Exciting things happening

The first book of my new Spotted Pony Casino mystery, Poker Face, has released. I really like writing this character, though she is tough for me to write. She is a lower-limb amputee. I have joined a lower-limb amputee group online to help me understand the struggles. I hope I can do a good job of showing how strong a person has to be mentally to continue life as close to normal as they possibly can.

I also like the face most of the books will be set at a fictional Indigenous run casino on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. By making it a fictional casino, I can run things as they best work for my stories. However, I’m still trying to keep it working much like any other Indigenous owned casino.

Here is the info on the book.

Poker Face

Spotted Pony Casino Mystery

Book 1

Dela Alvaro is a disabled veteran who grew up on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. When an IED in Iraq ended her military career, she came home to reassess her life and landed a job in security at the Indian run casino on the reservation.

Not even a year into being the assistant to the head of security, Dela is promoted on a trial basis. When one of the casino employees is found stabbed and stuffed in a laundry chute, she knows she can kiss head of security good-bye if she doesn’t find the killer before the media gets hold of the story.

While she is in over her head, she can’t decide if the FBI Special Agent called in to help is a blessing or a curse. It’s a man she ran across in Iraq who overrode her authority. When a second casino employee is killed, Dela has to decide if she can trust the special agent with not only keeping her job but keeping the rest of the casino employees safe.

Universal buy link:

https://books2read.com/u/brPxxw

This book is available in ebook and print. I am currently working with a narrator to get it made into and audiobook.

I am gathering swag and putting together a booklet of first chapters of my mystery books to take to Bouchercon in New Orleans in August. Yes! I will be attending my first ever Bouchercon. It is one of the largest mystery fan conferences in the U.S. I will be doing Speed Dating with 200 fans. Whew! I am going to be on a panel: Empathy: The Art and Practice of Relating. I’ll have books there and I would love to connect with anyone who wants to meet up. I will be at the New Orleans Marriott from August 26-29th.

Second Favorite Place

A large portion of my family tagged along on my annual birthday trek up on the Steens Mountain. I would have to say that it is my second favorite place to visit. My first, of course, being the Oregon Coast.

Rockaway Beach

The mountain is never the same. Some years when we go up the end of June on my birthday, we are met by blankets of wildflowers. Other years, not so many. And one year we couldn’t even get up on the mountain until July because of so much snow.

snow pack

This year there was still some snowpack. The 77 degrees was welcome since it was one of the hottest weeks we’ve ever had in June. The temperature wavered around 100. The wildflowers weren’t as tall and easy to see as they had been in years past. Many of the colorful blooms were hidden in the sagebrush. The aspen trees were green and lush. Fish Lake was blue and inviting. The grandchildren who went with us all took a swim in the lake while the adults watched.

Fish Lake

Standing on the top of the Steens, looking down at the green circles of irrigations pivots around the dry Alvord Lake bed you get a feeling of the vastness and contrast that is SE Oregon.

Looking down at Alvord Lake bed

The abundance of wildflowers either hiding in the sage or hanging precariously on a rock thousands of feet from the valley floor, is one of the unique things I enjoy about the mountains.

Kiger Canyon

I can find beauty in all the outdoors but I do believe nothing is better for my soul than the Oregon Coast and the Steens Mountains. Although, staring at the Wallowa Mountains, also stirs me and brings me peace. Hmmm… I need to spend some time there soon.

It’s June! My birthday month!

There are so many things I love about this month. This month is usually when the weather starts getting warmer, deer have their babies, and the flowers start blooming. It means longer days, with breathtaking evenings and bright cheery sunrises.

I always think of myself as a person who loves fall. I love the colors, the briskness of the days, and the holidays. But I think, truly, I’m a summer lover. The smell of freshly mowed grass or alfalfa. The scent of a sweaty horse after a long ride. Even the earthy scent of hay makes me smile.

Last month, hubby brought now a new to me horse trailer. We’ve been without one for several years now. It wasn’t too bad when I didn’t have anyone to ride horses with, but now that I have a granddaughter down the road who is ready to ride whenever I am, it’s nice to have a way to haul my horse over. I had expected him to pick up a smaller stock trailer, because he has always been partial to having a trailer with a dual purpose. To my surprise, he brought home a “real” horse trailer. It has a tack room in front and bars to hang sweaty saddle blankets. I was shocked when I saw it. But I love it! I’ve made a couple trips with my horses in it and it pulls like a dream. They were a little unsure of it at first., It’s all enclosed and looks short because of the angle on the tack room in front, but once they rode in it, I think they liked it!

