Island Inspiration

goose-islandAs we travel, we are exploring many new places and learning much about the history of the U.S. But on occasions, we revisit places. This week we have revisited Goose Island State Park. This state park is outside of Rockport, Texas. We have camped here many times; it’s a favorite place. The park has two camping areas – the wooded and very shady mainland and the island. We prefer to camp on the island because of the openness and the smell of the water is what I enjoy so much. Also, on the island the wind blows a lot and keeps the mosquitoes away.

The island is surrounded by oyster beds, which draws birds to the area. Great place to start your birdwatching skills. While the oyster beds make for good fishing, it is not a place for swimming or walking in the surf. The oyster shells will cut your skin without any mercy.

In my first book, Canyon Riddle, I write a little bit about this place of wonder. While the story is fiction, what I write about Goose Island State Park is true. It is a great place to spend some time. Watching the ships pass by, or holding a fishing pole waiting for the next strike, it is a place to relax, soak up some sun, and get in touch with yourself. Or in my case, provide inspiration for story.

 

Coyote Vengeance

coyote-vengeance-coverIt has been a long time coming but my latest book, Coyote Vengeance, is now available at Amazon. Very excited to have it completed.

This is the second story featuring Texas Ranger Scott Durham. He has recently helped to bring down a gunrunner named Frederick Schmidt. While being transported to federal prison, Schmidt escapes from the U.S. Marshals. The Marshals aren’t sure where he is heading, but are concerned that he will make good on his promise to kill Scott.

In this story we also have the return of park ranger Amanda Chisholm, who was introduced in the first book, Canyon Riddle. Amanda and Scott’s relationship has grown and they are planning a vacation together. But before they can get out of town two things happen to change their plans: First, the U.S. Marshals call on Scott to help recapture Schmidt. Second, Scott’s grandmother shows up at his house.

This is a fun story but with the twists and turns you would expect in a mystery. I enjoyed writing it and hope readers enjoy it also.

 

No Place Quite Like Palo Duro

centipedeOne of my favorite places to camp is Palo Duro Canyon. I have some fun memories of the park from the times my family would tent camp in the canyon. Once we were sitting at the campsite table talking and laughing when my husband hushed everyone. We sat listening and heard the rustling of leaves. We looked under the table and saw what was making the noise. It was a centipede taking a morning walk. It was longer than a clothespin and about the size of nickel around. It was the first time I ever heard an insect walking.

10 Things about Palo Duro Canyon:

  1. Second largest canyon in the US at over 120 miles long, the park is 70 miles long, average width 6 miles – up to 20 miles wide in places – depth is 800’.
  2. Palo Duro is Spanish for “hard stick.”
  3. Nickname Grand Canyon of Texas
  4. Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River is the river that carves the canyon.
  5. Some the geological formations in the canyon include mesas, caves, and hoodoos (rock balanced atop a smaller base).
  6. First human habitation 10,000-15,000 years ago with the Clovis and Folsom peoples and has been continuously inhabited since then. First Europeans to discover the canyon were part of the Coronado Expedition in 1541.
  7. The park was built utilizing the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) – took five years.
  8. Park covers 28,000 acres, second largest park in Texas.
  9. Using the canyon as a backdrop, the Texas Outdoor Musical has been running for 50 years.
  10. Painter Georgia O’Keeffe described the canyon as, “It is a burning, seething cauldron, filled with dramatic light and color.”

The inspiration for my story Canyon Riddle came from this place. If you get the opportunity to visit this amazing place, take it!

Growth is Not Comfortable

Schemeekly Path“A comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing ever grows there.” Unknown.

Be honest for a moment, you prefer to be in your comfort zone. We all do. Where is your comfort zone? It is the place, the activity, the time when you feel you can relax and handle whatever comes your way.

This zone is many things – security, reaffirming, peaceful, etc. – but what it isn’t is growth. When we accept (or are pushed) a new challenge, we grow. This growth is uncomfortable, it can challenge your perceptions and causes you to wonder if you are up to handling the task or wonder why you accepted it.

The growth process is scary; it is much easier to stay in the comfort zone where you know what is going to happen. But once you start the process it can be exhilarating. The thought you don’t know what is going to happen, that you are changing the way you think and act, trying new things, and the admiration others share with you for being so brave. Wow! It’s like a “Superman” high.

When you finally complete the task, you find several things. First, you aren’t the same.  Whether it was a good or bad experience, you are changed by it. Second, you have confidence that you can handle the task, and it can become part of your comfort zone.

A couple of times when I got out of my zone were entering the NaNoWriMo and publishing my book Canyon Riddle. The scary part of the NaNoWriMo was the question of whether or not I could write 50,000 words in 30 days. I found I can. Canyon Riddle is a novel for adults (or at least not a young child). I am comfortable writing children stories, Bible studies, and such but a novel for adults? That was scary. But since then I have written three more adult stories, and I know that I can do it again.

One of my latest growth opportunities is I am learning to knit. That may not sound scary to anyone but at my age (I remember when the Beach Boys were young) learning a new skill that you have spent most of your life avoiding, is not easy and certainly is not in my wheelhouse. But as I knit, purl, and unravel over and over, I see small glimpses that I can do this, and my comfort zone is expanding.

