Living in the high desert

Willow Creek Cyn 1975

Shot by Stan Anderson in 1975. I’m on the mustang and I was 14 that year.

This weekend my nephew and my brother were cooking buffalo meat and I was invited for Sunday dinner. My nephew is half-Ute so he has connections with the Ute Tribe in northeastern Utah. It was a surprise when he told me that the area I lived in in the mid 70s was where they had seeded a herd of mountain buffalo.

Even more interesting, that dirt road you see in the picture is now paved. When I lived there we were sixty miles from the nearest town. We grew all of our vegetables and fought the raccoons and coyotes from our plants and animals.

We brought our drinking water in because the wells in the area bubbled up sulfur and smelled like rotten eggs. The place had been hunted so much that the only predators were black bears. We even had hunters come in several times a year to clear the place from bears too. There hadn’t been a wolf seen in decades by that time.

Now they have buffalo, mountain goats, and wolves. They even have wild turkeys. We brought in the turkeys when we moved there. When we left, we left them there.

The reason we were there is that my father had gotten a job as a foreman to run the ranch for the Ute Tribe. We left when they decided to hire one of their own. So yes, I have lived on the reservation even though I am a white woman.

At the time I was there, we washed our clothes in ditches. We boiled our water to take bathes in tubs. We didn’t have electricity although we did haul in propane for our stoves. When the summer days got to hot we would go into the basement to cool off. We slept down there. We didn’t have AC or a lot of the modern conveniences of our neighbors.

I do remember those days with some fondness. Still I won’t do that again. It was too much work and too hard. I had a lot of responsibility for the care and tending of my brothers and sisters. I wanted to be free and run wild.

Still I am quite amused that someone decided to turn that place into a buffalo refuge. Then they paved the road. I can’t get my mind around how someplace so isolated has a paved road. Every spring the road still washes out even with the pavement. I remember times in the spring where I could collect 4-6 inches of mud on my boots when I went out to do the chores.

So I know the reason why farm families have so many kids. I also know why many farm kids want to escape this life. It is tough–tougher than you can imagine.

When I write about the “high desert” I am writing of what I know. The people who come from that environment are hardy and able because they can’t depend on anyone else to save them. It is an unforgiving environment. It is a deadly beauty.

As we walk

Every evening Foxy and I walk to the elevator past our neighbor’s apartments as the sun sinks in the West and the light goes from peach to dark blue. Since the heat in Las Vegas Nevada has dropped, one of my neighbors who is in her mid-70s keeps her front door open to let the heat out and the cool air in.

Foxy, a little chihuahua-terrier mixed dog, rushes inside to great her. My neighbor used to have dogs many years ago. Now she lives in a senior independent apartment and doesn’t have room or energy for a dog. Just for a moment she smiles and pets Foxy. Foxy’s tail wags continuously until the neighbor quits petting her.

We do this every day unless I feel sick. On those days I will get a call from my neighbor to see if I am okay. She misses Foxy and she misses our talks. We will visit and talk about family, life, and illness. We will talk mostly about experiences–like having dogs or working. My neighbor worked in a casino most of her adult life. She has severe lung problems because of it.

When I was a child, I knew a lot of families who welcomed their grandparents into their homes. We live in such a different age now where the elderly is put away where from their families. The knowledge of the elderly is lost.

I laugh because when I stop and talk to them I find out that one grandmother has cancer and goes on the bus every other day to get radiation treatment. She doesn’t tell her grandson because he is taking care of a wife who also has cancer. Just last week an man in his mid sixties died. I met him and he didn’t look sick on the outside.

Every day we see paramedics in this area. Some of the elderly come back and some don’t. I talked to a man who had just turned 84. “All of my family and friends are dead now,” he said. “I am alone.”

Sometimes I wonder why we have gone to warehousing our elderly. At one point they held the knowledge of their tribes. They still hold the knowledge of their families. Every day we lose more knowledge as they die.

