Summer’s abundance

I’ve also had a very fruitful summer for book releases, under three different pen names!

This summer’s releases:

Moose Madness by Mar Delaney – Lesbian paranormal (shifter) romance.

Keeley & Associates Collection #1 – Collecting the first three books.

Dick & Demon – Keeley & Associates #4.

Wild Island Horses by Liz Harman – Contemporary beach romance.

Meanwhile, it’s the height of summer in Alaska, with brilliant sunshine, 85F heat, and a glorious abundance of plant and animal life.

One of my pumpkins is starting to ripen!
Raspberry season!
Beavers working on their dam.

Watching the beavers at the nearby creek build their dam has been one of our most enjoyable activities this summer. We learned that beavers make noises to each other, and got to watch some juvenile beavers grow up! We do have some worries that at least some of them may have fallen victim to predators or trapping, especially since we hadn’t seen any around for a couple of weeks, but there were two out working on the dam today, so maybe they’ve just been working on dam-building upstream or something.

Other summer animal-life highlights include what I can only describe as woodpecker pecking school – with a flock of newly fledged woodpeckers practicing their pecking on the log walls of our house, including pecking so hard they kept falling off – and various other wildlife including porcupines and the first gopher I’ve ever seen here.

You’re very cute, now please leave my garden alone.

We’ve also enjoyed the summer’s lush wildflowers. We’re almost out of the height of wildflower season now; it’s mostly just fireweed at this point, but it’s one of my favorites.

This photo is from a little earlier in the year – it’s more bloomed out now – but continues to be lush and brilliant all around the house.

We’re starting to get into the winding down of summer now. In a month it’ll be autumn already.

Spring things

Yesterday I got the greenhouse cleaned up and ready for planting!

View through the door into the greenhouse interior.

There are already some corn plants that I got at the farmer’s market yesterday. We’re supposed to have rainy weather this weekend, so it’ll be good for transplanting and I think I’m going to try to get some more plants in.

Green leaves behind the outside garden beds.

Normally Memorial Day/the end of May is the approximate “safely past the frost” date for planting outside, but I think we’re good for this year and I’d at least like to get some salad stuff in this weekend.

I also tried taking some pictures of the beavers a couple of evenings ago, when they were out and about in the creek, but my camera kept focusing on the brush so all I got was some blurry vaguely Bigfoot-like beaver cryptid images. This is probably the one that came out most recognizable.

Spring in Alaska

For certain values of spring. We had a massive snowstorm the first week of April, on top of the snow we already had, and now it’s 60 degrees and we still have this massive snowpack. The results are interesting to say the least.

This is what it looked like a week ago.

So basically … snow. We have it.

I think one of these should be my new author photo.

Images of the season

I think we can all agree 2020 has been a dumpster fire we’ll all be glad to see the end of, but December has brought brightness as well. We had a very pleasant, quiet Christmas, and here on the north side of the world, we’re on the brighter side of the solstice now, with more light coming back into the world every day.

Weird little swamp spruce Christmas tree. It has more ornaments than branches.

We are having an incredibly bright full moon with brilliant clear skies, and the moon on the snow is like a wan sort of daylight, casting clear shadows at midnight.

You couldn’t quite read a book out there, but it’s close.

I’ll have a post up in a day or two with a full rundown of my books from the past year (including some freebies and sales!). In the meantime, I hope you’re not having too rough a time with these last days of 2020. Realistically, the arbitrary switchover of the calendar doesn’t make that much difference, but there’s something in us that likes milestones and fresh starts. Here’s to a better 2021.

The winter gave us beauty

… and the country gave us Election Day 2020. I voted for the first time when I turned 18; I still remember how excited I was about it. I haven’t missed an election since. I’m older now, a lot more jaded (especially lately) but I still believe that voting is the way you wish the future into being.

voting sticker on my hand

It’s -25F and the world is still beautiful.

Beaver Mudflats

Today we hiked over to check out where the beaver lake used to be until about a week ago. We found many fascinating things, such as: fallen trees! Mud! Holes!

… maybe you had to be there.

The sheer SIZE of some of these downed trees is really impressive. (Also shown: my foot for scale.)

Whole lotta trees, whole lotta mud.

There were also some obvious channels dug by the beavers in the bottom of the former lake. I can’t really think of a natural process that could have made these.

Here’s basically the same view as above, but from a week ago:

Meanwhile, the creek is just back to being a creek, now running between 4-foot banks of mud that were deposited on the lake bottom.

And so many gnawed trees. So many. Beavers … why are you like this.

With this one tree along the (former) lake shore, they also ate its roots and dug around it, making it look weirdly like a cutaway view of a tree.

And I found a chokecherry tree growing wild, with some fruit on it:

And I got a (slightly) better picture of this cottonwood tree that’s gnawed through to the point where walking around it is kind of … uneasy.

It was a nice walk, but I miss the lake and really hope the beavers are okay. We’ve been leaving the area around the beaver house alone and trying to be quiet when we’re out looking around, hoping not to spook them off. They might’ve left for greener, damper pastures, though.

Unsolicited beaver pics

Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.

So, for background, we live out on the highway with a creek in our backyard. Adjacent to our property, there’s a section of the creek that’s been intermittently occupied by beavers ever since we’ve lived here. It was unoccupied for a while, but a couple of years ago a new set of beavers moved in and rebuilt the old dam. We didn’t see them for most of the summer, but their dam-building ways kicked into high gear this fall, and we’ve been enjoying going out and looking at them, checking on the progress of the dam and watching them swim around, dragging branches from place to place, and preparing for winter.