Every time I step into an unknown situation, I grow. Not all the experiences are pleasant, but I do learn from them. Where there is an unpleasant outcome, I try not to repeat it. That is also growth.

So the next time opportunity presents itself to take on something new, give it a whirl. Keep those brain cells active and grow your comfort zone.

NaNoWriMo Preparations

For the past 3 years, I have participated in the NaNoWriMo. It has been great fun and way to get me focused on putting the story floating in my head on “paper.” Starting NaNoWriMo for the first time I had many questions including could I write that many words that fast? But my first year’s NaNoWriMo story, Canyon Riddle, has been published. Yeah, I’m a fan of NaNoWriMo.

I am beginning my preparations for my month long hiatus.  Preparations include:

  • Putting a few rough notes together from all the random thoughts that keep me awake at night.
  • Translating the random thoughts that were written in the middle of the night.
  • A trip to the story’s location to refresh my memory of the place and to give me a weekend away.
  • Prepare research notes on some key (or obscure) ideas that will be (or not) incorporated into the story.
  • Make sure I have a good supply of tea, caffeinated soft drinks, and lots of water.
  • Computer area cleaned and reference materials organized.
  • Tissues for those emotional moments in the story or a runny nose from a cold.
  • Extra vitamins to keep me a little healthier since I won’t be sleeping much.
  • NaNoWriMo account activated and resetting of my password, which I have forgotten.
  • Write notes and place in strategic locations to remind me to be very nice to my best supporter, my husband, who has to put up with being abandoned for the month.

But the most important thing is the Halloween candy selection. The month of November is for NaNoWriMo. So it follows that all the leftover Halloween candy will be part of my sustenance, inspiration, and morale booster for the month. I am not very picky about candy, but there are some that I prefer and I need to make sure there is plenty leftover.  Of course, I will hand out candy to all the trick-or-treaters that come to my door and I will be generous (after all I have a reputation to uphold). Having an abundant supply of my preferred candies will help ensure there are leftovers for a month of creative thoughts.

If you haven’t participated in the NaNoWriMo, I encourage you to try it. Consider my preparation list as a starting point for your writing adventure.

3-Hour Cruise

It is difficult to believe it has been 50 years since Gilligan’s Island first appeared on TV, or that I am old enough to have seen it when it first started. Back then it was in black and white, with a peppy theme song that gets stuck in your head. As a kid, it was a show that I could hardly wait for it to come on in the afternoons. Summer boredom was made easier thanks to the show’s reruns.  Island Palm

Imagination ran amuck thinking about what it would be like to be stranded on an island. Of course, on Gilligan’s Island there were a lot of things going on that did not happen on the island of Tom Hanks’ Cast Away. There were many visitors to Gilligan’s Island even a return visitor in Wrongway Feldman.

The fun things from that show always gave me good memories. I took advantage of one of my characters in my book Canyon Riddle to relive a favorite childhood memory and a real life opportunity to “touch” a part of Gilligan’s Island.

Over the past 50 years my taste in television programs has changed, but given an opportunity to watch a Gilligan’s Island episode (didn’t care for the movies) and I will sit back and watch the adventures of a 3-hour cruise mishap.

So what happens next?

As a child I was taught about sequencing – what happens next; if this then that; etc. I never gave it much thought but over the years, I have come to appreciate being able to answer these types of questions to help resolve problems and situations that are encountered every day.

When writing, the answers to these questions helps to move a story along. These answers will provide conversation between characters and results to actions (or inaction).Texas Tarantula

When trying to figure out where to start a story ask “What happens if ____”. Then by using the sequencing questions your story will move right along.

For my story, Canyon Riddle, I thought about a time my family was camping and my young sons had a scary adventure that involved learning that tarantulas can jump straight up in the air. I asked, “What if they had found a skeleton rather than a tarantula?”  The story grew from there. Always keeping in the forefront the sequencing questions helps to keep me on track.

When you are writing what do you use to get you started?

Why a blog?

I have published my first Kindle book and was advised to create a blog where readers can learn more about me and what I’m doing. So this first blog is about why I published this book.

I come from a family of storytellers and publishing one of my stories is very scary to me. When I tell a story, there are plenty of opportunities to read my listening audience. I can determine if I need to elaborate on a point, create some more depth to a character, or the story is a bust and I need to cut it short. A published story just sits there. My hope is that the reader will find the story entertaining.  Palo Duro Canyon

The name of the book is Canyon Riddle. It is a mystery that is set in the Panhandle of Texas and the leading character is a Texas Ranger named Scott Durham. The book is a quick read.

I wrote it in response to a challenge one of my sons issued to me. He challenged me to enter the NaNoWriMo. For those that don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it is an organization that believes there is a story in everyone. They set up a challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days (the month of November). I had never written a story that long but I did it. And now it is available for people to read.

Since that first challenge, I have written 2 more NaNoWriMo books. Will have to see about publishing them. But at the very least, the challenge has stretched my storytelling skills.

Hope you will check back as I share more of my thoughts and stories. Be sure to check out my book.