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!

Is summer retreating?

Summer is slowly taking a bow. We, here in SE Oregon, need rain badly, but it doesn’t look like we are going to get it any time soon. The good news it has finally cooled down. We can sleep well at night now that our house isn’t sweltering.

The other bit I like about summer ending is Labor Day weekend. It means I’ll be spending time with another author who is fun for three days. We set up a booth at the Sumpter, Oregon Flea Market every Memorial and Labor day weekend. There we sell our books, watch the myriad of dogs go by some on leashes, some in strollers, and some on their own. We also visit with other vendors and locals who stop by every time.

Sumpter Flea Market

I like wandering around and seeing what types of things are being sold and maybe get and idea of two for projects I’d like to make.

It’s also a few days, to myself. No cooking, cleaning, laundry. Just me hanging out at the flea and then spending the evening blissfully by myself. Sometimes I write on those evenings. Sometimes I watch movies or read a book. It doesn’t matter, it’s just me and whatever I want to do. Those types of days come far and few between as a mom, grandma, and wife.

Oregon Coast

I am looking forward to my week by myself at the Oregon Coast in October. Again, I write, take walks, and only have to prepare food for myself. I always take easy to prepare foods, because, I’m not there to cook, clean, and do laundry. I’m there to get many words written and catch up on my writing schedule.

Which, I have fallen behind on this year. Too many family things going on, I guess. Of just starting to feel the burn out of trying to get 5-6 books written a year. I’m thinking of slowing down to 3 or 4 which is what I will have accomplished this year. There is a little more wiggle room for doing things other than writing.

How has your summer gone? Are you ready for Fall?

Feng Shui is the way to go

Sixteen years ago I participated in an online Feng Shui workshop. I am a believer in making things happen. And I believe my taking the workshop did make things happen for me.

Through Feng Shui you arrange things based on the principles of Bagua. Ba means eight and gua means area. So you place items with different energy or focus in each of the areas. The areas are: Prosperity, Fame & Reputation, Relationships, Health & Family, Foundation, Creativity, Wisdom, Career, and Helpful People. This workshop showed me that you can make things happen by how you set your life and your workspace up.

Before the workshop, I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere with my writing. I had written seven books, had been a finalist in multiple contests, but couldn’t get a publisher or agent to take the step to contract me. After the workshop which happened in December of 2005, I received my first book contract in May of 2006. I believe it was because I opened myself to new things and faced my opportunities.

When I started the workshop, my desk faced the wall in a loft. There was a small window to my left, and I had bookcases filled with reference books to my back. I learned that the front of the house has lots of energy. I moved my husband’s desk, which he rarely uses to the back of the loft and placed my desk out to the front of the loft, facing the main door and large windows that revealed green fields and mountains.

With my room set up in the proper areas of Prosperity, Fame & Reputation, Relationships, Health & Family, Foundation, Creativity, Wisdom, Career, and Helpful People, I moved on to set up my desk to bring more energy, creativity, and wealth.

Using the same quadrants on the diagram of my desk, I incorporated the items in the correct areas to enhance the “Action” I want to happen in my life.
See photo below: This is a photo of the handout Bella Andre gave us during the workshop.

While our grandson was visiting, I had to shift things in the office so the Murphy bed was easy to lower and raise. I ended up facing the wall and my back to the door. During this time I wasn’t feeling productive and was out of sorts when I’d sit down at my desk to work.

As soon as he was on the plane back home, I turned my desk around and reset my tone and mood for getting work done. I am still in the process of Feng Shuiing my desk, but I have already written more words in a week than I had in a month while my desk was turned. I have felt like my writing life is taking another good turn.

I’ll let you know if something good comes from this switch. Anyway, something other than me being more creative!

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.

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.

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?

Grateful

Cautious, the shop cat.

Most people talk about what they are grateful or thankful for during the holidays. For me it’s starting a new year. I like to sit back and be thankful or grateful for the people around me. My husband, who is always entertaining and makes me laugh. Our oldest granddaughter who is living with us. While she pretends to be hard and uncaring, she is thoughtful and fun to watch give her grandpa as much harassing as he gives her. ;

I’m also grateful for the daughter who lives down the road and helps me with my technical things and designs my awesome book covers. Her 6 kids are all fun to be around. My oldest daughter who is always willing to give animal medical advice (she trained as a vet tech).

Then there is my HUGE group of writing friends that help me get through the ups and downs of being a self-published author and all the things we need to keep up on in the business. They are my moral support and my guides in this strange world.

The other thing I am the most grateful for is where we live. When my hubby suggested we move way out in the boonies, I was skeptical at first. But I have discovered my inner hermit and I love being here and not going anywhere for weeks at a time. Though I do miss my writing conferences and monthly lunches with writer friends. But that’s about it.

With the Pandemic, we only use our masks when we go to town and if I can keep the grocery list to a minimum, hubby will do the shopping. 🙂

Where we live has fantastic sunrises (I can’t see the sunsets because of our hill). I love my horses, the dogs, the cats and the wildlife that parades around here on a weekly and some instances daily basis. Yes, I am one content woman. 🙂

Jan and Patty

Yes, I am grateful for many, many things. My good health, wonderful family, and awesome friends. What are you most grateful for?

