Oregon State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s sister, Marion, is on a corporate retreat in Montana when she becomes a murder suspect. Running for her life from the real killer, she contacts Hawke for help.
Hawke heads to Montana to find his sister and prove she isn’t a murderer. He hasn’t seen Marion in over twenty years but he knows she wouldn’t kill the man she was about to marry.
As they dig into possible embezzlement, two more murders, and find themselves trying to outsmart a wilderness-wise kidnapper, Hawke realizes his sister needs to return home and immerse herself in their heritage. Grief is a journey that must be traveled and knowing her fiancé had wanted Marion to dance again, Hawke believes their culture would help her heal.
This will be out in print in a about two weeks and audio in a couple of months.
My new fun thing! A Book Mobile, of sorts. Author Mary Vine and I have been selling books at the Sumpter Flea Market in Sumpter Oregon every Memorial and Labor Day weekend for the last seven years. We started out with a canopy that we had to lower at night and put tarps around in bad weather. Then we upgraded to a tent that while it kept things dry it was becoming more and more of a chore to set up.
I had been looking for a trailer that was small enough to fit in the space we are allowed at the event and tall enough for people to stand up in and that could be renovated to work as the vision I’ve had for several years. I finally found the perfect trailer.
It is made of wood so we can easily refurbish it to have long windows that open up to let the light in but will also, hopefully, keep any rain out. It is low enough to the ground that a ramp to allow strollers and walkers up won’t stick out into the walkway. And, did I say it is made of wood? 😉 That means we can make it look like an old western building. Here is a photo of it in the state I found it.
I’ll give you an update on the remodel as we go along. Right now, it is at our daughter’s. We didn’t have the pickup to pull it home when we bought it. I’m excited to see how it turns out and how well it will be received at the flea market.
Many naysayers would say I have no right writing Native American characters. And I admit, I have had little contact with the culture or the people other than what I’ve read or the people I’ve sought out to help me try to make my characters believable and the world around them believable.
My first foray into writing Native American characters was my Spirit Trilogy that I wrote 15 years ago. It is a portrayal of the Chief Joseph band of the Nez Perce living in Wallowa County. The county where I grew up. Because I empathize with the tribes and feel they have all been wronged on so many levels, I strive to show their side of things and how strong a people they are. When I started to write these books, I contacted an, at that time, yahoo group of Native Americans and asked if there was anyone fro the Nez Perce tribe who would like to help me make my books historically accurate. I had two people respond. One was a young woman who would ask her grandmother my questions if she herself couldn’t answer them. The other was a man who said he was a descendant of Chief Joseph. I never asked for proof, but he was direct in answering my questions and I felt he gave me good information. I also read books written by McWhorter who lived among the Nez Perce, went to tribal websites and read their history, and toured the Nez Perce museums.
I did all of this to make sure I had portrayed the people, their culture, and their beliefs the best I could.
As I came up with the idea for my first mystery series, I wanted a character in the arts and I wanted one that would stay true to my need to show readers that Native Americans, First Americans, or Indigenous people, however you wish to call them, are people who have been wronged and who are still here and growing stronger. I feel it is their beliefs and culture that has kept them alive and now that many tribes are bringing back their language, their customs, and their beliefs, they are becoming stronger and wiser than the rest of us.
As so, I came up with a woman who is a potter who makes her own clay and was kept from her father’s family, her Nez Perce roots. In this way, I can have her slowly learn customs and attend events with the same interest and wonder I have as I encounter things in the culture. Placing her Nez Perce family on the Colville Reservation in Washington, I was able to learn a lot from another author, Carmen Peone, who lives there. She took me on a tour of the reservation. We talked to people, and she helped me when I had questions about customs, events, and how people would react to things. I feel making this connection is what helps to give my books more authenticity.
