I drove about 28 miles or so up the Elliot Hwy today – the southern part of the road that’s locally known as the Haul Road that supplies the Prudhoe Bay oilfields.
There were so many places where I would come around a turn and would be confronted by a golden hill that made me say “Wow” to myself. The pictures can’t really capture the experience of simply *everything* that isn’t a spruce tree being this bright vivid gold.
I like how you can see the rippling of the frost heaves in the road in this one. Behold the interior Alaska driving experience!
In non-highway experiences, the woodland trails around our 11-acre property have a fall magic all their own.
My somewhat minimalist fall table setting display … fake leaves and real gourds.
In book news, Keeley #7 will be out on Sept. 26, and Vicki Vandermoon #2 follows closely on Oct. 11. As always, it’s a busy fall, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
September rolls in with colorful harvests and cool, rainy weather. Leaf colors are just beginning to turn, but many years we have our first frost in the next few days. It’s not looking like this year is going to be one of them (so far).
Sleuth & Psychic, Keeley & Associates #7, is back from its first round of edits and on track for a late September release.
I’m also inviting readers to email me prompts for October/autumn/winter stories for the mailing list for the next few months.
Other than that, I’m just settling in for the next few months of writing and colder weather. I’m going to put Keeley & Assoc. on a short hiatus while I work on other projects, and I’ve got some exciting stuff planned for 2024 …
Sleuth & Psychic (Keeley #7) is up for preorder in September. It’s currently about half written; at present, I’m wandering in the traditional midbook swamp of despair.
I have some other exciting news which will be announced in more detail later this month. I’m launching a new pen name for cozy mysteries, so I’ll have lots more news about that in June and July, as well as some free things to give away!
What others are up to
There’s a big multi-author fantasy and sci-fi sale this week at Bear Mountain Books –click here to see the books! Lots of variety, from space opera and epic fantasy to cozy and paranormal.
There is also discussion and individual book spotlights at the main Bear Mountain Books blog page, so you can read the books and talk about them there. (I’m not in the promo, but there’s a spotlight on the Keeley series on the homepage.)
I leave you with a few pictures of homestead spring.
This is probably going to turn out to be another year when I think about doing something slightly more appealing with the backyard and then fall comes before I actually get around to managing any of my plans …
It’s definitely in March that it starts to feel like winter will never end. The days are getting longer, the sun is coming back – the heaps of snow are still everywhere.
Just a quick update this time:
Keeley #6, Shamus & Shifter, will be out at the end of the month in ebook and print. Currently in second-round revisions.
Keeley #7, Sleuth & Psychic, is up for preorder on Amazon. I’m hoping to get a good start on the book this (or at least get the plot worked out). The preorder says September but I’m optimistically aiming for July if possible; I have another book for the romance pen name coming out in between.
Settling into January, working on Keeley #6, Shamus & Shifter – currently at 43K of about 55K. It’s up for preorder at the end of March. I’m planning to have the book finished, edited, and out to beta by the end of the month.
A flock of grosbeaks has been hanging around lately. They’re really the only bright-colored birds we have here in the winter – males are red, females yellow. It’s nice to look out and see those little splashes of color. I have a chickadee feeder, but the larger birds can’t get into it (essentially as a squirrel-defense measure). I’m thinking about getting a larger tray-style one to encourage the grosbeaks to keep coming back.
Our days are incredibly short here – daylight by 10 or 11, dark by 3 or 4 – but with the solstice behind us, they’re getting longer. Spring still feels very far away. This is the time of year when I daydream about gardens and traveling to warm, sunny places.
December is upon us and the shortest days of the year are here. Three weeks until we turn the corner at the solstice.
I took some pictures of the first day of the year’s last month on my walk today.
