Double Anniversary Month!

Happy May everyone! This month has been very good to me in the past. I married my hubby and I published my first book in May. Both have been the best blessings in my life!

My hubby has always been good about not knocking me following my dream of being a writer. He encouraged me to take writing classes when the kids started school and later to pursue writing for the local papers. He paid for a lot of my paper, ink, and postage when I started out writing novels and submitting to publishers and agents. Knowing he wanted me to fulfill my dream has helped me to push harder to prove to him, he wasn’t wrong in giving the time, money, and space to write.

The other reason May is an anniversary month, I published my first book with Wild Rose Press in May of 2006. It was Marshal in Petticoats, a historical western romance. I went on to publish 9 more books with them before I took the Indie Author plunge and started publishing my books myself. I’m glad I did.

Because I went Indie, I can put any of my books on sale whenever I want. And to celebrate my anniversary month, I have 3 steamy contemporary western romance novellas in a ebook boxset for $0.99 all month long!

Love at Tumbling Creek Ranch

Three steamy contemporary western novellas set on a Dude Ranch in Montana following members of the Wallis family as they find love.

8 Seconds to Love

The bull rider brought into Jared McIntyre’s ER is the girl he couldn’t get out of his head the last fifteen years. During his tour in Iraq, he lost another thrill-seeking woman, and he isn’t about to let this one destroy her life.

Love Me Anyway

Melanie Trask ran away from an abusive husband and found a job at a dude ranch with a wonderful caring cowboy, Brett Wallis. When they can no longer deny their feelings, Brett offers to help her divorce her husband. But she has one more secret she hasn’t revealed…

The Wrong Cowboy to Love

Ruby Cutter allows her cousin, the bride, to give her a makeover for the upcoming wedding because she wants to catch the attention of her high school crush. But while she’s infatuated with one man, she may be falling for another… 

https://books2read.com/u/mv5w8X

Tink, she’s been a good dog.

Tink’s favorite spot

I’ve been going on walks every day. Sometimes I walk the hills on our property and sometimes I walk around the alfalfa fields. There was a time when I wouldn’t dream of going for a walk or riding my horse without my little shadow, Tink.

Lately, I let her walk with me to feed the horses and then put her back in the house while I tackle the hills or even any easy walk around the fields. At 14 1/2 she’s started to have issues. I feel sorry for her because she wants to go, but like this morning, I gave in when she howled because I put her in the house and was heading out to walk. I was just doing an easy walk so I gave in and let her come. She stopped at the halfway point and waited for me to come back.

Usually, I don’t like leaving her sitting like that. She is only a few bites for a coyote and an eagle could swoop down and pick her up, but hubby was harrowing the field and Harlie our big dog was running all over the place a like a lunatic so I felt nothing would venture down off the hill to get her.

When I came back to her, she started trotting ahead of me. Then she and Harlie became sidetracked by something that smelled good and wandered about four feet into the field. I kept on walking figuring they would both catch up to me. Harlie came running by. I looked back to see if Tink was coming. She sat with her back to me watching for me from the opposite direction. She’d lost track of where I was.

I’ve noticed this about her lately. When she barks to be let in the house, I open the door and she’s staring at the wall or a window, not the door. She has gone deaf and I fear she is now going blind, not to mention losing some of her other faculties.

She has always been an athletic dog. She is half Chihuahua and half Miniature Pinscher. She jumped up on beds, furniture, and just loved jumping up and down beside me when we’d go for walks. She loved climbing the hills, following me when I rode my horse, and chasing after balls.

These days, she acts as if her joints are stiff, if you pick her up just wrong she cries out, and yet, she wants to go on walks, gets excited if I get a horse out, and is the first to get us up in the morning.

We have five dog beds scattered around the house so she can lay in whatever room I’m in. She’s never been a snuggler, but I do miss her laying beside me on the couch or in my chair. She can no longer jump up on the furniture and doesn’t like to be picked up. So we watch her sleeping on a dog bed and remember the good times.

When I received her as a puppy and she fit in my hand, I had hoped she’d be around for at least 20 years. But the last couple of years, as she has gone downhill at avalanche speed, I fear she may not be around that long.

We have two other dogs. One is a mid-sized mutt and the other is a large border collie/boxer cross. Tink is the matriarch of the group. If they are on a bed she wants, she just walks up to the bed and they pop up and move. Both could do her major harm if they wanted to, but instead they let her do what she wants.

This is not only a musing of how my dog has aged, but a comment on how things change and we must adapt and change with them.

Aloha! Abstract Casualty is Available!

Book 14 in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series is now available. This book is set in Kaua’i Hawaii. I wrote it after my trip to the island last October.

I had a lot of fun when I was at Kaua’i looking for a way to set a book on the island. After I discovered an art show in Lihue that was known for bringing jurors from off the islands, I knew how to get my character to the island.

Then it was lots of what if’s and how about this? And I came up with a story idea.

I’m excited to say that one of my reviewers said this, “…a tricky intricate plot.” That one comment made me happy dance. That is what I try with all of my mystery books. To make the story complex, yet make sense. I want to the reader to be as clueless to the end as my character.

Here is the blurb, cover, and buy link that will take you to the ebook vendor of your choice.

Abstract Casualty

Book 14 in the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series

Hawaiian adventure, Deceit, Murder

Shandra Higheagle is asked to juror an art exhibition on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

After an altercation at the exhibition, the chairwoman of the event, Shandra’s friend, arrives home with torn clothes, scratches, and stating she tried to save an angry artist who fell over a cliff. Shandra and Ryan begin piecing together information to figure out if the friend did try to save the artist or helped him over the edge.

