Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Sandra here, with two fabulous Seeker books to give away here in Seekerville. Grab a cup of Velvet Chocolate coffee, hot chocolate or hot tea and let's go exploring.

An editor requested a full manuscript from me set in --ta da-- you guessed it.
The Grand Canyon National Park.

I've been there many times as a tourist, but I needed specific information since one of the characters is a park ranger. And another character becomes lost. So I needed to know the correct procedures, etc.

Now I could have found all this info by phone, email and/or contacting the nearest national park service.

But look at this view? What could be more exciting than to actually go there?

We were camped a mere 150 miles away in the Sedona area. (the locale of my other wip) so my cousin who hasn't been there since she was fifteen was game to do a day trip. We packed up a picnic lunch and had a blast.

And we obtained some really useful information. Not just for this book, but for a whole series.
We're writers. Right? So any stimulation sets our brains to rambling with "what ifs" and "supposes."

The park ranger I interviewed, told me stories guaranteed to excite your imagination. For example, there was the story of the woman's pack found by hikers on the trail. Sure enough, the rangers found her body several thousand feet down, but she had in her hands human hair that wasn't hers. They searched more and found below her a teenage boy.

So what is your imagination doing with this info?

Mine pictured all kinds of possibilities. Was she pushed and she grabbed the assailant's hair? Was the boy someone she knew? Was she having a snack and he fell past her and she tried to rescue him? Was he trying to steal her pack and the tussle resulted in the fall? Were they two hikers who met on the trail and were sharing a snack and the boy tripped?

Now mind you, I had just finished Mary Connealy's WRANGLER IN PETTICOATS, where Sally had been shot off a cliff in the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park, so this story the ranger told me set my imagination off.

There are more stories in the book, OVER THE EDGE: DEATH IN GRAND CANYON by Michael Ghiglieri and Thomas Myers, which was recommended by the helpful clerks in one of the park's visitor centers.
There were two clerks and one of them is a writer. So of course we hit it off and exchanged email addresses. Now these women are going to be great people to contact if I have further questions down the road.

The park ranger was extremely informative. Did you know they have a ranger assigned to Public Relations who speaks specifically with authors, the press, etc.? They want the correct information going into published works. And she sat with me in front of a crackling fire and answered all my questions. She even brought out samples of the equipment they use in search and rescue such as the radios. (There's very limited cell reception out there)

At one of the observation sites, there was a ranger standing around to answer questions. You can imagine how much fun that was. He was probably bored standing there so was having as much fun as we were sharing all of his experiences and knowledge.
He dispatched more information and also recommended the book PARK RANGER, TRUE STORIES FROM A RANGER'S CAREER by Nancy Eileen Muleady=Mecham.

So if you have a wip in mind and have the opportunity to actually visit the setting and locale, you can get stimulated with ideas and information. I could hardly wait to get home and start writing. This not only gave me a boost, but all the new information is going to add depth and believability to my wip.

Don't be shy to talk to people in the field. Most people love to talk about their work, their lives and themselves. They love to share with someone who is genuinely interested. Their stories will spark your imagination and give you ideas for your characters.

Seeing the actual locale brings it alive in your mind, therefore bringing it alive on print for the reader. I now have photos to look at and take me there when I'm writing.

So have I inspired you to go out and explore in your area?

I hope so.

And in light of our Thanksgiving holiday coming up, I have to say I'm soooooo thankful for our national forefathers who had the wisdom to set aside national parks for us to enjoy. The national park system does such a fantastic job of displaying information that shows the cultural history, geological and physical history, the unique features of the the flora and fauna.

Please share in your comments any exciting adventures that stimulated your wip. All those who comment have a chance to win a Seeker book. I'll be picking two winners so please share.

And if you need a snack, we passed through the Navajo Reservation where there are vendors who sell Indian fry bread.

This is like a cross between a tortilla and pita stuffed with beans or dribbled with honey. Yum. One of the ladies offered to serve some during the day, so help yourself.

We are so thankful to have all of you as friends here in Seekerville.


