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Be Bear Aware

Have you visited the Northwoods? Planning a trip soon? Woodland creatures might consider you a trespasser. However, no problem with most. Smart creatures, they tend to scurry away when they hear, or smell, humans approaching.

However…

Taking the trash to the campground dumpster? May I suggest daylight hours. Some wild creatures tend to view trash cans as midnight convenience stores — where they don’t pay in cash.

Little bandit raccoon ahead of you? Perhaps a slight delay would be wise.

Mice and other critters of that size sniffing out the possibilities? No problem.

Black bear looking for a snack?

I advise a retreat.

Bears are enjoyable to watch at the zoo. Next time you see one — take a close look at the feet — or rather — the claws. I don’t care which brand of garbage bag you use — one swipe and it’s open. Metal can with a lid? Push it over. Dump it out. Snout and paws to push away the tightest cover.

I’ll take my bears behind a fence — thank you!

Portions of the sweet romance Seed of Desire take place in Bear Country. Our heroine, Beth, however, needs to deal with a different sort of predator.

Kindle: https://amzn.to/2RDFgxH

You can tell a lot about a man by how he treats a dog.
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Water at Rest

The Great Lakes lie near the center of North America. The largest, and farthest west, of these is Lake Superior. Three states and one province surround the waters of Lake Superior. Take a tour, read a pamphlet, and you’ll find all sorts of superlatives in the description of this large – very large – body of fresh water.

At the moment this photo was snapped from a cove with an abandoned pier for lumber loading, Lake Superior was showing her peaceful face. Use your imagination — that’s right — close your eyes for a moment.

Is the wind kicking up? Here come the white caps. Higher and taller the waves meeting rocky beach grow. Is that rain? Or snow? Can you see the waves against the small cliff? There’s power in that water. Yes, I understand why they built a series of lighthouses now. Oh, I’m heading for the car — that wind is COLD!

Time to snuggle under a blanket and read until the storm passes. I’m picking a sweet romance set in Wisconsin today. Seed of Desire features a small town resident with a big secret — and dogs — don’t forget the German shepherds.

Kindle readers: https://amzn.to/2RDFgxH

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Go North!

Do you need a break from your routine? Is it time for vacation? Not enthusiastic about a hot, crowded, sandy beach?

Go North! Break away from the herd. Pack your bug spray, a hat, and sturdy shoes and head for the Northwoods.

What will you find? Space. Quiet. Water. Trees. Little surprises around the curve of the trail — or the next stop on your canoe adventure.

You may see deer. Or a moose in the early morning mist. Perhaps you’ll hear a loon and startle out of your chair. Maybe a raccoon will work on the combination to your trash container — or a bear.

You might want to work up an appetite with a hike. Or relax on the dock and let the lap of water against wood lull you to naptime.

Gooseberry Falls in one of Minnesota’s state parks is a pleasant place to spend an hour — or a day – or more.

Sweet romance with a connection to the Northwoods includes Seed of Desire.

Kindle readers click here: https://amzn.to/2RDFgxH

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Check the Sky

Have you looked outside today? Did you check the sky? Does it change within hours? Minutes?

At the moment I write this, the sky outside my window is a beautiful, summer-blue with a rare high, white cloud.

This morning, as I drove to a meeting, the clouds were gray and even had the audacity to sprinkle a few raindrops on my windshield.

According to the forecast, clouds will return in a few hours — it was nice that the clear sky coincided with daylight — and spill rain in a scattered pattern across the St. Louis region.

On this day in May, when I was visiting Missouri State Parks and Historic Sites, the sky displayed reversed proportions of cloud and clear than this afternoon. It did not rain that day — only stayed cool and pleasant. Sunglasses optional.

When was the last time you looked at clouds and imaged animals, cartoon characters, or other shapes? Do you tend to find dogs? Or perhaps faces?

The open spaces of parks are a great vantage point for sky-gazing. Find a bench. Dream a little. Read the book you brought along.

Kindle edition: https://amzn.to/35gH37S
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Explore

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: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

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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: https://amzn.to/35gH37S

Nook readers: https://bit.ly/3IQfFeG

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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?

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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.

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No Fooling!

No special language skill required!

The message seems clear to me — no matter that I can only read a few words in the language.

On the first of April — or any of the other days of the year, I’ll be good. I’ll stay out of your yard. I suspect the guard dog is agile, large, and knows how to use large teeth.

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Welcome to my City

Pre-pandemic (I expect many of us will divide our lives by this event), I had decided that the time was right for me to have EXPERIENCES rather than collect THINGS.

Therefore, on a spring afternoon, I boarded an airplane, crossed my fingers my luggage took the same flight, and became an international traveler. I’m not counting Canada or Mexico for the purposes of this blog — they are fine countries and I enjoyed my time in each — that’s for another day.

Culture shock — to a person raised rural, currently living in a modest size city, and never visiting anything larger than Chicago — London is huge. No matter how many history, fiction, or guidebooks you consult, the trip from airport to hotel introduced me to more of — everything — than I expected.

Trafalgar Square

On an independent adventure my first afternoon, I consulted the map, asked a few questions at hotel and underground station. Then I “followed the herd”. It’s memorable to emerge into rainy, spring air and be greeting by this fellow. “Welcome. My friends and I will guard this pillar. No funny stuff tolerated.”

Have you had a memorable sculpture encounter?