Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Different Kind of Trail Ride

Mid February, sunny, and 68 degrees. If I still had a horse, I'd have been out on the trails for sure. So when Hubby suggested we go for a ride on his new/used ATV (I'd not been on it before), I jumped at the offer. 

We headed out into what used to be MY territory. My old route. My old trails. Yes, it would have been more fun on four legs than four wheels,'s mid February, sunny, and 68 degrees. Beggars can't be choosers, as they say.

This is a shot looking at the rear of my house (the little log one) from the rear of what used to be our pasture.

Heading through the gate toward the old road I used to ride.

This really is an old road from colonial days. Rumor has it General George Washington once traveled it. I have no evidence, only the stories I grew up on. I remember it as the tractor road to our upper hay field. My grandfather was born in a log cabin off to the side of the road. I remember finding the stone foundation when I was a kid. Lots of memories.

All the wind we had the other night brought down a bunch of trees. The winch and Hubby's ax helped clear the path.

The view of the same trail, looking back down the hill.

The upper hay field. When I was a kid (and even as a young adult) I dreamed of someday building a house and a barn up here. That old road would have been our driveway. Not at all practical, which is why our log cabin now sits where it does. I remember racing our horses across this field. It was like flying. We cranked up the quad across it. Not the same.

At the far end, another trail leads to the next farm. We started down it, but came to this. Hubby's little ax and the winch weren't going to put a dent in this downfall.

So we turned and headed back. Hubby let me drive the ATV around the upper hay field. It was fun.

But I'd have rather been riding a horse.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

New Mexico, June 2013

I know I promised to start this series of posts last week, but I was so sick I couldn't get my brain to work well enough to put words on the page. At least not coherent ones. But I'm much better now and looking forward to the release of No Way Home in ONE MONTH.

As I've said, No Way Home is partly set in New Mexico because of my love for the area. My first trip out there took place in June 2013,

This is a picture of Hogback Mountain. Not mentioned in the book, but Zoe passes it during her travels.

Below is a shot from the Aztec Ruins which is mentioned in the book.

Shiprock is also mentioned in the book:

These photos should give you an idea of the landscape Zoe encounters in her attempt to solve the case this time. Not at all what she's used to.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

The Countdown to Launch Day Begins

Next Tuesday will be FOUR weeks until the release of No Way Home. I'm really excited about this one and hope everyone enjoys it. The genesis of the story began four years ago (notice the theme of FOUR there?) when I took my dream trip out west. It was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I had no idea I'd go back again. And again.

I didn't realize then that my fifth Zoe Chambers mystery would be partly set there. Heck, I didn't even have a contract for the FIRST Zoe Chambers mystery at the time.

However when I went back for my second trip to New Mexico, I did have a contract. And an inkling of a story idea. By my third trip, I was in solid Research Mode. Trip #4 was all about verifying my facts for an already written manuscript, and grabbing some photos of the locations.

Beginning next week, I'm going to share some of those memories and photos. New Mexico is now my second home. I'm looking forward to returning for a fifth time this summer to promote No Way Home.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


I have the winter blahs.

This is nothing new. I could be the poster child for SAD (Seasonal Affected Disorder). But to complain about our current Pennsylvania winter seems petty. We've had 60+ degree days as recently as this past weekend.

Honestly? I think I'd rather have snow. It's January after all. And while we've had an extremely warm winter, the one typical part of the season that creates the whole SAD thing...the gray, dreary definitely in play here.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Where Have You Been?

It’s been a week since my mom passed quietly from this earth. The last few months have been awful. Those last few weeks had been agonizing. Those last three days, nothing short of torture. For me, at least. Mom was surrounded by some of the most compassionate caregivers I could have wished for. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the staff of Evergreen Personal Care Home and Bethany Hospice. I watched you treat my mom with dignity and respect, love and honor in her final days.

And you held me together too.

My mom was tough.

She was also chronically late.

In the last few weeks and days, we wondered how she managed to hang on. There couldn’t be much keeping her alive. A couple of times, she seemed to be looking at something/someone over in the corner of the room. My dad, I’m sure. Once while I was sitting alone with her, I had a little talk with Dad, pleading with him to take her and end her suffering here.

Then I remembered something. I flashed back to the many times Dad would be ready to go somewhere, shoes and coat on, tapping an impatient foot and looking at his watch. Mom would be taking her own sweet time getting ready. Mom was never one to be rushed. Dad was convinced—even then—that Helen Riggle would be late to her own funeral.

The memory made me laugh. And cry.

Dad also used to be impatient when Mom and I went somewhere without him and didn’t get home when he expected us. “Where have you been?” he would demand when we walked through the door.

Last Wednesday morning, I sat at Mom’s side and watched her take her last breath. I watched the flicker of her carotid pulse slow and fade. And I sobbed.

But I’m convinced, somewhere, Dad was watching Mom come through the door and demanding to know, “Where have you been?” 

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Together Again

Love you forever, Mom.

Helen Riggle April 10, 1920 - January 4, 2017

Sunday, January 01, 2017

2017: Looking Ahead

One thing I didn't mention in my post about 2016 is the weight I've gained. I confess, I've been using food (especially chocolate) to medicate myself. One of the first items on my goal list is to get back to the treadmill, the workouts, and the yoga practice. And back to healthy eating. Hopefully, I'll be closer to my fighting weight by the time my new book hits the shelves and I hit the road in mid March.

I had a blast writing and researching the new book, No Way Home, which takes Zoe and friends to the badlands of New Mexico.

Don't worry. Zoe comes back to Pennsylvania by the end of the story. But creating this one took me AND Zoe out of our comfort zones. I hope my readers enjoy the adventure as much as I did.

I'm still working on travel plans and public appearances to promote the book. The ones I've already confirmed are listed on my website.

As for travel, I intend to take a road trip to Williamsburg, Virginia to attend the Williamsburg Film Festival (as a fan, not as a participant, although I do hope to set up a book event nearby while I'm there). I also MUST take a trip to Colorado and New Mexico to promote the book, of course. I'll make my annual pilgrimage to Bethesda, Maryland for Malice Domestic in April.

On the writing front, I'm making good progress on the sixth Zoe Chambers mystery and hope to have some other Zoe news for you in the very near future.

I'm hoping for a productive and healthy 2017, not just for me, but for all of you--my friends, family, and readers--too. And I hope to see you all in person somewhere in my travels.

Happy New Year!