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

Book 13 is Available!

I’m happy to say that book 13, Toxic Trigger-point, in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery Series is now available in ebook at all ebook vendors. It should be available in print in about a week. Print takes longer to be available.

This story came about after a massage, or I should say while lying on the table waiting for my massage. The thought in my head was, “What if I were dead, face down on this table and the person giving the massage came in and found me this way?” Then I started thinking, “what if, someone looked in the door, saw the room was occupied, and left, leaving the person, if they were dying, without any help?” And so goes the mind of a writer!

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.

Universal buy link to most ebook vendors: https://books2read.com/u/4Ex9De

Researching the Next Book

Painting that caught my eye at the art show.

I had two reasons I wanted to go to Hawaii- I had always wanted to see a tropical island and I wanted to set a book there. After working on my husband for 40 years, he finally gave in. Our daughters who had visited several of the Hawaiian islands suggested they thought their dad would like Kauai the best. When he said yes to going, I quickly booked a place to stay and got plane tickets before he changed his mind!

Last week I showed you the first couple of days in Kauai. This week I have photos from the next two days.

On Thursday we drove the Waimea Canyon Road. The canyon was pretty. It was deep, had lots of deep gorges and narrow peaks. The colors ranged from orange and pinks in the soil and rocks to the vivid greens we’re expecting to see in the foliage.

Waimea Canyon

From the Canyon Viewpoint we continued north and stopped at all the viewpoints along the way. One had a trail to the top of the waterfall we’d viewed at the Canyon viewpoint. Hubby and I started out on the trail, thinking we’d see more than the trees, brush, and vines as we slipped and slid down the muddy trail. After about a mile, we turned around and went back. It was hot, humid, no air in among the vegetation, and we couldn’t see anything.

Back at the car, we continued up the Koke’e Road to the next lookout. The Kalalau lookout overlooked the Kalalau valley and the ocean. It was really pretty.

A short distance from there was another lookout, the Pi’u o Kila. From here we took the Pihea Trail and walked a good mile and a half up it and stopped to have a picnic lunch. This trail had a rocky down hill climb to start, then it even out along the rim of the canyon but was a bit on the slippery side, but not near as bad as the trail that we’d hiked earlier in the day. There were wonderful views of the Kalalau Valley and the Waimea Canyon on the other side.

At the car we headed back the way we’d driven that morning because we had come to the end of the road. We had dinner as a small restaurant and went back to out place to soak in the hot tub and visit with some of the other vacationers at our condo.

Friday I was excited to attend a luau that night. To make sure we weren’t late for the luau we only had plans for me to check out an art show happening in Lihue.

Mindanao Gum tree

The morning started out with us walking around the area where we were staying. I took photos of the flowers and the Mindanao Gum tree which has gorgeous colored striped bark. The art show didn’t open until noon which gave us time to slowly make our way to Lihue, have lunch at the mall where the show was being held.

I’m so glad I had discovered the art show! I talked with the young woman manning the show and explained why I was there and discovered that the show is held every year and it’s a juried show with a judge. The judge this year came from California! I discovered that I can have Shandra be the judge for one of their shows, by having her be friends with one of the board members. Spending time looking at the art, I wrote down the names of the artists I admired so I can look them up online and get a feel for the type of artists who enter the show. As I walked around studying the different mediums, ideas slowly swirled in my head. While I’m still uncertain how the character will be killed and why, I know how Shandra will be in Kauai, how she becomes involved in the murder, and where I want the murder to take place.

painted gourds by Sally Tomiko

It had started raining in the afternoon. we were almost and hour early for the luau and the man at the gates suggested we go see a waterfall that was about 15 minutes away. We drove there and sat in the car for fifteen minutes waiting for the rain to let up so we could get out and look at the waterfall without being soaked.

Sitting in car waiting for rain to slow
Opaeka’a Falls

We noticed a man standing inside the open door of the men’s restroom when we drove up to the waterfall lookout. He was weaving a basket with palm leaves. Hubby and I discussed he was probably making the basket to sell. We waited until it looked like he was about finished and Hubby walked over and asked him about the basket. He was making it to sell and was asking $10 for it. I had told Hubby I’d to as high as $20 so we were both excited when he got into the car with my $20 basket.

the basket

We went back to the area for the Luau, still raining, and waited with the others at the entrance under a small entry to the gardens. We learned what I had thought would be a more intimate affair and I had made reservations for months ago had 500 people attending! It was a fun night with buffet style serving, dinner entertainment of Hawaiian songs and hula lessons and then a beautiful show afterwards. The show at the end depicted dances from all the cultures who inhabited the islands- Philippines, Tahitian, Japanese, New Zealand, Samoa. While it wasn’t as intimate as I’d thought it would be, it was definitely worth the money.