My roses are blooming! Love roses. And all my other flowers. I would have masses of flowers if I could keep them alive! I do not have my mother’s green thumb. I water and beg Mother Nature to keep my plants alive. LOL

We made a quick overnight trip to the coast at the beginning of the month. I love the coast. The smell, the energy of the water…. I wish I could have stayed three for a week. Hopefully in the fall, I can get ack over there for a writing retreat. WE lucked out. The weather was gorgeous for both my evening and morning strolls. There were very few shells or ocean life on the beach., When I go in the spring and fall, I find all kinds of cool things to take photos of.

If you would like to celebrate my birthday month, the best way would be to purchase Stolen Butterfly, book 7 in the Gabriel Hawke novels. Proceeds from the sale of this book will be going to the MMIW/MMIP movement. I talked about it in my last blog. If you would like an autographed print copy, just drop info for me to contact you in the comments.

Book 7

Half of a Prophesy

I had an epiphany this week as I stood in the shop petting our male cat, Cautious.

Over forty years ago, in high school our English teacher asked us to write about what we would be doing in, I think, ten years.

I wrote about my barn renovated into a house that I lived in on the coast. I was a writer and I had a tiger for a pet. Tigers have always been one of my favorite animals. The stripes, regal heads, intelligent eyes… They have just been a favorite, right up there with horses and dogs.

As I stood there, petting Cautious I noticed he had striping like a tiger, intelligent eyes, and a tail that liked to sway back and forth.

Cautious

And that’s when I remembered the English assignment and thought, “I am living half of my prophesy. I am a writer- 50 books published. I have a cat that looks like a tiger. And that’s where it ends. I live in a house that my husband and I built and we are a six hour drive from the Oregon Coast.

The interesting part about that assignment written so long ago, at the time, I hadn’t a clue what I wanted to do as an adult. I grew up in a small community before the internet and more than a few channels on the TV. There were few careers that I thought would be even close to what I would like to do. I had wanted to be an artist, but my dad told me I’d never make a living at it. That I needed to go into the medical profession.

If you know me, you know I am not a good fit for the medical profession. I don’t deal well with wimpy, whiny people. But I wanted out of the community where we live and my dad was willing to pay for me to go to college. I signed up to be an x-ray technician. Long story short, it didn’t work out and I ended up moving in with a friend from school and worked many odd jobs until my marriage.

As a young mother, I read voraciously. As I had all through school. I was always reading a book or two. 😉 When the kids started school, I took a writing and art classes at the community college. It was through those classes I began to think I could be a writer. That and the English class I had in college when I went off course of my objective. Anyway, I had an inkling to try writing. I’m not sure how I knew back in high school that was what I would end up doing, but I’m glad half of what I’d dreamed of back then has come true.

I’m pleased with my newest release, Stolen Butterfly, book 7 in the Gabriel Hawke Novels. Here is the info and cover for that.

The proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the non-profit Enough Iz Enough. This is a community outreach organization that advocates for MMIW on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation.  

Stolen Butterfly

Gabriel Hawke Novel #7

Missing or Murdered

When the local authorities tell State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s mother to wait 72 hours before reporting a missing Umatilla woman, she calls her son and rallies members of the community to search.

Hawke arrives at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation and learns the single mother of a boy his mom watches would never leave her son. Angered over how the local officials respond to his investigating, Hawke teams up with a security guard at the Indian casino and an FBI agent. Following the leads, they discover the woman was targeted by a human trafficking ring at the Spotted Pony Casino.

Hawke, Dela Alvaro, and FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce join forces to bring the woman home and close down the trafficking operation before someone else goes missing.

Universal Book Lnk:https://books2read.com/u/baZEPq

What a Month!

Every May I talk about the same thing, but you know what? It’s because May is a wonderful month for me!

Forty-two years ago, I married my always entertaining husband in May. Which makes this an anniversary month.

It is also the anniversary month of my first published book. In 2006 Marshal in Petticoats was published by Wild Rose Press.

And now 15 years later, it is my anniversary month of publishing my 50th book! Stolen Butterfly, book 7 in the Gabriel Hawke Novels series is book number 50. I’m please to say that it is available for pre-order and is publishing on May 18th. Here is the information about the book and pre-order/buy link.

