My latest trip

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.

Nia liked chasing sand fleas.

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.

Time Flys

Wow! It is already the middle of September and it feels like I’m still in August!

I had a wonderful time at the Sumpter Flea Market with Mary Vine, a granddaughter and my new dog Nia. We sold books, visited, and had lots of laughs.

Mary and I at Sumpter

I came home and judged two days at the Harney County Fair. The first day was 4-H static exhibits. That means I judge food, art, photography, leathercraft, llama wool, scrapbooking, and educational displays. I was sad there wasn’t any sewing, knitting, or crocheting. And fewer entries than in the past. The following day, I judged open class textiles- so sewing, quilting, knitting, and crochet. The next day I watched a granddaughter show her pig and a grandson (who I watched show is goat the day before) show a guinea pig.

This week I had a critique meeting with local writers and am headed today to Mt. Angel, Oregon where I’ll be manning a booth with other NIWA authors at Oktoberfest. I’ll be at the booth from 4-10 pm on the 15th, from 10 am- 4pm on the 16th, then I hop over to the coast to visit family and come back on Sunday from 2-6 pm to man the booth and help take it down.

After I help take the booth down, I’m back to the coast for a week of writing and hanging out with family.

My favorite place on the Oregon coast

I need to write, because I am behind schedule with the books I had planned to write this year. I’m going to be one book shy of what I had envisioned having finished by the end of the year.

But the events that have been intruding on my writing time won’t be a part of my life in the coming year so I can concentrate on more time at home and writing 4 books a year. Unless the ideas start to dwindle. So far, they haven’t. I’m still 3 books ahead with ideas for the Gabriel Hawke books and 2 ideas ahead for the Spotted Pony Casino books.

Speaking of the Spotted Pony Casino, book 3, Double Down, is now available in ebook and print.

Double Down

Spotted Pony Casino, book 3

A donkey, a three-legged dog, and a war-scarred veteran outwit the killer.

Dela Alvaro is the main suspect in the stabbing death of a man she stopped from beating his wife to death. The detective she abhors is ready to toss her in jail and not look for any other suspects. When FBI Special Agent Quinn Pierce is called in and Tribal Officer Heath Seaver is forbidden to work the case, Dela decides to find the killer.

Was it the wife, the drug dealer, or the man wanting to take over the victim’s business? Dela and Heath ask questions and work to prove her innocence. If she is found guilty not only will she lose her new life but she’ll never be able to solve the secret of her father.  

Universal Buy Link:

https://books2read.com/u/4D6Wa7

Getting Ready for Sumpter Flea!

The past seven years I’ve been attending the Sumpter Flea Market every Memorial and Labor Day weekend in a small town in NE Oregon with my author friend Mary Vine. She had been attending the event for several years before she invited me to join her. We both have books set in the area and enjoy visiting with one another as well as selling our books.

We started out with just a couple of tables, book stands, and a canopy for our spot. We now have a tent, more tables, and more book stands. We have also established ourselves there and have repeat readers coming back to see what we have new or to add to their book collections from us. It’s fun seeing these people. I remember their faces but have a heck of a time remembering their names.

Cracker Creek behind the cabin

When I first started attending, Mary and her husband owned a cabin at Bourne, a ghost town 6 miles beyond Sumpter up a bumpy gravel road. It would take me nearly 30 minutes to drive the 6 miles in my car. That and the beautiful scenery and usually pretty weather. At Bourne, I would stay in a one-room cabin with bunk beds, no plumbing or electricity. The best part was sitting on the tiny deck of the cabin watching and listening to Cracker Creek.

I would take my dog, Tink, for company. We’d go for walks or when I wrote she’d sleep on one of the beds. There were sometimes several families staying at their cabins while I was there and sometimes there would only be a couple of families. A couple of times I’d wake up to it snowing or having snowed during the night.

Bourne one of the snowy mornings.

Mary said some people who have stayed up at Bourne have heard saloon music during the night. And others said they heard children playing. I didn’t hear either. I enjoyed my stays in Bourne, but Mary and her husband sold the cabin and now I Airbnb in Baker City.

I make book bags for each weekend. All during the year I either sew on quilts for grandkids or I sew book bags. These are bags that I give away with each book sale. It makes it easier for the buyer to carry their purchases. One time I had a woman show up at our booth saying she saw one of my bags and it reminded her she had to come get the next book in a series from me. So they do work!

book bags

Mary and I enjoy visiting, talking about writing, life, and watching the dogs that go by. Yes, nearly everyone who walks by has a dog or 2 or 3. We discuss what breeds we think they are and if the owner comes near our booth we ask to see who was closest to the right breeds.