  1. Hi Sandra I enjoyed your post and would love to go to the Grand Canyon.
    I am not a writer but I must say hearing info of a place is good.
    I know a couple of times when I have been at zoos I have ended up talking to a volunteer who knows quite abit about different areas. On was to do with birds and learning why magpies seem to bury there selves in the dirt and spread there wings, its so that the ants and insects will eat the bugs on there bodies. also learnt it takes several magpies to look after a baby.
    Then at the Canberra Zoo got chatting with a helper and he walked around telling me about the animals and different things. I made the comment the Snow leopard's has two different coloured eyes, one eye was blue and cloudy and it had a cataract on it which is why it was different. Taking the time to talk to guides gives alot more info. If I was a writer I could see the benefit.

  2. Congrats on the manuscript request. That is absolutely fantastic.

    I have a good friend that I grew up with who is now a Federal Air Marshall and is hoping I will do something more modern. Two of his friends provides source information to a thrllier writer and the writer thanked him by making them characters in one of his novels and then having them killed off. He willing to provide any information he can, provided I figure out an unusual way to off him.

    As for places, Himeji Castle inspired one of my WIPs. I so wish I could go to Japan and do more research.

    Always up for a Seeker book

  3. What glorious pictures. Congrats on the request too.

    I love talking to rangers, guides, and volunteers where ever we visit. We also make it a practice to stay in a B and B as much as we can when we travel. We learn a lot from the locals.

    You are so right about making a ranger's day by asking questions. They are a fount of information often ignored by most of the public who just want to see the view and then move on! We recently had that experience at Chimney Rock, NC as we were walking down with a trail monitor, a guy whose job is to walk the trail and keep an eye out for tourists in medical trouble. The stories he told!

    Put me in for the Seeker book.

    As always this week, Blessed Thanksgiving. I am thankful for everyone here.

    Peace, Julie

  4. Oh, Sandra, those pics!!!! Amazing! I can't wait to go west sometime and see all this. Lovely, lovely.

    And I'm sippin' coffee and enjoying the fun of Thanksgiving prep!

    Your research sounds delightful and having read your work, I can promise people that the scenes are vivid with the emotion and the setting, so worthy of the majesty of this place.

    Wonderful stuff, Sandra!!!!

  5. It is so evident that you are a writer!
    How exciting it must be to interview and glean so much information from the locals and park rangers! My husband and I ask questions when we take t ours and visit sites, but as readers we have info with no method to use it! How exciting it must be to be creative with such knowledge!
    Bless you for sharing!
    Chakasa58 at gmail dot com

  6. Hi Ausjenny, Good to hear from you.

    And I never knew that about magpies. How interesting.

    Talk about exciting scenery. I can hardly wait to go to Australia. My hubby and I have that on our to do list but when we go we want to spend some real time there. Like a couple of months at least. So someday.

  7. Hey Walt, Ruthy gave me a coffee mug a long time ago that has written on it "I kill off all my friends in my book and you're on page 12".

    You need one of those for your friends.

    How terrific to have resources like that with your friends.

    Hey when you go to Japan can hubby and I tag along?

  8. Sandra,

    I love all the mysteries you found in the Grand Canyon. The one with the teenager and woman starts the mind whirling with possibilities. Sounds like you hit a gold mine of information. And I love Indian tacos, what a treat!

    Here’s some inspiration for a wip. This morning I’ve been discussing with my executive director and our curator a sword in our collection. It was forged in the 1800s, but the mystery is it is a Russian blade forged to an American handle (this wasn’t necessarily uncommon, but how did our sailor get ahold of a finely crafted Russian blade, forged in a village in Russia known for their skill in crafting swords). The blade is made of Damascus steel (This is an extremely durable steel, but also possessing incredible flexibility. Even today this blade is exceptionally sharp.). Here’s the other mystery there’s a piece broken off the blade. With Damascus steel this wouldn’t just happen if the sailor dropped it, or even through time. This mystery brings to mind an intense swashbuckling fight aboard a frigate, steel clashing with steel and what or who was left wearing a piece of sword.


  9. Hi Julie, I never thought of B and B's for local contact info. What a great idea. Thanks for sharing.

    I would love to hear some of those stories your ranger told. Isn't it amazing all of the experiences they have?

    Thanks for the Thanksgiving blessing. Back at you.

  10. Good morning, Sandra! You know how I LOVE the Grand Canyon! Love to find a quiet place to sit along the rim, away from the tourists, and watch the colors change as the clouds go overhead and the sun moves across the sky. Different every day, every season.