During the investigation, Shandra comes across a person who reminds her of an unhealthy time in her past. Knowing this man and the one from her past, she is determined to find his connection to the dead artist.  When her grandmother doesn’t come to her in dreams, Shandra wonders if her past is blinding her from the truth.

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

How Fickle is Spring?

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

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

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

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

Sunrise on a stormy morning.

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

Jan eating under a lean-to.

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

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

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

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

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

My Latest Trip

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

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

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

Paul Bunyon and Babe at the Redwoods

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

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

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

A grandson saw turtles while snorkeling here.

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

Top of Kalahaku Overlook

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

Waterfalls on the way to Hana.

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

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

Cold but so Worth it!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m looking forward to the wildflowers!

Merry Christmas!

I can’t believe December is half way over and I hadn’t blogged here since November!

Life has been kicking my bootie! I put a lot of miles on my car the last month. Visits to my dad, book signings, and dentist trips. If you are an ice chewer or love hard crunchy foods, stop now before your teeth start falling apart!

With all the traveling and preparing for Christmas, my writing has been on the back burner. This week, I’d planned to get back in book 14 of the Shandra Higheagle series, but I find my narrator for book 2 in the Gabriel Hawke series has finished the reading, and I need to listen to those. So I may not get to Shandra and Ryan’s trip to Hawaii until next week, or even January.

Beach in Hawaii that may end up in a book…

It’s going to take a lot of discipline when I get back to writing. After seeing how hard it was to manage the goals I’d set for this year, I’ve backed off a bit, and have down to write two Gabriel Hawke books and 3 Shandra books this coming year. So 5 books total. I had tired for 7 this year and didn’t make it. Too many things came up and 2 trips of a lifetime.

The good thing is those trips are going to go into books. Which will help me remember the fun I had.

Gingerbread cookies! Yum!

I have been baking for friends an neighbors. That is one of my favorite things about this time of year. Sharing something I’m fairly good at. But I’ll have to say… watching the Cookie and Gingerbread challenges on TV has taught me a few things I didn’t know and I’ve been incorporating into my baking this year. We’ll see if the people who receive my goodies enjoy the changes. 😉

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas filled with family and friends and you are healthy and prosperous in the new year, 2020!

Join Me For a CLUE Party

I’m excited to say that my annual Facebook party, December 7th is going to be a CLUE Party!

I have 12 western romance authors and 11 mystery/thriller/suspense authors joining me for the 12 hours of fun. Each author will be on the Facebook party page for 30 minutes. They will each reveal a clue that those who follow the party need to keep track of. Here is the party link. Head on over there and click “Going” if you want a chance to win one of TWO Kindle Fire 7 ereaders that I’m giving away to those who gather the clues and play the game.

These are the Kindles that can be won.

Each author will also be giving away ebooks, print books, and other fun stuff during their half hour. If you have time to spare and would love to visit with and meet authors new to you or maybe ones you already know, come on by, maybe win something and be sure to play the CLUE game for a chance at one of the Kindle Fires.

Don’t forget this is the link to the party page: https://www.facebook.com/events/426351174658554/

Finally Found Paradise

Chickens were everywhere

Saturday morning, we planned to drive up to the end of the road past Hanalei and walk the hiking trail to a water fall. We discovered you had to have a parking permit, which were already spoken for three weeks out or take a bus.

We went to Hanalei and had a snack and coffee and tea again in the Wake Up Cafe. We asked the waitress/owner about the parking permits and discovered if you didn’t have one, there was no way to park. So we looked up the shuttle and discovered that we couldn’t get it just a couple blocks from where we were staying but we could get on it at Waipa just a short distance out of Hanalei. We booked it for the next day.

Flowers being sold at the market

After that we took in a Saturday market, checked out the shops in Hanalei and went back to our condo and hung out waiting for the next day.

Sunday, we rose early, packed drinks, lunch, towels in the backpack and headed to Hanalei for breakfast at the Wake Up cafe. I had the Over The Falls French toast without the coconut and whipped cream. It was very good and kept me full for the hike.

We drove to the shuttle stop an hour early but were lucky they let us on then. The ride in the shuttle to the end of the road, was nice. Hawaiian music was playing and the large windows made it easy to see everything outside.

Rocky trail

At the park, we were told the last bus left at 5 pm, to be sure and be back before that time. We walked through the park and found the trailhead. It said 2 miles to the beach and 4 miles to the falls.

We started out planning to go to the falls. Weeellll, let me tell you. The first half mile was all up hill on an uneven rocky path, then we went down and had switch backs were some of the steps were almost too tall for me to pull my heavy bottom up.

But the views! This was the Hawaii I had dreamed of seeing! Bright green plants, beautiful blue ocean, colorful flowers! It was gorgeous everywhere I looked. And I stopped often to look and snap a photo!

We crossed several places were water was running down a small ravine. They were like mini waterfalls. I used one to wash the sand off my feet on the way back.

fish in the fresh water

At the bottom near the beach and before the trail went up to the waterfalls or down to the beach, we crossed a river. It was just the right temperature to cool us down after our two mile trek. We kept our shoes on to cross. The water at the deepest was up to my knees. After staring at the sign for the falls and seeing the trail went up and up, we decided that 2 miles in and back out was all we could handle.

We went to the beach and enjoyed seeing fish in the fresh water coming from the river, a small cave, which I sat in for a photo, then the crashing of the waves and watching sail boats go by. We hung out on the beach for a couple of hours taking photos, enjoying the view, and picnicking.

Pretending to be a mermaid

The hike back was harder as there was more downhill than uphill. The views were stunning and I stopped a lot to take them in and remember this was my paradise!

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.