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Montana Women Writers 009

Back row, L to R: Christine Carbo, Patti Dean, Marie Martin, Ann Minnett, Jeannie Tallman, Anne B. Howard, and Constance See

Front row: Gail Ranstrom, Kathy Dunnehoff, P.A. Moore, Marlette Bess, Leslie Budewitz, Nan McKenzie, and Betty Kuffel

Camera shy: Deborah Epperson, Angela Miller, Ina Albert, Karen Wills, and Lise McClendon

A FLYING LOVE AFFAIR

Just as I hate spiders, I love birds.  Big birds, little ones, noisy ones, quiet ones, most birds.  I love to see them flying, and envy their extreme athleticism, their amazing ability to navigate through the air, their dance in concert in the air.  How do they do that?

If we could reincarnate as an animal, I’d pick a bird.  Let’s see, a vulture, maybe not, considering their icky diet.  A fierce eagle, or hawk, yeah that might do, though still not the favorite diet.  Their death-defying dives are wonderful, though, the stuff of legends.  I really like robins, too, how they pair up and stay together, and their odd song is always recognizable.  The males declare their territory every morning and night, flitting from tree to tree to outline what they claim.

No chickens for a do-over—they usually don’t have a good ending. Turkeys, either, and domestic turkeys are just about the dumbest animal alive.  If you leave them outside in the rain, they’ll drown because they don’t know enough to hold their head down.

Finches are the racers, the remarkable speedy fliers who whiz so fast into the juniper tree in my yard that I can’t tell what they are.  This summer, one has been tearing into the tree, then it sits and calls out, maybe looking for a mate to join it?  Haven’t heard it lately, it must have gotten lucky.

Last year, I had an old birdhouse sitting on a pole stuck in the ground in front of my porch.  A cute pair of chickadees took up residence, with Momma cleaning house by hammering the floor, and Daddy keeping watch.  The next morning, the floor of the little house had been hammered in two, and the whole shebang had fallen onto the bushes below.  The chickadees were gone, probably traumatized.

Ravens and magpies are the sociable fliers, unless you’re a cat. They’ll sit on the roof above a cat and yell at it for hours, until the cat finally gives up trying to make one lunch and saunters off.  Their calls are different, the raven shouting all their communication so loud they can be heard almost a mile away.  The magpie has a scritchy voice, and they are just as good a scold as their cousins.  I think magpies know they are beautiful, prettier than the ravens, but smaller, and smart enough to stay away from the bigger guys.  Ravens, crows, magpies, can all do human talk if taught.  Imagine that, they can talk our language, and we can’t talk theirs.

The little water ouzel can walk on the bottom of a creek, snagging bugs from the rocks.  Montana creeks are mostly clear, and I love to watch as they bob along, able to withstand the fastest water.

A meadowlark has come to live near me this summer, and I whistle at it, copying its great song.  When I whistle, there is a pause, like the bird is thinking, ‘What the heck is that?’, then it replies, but with a much prettier riff than mine.  I’ve had conversations with meadowlarks since I was a girl and had taught myself to whistle.

And there’s a mourning dove, too, its sad call following as I go about my business.  I think it’s alone; usually there are two, mourning together in perfect harmony.   Sometimes, they make me cry.

My least favorite bird is the killdeer, they are constant in their noise and their irritating run in front of you, faking a hurt wing, trying to lead you away from their babies, even if the babies are hundreds of yards away.  They screech even at night, preferring the spot under my open window to declare themselves to the world, make their paranoia evident.  They sure are pretty, though.

Pheasants are pleasant.  (Sorry.)  They have a barnyard call, similar to a rooster, though wild and untamable.  I love to see them beside the road or in a field, their feathers shimmer with color, and they strut like the world is theirs.

The perfect sparrows zip through the air in the evening, ridding our world of mosquitoes, thanks.  I think they probably have a contest every night to see who can catch the most bugs.  They use mud and straw to build houses on the bottom of eaves or on cliffs, an engineering marvel.