Aging is not fun. Many of these folks who are living the long life are grumpy from pain and from loneliness. Some of them spend their days gossiping. They are people after all. They are also the trailblazers to what comes next.

Unlicensed Sorceress excerpt

This weekend I took a break from writing after finishing the last edits of Dark Moon Rising. I spent some time with a friend and  we talked about cross-stitching and other crafts. She had just completed a silhouette of Harry Potter characters for one of her nieces. I’ve done cross-stitch patterns that resembled woodcuts and those are much harder to keep the lines straight than doing colored cross-stitch patterns.

File Oct 09, 7 05 03 AM So this weekend I finished cross-stitching an owl. I watched Cleverman again so that I could get into season too. Plus took the dog for a walk.

Today I am onto Unlicensed Sorceress, which is the third book in Hilda’s Inn. Hilda is now in Koenigstadt and finds that Lord Barton and his cohorts are spreading rumors about her magical abilities.

Just a little excerpt to wet your whistle:

Part of Chapter Two in Unlicensed Sorceress

Hilda Brant
It had been a long time since Hilda had slept in a soft bed. She stretched and her knee locked. She rolled out of bed and stamped her leg on the floor, swearing under her breath. Sassy looked up out of the dying coals and grinned at her. Michael knocked on the door and whispered, “Are you okay?”

“Damn it,” said Hilda. “I hate getting old.” She heard a click in her knee, and then it loosened up.

She opened the door. Michael leaned against the door jamb with a small smile on his face. “Breakfast is ready,” he said. He turned away and she slammed the door. To hell if it made noise, she felt grouchy.

Her breeches had been laundered and left on a wooden chair. She had a shirt made to go with them. Instead of dressing in her traveling clothes, she looked in the wooden wardrobe. There was a gown and a cloak hanging there. Folded on the bottom was a shift and a simple dress. It only took her moments to get dressed. She could smell eggs and bacon and her stomach began to grumble.

She slipped on a pair of slippers and went to eat.

A young man waited, while they finished their breakfast. He separated Hilda from the rest of the group. “You need to come with me, madam,” he said and put his hand on her arm. She didn’t say a word, but let him take her arm. She didn’t pull away from him or use any self-defense moves. She was proud that she went with him quietly.
The young man was probably a mage. Sassy stayed hidden in the flame. It would be better if the mage didn’t know she had an element.

He walked with her through the gardens and then turned to a small innocuous building. Trees and bushes hid the building. Hilda could think of a hundred ways she could hide in the bushes and ambush anyone working there.

Since she had become a mercenary, she still had that instinct to look at someone and know how to kill them. Though as she looked closely around her, she could feel and smell magical traps. If she had really ambushed this building, she would be either captured or dead within minutes.

The young man must have read her face. He smirked just a little. “Every mage meets the big man,” he said cryptically.

Whoever built these traps was more paranoid than her and more powerful. She didn’t say a word and hoped her face didn’t show her sudden anxiety.

She sniffed, but only could smelled the trees and flowers. There was no smell of burning ash or rotten eggs. So if her nose was right, she wouldn’t have to deal with a dragon or a demon. There wasn’t a hint of corruption in the smell. Usually life has death mixed in it. The smells were too antiseptic. It made her nervous.

The door opened before the young man knocked. An older man with a huge smile showing yellow and broken teeth, invited Hilda into a small room with two chairs and a desk. Then the young man left.

The older man pointed Hilda to a seat. He walked around the desk and slouched in his chair. She waited for him to speak. The silence stretched for a long time. He looked down on a piece of paper and then looked up at her. Hilda would have given much to know what was written there. But she had never learned to read and had only learned basic math skills for running the inn.

She waited. She was not going to break the silence. She was not a young thing who would get nervous if some man looked at her long enough. She recognized this interrogation technique.

Finally the older man cleared his throat. She waited for him to speak.
“My name is Morcant,” he said.

