Setting for PERIL IN SILVER NIGHTSHADE

Peril In Silver NightshadeOne of the fun things about setting a fictional novel in a real locale is that I get to describe favorite places of mine.

The setting for PERIL IN SILVER NIGHTSHADE, Red Rock State Park, has to rank right up there. This park was purchased for a state park about 25 years ago from the estate of Helen Frye. Helen was the wife of Jack Frye who in turn owned T.W.A. airlines, about the time that Howard Hughes was also active in aviation.

Helen and Jack flew over the Sedona area and she fell in love with the Oak Creek vistas. She asked her husband to buy property here for her. And he did.

So when I chose the setting for PERIL IN SILVER NIGHTSHADE I knew it had to be here. I’ve walked all the park trails numerous times and was for a time a volunteer at the park. I gave dozens of docent tours and knew when the wildflowers bloomed, and where to point out the desert varnish on the rocks, and when the bridges went out with the high water of the spring snowmelts.

I’d like to share two YouTube videos with you. The first, narrated by the park ranger I’ve worked with, Keith Ayotte, headlines one of the critters that also appears in my mystery, a black-tailed rattlesnake.

In the second, bear with heavy hiker breathing for a moment or two. Then you’ll be able to see the floating anchors for the wooden bridges on Black Hawk crossing, also featured in PERIL IN SILVER NIGHTSHADE during a chase scene where Pegasus Quincy gets very wet and very cold in order to catch her man. Does she succeed?

PERIL IN SILVER NIGHTSHADE.  Now available on pre-order through Amazon, just for you!

Above and below the clouds

Clouds over Black Canyon

Cloud edges in the desert appear sharper, because the air is dryer. A monsoon thunderhead can build in minutes, billowing thousands of feet into the air as you watch, and no two are alike.

A favorite cloud-watching spot of mine is Sunset Point, about an hour north of Phoenix. Here, the overlook vista plunges you thousands of feet to the tiny establishment of Bumblebee below, and then across the valley rises to the Bradshaw Mountains, home of a historic silver bonanza.

Life is surpassingly interesting, revealing, and awe-provoking when we show up for it whole heartedly and pay attention.
~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

Rock Hard

red sandstone cliffs

Sandstone is a soft rock, its edges worn smooth by the wind and summer cloudbursts. The red color is formed by a thin layer of iron pyrite surrounding each grain of sand. But seeing the rock, prevalent in the Four Corners area of Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah, is no substitute for feeling it.

On a hot summer day, embrace the rock. Feel its strength, its rough-smoothness, its solid core that existed before you arrived and will be there long after you are not.

When you see a grain of sand, you see all possible worlds with all their vast rivers and mountains. When you see a drop of water, you see the nature of all the waters of the universe. 
~ Huang-Po

 

Slow down, you move too fast

Bosque del Apache

In the winter months, migrating Sand Hill cranes and snow geese flock to the area near Bosque del Apache, drawn by the water and forage.

If you are lucky, you can climb to the top of the observation decks and be surrounded by thousands of beautiful birds. It humbles me to think that these skilled aviators flew their migration paths long before we were here to establish preserves to encourage them.

The birds were there, in a field across from this water. But I paused here instead, entranced by the interplay of reeds, flowing currents and sky. In that moment, the solitude became a cradle holding me.

There is more to life than merely
increasing its speed.

~ Gandhi ~ 

Book Review: The President is Missing by Bill Clinton & James Patterson

The President is MissingTHE PRESIDENT IS MISSING. Okay, I’ll admit it. I don’t like James Patterson. Oh, he started out pretty good–I enjoyed some of his earlier works when he was writing his own stuff. Then he became the Master Money Machine and well, you know the rest of the story. Ghosting, partnerships, series that he had the idea for and others implemented. Not that I’m jealous, mind. Hey, someday I, too, will be a multi-millionaire with zillions of best sellers to my credit.

I don’t like Bill Clinton, either. And that’s because of his questionable White House ethics, not because he isn’t brilliant, which I happen to think he is.

So I was really prepared to trash this book when to my surprise, I found I did like it after all! I think these two had fun collaborating to create this instant best-seller, similar to the Rat Pack making the first OCEANS ELEVEN movie in Las Vegas. And that esprit de corps shows.

There are the skills of Patterson, with his masterful sense of pacing and his one-page chapters. The book is tailor-made for Hollywood and I’ll not be surprised if it appears in the theaters one of these fine days. The book has all sorts of action-packed adventures and is full of car crashes, helicopters, and mysterious passages. Oh, yeah.

But the real highlights of this book are the pieces of authenticity that only Clinton as a past president (the real kind) could add. The in-fighting in a Senate hearing. The true anguish when a president must give an order that gets someone killed.

If you read nothing else in the book, don’t skip Chapter 128. (Which comes after the one-page Chapter 127 and the half-page Chapter 126.) This is the President’s (Clinton’s?) address to the nation explaining the real cyber-danger the country finds itself in. It runs nine dense pages (proving Clinton wrote it, not Patterson!) and outlines what our country is capable of being.

“The American dream works when our common humanity matters more than our interesting differences and when together they create endless possibilities. That’s an America worth fighting–even dying–for. And, more important, it’s an America worth living and working for.”

To which I say, Amen.

I hope that these two write another book or two together. Clinton brings out the best in Patterson’s writing, and Patterson creates a venue where Clinton’s intelligence can still be heard.

I gave it four stars instead of five because of uneven editing. The two voices could blend together better.

Who ever said life would be easy?

Agathla Rock

I’d looked forward to seeing the immense rock on the Navajo Reservation near Kayenta, Arizona. I wasn’t disappointed. This volcanic monolith rises over 1500 feet, straight up.

Agaathla Peak, meaning “much wool” in the Navajo language, is so named because of the tufts of deer and sheep wool caught in its sharp rock edges and deep crevices. In the summer with the thunderheads building, there is nothing more beautiful. The eagle was lagniappe.

Then I got to wondering. Had ever anyone climbed to the very top? If I asked a Navajo wise man, he would probably look at me as though I’d lost what few brains I had left and shake his head. “Bilagaana,” he’d mutter.

You’re probably on the right track if it’s uphill.
~ Anonymous ~