    And is that a Navajo taco from the Cameron Trading Post? I once saw a little tourist kid order "a taco" there and when that plate was set in front of him I thought he was going to cry. Expecting a wimpy Taco Bell, no doubt. Poor little fella--mom probably always told him he had to clean his plate!

    I've read "Death in the Canyon," too -- I think it first came out in 2001--and definitely needs to be revised with all the deaths that have occurred there since that time. It's a VERY dangerous place and too many treat it like it's Disneyland.

    I hope the editor LOVES your book as that area is so ripe for storytelling!

  11. Loves 2 Read Romance - LauraNovember 23, 2010 at 7:52 AM

    Hi Sandra!! Thanks for sharing! I love the pictures you have put up. Congrats on getting all the information for you current book!!

    Happy Thanksgiving!!

    fantum2004 AT sbcglobal DOT net

  12. Hi Ruthy,

    Talk about scenes that are vivid with the emotion and the setting, your North Country series bring your area alive in your books.

    Love the latest, Made To Order Family

    Have fun prepping for the holiday. I know you're going to have family fun. Blessings good friend.

  13. Oh, and Sandra -- I know someone who is part of a helicopter crew that goes into the Canyon to air-flight injured people out. Let me know if you want me to contact her to see if she'd be willing to help out with any details from that perspective.

  14. Hi Charlotte, That's great that you glean all of that knowledge. I'm sure you share it somehow. You probably show photos and tell family and friends all about your adventures.

    That's a gift for them. And you never know who you've inspired to travel there also.

    Have a wonderful holiday.

  15. Oh Kirsten, What an exciting imagination and bit of history you have. I hope you're going to find a way to get this into a wip.

    Thanks for sharing. You now have my imagination swirling. Guess we're writers. LOL

  16. Good Morning, Sandra!

    I think hands on research is the best but so far, I've set my book and WIP's in an area I know well so I haven't had the chance to travel farther than the state I live in.

    Congrats on the request for the full!

    RRossZediker at yahoo dot com

  17. Morning Glynna, We waved at you when we passed by.

    Yes, we are so blessed to have the Grand Canyon, one of the world's more famous natural wonders in our backyard here in Arizona.

    Your books bring alive Northern Arizona. I can hardly wait for your release of Second Chance Courtship, a Love Inspired releasing in February.

    Yep, we stopped at the Cameron Trading Post. Lots of fun stuff there.

    And you're right. The Grand Canyon is definitely a place where you want to be careful and follow the rules. Your life depends upon it.

  18. Glynna, Yes, yes, yes. I would love to talk to your helicopter friend. Thank you.

    See folks, how sharing info always brings you more.

  19. Morning Laura,

    Happy Thanksgiving to you also.

    We're thankful for our Seeker friends.

  20. Congratulations Sandra! Outstanding!!

    (and I just read on Facebook - congrats are in order for Camy and F.O.S. Melanie too!) Yee haw!

    Beautiful photos. Who's the lovely model?

    How much FUN to visit with "a purpose". :)

    When we went years ago, I'd heard all about it but we got there in the afternoon.

    It was nice... but... nothing to wax eloquent over.

    HOWEVER, we heard to go watch the sunrise. So we set our alarm about 3:45am (it was summer so you had to get there REALLY early), got ourselves out there and drove into a nearly empty parking lot. PITCH BLACK. There were 2-3 cars there already though. We took our flashlights and found the path (don't want to misstep around the G.C.!). We found the others and all sat around in the dark. But the funny thing was, everyone was whispering...

    I don't know what it was - anticipation? Closeness of the dark enveloping us? Not sure.

    A few more hardy souls showed up and joined the whispering.

    I guess 30 mins later, we all turned east as a fringe of light appeared on the horizon. (Think lit candle in an interior room at midnight - it really attracted your eye.)

    And so - we saw the sun rise... And as it did, in my mind, there was organ music playing in some splendid cathedral.

    The whispering stopped and all of us sat, tears flowing freely, not a word was spoken.

    I still have a photo (somewhere!) - the world turned absolutely red for several moments and then a brilliant yellow sun inched its way over the horizon...

