New Release and New Book Mobile

I have a new release!

It’s always exciting when I have a new book come out. And thankfully, my critique partner and beta readers all really liked it.

Bear Stalker is also on blog tour this week. You can follow the tour, read some posts I wrote, and get entered to win a gift card if you like but going here: https://www.silverdaggertours.com/sdsxx-tours/bear-stalker-book-tour-and-giveaway

Here is the info about Bear Stalker:

Book 10 in the Gabriel Hawke Series

Greed, Misdirection, and Murder

Oregon State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s sister, Marion, is on a corporate retreat in Montana when she becomes a murder suspect. Running for her life from the real killer, she contacts Hawke for help.  

Hawke heads to Montana to find his sister and prove she isn’t a murderer. He hasn’t seen Marion in over twenty years but he knows she wouldn’t kill the man she was about to marry.

As they dig into possible embezzlement, two more murders, and find themselves trying to outsmart a wilderness-wise kidnapper, Hawke realizes his sister needs to return home and immerse herself in their heritage. Grief is a journey that must be traveled and knowing her fiancé had wanted Marion to dance again, Hawke believes their culture would help her heal.

Universal buy link: https://books2read.com/u/mdjNzW

This will be out in print in a about two weeks and audio in a couple of months.

My new fun thing! A Book Mobile, of sorts. Author Mary Vine and I have been selling books at the Sumpter Flea Market in Sumpter Oregon every Memorial and Labor Day weekend for the last seven years. We started out with a canopy that we had to lower at night and put tarps around in bad weather. Then we upgraded to a tent that while it kept things dry it was becoming more and more of a chore to set up.

I had been looking for a trailer that was small enough to fit in the space we are allowed at the event and tall enough for people to stand up in and that could be renovated to work as the vision I’ve had for several years. I finally found the perfect trailer.

It is made of wood so we can easily refurbish it to have long windows that open up to let the light in but will also, hopefully, keep any rain out. It is low enough to the ground that a ramp to allow strollers and walkers up won’t stick out into the walkway. And, did I say it is made of wood? 😉 That means we can make it look like an old western building. Here is a photo of it in the state I found it.

I’ll give you an update on the remodel as we go along. Right now, it is at our daughter’s. We didn’t have the pickup to pull it home when we bought it. I’m excited to see how it turns out and how well it will be received at the flea market.

A Summary of 2022

I don’t like to look back. I’m a look forward type of person. But when I come to the end of a year and find myself a book and a half behind schedule, I feel the need to see why.

I started January 2022 with high hopes. I’d purchased a new, larger planner to help me keep things straight for writing, marketing, and promoting. HaHa. That lasted one and a half months. I found it too time consuming to try and write down what I would do each day to keep things up to date and moving along. I do like the larger squares to write what I’m did or am going to do each day on the month calendar but the daily pages, that I had hoped would keep me on track, I gave them up. So I spent a lot of money and only used a quarter of the large planner. Story of my life… This month the author co-op I belong to decided to do an anthology of mystery stories. I volunteered to head it up and edit. So I began working on a short story for that project.

A cornucopia of ten cozy mystery stories that are perpetrated during holidays from New Years to Christmas. This collection explores unexplained disturbances, college pranks gone wrong, and almost always one or more murders around a holiday. Solve these spooky crimes that lurk beneath celebratory parties and help search for the murderers. Kick off your shoes, grab a warm drink and snuggle into a blanket before you get lured onto the sparkling snow for the next crime spree.

A Body on the 13th Floor by Paty Jager
Dead Ladies Don’t Dance by Robin Weaver
Took Nothing Left Nothing by Pamela Cowan
Busted for Bones by Dari LaRoche
Yuletide Firebug by Kathy Coatney
Starry Night Murder by Mary Vine
The Twelfth Night Murder by Ann Chaney
Blue Christmas by Melissa Yi
Two Turtle Doves by Maggie Lynch
Five Golden Rings by Kimila Kay

https://books2read.com/u/b6zYgp

I took an Amazon Ads class in January to help me better understand how to promote my books there. It worked for a while. ( I am currently taking another class because some things changed since last January) I highly promoted my book that released in February, House Edge, book two in the Spotted Pony Casino Mystery series.

At the start of February, I worked with a person from Facebook ads trying to get a handle on those. I found that harder to do. I had to be at a computer and on my phone. I have limited cell phone service in places in my house. At least in February with my old phone I did. It was a frustrating call. This month was mostly about starting the next book and getting House Edge published.