Hilda nodded her head, politely.

“I will be discussing with you the unfortunate incident in the forest south of here. But first,” he handed me a piece of paper. “Sign here.”

“No,” Hilda said. “I will not sign something I cannot read.” She stopped her arms from folding against her chest. She didn’t want to look defensive. She gripped the chair arms firmly. Then said, “I want my brother to read this before I sign.”
Morcant’s eyes flickered back and forth. Hilda knew that the next words out of his mouth would be a lie. “It’s just saying that you are a mage.”

“But I am not,” she said. “I have not gone to the mage university and I have not practiced ritual magic. I am not a mage.”

“If you don’t sign this paper,” Morcant smiled. Hilda shuddered at that smile. Dragons had a nicer smile than this man. Morcant continued. “Then I will send you to the dungeon for dangerous criminals.”

“I have done nothing wrong,” Hilda said, her eyebrow went up. “What are you trying to pull?” She leaned forward. Morcant leaned back just a little, then he leaned toward her. She caught the slight movement that meant Morcant was nervous.

She felt his magical energies ramp up. She wished Sassy was with her because the two of them could overpower this wannabe. She sent a probe towards him on the off chance that she could read something in his mind. He blocked her and the smile wiped off his face.

He sent a probe back. She could barely push it away. She knew he was going to try again, so she reached for her knife. Damn. She was disarmed.
She reached across the desk and grabbed a pen.

A heaviness came over her limbs. She fought it and she could see beads of sweat roll down Morcant’s face.

“Enough,” someone yelled. Both Hilda and Morcant collapsed. Hilda was lying on the floor unable to move. Two legs and feet appeared in her view. Someone, very strong, picked her up.

As she was being carried out of the room, she saw a healer leaning over Morcant. His face was white and he was breathing shallowly.

“What the hell did you do to him?” said a familiar voice. “Hilda… Hilda.”

She looked up into the face of Rooso. She wanted to say “What are you doing here?” but her lips wouldn’t move.

He carried her all the way back to the house.

Life and bandages

I scraped the knuckle of my right index finger on my washing machine lid. The lip is sharper than it should be. After a sharp sting, I looked at my finger and saw my blood well from a cut. I went into immediate action by cleaning the small wound. Turned out I scraped the top skin off the knuckle. The wound looked worse than it was.

I wrapped the finger with antibiotic cream and a bandage and the sting disappeared. This morning there is a slight shiny covering over the small wound.

It still stings a little as I type and I move the finger so the covering stays flexible.

Today I was thinking about the Las Vegas shooter and his motivations. Every day we get new revelations of the man and what he did. Even though it is horrifying at how many people died and hurt, it still could have been worse.

I send my condolences to those who lost loved ones in this tragedy. I have lost someone close to me. The feeling of loss never goes away. It does grow distant as the years go by. It will take more than a bandage to overcome the grief. In my case I did some counseling to make my life a little better and to see the good in this world.

You’ll find that the colors will get brighter after a while and that you won’t be asking the birds anymore “why they are singing” because they shouldn’t be singing when someone who was your whole world is dead. No bandage will fix such a loss.

The rest of us are speculating on why the shooter did what he did. Please forgive us. We are being human. It is our way to take chaos and to make it into something we can understand. When we saw those pictures of people running and saw the confusion of 20,000 people looking for a way out of a killing field, we were shocked. We wanted to find a reason. It wouldn’t make it any better, of course. It’s just our minds do not accept chaos.

So forgive our conspiracy theories and our speculations. We are trying to find meaning in this madness.

I am not claiming your pain. I won’t claim your pain. I already know pain. When you can think more clearly after your grief subsides and you want to know what happened, we will have it for you.

It is too early to know yet. I know that you scream “why?” in the night. I know because I lost someone too–not to a maniac’s bullet, but to cancer.

Some wounds take much longer to heal than a small scrape.