My Gabriel Hawke novels are set in Wallowa County. He is also a Native American character, but his background has him living in the Whiteman’s world since he turned 18 and he is now 55. He still clings to his culture and is slowly going to more events and visiting his mother at the Umatilla Reservation. I’ve toured the reservation, talked with people who live there and would like to make more connections with people who live there. I need to do a face-to-face visit with one of my contacts there for an upcoming Spotted Pony Casino book. I even had a short volley of emails with the tribal chief of police while I was figuring out how the tribal police worked in regard to the reservation and working with State, County, and the FBI law enforcement. And a person who worked security at the casino explained some of the ins and outs of that job. Then I made up my own casino and have it work similar but in a way that works for my character.
I also read contemporary books written by Native American writers to learn more about how the past and present are meshing together to keep the culture alive. And to learn how the Indigenous people of today are coping with life on and off of the reservations.
Whenever you see me post that I am researching, I could be reading, I could be interviewing someone, or I could be on a trip to see a place I’m going to put in a book. But one thing, is certain, I know that no matter how much research I do, I can never write a true Indigenous character. I just hope I write enough about them and their lives that my readers learn to appreciate their culture even half as much as I do.
If anyone reading this is from the Umatilla or Nez Perce tribes, I would love to connect with you. I am looking for a beta reader to help me make my books better.
I ended 2022 finishing book 10 in the Gabriel Hawke series. It has been assessed by my beta readers and critique partner, and I have fixed their suggestions and read through it making some sentences stronger and now it is off to my editor. When it gets back from there I’ll send it off to a final proofreader and then it will be available to read.
But now, I get to plan out the next Spotted Pony Casino book. This is book 4 in the series and it’s titled The Squeeze. The best thing about this series is knowing what the title will be when I start. That’s because when I came up with the series, I decided to use gambling terms for the titles. Not long after making that decision, I participated on an online workshop and they discussed titles and how readers like catchy phrases for titles. I was so thankful that my subconscious didn’t lead me astray!
So far I have the title, the premise, and have filled out my Suspect Chart. This is my chart that names the victim and the characters who will be suspects in the book. While I don’t plot out my story, I use the chart as my introduction – when the victim is found. Then as I bring each suspect into the book it moves the story along. And as Dela and Heath work to discover the reason behind the murder, they come across the clues and tick off each suspect as whether they did or didn’t kill the victim.
Since I’m not a plotter or an outliner, this method works for me. AS you can see, I’m still working on the chart.
I’m bringing back a couple of characters from a previous book who are nasty people, and I’ll be introducing my readers to new characters who may or may not be seen in future books.
I enjoy writing my character Dela Alvaro. She’s tough but not as all together as she has people thinking she is. I tossed in several pieces of backstory that keeps her off center as well. That’s the fun part of being a writer, you can mess with your character’s lives and then discover how they handle it as you write. Sometimes these obstacles may mimic a writer’s life and sometimes they are something that the writer just says, “What if?”
The secondary characters mainly just popped into my head as I wrote them. All except Special Agent Quinn Pierce. I put a lot of thought into him, thinking he would become Dela’s significant other, but then in book two, SURPRISE, my fingers wrote in Tribal Police Officer Heath Seaver and that he and Dela had a past. Not as fiery as her past with the Special Agent, but significant enough that by book three Heath moves into Dela’s house as a roommate.
If you want to learn more about the books, you can hop over to my website and read the blurbs and decide if you’d like to read it in print, ebook, or listen to the books in audio.
I don’t like to look back. I’m a look forward type of person. But when I come to the end of a year and find myself a book and a half behind schedule, I feel the need to see why.
I started January 2022 with high hopes. I’d purchased a new, larger planner to help me keep things straight for writing, marketing, and promoting. HaHa. That lasted one and a half months. I found it too time consuming to try and write down what I would do each day to keep things up to date and moving along. I do like the larger squares to write what I’m did or am going to do each day on the month calendar but the daily pages, that I had hoped would keep me on track, I gave them up. So I spent a lot of money and only used a quarter of the large planner. Story of my life… This month the author co-op I belong to decided to do an anthology of mystery stories. I volunteered to head it up and edit. So I began working on a short story for that project.
