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This Fall’s West River Mystery News

This Fall’s West River Mystery News

This fall’s West River Mystery news is here. Depending on where you live take a minute to buckle up, settle into the saddle, or fill your travel mug with coffee because we’ve got a lot of ground to cover. Here goes:

  • See Jane Sing’s release date of November 1, 2022 is one short month away. The Kindle version is available for pre-order on Amazon right now. Every pre-order improves a book’s Amazon visibility on the release date for logarithm reasons to boring to go into here. (Plus I can barely spell the word logarithm much less understand how they work.) To sweeten the pot, customers who pre-orders will receive an electronic scrapbook with pictures of and stories about the real life experiences that inspired the West River Mystery series. Also, the names of the customers will be entered into a drawing. The winner will receive a batch of the goodies featured in the recipe at the end of See Jane Sing! The goodies will be baked and mailed by me to wherever the winner lives.
  • I completed the first draft of See Jane Dance! (That’s Book 3 in the series, which will be released in the fall of 2023.) If you heard a cataclysmic shout the afternoon of September 20, that was me shouting for joy.
  • With the rough draft finished, I’m madly working on marketing stuff. Book launch team members have received their advance reader copies of See Jane Sing! as they prepare to write and post honest reviews on Amazon on or soon after the book’s release date. If you’d like to join the team, leave a comment below. I’ll respond with more information.
  • Last but not least, I’m compiling a list of media outlets (newspapers, radio stations, television stations) to send a West River Mystery Series press release. I’m also gathering names of libraries and book stores open to author programs. If you know of reporters, radio talk show hosts, librarians or book store owners in your area who fit that bill, would you leave a comment below?

Well, that wraps up this fall’s West River Mystery news. Thanks for entering into the fun. It means so much!

For Mom, Another Birthday Means Reinventing Herself

For Mom, Another Birthday Means Reinventing Herself

For Mom, another birthday means reinventing herself

For Mom, another birthday means another chance to reinvent herself. For some people, that means claiming to be younger than they are. For Mom, it means the opposite. She began making such claims five years ago, about a month before her birthday.

“What do you want to do to celebrate turning 91?” I asked.

“I’ll be 95,” she replied.

“What year were you born?”

“1928,” she replied correctly without missing a beat.

“If that’s the case, you’re going to be 91.”

Faced with the math, which she could still compute at that time, she conceded the point. But not any more. For 2 years now, her insistence that she is 5 years older than her birth certificate claims has been remarkably consistent. I’ve been equally consistent about seeing if she’ll slip up.

“You’re going to be 94 on September 3,” I told her in late August. “What do you want to do to celebrate?”

“Nothing. And I’m going to be 99,” she shot back.

“Nothing at all? Not even cake and ice cream.”

“I could do that.”

“What kind of cake?”

“I don’t know.”

“Maybe homemade German Chocolate Cake?” I mentioned her favorite.

“That would be okay.”

The morning of her birthday, my brother and I served up cake and ice cream in her room at the care facility where she lives. My sister who lives out of state called and chatted with her.

After we sang Happy Birthday to her, I asked, “What’s it feel like to be 94?”

“I’m 99.” She handed my brother her half-eaten cake and ice cream. “I can’t eat any more.”

Soon after, my sister said good-bye, and Mom fell asleep. My brother and I packed up the food and went on our way.

“The only question now,” my brother said as we walked down the hall, “is whether she’ll be with us on her next birthday.”

“And if she is,” I added with her twinkle in my eye, “whether she’ll be 99 again or 100.”

See Jane Dig! Will Be a Dirty Business

See Jane Dig! Will Be a Dirty Business

See Jane Dig!, will be a dirty business, when I get down to writing it the fourth book in the West River Mystery Series. I learned this lesson on a morning spent looking for fossilized tortoise shells and crocodile teeth while scrambling around the rocky, washed out terrain pictured above. Friends and colleagues who would have voted me ‘most likely to avoid dirt, sweat, and hiking” probably don’t believe I would do such a thing statement.

But I did, and it goes to show that authors 1) will sacrifice all for their art, and that 2) they are crazy people.

With that truth established, let’s circle back to the morning Hiram and I spent digging in the dirt for fossils. Or to use terminology preferred by the good people at the Pioneer Trails Regional Museum in Bowman, North Dakota,* on our paleo site tour. Our guide was Darrah Steffen, the museum’s paleontology curator.** We followed her by car about 30 miles west and slightly north of Bowman to the site of the paleo tour in Slope County. Then we followed her on foot to what she called a “micro site,” which looked like this.

Not quite the dinosaur bones sticking out of bare earth I had pictured. Quite a disappointment, in fact, until we got the hang of spotting bits of rock just a little different from the surrounding dirt and debris. Like these, which Darrah identified as 65 million-year-old fossilized crocodile skin.

We didn’t find any crocodile teeth, but our eventual haul included fossilized tortoise shells, more crocodile skin, petrified wood and reeds. Then we headed back to the town for lunch and and afternoon in the museum’s paleontology lab. We used specialized paleontologist tools*** to clean the fossils. Once they were squeaky clean, Darrah put them under the microscope so we could see what the they looked like up close and personal. Here’s a magnification of the crocodile skin.

