Archive for the ‘desert’ Category

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything about my books or writing in general. Since I am a published author, I guess I should probably talk about my books on occasion, right? Today is that day. I thought I’d share with you some of my ideas and how my creative process works when I’m writing.


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The last of the contiguous states to be admitted to the Union, achieved statehood on St. Valentine’s Day, 1912. It is part of both the western and the mountain states. It is the 6th largest and 14th most populous of the 50 states in the United States of America. The southern most part of the state is desert, with extreme high temperatures in the summer. The northern part of the state is mountainous and often sees significant snowfall in winter. (more…)

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I’ve been teasing you all with promises about the publication date for my next book and I promise, I really do, that it is in the works. There have been many roadblocks in this project for some reason, but I believe we’re finally over the last hurdle and just waiting for the book to go live. Hallelujah!! (more…)

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spring in VicksburgSpring is finally here with warm gentle breezes and blooming flowers everywhere. While the Mighty Mississippi River is still REALLY high here in Vicksburg, things are starting to feel cheery and optimistic. The winter doldrums are waning. Birds are building nests, bees are pollinating and life in general looks bright. (more…)

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Over the past few weeks I’ve been introducing you to the main players in my upcoming release On Common Ground. In case you haven’t seen it yet, here is the cover.

On Common Ground cover

I don’t know about you, but I love it!


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That’s what I need help with this week fellow bloggers, faithful followers and curious guests.

You see, I’m stuck. I’m roughing out the outline for my next manuscript and I have most of the requisite parts. What I can’t figure out is: how to kill someone who’s already dead. Um, sort of. Someone thinks she killed him but then the body disappeared, but then reappeared. It’s confusing. Keep reading.

My protagonist (Q) gets into a physical altercation with a man (X) who she believes had something to do with her sister’s (T) disappearance. Q thinks this because X is seen wearing T’s very unique (one-of-a-kind) amulet around his neck. During the altercation, Q hits X in the head with a rock then crawls back to her car (she’s hurt too) and calls her then boyfriend (G) for help disposing the body.

tourmaline amuletWhen G gets to the scene of the altercation, there is no body. He follows a pair of footprints (presumably X’s) into the desert but the gusting wind eventually erases all tracks. G assures his lady love (Q) that she did not kill X because he walked away. Presumably.

Fast forward several years; the very dead body of X is discovered in a shallow grave in the middle of the desert in almost exactly the same place Q had the altercation with him. No amulet is found on the body. Q calls G to help investigate what might have happened (no, it’s not alien abductions and no they are not still a couple. That’s right a necessary reunion after a very bad break-up).

G’s investigation leads to the discovery of a human trafficking ring (the most likely explanation for T’s disappearance).

Super short synopsis of what is learned during G’s investigation:

desertX was found wandering on the side of the road by an unsuspecting teen-aged boy (Z) (coincidentally T’s boyfriend at the time she disappeared). Z also noticed the amulet. When Z realized that X was bleeding all over his car and most likely going to die (from a head injury), he drove X out into the desert and dumped him out of his car. (He didn’t want to get stuck with a dead body even if he didn’t kill him.) Coincidentally, where Z dumped X is almost exactly the same place Q thought she killed him. Z kept the amulet that’s why it was not on the body and that’s how G eventually comes to suspect him; G sees Z wearing the amulet.

Here’s the problem: What is the cause of death?

Q hit him on the head with a rock. Z pushed him out of a moving car. Scavengers, weather and time destroyed most of the remaining human evidence.

X can’t have died from the head injury, because Q is the protagonist of the story and cannot go to jail for murder. She has to think she is going to jail for the duration of the story.

Z is a very minor character and really only here as a red herring. The shove out of the moving car did not kill him. He is the number 2 suspect though, behind Q.

What else could have killed X? Coyotes? Vultures? It has to be definitive and eventually ruled as the cause of death over the head injury. The head injury turns out, was not a lethal blow. But something was definitive – what?

So there you go. That’s what I need help with. Put on your thinking caps and give me your thoughts. What ultimately killed X?

What do you do fellow writers when you get stuck? Have you ever killed off a character? It’s hard to get inside the mind of a murderer and virtually impossible to do any research.

Word of the Day: Yegg

Fun fact about me: I’ve never killed anyone. Well, real anyone anyway.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, February 2016. Photos courtesy Google Images.



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We all have at least one quirky relative. Some of us have more than one.  In my case, it’s my dad.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

Let me begin by saying that I love my dad very much, warts and all. He’s far from perfect, but he’s the person God entrusted my care with so I owe him my deepest gratitude for not killing me as a child. And everyone knows that it’s okay for us to poke fun or our own family, but no one else is allowed to – right? That’s just an unspoken rule.

So now that that’s all established, I want to share with you my Dad’s four favorite words: “I’m throwing that away.”

