By Diane E. Bokor
In the 1970s, something in the culture shifted. You often heard of people going “back to the land.” Tom and I were among them. That is how I ended up here in northwest Montana, reflecting on one of the biggest decisions of my life. We were twenty-five-year-old city kids who married after meeting in college. We were old enough to be completely emancipated and young enough to do some pretty stupid stuff. We were greenhorns.
We had made a life in the great white city on the hill (San Francisco) when we caught the bug. We sold everything that would not fit in the back of our grey Dodge Ram. We quit our jobs and hit the road in search of our piece of “the land.”
We arrived in Kalispell the first week of May, 1976. It was hot that week, 90 degrees hot. This pleased me greatly, as there were two things that gave me pause about this adventure: cold temperatures and wild bears. I’ll work on my fear of bears, I thought, this is going to be just fine. It’s just not that cold here.
All but our brand spanking new REI camping gear went into storage as we headed “back to the land.” Well, not literally “back” as we had not actually been there yet. We had a plan. Tom and I would spend the summer exploring the region, campground by campground. In the fall, we would decide where to settle, where to buy our piece of this land. Then, we would confidently figure out the rest of the story.
We had been living in our tiny two-man tent for three weeks when Memorial Day weekend rolled around. It rained for four solid days. I now know that this is a typical Flathead weather pattern. That weekend I was traumatized for four days, peeking out of a blue nylon tent flap, cold and damp, nibbling on candy bars. It was too wet to start a fire. It was too wet to crawl out of the tent. Forty-three years later, I can tell you that even with climate change, it will rain at some point on Memorial Day weekend in the Flathead.
Later that summer, after drying out, I awoke at dawn to a noise coming from the direction of our campsite picnic table. Severely nearsighted without my glasses, I sat up in my cozy down sleeping bag, rubbed my eyes and opened them to make out a park ranger bending over our table. Weird, I thought, why is he up so early? With my glasses on, I was shocked. HOLY MOSES! A BEAR! A man-sized black bear was standing on his rear legs, rooting through the box of groceries we had covered with a plastic garbage bag, to keep it dry of course. The bear had found our green grapes. Greenhorns with green grapes.
Due to my life long fear of bears, I was pretty sure I was going to die. Obviously, I did not. Tom was able to find the Dodge keys. I grabbed my single-lens-reflex Minolta. In our pajamas, like commandos who scurry along the perimeter of a battlefield, we made our way to the passenger side of the truck. Once safely ensconced in steel and glass, I snapped evidence of our stupidity. If not for the snapshot this whole incident might be lost to the mists of time.
Back then, there were no signs instructing campers about food storage. There was no host coming by each evening to warn/threaten campers about food storage. There were no campground brown metal communal food lockers. You can thank me and Tom (and the rest of our ilk) for all that.
Both Don’t Mess With Mrs. Sedgewick and Blame the Car Ride now are available in an audio version. Ratham Creek is in the producer’s hands now and also will be ready soon. It has been a fun adventure to listen to my words being read aloud by talented Becky White.
I have codes available by Audible for free downloads if anyone is interested in receiving a free copy. I have eight codes left for Blame the Car ride and 12 codes for Mrs. Sedgewick. I will pass them out on a first come/first served basis. When they’re gone, they are gone. If you want one, please email me at email@example.com
LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Summer may have been late coming to NW Montana, but it’s gloriously beautiful now! And in these parts, we love our outdoor festivals. I’ll be at the Bigfork Festival of the Arts, Sat-Sun, Aug 3-4, from 9 to 4, selling and signing books, including my newest, CHAI ANOTHER DAY, the 4th Spice Shop mystery. Join me and 150 artists — potters, photographers, painters, jewelers, soap and candle makers and so much more — in the village of Bigfork! Plus tasty food and great live music.
And I’m pleased to report that my historical short story, “All God’s Sparrows,” winner of the 2018 Agatha Award for Best Short Story, is nominated for a Macavity Award for Best Short Story, given by Mystery Readers International. It’s set in Montana Territory in 1885, featuring real-life historical figure “Stagecoach Mary” Fields, and a young Ursuline nun who meet a woman and her daughter in trouble and devise an inspired solution. Read it free on my website or listen to me read it in a free podcast, courtesy of the publisher, Alfred Hitchock Mystery Magazine.
A Bolt from the Blue is here! Bennett Sisters Mystery #9 – by Lise McClendon
Exciting, like a thunderbolt! Or just a new book, always exciting at least for the author!
My latest is the ninth installment in the Bennett Sisters Mystery series, out August 1. This one follows last year’s BLAME IT ON PARIS, both featuring Francie Bennett, one of five sisters who are all lawyers.
Francie is back in Paris, with her boyfriend this time, helping him with an annoying client. Axelle Fourcier left France after the student protests of 1968 and vowed never to go back. But now an elderly beloved aunt has died and left her an inheritance so she has no choice.
A Belle Époque apartment is only the beginning of Axelle’s discoveries. Her aunt collected pop art in the ’50s and ’60s. It seems the apartment might be the least of the inheritance that she must split with a cousin she’s never met. When a break-in and a murder occur, her worry that the French state is out to get her may be more than a little plausible.
Available on Amazon, KOBO, Nook, and Apple Books
Find me at the Montana Book Festival in Missoula, September 12 – 15!
All my best,
PS: Like to cook? Get the Bennett Sisters French Cookbook free when you sign up here: SIGN UP
Blame the Car Ride will be released in the first part of January. Exact date will be announced soon on my website.
A simple game of chance results in Corinne Cooper’s best friend’s death and set her on a collision course with a detective still nursing hate from the past.
Three years of lonesome widowhood leads Corinne Cooper to a simple need. She wants a man. She cons her friend Edgy Brewster into helping her find just the right guy. They visit a honkytonk, the biggest church in town, and a bingo parlor looking for an eligible bachelor. Nothing goes as planned. Now Corinne is the prime suspect in a murder and must prove her innocence. Any of the four men she has met could have committed the heinous act. But which one?
Flathead Valley Go Find Book Tour Fall 2018
In case you want to catch a lecture from Susan or attend a book signing, here is her December schedule:
Whitefish Library, Montana. Dec 3rd. Avalanche awareness discussion and book signing. 7 pm.
Imagine Library, Kalispell, Montana December 18, 2018, 6 pm. Avalanche awareness discussion and book signing.
Questions? Call Susan Purvis 970-596-2999 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
LESLIE BUDEWITZ: ‘Tis the season for a good book! Join me during the Kalispell Holiday Art Stroll on Friday, December 7, from 5-8 pm. I’ll be signing books at Montana Marie on Main Street, formerly Think Local, a terrific emporium of Montana-made art, cards, candles, lotions, books and much more. Shops and galleries throughout downtown Kalispell will be open late with food, drink, music, and more.
And if you can’t make it that evening, you can find signed copies of my books on the shelves of these Flathead Valley shops: in Whitefish, BookWorks. In Kalispell, Montana Marie and the BookShelf on Main Street, and Montana Art & Gift in the airport. And in Bigfork, Roma’s Kitchen Shop, Nancy O’s Interiors, and the Bigfork Art and Cultural Center. (E-books and audio books available in the usual online sources.)
Wishing you and yours a joy-filled season of love and friendship, regardless of what and how you celebrate.