March I sat in on a couple of webinars about project management and marketing and worked at writing the next book. I also took two granddaughters and a couple friends with me to Rockaway Beach. We had a fun time! Then I had to book signings. One in Enterprise, OR and one in Clarkston, WA.

April I started attending our oldest granddaughter’s track meets and going to Senior meetings since she was living with us and graduating in May. I also had been traveling the 5 hours one way once a month to see my dad in his senior living facility. So between track meets and that, April had me on the road a lot. This month, I traded my Subaru in for a Jeep Cherokee. I saw it when we were driving by a car dealership. It is Spitfire Orange and I loved the way the color made me happy! We had been talking about getting a vehicle that sat higher off the ground that the Subaru for a while.

May started out with the hope of spring and warmer weather. It continued to be cold. My dad turned 90 on May 16th, he fell on the 19th and passed within days. He’d been saying he didn’t understand why he was still here when he couldn’t do anything., His arthritis had gotten so bad he just sat in a chair most of the day. He is missed but in a better place. After that was our granddaughter’s graduation and I was off to Sumpter, OR with author Mary Vine for our annual selling of books at the Sumpter Flea Market Memorial weekend. We had an excellent number of sales.

My favorite month was June! Another granddaughter graduated from high school. Then my sister-in-law and I went on a research trip to Montana. You saw posts on this blog about what we saw and did while on our trip. We had a fun time checking out antique malls and thrift stores along the way.

Bison at the Bison range in Montana

The following month I attended the Wildhorse Casino Powwow at the Umatilla Reservation. It was for research and because I enjoy attending these events. Then I spent several days with my two besties. We talked, drank wine, and shopped thrift stores. Do you see a pattern here? I like to go to thrift stores to pick up red dresses for cheap. Then I send them to a woman who uses them for an outdoor living art project that depicts the MMIW struggle to be a force in finding missing and murdered Indigenous women, children and men from all across this continent. Because it is a cause that I believe in, I send her red dresses and I give proceeds from my book Stolen Butterfly to the movement. I also attended a one-day event to sell my books in Homedale, ID. To end the month, I attended my hubby’s 45th high school reunion. Teh end of this month, I also brought home my new dog, a chiweenie I named Nia. Earlier in the year while I was on a trip, hubby had to have our elderly chihuahua/miniature pinscher put to sleep. She’d had a bad seizure or heart attack. The vet didn’t know which. She’d given us a wonderful 16 years. I hadn’t planned to get another little dog until we no longer had my dad’s large boxer/border cross. But I saw Nia and fell in love!

Nia looking out the window.
In my Oktoberfest outfit.

August continued to bring us lot of dry hot days and nights. The crops had finally taken off, but the cold weather earlier in the year and made for almost half the usual tonnage of hay. Then we had a family reunion at Wallowa Lake and my dad’s military graveside service in Enterprise followed by a barbecue at the lake. I spent most of August writing and editing. The short stories for the anthology were due to me to edit, though several had already been sent to me and edited.

The month of September started with Mary and I setting up our booth at the Labor Day Sumpter Flea Market. We had another good turnout of people buying our books. Mid-month, I attended my first NIWA (Northwest Independent Writers Association) book selling event. It was at the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest. We were asked to wear Bavarian looking clothing. I purchased a women’s Bavarian dress. It was fun to dress up and hang out with authors from the group and my friend Kimila Kay. From there I went to the coast to vacation with my younger brother, his wife, and their two kids’ families. It was a fun time! Poor hubby was holding down the farm while I was away playing. He’s a good man!

October means the slowing down of farming as the weather cools and we hope for rain and moisture. I stayed home the first part of the month clacking the keyboard trying to catch up on my writing. Then Hubby and I spent a weekend in Virginia City and Lake Tahoe with his sister and her husband and friends. You can also read about that fun on this blog. 😉 Later in the month I had a book signing in Clarkston, WA.

Ahh…November. I had a one-day Facebook party to show off my new covers for the Halsey Brother series. I talked with readers and gave away prizes. It was a lot of fun. Then I wrote. I wanted to have the next Gabriel Hawke book finished before I left for another NIWA event, this time in Portland. I didn’t make that deadline. I attended three days of the Portland Holiday Market event, hanging out with Kimila some more and when I wasn’t at the market, I was writing on my book. I wanted it finished by December so I could concentrate on the holidays and our granddaughter’s wedding coming up on Dec. 27th.

Four days into December, I sent the book off to my critique partner and beta readers. Whew! Now I could concentrate on decorating, getting a Christmas Tree, and setting up my books at the local Christmas Jamboree. I sold more books there than I had thought I would. So it was a great day. And my daughter had a table beside me selling fudge she’d made and boxes of her organic Rural Roots pork.