Next week I’ll tell you about finally finding the paradise I’d been looking for.

Aloha!

After 40 years, I finally talked my hubby into going with me to Hawaii! I will have to say the flight over wore us both out! We left Boise, ID at 3 pm CST and arrived in Kauai at 10 pm then drove another hour to where we are staying. It was only 26 miles but the highest they allow you to drive is 50 mph and most of the time it is 40 and 35. Needless to say it was 2 pm our time.

Day one, even though we had little sleep we woke at our regular time. Because we had come is so late, we didn’t stop at a store for groceries. We set out heading north and eventually found a restaurant open in Hanalei. It was a fun little spot with two women cooking and serving. The guava juice was delicious! And my breakfast quesadilla with white rice was tasty.

We drove on north to Haena Beach that has a cave that looks as if it has either been a lava tube or worn in through time from the ocean. There wasn’t a sign to tell us which. I put my feet in the water and walked a bit on the beach. So far, I’m thinking I like my Oregon beaches better. But you can’t beat the beautiful blue water and sunshine!

Cave.
Haena Beach

On the way back we stopped at a grocery store and stocked up for breakfast and a light dinner the rest of the week. And lots of water and drinks. While it is so moist here you feel sticky all the time, we noticed we aren’t drinking enough.

After putting the groceries away we decided to go check out Kilauea Lighthouse that isn’t far from where we are staying. It was interesting but a bit disappointing that we didn’t get to go in it. It has some great history about saving a ship and helping out during WWI. It is also a bird refuge for the Red-footed Boobie and NeNe and well as other water birds.

We stopped a small little restaurt called The Bistro in Kilauea. It was only serving bar fare until 5:30 but what they had on that menu was fine. I had the best ribs and crunchy, tasty coleslaw I’ve ever had. Hubby had a pulled pork sandwich and said it was delicious. So far the food has not let us down. 😉

The Bistro
Wailua Falls

After ten hours sleep. Yes! We were asleep early because of the lack of sleep the night before. We roused early again, walked to the cliff edge and watched the sun lighten up our part of the island. After that we ate breakfast and headed out to see Wailua Falls. The twin falls made popular because they were used on the opening of Fantasy Island TV show. I was a bit disappointed as I had read you could walk to the falls. There were signs that said no trespassing, no trail.

After that, I wanted to go to the Kauai Museum. It told the history of the island. I found the information about Bird Catchers interesting. Because red and yellow bird feathers were favored for the royal families clothing men could make good money bringing in the colored feathers.

Cape decorated with bird feathers

After the museum, I suggested we go see another Falls that it said we could hike to. We went to the other Falls, saw cars lined up but we couldn’t see the falls or any signs that said there was a trail, only no trespassing signs. So we back tracked and went to the Kona Coffee Plantation. It was fun to see and my husband loved seeing how coffee was grown.

Coffee Harvester

After the plantation we stopped in Koloa and had lunch at an Italian Restaurant. After eating we walked the street and I found an art gallery. I went in and asked the woman working there about ideas I had for a Shandra book and how to connect her to the art world in Kauai. She was helpful and with some more digging on the internet, I should have some good info to get the book figured out. Then we drove to Poipu Beach. There were lots of fancy houses for sale on one street. We wondered about that. Then headed back toward where we are staying.

Tomorrow the plan is to get up early and drive the Wiamea Road. I’ll let you know about that in another post.

Catching my Breath

I’ve been so busy running around the state judging at county fairs, I forgot to update my own blog.

At one fair I judge open class eggs

The county fairs I judged at were a lot of fun. Some I watched 4-H members knit, crochet and sew, others I judged their foods, clothing, knitting, photography, educational displays, and presentations. And there were were a couple where I judged the open class foods and clothing.

I have to say while judging open class is easier because I don’t have to interview or write down what is good and what needs work on an item, I do enjoy the interview process with the 4-H members the most. I love their enthusiasm about the item they made or baked. If the recipe or pattern came from a family member. What I found most about the clothing and knitting projects the patterns for many were found on Pinterest. How times change!

I’m looking forward to this coming weekend. Labor Day, not for the camping and family time but because it is my annual pilgrmage to Sumpter, Oregon to set up a booth with another author at the Flea Market. It has become one of the events during the year I look forward to.

This year we have a nice tent we’ll set up.

