Category Archives: life experiences

It’s All Fun and Games . . . Until It Isn’t.

I hate sounding like a Negative Nellie but the last few months have gone by at an alarming rate and I’m not sure I have much to show for it. We’re settling into our new home a bit slower than I anticipated. Being a creature of instant gratification does not bode well when certain projects take months to complete or when I can’t even instigate a start date until next year. I’m learning patience . . . and can’t say I find the virtue terribly endearing.

Even though we live at a higher elevation and enjoy cooler temperatures than metro areas like Tucson and Phoenix, it was still hot this summer. My courtyard is concrete surrounded by an adobe wall. No matter how much I watered, my plants suffered from the heat which sometimes reached 115 degrees or more during mid-day. I needed a plan to alter the reflective, heat-absorbing design before next summer and I think I have a solution. We’re installing a large pergola with water misters to lower the temperature. I’m re-landscaping the border flower beds with succulents and adding garden totems for color, relocating the rose bushes and forsythia to the back of the house where I plan to create a little oasis in the middle of the landscaping rock and trees surrounding our property.

I discovered no matter how much time I invested in pulling weeds from the roots, they continued to invade our property at an alarming rate. After enduring snide remarks and laughter from my neighbors because I refused to use Round-Up or any toxic weed killer, I finally succumbed to the urge and sprayed the outer perimeters. Before moving here, I thought tumbleweeds were quaint and picturesque, a lovely symbol of the old west. They are now my enemy and I am waging war. Plus, the darned things have stickers that embed their gnarly little thorns in my fingers even through leather gloves.

I erected a multi-unit bird feeder pole outside my office window. It was lovely watching the little guys hop around from feeding station to the feeding station. But then the doves invaded. They kicked, shoved, bullied their way through the seed, tossing it to the ground with an irreverence that was beyond annoying. I tried to compromise with a ground feeder but they preferred to chase away my little lovelies, bobbing their heads with an attitude that clearly said, “We’re not sharing.” If there is such a thing as dove “tagging” on feeders, I’m sure these pillagers marked their territory. I kept a loaded water gun at my desk and delighted in squirting the feathered marauders through an open screened window. My day soon changed from writing and doing business to plotting battle lines and plans of attack. Realizing I was taking things way too personally, especially after watching Bill Murray pursue a gopher in the movie, Caddyshack and recognizing a disturbing similarity to my own actions, I resigned to moving the bird feeder to another area. I’m now more productive. Calmer. Happier. But still pissed off at those damn doves!

I took a couple of breaks from the bird droppings and constant weed pulling to attend two incredible writer’s conferences – one of which was MurderCon, presented by Writer’s Police Academy in conjunction with Sirchie Institute. It was all about homicide but included so much more. I filled an entire spiral with notes. Wow!!! Truly an amazing experience. I also attended one of the best “small” conferences in the area – Sister’s in Crime Desert Sleuth chapter’s Write Now conference in Scottsdale. Great speakers, great information, great location. Another wow!

As I mentioned earlier, I’m short on patience – so I took a seasonal job working at an Amazon fulfillment center. It’s a good opportunity. Pays well. Will fund my projects and more. But I hurt in places I didn’t know I had muscles. This work is not for the faint of heart or old people. I’m hanging in but only by a thread. It’s little consolation to know I’ve outlasted much younger people in my hire “class” when I can barely straighten up to full standing height after a 10-hour shift. I truly hope I make it through these next two months but I’m not placing any bets. It’s almost time to hit the hiking trails . . . but I may not have the time or energy.

In the midst of this turmoil, hubs and I found a happy place creating and selling Thunder Gourds, and offering organic CBD at a few local farmer’s markets. Our favorite is Tombstone. Such a fun town and our fellow vendors are great. There’s always a nice blend of locals and tourists, and the cowboys in period dress are interesting eye candy.

In the midst of this turmoil, hubs and I found a happy place making and selling Thunder Gourds, and offering organic CBD at a few local farmer’s markets. Our favorite is Tombstone. Such a fun town and our fellow vendors are great. There’s always a nice blend of locals and tourists, and the cowboys in period dress are interesting eye candy. 🙂

So that’s all the news from here. How did you spend YOUR summer vacation?

