Recently my little town of Springville hit the national news when one storm after another caused the Tule River to flood and fill houses with water and mud. We were among those ordered to evacuate because we live near the river—however despite the rushing water taking out trees and bridges as it headed toward the lake, we were in no danger. However, the first day the only roads to get out of town were flooded and closed.

Long ago I wrote a mystery called A Deadly Feast about a storm that caused a raging river to take out a bridge and strand those who lived on the other side for several days.

Raging Water is a Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery written several years ago about the flooding of Bear Creek which forces people living along the river to evacuate and causes a huge mud slide which makes it impossible for anyone to leave.

Both books have a great similarity to what recently went on in our small town.

This is happened before.

I wrote Bears With Us when we had an occasional bear sighting in an around Springville. At the time, my grandson was a police officer in Aspen CO and many bear encounters he shared with me. I used his expertise to add excitement to the story.

Last summer several bears decided Springville would be a great place to dine. People reported bear sightings regularly. We had two different bears who decided to visit our trash trailer on different nights looking for hand-outs. One was a big black male, the other a smaller brown bear. They didn’t bother anything else, but were scary if you came home during their visits. Believe me, on those occasions we scurried into the house. We haven’t seen them since early fall.

Since I’ve written my final and the last offering in my Deputy Tempe Crabtree mystery series, I’m no longer worried about writing fiction that predicts future events. But it was fun telling readers about it.


Beating Fear with Knowledge

I think most writers are worriers. Will the readers like the story? Did I have typos/mistakes? Does the plot make sense? Am I not offending the culture of the people I write about? Am I doing justice to the cause? Am I entertaining as well as educating?

Yes, all of these things go through my head as I write a book. I feel bad I can’t get to every book by every author in my genre- mystery/suspense/crime fiction. But I spend most of my time reading books to help me better understand my characters. Because I write Native American characters and I am not Indigenous myself, I feel I must read and learn all I can about the culture and dynamics of the tribe and people I write about.

I have some tribal members who respond to my questions, but I’ve yet to find someone to openly allow me into their world. Which makes me worry, I’m not portraying them as well as I should be. Every time I think about that, I get a knot in my stomach. I want to show them for the inventive, resilient, good-natured people that they are. I also want to show the dynamics that have made them who they are.

An author friend, Carmen Peone, who helped me with my Shandra Higheagle mystery series, that is partially set on the Colville Reservation where she lives, told me about a Choctaw woman author who has a workshop to help Native and non-Native writers better understand their characters. I spent all last week watching, listening, and taking notes. Then I picked up a book I purchased a month ago about a woman who grew up in the area near where my series, takes place and am learning more about the culture and family bonds within the culture I write about.

I have the two closest powwows written into my calendar to attend. I have attended both of them once before, years apart. This summer I will attend both and try to do what Sarah Elizabeth Sawyer suggested for attending a powwow. She had a lot of good insights even though her tribe is in Oklahoma, and I write about Oregon tribes.

One of the series that I work so hard to perfect the cultural dynamics is my Spotted Pony Casino mysteries set on the Umatilla Reservation outside of Pendleton, Oregon. Book 4 in the series released this month.

Lies, deceit, blackmail.

Murder ends it all.

Or does it?

When an employee at the Spotted Pony Casino is caught leaving early, Dela Alvaro, head of security confronts the woman. The lies the woman tells only piques Dela’s curiosity. After witnessing the employee threatening a man, she is found murdered in her car parked in the driveway of her home.

Upon learning the woman used her job at the casino to blackmail men, Dela feels compelled to solve the woman’s murder and teams up with Tribal Officer Heath Seaver. Not only does the duo have a death to solve, but there is also a mystery behind Dela’s dead father. Not to mention, her mom just announced she’s marrying a man Dela has never met.


I’ll leave you with something one of my readers sent me in an email. It made my day!

“Your characters are so full of life and personality, I find myself thinking they’re real folk! The sign of a great writer! I just finished the Squeeze. Loved it, love Dela! And when I get up your way, I’d love to buy you a cup of coffee. You are an inspiration for other NW authors and a marvelous advocate for our indigenous peoples. Please keep bringing up the issue of missing people…it needs to be kept alive or nothing will change. Thank you for all you and your posse do to make Oregon a better place. You have my support, 100%. And I’ll await your next book, whoever you choose to write about. I already know I’ll love it.”

