People leave traces. Even when they don’t plan to let others know they passed through a space. This is the basis for much detective work — fiction and non-fiction.

Other people, and organizations, put items of substance in their wake. Often these are easy to spot. Often you can even identify the builder by the style.

By style and materials, this picnic shelter is typical of work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps. During the mid and late 1930’s this organization of young men build hundreds of structures, bridges, and roads in state and national parks throughout the United States. Ninety years later, many of their projects are still in use — and appreciated by the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (plus all their friends and relatives) of the workmen.

This photo was taken at Missouri’s Arrow Rock State Park. While not mentioned by name in Morning Tryst, this location would have been visited either three or four times by the fictional photographer.

Want to read the story? Click on the link below to pre-order your Nook copy. By magic (modern electronics) it will appear for your reading pleasure on June 20, 2022.

Nook readers — click here:



Think back for a few minutes to elementary school social studies class. Got it?

Did you learn about explorers?

The Spanish fleets entering the Caribbean. French ships traveling the St. Lawrence. Fishermen from Portugal in the North Atlantic. English mapping the east coast of North America.

Daniel Boone leading settlers into Kentucky. Lewis and Clark following great rivers to the Pacific Ocean.

Neil Armstrong and other astronauts setting foot on the moon. (They didn’t teach this one when I was in school — but a little later it was under “current events”.)

Reading about explorers always interested me. Visiting some of the wonders they discovered is memorable. Do I want the hardships? No thanks to the danger, near-starvation, or unexpected blizzards.

Missouri, and several other Western states, are Lewis & Clark country. After winter camp in Illinois, the expedition crossed the Mississippi River and followed the Missouri River. On a current map you’d say they crossed Missouri from east to west, took a right hand turn to the north, and continued to their next winter camp in North Dakota. It was a little more complicated. Aside from scattered trading posts in the early portion of the voyage, this was unsettled land, populated by semi-nomadic Native Americans.

Regardless of your opinion of their actions — they explored, mapped, collected plant and animal specimens, and laid a foundation for future actions — good and bad.

While photographing Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites in Morning Tryst, our heroine, Serena Carter enjoyed many vistas similar to those experienced by Lewis & Clark.

Twenty-four days to book release. Pre-order your Kindle edition here:


Ready. Set. Research.

Have you ever finished a book, sat back with a sigh, and thought how easy it must have been to write the story?

Want to know a secret? (Well, it’s not really a secret.)

Writing a book is work. It takes time. Effort. And an active “delete” key.

And no matter what you are writing – fiction or non-fiction, past, present, or future – a good author researches. To get the facts straight– to be consistent in the fantasy world they are building.

Twenty-seven days from the time this blog post releases — my new contemporary novel Morning Tryst will release. (Available for pre-order now.)

Considerable hours of research went into the project. Much of it was on the computer — the internet is very helpful in a great many things. Some things I picked up in conversations with friends at various times in my life. But, due to the setting of the story, this particular book required some road trips.

Some of the basic needs for my research trips to the various Missouri State Parks. A few years ago, I purchased the “coffee table” book Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites. This volume has wandered around the house, and state, as I used it as a reference before or during each visit. Park brochures were useful and the park maps. I also had a state road map, my phone, and water. Often a bottle of juice or soda shared a spot in the insulated bag with water, ice (you can freeze a bottle of water and use as an ice pack) and snacks. I never camped in the parks, but I did drive through a few of the campgrounds in the off season (when I would not disturb campers). I hiked a few portions of trails. While not in the photo, I always took my camera. Hat, coat (depending on season), and good walking shoes were required.

Want to re-create an adventure from the book?

Pick a state park near your home. Supply yourself with some of the “basics” from above. Check the weather. GO! Friend or family member want to go along? Great! No one else interested? Go anyway. Picnic is optional. Sense of humor and desire for adventure required.

Who knows — after a little time in fresh air, a visit to forest, lake, or historical site — you may have an improved outlook and attitude.

At sunrise, the world displays a moment of hope and promise.

To pre-order Morning Tryst use the links below:

Kindle readers:

Nook readers:


The Countdown Begins


Yes, I’m of the generation that listened to lots and lots of countdowns for rocket launches. Does this mean I’m good at counting backward? Not necessarily.

Today, I’m starting a one month, actually 31 days from today, countdown to the release of Morning Tryst.

Test yourself at this series of questions.

Do you like to read?

Do you like to read novels?

Do you like to read romance?