I’m A Duck

It’s true . . . I’m a duck. Most people think I glide through life with barely a ripple but what’s happening beneath that glass-like surface is a fury of paddling feet. And that’s definitely been the case since January 1st. I claimed 2019 as MY year of reinvention months ago and I’ll be darned if I let my prediction fall short. I started the new year with a bang and refuse to let up.

I renewed my membership with Sisters in Crime, national and the Tucson chapter. I’ve applied for and was AWARDED an educational scholarship from national to help defray cost of attending Writer’s Police Academy’s first ever MurderCon held at the renowned SIRCHIE facility for forensic and crime scene investigation in Raleigh, NC. But that’s not all. I’m signing books again this year at the prestigious event, Tucson Festival of Books. You can find me on Saturday, March 2nd at the Sisters in Crime booth from 1:30-3:30 pm. I’ve also developed three new seminars and have gotten some good “bites” for presentations in 2019. More news to follow on that one but if you could use a fun, user friendly hour to learn or refresh skills on these topics, let me know. I’m still offering my crowd pleaser – Gold, Ghosts and Gravel Roads – a delightful journey through some of the more curious places I’ve traveled as an RVer. It’s especially fun for those who enjoy paranormal pursuits or treasure hunting.

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I’ve saved the most exciting news for last. After a 2 year hiatus from publishing . . . I’m back! March 1st will see the release Book 2 in my humorous DEAD MEN cozy sleuth series, featuring southern caterer/psychic sleuth Daisy O’Connor. In DEAD MEN CAN’T DANCE, Daisy finds herself knee deep in trouble with both the county sheriff and Deputy Chief of Tribal Police, John Greyhawk. Her penchant for little white lies, disregard of the law, and bloodhound approach to crime solving are a sure recipe for trouble when a murder victim asks for help. As Daisy sticks her nose into police business, the ghost issues a warning, “another will die”. The only question is, will it be Daisy or someone else?

Summer will see the release of a new genre for me. Temporarily named THE DEAD DO NOT LIE, this dark thriller follows the emotional and mental collapse of a disaster inspector who witnesses too much corruption and fraud. I’ve created a realistic view of post disaster chaos, gleaned from my many years as a contract disaster inspector. While the story is purely fictional based on a “what if” moment of inspiration, the elements of strife and grief are real. I think it will be a good read. I hope you feel the same.

Summer also brings a much needed break in my professional life. I’ve hired the most amazing personal assistant to help with social media, book tours, and keeping me organized. She’s a school teacher so you KNOW she can multi-task! And just in time because we are buying a house. It’s located in an obscure part of southern Arizona but close enough to Tucson and Phoenix for those big city getaways and writer’s groups. We’ll still travel off and on but our “stuff” will be planted in one place. I’m excited . . . and nervous. My gypsy spirit is crying, “No, no!” but my old bones are saying, “Maybe it won’t be so bad.” We’ll downsize from the fiver to a small travel trailer more suitable for dry camping and the back road excursions I so enjoy. In the meantime, expect a lot of remodeling photos throughout the year!

That’s it, folks! I’ll keep you posted on new happenings as they happen.

Another Curve Ball . . .DUCK!

I don’t know why I expect plans to go as scheduled. It hasn’t happened in so long. Sometimes I feel like I’m playing Ping Pong with life and there’s so much English on the ball, I can’t possibly return the serve. Yet I lunge and give it my best shot.

Our plans to explore Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Colorado this summer shifted dramatically when the hubmeister experienced a severe set-back due to high winds, blowing dust and pollen in New Mexico. After an overnight stay in the hospital, he’s been released to his primary care physician in Tucson for a follow-up. And since we don’t want to drive south for a month then take off again, we decided to make the best of it by hanging out in the SonoranDesert’s higher elevations.

