How Fickle is Spring?

Everyone on social media was heralding the beginning of Spring. It’s here! It’s here! they exclaimed.

And I believed it was here. Hubby and I made a 3 hour trip on Friday to get our taxes done. Along they way there was a fresh sprinkling of snow on the ridges and mountains in the distance, but it’s still March. The higher elevations could still get some snow.

We had a beautiful weekend. Family visited. I rode my horse and grandchildren rode horses. We enjoyed the sun and the fun time outdoors.

Monday morning came. And there was snow. And wind. And a peek of sunshine. The snow melted. That’s typical for this time of year in the high desert.

Sunrise on a stormy morning.

Tuesday started with an inch of snow. Huge, fluffy flakes fell from the sky as I fed the horses and filled water troughs.

Jan eating under a lean-to.

Since I had to wait for the troughs to fill, I walked around enjoying the quiet of the falling snow, the large fluffy flakes, and taking photos. I love when the weather is like this. Not too cold, just enough to let you know it’s the perfect temperature for make my favorite fluffy flakes of snow.

This morning, we woke to an inch of snow and beautiful blue skies and sunshine! It is barely above freezing but with the sun and the rising temperature the snow will be gone soon and maybe, just maybe it will look like spring by this afternoon. You never know!

This is a photo of Jammer, an old mare and George our lovable donkey. They prefer being on the hill where they can scrounge for the new tender grass popping up and be spoiled with their daily hay.

We’ll see what the rest of the week brings. I’m hoping for some more nice days to ride my horse. But hubby says we are in for more snow and nasty weather until April 1st. Time will tell!

I hope everyone is staying healthy and following the guidelines for staying that way. Hug your loved ones, read books, watch movies and television, and stay safe.

My Latest Trip

I’ve been home a week from a whirlwind trip to Maui. This trip hadn’t been planned when hubby and I went to Kauai in October. Nope! I returned from Kauai and my daughter said, “Want to go to Maui in March?” Her family needed to use up air miles they were going to lose.

So I booked a flight with them and saw two islands in Hawaii in 6 months!

First my daughter, her 6 kids, and I took two days to get to Oakland, CA where her husband is stationed in the Coast Guard. We drove nearly all the way across Oregon and visited the Redwoods in Northern California before ending up in Oakland.

Paul Bunyon and Babe at the Redwoods

We spent the night there and headed out on the plane early the next morning. The good news…the plane was only half full so we had plenty of room. The virus going around has stopped a lot of people from traveling. This will be my last trip for a while. I hope everything is settled down by August when I go to a conference in North Carolina.

Sand castle grandson built on the rocks at the beach where we stayed.

We arrived in Maui around noon, but by the time we picked up 2 rental cars (we wouldn’t all fit in any vehicle they had), went to Costco and Safeway for groceries for the week, it was evening. My son-in-law had taken half of the kids with him. They were all down at the beach when we arrived at the rented condo.

A grandson saw turtles while snorkeling here.

We had only 4 days from arriving on Sunday and leaving on Friday to see things. All the kids wanted to do was play at the beach, but the adults wanted to see the island. So most mornings, we’d drive to see something, then spend the afternoon or evening at the beach.

Top of Kalahaku Overlook

What my daughter and I decided, we needed two more days and have a day in the middle where we do nothing but sit and relax. If there’s a next time we’ll know. She could care less if she goes back again. It was her second time to Hawaii. She returned home sick from that time too. She and three of the kids were sick by the time we arrived back in Oregon. But it wasn’t the virus going around. They were headachy and vomiting.

Waterfalls on the way to Hana.

I had a good time but would have liked to have seen parts of the island I didn’t. Kind of like my trip to Iceland last year. I would love to go back and see the north and eastern parts of the island.

Have you been to Hawaii? Did you like it? I have to say, Maui felt less congested than Kauai did. I don’t know if it was because less people are traveling or because it is a more open island, with more than one road to get places.

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

Cold but so Worth it!

After having a week of really nice weather we are back down in the 30s and low 40s during the day. But we’ve had beautiful sunny days with a bit of wind.

The sunshine tugs at me even though it is cold outside. I’ve been taking walks on the hills wishing for spring flowers to poke their leaves, stems and buds out of the frozen ground.

What I’ve also been doing is riding my new horse, Jan (yaan). He is 21 years old and with just enough get up and go that I can go if I want to but we are both happy to just plod along. LOL

My daughter and two grandkids have come over a couple of times and written with me. But Jan also doesn’t mind riding off just the two of us. That was what I was looking for. A horse I was comfortable on and who didn’t throw a fit when he was ridden by himself.

I grew up on a farm and in the summer, riding was an everyday occurrence. I’d do my chores in the morning, catch my horse and ride the ridge/mountain behind our property. Some days, my younger brother and I would make a lunch and take off, riding for most of the day, coming home in time to do our afternoon chores and for me to cook dinner.

That was back when there weren’t any cell phones. Our parents were off at work and my grandparents would see us saddle up and leave. No one ever thought about anything happening. And if it did, we knew how to deal with it.

I stabbed myself three times over my childhood, making furniture and houses for my Barbie dolls out of cardboard boxes. My parents were at work, and I didn’t want to bother my grandmother. I’d go to the house, ( I was usually out in the orchard) put on a band-aid, wrap some gauze around it, and hope a band-aid would be enough when my parents arrived home.

I’m looking forward to warmer weather and being able to ride every day and not at the whim of the cold wind. Today the wind is blowing harder and while there is beautiful sunshine, the wind chill is 7.

What is something you are looking forward to doing as the weather warms?