If you answered one, two, or three of the above with “yes”, I urge you to check out this sweet contemporary romance with mature characters — you know, the sort of people that have lived enough life to know what they want.

Listen in as the two main characters introduce themselves to each other.

Zack Sans, part-time bartender and full-time irritation to the relatives.

Serena Carter, free-lance photographer and Navy veteran.

Preorder your Amazon copy here:

Nook readers preorder here:


Silent Witness

Have you ever been a witness?

I’m not limiting this to the courtroom. Have you witnessed a wedding? A birth? An accident?

Perhaps, in your role as witness, you need to sign a marriage or birth certificate. Or give a statement to an official. In other cases, you may have witnessed something and been able to nip gossip before it took root.

In these days of cameras capturing more and more of our life, little snips of video act as a witness. But the other day, when exploring a State Historic Site and having my mind on locating items on the site map — I found a new sort of witness.

While I’ve seen my share of survey and geological markers in my life, and read the warnings not to move or disturb, this is the first Witness Post I’ve encountered.

Have you found a new-to-you marker recently?


Summer Project

Here we are, near the middle of May. Students are graduating and/or anticipating the end of the academic year in the United States. Parents are planning activities or childcare for the summer.

Are you the sort of person who makes a special plan for summer?

When I was a child, summer had some scheduled activities: one or two weeks of swimming lessons, 4-H projects to get ready for the county fair, and summer band during high school.

But I guess I’ve always been a goal type person. I’d set reading goals — reading Gone with the Wind filled a good portion of one summer. Several other novels we had in the house filled hours in other years.

Last year, with travel still rather limited, for the first time in several years I set a reading goal.

Many hours from May through August were spend with one of these volumes on my lap. I enjoyed the organization and learned a few new things along the way. Am I ready to give these to the next reader?

Not yet. One of these days, I’ll actually compare the information I have on the units the great, great uncles served in and try to locate when and where they put their lives in danger from battle. (This was the army in 1861-65, lives were always in danger from disease and accident.)

Did you have ancestors involved in this war? One or both sides?


The Greening

During 2021 I tried keeping an informal record of the most prominent tree visible from my front door.

The assignment, carried out with a passing grade, was to photograph the tree from approximately the same position on the first day of each month. (Due to the age of my brain — some photos were taken on the second, or third, or…you get the idea.)

May happened to be a month when I was prompt.

Spring was making an appearance in St. Louis during May. From an April photo of mostly bare twigs, we’re progressed to light green, small, and delicate leaves. At the moment, it does not provide much shade for the car parked nearby. But that’s okay — even the afternoon sun is not strong enough to be a bother. However, the leaves at this stage give hope that the alternating cool and warm days of spring will yield to full summer by the time schools dismiss and swimming pools open.

Did the photographer stand in the middle of the street to take this?

Yes, she did. However, she did follow the wise advice to check traffic first and was ready to dash to the side if necessary.


Time Travel

Tuesday, at lunch, I journeyed to 1815 Vienna.

Two weeks ago, I was in 1870’s London.

Early in April, I visited Tang Dynasty China.

Impossible? No, easy. Long before the pandemic of 2020-21 kept me close to home, I traveled through time and space in books.

Does real travel enrich your life? Absolutely. While visiting 1815 Vienna, the references to St. Stephens, a wine garden, and the plague pillar were more vivid for having seen them in person. The sights and sounds of the London I visited several years ago may be different — cars and buses have replaced carriages and wagons. Certain landmarks remain. Does the heroine dash past St. Paul’s? Cross the river at the Tower Bridge?

Do you prefer non-fiction? Try a biography and put yourself in Thomas Jefferson or George Marshall’s shoes.

Want to escape this world and all the current problems? May I suggest the science fiction section of your local bookstore or library?

Also visited in 2022: 1855 Wisconsin, 1740 Scotland, plus previously mentioned Tang Dynasty China.


Welcome May

Did you celebrate May Day?

When I was a child, the tradition was to make a paper cone basket, add some early flowers, take the gift to a neighbor, and run away before they answered the door.

Or did you have a party? Special food? Dancing? Is a May Pole part of your tradition?

The month of May includes lots of good things. Warmer weather to plant gardens. Grass, nurtured by spring rain, races toward the sun. Mother’s Day is celebrated in the United States. My high school and college graduations had May dates — as did those for my children. Memorial Day — to remember those fallen in war — ends the month. (And begins the summer weekend traditions.)

The delicate blossoms of lily-of-the-valley greet people from shady spots in flower beds. This official flower of the month is one of my favorites. Breath deep — can you imagine the scent?