So the upside . . . and there’s always an upside to every disastrous event . . .is that instead of searching out new  adventure I now have time to write (you’ve heard these promises before, sigh), work on my gourd art and attempt some creative flair with a box of driftwood I’ve gathered from earlier excursions. Oh yeah . . . and paint some more rocks. No long hikes until fall since I don’t care to encounter slithery creatures lurking on those hot desert trails

As for writing, hopefully you’ve enjoyed my ongoing short story series spawned by my print published anthology, Road Tales. I’m almost done with an eBook version, Road Lore and MORE, which will incorporate the short story collection as well as even MORE myth, lore and back road oddities. The second Dead Men novel is close to sending off to beta readers. I anticipate a release date of June 15th. Even more exciting – my pet project is about to come to life! . . . The Claim Adjuster is an intriguing thriller unlike anything I’ve written. Prepare for a fall release. 

Until next time, I’m positing some photos of my latest escapades. Look for new short stories scheduled during the summer months.

Painted Desert

Hiked a LOT! This is Sabino Canyon, 7 Falls Trail

Sedona – sigh. Hiked a few trails. Must return!

Walks with my buddy. He is getting too old for hiking but still likes to catch a few sniffs on the shorter trails.

Hid some of my painted rocks

Pottery shards at Homolovi State Park. They were everywhere!!! And no . . . I did not take any home but it sure was tempting.

Beautiful Usery Park near Mesa, AZ. LOVE it! And the trails.

Homolovi Ruins

Petrified Forest

Mexican Food and Margaritas!

Gourd craft – decanter for box wine. Oh, yeah 🙂 Want to sell these on Etsy.

Dinosaurs, oh MY!

Standing on the corner . . .

San Felipe Church in Old Town Albuquerque. Built in 1706. Amazing!

View from the balcony of the iconic Painted Desert Inn – now a museum.

 

2017 Was A Disaster

I’m back from a year of working hard on many projects. Unfortunately, none of them were writing related. I intend to make up for that this year.

We started 2017 with a bang by heading to California to visit my husband’s cousins whom he hasn’t seen in fifty-plus years. I’ve been working on his genealogy so it was rewarding to finally meet long lost relatives and learn more about his childhood. He was raised by guardians. The history of his biological parents was always a shadow I could never quite grasp but at least I made progress. There’s still a long ways to go.

The trip to California was not without issues. Our rig got stuck TWICE in sand and once in mud after a torrential rainstorm. RVing is not all sunshine and lazy days. Enough said.

After a great reunion with the hubmeister’s family and a quick day trip to Yosemite, we headed to Ruby’s Inn at Bryce Canyon to work as “workampers” for the summer season. Another interesting experience. We met wonderful people, learned a lot, enjoyed our incredibly beautiful surroundings, and nursed me back to health after an abscessed tooth needed extraction by an oral surgeon. Since our jobs were almost full time, I had little time to write or to visit the many outstanding parks in southern Utah.

I was uprooted to work as a post-disaster housing inspector in Texas and Florida

Just as the season was coming to a close, I received my deployment notice to report to Houston as soon as possible. I’m an “on-call” Fema contractor who performs housing inspections in the aftermath of natural disasters, in this case Hurricane Harvey. Of course, Irma was right behind. And then Maria. It was a very long deployment – almost three months of working seven days a week for 12-14 hours a day in both Texas and Florida. There was absolutely NO time for writing, plotting or anything besides work and sleep.

I flew home before Thanksgiving. Hubs had moved our RV from Bryce Canyon to Tucson so it was great to share the holiday with him and my fur babies in my favorite state. After a couple of weeks catching up on sleep and de-stressing, I decided to re-visit a thriller I started at the beginning of the year. It simply wasn’t coming together the way I wanted and after a lot of soul searching, I realized it needed a complete re-write. I like it much better now.

December was filled with visits from friends which included road trips, cook outs, movie nights, etc. My writing once again got pushed to the back burner.

Now it’s January – a whole new year lies ahead! I am focused and determined to complete four projects in 2018. One is the second book to my Dead Men series – Dead Men Can’t Dance. It’s nearly complete so I’m anxious to finish it, get past the edits and send it to my beta readers. The next project is a spin-off of Road Tales called Road Lore and More. It will include all the tales from the original book plus a few more. I will also incorporate many of the short stories  I’ve written based on those myths and legends (check out my short story link here). Since Road Tales is only available in print, I intend to release Road Lore and More as an ebook. It won’t feature the photos that appear in the print version but will have some new tales of strange places as well as all those wicked, fun short stories . . . and more!