It’s fun talking with Mary Vine, the other author, and watching all the people who wander among the booths. The best part, is when someone hurries over and say, “I was hoping you were going to be here, I need the next book in your series.” That’s why we go back every year. To provide winter reading for the people in NE Oregon. LOL

I’m way behind in my writing, but I do have a new release, the last western romance I’ll write for a while. Freedom: Silver Dollar Saloon.

Their dreams brought them together. But will violence tear them apart?

Freedom longs to be out of the Silver Dollar Saloon, with a family of her own. When a white man promises marriage and children, she takes the biggest risk of her life, and follows him to the wilds of Montana Territory. Where he shows his true nature.

Water Runs Fast, a Crow off the reservation, comes upon a white man whipping a brown-skinned woman. After stabbing the white man and riding off with the woman, he realizes she is the woman from his visions. The one who pledged to help him and his people survive in the white man’s world.

On the run from the tragedy, the two grow close. Together, they begin a life as husband and wife. But will they have their chance at a life together, or will they hang for murder?

Universal link: https://books2read.com/u/mlawnB

And I should have the next Shandra book, Toxic Trigger-point coming out in September. We’re still working on the cover design. It’s being tricky and the book is going through the editing phase.

What did you do this summer? Was it fun? Are you looking forward to fall coming?

Creating Book Covers by Paty Jager

Jet boating the Snake River

If all goes well, I should have a book out this month and one next month. I’m behind in getting my latest books written and out. I’ve been doing too much playing this year, but I think it makes me a better writer to experience things before I write a story.

The first book to be released is Freedom, book 3 in the Silver Dollar Saloon series. The background for the cover was easy. We use the same background on all the books. We just add the character the book is titled after. In this case, Freedom, a young black woman.

I spent hours going through photo galleries online where you can purchase photos to use on covers. I wanted a fresh face, not one with makeup, and she needed to have her hair a certain way. When I’d found four possibilities, I started looking for a body with a dress from the 1800s. I found the perfect one on Pinterest. It was from an auction house. I contacted them, they responded if I could tell them the numbers on the photo (auction date) they could send me a good photo. After I sent the date to them, I never heard from them again.

Which sent me looking elsewhere,and I finally found a dress online and purchased it. Then I sent the women I’d found to my cover designer and she began playing with putting the heads on the dress. After several tries we were both finally happy with the way it looked.

I now have to find a photo for Toxic Trigger-point a murder that takes place on a massage bed in a spa. I’m trying to decide if I want a body on a massage bed or a spa as the cover image. What do you think would make the better, more eye-catching cover?

Vacations Turn into Books

 In January my husband and I took a trip to Reno, Nevada. I had the highest bid for a two-night stay at the Peppermill in a silent auction the year before.

I set it up, knowing we also had an amount we could spend at the spa. All the way there I all I could think of was a nice body massage and one for hubby. We went into the spa and discovered we didn’t have enough to cover two massages. I said we could still get two but frugal hubby said, no. I signed up for a massage and my husband had a gentlemen’s pedicure.

This was a fancy spa. I entered an area just for women to change and then I could join my husband in a co-ed area with a hot tub, sauna, and a quiet lounge where we waited for our treatments. I had expected my husband to join me in the lounge, but he didn’t arrive before they called me back to the room for my massage. It turned out he’d been taking a tour of the three floors that made up the spa.

I was taken to a room and asked to slip under the sheet on the massage table. I did as I was asked. As I laid there face down, staring at the floor waiting for the masseuse to come back, my mind wandered in the direction it seems to go more and more these days. I thought, “I could be a dead body and no one would notice.” That, of course had my mind flying to all sorts of scenarios. The masseuse came in and started my massage. The whole time I was still figuring out how I could have a murder in a spa like the one I was at, and how to involved Shandra Higheagle the main character in my mystery series.

By the time my massage was over, I had the story starting in my head. After dressing, I went out and started asking the people at the sign-in desk a bunch of questions about how a spa that size was run, while I waited for my husband to come out of the men’s side.

Back home, I started coming up with a method of murder that would be plausible and started the book Toxic Trigger-point. The book opens with Shandra opening a door to a massage room and seeing someone face down on the table. She thinks she’s got the wrong room and waits in the hall. She and the masseuse discover the woman on the table is dead.

I love when I can work something I’ve experienced into a book. I’ll be taking a jet boat ride in a couple of weeks to learn more about the Hells Canyon area to set a Gabriel Hawke book there. My need to know the settings for my books will also take me to Iceland this month. My goal is to have Hawke go there to teach or learn more about tracking on cold conditions. (watch for blogs and photos about both trips)

Another great thing about traveling, our 40th anniversary trip will be to Hawaii, where I hope to send Shandra for book #14.

Seeing the places I use as settings in books helps me to experience it not only through me but through my characters.