I’m looking forward to the wildflowers!

That Feeling- That one

When I finish a book, I have a lightness for, oh, about an hour. That hour starts when I have finished the draft, gone through it one more time for consistency and tweaking things, and have hit send to my critique partners.

What I do for an hour… I either ride my horse, go for a walk, or watch a show on TV. Sometimes I start baking or sewing. I do anything but think about the next book or marketing or promotion for the book I just finished–for an hour.

Then boom! My head is into the next book. I’m researching, making my character and suspect charts, figuring out who is murdered and why. Trying to make the title and the story have some kind of connection. Thinking about what the cover will look like.

And I’m back in a project just like that with an hour to feel, the awe of completion and satisfaction that I took my characters on another journey of which I enjoyed as much as they did. But now the hard work will start.

Besides writing the next book, I will be working on edits of the one I just finished, formatting it, uploading it to the ebook venues that I use. Then formatting it for print and uploading it to the print vendor I use. When it is available, letting people know via newsletters, social media, and paid advertising.

Yes, that feeling… the one I covet of finishing a book and not thinking about anything else– It lasts an hour and then I’m back on the treadmill of writing, researching, marketing, and promoting. Never a dull moment when you are an Indie author.

The book I just finished: Abstract Casualty, book 14 in the Shandra Higheagle Mysteries. It is set on Kauai, Hawaii. Shandra is invited by a college friend to come juror an art exhibit and ends up proving her friend didn’t kill an uptight painter.

Top photo by: Paty Jager Middle photo: DepositPhotos

Living in the Moment

Something I’ve discovered about myself is I live in the moment. I’m not sure why, but I am happiest wherever I’m at.

Whenever posts come up on Facebook with which would you live in, or which place would you rather be? I’m usually, pretty happy right where I am. Yes, I do like to go visit the beach. I call it my happy place, but really, I am happy wherever I am.

Growing up, I don’t remember our first move, I was too small. But I spent the rest of my childhood in one place. Then I went to college. I was happy there. Then I moved in with a friend, I was happy there.

Then I married. During my marriage we’ve lived in 5 different houses. The first two, though they were infested with mice, I was content with where I was because of who I was with–My husband and our growing family.

I disliked house #4. But I was willing to live in it because we were building our “dream” home. And the land was exactly what we wanted( at the time). I rode horses, wrote, took care of the kids, and raised pigs and cattle. It was good.

Hauling hay off the field

We built the new house, moved in, and everything was great. Then Hubby decided it was too crowded for him and we needed to move east. Since I’m happy anywhere I am, I said, “Okay, let’s see what we can find.”

After many trips to SE Oregon we finally pulled into an area that I jumped out of the car and hurried up the hill. I loved the place. It didn’t have a house, but it had the land hubby wanted to grow alfalfa.

I spent five years, as we gradually added more ground in alfalfa and more hand line and wheel line irrigation, driving the 3 hours to spend a week every two weeks irrigating the alfalfa. Then we’d spend a week putting up the hay and go back to our “dream” home for the winter, until we finally put the “dream” home up on for sale and moved to SE Oregon.

wildflowers in the SE Oregon desert

Everyone said, but you’re leaving your dream home. It was my dream home while we built it. Now my dream home will be built in SE Oregon. And that is where I am now. In my second dream home, enjoying my horses, my writing, my family, and life.

Looking back may put the present in perspective but don’t ever stay in the past. Looking forward and enjoying what you have now is the only way to live!

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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The Hunt is Over!

The horse my husband bought for me last year wasn’t working out. He’s a sweetheart, but he has some issues that won’t work for how I like to ride.

Ever since my daughter, the horse girl, moved down the road we’ve been looking for horses. One for me, one for her, and several for her kids.

Two weeks ago we took a day trip and tried out 7 or 8 horses and ended up putting money down on one for her 13 year-old son with plans to pick it up this past weekend.

While we were trying out horses, one person didn’t have quite what we were looking for but she told us about some horses her aunt and uncle were selling and thought they might work.

This past Sunday, my daughter swung by my place at 5:30 am, we drove the 3 hours to the woman’s aunt and uncle’s place and we rode 3 horses. Well, I only rode two. While I had set my mind on the mare, Patty, before I arrived, it was the gelding, John, who I renamed Jan (Yaan), that I fell for. Jan was sturdy, stood when I got on, because these days I don’t float up into the saddle like I did ten or more years ago. He had a nice calm demeanor, walked slow, but would pick it up with a click and a slight tap to his sides. He was everything I’ve been looking for in a horse. And the last time he’d been rode was July 4th. He acted as if he’d been ridden every day since. I loved that about him.

Patty has a bit more spunk. Walks out faster, but paid attention and my granddaughter liked her. I didn’t like that she doesn’t stand when you get on. Which would mean I’d need someone to hold her while I get on, but I liked everything else about her.

Which led me to purchasing both Patty and Jan. Jan for me and Patty for grandkids and visitors to ride.

After that, we headed down the road to the place where my daughter and put money on the horse my grandson had liked. My daughter is trying to find a horse for her. One with more spunk than I or the grandkids want. While there the grandkids wrote about five different horses and my daughter rode several. My granddaughter feel in love with a palomino gelding and my daughter purchased that for her along with the mare she’d secured the two weeks before for her son.

We came home with 4 horses and a lion head rabbit. The people where I bought my horses offered the kids the rabbit and the grandson jumped at the offer.

I’m excited for some of the snow to melt so conditions aren’t so slippery and I can get to riding.

Do you have horses? Or have you ever had horses? My husband doesn’t care for them but because I love them he indulges me. 😉

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!