Tag Archive for: #mysteries

NEVER GET DISCOURAGED

Great to be a new member of the Stiletto Gang, the most talented writers I’ve come across in a group, probably ever. As an introduction, I’ll lay out the highlights of my literary journey below.

 

In 1962, my mother registered me for a writing class that was offered in summer school after the eighth grade. Only one other girl signed up, so the class was cancelled.

 

Once in high school, we were assigned a short story. I wasn’t present the day the teacher handed them back—I’d gone to the orthodontist—but when I returned to school, kids congratulated me on my story, saying the teacher read it to the class. The next day when she returned my story, I found she’d give it a B-.

 

My parents told me I couldn’t be a writer because I wouldn’t be able to make a living. I don’t know whether that is what would have happened. You never know what the future holds. But, I was an obedient child, at least for a while, so I said ok.

 

I didn’t know what else I might want to do. Dad wanted my sister and me to be teachers, so if our husbands died or abandoned us, we’d be able to support ourselves. My sister did and ended up as an administrator in a small public school district. Me? I dropped in and out of five colleges/universities until I was finally awarded a B.S. degree in Criminal Justice.

 

I once signed up, as an adult, for a writing class at the community college in our town, excited to finally get something going. When I received my first story back, the instructor had written that I had no talent—give it up.

 

After I began practicing law, I was lying around my living room once night and told my husband that if a writer could make $5,000 a pop for genre romance novels as it stated in the TV Guide article I read, I should try that. I read everything, including romances. I didn’t think it looked that hard. So, I bought some books on writing romances and sent for tip sheets and finally wrote one. I sent it off and waited for a response. The editor said no, she wouldn’t publish my novel, her rejection including some choice insults, and never to send her anything again.

 

I began writing suspense/mysteries in the 80s. My father was a criminal defense lawyer, (and later a judge), so I’d been around the law since I was little. I had been a probation officer and was at that time a criminal and family lawyer. Crime, I knew about. By the way, I heard that not long after the aforementioned editor rejected my novel, she died. Just so you know, I didn’t kill her.

 

When my editor at St. Martin’s Press, Inc. called me about MY FIRST MURDER, (my first published novel) he excitedly asked where I learned to write like that. He loved the book and said my manuscript was one of the best submissions he’d ever seen in terms of preparation, punctuation, etc. He loved it so much, a year later he rejected the sequel.

 

Enough of that. My point is, never give up. I had that first novel sale in 1988. I used the book as a political tool when I was running for office, donating copies across the county. What a great gimmick! I received free publicity and extra attention at every event, in addition to speaking engagements.

 

I was elected to the bench and took office on 1/1/91. My focus turned to being a sitting judge, modernizing practices and procedures in that court, including starting programs to help families and children. I continued to write whenever I could, though I didn’t have any other books published until after I left the bench at the end of 2002. In 2004, Eakin Press (a Texas publisher) released my nonfiction books: Heart of Divorce (which I wrote to help pro se litigants who couldn’t afford lawyers to prosecute their own divorces) and Murdered Judges of the 20th Century, which I researched and wrote over the previous six years, (and which began as evidence for the county commissioners that we needed courthouse security).

 

After that, I started submitting works I’d written while on the bench. I wanted to change my focus from the law to liberal arts. In 2015, I made the decision to self-publish. Though by then I had several mystery/suspense novels under my belt, I had grown tired of the traditional publishing process. I was aging out. The last straw was when an agent told me to cut my manuscript 20,000 words and submit it to her. I did, and never heard from her. That was it.

 

At sixty-five years of age, I was sick of the abuse most authors suffer at the hands of agents and editors. I was writing because I have to, not because I needed to. Or, as I often phrase it, I can’t not write. There was no joy, no pleasure in experiencing what they were dishing out. Where I had hoped for years to have the guidance and support of an agent and/or editor, I realized that would never happen. I have stories to tell. I’m constantly learning craft. I don’t care if I ever have huge sales. I’m having fun doing what I’ve wanted to do since I was a little girl with no pressure, no insults, no rejection. I love it.