This weekend, I’m taking my new puppy Nia and a granddaughter to puppy sit. She has to learn to go everywhere with me and be used to people, so we are starting her “training” now. It will be fun to travel with a dog again. The dog I lost in February, Tink, had traveled everywhere with me and I’m looking forward to a traveling companion again.

Nia enjoying the warm grass

It looks like it should be in the 90s. Hopefully, we’ll get a bit of a breeze or it can get hot in the tent, even though we put the sides up and are under large pine trees most of the day.

If you’re in the Sumpter, Oregon area come on by and say “Hi!” I also have some freebies I hand out.

More Adventure

While my sister-in-law and I were on the research road trip in Montana last month, we discovered a wonderful museum. Ninepipes Museum of early Montana History. The museum was fun and filled with both Flathead Indian history as well as information about the people who settled in Montana.

Ninepipes is a nonprofit museum built by Laurel and Bud Cheff Jr. You can wear headphones as you walk through the 11,000 square foot building. Bud Cheff is the voice you hear telling you about both the equipment and day to day items used by the settlers and the tribes of the area. Photos weren’t allowed. Otherwise, I would have them here for you to see the wonderful exhibits and displays.

There were so many items we went through the museum twice. The displays were nicely set up with easy to read signage.

Besides the museum with the exhibits there was also one large room with stuffed Montana animals and birds in their habitat. It was a unique site after looking at regalia, western wear, and saddles to step into a room of life-like wildlife.

Also in the building were beautiful items handcrafted by Native American artists. I fell in love with several items but since it was early in our trip, I refrained from going crazy and buying everything I would have liked. 😉

Outside, there was a buffalo wagon. It was built in 1906 so the U.S. Government could haul buffalo from Flathead Indian Reservation to make room for settlers. They hauled 700 buffalo to the railroad Ravalli to ship them to Canada. These wagons hauled the buffalo, one male, or two females or small bulls 30 miles to the railroad station in Ravalli, Montana. A crew of men were kept busy repairing the wagons.

Buffalo wagon

Before the museum we stopped at the St. Ignasius Catholic Church in St. Ignatius, Montana. The church was built in the 1890s on the Flathead Indian Reservation. It has 58 beautiful paintings that are made even more spectacular by the colors and detail work that surround them.

altar

The nod to the people who lived in the area first is seen in the two life sized paintings at the back of the church. They are Christ as an Indian Chief and the Lord’s Mother an Indian mother with a baby in a cradleboard.

The woman working in the gift shop at the mission answered my questions about Jocko Road, the next destination on our trip. I’ll have that adventure for you on another blog post.

I Love Powwow Music and Atmosphere

June was a full month and July is even fuller!

On July 2nd I attended the Wildhorse Powwow at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla outside of Pendleton Oregon. I had hoped to talk to three people I have been corresponding with at Umatilla via text, email, and phone.

One person was one of the emcees for the event. He was kept busy the five hours I spent at the event. Another one had been spending time with his family, and the other wasn’t attending the powwow until the next day. Since it had been a spur of the moment idea to attend, I hadn’t asked them ahead of time if they would be there. That’s on me.

beautiful beadwork on the regalia

When I arrived the vendor booths were just opening. I wandered among the booths ogling the pretty jewelry and I did go home with a pair of studs with various colors of stones. I also brought home a beautiful rain/wind proof jacket that was designed by a family from the Warm Springs. I had a nice chat with the gentleman selling the coats. I liked the bright colors, but it was the paint brush flower on the back that pulled me into the sale. That wildflower is my favorite.

I finished looking at the vendor booths and they had started a singing competition. The contestants could us a hand drum if they wished and could only sing two verses of a song. They sang in their language and then the translation in English. I thought some of the songs were prettier in their own language. There were two young boys about seven and eight who sang. The emcee kidded with them they were a bit young to be singing such a sad love song. The emcees with their witty comments and introductions were fun.

After the singing the dancing began, with first the flags and Grand Entry where all the dancers enter the dancing area. Wow! So many people and beautiful regalia!

The start of Grand Entry

While I like the traditional dances, my favorites are the women’s fancy dance where they dance with more energy and use a shawl like wings of a butterfly. These dresses and shawls are colorful.

Women’s Fancy Dance

I like the men’s chicken dance. This dance the men where elaborate regalia of feathers. They squat and bob their heads like a bird. Each has their own little movements that defines them individually.