Amazing, huh? Finally, Darrah took us into the lab’s inner sanctum and showed us how they will label and store the fossils found during our tour. She told us about the inland sea and its coastland which included the far western North Dakota, far western and northen South Dakota, and eastern Montana.**** She also answered my questions about the tools and processes used in the late 1970s when See Jane Dig! will take place.

The plot particulars are a mystery to me at this point, since I’m still slogging away at the first draft of See Jane Dance! What I do know about West River Mystery #4 is this:

  • The dinosaur dig will be somewhere in fictional Tipperary County, which is located in real dinosaur country.
  • Jane will take her students on a spring field trip to the dinosaur dig.
  • Jane’s students will assist their teacher up and down the ravines, much like my husband helped me.
  • Dinosaur dig tools include pick axes, sledgehammers, and dental picks so there will be plenty of murder weapons available.
  • See Jane Dig! will be a dirty business. Murder mysteries are like that.
  • Book #4 will release in late fall of 2024 or early 2025.

What do you think of the of dirty business Jane is getting herself into?

*Bowman is a real town, about 68 miles north and a little west of the fictional town of Little Missouri in fictional Tipperary County. Bowman is the county seat of Bowman County, just over the border in North Dakota.
**She holds an undergrad degree in geology and a master’s in paleontology and could teach Jane a thing or two.
***Tap water and toothbrushes.
****This area is rich in dinosaur skeletons, including stegosaurus, triceratops, T-Rex, and hadrosaurus.

See Jane Dance! Is Coming Along

See Jane Dance! Is Coming Along

Book 3 in West River Mystery Series is in the works. Learn how See Jane Dancer! is coming along and why Jane is taking square dance lessons.

See Jane Dance! is coming along. As in, I hope to finish the first draft in the next month to six weeks. So while you’re engrossed in See Jane Run! or eagerly waiting for See Jane Sing!’s release this fall, my head is all See Jane Dance! all the time. Since first drafts are hell, this is not my head’s favorite place to be. I’m escaping confinement briefly to let you in on a few details.

  • See Jane Dance! is the third book in the West River Mystery Series.
  • The publisher, Midwestern Books, originally hoped to release it in January of 2023. Because we now realize that was a bite too big for the writer and the publisher to chew, the release date has been pushed back to late fall of 2023 or early winter of 2024.
  • The cover is amazing and will be disclosed sometime in 2023. There is a fiddle on the book’s cover, hence the picture of the fiddler for now.
  • The reason for the fiddler is that square dance lessons are a main driver of the plot in Book #3.
  • Part of the research for See Jane Dance! involved a long weekend at a square dance center and campground near Lolo Springs, Montana.* I interviewed the owner and the square dance caller about the progression of steps taught during beginner lessons. The interview was necessary because we remember very little about the 8 weeks of square dance lessons Hiram and I took 40 years ago when we lived in South Dakota.
  • The one thing Hiram and I do remember is the song the teacher used each time we practiced a new step––There’s Something About You Baby I Like.** The song does appear in See Jane Dance!
  • Readers will find nods to the old Vander Meer Bakery in Le Mars, Iowa, South Dakota’s frigid winters, and school Valentine’s Day parties.***
  • Squeamish readers should be aware that this book includes more blood than previous books, including one human death, several dead cattle, and a taxidermy shop.
  • As of this posting 36 of 50 chapters in the first draft are written.****

Enough avoiding returning to the rough draft. It’s back to See Jane Dance! for me.

*The campground is closed this summer due to a death in the family, and their website is no longer there.
**Those who click on the You Tube video can thank me later for the ear worm.
***For which elementary school teachers deserve sainthood.
****Not that I’m counting or anything, but this means that 14 chapters of hell remain.

The See Jane Sing! Book Cover Is Here

The See Jane Sing! Book Cover Is Here

The See Jane Run! Book Cover Is Here

The See Jane Sing! book cover is here and ready for the world to see.* Even better, the publisher will soon list it on Amazon. I’ll give you a head’s up, as well as roll out the pre-order bonuses, when the time comes. Here are some tidbits to whet your bookish appetite until then.

  • Midwestern Books will release See Jane Sing! in October or November. That’s a month or two later than originally planned, but not by much.
  • The events in the story start the Saturday after Thanksgiving and end on Christmas Eve. Which means this book is a Christmas mystery. That wasn’t my intent, but I must stay it worked out quite nicely.
  • Hiram, my husband, is of the same opinion. In fact, he gave it the coveted Hiram Seal of Approval.
  • Back to the Christmas theme…the wreath hanging from the “G” in the title was my idea. I’m very proud of my contribution.
  • In my humble opinion, this book has Hallmark Christmas Movie potential.
  • A call to join the See Jane Sing! launch team will be coming soon. It would be great to have you be a part of it.

So what do you think of the cover? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts.

*Those who attended the See Jane Run! book launch party in June got a sneak peek at that event and free chocolate. Which proves that live events are replete with amazing perks!