Bluebirds, red-winged blackbirds, wrens, emus, ostriches, blue jays, ducks, geese, parrots, etc., etc.  If it has wings and flies, I’m all for it. Think of that,–they fly through the air with the greatest of ease, a medium not known for its support.  And don’t get me started on their side-to-side clown walks.  I’m pretty sure they know I’m laughing when I see one struggling along, rocking like a clown.

Nan McKenzie

 

August Book News

august on the flathead

August on the Flathead

Fifteen Years of Lies FINAL EBOOK COVER

ANN MINNETT: I’m happy to announce the publication of my third novel of Domestic Suspense, Fifteen Years of Lies.

From the back cover:

Beautiful Whitefish, Montana serves as the setting for Fifteen Years of Lies, yet the story could occur anywhere people go to escape and in any family struggling to keep secrets. Parents of teenagers will relate to a mother’s fears for her son as his rebellion leads to violence.

Fifteen Years of Lies goes beyond the timely issue of sexual assault on campus to lay bare the aftermath of rape and its effects on the survivor, the child, loved ones, and even the rapist. Experience the raw emotions of past injustice and imminent threat when a suspected rapist believes he has found his victim and his son.

How far will the three women go to protect Zane from the truth?

********

caseys

Book Reading and Signing with Marlette Bess Saturday, August 19, 2017 5pm – 7pm Casey’s, Downtown Whitefish 

MARLETTE BESS: WAYNE DINGO WAY (37) an attorney from Seattle took a leave of absence from his firm to care for his dying father in Whitefish, Montana. He was having a conversation with WAYNE WAY, his father, about where his life was headed when his father’s eyes rolled back into his head, he took his last breath and he died. Dingo was stunned – they had just been talking a moment before and now he was gone. Dingo gently closed his father’s eyes and kissed his forehead, stood up, grabbed his ski parka and headed for the front door. Dingo was in shock as he pulled his beanie down over his blond curly locks. He opened the door to a slap of bitter cold as he hustled his 6 foot 2 frame down the path.

The snow and ice on the sidewalk reminded him to take it easy as he walked toward downtown. Feeling the need to drown his sorrows, he found himself outside of Casey’s bar. He opened the door and entered the bar and walked to the only seat open at the bar that was next to a beautiful brunette with the most striking blackish/blue eyes, BERNADETTE LUCAS. Bernadette (35) was a free-lance physical therapist who had finished with a patient at the hospital and didn’t want to go be alone at home.

Dingo asked Bernadette if she would toast his father who just died. She introduced herself and seeing the pain in his eyes she agreed to the drink. He looked at her and could see her lonely beauty. After a couple of beers and three shots of tequila, she walked him home with her dog Hairy tagging along behind. On the cold walk home, Dingo kissed her – a kiss that not only curled her toes but made her body explode with heat.

When Dingo and Bernadette got to Dingo’s dad’s quaint, little house, Dingo passed out on the couch. Bernadette wandered around the house to find a blanket for Dingo and found his father dead in one of the bedrooms. Not exactly knowing what to do, she called her long-time friend at the police department Detective SAM MCDONALD to help with the body. Sam had the body picked up and they helped Dingo into bed.

Bernadette stayed with Dingo that night and even slept in his bed between the sheet and comforter to keep her distance. In the morning, being more himself, Dingo looked at Bernadette and wanted her immediately. The chemistry of longing, loneliness and desire lead them to each other discovering both themselves and the each. Once they had sex the only thing they wanted was more of each other.

Dingo and Bernadette were engaged shortly after they met. While still riding on the high of the engagement, they returned home to find more Dingo’s sister took her own life causing much pain and heartache. Tragedy did not end there for the couple, they soon discovered Dingo sister’s husband had killed himself and their children. The budding relationship grew with the highs of sex, lust and love and the depths of hell with the mounting pain of loss.