A cornucopia of ten cozy mystery stories that are perpetrated during holidays from New Years to Christmas. This collection explores unexplained disturbances, college pranks gone wrong, and almost always one or more murders around a holiday. Solve these spooky crimes that lurk beneath celebratory parties and help search for the murderers. Kick off your shoes, grab a warm drink and snuggle into a blanket before you get lured onto the sparkling snow for the next crime spree.
A Body on the 13th Floor by Paty Jager Dead Ladies Don’t Dance by Robin Weaver Took Nothing Left Nothing by Pamela Cowan Busted for Bones by Dari LaRoche Yuletide Firebug by Kathy Coatney Starry Night Murder by Mary Vine The Twelfth Night Murder by Ann Chaney Blue Christmas by Melissa Yi Two Turtle Doves by Maggie Lynch Five Golden Rings by Kimila Kay
I took an Amazon Ads class in January to help me better understand how to promote my books there. It worked for a while. ( I am currently taking another class because some things changed since last January) I highly promoted my book that released in February, House Edge, book two in the Spotted Pony Casino Mystery series.
At the start of February, I worked with a person from Facebook ads trying to get a handle on those. I found that harder to do. I had to be at a computer and on my phone. I have limited cell phone service in places in my house. At least in February with my old phone I did. It was a frustrating call. This month was mostly about starting the next book and getting House Edge published.
March I sat in on a couple of webinars about project management and marketing and worked at writing the next book. I also took two granddaughters and a couple friends with me to Rockaway Beach. We had a fun time! Then I had to book signings. One in Enterprise, OR and one in Clarkston, WA.
April I started attending our oldest granddaughter’s track meets and going to Senior meetings since she was living with us and graduating in May. I also had been traveling the 5 hours one way once a month to see my dad in his senior living facility. So between track meets and that, April had me on the road a lot. This month, I traded my Subaru in for a Jeep Cherokee. I saw it when we were driving by a car dealership. It is Spitfire Orange and I loved the way the color made me happy! We had been talking about getting a vehicle that sat higher off the ground that the Subaru for a while.
May started out with the hope of spring and warmer weather. It continued to be cold. My dad turned 90 on May 16th, he fell on the 19th and passed within days. He’d been saying he didn’t understand why he was still here when he couldn’t do anything., His arthritis had gotten so bad he just sat in a chair most of the day. He is missed but in a better place. After that was our granddaughter’s graduation and I was off to Sumpter, OR with author Mary Vine for our annual selling of books at the Sumpter Flea Market Memorial weekend. We had an excellent number of sales.
My favorite month was June! Another granddaughter graduated from high school. Then my sister-in-law and I went on a research trip to Montana. You saw posts on this blog about what we saw and did while on our trip. We had a fun time checking out antique malls and thrift stores along the way.
The following month I attended the Wildhorse Casino Powwow at the Umatilla Reservation. It was for research and because I enjoy attending these events. Then I spent several days with my two besties. We talked, drank wine, and shopped thrift stores. Do you see a pattern here? I like to go to thrift stores to pick up red dresses for cheap. Then I send them to a woman who uses them for an outdoor living art project that depicts the MMIW struggle to be a force in finding missing and murdered Indigenous women, children and men from all across this continent. Because it is a cause that I believe in, I send her red dresses and I give proceeds from my book Stolen Butterfly to the movement. I also attended a one-day event to sell my books in Homedale, ID. To end the month, I attended my hubby’s 45th high school reunion. Teh end of this month, I also brought home my new dog, a chiweenie I named Nia. Earlier in the year while I was on a trip, hubby had to have our elderly chihuahua/miniature pinscher put to sleep. She’d had a bad seizure or heart attack. The vet didn’t know which. She’d given us a wonderful 16 years. I hadn’t planned to get another little dog until we no longer had my dad’s large boxer/border cross. But I saw Nia and fell in love!
August continued to bring us lot of dry hot days and nights. The crops had finally taken off, but the cold weather earlier in the year and made for almost half the usual tonnage of hay. Then we had a family reunion at Wallowa Lake and my dad’s military graveside service in Enterprise followed by a barbecue at the lake. I spent most of August writing and editing. The short stories for the anthology were due to me to edit, though several had already been sent to me and edited.