I also like the jingle dancers. Their dresses have rows of cone shaped metal jingles that make noise as they dance.

Jingle Dancers

The dancing starts with the children and then the elders. It is wonderful to see families during the procession and when the children were dancing, many parents were by their sides to make them comfortable.

The men’s fancy dance is an array of flying colors! My video is not very good and I couldn’t figure out how to edit it. But here it is:

The beat of the drums feels like a heartbeat. I find the music soothing and enjoy it as much as the dancing. The comradery of the dancers, the grandmothers, mother, and fathers helping the young dancers with their regalia, and the overall feeling of joy and gratefulness that they are here and can dance as their ancestors is why I enjoy watching the dancing. And is one of the reasons I like to have Native American characters in my books. Their resiliency, adapting to technology but not losing their sense of self and their people, and their wit all show that they will be here long after many other cultures have been absorbed into a mix of many cultures.

Roaming

So far this month I’ve been to the Tamastslikt Museum outside of Pendleton, Oregon at the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. Then over to Orofino, ID and the Dwarshak Fish Hatchery and Dam. Then I went to the St. Ignasius Mission on the Flathead Indian Reservation. After that, I took photographs of the area around Salmon Lake in Montana, and then I spent several days with my cousin and her husband.

It’s good to be home but most of my travels had to do with making my Spotted Pony Casino mysteries and Gabriel Hawke books better.

I was on a research trip. Though a few of the things I researched aren’t for the book in progress.

At Tamastslikt Museum, I wandered through the exhibits, reading and trying to connect myself to the characters I write who live on this reservation. I enjoyed the videos that played at some of the exhibits. The voices of the people and their thoughts helped me to understand a little more about the Umatilla people. I’m slowly making more and more contacts there and reaching out to be able to portray my characters in a realistic way.

A display at the Tamastslikt Museum

At Orofino, I spent the night with my brother and sister-in-law. My brother works for Dwarshak Fish Hatchery. They were getting ready for a ceremony at the hatchery that Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland attended. While there we took a walk up to the dam. I visited when there had been a lot of rain and the Clearwater River was running over its banks.

normally 1700 cubic ft of water per second comes out- this was 25,000 cubic ft per second

My sister-in-law (SIL) and I drove to Missoula, Montana where we had an Airbnb for two nights. The next day we drove north to check out the St. Ignasius Mission and the Flathead Reservation. While investigating the routes we would take, I noticed a gravel road that went from Highway 93 to Highway 83, near Salmon Lake that I also wanted to check out. At the church we asked the volunteer guide if she knew anything about the road. She said it was navigable and it would be a pretty drive.

She was correct! The drive was gorgeous through timber, brush, and many overflowing streams and waterfalls. The best part of the drive was seeing a black bear not thirty feet from the road. My SIL rolled down her window and talked to him while taking pictures.

By the time we reached Salmon Lake we had traveled through rain and snow and it was raining. We circled back on the highways to our Airbnb. The following morning we took the highway back to Salmon Lake and with overcast skies and no rain, I took photos of the Island Resort that will be a setting in my next Gabriel Hawke book. I had wanted to get on the island, but I couldn’t as only guests (and I couldn’t afford the price for a night) were allowed. I tried to talk to one of the staff who arrived at the boat house on the land side of the resort, but he blew me off. I took photos from the boat house and then a road up higher and more north on the highway to get as many angles of the island and the resort as I could. There was a smaller island not far from the resort island that may play into the story as well. I’m hoping the scenario I had in mind for the beginning of the book will work once I do a little more research.

Island Resort

Once I had all the photos I wanted, we continued north and spent two nights with a cousin in Lakeside, MT on the north end of Flathead Lake. Our second day there, our hosts took us to the National Bison Range. There we saw deer, elk, antelope, bison, and grizzly bears. We spent the most time watching a young sow grizzly grubbing. She was up a hill from the road where we had spotted her. She rolled a piece of log to get the bugs underneath and the hunk of wood that appeared to be about two feet around and three feet long tumbled down the hill, jumping and rolling! It was a fun thing to see. Up around a corner of the road we were on, there was an even younger grizzly, also grubbing, in a more hidden spot.

Young Grizzly sow

I would say my research trip was very successful. Now I need to get the Spotted Pony Casino book I’m writing finished so I can start on the Hawke book set in Montana!

Stay tuned as I will be going more in depth in several of the places we visited on this trip in future blog posts. I wanted to get something up as I am late this month with this post.