The next two projects are already plotted and started. Both are dark, psychological thrillers. I may write those under a pen name since they are so different from anything else I’ve produced.

Well, that’s my new year goals. Ambitious? Yes, because I have a lot of catching up to do. Thanks for staying with me while this site was “dark”. I promise to be more active on my blog and Facebook page in the future.

I’ve also started a blend of Keto and low carb diet in an effort to lose the extra pounds I gained eating junk food while on deployment. If you have a good recipe that is Keto or low carb friendly, please share it.

What does KY Warming Gel, Preparation H and Cowboy Hats have in Common?

Each product was part of an interesting conversation at the high traffic tourist stop where I work near Bryce Canyon. Hubs and I decided to “workamp” this summer. For those not familiar with the term it describes seasonal or temporary workers who live in their RV. In exchange for hours worked, we receive a wage, great perks, a nice campsite for a pittance of what we would normally pay which includes full hook-ups, wifi, and cable. We also have plenty of days off to explore the beauty of southern Utah and northern Arizona. Not a bad arrangement.

Hubs works light maintenance at one of the hotels. I work a variety of positions in the retail store.

About eighty percent of our customers are European, Asian or Australian . . . and many speak limited or NO English. I’ve become adept at hand signals/charades, choosing the right coins from paying customer’s outstretched hands, and learning common words in various languages. It’s fun but can sometimes present challenging situations.

For instance – I had a German gentleman with very limited English skills purchase a western hat. He was part of a group who clearly found his hat amusing. I cut off the tag so he could wear it immediately, telling him he looked like a cowboy and now he just needed a horse. He didn’t understand the word “horse” so I pretended to ride an imaginary equine, using my hands to imitate holding the reins. “Ride horse,” I said. His friend must have understood because he translated in German. The man laughed and pointed at his wife. “I have her.”

Oooookay.

A young couple came to my register with KY Warming Gel. They’d just returned from hiking. He asked if the contents would help his sore ankle. ???? I said no. He then asked in broken English what it was for. My face was red. I pointed to his girlfriend and replied, “For her.” Both looked at me funny. “It’s used to enhance intimacy.” At that, they both laughed. He returned later with a tube of Icy Hot..

An Asian man brought a tube of Preparation H to my associate, a young male in his late teens. The customer asked if it was face or hand cream, once again in broken English. The boy turned to me and said, “She can help you.” Really? I told the man it was used to ease hemorrhoids which thankfully he seemed to understand. I then instructed him to a different area of the store for hand cream.

After these encounters . . . and more . . . it makes me wonder what non-English speaking countries think of Americans when we try to communicate during travels and vacations. I’m not sure I want to know. Hopefully, no one blogged about me during my last trip across the border.

Happy New Year!

I don’t know about you but I’m sooo happy for a new year. It’s not that 2016 was horrible. More like unstructured. As in Murphy’s Law unstructured. Few of my plans came to fruition in the way I had hoped. Some of those “detours” turned into delightful experiences. A few . . . meh, not so much. There were ups and downs as there are in any year but 2016 just felt awkward.

I’m not a big New Year’s resolution gal. As much as I like having a “plan” for my activities, resolutions feel more like prison i.e. I’m being forced to comply. My gypsy spirit flat out rebels! Kind of crazy since I’m the one making the rules but that’s how my brain works. (I’m sure I could drive a psychiatrist nuts with that one!)

So here’s the deal. I’m not making a resolution but I will “plan” to diligently promote some facet of my author life every . . . single . . . day. Oh, geez . . . the pressure! It’s already starting so please consider this blog my good intention promotion for Jan 1, 2017.

I just added a sidebar calendar for author appearances in 2017. If you plan to be in Arizona during one of my events, I’d love to meet you. If not, I understand. “Plans” sometimes don’t work out the way we hoped.