It’s that time of year when we’re all thinking about the blessings in our lives and all we have to be thankful for. Many people are sharing daily on Facebook. I love making ‘thankful lists’ and do so throughout the year, either when I’m feeling especially blessed or when I need a reminder of the good things in life. This has been a very fun and rewarding year for me, thanks to the people in my life and because I can share my writing with so many of you out there.
Two winners will receive a $25 Amazon gift cards and eight winners will receive your choice of one of my ebooks. There are over 10 to choose from. I’ll pull winners this Friday (Nov 22) at noon PST. 10 winners total.
Hope you’ll enter — good luck! And thank you for connecting with me.
I love having a blog so I can share not just writing news, but pictures and stories from my different trips. This blog is full of photos from around Oregon that bring back great memories for me. I recently took the above picture while hiking on a wildlife reserve path near my home. The trail starts uphill right from the gravel parking lot and winds up into the hills. There’s several places to pause and look out over the valley on one side and the ridges of hills trailing off to the sunset on the other.
It’s fun to travel far from home, but it’s also really nice to have places I enjoy so much close by too. It takes me just a few minutes to drive to the wildlife refuge, and I can also drive up the river to several different trails and waterfalls, and even farther to explore mountain lakes. It’s all still in a day’s drive, and most of the hiking is kid friendly. My kids love to go hiking–it’s a tradition that started with my parents when I was young.
Here’s a few pictures from this last weekend. I was craving clam chowder so my husband and I headed over to the coast. We’ve gone down to Coos Bay quite a bit, and I love it there, but we decided to drive north this time. I went on quite a few trips as a kid with my family to Yachats and the area, so it was fun to revisit. Going to the coast means two main things: playing on the beach and eating seafood. We had chowder, fish and chips and found a new place called Tidal Raves at Depoe Bay. We shared seared scallops and cocoanut shrimp there. I LOVE scallops, and those were the best I’ve ever had.
(Of course we had a great time, but this is all research too! When I was writing Point Hope, I went and revisited all my favorite places in Coos Bay so I could include them. The Pancake Mill in Point Hope really is in Coos Bay, and they do have gluten free pancakes. You can also really visit Sunset Bay State Park.)
Can you guess where this is?
It was snapped from the outside viewpoint of the Sea Lion Caves by Florence. The location has this viewpoint, and an elevator that takes you down 200 feet to sea level to look inside the world’s largest sea cave. It’s usually full of see lions that are busy barking and growling at each other.
I took the next picture from inside the caves, looking out over to the Heceta Head lighthouse.
We drove north for a while after that and explored the beaches–we found a great little beach that was sheltered from the wind by a giant rock structure. Here’s me with my dog Deco exploring.
We stayed in a cute little motel, and our room even had books in it! I happened to have some copies of Point Hope with me, so I left one there. :)
There are so many special places along the coast. Maybe I can include all of them in a story at some point!
We went north this last week for my husband’s family reunion in Washington. It seems like I end up driving through Washington a couple times a year, and I usually see something unusual along the way. Last time I saw what looked like horses standing on a trailer with just a strap to hold them there–it was fake horses of course. I also saw two drivers get into a road rage spat. I don’t know what started it, but I saw one driver throw a water bottle out of the sunroof and onto another car. That car sped up, passed on the shoulder, and tried to run the first car off the road. Scary! We backed off and let them get way ahead of us. Luckily I didn’t see any wrecks after that. I guess the heat got to some people. But dangerous drivers aside, it was a great trip.
Here’s a few pictures of the skyline as we drove through Seattle.
This one captures what I think of in Northwest cities: tall buildings and tall evergreens!
We stayed up next to the Canadian border for a few days and visited Birch Bay. It’s so different from the rough Oregon Coast! There aren’t any waves, and the water was warm compared to what I normally experience. We couldn’t wait to go change into swim suits! You can walk out for a couple miles if you wanted to, and we found crabs, fish and even a live jelly fish.
We went back twice so we could swim and explore the beach. And even though we didn’t cross over into Canada, we took some pictures with Canada in the background.
I returned home Monday and took off Tuesday for camping out by the South Umpqua River, so it was a fun and busy week. I was surprised (again) because the river was so warm. We go every year, and there’s been times when the river was so cold it burned when I jumped in. This time, it was more like cool pool water, and we played in the river for two full days. I came back in time for fireworks at the house with all our kids–it was great to watch them having so much fun. I did take some time to sit around the fire and work on plot ideas for the two stories I’m working on. Next week, it’s back to writing!