Stolen Butterfly

Gabriel Hawke Novel #7

Missing or Murdered

When the local authorities tell State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s mother to wait 72 hours before reporting a missing Umatilla woman, she calls her son and rallies members of the community to search.

Hawke arrives at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation and learns the single mother of a boy his mom watches would never leave her son. Angered over how the local officials respond to his investigating, Hawke teams up with a security guard at the Indian casino and an FBI agent. Following the leads, they discover the woman was targeted by a human trafficking ring at the Spotted Pony Casino.

Hawke, Dela Alvaro, and FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce join forces to bring the woman home and close down the trafficking operation before someone else goes missing.

https://books2read.com/u/baZEPq

The proceeds from the sale of this book will go to the non-profit Enough Iz Enough. This is a community outreach organization that advocates for MMIW on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation.  

Because of my 50 books, I am hosting a 50 Book Bash event at Facebook all month. You can come join the fun and maybe win one of the daily prizes. Here is the link to attend. https://www.facebook.com/events/887343232080078

I love May not only for it being an anniversary month but also because it is when all the wildflowers start popping up. I enjoy my hikes on the hill to capture their beauty. Here are a few photos.

Desert paintbrush
Bluebells

Showy Larkspur

May is Coming!!

And you might ask why am I excited about May. Well… Let me tell you!

  1. it is the anniversary month for my marriage to my always entertaining husband and of my first published book.
  2. This May marks the 15th year I’ve been published and my 50th published book!

That’s right, I have 50 published novel length books. If you added up the novellas and short stories I’ve published it’s more. I’m just talking about 50-90k word books- novel length. To celebrate this achievement, I’m hosting a month-long Facebook event.

You can join the fun here: https://www.facebook.com/events/887343232080078 You can hop over there now and see some of the prizes and click you are “going” to be sure to see all of my posts. At the event we’ll talk about books, my life, and anything writing related you want to know. Everyone who comments will have a chance at the prizes I’m giving away.

Also in May, I’ll be back at the Sumpter Flea Market in beautiful quaint Sumpter, Oregon. I’ll get to hang out with my author friend Mary Vine and sell books.

May will also be the release of my 7th Gabriel Hawke Novel, Stolen Butterfly. The book deals with missing and murdered Indigenous women and proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to the cause.

Stolen Butterfly

Gabriel Hawke Novel #7

When the local authorities tell State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s mother to wait 72 hours before reporting a missing Umatilla woman, she calls her son and rallies members of the community to search.

Hawke arrives at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation and learns the single mother of a boy his mom watches would never leave her son. Angered over how the local officials respond to his investigating, Hawke teams up with a security guard at the Indian casino and an FBI agent. Following the leads, they discover the woman was targeted by a human trafficking ring at the Spotted Pony Casino.

Hawke, Dela Alvaro, and FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce join forces to bring the woman home and close down the trafficking operation before someone else goes missing.

I will be engaging in many book related activities in May. What will you be up to?

My Body, My Temple

I believe I am an open-minded person. I’ve never disliked anyone for their beliefs, race, politics, religion, or way of life. I try to give everyone the chance to show me their kindness, openness, and how they feel.

If the people I am around are bettering the world, kind to those around them, and they have a different view on things than I do, I don’t say anything unless we can have an informative sharing conversation. But I’ve learned the hard way there are some people who only believe in what they believe in and can’t or won’t ever see my perspective. Because I don’t like confrontation, I always bow out of the conversation. That doesn’t mean I then go somewhere else and bad-mouth them. I don’t. My husband and I or my children and I might have a discussion about the other person’s beliefs and try to see things from their side. And sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. But that’s as far as it goes.

If you have received or plan to receive the Covid vaccination, I hope you have an open mind to those of us who have weighed all the information and have chosen not to get the vaccine. We are not ignorant, we are informed. If you do not have a closed mind continue reading, BUT don’t leave mean comments. 

My husband, and both my daughters and their families have talked about the Covid vaccination. We have all done research and talked to people in the medical field and have talked to people who have had the virus and people who have family members who died of car accidents, suicides, or natural causes who are fighting to get the “covid” cause of death off their loved one’s death certificates.    

People say, how could you not vaccinate for Covid. It’s like saying you wouldn’t vaccinate for Polio, Small Pox, TB or other deadly diseases.

This is my reasoning. 