Title on Pre-Order

she called it wolf-2017Sept1I woke up late today. My dog was sitting on my chest, licking my face because my arm was covered by my blanket. I hear the ladies outside, drinking coffee and talking about their children and their lives.

I finally re-finished She Called It, Wolf. Because of the revision and changes, it is now using a new ASIN and ISBN. The digital version is on pre-order today here.

EJ Hunter book #1

When her uncle calls EJ back home to Felony Flats, a tiny reservation community in Nevada, she is unaware that werewolves and other werekin roam this desert.

Plus she is already in trouble for transforming into a werewolf and saving her teammates from an assassin. This soldier is coming home after early retirement to a world filled with werecats, supersoldiers, and wildfires.

Then she meets the Alpha, Sheriff Adam.

The idea for EJ Hunter happened when my late-hubby and I would ride around Northern Nevada. There was a little area that the police called Felony Flats because most people who lived there were convicts–mostly drugs. When I decided to write about my werewolves that lived in the desert in the back of beyond, I thought that this would be the place for my setting. It is strange that five years later I am now seeing stories like Midnight Texas that are in rural settings. When I did it, it wasn’t the norm for fantasy. Urban settings were all the rage.

It’s been three years since I lost my hubby to cancer. Several of those first books including Hilda’s Inn I bounced off of him. So most of the humor came from him.

Excerpt of Dark Moon Rising


From Pixabay

This morning I woke up with a sinus headache. I haven’t had one for a few months so it took me a minute to realize that lying down wasn’t going to make me feel any better.

The best I can do for that type of headache is to sit up and drink something caffeinated. So I am sitting here, sipping coffee, and editing Dark Moon Rising.

Here is little taste of the next story in EJ Hunter’s world.

Dark Moon Rising

Chapter Seventeen

Shelton, Washington
I woke suddenly, her smell lingering on the covers where she had slept the night before. The slight depression where she slept was still warm. I was still a dog, so I curled up in the depression. I could hear the soft sounds of Mari and Owen talking.

I let the warmth roll over me, then got out of bed. My mission was to find EJ, but I also had a secondary mission. I needed to hear what they were saying. It is hard to explain how a dog brain works. It is mostly smells and needs. But in the back of my head, my clan leader had made a spot where he could listen. I was a spy of sorts.

I slid under Owen’s hand and felt him rub my head and down my back. It felt so good that I wagged my tail back and forth.

“Adam said to come. We need to rescue EJ.” Owen rubbed my back again, more to calm his nerves than to calm mine.

I could smell the stubbornness coming off of Mari in waves. It smelled bitter with a slight touch of the ocean spray. I took another whiff at Mari’s shoes. She was going to the sea.
But Owen’s shoes smelled of desert cactus, dirt, and sage. Neither had the smell of the woman who could change into any wereanimal. I sat down and sighed. It was hard to think in this form. I waited and listened, letting my clan leader hear.

“The werecats have her. He thinks they want to experiment on her and she’ll end up in Loomis’ laboratory.”

There was a mulish tone in Mari’s voice, “Have you listened?” She hissed the question.

“To what I am saying? I had a vision. I need to go to the ocean clans and get allies… to help us.”

“What clans.” Owen snorted. “There are no sea clans. In fact there are barely any land clans except for us and the cats. You are going on a wild goose chase and even worse you are looking for a myth.”

I barked and when Owen gave me that look, I laid flat on the floor, my head hidden in my paws.

“You can go back to your Alpha,” by this time there was venom in Mari’s voice. “You can do what you always do and make fun of my abilities even though you came for ME.” She was shouting.

“Make your decision, but after breakfast I will be on my way. I’ll walk if I have too.”

Owen reached for her and then pulled his hands back to his sides. He clenched them. Mari tidied up the bed, grabbed her clothes, and slammed the bathroom door. We could hear the shower turn on.

Owen sighed. He called Adam again. “I can’t leave her here. Okay.” He listened again, “Okay.” He hung up the phone.