The month of September started with Mary and I setting up our booth at the Labor Day Sumpter Flea Market. We had another good turnout of people buying our books. Mid-month, I attended my first NIWA (Northwest Independent Writers Association) book selling event. It was at the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest. We were asked to wear Bavarian looking clothing. I purchased a women’s Bavarian dress. It was fun to dress up and hang out with authors from the group and my friend Kimila Kay. From there I went to the coast to vacation with my younger brother, his wife, and their two kids’ families. It was a fun time! Poor hubby was holding down the farm while I was away playing. He’s a good man!
October means the slowing down of farming as the weather cools and we hope for rain and moisture. I stayed home the first part of the month clacking the keyboard trying to catch up on my writing. Then Hubby and I spent a weekend in Virginia City and Lake Tahoe with his sister and her husband and friends. You can also read about that fun on this blog. 😉 Later in the month I had a book signing in Clarkston, WA.
Ahh…November. I had a one-day Facebook party to show off my new covers for the Halsey Brother series. I talked with readers and gave away prizes. It was a lot of fun. Then I wrote. I wanted to have the next Gabriel Hawke book finished before I left for another NIWA event, this time in Portland. I didn’t make that deadline. I attended three days of the Portland Holiday Market event, hanging out with Kimila some more and when I wasn’t at the market, I was writing on my book. I wanted it finished by December so I could concentrate on the holidays and our granddaughter’s wedding coming up on Dec. 27th.
Four days into December, I sent the book off to my critique partner and beta readers. Whew! Now I could concentrate on decorating, getting a Christmas Tree, and setting up my books at the local Christmas Jamboree. I sold more books there than I had thought I would. So it was a great day. And my daughter had a table beside me selling fudge she’d made and boxes of her organic Rural Roots pork.
While this is posting the day after the wedding, I wrote this post earlier. So I’ll have to give you an update on the wedding in my next post.
That is a roundup of my year. It had fun times, some unhappy times, and lots of family time. I hope to continue having more family time in the coming year. But to also keep putting out book. I hope whatever holiday you celebrate that it was wonderful, filled with family and friends and that you have a awesome 2023. See you next year!
For me it’s doing things where I’m with family and friends. Last Saturday I set up a table of my books at a local Bazaar. My daughter who was selling her delicious fudge and gift boxes of pork from her Rural Roots Ranch Idaho Pasture Pigs had the table next to mine. We visited, met new to us people, and visited with people we knew. She sold out of all her fudge except for vanilla. She had cherry, chocolate, peanut butter, vanilla, lemon, and peppermint. She had repeat customers from the other bazaars she’d attended and garnered orders for her pork. I met some new readers. And love that I ran out of some first in series books, except, I could have sold more had I had them. It was a fun day.
We capped off the bazaar, which was part of the Holiday Jamboree going on in Burns, Oregon that day, with the Light Parade in the evening. Two of my grandchildren were on the 4-H float. They and their parents helped to set up the float and then the three little grandchildren, their mom and dad, and I went to stand on the street and wait for the parade. It was chilly but not too cold as we stood on the street, hot chocolate in hands, waiting.
Then on Monday, same daughter, her family, another granddaughter and one of her friends, and my husband and I went to higher ground to find trees for our Christmas trees. We have had more snow than usual for this time of year and we couldn’t drive as far up into the woods as we normally do.
My daughter and I are the ones who get excited about going into the woods to find trees. Both our husbands humor us, by going, but mine spent most of the time sitting in the pickup with some of the younger grandchildren while my daughter and I trudge through two feet and sometimes deeper snow looking at the trees. When we couldn’t find anything within walking distance of the vehicles, we hopped on the 4-wheeler they’d brought along. The 4-wheeler could get up the road, but our 4-wheel drive pickups couldn’t.
With two sleds tied on behind and grandsons whooping it up, we took off up the road. The spot we usually go, even the 4-wheeler couldn’t get up it. So we veered to the right on a road we could navigate. But all we were seeing were pine trees. We prefer fir because the needles are softer and there are more branches. More ornament footage. 😉 We found two trees that I liked and my daughter liked. We stopped and she and the older of the grandsons sledding behind us, walked up to the tree and discovered the battery-operated saw had a dead battery. We hopped back on the 4-wheeler and hurried back to the vehicles.