I know – weird. But my dad has a fascination with junk. He’s a crap hoarder. His house is not cluttered to the rafters, but his sheds, or as he calls them collectively, his “shop,” is a different story. There is not one square inch of uncluttered space in his “shop.”

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

If anyone knows my dad, you can get an immediate visual of this “shop,” but for those of you who haven’t had that . . . ah . . . privilege, let me just say that the “shop” is a series of crudely-constructed sheds, attached together by staples, bailing wire and duct tape, in a row, much like box cars on a train track. When one fills up, he constructs and attaches another, sometimes cutting a hole in the adjoining walls – for walk-through purposes – sometimes not. Collectively this row of mind-blowing dilapidation is known as “the shop.”

My dad will drag home anything. He often does yard work or minor brush clearing for older folks or single ladies and he brings home whatever he uncovers. If someone is moving and cleaning out a garage, my dad is the first one to volunteer to help. He’ll haul home anything left behind, including stuff intended for the dump. Recently my husband and I started cleaning out the ravine below our house. We unearthed a dented hula hoop, a deflated basketball, a plastic oar with a broken handle, and a three-wheeled wagon with a broken axle. My dad’s eyes lit up with pure joy when he saw these treasures in the refuse pile.

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

“What’re you doing with that stuff?” inquires my dad.

“We’re throwing it away,” I reply.

“Oh, don’t do that,” says my dad with barely contained excitement. “I’ll take it home.”

What in God’s name my father is going to do with a dented hula hoop and a deflated basketball is anyone’s guess, but I let him load that crap up and cart it home. I didn’t even want to ask his intentions.  I’ve just learned that shit like that is to my dad like manna was to the Israelites in the Desert of Sin. It delights and nourishes him in indescribable ways. (Is it sacrilege to use a swear word in a biblical metaphor?)

That’s my dad – gotta love him. Or as they say in the south, “Bless his heart.”

Photo courtesy Google Images

Photo courtesy Google Images

What weird-o family traits are kept in your closet? Come on, spill it. I’d love to hear about your quirky relatives.

Word of the Day: Quandong (it sounds dirty, but it’s not)

Fun fact about me: I like to scrapbook.

Original post by Jansen Schmidt, June 2014. Photos courtesy Google Images.

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It may be just plain lazy, but I’m calling it multi-tasking. This month, I’m playing along with three different people and their chain blogs.

On August 14th Myndi Shafer posted “The Letter B to the Tenth Degree” http://myndishafer.wordpress.com/2012/08/14/the-letter-b-to-the-tenth-degree/ and on August 21st, KB Owen posted “Grateful for the Letter R and Myndi Shafer” http://kbowenmysteries.com/posts/grateful-for-the-letter-r-and-myndi-shafer/.  I’m  playing the letter game with “Why I Love the Letter D.” See below for my reasons.

But I am also playing the Booker Award game with my friend and SVR chaptermate, Cyndi Faria. http://www.cyndifaria.wordpress.com The rules are simple.  Someone nominates me (see Cyndi’s blog for my nomination) and links my post. I blog about my 5 favorite books and nominate 3 other people to play on their blog.  Upon nomination, should you choose to accept the award and play along, you put the Booker Award photo in your blog (cut and paste from the my blog), list your 5 favorite books, link back to me and nominate 3 others who in turn link back to you.

My list of books and nominees are listed below my favorite “D” things.

So, without further ado, let the games begin!

Why I love the letter “D”, or, what things that start with the letter “D” do I love, is probably more appropriate but awkward to say.

Dark chocolate. I like all forms of chocolate really, but dark chocolate is my favorite. I can’t rightly say why. I just prefer it. And I’m told it’s actually good for you so I try to slip in a little bit evey week or so, as a precautionary measure you understand. It’s purely medicinal. And can I help it if he happens to pair nicely with port wine?

Dogs. Take a look at that sweet face and tell me that I need to expound on the reasons why I love dogs. There’s just no getting around it – I’m a sucker for that face. Every dog has one. And again, I’ve read that owning a dog will actually improve your life-span. So again, in a conscientious effort to maintain good health, I’m a proud dog owner. (P.S. This is not MY dog. My dog won’t sit still long enough to be photographed. The paparazzi have tried.)