Guest Blogger ~ Charlene Bell Dietz



Charlene Bell Dietz

We’re all drawn to what we don’t understand. It must be a primeval survival instinct. We have our daily world, which mostly consists of routine habits and familiar surroundings. But when something quirky intrudes, we find ourselves on high-alert mode. Like at night, when our usual surroundings fade into shadow, and we hear a strange noise, we stop to listen. The appeal of experiencing what’s unknown in the safety of our own cozy world creates our great demand and interest for the mystery novel.

Many authors preach “write what you know” to wanna-be writers. To me this doesn’t make sense. What motivates us to solve problems and engage in dreams comes from our not knowing. Writers are readers, and reader’s read to experience something new and maybe learn. As authors, we need to write what we don’t know.

If you don’t know something how can you write about it?

Maybe you’ve dreamed of being a double agent. Possibly you’ve longed to experience what it would be like to be in a Witness Protection Program. Perhaps you’ve wondered how it would feel to have the hot breath of a serial killer on your neck just before your heavy wrench smashes his face into the dirt. Only human beings can enjoy danger safely, living vicariously, through the words spoken or written by others. No other animal on our planet has this luxury.

My first novel, The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur, Kirkus Reviews (starred review) started with scant knowledge about an estranged aunt who was an ex-flapper. Inspiration for this novel came to me because her story felt too important to ignore. My ancient aunt had slammed into my busy life, vying for attention with my demanding career. This redoubtable, chain-smoking, rum-drinking woman made a game of criticizing me, turning the air blue with smoke and cuss words, and enchanting my husband.

I’d come home exhausted from my job of problem solving as an administrator in a heavy-handed bureaucracy of educators and also from my layman position, working with a veterinarian to evaluate research protocols at the Lovelace Respiratory Medical Research Laboratory. Every evening, I’d find this tipsy woman telling outrageous tales of her Roaring-Twenties life as a flapper in dangerous 1923 Chicago. She never revealed much about her own antics, except on occasion she’d toss out tidbits of her wild life like delicious appetizers.

Too good not to be told:

What if I combined this ancient flapper’s ramblings and fabrications with today’s devastating corporate espionage problems, using what I did know about biomedical research labs? Then this would be much more than just another Roaring-Twenties flapper story. Even though I’d fashioned an unusual combination, I thought it might be quite an intriguing mix. However, I knew nothing about the 1920s and even less about corporate spying.

Playing around with my knowledge of bits and pieces, tiny kernels of ideas developed into miniature tales. I shuffled them together using fictional characters, places, events, and conflicts. For my strange story to be engaging, each character would have to be connected with the others characters through powerful motivations. This meant even my secondary characters must be three dimensional. I had huge holes in my knowledge. I needed to know more.

Use what you know to figure out what you don’t know:

After untold hours of researching, I made likely guesses to fill in as many empty spaces as possible. I buried myself under a search and find mode. I had started out knowing only the Hollywood version of a flapper’s life along with scraps of information my aunt had given. This wouldn’t do, and I knew nothing about corporate espionage, but spies have always intrigued me. The more I learned the more fun I found in bringing my Flapper, Scientist, and Saboteur to life.

Writing the unknown:

I believe your story deserves to be startling and robust. I always research more than I can possibly use. Then I select only what’s rich and on target. For fun, I throw in some quirky stuff. Here’s the best part: I put all of the above together, mix with my wildest imagination, edit, delete, select the most powerful verbs, revise, revise, revise, then polish my story—with joy.

My award winning stories happen because I dare to write what I don’t know. How does your imagination help you write what you don’t know?

The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur intertwines a corporate espionage mystery with a generational battle-of-wills story between a dedicated professional intent on fighting chaos to restore order and a free-spirited aunt who needs her niece to live in the moment.

Beth Armstrong, a Denver biomedical scientist, wrestles with the impossible choice of saving her sabotaged, groundbreaking cure for multiple sclerosis or honoring an obligation to care for her cantankerous old aunt. Playing nursemaid ranks just a notch above catching the plague on Beth’s scale, yet her ex-flapper aunt would prefer catching anything deadly to losing her independence under the hands of her obsessive-compulsive niece. 