    Then it was over. Light is an amazing thing.

    If you get the chance, return and share that experience. I'm NOT a morning person, but I would do that again in a heartbeat.

    God is good.

    Love your point about talking to people and gleaning info too. :)

    yes - put me in please! may at maythek9spy dot com

    and you really must show us that mug from Ruthy. What a hoot! :)

    I'm enjoying decaf Chai tea thanks!

  21. Hi Rose, The Grand Canyon is my back yard. So it makes sense to use the area you know.

    You live in a really interesting place. Have you been to Wind Caves National Park? Hubby and I spelunked in those. Whew. I bet you could weave some stories there.

    Is your debut novel LILIES OF THE FIELD set in South Dakota? When is it coming out btw? I looked on Barbour's website and couldn't find it yet.

  22. KC, Your description of the sunrise at Grand Canyon is so vivid. I can tell you're a writer.

    And yes, my first view of the GC was at sunrise. My mom drove us up from Flagstaff in the middle of the night and plopped me down in the dark at the edge.
    My heart stopped when it turned light and I saw how far down it was. YIKES.

    But yes, it does inspire tears. God's creation is amazing. Everywhere.

    Come by and I'll serve you some chai decaf in the mug. It is a hoot.

  23. Fun, Sandra! This takes me back. I haven't seen much of the USA, but the Grand Canyon happens to be something I've been priviliged to see on three different occasions. It's beautiful!

    My wip inspiration was a family vacation to the Smoky Mountains in 2004. I grew up in the Missouri Ozark Mountains and so I felt right at home with the Smokies. They are the same type of mountain as the Ozarks only bigger. I totally fell in love with the Smokies. So, when my heroine decided she needed a get-a-way, what better place to choose?

    I lived in a small town outside Kansas City, Missouri before moving to SC this August. A friend of mine is the former police chief there. He let me ask all kinds of questions for my novel on police procedure and realistic actions and reactions on the part of criminal and victim, etc. I knew I could get all this stuff off the internet somewhere, but I'm a hands on gal and a people person. Dry research is NOT my forte! I kept apologizing for all my question, but he finally told me that he loves answering those kinds of questions and he can't wait to read my book. :D THAT made my day!

    Kirsten! I'm intrigued! I'm a contemporary writer, so one of you historical novelists PLEASE write this story. This inquiring mind wants to know!

    Rose, I love your name. Roses are my favorite flower. And I agree with you about the research.

    I'm having peach jello for breakfast. Yum! Anybody want some?

    Please add my name to the hat for the drawing. lr. mullin at live. com


  24. Ah, Arizona! Land that I love! The whole state gives me writing inspiration and her history is as interesting as the state is beautiful!

  25. OMG, Sandra. Those shots of the Grand Canyon are GORGEOUS! Completely makes up for the Lord's lack of judgement when He created the hippo, LOL!

    I never knew the park system actually assigned someone to talk PR to writers and such. What a great idea.

    Yep, even having just crawled out of bed, my mind raced when you described the death on the trail. So many scenarios from just one instance. Unbelievable.

    Hope you had a great time at the Canyon. I absolutely loved the pics and am so jealous!

    Love the fry bread. Really, shouldn't we be having carrot sticks and fruit since Thanksgiving is just days away??

    Thanks for sharing, Sandra!

  26. Hi Linnette, Wow, the Ozarks and the Smokies. I've only had the privilege to visit there once, but I love stories set there.

    How exciting that you use the area you've traveled in also. Makes it so much more real in your mind.

    What a great friend to have in the police force. See they do love to talk about their work to someone who is genuinely interested. I'm with you on getting the research live.

  27. Hello BK, Are you a fellow Arizonan?

    Yes, the whole state has spectacular scenery from the Chiricahuas, through the Superstition Mountains, and north through the red rocks of Sedona and the majestic volcanos of the San Francisco Peaks, Monument Valley and all the Native American ruins to explore.

    Like I said, I'm so thankful our forefathers preserved so many sites across this whole nation so that we can observe and learn the history and natural phenomena we are blessed with.

  28. Audra, Carrot sticks and fruit? Really?

    You are so funny. I always questioned His creation of the mosquito. I don't see any purpose except to test my patience.