 

Now, at 74, I spend a lot of my days writing or reading. I’m having fun living life my way. I never gave up. I suggest if you love to write, don’t let anyone discourage you either.

Susan has published 14 books in the last 30 or so years. Not all of them are mystery/suspense, but all of them have something to do with the law.

photo holiday gathering

Characters, Holidays, and Changes

by Sparkle Abbey

Do you love all the holiday books that are coming out? We certainly do!

photo holiday gatheringHalloween, All Saints Day, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and more. From now until the end of the year there are celebrations galore. Families and friends getting together for various festivities. Or not.

We’re working on our new series, the Shady Palms Mysteries, which is set in a 55+ retirement community. And we’re realizing that holiday celebrations change as our characters go through new phases in their lives.

Much like what happens in real life, our characters have experienced various events and turning points: a big move, the loss of a family member, meeting new family or friends, and shifting roles.  Some people feel pressure to maintain tradition and others are better at embracing change. And relationships are complicated. Right? And it doesn’t help that there’s just more stress in general around the holidays. So much stress! Some may love the chaos around a bit group gathering and others may just wish for a quiet celebration at home.

Bread and ornaments

Our characters, MJ and Cass, are working through a lot of life events… as well as solving a murder. (We do write mysteries after all.)  Though these life changes may find them changing up their holiday traditions, we know they’ll get through it. These are some smart and resilient ladies! They may have to let go of some long-established traditions, but they are making new ones. And they’re finding that the thing is – sometimes new traditions can actually honor the past.

So as we head into this busy holiday season, we’re thinking about traditions – old and new – and about how life changes can change our celebrations.

Do you have a favorite holiday tradition? Has it continued through the years or is it new one? Or is it one that has morphed over time? We’d love to hear your favorites and your advice for our characters who are going through changes in their holiday plans.

Ornament with bear holding pencil Sparkle Abbey is actually two people, Mary Lee Ashford and Anita Carter, who write the national best-selling Pampered Pets cozy mystery series. They are friends as well as neighbors so they often get together and plot ways to commit murder. (But don’t tell the other neighbors.)

 

They love to hear from readers and can be found on FacebookTwitter, and Pinterest, their favorite social media sites. Also, if you want to make sure you get updates, sign up for their newsletter via the SparkleAbbey.com website

 

A Hobbit House!

The mountainous terrain of northern New Mexico, where my husband and I spend our summers, makes me aware of J.R.R. Tolkien’s clever way of segmenting Middle Earth into various regions. I’ve let my imagination fly thinking that he set up different regions, and their diverse inhabitants, by using mountain ranges and valleys to map out Middle Earth. With New Mexico’s diverse cultural heritage, I can imagine that Tolkien’s elves, dwarves, men, hobbits, ents, orcs, and trolls might have been created, each group with their unique characteristics, by studying various cultures and then adding a good measure of fantasy.

Of course, Tolkien was British, not New Mexican, and he was probably inspired by the various European cultures and terrain. Middle Earth, the main continent in his fictional fantasy, was set in a period more than six thousand years ago – so adding fantasy to the saga was essential.

Fascinated by Tolkien’s imagination, I let my own inspiration wander through the mountains and the cultures of New Mexico and surmised that a creative mind can entangle extraordinary stories set in the Land of Enchantment. Especially if the stories are set in the ancient past or centuries in the future!

Back to the present: This summer, a good friend invited me to see a ‘unique’ house. I never envisioned I would be dropped into Middle Earth to experience a hobbit house. Little did my friend know that I love Tolkien’s The Hobbit, the prequel to Lord of the Rings, where the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, is hired by the wizard Gandolf to reclaim the treasure from the dragon Smaug.