Dingo and Bernadette had two wedding ceremonies –  one for themselves in Las Vegas and a second time for friends and family in Whitefish. Bernadette’s terminally ill father attended the wedding and died that night leaving her with money and a whole lot of undiscovered secrets.

The two lovers honeymooned in Australia where Bernadette was forced to face her own demons straining the trip. After having a nightmare reliving when she was raped in Central Park, she woke flailing, catching Dingo’s cheek with her fingernail, sending him to the hospital. When he went into surgery, she went into a tailspin not returning to the hospital for hours. She was lost in her confusion and when Dingo awoke, he thought she left him. When he healed they went back to honeymooning and they talked through her trauma regaining the closeness they lost from her nightmare.

The unthinkable happened in the third month of their honeymoon.  Sam, Bernadette’s best friend back in Whitefish, was shot in the line of duty. Bernadette and Dingo took a marathon of flights to get back to the United States only to find Sam sitting up in the ICU after having his ventilator removed. Bernadette doted on Sam to the exclusion of everyone else, especially Dingo. But once again, Bernadette pulled herself together to be with Dingo and returning to their new home in Seattle shortly after.

Dingo and Bernadette went on a trip of discovery to her father’s hunting lodge is Krakow, Poland. She discovered that he was a deeply complicated man who lived his life collecting erotic art and engineering bridges around the world. After they left to go skiing in Davos, Switzerland with Sam and Dingo’s aunt, Bernadette had to decide out what she want to do with her father’s lodge, his erotic art collection. She also had to decide how she was going to build a new life in Seattle with the handsomest lawyer in all of the city? Dingo had to figure out how to stop being a workaholic and fit in time to love Bernadette down to her very soul.

Dingo wanted this new relationship with Bernadette to thrive but he wondered if he could overcome his bone breaking pain. With his family gone, Bernadette understood loss and pain from her most recent tragedies. Could she comfort and love him through this ordeal while trying to handle her own terrifying calamity?

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LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Congratulations to Ann and Marlette! Sending a new book into the world is such a wonderful and terrifying thing!

leslie

Join me at the Bigfork Festival of the Arts, in the village aka downtown Bigfork, on Sat and Sun, August 4-5, between 9 am and 4:30 pm. I’ll be one of more than 150 artists with

 

booths, talking and signing mysteries, including TREBLE AT THE JAM FEST, my newest Food Lovers’ Village Mystery. (I call my village “Jewel Bay,” but you aren’t fooled, are you?) Food and drink vendors will join us, and musicians will play open air — including Don Beans, aka my Mr. Right. See you there!

           

Aunt Lucille’s Book

By Marie F Martin

About a year and a half ago my cousin Jeanie phoned. Scared the heck out of me because she never calls. She had a strange request. Her 92 year-old Aunt Lucille, my shirttail relation, wanted permission to print my grandfather Yeat’s poem in a book she was publishing. Of course I agreed and we emailed back and forth. I can’t remember ever seeing her as a child. When I got the mail a few weeks ago, a strange package was in it. To my great surprise was a copy of Aunt Lucille Jensen’s book about the life and times along Montana’s highline.

It is so wonderful. Full of old time living and pictures, about her faith and how families should be and treat each other.  I am so pleased for her that at almost 93 years of age, she published her first book. She tells about being an avid reader all her life and the knowledge from all that reading comes through in her pages.

Aunt Lucille included sticky notes for me on the inside cover, saying she has now read all my books and that I remind her of my aunt Fran Minnick. How delightful. I am so happy her dream of writing has been fulfilled.

This is what Lucille wrote for the forward of her book: the old-time cowboys were hired on only for the summers. When winter came they were forced to fend for themselves and then they would travel from ranch to ranch staying and helping for a few days at a time wherever they happened to be. They called this “Ridin’ the Grubline” since each ranch furnished food and shelter. I have tried to be accurate in my telling for the most part but I have to admit that my memory is not what it once was. So if you disagree with the way I have told it just mark it up to the vagaries of “old age”. 