    Talk about spectacular scenery. The Colorado Rockies are right out your back door. I'm sure we'll feel all that beauty when we read your debut novel, Rocky Mountain Herocoming out in January, 2011.

  29. Ah, Sandra and Velvet Chocolate coffee -- two of my favorite things!!

    I just LOVE how you hop in your camper and research all over the place, Sandra -- SO cool!! Hey, is your mileage deductible, I hope?

    I gotta go do some research right now, as a matter of fact ... to figure out where the heck my Christmas decorations are ...


  30. Great pics, Sandra! I'd love to visit the Grand Canyon. Will you be my guide? You were the perfect guide to the Rocky Mt. Nat'l. Park.

    You're so lucky to travel to the beautiful places you write about.

  31. Sandra -- I sure do wish our "forefathers" had as much foresight with the Red Rock Country near Sedona. Beautiful open country back in the days of the earliest John Wayne movies, but now a clutter of homes, hotels, resorts and tourist traps. But in spite of all that, I still love going there, especially getting off the beaten paths and away from "civilization"!

    The first spring I lived in Arizona I went to the Grand Canyon in late April--got a room at the on-the-rim El Tovar hotel so I could take my 35mm camera out for sunrise & sunset shots.

    Although it had been a beautiful, balmy spring, when I got to the Canyon there was an inversion--clouds filling the entire canyon. I felt so sorry for those who stood there on the outlooks saying "I'm from (wherever). This was a once-in-a-lifetime trip. I'll never get to come again." But I lingered in the cold and damp and every so often the clouds down below would part, just a tiny bit, and it was like looking down through time. Amazing.

    The next morning, though, the clouds were still there, even thicker, and we'd had about five or six inches of snow in the night--and it was still coming down. The conditions can change so quickly up there. Wonderful place to set your story.

  32. Sandra,
    So glad I dropped by today. First of all, where do you get that coffee??

    Secondly, my dh and I went to the Grand Canyon for our honeymoon. I have found memories of trying to keep him from falling over the edge as he took photos!

    I'll never forget driving around a bend and there it was. Just like someone had painted a picture of the Grand Canyon on the sky! Surreal.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  33. That's FOND memories, not FOUND ones!

  34. Julie, thanks to a gift card during Seekerville Birthday month, I have your Daughters of Boston series taunting me from my bookshelf. Can't wait to dig into them! :D

    Sandra, it is beautiful area! Amazing how it can be so vastly different from the Grand Canyon and yet they are both so amazingly majestic! What an awesome creator we have! I had a couple different people from the Smokies read the first few chapters of my book and they said I got the description down perfectly. That made my day!

    "Finding Beth" completed wip


  35. Hi Julie, Yes, the mileage is deductible. Just remember to keep a detailed log for IRS. They actually are the ones who taught me how to do that.

    Did you travel to Boston and Ireland to research your series Daughters of Boston? I loved those books.

    Hey I hear Hope Undaunted is number five on the Book Lists Top Ten. Is that correct?

  36. Cara mia, Sure come on out. And then you can take me on a tour of the beaches near you.

    Did you tour the Newport area where your Ladies of Summerhill series is set?

    I enjoyed Love on A Dime and can hardly wait for Love on Assignment coming out in January.

  37. Wonderful pictures, Sandra.
    You are great at research. Yours is actually fun! Mine is a lot less so. I research medieval times, so there aren't many people around I can talk to, and it's not in the budget to fly to Germany or England. Rats!

    Thanks for the post and the interesting Grand Canyon stories. :-)

  38. Glynna, You're so right. And who knew the area would become so congested. We used to camp out in the gorgeous desert around Sedona in the seventies. Now the places where we camped are all built up with houses.

    Yes, I've been to the Grand Canyon when it was filled with clouds and felt so bad for the busloads of tourists from so many different countries who weren't going to get to see the majestic beauty. But when the clouds clear and the snow sits on those red rocks. Oh my. The beauty is breathtaking.

  39. Wonderful post, Sandra!! I loved reliving my visit to the Grand Canyon through your gorgeous pictures. I suspect that rugged country is an easy place to die. Great setting for thrillers and suspense.

    Major congratulations on the request for the full!


  40. Hi Lyn,

    Chocolate Velvet is made by Millstone. You can click on this link for the store locator that sells Millstone.