While this is posting the day after the wedding, I wrote this post earlier. So I’ll have to give you an update on the wedding in my next post.

That is a roundup of my year. It had fun times, some unhappy times, and lots of family time. I hope to continue having more family time in the coming year. But to also keep putting out book. I hope whatever holiday you celebrate that it was wonderful, filled with family and friends and that you have a awesome 2023. See you next year!

Holiday Season is in Full Swing

What is your favorite thing this time or year?

For me it’s doing things where I’m with family and friends. Last Saturday I set up a table of my books at a local Bazaar. My daughter who was selling her delicious fudge and gift boxes of pork from her Rural Roots Ranch Idaho Pasture Pigs had the table next to mine. We visited, met new to us people, and visited with people we knew. She sold out of all her fudge except for vanilla. She had cherry, chocolate, peanut butter, vanilla, lemon, and peppermint. She had repeat customers from the other bazaars she’d attended and garnered orders for her pork. I met some new readers. And love that I ran out of some first in series books, except, I could have sold more had I had them. It was a fun day.

We capped off the bazaar, which was part of the Holiday Jamboree going on in Burns, Oregon that day, with the Light Parade in the evening. Two of my grandchildren were on the 4-H float. They and their parents helped to set up the float and then the three little grandchildren, their mom and dad, and I went to stand on the street and wait for the parade. It was chilly but not too cold as we stood on the street, hot chocolate in hands, waiting.

Then on Monday, same daughter, her family, another granddaughter and one of her friends, and my husband and I went to higher ground to find trees for our Christmas trees. We have had more snow than usual for this time of year and we couldn’t drive as far up into the woods as we normally do.

My daughter and I are the ones who get excited about going into the woods to find trees. Both our husbands humor us, by going, but mine spent most of the time sitting in the pickup with some of the younger grandchildren while my daughter and I trudge through two feet and sometimes deeper snow looking at the trees. When we couldn’t find anything within walking distance of the vehicles, we hopped on the 4-wheeler they’d brought along. The 4-wheeler could get up the road, but our 4-wheel drive pickups couldn’t.

With two sleds tied on behind and grandsons whooping it up, we took off up the road. The spot we usually go, even the 4-wheeler couldn’t get up it. So we veered to the right on a road we could navigate. But all we were seeing were pine trees. We prefer fir because the needles are softer and there are more branches. More ornament footage. 😉 We found two trees that I liked and my daughter liked. We stopped and she and the older of the grandsons sledding behind us, walked up to the tree and discovered the battery-operated saw had a dead battery. We hopped back on the 4-wheeler and hurried back to the vehicles.

Everyone there was waiting for our return and groaned when they learned we had to go back. We took two batteries with us and a hand saw this time! I had spotted a tree on the way back down that was closer to the vehicles. We decided to get it, only once it was cut, it was too large for me, so my daughter decided it would be hers. We pulled it to the side of the road then drove on up, looking for a smaller tree for me.

We found one, cut it down and put it in one of the sleds with the younger grandson sitting on the tree inside the sled. Then we went down and did the same thing with the larger tree, the older grandson sitting on that bigger tree. We made our way back to the vehicles without a mishap.

And now the trees are up and looking cheery and bright. While I wasn’t fond of having a pine tree, I really like it now that I’m done decorating it and won’t be poked by the needles anymore.

Now it’s on to the baking!

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.

My Current Writing Project & Road Trip

Right now, I’m working on the next book in my Spotted Pony Casino mystery series. Double Down, has been fun to write so far. A couple of Sundays ago, I was in the area of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation where these stories are set.

I believe in learning as much as I can about my settings. Therefore, I spent about an hour sitting in the Mission Market on the reservation and watched the people who came and went and their interactions. Studying people is one of my favorite pastimes and that day was no exception. I had a fresh, tasty salad made in the store while I people watched.

From the market I went to the tribal police station. I had hoped to get inside the building and talk to someone in law enforcement, but the building was locked. I peered in the windows as I walked around the building learning the entrances and exits and seeing the lay of the building. I have a scene in the current WIP (work in progress) where my character goes to the police station.

After the police station reconnaissance, I went to the nearby casino. While the casino in my books is fictional, I like to keep things close to real as I can. In this instance I wanted to see how real casino guards looked and did their jobs. I flitted from slot machine chair to slot machine chair watching six security guards and studying their uniforms. Then I followed a group of three who were refilling the ATM machines. That was a job I hadn’t thought the security guards would do. I would have thought that would be a job of someone from a bank. That little fact gave me an idea for another book premise. 😉

Yes, it doesn’t take much to spark my imagination. I won’t give the details away, but it would be a plausible premise.

