Today I am sharing a photo of a location that inspired a scene in my first novel, and a snippet of the scene.
In book one of my Rock Shop Mystery series, Stone Cold Dead, Morgan Iverson is chasing escape-artist donkey Adelaide. You can tell the photo I snapped was in summer, while the scene takes place in January, but you get the idea.
Adelaide strolled past the meadow, following the trail as it plunged into a grove of cottonwood trees. Morgan hurried to catch up. Bare limbs arched over the trail. The dim January sun cast mottled shadows onto a carpet of decomposing leaves.
Morgan walked swiftly, anxious to escape the short section of tunnel-like trail. A shiver ran up her spine, and not from the chill wind. She tried to catalog the discordant symphony of sounds, connecting each to a harmless source. Wind gusted through the brush, rattling dried leaves. The creek gurgled over rocks and under sheets of ice. Birds cried warnings to each other. Morgan wouldn’t have called it song.
An abrupt crashing instantly drowned out the subtler sounds of the forest. Morgan stopped and held her breath. An unseen creature thrashed its way through the brush, parallel to the trail. She searched the shadows, hoping she had caught up with Adelaide at last.
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My husband had been telling me for years about the secret waterfall hidden behind a ranch where he spent childhood summers. A few times we paused nearby, but we were always in a rush to be somewhere else. I figured I'd get to see that waterfall another day.
Then some fool posted photos of the falls on a social media site. Instantly, vehicles choked the narrow two-lane county road. Crowds poured into the pristine little canyon. Before I even got to see the falls, I was warned they had been ruined. With no bathroom facilities and hundreds of summer visitors a day, you can imagine the results. Or better yet, I hope you can't imagine ruination of that degree.
People were leaping from the falls, breaking bones and causing grief for the police and Search and Rescue. Parties abounded, and did not lack for variety. Rednecks and beer, dopers and marijuana, and more dangerous characters with higher powered party fuel in the form of illegal drugs. (I have to remind non-Coloradans that marijuana is indeed legal, sort of, in our state.) Fights broke out frequently.
The locals were outraged. The police were overwhelmed. I was sad every time we drove by, weaving our way slowly through poorly parked cars and hazy pedestrians crossing the county road.
Then one day in September, we noticed there were only two cars in the dirt parking lot. It was a weekday, and cooler weather had driven off the fair weather nature lovers.
We hiked along a narrow trail. I saw no evidence of the massive human depredation I expected. Only the sparsest remnants of trash. The occasional bit of broken glass. Evidence that humans had trampled down meadow grass and forged trails that scarred the hillsides.
When we reached the falls, we saw one other couple. My husband commented that his childhood stomping grounds hardly seemed worthy of the throngs of people who had been drawn to the site. I was captivated. But only because we enjoyed the view without sharing it with a hundred other humans.
I was relieved this tiny Colorado jewel had not been destroyed. I am amazed the area seems to be healing quickly. I can only hope the new has worn off this waterfall, and that the party folks find a more appropriate place to rampage around. Leave these precious, delicate gems to hikers, families, and those seeking solitude.
Many thanks go to the Park County police for bringing some sanity to the scene. The frequent presence of law enforcement seems to have toned down the flocks of people. I only hope that by next summer, this spot drops off the map.
Do you have a special place you keep close to your heart? You don't freely share the location because you don't want hoards of people ruining that neighborhood park, cafe, thrift shop or fishing hole?
More photos in the slideshow below.
Today Stone Cold Blooded: A Rock Shop Mystery becomes available. Are you anxious to learn the fate of Adelaide and Houdini, the rock shop's mascot donkeys? You can find my novel at Amazon on Kindle and at Barnes and Noble for Nook.
Here's what you can expect in my third Rock Shop Mystery:
When Colorado rock shop owner Morgan Iverson's reclusive neighbor is blown to bits, the police believe he stumbled into his own trap. His granddaughter claims he was murdered, and asks Morgan and newspaperman Kurt Willard to find his killer. Park hippies, alien hunters, and local politics complicate the case. In book three of the Rock Shop Mystery series, amateur sleuth Morgan must follow a trail of dinosaur bones to solve a Stone Cold Blooded murder.
On October 6, I attended the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association gathering in Denver. I volunteered at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers booth, where we told booksellers about our many terrific Colorado authors.
I enjoyed meeting book shop owners and buyers, and learning about how the end product of the publishing business finds its way to market.
Saturday, October 8th, I participated in an Author Meet and Greet in downtown Colorado Springs, at the Cottonwood Center for the Arts
Authors signed books surrounded by amazing artwork.
I am thrilled that the third novel in my Rock Shop Mystery series found a new home with publisher Encircle Publications. This esteemed poetry publisher decided to step into the small press market with my novel. I hope you enjoy my story set in a Colorado rock shop!
Guest blog: I appeared on Author Expressions on September 30. You can read my suggestions for overcoming publishing roadblocks here.
Denver Mineral, Fossil, Gem, and Jewelry show 2016
I attended the gigantic mineral show last month. My first stop was to deliver copies of Stone Cold Dead and Stone Cold Case to the Lucky Miner booth. Prospector's television star Dwayne Hall and his sister Yvonne made me feel welcome at the 2014 show.
Yvonne was interested to see how the books turned out. She was not at the show the day I attended, but Dwayne's wife Marsha assured me they could deliver the books to her. This was the first time I met Marsha, and she was as terrific as the rest of the family. I signed books for her and Dwayne, which she immediately started reading.
Dwayne is an aquamarine prospector. He wasn't at the booth when I stopped by, so later I made my way back to the Lucky Miner to try to catch him. Being a celebrity, he was busy with fans. I waited until he was free, and it was worth the wait. Dwayne showed me an amazing aquamarine that he believes might be a record setting gem.
Authors never know where they'll find inspiration for their fiction. The folks at the Lucky Miner gave me lots of ideas for the third novel in my Rock Shop Mystery series! Photos below
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