While a murderous culprit runs loose in the science institute, Beth finds her whole life out of balance. Unpredictable nefarious activities at the institute–which is rife with suspects–cause Beth to wonder if she can trust anyone, while at home her chain-smoking aunt entertains Beth’s neglected husband with nightly cocktails and raucous stories from the Roaring Twenties. The Flapper, the Scientist, and the Saboteur creates a compelling mystery intertwined with a generational battle-of-wills story between a dedicated professional intent on fighting chaos and restoring order, and a free-spirited aunt who insists her niece listen to her heart and learn to live in the moment.

Buy Links:


Charlene Bell Dietz, raised in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, now lives in the central mountains of New Mexico. She taught kindergarten through high school, served as a school administrator, and an adjunct instructor for the College of Santa Fe. After retirement she traveled the United States providing instruction for school staff and administrators. Her writing includes published articles, children’s stories, short stories and mystery and historical novels, winning awards from NM/AZ Book Awards, Writers Digest, Public Safety Writers, and International Book Awards, along with earning two of the coveted Kirkus Reviews (starred review) and having two books named to Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2018.

Connect with Charlene:




Hitting the Road to Write a Book

I’m heading on a road trip Wednesday to check out some locations I’ve written into the 4th book, The Squeeze, in the Spotted Pony Casino Mystery series. While I grew up close to the area and had quite a few trips to there, it has changed since I was a teenager.

I’m also going to the library in Pendleton to use their archives of the local paper to go through the motions my character will be doing in my book. And I need to see a restaurant and store that I use in the book. Then I’ll be headed to the Umatilla Reservation to drink in more of the atmosphere there. I plan to sit for an hour or more in the small store with a sandwich shop to watch interactions and if I’m lucky I’ll find someone to talk to about living there. After that, I’ll go to the museum and check out the books at the store in the museum to see if there are any books that I can use to learn more. And finally, I’ll sit in the casino an hour or two to soak up that atmosphere and add it to my story. I may even venture out to where I have my character’s house just to get view of it in a different season.

I’d hoped to visit with a tribal member that has been helping me with the culture of the reservation. He can’t get away to talk to me the days I could get to the Reservation.

It will be a five-hour drive from where I live to Pendleton. I’ll either spend the night at the casino if I don’t have enough time to do all I want, or if I do get my research finished and don’t have to go back, I’ll spend the night at my oldest daughter’s an hour from Pendleton and head home on Thursday.

This isn’t the first nor the last time I’ll be taking research trips for books. The 5th book in the series is set at an Indian casino on the Oregon Coast. I’m headed there in March with a friend to do research for that book.

And over the summer I took a trip with my sister-in-law for book 10 in my Gabriel Hawke series. Bear Stalker is now available in ebook and print and we are working on the audiobook.

Here is the blurb, cover, and buy link:

Book 10 in the Gabriel Hawke Series

Greed, Misdirection, and Murder

Oregon State Trooper Gabriel Hawke’s sister, Marion, is on a corporate retreat in Montana when she becomes a murder suspect. Running for her life from the real killer, she contacts Hawke for help.  

Hawke heads to Montana to find his sister and prove she isn’t a murderer. He hasn’t seen Marion in over twenty years but he knows she wouldn’t kill the man she was about to marry.

As they dig into possible embezzlement, two more murders, and find themselves trying to outsmart a wilderness-wise kidnapper, Hawke realizes his sister needs to return home and immerse herself in their heritage. Grief is a journey that must be traveled and knowing her fiancé had wanted Marion to dance again, Hawke believes their culture would help her heal.


Guest Blogger ~ A.M. Reade


I recently took an online quiz designed to determine whether I am a right-brained or left-brained person. There were probably a thousand other things that might have been a better use of my time, but I was intrigued (Clickbait, you’ve come to the right place). In a nutshell, right-brained people tend to be the more creative types, whereas left-brained people tend to be more analytical.

You may have seen this quiz, or recall one very much like it from 2015. People are shown a photo of a sneaker and asked what they see: is it gray and teal, or is it pink and white? Back in 2015, it was the dress. Did you see a blue and black dress or a white and gold one? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, Google it. You’ll see what I mean.