Ignore the dirty windshield. This is Tutuilla where my character lives

I also made a side detour to the area on the reservation where my character lives. I wanted to make sure she could see some things that I had mentioned in the book.

George

Using what I already know, my main character now has a donkey as one of her pets. Since we have had two donkeys, one was Jethro (the same name as my character’s new donkey) and now with us still is George. Donkeys have so much personality, I thought it would make a great secondary animal for my main character. Her large, three-legged dog and now a donkey give her a reason to get out of the casino and go home. I will use some of George and Jethro’s antics to give a personality to my fictional Jethro.

So stay tuned for Double Down, book 3 in the Spotted Pony Casino Mysteries, hopefully releasing in August.

Creativity Must Come Out

Making things with my hands, testing color combinations, and creating a final project have always been my way of being creative when I’m not writing. It soothes my brain in different ways to write 3000 words in a day or to piece together fabric for a quilt. Or even to take photos while out hiking.

I love the play of colors in photos and in making quilts. I like the serenity of a walk and capturing the things I see while photographing. I like capturing the colors of my grandchildren into a quilt they can have for a long time. And I sleep better and fear less by putting the words and scenes in my head into books rather than make up stories of tragedy that afflict my family members.

I came up with the idea of making a quilt for each of my grandchildren as a high school graduation gift last year. It was after I had made myself two quilts and enjoyed the process so much that I wanted to continue.

The first graduation quilt I finished was for granddaughter #2. Her favorite colors are teal, dark blue, and purple and she likes butterflies. I scoured the fabric stores looking for fabric I thought went well and reflected her colors. Then I came up with a pattern that wasn’t too intricate but would be fun to make. And this is the finished top of the quilt. Right now it is away being quilted.

The next quilt I tackled was a little more daunting for granddaughter #1. Her favorite colors are red and black and she likes skulls. Again, I came home with different reds and blacks and fabrics with skulls. When I’d decided on the fabric combinations, I then looked through quilt books to find a not too elaborate pattern and came up with this.

Now I am gathering fabric for the two oldest grandsons who will graduate next year. One likes lime green, cars, motorcycles, and hunting. The other one likes the outdoors and snow. I may do a log cabin pattern on this grandson’s quilt. It will depend on the fabric I find.

What do you like to do to be creative?

Chores are not a chore

While there are some mornings that I linger inside before donning my weather-proof pants, heavy coat, stocking cap, and boots or walking shoes, I still make sure I get out and feed the horses and cats by 8 am. It’s part maternal instinct that drives me out to take care of them and part being a farmer, living with animals to take care of my whole life.

Patty eating her grain

I know the importance of keeping animals fed and watered in the cold weather. They need the feed for fuel and the water to help them digest the food and keep them hydrated so their bodies can function in the cold weather.

Animals have been my friends longer than I’ve had people for friends. Growing up we lived rural and at a time when a child was allowed access to the phone. We were 12 miles from town. During the summer we would only make a trip to town when our grandmother who lived with us went for groceries. I’d go to the library and check out books. We didn’t see friends except on my birthday in June. Horses, dogs, pigs, cows, and sheep were my friends. I’d talk to them, talk among the herds and talk to the animals that were curious.

When my children were small I raised hogs that farrowed in time for 4-H members to purchase weaner pigs for fair projects. I enjoyed going down to the barn and cleaning out the pens and feeding them. At the time my children were in grad school. The hogs were less demanding and were always happy to see me coming. LOL My kids complained about food, clothes, not getting enough time to play or watch television. Yes, I enjoyed my unconditional love hogs!

my daughter’s piglets

I didn’t mind feeding the cattle we raised when the kids all started leaving the nest. Many times I’d climb onto the tractor and pulled the trailer piled with hay out into the pastured and stop, dump some hay off, get off the trailer, walk to the tractor, move it forward, stop, and do it all over again about ten times until the cattle were fed. This, of course, was in the winter while I was wearing insulated overalls , boots, and gloves.

It seems the animals need the most attention when the weather is at its worst!

Chores have been a way of life for me. As a child we had rabbits. The pens had to be cleaned and the rabbits fed every day. When the pile of rabbit droppings grew too large under the pens, we had to fill a wheelbarrow and take it to the garden. Sometimes it would be frozen, not fun!

I don’t mind chores and I love having animals. The wild animals that have no one to take care of them are always fascinating to me. Do you like chores? What about animals?

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!