Covid is a VIRUS. It mutates and changes. If you want to keep from getting covid and all it’s mutations, you need to get vaccinated every time the virus changes. Every 6 months to a year. That would be putting a vaccine that was formulated in a few months into your body without knowing if it will or will not protect you. Or what the side or long-term effects will be on your body and mind.

 Polio, Small Pox, TB are DISEASES. Scientists and doctors spent decades to refine the vaccines that work so well against these, that there are few cases of these diseases in the world. Because—they are diseases that stay the same and don’t mutate and don’t need the vaccines to be constantly updated.

This virus hit the U.S. heavy one year ago. Scientists and governments waited 6 months before they started working on a cure. What took decades for doctors and scientists to research for other vaccines, they came up with in 4 months. And began giving it to the oldest members of our society and the immune impaired members. A vaccine that we have heard and read many reports on that is not safe. The scientific world doesn’t even know what the effects of this vaccine will do to the population. We have been told by a person who knows a researcher that when the vaccine was given to 100 rats, 90 of them died. There is a report here about 100 people who were vaccinated in Washington state testing positive for Covid.

My husband and I are healthy, thank goodness. We both could easily live 40 more years given our family genetics. Hearing about the side effects that could occur from the vaccinations, not just death, which is happening in women, 4:1, over men, but the long-term side effects the makers of the drug believe will happen, we would prefer to continue our good health on our own and not have it accelerated by a drug that isn’t even FDA accredited.

This is a link to world-wide information about the vaccine and its statistics:

https://www.greenmedinfo.com/blog/can-we-trust-americas-covid-19-vaccine-injury-statistics

It seems to me with so many other things dividing us these days, why do we have to have a new divide: vaccinated vs unvaccinated.  It should be each person’s prerogative of how they wish to take care of their body and how they want to live. Like religion. If you want to be Catholic, Buddist, Baptist, or whatever, I don’t care. And if you want to be vaccinated or not vaccinated, I don’t care. It’s your body and soul you are supporting. But please, don’t treat me differently because I want to be the keeper of my body and not get the vaccine.

If you believe the vaccine is a cure-all for the virus, then coming in contact with someone who is unvaccinated should only affect that person, not you.

As I have said many times, this world is losing its common sense.

Please, no mean comments. This is just me getting something off my chest without having to be confronted by anyone.

Starting a new Writing Project

Beginning to figure out the first book, Poker Face.

Last month was the end of my Shandra Higheagle Mystery series. After 16 books in that series, I had come to know the characters well. I’ll miss them, but I’m excited to start the new Spotted Pony Casino Mysteries.

The new mystery series has been on the back of my mind since last spring when I wrote a short story for a contest. The more I became invested in the short story and the character, I knew she would be the main character of the next mystery series I wrote. Over the year, she has popped up in my mind many times as I start to fully realize who she is and what she wants out of life.

Dela Alvaro is a disabled veteran who in the latest Gabriel Hawke book is the head of the night security team for the Spotted Pony Casino and helps Hawke solve the mystery of a missing Umatilla woman.

I also drove through the Umatilla Reservation to set the area and roads in my mind. That way when my character travels about, I can mention a real place or thing.

Old Agency building on the reservation

Starting a new series is more than visualizing a main character. I spent a day just drawing up the blueprint for the casino. It is a make believe casino, but in a spot where there is a real Indian owned casino. I had to go online and learn as much as I could about the casino that exists so I could make sure I put in the amenities that are needed for a casino of its size and the working parts of the casino as well. The staff, laundry maintenance, dealers, cashiers, security, restaurants, the works. How they are owned. How the games work. It has been a learning curve for someone who might frequent a casino once a year and most of those were at casinos in Nevada, not on reservations. There is a different set of rules for Indian casinos. Something else I had to read up on.

After I drew the casino layout, I came up with some of the characters who worked there that my character would be dealing with or have for friends. The statics for the casino I’m miming has 2/3 of the staff being from the reservation. That is good to know for coming up with secondary characters.

Because this casino is on a reservation, which makes if federal jurisdiction after the tribal police, I will also have an FBI agent as a secondary character. Guess what? That means I am also digging into what the FBI deals with on reservations and how the workflow goes, as well as reading up on the whole FBI process. I also gave Dela and FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce a backstory from their time spent in Iraq. And,,, that meant digging up info from military police in Iraq seven years ago.