The mighty Pacific has a rugged, rough, unforgiving beauty—like Trey’s life.
After an IED brought his Navy career to an end, Trey became an EMT in his hometown of Coos Bay, Oregon. He struggles with PTSD, which affects his ability to do his job and connect with his family. His wife seems to be living life without him.
Rosette can’t figure out what happened to her marriage, or to Trey—the man she once so desperately loved. It feels like she’ll lose everything along with him. Meanwhile, he’s enclosed in his own world without her.
Their marriage is on its last legs when their family is faced with two deaths and an orphan. They’re already raising two young children and Trey’s teenage brother, Alex. Trey and Rosette make a shaky agreement: to play “family” for now so they can take care of Trey’s recently orphaned niece. But can faking it ever be enough?
It’s make-it or break-it time. If they split apart, who will raise Hope?
I’m so excited to share my latest novel with you–this is my biggest story yet. Point Hope is my longest novel, has a larger cast and more point of views. I so enjoyed working with the different people in the story, from the main couple Trey and Rosette, to teenager Alex and troubled Summer. Several characters came to life and made the writing even more fun. It was an emotional journey, too, as writing all novels are.
If you’re from Coos Bay or have visited, you’ll recognize quite a few places and landmarks!
Rosette awoke to the faint sound of Trey’s cell phone ringing downstairs. Funny how a mother wakes to the quietest noise, even a soft newborn cough. Thank the good Lord they were past those early years with the kids. She rolled over in bed to squint at the alarm clock.
It was midnight. Who would be calling him so late? It didn’t sound like he’d answered it, but he could be returning the call. Rosette sat up, feeling alternating chills and waves of heat, as she feathered out the suspicions creeping in. Did he think they’d already severed their tie, and he was now free to talk to other women?
The landline phone on the nightstand rang.
Her heart skipped a couple beats. Something had happened, she could feel it, but what could be worse than Ricky dying?
She always answered the phone with “hello,” but this time she picked up the phone and spoke with a shaky voice. “Yes?”
“Rosette?” a rough voice asked. Harry. Trey’s boss.
“It’s Amanda. She has you and Trey down as her emergency contacts. We just brought her into the ER. We need you here right away. I tried Trey and couldn’t get him. Is he there?”
She said yes again and listened without hearing the rest of Harry’s words before ending the call.
OhMyGod OhMyGod OhMyGod. Rosette threw back the covers and ran out of the room, down the stairs, and into the living room, hitting the light switch on her way as she almost charged right into the couch.
She startled Trey so badly that he threw up his hands, flinching and turning away. Great. Not a flashback now. She needed him.
“Amanda’s at the hospital. We need to go.”
He shielded his eyes from the light. “She’s in labor?”
A momentary relief sank through her, warm and comforting. Of course Amanda was just in labor. Why hadn’t she thought of that? Because Harry sounded… “I don’t know. Harry called and said she’s in the ER, and we need to get there right away.”
Sometimes it’s nice to get away to a place where there’s no cell phone reception: no emails beeping in, no texts, no calls. Just you and nature, and a special someone or family. Sometimes it’s very needed! We love to hike into the many local waterfalls and lakes, and this spring we tried twice to reach Twin Lakes. The trail head is way up at the end of a gravel road, off the North Umpqua Hiking Trail. (If you’re familiar with the area, it’s off to the right a few miles after Dry Creek Store, and then a few turns up into the mountains.) The first time we drove up, a truck in front of us got stuck in a leftover snowdrift in a bend in the road. We helped them get out before turning around, and playing in the lower hills that day.
The second time we went, a month later, we made it farther but got stuck ourselves, in the last bit of snow in a shady corner on an otherwise clear road. The tall trees shade the snow in places, so they end up hardening into icy drifts when everything else melts. The fun thing is, we forgot a shovel both times, and had to use chunks of wood and rock under the tires to get out. It’s a process of jacking up the truck and pushing stuff under the wheels. (My husband Lem calls these creative fixes “Lem-necking.” You know you’re a Lem-neck when…you can start a fire with shot gun powder and jumper cables.)