Everyone there was waiting for our return and groaned when they learned we had to go back. We took two batteries with us and a hand saw this time! I had spotted a tree on the way back down that was closer to the vehicles. We decided to get it, only once it was cut, it was too large for me, so my daughter decided it would be hers. We pulled it to the side of the road then drove on up, looking for a smaller tree for me.
We found one, cut it down and put it in one of the sleds with the younger grandson sitting on the tree inside the sled. Then we went down and did the same thing with the larger tree, the older grandson sitting on that bigger tree. We made our way back to the vehicles without a mishap.
And now the trees are up and looking cheery and bright. While I wasn’t fond of having a pine tree, I really like it now that I’m done decorating it and won’t be poked by the needles anymore.
Hubby and I spent a day in Virginia City, Nevada last month. We had been there a couple of times before but we’d never dallied about the old west town before.
We started the day with a ride on the steam locomotive that goes from Virginia City to Gold Hill and back. The conductor on the trip was well versed int he history and had some great jokes and one-liners. He was very entertaining. The most interesting part of the train trip in my estimation was the fact that leaving Virginia City the train ran backward to Gold Hill. My husband and I rode in the outside car. Meaning we didn’t have a roof. On the way to Gold Hill there were interesting sites and the conductor told us history and how the railway came to be. The air was crisp and only a faint hint of coal being burnt in the steam engine. On the way back they drove forward. The first burst of the engine to get up the short hill out of Gold Hill and the people riding in the open car were brushing soot from their clothes, arms and hair while breathing in the black sooty smoke from the engine. It was realistic of the travel back in the 1800s. Here are some of the photos:
After walking down to the depot and riding on the train, we walked back up to the main street. If you haven’t been to Virginia City it is on the side of a hill. Everywhere you walk besides Main Street is either up or down. Many of the buildings in town are old. The sidewalks in some parts of the street are still boards. They are uneven and you have to pay attention when you walk for fear of stubbing a toe or stepping lower than you had anticipated. But the old town feel is captivating.
On a trip before I strolled through the MacKay Mansion Museum. It was fun to listen to the person telling of the history of the house and the history of the town.
While I strolled through the stores, hubby would sit on the benches on the sidewalk and visit with people. As we sat drinking tea on the outside deck of a coffee shop, we decided we were going to come back and stay in Virginia City for a few days within the next year. We didn’t make it to the cemetery and there is a gold mine tourists can go down into. Not to mention several other museums in the town and we didn’t watch the sideshow. I plan to see them all when we return to Virginia City for an extended stay.
Being thankful is something that should happen every day not just one day of the year.
Every day I wake up I’m thankful. My mom didn’t make it past 54.
Every day I embrace whatever weather the day brings. If it’s sunshine, rain, wind, snow, sleep, hail, I know the sunshine makes things grown as well as the rain and the snow. The wind dries things out, but it also carries the seeds of plants to resow. And hail can be destructive, but when it melts it brings the much-needed moisture to the high desert.
Every day I am thankful for my family. My husband, my children, my siblings, their families and my husband’s family. Even the relatives that I talk to or see rarely. They are all a part of me.
Every day I am thankful for the animals in my life. I have always loved horses and am glad my husband doesn’t mind that I have two. And we have George the donkey who is always good entertainment. And our three dogs and the four butcher steers. Life is good when you have animals to share it with.
Every day I am thankful that I discovered my talent for writing and my husband has always been supportive of my endeavor to write and sell books.
Every day I am thankful for the friends I have made along the way. Kids from school, parents through my children going to school, people through work, writers through my writing.
Every day I am thankful for my health.
Living each day being thankful and trying to keep the books churning out for my readers and keep myself entertained is the best life I could ask for.
Where has this year gone! Next month I’ll have a rundown of all the things I did over the year and that will most certainly show me where the year went!