Fun with Fishes

At the end of March, I had two book signings which led me to Orofino, Idaho where my younger brother and his wife live. My brother works for the Dworshak Fish Hatchery.

He was on call for the weekend and asked us if we wanted to go with him on his evening rounds.  I’m always up for a visit to the large facility. There are so many interesting places a person could lurk should he or she have murder on their mind. 😉 And there are some interesting tools that would also make for an interesting murder method, but I digress…

Following my brother along, he told us what each building housed and why it was important to the whole hatchery process. You can go to this hatchery during the day and get a tour of the facilities. It is fascinating.

My brother had to check the temperature of the water in the egg hatching room. He pulled one of the trays out and I tried to get a photo of the hatching eggs.

Then we moved on and he checked the water in the tanks that held over 30,000 one-inch-long baby salmon in each tank. Moving by all of those tanks there were tanks with week-old salmon that would soon be put in the outside holding tanks to grow until they were old enough to be let loose to make their way to the ocean.

The startling thing is that my brother said only 1 percent of the hatchlings make it to the ocean because of predators. Cormorants and seagulls were already congregating along the Clearwater River in anticipation of the salmon being released in the next week or two.  And lower downriver on their journey, the seals and otters await their arrival into the ocean.

The money and knowledge that goes into hatching out so many fish seem futile when you learn that only 1 percent of them will even make it to the ocean. And then they have to make the trip back up the rivers to spawn and start the process all over again.

I guess it is nature’s way of saying, “Never give up.”

At One of my Favorite Places

I’m spending a week at Rockaway Beach to get a book planned out. Not so much to work on the book but to enjoy the beach. 😉

I like the lines the water made from the different directions it flowed.

It is one of my favorite places to come. I enjoy the sound of the ocean, the power of the water, and the brine in the air.

I always take photos of the jellyfish. The ones I saw this trip had bright colored insides.

My first full day here was gorgeous with sunshine, warm weather, and activities all over the town and beach.

There was a show of kites flying at the center of town beach. The synchronized kite flyers were also there practicing. I have a video of that but I can’t figure out how to get it from my phone to here.

Today, my second day started out rainy and foggy, but is turning into a beautiful evening. There were kites being flown today as well.

I love the Oregon coast and my bi-annual trips here to write and soak up the ambiance.

Freezeout Trip

The latest Gabriel Hawke book I’m writing starts at Freezeout Trailhead in the Hells Canyon Wilderness on the Oregon side of the Snake River. An abandoned vehicle is found there by my character State Trooper Gabriel Hawke.

one side of the Imnaha store

While most of this series is set in Wallowa County where I grew up, I didn’t travel around the county as much as my brothers did. I tended to stay home and read, while they were out fishing, hunting, hiking, skiing, and other out door activities.

When I start a book, I look at the maps of the area, and use google earth to discover how or where I want the murder to happen. Then I use the maps, google earth, and hiking books to help me get a feel for the terrain. But it never fails, I always need to make a trip to the area to see it for myself.

That’s what my husband and I did a few weeks ago. We drove to Imnaha. It had been a long time since I’d been to the store and area. We went inside, visited a bit with the owner and I took a couple photos. Then we took the upper Imnaha road to Freezeout Trailhead.

Imnaha River

I was so good we made the trip. The area at the trailhead didn’t look a think like what I’d envisioned from the photos and google earth. It wasn’t as flat nor as large as I’d thought. When I returned home, I had to change up some scenes to accommodate the location and size.

loading ramp at the trailhead

Traveling up the road, alongside the river, we saw some nice farms and wildlife. Some of the farm ground would have been thrilling to try and farm back in the day they used horses. I would have been a bit leery of using modern equipment on some of the side hill fields.

Doe and fawns cooling their feet in the river.

We stopped at a Hells Canyon viewpoint, but it was so smoky from fires all over the Pacific Northwest that we didn’t see much.

Hells Canyon overlook

We could see how families would have lived off the land and enjoyed the solitary life at the bottom of the canyon along the Imnaha River. Since we were headed back to SE Oregon, we continued on up the river and on over to Halfway, Oregon. It had been years since we’d been to this town. Neither one of us remembered it being as populated. We remembered only a couple of buildings. Unless we had mistook another small town for Halfway. We’re still puzzling that. We are excited to go back there again and check it out more.

From Halfway we headed to Baker City and then on home. It was an 850+ mile round trip that weekend, but it was worth it for me to see the area I was writing about.

I love research trips!

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.