I do tend to go overboard with my research but I hope it helps to make my make believe characters, believable.

That is what I’m doing in my writing. Waiting for my beta and sensitivity readers to get back to me on my last Hawke book, I wrote, and gearing up to write the first book in the Spotted Pony Casino mysteries. What are you up to this month?

Rock Formations

I love rocks. I love learning how they came to be where they are. “Nick on the Rocks” a five minute snippet that plays on our OPB station between shows is one of my favorite fill-ins. He talks mainly about rock formations in Washington state but how they are formed are actions from all over the Pacific Northwest.

I’ve always had a fascination with rocks. I love the huge black and white with flecks of shiny stuff, granite boulders where I grew up in NE Oregon. I would sit on a big one that was down by the irrigation ditch by our house. There was also a large one in the horse pasture where I would sit and watch my horse or the water running by in the ditch next to it.

While living in Central Oregon, we could see Smith Rocks. A premier sentinel of Rock that rock climbers from around the world come to crawl all over. In the morning when the sun hit them, they appeared green. As the light moved, they took on a pinkish color. They are one of the most stunning rock formations I’ve seen.

Where we live now there are lava tubes and craters ten miles from us. But the rocks that stick out on the ridge of our property are spectacular in my estimation. Different times of day and light, I see something interesting in the rocks every day.

Rock that looks like a head

We have one rock that looks like a head. At a book event in Portland, I noticed a book with a cover depicting a rock like we have on our property. I started up a conversation with Wilson Wewa, a Paiute man, whose story of traveling around with his grandmother and Northern Paiute legends were in the book. The Northern Paiute traveled around the Great Basin, which is part of where I live now. This rocks that look like heads are guarding sacred places.

There is another rock, I call Buddha. I don’t know why, I just do. One of our grandsons says it looks like a rock from Easter Island. It’s like a large head and a hand held out. There is a crack in the cliff next to it that looks as if the rock somehow popped out of there and turned. Just my imagination I’m sure, but that ‘s how I see it.

This is my Buddha rock

There is another grouping of rocks that looks to me like a monkey sitting on an elephant’s head. This could be because I just recently read two books set in India. Though there was no mention of elephants there were monkeys in the story.

And I look out my bedroom window every morning and see what looks like to me a large cat rock. It makes me smile and think that perhaps there is a reason there is such a rock. I have seen bobcat and what I believe to be lynx tracks in the dirt.

Then there is the curved ridge with spiky rock formations that I dubbed “Stegosaurus Hill” when we first looked at the property to buy. Yes, I love our property and the unique things I see in the rocks every day! I couldn’t find a photo of it easily and didn’t feel like stepping outside in the cold to take one. I’ll save that for another day.

Do you find rocks and formations interesting? Do you see the things I see in the photos?

Exploring New Cultures Through Reading

I have always been interested in other countries and cultures. Reading has been the way I learn about them. As a teen I read a lot of what is called Gothic Romance. These were set in England, India, Northern Africa. The places where the English ruled because the books were usually about an English governess. I enjoyed reading about the places and the people.

That could be the reason I write Native American characters and culture into my mystery books. They aren’t another country. They are right here living on the same continent as I am, yet their culture is different and they have been treated poorly. The one thing you will always find my books showcasing is injustice. I have deep need to show injustices.

Diwali or deepavali photo with female hands holding oil lamp during festival of light

Back to exploring new cultures through reading. I have read two books in Sujata Massey’s 1920s Mysteries set in India. I’m learning so much about the different cultures and castes that lived in that country at that time. Earlier in the year, I’d read a self-published book that was set in India. I hadn’t realized how badly some men treat their wives and it is normal. Glad I don’t live in that country. And I feel for the women who are trying to get equality in life, work, policies, and laws.

After those books, I moved on to one that I thought would be interesting and indeed it probably would be but I got tired of all the bantering back and forth between the two main characters and not getting into the meat of the mystery.

Now I’ve started a book set in Hollywood, not another country, but it’s in the view of a black woman who has fallen down the actress list. I’m seeing a different view of things through not only her losing her looks and trying to stay afloat but how she interacts with others.

I’ve also read many books written and about Native Americans to try to help me write my characters who aren’t ensconced in the life every day but I want them to reveal tidbits of that culture to my readers and help them see they are just as human as the rest of us.

Are you reading books about other cultures? Do you enjoy learning new things and understanding people better?