And I’ll keep my thankful post for later in the month. 😉
The fall season is one of my favorites. During the hot summer days and nights, I long of the cooling breeze of fall and the hint of moisture in the air. And as the spring green grasses turn brown and tan and the wildflowers and other plants disappear and die, I can’t wait for the colors of fall. The orange, red, yellow, peach, and even some green on the leaves.
Recently hubby and I took his mom and a cousin up on the Steens Mountain. We always make the journey up there in the fall and spring. Fall to see the leaves changing on the quaking aspens and spring to see the wildflowers in bloom.
This year is the first trip where the timing was perfect. there have been visits when the leaves have already fallen or mostly fallen or only a few have turned color. But this year…we hit it at the best time. The following are a few of the photos from that trip.
When I was complaining to one of my husband’s friends that I couldn’t grow anything outside. It either needed more water than I gave it, or it got too much sun, he said he knew exactly what I needed. The next time he came to visit he brought me a prickly pear cactus.
And I will agree, it does like the soil, the sun, and the lack of water that is the high desert of SE Oregon. The first summer, when it was establishing roots, the plant looked healthy but didn’t grow much. It has tripled in size and this year had the prettiest blooms.
With all the blooms I was excited about the fruit that it had. Magnificent magenta colored, pear-shaped fruit. But beware! They have small spiny moles, as I call them. Spots on the outside that are a mass of small spines that you have to remove before you can do anything with the fruit. This process required rubber clothes, a plastic scrubber and water.
When the spines were off and I’d had to stop many times to pull of the gloves and extract a spine from a finger, I cut the the fruit in half and scraped out the seeds and pulp. The pulp went into the blender and was blended, then strained.
The juice was cooked with sugar, pectin, and water. Then it was poured into hot scalded jars and lids attached before I put them in a water bath to seal the jars.
The longest part of the whole process was scrubbing the “moles” off the outside to make sure you didn’t get any in the jam.
Once the jam was finished, I didn’t really care for it. Hubby said it was okay and work in a pinch, but it wasn’t something he’d have to have. So, it looks like I made prickly pear jam once and will not be doing it again. Have you ever made something and in the end decided it wasn’t worth making again?
Two weekends ago, I attended the Mt. Angel, Oregon Oktoberfest as a member of NIWA (Northwest Independent Writers Association). We had a booth at the event for four days. I helped sell books for three of those days. We were asked to dress up. I purchased a Bavarian dress online that arrived the day before I was to head to Mt. Angel. Thank goodness it fit!
As you can see by the photo, Nia went along with me. She was a good puppy. She either played with her toys, slept, or peeked out from under the table, luring people in. 😉 It was fun to meet some of the other NIWA members since we are spread out all throughout the Northwest. I have to get busy and read a few more of the authors’ books so I can do a better job of selling them.
From Mt. Angel, Nia and I headed to the Oregon Coast. I had rented a house at Rockaway Beach for the week to write (very little of that was accomplished) and to hang out with my younger brother and his family that were at the beach.
On Saturday, we were lucky enough to see not only the large colorful kites but groups of kite flyers as they showed off their synchronized flying.
Sunday, we went back to Mt. Angel to help with the last shift of the day and take down the booth. I had so much fun at the booth, I’ve signed up to help with the booth at the Portland Holiday Market November 17-20th.
Monday, Nia and I walked the beach with family and then we drove to Tillamook where we perused the shops, and I purchased some fabric at my favorite fabric store to make a Christmas table runner.
During the week, my brother and his wife suggested we try to look in some tide pools they’d heard of. So we drove a little way out of Rockaway and found these interesting rocks, and a few small tide pools. The tide wasn’t out far enough for us to see much sea life.
There were birds perched on the tree and a couple of pelicans landed on the rock/island.
I took several shots of this opening in the rock with different settings, but this was my favorite, though the blue of the rocks in the foreground aren’t as noticeable in this photo.
This was one of the two sea urchins we saw. I liked the color of this one and the surroundings.
And I spotted a unique to me jellyfish swimming in a tide pool.
Our last night at the beach ended with a beautiful sky.