The house we visited is known in its neighborhood as The Hobbit House. Even more fascinating is the fact that the owners built their Middle Earth abode using materials taken from the land where they were building.

Their daughter, an architect, prepared the blueprints. She assisted in tree cutting, testing the clay content in the soil, and manufacturing the adobe bricks and puddled adobe used in the construction. As you can see from the exterior and interior photos, they constructed a wonderful home. Imagine building your own and creating such a beauty!

***

Credits: All photos by Kathryn Lane

About Kathryn:

Kathryn Lane writes mystery and suspense novels usually set in foreign countries. In her award-winning Nikki Garcia Mystery Series, her protagonist is a private investigator based in Miami. Her latest publication is a coming-of-age novel, Stolen Diary, about a socially awkward math genius.

For her writing, Kathryn draws inspiration from her travels in over ninety countries as well as her life in Mexico, Australia, Argentina, and the United States.

She also dabbles in poetry, an activity she pursues during snippets of creative renewal. In the summer and fall, Kathryn and her husband, Bob Hurt, escape to the mountains of northern New Mexico where she finds inspiration for her writing.

Personal website kathryn-lane.com

Latest novel: Stolen Diary – a coming-of-age mystery.

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BSHFRD11

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Diary-Kathryn-Lane/dp/1735463833/

 

Guilty About Reading Genre?

Have you ever felt guilty for reading a cozy, a mystery, or a romantic novel instead of delving into one of the great books, like Homer’s Iliad or Proust’s Swan Way or a classic like Virginia Wolf’s A Room of One’s Own?

I grew up in northern Mexico and I attended a fantastic high school that was accredited in both Mexico and the US, giving students the opportunity to attend the university in either country.

The school offered a two-semester English literature class. The teacher was a dynamic, talented woman who instilled in her students the love for the classics and the great books. She also encouraged us to shun genre and to avoid soap operas, quite popular at the time.

I moved to the US in my mid-twenties and soon discovered romance novels. After devouring a romantic story with a happy ending, I’d run to the library to borrow books by Tolstoy or Dostoyevsky to balance my reading guilt. Compare the fun of reading genre to the lessons of the great books. It’s very different reading! The great books represent the foundations of Western Culture’s ethics, social norms, values, and ideas that stem from the Greco-Roman tradition. Genre, on the other hand, is pure entertainment.

Fast forward a few years when I was working in international finance and traveling the world for my corporate job.

On a flight between New York and Buenos Aires, Argentina, I missed my connection in Miami. I window-shopped airport stores in search of something to do until the next flight. A bookstore, displaying mountains of books set on tables that stretched down the hall, caught my eye.

The year was 2001 – the year I discovered the mystery novel. I purchased Tell No One by Harlan Coben and I was immediately hooked on mysteries. My new-found love in reading would disappoint my wonderful literature teacher back in Mexico, yet for the rest of my international finance career, I carried a mystery or two to read on long flights.

Mysteries became an important part of my life. So important, in fact, that I left the corporate world to write the Nikki Garcia mystery series, setting my stories in a few of those international locations where I traveled. Do I still feel guilty? Not at all!

At a book signing four years ago, I met Harlan Coben. I told him his novels influenced me to write mysteries.

And my former teacher says she loves my novels and she’s thrilled that one of her pupils became a writer. Instead of feeling like a wayward former student, I’ve converted her to reading genre.

***

About Kathryn

Kathryn Lane writes mystery and suspense novels usually set in foreign countries. In her award-winning Nikki Garcia Mystery Series, her protagonist is a private investigator based in Miami. Her latest publication is a coming-of-age novel, Stolen Diary, about a socially awkward math genius.

Kathryn’s early work life started out as a painter in oils. To earn a living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with Johnson & Johnson.

Two decades later, she left the corporate world to create mystery and suspense thrillers, drawing inspiration from her travels in over ninety countries as well as her life in Mexico, Australia, Argentina, and the United States.