In a brilliant illustration of what it’s like to be me, the sneaker and dress quizzes indicate that I fall into both right-brained and left-brained camps—or neither, depending on how you look at it.

In all seriousness, though, everyone has both right- and left-brain capabilities, though one side or the other happens to be dominant in most people. I honestly don’t know which is my dominant side.

I used to consider myself a left-brained person: verbal, analytical, and (somewhat) organized. That makes sense—I practiced law before turning to writing fiction, and the law is very logic-based. I know, I can hear you laughing from here, but it really is true, at least in a courtroom setting. Writing a novel requires a certain amount of logic, too. A writer’s job is to come up with a plot and a story arc that make sense to the reader.

The longer I’m away from the law, though, the more I find myself doing things like handicrafts and gardening and artwork and experimental cooking (I like to tweak or make up recipes just to see what will happen) in my spare time. These are typically considered right-brained activities.

This got me thinking: where does that leave the zealous lover of mystery fiction?

And here’s what I’ve decided: writers and readers of mysteries get to experience the best of both worlds (both sides of the brain) simultaneously.

The act of writing satisfies and exercises both analytical and creative muscles, as does the act of reading. Is there anything better than finding yourself immersed in a story, following along as if you’re part of the action? Whether you’re writing that story or reading it, you’re using both sides of your brain. You’re walking the logical path of the plot from beginning to end, puzzling out the clues, and you’re using your imagination to experience the sights, sounds, scents, and tactile sensations of the setting.

If you’re a writer, you’ve done your job if a reader comes away with a feeling of satisfaction. If you’re a writer of historical mysteries, as I am, you’ve done your job if the reader also learns a little something in addition to enjoying the mystery.

If you’re a reader, you’ve done your job if you’ve simply paid attention to the story. You’ve very likely used your imagination without even realizing it. This is left- and right-brain exercise at its best.

It turned out to be a good thing for me to take that sneaker quiz because it led me down the rabbit hole of research into how people use different parts of their brains. It got me thinking of the ways in which I use my own brain.

If you’re reading this post, you probably love mysteries. You use your whole brain when you read. So where do you see yourself on the left-brain/right-brain spectrum? What do you do in addition to reading? Are you a stock analyst? Are you a painter? Does (or did) your day job exercise a different part of the brain than the part you use when you read? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks to the Ladies of Mystery for hosting me here today. It’s been a fun post to write and I hope it got you thinking.


The year is 1714. Two years have passed since Ruth Hanover vanished into the wilderness of the New Jersey colony without a trace, leaving behind her husband, William, and their daughter, Sarah.

Though William and Sarah have never stopped hoping Ruth will return, as time goes by it becomes less and less likely they will ever see her again.

Now William is acting strangely. He won’t tell Sarah why he’s conducting business with a mysterious stranger in the middle of the night, he won’t explain the sudden increase in his income, and he won’t share with her what people in town are saying about her mother’s disappearance.

When the time comes for Sarah to face her father’s secrets and figure out why her mother never came home that December day in 1712, what she learns will shock her tiny community on the New Jersey cape and leave her fighting for her life.

KINDLE: https://www.amazon.com/Cape-Menace-Historical-Mystery-Collection-ebook/dp/B087PJWX7Y

APPLE IBOOK: https://books.apple.com/us/book/cape-menace-a-cape-may-historical-mystery/id1511409624

KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/cape-menace-a-cape-may-historical-mystery

BARNES & NOBLE NOOK: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cape-menace-amy-m-reade/1136964165

GOOGLE PLAY: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Amy_M_Reade_Cape_Menace?id=P3zkDwAAQBAJ

PAPERBACK: https://www.amazon.com/Cape-Menace-Historical-Mystery-Collection/dp/1732690782

Amy M. Reade is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of cozy, historical, and Gothic mysteries.

A former practicing attorney, Amy discovered a passion for fiction writing and has never looked back. She has so far penned three standalone Gothic mysteries, the Malice series of Gothic novels, the Juniper Junction Holiday Cozy Mystery series, the Libraries of the World Mystery Series, and the Cape May Historical Mystery Collection. In addition to writing, she loves to read, cook and travel. Amy lives in New Jersey and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

You can find out more on her website at www.amymreade.com.

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