It’s really been a hell of a year. I’ve had a lot of health issues in the back half of the year, of the “multiple ER visits” variety, leading up to abdominal surgery (a hysterectomy) in mid-November that will, I hope, fix the problem and also a number of other problems that have been dogging me at a lower level for years, dragging down my energy and causing me to lose multiple days a month to illness. I’m about two weeks out from surgery now, recovering at a reasonable pace and keeping myself fit with light walking. Like today’s walk up to the highway and back.
It snowed last night, so everything is fresh and white.
I do, in general, genuinely enjoy December despite the cold and the short days. I love the Christmas season, I love lights and gifts and Advent calendars (am I even slightly religious? no. Do I have one this year? OBVIOUSLY) and all the books/movies/TV episodes that are seasonal this month only.
So yeah – a lot of this is just finding the pleasures where I can, but there are a lot of them. Not the least being my wonderful husband, who is rarely mentioned here, but has been doing a lot of heavy lifting (sometimes literally!) through all of this. It has very much been A Year, but we’ll be starting the new one in a month, and I’m looking forward to getting back to the books.
It’s been extremely hazy lately with wildfire smoke, but I’m still trying to get out and enjoy the flowers. June and July are peak wildflower season – the wild roses of June are over, but the fireweed of July is just kicking off.
More flowers around the yard …
I haven’t obtained pictures of any of them, but we’ve had beavers, moose, and a variety of birds around to enjoy. I think a pair of robins are nesting near here – we haven’t seen any babies or the nest, but they’ve been around a lot, and we found a broken robin eggshell on the road. A hawk is most likely nesting nearby as well; we’ve seen it in the yard several times. There is a beaver dam within walking distance that we enjoy visiting to watch it grow.
It’s not all idyllic wilderness fun, as the gravel pit on the property between us and the highway is now actively being worked again, so there’s a lot of noise and dust, and the new work has wiped out most of the trees that had grown up over the old gravel bed. (It was being actively worked when we moved here in 2004, then went dormant around 2006 or so, so we’ve had a lot of time to get used to just being able to walk around out there.) But we knew it would happen sooner or later, and the new owners – actually neighbors of ours – have been great to deal with and very considerate about keeping the noise and dust down as much as possible. And they’ve also fixed the road, which is not state-maintained and had been falling into disrepair.
We also did some exploring back in June of old mining roads around our area. Here’s a no outlet sign on a road we just drove through from the other end …
We also got some nice views from the top of the hills, on a rare not-very-smoky day.
Winter: still wintening for all it’s worth. It’s actually snowing today. I was just out putting more seed in the chickadee feeder. Gray jay (a.k.a. camprobber) on the suet block this morning. One of my plans for this summer, now that we no longer have an outside cat and I’m getting into feeding the birds as a hobby, is to redo my backyard for more pretty little bird nooks and feeders and flowers. That’s probably going to be my main garden push this summer … at least if summer ever gets here, which seems unlikely at the rate we’re going. We still have three feet of snow.
Moose: still moosing.
They spent a few days hanging around in the general yard/driveway area, including bedding down for a while next to the plow truck.
Yesterday they browsed slowly down the creek and we spent some time watching the lady moose try to break off a willow that was at least 15 feet tall to eat the pussy willows at its top. Eventually they drifted on and seem to be gone today.
I worked on Keeley #5 edits all this past week and will be finishing revisions this upcoming week (I hope). Kismet, the webcomic, remains on hold for now, as there have been various additional delays with family emergencies and travel and such, but I’m posting some extras to the Patreon to help make up for it, and plan to get back to regular updates in May – after I get back from the first traveling-for-fun vacation I will have taken since 2019. (Planes! Hotels! What even!)
Looking forward to spring, and all the good things that go with it …
Wild Island Horses by Liz Harman – Contemporary beach romance. (Update: this book is not currently available for sale. Please stay tuned for a future re-release.)
Meanwhile, it’s the height of summer in Alaska, with brilliant sunshine, 85F heat, and a glorious abundance of plant and animal life.
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.
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.
We’re starting to get into the winding down of summer now. In a month it’ll be autumn already.
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.