She also dabbles in poetry, an activity she pursues during snippets of creative renewal. In the summer, Kathryn and her husband, Bob Hurt, escape the Texas heat for the mountains of northern New Mexico.

Stolen Diary

Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BSHFRD11

Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/Stolen-Diary-Kathryn-Lane/dp/1735463833/

Photo credits:

Girl Reading by Camille Corot, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Harlan Coben and Kathryn Lane by Bob Hurt

Work Life Balance

Work Life Balance

by Saralyn Richard

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

 

I was recently asked in a video interview what my work-life balance looked like. I had to laugh. I’m sorry to say I’ve never perfected work-life balance, and I’ve never really tried. While I’m a perfectionist in many things, anything that requires me to pay attention to time is a lost cause.

As a disclaimer, writing, for me, is not actually work. Being a writer is a long-deferred dream come true, so now that I have dedicated myself to telling stories, the work is joyous. When I’m working, I give my all to my work. If I’m writing a scene, I am lost in the zone of that scene so thoroughly that I don’t notice where I am or what time it is in the real world. This quirk has gotten me into many difficulties when I start writing close to times of appointments, meetings, or social engagements. I have to restrain myself from sitting down to work within an hour of any of the above.

The same is true when I’m spending time with friends or family. I give my full attention to them and strive to cherish every moment. Having been deprived of social interactions for so long, due to the pandemic, I appreciate in-person get-togethers more than ever. I don’t check my phone for messages or daydream about possible plot twists. I don’t lurk on the fringes; I jump into the middle with my whole heart.  I listen, I share, I laugh, I cry. I try to emulate my sheepdog Nana, who gives herself over to her people, completely.

If work and life end up being balanced, that’s a happy coincidence. So how about you? I’d love to hear how you address work-life balance.

Saralyn Richard is an educator and author of five award-winning mystery novels and a children’s book. Visit her at http://saralynrichard.com and sign up for her monthly newsletter.

An Interview with Carla Damron

by Paula Gail Benson

Drawing from her own life and work experience, Carla Damron has crafted intriguing mysteries, diverse characters, and suspenseful stories. Her latest, The Orchid Tattoo, explores the world of human trafficking. Today, she joins us to talk about her writing. Welcome, Carla!

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I wrote as a kid—bad poetry about animals mostly. Then I got sidetracked, focusing on psychology in college and then social work. But a part of me always, always loved the beauty of story. I decided to explore storytelling more seriously once my social work career was well underway.

You have brought many of your experiences as a social worker to your writing. How has your awareness of the human condition, learned as a social worker, helped to develop your writing skills and to select the themes you feel are so important to address in fiction?

I don’t select the themes—I think they select me. I find myself writing about issues that trouble or haunt me. Writing can be therapeutic that way. For example, when I worked with folks struggling with homelessness and mental illness, I felt compelled to write a story that examined what their lives are like. Even writing in the mystery genre, there’s room to shine a light on important issues. In The Orchid Tattoo, I focus on how human trafficking happens right here in our communities, because this is something that has haunted me for several years.

Caleb Knowles, your mystery series protagonist, is surrounded by very strong characters as well as by characters who are very much in need. How does he find balance in a world where so much is uncertain or confused? What is his concept of justice?

Caleb feels things strongly, and sometimes this affects his judgement. He makes mistakes and gets himself in trouble, but usually for a good reason. In terms of “balance”, I don’t think he’s found it yet—he tends to get overly involved with his clients, and when he feels things are unjust, it can make him rash. He wants a world where there is racial equity and justice. Where people who have mental illness aren’t defined by their disease. Where people who are unhoused have worth and are helped, not discriminated against. He’s very naïve this way. I guess I am, too.

You graduated from the MFA creative writing program at Queens College in Charlotte. Which writers do you think benefit most from getting a MFA?