My #2 Happy Place

While I am a HUGE homebody and love being at home more than anything else, I love going to the Oregon Coast. In fact, I try to go a couple times a year for week long writing retreats.

This week I am at Rockaway Beach trying to get at least half of the next Shandra Higheagle book written. I’m getting close!

The week started out with wicked waves and wind. The trees were practically leaning sideways and the old log home that I stay in creaked, moaned, and screeched as tree limbs scraped across the windows.

The waves were not only the largest I’ve ever seen here, they were rolling north rather than straight at the shore. The water level, even at low tide was washing clear up to the edge of the embankment. I didn’t feel safe to walk the beach on those days.

water lapping at the steps to walk onto the beach

Then the wind calmed and the water went back to normal and I was able to take a couple of walks each day. The walks are my reward for getting so many words written in a session.

This photo shows the end of rainbow out in the distance after a night of pouring rain, thunder, and lightning.

This next photo looked like a petrified seagull digging its way out of the sand. What do you think?

The other photos were a bit of color and I always see beached jellyfish. I can see a story in just about anything I look at. I haven’t decided if it’s a blessing or a curse. LOL

I don’t know where the colorful leaf came from but I like the colors. The Jellyfish seemed to me to be looking for a hiding place in the kelp.

Down the road in one of my mystery books, a story that came to me while I was walking on the beach another trip, will be used as the premise/plot in a mystery book.

I need to get back to my writing. I have 8,000 more words to write today so I can go home tomorrow with the number of words I wanted to get done on this trip.

Here is a parting photo:

Fall Trip to the Steens Mountains

Our granddaughter had this past Thursday off from school for the end of the 9 week period. I told her we were going to the Steens to take photos of the trees changing.

We were about a month too late from the looks of the naked trees. The good thing is Aspen trees are pretty even when they don’t have any leaves.

Aspen trees at Fish Lake

Our first stop was the Peter French Round Barn near Diamond, Oregon. It was built in the late 1880’s by Peter French a cattle baron of the time and area. They used it to continue to train horses to ride and drive wagons during the winter months. Because I had been there several times before the only thing I took photos of were the pair of barn owls roosting on the main center pole of the building.

From there we continued to the mountain.

At Fish Lake, we stopped an took photos of the water, the trees, and the ambiance. It was a peaceful and a beautiful day.

Fish Lake

The canyon where we usually stop to take photos of the golds, yellows, and reds on the aspen trees was a barren sight. The trees had already lost their leaves.

Alas, we were too late. This canyon is usually filled with color.

Traveling on, we stopped and took photos at Kiger Canyon. It’s named for the wild Kiger mustangs that were found in the area in the early 1900s.

Kiger Canyon

Then on up to the top. Here we looked over the edge at the Alvord desert below, some irrigated fields, and the road on the SE side of the mountains. Here while our granddaughter tried capturing photos of a small bird, I found a rock with half a dozen ladybugs wandering around on it.

View from the top.
Lady bugs on the rock

Moseying on, and heading down the south entrance road, we stopped at one of my favorite spots about halfway down a canyon. There is a small trail and some interesting rocks and vegetation.

I liked this dead looking tree.

And to cap off our day of traveling the loop on the Steens, we must have seen nearly a hundred wild horses. It is the most I’ve ever seen on a trip up to the mountain. They were scattered all along the ridges and gathered near watering holes.

Wil horses on one of the hills.
Granddaughter taking a photo

I need to get our granddaughter’s photos put on the computer so I can see what kind of photos she took. She tends to like to take photos from ground level or of interesting things, I wouldn’t think to photograph.

She would squat down and get certain plants in the photos or rocks. She would also hold the camera near the ground. She has made some awesome photos on other occasions.

It was a fun day. I hope you enjoyed my little photo collection of a Fall trip on the Steens Mountain Loop.

It’s November!

My! Where has the time gone? I saw my last post was about October… I’m slacking! In defense, I’ve been trying to get several large projects finished.

One is the latest Gabriel Hawke book which is with a critique partner and a beta reader. Waiting for it to come back, I’ve been updating the Isabella Mumphrey books to make the insides as shining and spectacular as the new covers!

I’m having a “Where in the world is Isabella Mumphrey?” Facebook party on November 14th. Come on over to the party and join in the fun. I’ll be giving clues to find my character Isabella Mumphrey, famed anthropologist and Indiana Jones fan who uses a survival tin like MacGyver.

At the party I’ll be revealing new covers, picking winners for prizes throughout the two hours, answering your questions and will give out to larger prizes to two people who discover where Isabella is. To join the party just go here and say you’re going to attend! https://www.facebook.com/events/471554667120961

I’ve also been busy working out the kinks in my new mystery series that will be coming in 2021, while also starting the next Shandra book and gathering information for the next Hawke book. Yes, I have been occupied!

Took this photo while scouting the area where the latest Gabriel Hawke murder happens.

And I’ve been working on the binding on one quilt and piecing together another one and coming up with handmade gifts for the grandkids for Christmas. Life is never boring for me!

This is the quilt I’m putting the binding on.

Come hang out at my party on the 14th! I’d love to visit with you!

https://www.facebook.com/events/471554667120961