listening to the chapters on the audiobook manager’s site and have to download, which is a job. My internet is so iffy, that I have to get up at 5 am and download chapters until they start getting slow, then I stop and get up early another day to download some more.

Then I spend the hours listening to the chapters to make sure the narrator read the book correctly, used the right inflection, and in some instances the correct voice. Because he does try to change up the voices of the various characters. He doesn’t change them up as much as my narrator for the Shandra books, but he does enough you know it is another character talking.

Once I get all the chapters checked off as sounding correct, then the process of it being put together and submitted to all the various places Findaway Voices submits the finished product.

After that, there is a 30 day wait to see where it is available and then I can start promoting the audio book. It’s a whole other process I deal with while trying to write a new book. I would say a serious writer needs to be good a multi-tasking!

Do you like to listen to audio books? I have found I can “read” more if I listen to audio books when I walk.

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Welcome 2020!

Happy New Year 2020. Vector illustration

I’ve written down my writing goals for 2020. Two Hawke books and three Shandra books published. I’ll have some ebook box sets releasing as well. And I’m planning to attend three conferences.

I’m hoping I can pull through with the word count and books, I have set for my goal. Last year I found with my traveling and more family close by, I was a bit distracted. But I am excited about every book I have slated to write.

The conferences I’m attending will be to help me with the business side of writing for two of them. One will be to learn more about the ins and outs of a police work and forensics, and the other will be to connect with readers and other mystery writers.

Right now I’m catching up on the business side of things since I’ve let it slide a couple weeks preparing for Christmas. Now I’ll get my desk, computer, and ads in order and get back into the book I’d started nearly a month and a half ago.

I also have the second Hawke book, Mouse Trail Ends, to review the narration to get that out in audio in February. Always something book related to do!

I had a wonderful Christmas with six of my grandchildren and their parents. I hope you had a wonderful December and ring in the New Year, 2020, with excitement and anticipation of what this new decade will bring.

Merry Christmas!

I can’t believe December is half way over and I hadn’t blogged here since November!

Life has been kicking my bootie! I put a lot of miles on my car the last month. Visits to my dad, book signings, and dentist trips. If you are an ice chewer or love hard crunchy foods, stop now before your teeth start falling apart!

With all the traveling and preparing for Christmas, my writing has been on the back burner. This week, I’d planned to get back in book 14 of the Shandra Higheagle series, but I find my narrator for book 2 in the Gabriel Hawke series has finished the reading, and I need to listen to those. So I may not get to Shandra and Ryan’s trip to Hawaii until next week, or even January.

Beach in Hawaii that may end up in a book…

It’s going to take a lot of discipline when I get back to writing. After seeing how hard it was to manage the goals I’d set for this year, I’ve backed off a bit, and have down to write two Gabriel Hawke books and 3 Shandra books this coming year. So 5 books total. I had tired for 7 this year and didn’t make it. Too many things came up and 2 trips of a lifetime.

The good thing is those trips are going to go into books. Which will help me remember the fun I had.

Gingerbread cookies! Yum!

I have been baking for friends an neighbors. That is one of my favorite things about this time of year. Sharing something I’m fairly good at. But I’ll have to say… watching the Cookie and Gingerbread challenges on TV has taught me a few things I didn’t know and I’ve been incorporating into my baking this year. We’ll see if the people who receive my goodies enjoy the changes. 😉

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas filled with family and friends and you are healthy and prosperous in the new year, 2020!

Hawke is Tracking Again!

Book 4 in the Gabriel Hawke series is now available! I had a wonderful trip jet boating the Snake River to prepare to write this book.

Hawke is tracking an escaped prisoner in Hells Canyon Recreational Area in Idaho. While tracking the fugitive, the whole thing becomes more complicated with the prisoner is killed.

I don’t want to give anymore away, but the story took Hawke through Hells Canyon, the Seven Devils, back to Wallowa County and then to Boise, where he worked with Idaho officials to finally figure out the reason for the breakout and the killings.

As always, this book is available in ebook and print.

Chattering Blue Jay

Book 4 in the Gabriel Hawke Series

Killer on the loose.

Tracking Rivalry.

Revenge could get them killed.

Fish and Wildlife Oregon State Trooper Gabriel Hawke is set to teach a class at a Search and Rescue conference in Idaho when a dangerous inmate breaks out of prison. It is believed the man is headed to Hells Canyon.

Hawke is enlisted to find the escapee. He’s paired with a boastful tracker who doesn’t follow directions, making them both targets.

Before the dust settles, the other tracker is dead and Hawke is twisting in the wind for letting the possible killer get away.

https://books2read.com/u/4NQJ2o

Photo from the Jet boat trip

Falling Behind-Pun Intended

Oregon Coast

With Fall and a frantic schedule, I’ve been neglecting this blog. I had a great trip to Kauai, Hawaii, came home and had several short trips to make. Now I’m at the Oregon Coast at a Writers Retreat with three author friends.

I sent off book 4 in the Gabriel Hawke Novel series, Chattering Blue Jay, to my critique partners. Now I wait for their suggestions and then it’s off to my editor. while I enjoyed writing the book and going back to Hells Canyon and the Snake River in this story, I was ready to finish it so I can start thinking about Hawke’s next adventure. I’m still on the fence over which book in my ideas file it will be.

Toxic Trigger-point book 13 in the Shandra Higheagle mystery series is available. This book uses my experience at a spa and my thought about a murder in such a place as the premise of the story.

Right now, at the coast I am pulling together the next Shandra book, Abstract Casualty, set in Kaua’i, Hawaii. While I was in Kaua’i, I did the leg work to figure out how to realistically get my character to the island. I was happy to learn about the Kaua’i Art Society Annual Juror Art Exhibit.

While figuring out the story, I’ve be reliving my time in Kaua’i.

Kalalau Beach

And here is the information about Toxic Trigger-point:

Adultery… Jealousy… Murder

Shandra Higheagle Greer is minding her own business when she walks into a room for a massage and it is already occupied—by a dead body.

Always the champion for someone she knows, when her favorite masseuse looks like the murderer, Shandra listens to her gut and dreams choreographed by her deceased grandmother.

Detective Ryan Greer can’t believe his wife has walked into another homicide. He’s learned no matter how he tries to keep her out of the investigation he can’t. But this time the consequences could be deadly for Shandra—she heard the murder happen.

https://books2read.com/u/4Ex9De

Hunkering Down to Write

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.

Snake River

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.