The MFA can be expensive. I’d love to say all writers would benefit, but I think it’s a deeply personal decision. It was the right thing for me, because I was struggling with a writing project that was very complex and needed to expand my skill set. And honestly, I LOVED devoting that kind of time and energy to improving my craft. It felt like a gift. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone.

In The Stone Necklace, you use a style I’ve heard you call “braided” storytelling. How does it work and what do you find most challenging about it?

That’s the book that sent me to graduate school. I wanted each character to have their own arc. I wrote from five POVs—and had to keep each storyline balanced so that one didn’t overwhelm the others. The characters connect, separate, reconnect—like a braid does.

You use a similar “braided” storytelling style in The Orchid Tattoo, in that you tell the story from different viewpoints. Not only are you exploring the world of a human trafficking victim, but also you examine the life of a person co-opted to work for the traffickers. How difficult was it to write from these very different perspectives?

Once the characters crystallize in my imagination, I let them tell me their story. Honestly, that’s what it’s like. Sometimes I have to nudge them a little, but once the characters feel real to me, it becomes a pretty organic process.

Have you heard from trafficking victims about The Orchid Tattoo? What is their reaction?

I haven’t. I’ve had advocates and law enforcement people thank me for telling this story, and that means a lot to me.

Are you planning additional Caleb Knowles novels?

Caleb wasn’t done with me. The fourth in that series, Justice Be Done, is at the publisher right now. I’m hoping it will be out later this year.

In addition to your novels, you’ve also written short stories. Where have they appeared?

Melusine Magazine, Jasper Magazine, Fall Lines, Mystery on the Wind. My latest flash piece, Delilah, was short-listed for the Pulpfictional award (winner to be announced 3/31) and will appear in its anthology.

How important is it for writers to have groups and networks with which they connect?

For me it’s critical. Writing can be a lonely thing. Having a critique partner or a group for support, guidance, and feedback are invaluable. How do you know if your story will gel with readers if you don’t get their input?

*******

Brief Bio: Carla Damron is a social worker, advocate and author whose last novel, The Orchid Tattoo, won the 2023 winter Pencraft Award for Literary Excellence. Her work The Stone Necklace (about grief and addiction) won the 2017 Women’s Fiction Writers Association Star Award for Best Novel and was selected the One Community Read for Columbia SC.

Damron is also the author of the Caleb Knowles mystery novels, including Justice Be Done, the fourth in this series. She holds an MSW and an MFA. Her careers of social worker and writer are intricately intertwined; all of her novels explore social issues like addiction, homelessness, and mental illness.

Always the Season for Kindness

By Saralyn Richard

Photo courtesy of Jasper Garratt and Unsplash Free Photos

When I was an English I teacher, I assigned my students a “Day of Kindness” paper, based on the Shirley Jackson short story, “One Ordinary Day, With Peanuts.” The resulting papers and speeches led to a powerful discussion of good and evil, and how doing good deeds made the world a better place, even for the giving party.

That same concept of good vs. evil is basic to most mystery novels, including the Detective Parrott mysteries. Parrott, like most real-life law enforcement officers I know, chose the profession because he wanted to seek truths, right wrongs, administer justice, and bring a measure of peace and closure to victims and their families.

Sometimes his is a thankless job. The person most grateful for Parrott’s solving a crime might be the deceased victim. But Parrott finds satisfaction in his role, whether he is turning up evidence to prove someone’s guilt or someone’s innocence. In either case, he is protecting the community.

Parrott can be tough when he needs to, but underneath it all, he’s a kind and caring human being. Over and over again, readers see the kindness and compassion he shows to his wife, his mother, his boss, and even his suspects.

Fortunately, we don’t have to be detectives to follow Parrott’s example. We can show kindness at this season, and in every season. Anyone who’d like some fresh ideas for acts of kindness to perform might check out this list.

If you’re inspired to do a good deed by this blogpost, I’ll ask you, as I asked my students, what did you do, whom did you help, what reaction did you receive, and how did the experience make you feel? I hope you agree—it’s always the season for kindness.

