This is Montezuma’s Castle, which is not technically a castle and most definitely was not owned by Montezuma, who never traveled this far north from Mexico.
It was, however, home to a resident Arizonan, one Blackjack the rattlesnake. He was a relatively docile black-tailed rattlesnake, and because Montezuma’s Castle is a National Monument, he was a member of the Protected Wildlife Clan.
The park crew painted his tail red so that they could track him, and at last count had moved him over 50 times from his favorite sunny snoozing point in the middle of the visitor’s trail.
This was too good a story not to pass on, so Blackjack shows up as a special critter that Peg Quincy has to relocate in PERIL OF SILVER NIGHTSHADE. I felt I had the right to “transport” Blackjack one last time, given that Montezuma never lived in this Castle, either!
When I was researching the setting for the latest Pegasus Quincy novel, I wanted to include a scene where Silver Delaney and Rory Stevens meet in a bar. But just not any bar.
This one had to be the local neighborhood hangout, where after work the lineup at the old wood bar is three deep. Where, when you arrive, the barkeep has your favorite drink mixed before you reach the end of the room.
The Village of Oak Creek has one, called PJ’s Bar & Grill. I happened to catch it for this photograph on a midday, mid-afternoon before all the regulars started to arrive.
You’ll find it in PERIL IN SILVER NIGHTSHADE. Watch for it!
I prefer the folly of enthusiasm
to the indifference of wisdom. ~Anatole France~
Most foster homes are places of love and compassion. Silver had the bad luck to be raised in the other kind. Rather than what COULD BE, she lives by the truth of WHAT IS.
She has three rules. #1–People don’t always do what they say they will do. #2–The world is full of danger. #3–Look out for Number One.
And that is exactly what Silver intends to do when she arrives in the Verde Valley. Her goals are simple: find her (rich, of course) birth parents, con them out of as much money as she can, and start over in a new life.
Her dream job will be a famous chef in Paris, or a doctor collecting grateful accolades and high salary, or even an award-winning actress. But then she gets accused of murder and scrambles to prove herself innocent.
Is she up to it? Find out how Silver’s brand of justice prevails in this fourth book of the Pegasus Quincy Mystery Series.
One 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?
I’m on the final edits of the fourth Pegasus Quincy novel. This one is called PERIL IN SILVER NIGHTSHADE and gets its title from a poisonous plant prevalent in Red Rock State Park near Sedona, Arizona.
Soon it will be LIVE in both Kindle and paperback versions.
My sister’s book club is reading one of Julia Cameron’s books, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond. I promised her I’d take a look at it. I did, and it is delightful. I recommend it highly!
In the process, though, I came across another book by Ms. Cameron, entitled Finding Water: The Art of Perseverance. I was delighted, because I’d read the first two of this trilogy when I was in art school: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain and the Artist’s Way. Also highly recommended, by the way.
Julia is no novice to the challenging world of being creative. She’s been at it for 30 years and during that time has written–and had published–over 30 books! Would that I were that successful.
In many of this author’s books, she recommends a practice of three simple acts: 1) morning pages, a type of handwritten journaling, undertaken first thing in the morning; 2) making an “artist’s date” with yourself to explore some new facet of your environment; and 3) a long walk, at least once a week, to connect with nature. I’ve found all three to be richly rewarding.
In Finding Water, Julia encounters writer’s block, rejection, and discouragement as she readies a play for the New York stage. She speaks of the paralyzing effects of perfection. I can relate.
Julia’s inner critic is named Nigel, and Nigel has rules. “A critic such as Nigel has doubts, second thoughts, third thoughts. The critic analyzes everything to the point of extinction. Everything must always be groomed and manicured. Everything must measure up.”
“…an original thought may be disturbing, even dangerous. It wants to see what it has seen before. It has seen a cow, but it has never seen a zebra. Don’t try to tell it that a zebra might be interesting. Those stripes don’t look like such a good idea. Get those zebras out of here!”
I gave Julia a high five for that one. My critic and Nigel are old war buddies. Brothers-in-arms, soldiering on, unappreciated, firmly declaring that black is black, white is white, and forget about all those colors in between.
Right now I am struggling through the simultaneous editing of two works. In my writing critique group we are examining, for the umpteenth time, the first chapter of my next book in the Pegasus Quincy Mystery Series, Fire in Broken Water.
I’ve read the last chapter of this same book so many times it is almost memorized, and yet my critic–let’s call him Clarkson–is still finding egregious errors any sixth-grader could correct in their sleep.
And when we take a break from that one, the two of us, Clarkson and I, are weaving together a new, very rough draft of the fourth novel in the series called Peril in Silver Nightshade.
Clarkson is having a field day. “You wrote what?” “Don’t you know you can never mix first and third person narratives?” “Info dump. Info dump. Info dump,” he chants.
I want to shout Shut up! in his overly large, cauliflower-shaped ears (the better to hear you with, my dear) and consign him to the upstairs, unheated garret. It is near winter here in Michigan, and that would be a fitting place for him. Although he has this loud screeching voice that would undoubtedly echo through the register.
But to be honest, I need his help. The fairy child has created these lovely works of art, and now it is time for her evil cousin to have his way. And perhaps he isn’t so evil, after all. He is persistent and perfectionistic. I must learn to accept that he is also a part of me, and appreciate what he brings to the table.
I am not sure if I believe in the left brain/right brain dichotomy. It seems much too simple an explanation of the complex workings of our mind. Yet there is a push/pull, an internal dialogue always at work. And that, too, is part of the creative process. I need both the fairy child and Clarkson, just not at the same time, in the same room, talking over each other.
What about you? What do you call your inner critic?
How does it muck about in your creative life?