Distilled spirits. Need I say more? It’s all about good health this month. I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. A little liquor loosens the muscles and joints and helps me move better and relax. A nice cosmo or snifter of brandy helps me sleep. A glass of wine improves the quality of my cooking. I love cooking with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food. Of course too much of a good thing can have an adverse effect and I strongly recommend moderation. And never, and I do mean NEVER drink and drive! Natalie Hartford will tell you why in her blog. http://nataliehartford.com/2012/08/31/impaired-driver-kills-parents-of-5-and-serves-only-7-months-in-jail/

Diana, Princess of Wales. She is, in my book, hands down the most beautiful woman who ever walked the planet. If there was one person I could meet in the whole entire world, it would be Princess Diana. I love her spirit and determination. She bucked the rules at the palace when it came to raising her kids. I admire her stength to end a loveless marriage despite seemingly insurmountable obstacles and the whole world watching. I think her world views were ones to be emulated. She was caring and empathetic. I know if she were still with us, she’d be proud of the children she raised. (Except maybe that wild child, Harry, but you have to love him, too. Strip billards? He’s welcome at my party any time!) It was fifteen years ago that the world lost this beautiful soul. May she rest in peace.

Dancing. Any form, but in particular, Irish dancing. Who doesn’t love Riverdance? If you haven’t seen it, visit You Tube and watch. I could have posted a link, but I’m lazy so you’ll have to look it up yourself.

Disney. All things Disney!  This one is a no brainer. Unless you’re been trapped on a desserted island somewhere and have never visited my blog, FB page or know me personally, you’re probably wondering why this one wasn’t at the top of my list. Answer: It should have been and it would have been, but my efforts to cut and paste were fruitless and I ended up screwing all of the formatting up on the other stuff so I just left it here. (Damn WordPress!)

Diamonds, and not the baseball kind. This one should probably be a little higher on the list as well, but for the same reason stated above, it’s staying here.

Desserts. I’m not a huge of all desserts, but certain ones will tempt me every time. Like pie. Fruit pie. I love fruit pie. And birthday cake. I can never resist a piece of birthday cake. And I’d really love a piece of this yummy looking thing. Anyone know what it is and how to make it?

Deserts. Deserts have a mystical aura about them that I love. There is something hauntingly beautiful in every desert I’ve visited. The silence and the way the shadows slide across the distant mountains is awe-inspiring. When they bloom, deserts are some of the most beautiful places in the world. And most people avoid the desert so usually it’s a nice vacation spot if you’re seeking some solitude. Unless you’re visiting the Burning Man Festival, in which case you will most definitely NOT alone. If you’re not familiar with this, Google it. It’s crazy, weird and fascinating. But don’t get hurt if you go because you are days away from help. The festival truly takes place in the middle of nowhere. I know because I’ve been there. Not to the festival, but the location in Nevada. It is about as desolate as your can get.

And, my most favorite “D:”

“To have and to hold, from this day forward. In sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer . . . “

. . . my Darling. This wonderful man asked for my hand in marriage almost 12 years ago and he has stood faithfully by my side ever since. He’s my hero, my rock star, and my cowboy.

Now for the Booker Award portion of this month’s blog. Because I don’t have favorite books, so much, I’m going to list favorite authors, in no particular order:

1 – Phyllis Whitney. My mother used to read Phyllis Whitney’s books when I was a youngster and when she felt I was old enough to handle the adult content, she passed them along to me. Not that they are in any way erotic, because they are FAR from that, but a certain level of maturity is required to truly appreciate them.  After reading my very first novel, I was hooked. My keeper shelf has every book she ever wrote on it and I will not part with even one of them.

2 – Linda Chakin. She only wrote a few books, that I’m aware of, and then she disappeared. I never tried to find out why, but I miss her stories. She wrote mostly historical, faith-based books that came to life in my hands. Again, I believe I have every book she ever wrote on my keeper shelf.

3 – Linda Castillo. This is a new author to me and I can’t get enough of her books. I fell in love with her Kate Burkholder series set in Amish country and I always wait, impatiently, for the next book in the series to come out. The first book in the series is being made into a movie and I can’t wait to see it!

4 – Christine Feehan. In particular, her Drake Sisters series and her new Sea Haven series.

5 – Victoria Holt. Again, this is author from yesteryear, so to speak, but her romantic suspense novels are awesome and she was the second author I fell in love with as a young person with a passion for reading. While I don’t have every book she ever wrote on my keeper shelf, I probably have most of them.

Now for my nominees, may I have the envelope please (drum roll):  Jeannette Marie Powell, Pat O’Dea, and Louise Beheil, come on down. You are the next contentants on the Booker Award blog game.  Anyone else who wants to play along, please feel free to do so. Just let me know so I can pay you a visit and check out your books. And don’t forget to link back to this blog so others can see how to play.

So there you have it. Two games in one. I hope you’e enjoyed this month’s blog and that you’ll take a few minutes to visit the links above and check out the authors I’ve shared with you. I’d love to know some of your favorite “D” words, or favorite books and/or authors, so why not tell me about them in the comments section below.

Word of the day:  Juvenescent

Bonus fun fact about me (besides the ones listed above): When I was in high school, I could run a mile in less than six minutes. (Ginger Calem would be proud! http://www.gingercalem.wordpress.com)

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