“Well, little buddy,” Owen sounded resigned. “Adam changed his mind. We are to follow Mari on this goose chase.” He picked up his clothes and stuffed them into a bag.
In the back of my mind, I heard my clan leader say, “Interesting.”

Research Center
Rafe Loomis
My boot heels made sharp loud noises as I marched down the hallway to my researchers. There was a method to my madness. When I reached the lab, the doctors would be shaking in their shoes. They were professionals but were prone to fear just like anyone else. I refused to be afraid. I was the one to fear.

I forced my steps to be deliberate, but inside I was dancing. The Queen of Cats had just called me. She had EJ and had demanded all the research we had done on the werecats. I hadn’t told her that the main reason the werecats couldn’t have children was because she couldn’t. As a liger, she was the scariest, most lethal, predator in her neck of the woods. She was sterile.

In my research of werecats I had learned of the queen’s use of mind control. The reason she could keep the clowder together was her ability to crush the opposition with her mind. Then she made them her advisers.

When she was unhappy with her subjects, she controlled their bodies as well. Anyone with a different viewpoint either left or became an unwilling sycophant. He admired this trait.

The werecats who were sent on missions from the clowder like Agent Foster did gain some independence. The agent was now in the tender mercies of his Queen. If he had gained immunity to his Queens influence, then would find himself at the tender mercies of me. I smiled.

So the Queen’s subjects couldn’t reproduce because she couldn’t reproduce. She put a part of herself in them and their entire species were lost. I wasn’t about to tell her.
I laughed out loud. Even the guards who were at my heels hid the shudders. The queen was at my mercy and I wasn’t merciful.

I opened the door to the lab and slammed it behind me, leaving the guards outside the lab door. The doctors jumped. Well, well, the scared doctors were trying to keep something from him. I would let this little rebellion run it’s course. It might help me in the end. Of course I had copies of all their research. I couldn’t have another Felony Flats incident.

“What have you got?” I asked. The doctors turned as one. Yes, the two of them had a secret.

One of them, I think it was Dr. Vandross, finally spoke, “We need more blood. The little bit we have doesn’t give us enough to find out why the blood looks normal.”

I laughed and felt delight when they shuddered. I would find their families soon, and then I would have more power over them.

“You’ll have as much blood as you want in a few days. Do what you can with what you have now. This new one, well, it can transform to more than one animal.”

I did a military turn and walked out the door, stomping down the hallway. I pulled out my tablet and checked the security cameras that watched my pet researchers. Yes, they were talking in the corner away from the microphone. I made a mental note to put another microphone in that corner.

Once we had EJ in a secure room near the lab, I would need better surveillance on both the werewolf and the researchers. It was better to be safe than sorry. I had learned that lesson too well.

Newsletter and Mailing Lists

I have noticed a change in the Amazon algorithm lately. The last few years I haven’t needed to market because I put all of my published works on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited exclusively. Then this month became interesting. My kindle unlimited reads and my digital sales were non-existent.  When I talked to other independent authors, they were having the same outcome.

Also when I looked for my favorite writers, they weren’t being recommended anymore by Amazon. Writers that I haven’t read in ages were being pushed at me. I had to search for my writers to get their books. So I suspect someone has been diddling with their algorithm again.

Again marketing is not one of my strengths. However, I will have to put a little time and energy into that side of the business. In the changing world of publishing it is hard to know what works. I’ve used ads and received no hits at all. I’ve talked to others who get good results from ads.

So I decided to do a more personal approach–an email newsletter. I know that works on me. I get a newsletter about every month or two from JR Rain. I’ve been reading his books since 2010. His newsletters point me to his newest books.

If you’d like to get my newsletter, then sign up. I will be putting in my newest published works and any freebies that I have for the month.

If this works well, I may also put in a link to the books I am reading too.

“Thanks for all the fish.” Douglas Adams