This is the link to her book at Westbow Press.

http://www.westbowpress.com/Bookstore/BookDetail.aspx?BookId=SKU-001116642

 

 

 

 

 

www.mariefmartin,com

Self-Expression in Photography & Writing

By Ann Minnett

Have I mentioned what a joy it is to live in Montana? You’re likely tired of hearing it from me, if not from all of us in Montana Women Writers. It goes without saying, and today is no exception.

For the past week, my husband and I have witnessed a red-tailed hawk teach her fledgling to fly and hunt. The nest is in a dead tree trunk about a hundred yards from where I write from my porch most summer days. We try not to bother their progress, but here you see mom is not pleased.

Red-tail hawk

It’s becoming difficult to distinguish mother from child, and we expect they’ll soon move on.

A more relevant joy of living here is the feeling of peace and serenity that allows for self-expression and creativity–in my husband’s photography and my writing. I recently published a third novel, Fifteen Years of Lies (excerpted below), and anticipate the release of a fourth book in early 2018. I’ve been an author in search of a niche and finally found it in Domestic Suspense.

Fifteen Years of Lies FINAL EBOOK COVER

Two police cruisers pulled away from the lakeside mansion, leaving an insurance agent’s car alone on the circular drive. Lark reached for a cigarette but thought better of it, shifted into second gear, and lurched to the right and around back to the servant’s entrance. 

In the service vestibule, Lark kicked off her boots and dropped her bag inside the laundry room door. Upstairs in the kitchen, Jan Hensen and husband Jack vied for the agent’s attention. She padded toward the stairs, stocking feet sinking into the rec room’s plush carpet. She dreaded going up there.

Who’s the first person suspected of theft? The housekeeper, that’s who…

~ Ann

Burden of Breath Revised Cover 5-21-17

Burden of Breath (210 reviews, 4.3 stars) will be available for free download on July 29th!

 

Theme Along With Me

Small SOH1

I’ve finally finished Shadows of Home, my romantic-suspense novel set in Louisiana and am now attempting to start the sequel to Breaking TWIG. Problem is, when I wrote Breaking TWIG, I never figured on writing a sequel until so many readers asked me to continue Becky’s story. How did life in Paris work out for her? Did she have a child? And the number one question readers asked: Did Becky and Johnny end up together? Now, as possible sequel scenes swirl in my brain, I once again face the adversary of all writers—the blank white page.

When I wrote Breaking TWIG, I had a question niggling my mind. When raised in an abusive home, why do some children grow up and repeat the abusive pattern with their children, while others manage to break free and become loving, supportive parents? Finding an answer to this question lodged in my subconscious, and it wasn’t until I’d written two-thirds of the book that I realized this was the book’s theme. Frankly, I didn’t give a thought to theme in the beginning. I just wanted to tell the story of Becky’s quest to survive her childhood as it unfolded in my mind.

I’ve read books on the craft of writing a novel that state emphatically that a writer should never consciously insert or apply a “theme.” Somehow, the theme of your book (if it has one) will reveal itself through your characters’ action and dialogue. Trying to force a theme onto your characters can come off as “preachy.” Yet other writing experts insist the writer must provide via the narrative a theme or several themes to give the characters depth and show the deeper meanings embedded in the book.

Thus the question arises–to theme or not to theme? Should you have a theme(s) in mind from the get-go? Or do you wait for the theme to effervesce through your narrative like bubbles through champagne? What works for you?

In Breaking TWIG, I wrote about the lives of three people who’d suffered mental, emotional, or physical abused by their parent. Two overcame their obstacles and became strong, loving adults. One could not break out of the pattern of abuse she’d known as a child. What made the difference in their lives? This became the major theme of the book. Perhaps Becky said it best, “Having one person who loves and believes in you is all a girl needs to keep hope alive.”

250,000 smallThanks for stopping by ~~Deborah