Saralyn Richard writes the Detective Parrott Mystery Series, two standalone mysteries, and a children’s book narrated by her Old English sheepdog, Nana. To learn more about her, click here.

WHICH IS MY FAVORITE?

I’m often asked which of my books is my favorite, and I can never answer directly. It’s like picking one of your children over the others. I love every book for its unique qualities, its characters, its relationship to my own life. BAD BLOOD SISTERS is my first book set in my hometown, on an island on the Gulf Coast. The main character, Quinn McFarland, struggles with issues of identity, friendship, and betrayal. The whole story is told through Quinn’s point of view, so we get to know and care about her deeply. Also, I wrote the book during Covid lockdown. Quinn’s story occupied my whole life, day and night, for almost a year, and I still think of her often. Quinn might be my Scarlett O’Hara.

NAUGHTY NANA, a children’s picture book, is narrated by my real-live Old English sheepdog, Nana, whose puppyhood was fraught with mishaps in the extreme. My first foray into the world of writing, NAUGHTY NANA introduced me to an illustrator, an audience, public appearances, and all the joys of connecting with readers. Having Nana by my side throughout this adventure has been a spectacular privilege. Nana could be my Curious George—in the book and in real life.

 

A MURDER OF PRINCIPAL might be my most personal novel, since it is set in an urban high school in the Midwest. I served as an educator in several such schools—they were my homes away from home. I do a lot of research for all of my books, but I did the least amount of research for this one, because my own experience and expertise carried me through most of the story. Assistant Principal, Sally Pierce, who resembles me in a few ways (but is overall purely fictional), is a fascinating amateur sleuth, and R.J. Stoker, the renegade principal who brings unwanted changes to Lincoln High School, is one of my favorite all-time characters.

 

And then I must consider the three books in the Detective Parrott Mystery Series. MURDER IN THE ONE PERCENT, A PALETTE FOR LOVE AND MURDER, and CRYSTAL BLUE MURDER. Each of these is also my favorite. Set in the elite countryside of Brandywine Valley, where many of America’s wealthiest and most powerful live, each story is different (and can be read as a standalone), but each brings a new slant on human nature, particularly as it’s affected by money and material things. The main character, Detective Oliver Parrott, is an outsider in the community, which gives him the unique ability to see through the roadblocks thrown at him by the one percenters, who protect their secrets and their turf at all costs. Detective Parrott, despite being young and inexperienced, is a fully-realized agent for truth and justice, and his personal life, including relationship with fiancée (and later wife) Tonya, adds depth and humanity to the stories.  Parrott is a wonderful human being, someone who whispers in my ear, commenting on social issues, even at times when I’m not writing him. Parrott is my Hercule Poirot, Sherlock Holmes, or Harry Bosch.

Is there a book you’ve read (or written) where you felt galvanized by the main character?

 

Galveston Author Saralyn Richard

Visit my website here for more information, to order autographed books, and to subscribe to my monthly newsletter,

A Spark that Inspires a Novel

A miniscule thought that crosses my mind or an article I’ve read in a newspaper can light up like a distant sparkling star and inspire a story. If the spark grows and gains momentum, the concept might become a novel.

The spark in Revenge in Barcelona (my Nikki Garcia Mystery #3), was the city itself, its unique architecture, colorful history, rich culture, physical beauty, and its independent-minded people. The spark grew in my mind until I knew that Nikki should experience action, mystery, and danger in Barcelona.

The process of following a spark of inspiration is similar for many writers. Hemingway’s novel, The Sun Also Rises, was inspired by a trip to Pamplona, Spain, to witness the running of the bulls and bullfights at the week-long San Fermín festival. He’d intended to write a non-fiction book about bullfighting, which had become a passion for him. Instead, the book became fiction based on Hemingway and his friends. In it, he explored the themes of love and death, a total reversal of what he’d originally intended.