This last weekend, we drove up again (with a shovel!) and didn’t encounter snow until we were out on the hiking trail. It was hot so I didn’t mind the few cool spots though.
Here’s the first look out spot–Oregonians might recognize the mountains.
There’s a cliff behind me, but I got dizzy if I went any closer. This is our dog, Deco, who lives for running around in the forest or swimming in a river.
The lake, at last! There’s a snowdrift off on the right side.
I love how this picture captures the color change in the water. It’s light green until the bottoms drops, and you can see the dark turquoise water farther out:
Here I tried to photograph the pretty water through the forest:
I was taking pictures on a Android phone because I couldn’t find my camera. I’m not a photographer anyway, but I hope you can see the beauty of Twin Lakes in these. Happy Trails!
There’s so much to do and see on the coast, from fishing, clamming, exploring tide pools, hiking, playing on the beach, flying kites, whale watching, to building sand castles. And of course: eating fresh seafood? I just made a quick trip to Coos Bay for a day of catching my own fresh seafood.
This is looking at the Oregon Coast from two miles out. I’m not sharing it because the picture turned out that great, but because the water is so calm! I couldn’t believe how lucky we got. There are lots of nice days out there, but I plan my trips around writing, life, the kids–you know how it goes! I’ve fished in tall swells with choppy waves, and even caught my biggest fish–a 35 lb salmon–in 17 foot swells before, so it was such a great experience to watch the calm waters, blue skies and occasional cloud in the sky.
This is also looking back toward where Point Hope is set. The coastline is such a great backdrop for a story, with its beauty, unpredictable weather, storms and mysterious side–I’ll probably set many more novels here!
Here I am, hiding in five layers, after our day out on the water.
There were several harbor seals playing around the boats, but I couldn’t get them to smile for the camera. One got close enough that I could even see the whiskers on his face, but then he dove. There’s a fish cleaning station a ways off to the left in this picture, so the seals and seal gulls were hanging around over there, waiting for scraps. It’s whale watching week in Oregon, but we only caught a few glimpses of a spout here and there. I did see streams of little jelly fish floating by the boat.
We had a great day of fishing with everyone limiting out on ling cod in addition to 3 salmon in the boat. Easter Dinner is going to include some fish this year!
The audio edition of the The River People is out!
This novel is a bit different from my norm: an historical story set in the west (wet) side of Oregon a few hundred years ago, and it features a young girl becoming a woman.
River-Song’s father, Chief Sits-and-Thinks, is growing old and sick, but he trusts in her to lead their people. Her best friend has become her rival as they compete to marry the big chief’s son. But as River-Song proves herself to him, she begins to see he isn’t the man she thought. Then she must use her gift of words when a wandering band of braves seek a new home with them. They speak her mother’s language so she can understand them. River-Song feels pulled to their leader but confused about her place in the tribe. Can this young girl hold her tribe together as the new braves join them, and again when hostile warriors attack their valley?
Come visit the River People in the Pacific Northwest before fur traders or missionaries arrived. River-Song lives in a valley of meandering streams that give them salmon and trout to eat. Oak trees abound in the valley, and a forest of cedar and fir surround them, making a canopy and giving them planks for their long houses, canoes, and totem poles.
I have another Native American novella called In the Land of Huckleberries and Wokas. It’s also set in Oregon, but across the mountains in Klamath Basin.
These stories are very different from my other work, but I enjoyed writing both. These stories seemed to write themselves! The River People has a special place in my heart because it’s the first book of mine that my daughter read, and later I found her playing “The River People” with her Barbie dolls. A very sweet author and mommy moment for me!
I spent a fun weekend with some amazing people and Zulu 7 Media, and I wanted to share a few pics with you. If you’re a Leverage fan & Kaniac, you might like this first one!
Christian Kane is an amazing actor and guy. I am so impressed with what he puts into his acting. It looks easy when you watch the final project, but it’s hard work, physically and mentally.
Timothy Hutton – amazingly talented actor and director!
Dale Comstock, American hero, Delta Force and actor, has a book coming out soon. He’s also in my next book project called Delta Moms. It’ll be a story for every woman that’s ever wanted to kick ass!
We were walking in downtown Portland with Paul Bernard and suddenly someone barreled through with a bike helmet on and kept going. He wasn’t even on a bike! Apparently a Portlandia fan spotted him!