Beaver dam in the sunset light.
From up on the hill. This used to be a creek meandering through a small valley; now it’s nearly all underwater.

Their pond start out small, but has been growing in size, rearranging the creek’s course and reconstructing that entire section of creek. It’s been really fascinating to watch.

Dam from the hill on the other side. The actual (original) creek bed is all the way at the top of this image and basically off camera; the creek used to meander absently through the valley and now it’s pretty much all underwater.
Well, this isn’t alarming or anything.

They’ve done an astonishing job of clearing out the trees in what used to be a wooded patch of valley and is now basically a lake, including gnawing through 50-foot cottonwoods.

It’s fun though – I mean, they’re cute, they’re not bothering anyone, and we like going out in the evening to watch them.

I don’t have very many pictures of the actual beavers because they’re usually seen from a distance and mostly swimming, so it’s just beaver heads. We’ve been trying not to go too close so as not to bother them. They seem to be largely unaware of us; they’ve never seemed to mind us being there.

Tonight, however, I went out for my evening tour de beaver, and the lake was … GONE?!!

This was all underwater a day ago. That pile of leaves and sticks is the dam …
The creek is back to more or less its original course.
Before and after – a side spillway below the dam, a couple of days ago and today.

We worried at first that someone had actually done it – destroying beaver dams is a thing that happens, sometimes out of necessity (because they do tend to build their dams in places that can threaten human infrastructure like roads). But we’re pretty sure the dam simply collapsed under our recent rains, especially since the beavers are fine. We saw three of them out there, busy trying to rebuild.

The only picture of an actual beaver I managed to get tonight – a bit blurry though.

So hopefully they’ll be okay. It’s late in the season for it, but they still have the creek and plenty of food, and they also still have most of the previous dam. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve managed to rebuild a tidy little lake by the time things freeze up.

September

While August and early September often bring heat waves in more temperate parts of the country, here in the North late summer is slipping rapidly into fall – gold patches in the trees, the last of the ripe berries, a crisp dead-leaf smell in the air.

Found some skunk currants, a.k.a. swamp gooseberry, growing along the creek.

Rogue Myths and Echo City are cranking quietly along. I’m donating half the proceeds from the first two months of Rogue Myths, which comes out to about $210, to a couple of charities.

A mushroom’s eye view of the bridge across the creek, from back in mid-August. There’s a lot more yellow in the trees now, and more dead leaves everywhere.

I got the edits back on Hollow Souls from my beta readers, so that’s easily on track for its Sept. 29 release.

Fallen flowers from a hanging basket in the ornamental rocks by the front door.

I’m really looking forward to fall and Halloween this year. I love autumn, and all that goes along with it: the colors and crispness, the smells of woodsmoke and dry leaves, the return to sweaters and hot drinks and comfort food. In these Plague Times, when there’s no travel, no visitors, and my husband and I are both working from home, we need those little things to break up the routine and make each part of the year fresh and unique.

A pond on the back side of our land.

I hope that you and yours are safe and healthy, as this most difficult of years heads into Northern Hemisphere fall.

Sunset behind the new greenhouse, built this summer. I’m looking forward to everything I’ll grow in it next year!

Nearly summer’s end

Our summers are so short here. It seems like summer has hardly begun, and then you look up and realize that a chilly undercurrent has crept into the nights, there’s a hint of that sharp autumn scent, and a few patches of yellow have begun to appear in the trees. I love autumn – it’s my favorite season – but I’m not ready to let go of summer yet, especially as it’s been a cool, rainy one, so it hardly feels like we’ve had much of a summer yet.

But there are plenty of compensations, like this afternoon’s rainbow …

Or the little moose family that came through our yard a few nights ago.

I turned 44 in July, and enjoyed an extra-tall, frosted and decorated mini birthday pancake in lieu of an actual cake, provided by my Lovely Spouse.

Things are cranking along on the story front. I’m sending out a new story every Tuesday on my mailing list. Sign up here!

Here’s a sampling of some of the stories I’ve sent out over the last few months:

I released a novel in July, Rogue Myths. The sequel, Echo City, will be out this Tuesday!

I also post more news in my Facebook group, and just got done setting up a new Facebook page for announcements as well.

I hope you’re having a good summer – or a good winter/spring if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere! I’ll leave you with this playful little selfie of me and my delphiniums, after I realized I had accidentally dressed to match.

A cold and wild world

Winter is the deep freeze, and it’s been around -30F since before Christmas with few breaks, dipping as low as -60 or colder in parts of Interior Alaska (the cold bit — the coasts are typically much warmer). But that’s what it does here, and in a way it’s a relief, with the warming Arctic and all that goes along with it, to have a halfway normal winter for a change.

I’ve just done a much-needed site update, cleaning out old links and making sure the Books, Short Stories, and Shows pages are up to date. (Aside from Alaska Comicon, where I’ve already reserved a table, the shows later in the year are still very much TBD, but these are the ones I’ve done in the past.) I also did a big update on my Lauren Esker website.

I really haven’t had much that’s new lately, aside from writing under the Lauren Esker and Zoe Chant pen names and Sun-Cutter‘s ongoing progress, but there are big plans afoot for 2020. I’m planning to reboot the Gatekeeper series (currently writing the last book in the trilogy) and I have another series as well, a historical series of steampunk murder mysteries set in the 1930s. I’ll have more information on both of those and a publishing schedule for the year to come soon.

Meanwhile, enjoy another glimpse of our frozen world.