This reversal of original intention happens to many authors of fiction, me included. The spark starts out with one concept, and it morphs into a totally different one. Yet the original spark, such as Hemingway’s bullfights, are often woven into the novel either as a theme or subplot, while the full storyline becomes much broader, richer, more scintillating.

Last week, I started my 5th Nikki Garcia mystery. The spark that lit up my imagination was a belt buckle that a man was wearing. It featured a mule.

I knew at that moment that I had to weave a mule or two into Nikki’s next novel. And where can I put a few mules? In a wilderness adventure, of course!

***

What sparks your imagination?

 

All photos are used in an editorial or educational manner.

Photo credits:

Sagrada Familia Steeples – Kathryn Lane

The Belt Buckle with a Mule – Pinterest

Evacuating from a Wildfire

By Kathryn Lane

I love the mountains in northern New Mexico. Nature in this
area constantly surprises me with beautiful vistas, wildflowers, and above all,
the wild animals. We have elk, deer, coyotes, wild turkeys, several varieties
of birds, Cooper hawks, and bears. Occasional wild cats and mountain lions also
roam the area. I’m mesmerized by the herds of elk and their calves. 

For some writers, the beach inspires them. For me, the
mountains clear my brain and let my creativity flow. This year our normally
peaceful mountain hideaway proved that nature can also be terrifying. A
horrific wildfire started when controlled burns in the Gallinas Canyon in the
Santa Fe National Forest near Las Vegas, NM, got out of hand and turned into
the most destructive wildfire in the state’s recorded history.

In May, evacuations began very close to where we live. We
could see the flames beyond the mountains in front of our cabin and the smoke
was so thick, we decided to pack up and leave. What to take with us became an
issue. Essential articles that we need for any trip is a given. Emergency items
came next. After that, it’s a conflict between sentimental items, such as
paintings, and what we could fit into our vehicle.

Two years ago, I’d given my husband, Bob, a bathrobe for the
cabin. He lost it after forgetting it on a trip last year. He’d spent at least
two months searching online for a replacement. For two months he grumbled about
the bad selection, grim colors, wrong fabric, incorrect length, and lack of
styling.  He finally ordered one and it
arrived two days before we evacuated. A thick, heavy terrycloth robe, I put it
in the car.

He immediately asked why we needed to take it.

“We’ll survive the evacuation,” I said, “but I can’t get
through two more months of you hunting for another bathrobe.”

Thankfully, we are back in our beloved mountains and our
cabin survived just fine.

I’d decided, before the wildfire started, to place my next
Nikki Garcia mystery in New Mexico.

Now I’m wondering if I should include a wildfire in the mix to
complicate the plot. One thing is for sure, Bob’s bathrobe will not be a
part of the story! Or maybe a bear will eat the robe!

***

Postscript: The fire is no longer a threat, but for many
families who lost their homes, their struggle is far from over.

***

Kathryn’s Nikki Garcia Mystery
Series
– on Amazon

Amazon Paperback – https://www.amazon.com/dp/173328270X/

Amazon
eBook –
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B084GSGSRX/

ABOUT KATHRYN

Kathryn Lane started out as a painter in oils and quickly became a starving artist. To earn a living, she became a certified public accountant and embarked on a career in international finance with a major multinational corporation. After two decades, she left the corporate world to plunge into writing mystery and suspense thrillers. In her stories, Kathryn draws deeply from her Mexican background as well as her travels in over ninety countries.

Visit my website at https://www.Kathryn-Lane.com

Sign up for my monthly newsletter on my website

Photo credits:

All photographs are used in an editorial and/or
educational manner

Elk and their Calves by Kathryn Lane

Firefighter – Taos News

Brown Bear by Kathryn Lane

Covers for the Nikki Garcia Mystery Series –
Heidi Dorey designs for Tortuga Publishing, LLC

Photo of Kathryn Lane by Bob Hurt