    Loved the story of your honeymoon. What a great place to start a marriage.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you also.

  41. Hi Melanie,

    CONGRATULATIONS. I heard you sold your second book. Maybe someday you will be able to travel to those countries.

    But you must be getting it right from your research because you're selling those stories. wooo hoooo

  42. Linnette, Congrats on nailing that setting.

  43. Morning Janet,

    Thank you.

    I loved all your historicals.

    Please remind us of your next release. I can hardly wait.

  44. I've been to the Grand Canyon - though I was fairly young at the time - 9ish? We talked about it when we were in Vegas a few years ago but decided that we weren't going to - an 8 month old who had already been put through way too many miles on that trip.

    I've also decided that Julie is not evil. Well, not as evil as she was yesterday. I reserve the right to change my mind again later.

    But now I have to get ready and then clean before going to school :p.

  45. I have a book coming in May called Deep Trouble which is set in the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

    I read a book called The Man Who Walked Through Time for research. He was the first man to go into the Canyon on the far south side and walk the whole length of it, which is almost STUNNINGLY difficult. Which is why no one had ever done it before. He had to prepare for a LONG TIME. He had food and supplied cached for himself in two different spots becuase there is very scarce water...weird considering it lines a river, but mostly it's inmpossible to get to the river.

    His reactions in that book are so cool, so NON_PROFESSIONAL if you know what I mean. Just a man, experiencing the canyon, his first hand impressions. I had that book marked up in a hundred places where he'd make some passing references to the smell or sound, the way the rocks looked, things that surprised or fascinated or scared him.

    Sandra helped me a LOT. A lot of pictures, plus stories from her own trips there and details I'd never heard.

    It gave me just a strong wish to go to the bottom of the canyon, hike down there. But it's too late for me now. The physical demands or hiking down there are NOT compatible with my oval figure and achy knees.

    Even the mule rides are really strenuous.

    But I loved the research. And Sandra was a huge help.

  46. Ruthy, where I can get that coffee cup that Sandra is talking about.

    Sandra, a trip to Japan would be a blast. I miss it and can't wait to go back. (Granted, going there wth a family of four and spending two weeks equals a year's expenses at a public college. )

  47. And I read Jim White's book about Carlsbad Cavern. That book comes in July, called Out of Control. I've fictionalized the cavern but I've tried to catch it's spirit.

    There's so much cool stuff about Carlsbad Cavern.

    One that came to mind after reading your post, Sandra is, that in exploring the cavern, which is still not FULLY explored, they just found a new cavern about a year ago that they still haven't found a way into yet....anyway, while exploring it, they have now found THREE BODIES.

    No idea how in the heck they got there.

    One was sewn into a leather pouch, like maybe an indian burial. One was under a dripping calcium deposit and the body was coated and coated and coated. When the found it people thought it was a giant man because of the layers of calcium.

    And one was buried about (I can't remember exactly) but HUNDREDS of feet deep in bat guano. They were diffing the bat guano out to sell for fertilizer and they found a body.

    No idea in the world how any of them got there. Fascinating. I just got chills reading about it.

    For book research I love these first person type accounts. Because I always think THIS is how it would strike my characters, if they have no real scientific knowledge, only their own, honest immpressions.

  48. Hi Sandra:

    I love seeing your pictures!

    Last week we (dw) had to drive out to California and it was torture to see signs reading, “Grand Canyon,” “Meteor Crater” and “Petrified Forest” and not be able to stop! We stayed in Williams and it was all we could do not to take the train to the Canyon. We are still not over the shock.

    Then comes your pictures! I love the southwest and would live in Santa Fe or Sedona if I could. If you need a beta reader for your book, I’d love to do it!

    BTW, I love national park mysteries. Have you read any of Nevada Barr’s novels? She was a park ranger for many years until she turned writer. All her books take place in national parks. I think you’d like her book “Ill Wind”.

    When I was visiting the Natchez Trace I spoke with a park ranger who was Barr’s partner for many years. We had the best talk. I never meet a park ranger I didn’t admire.

    Also there is a StairStep video with three walking tours through the Grand Canyon. You watch while you are exercising and it will scare the dickens out of you! You’ll be walking on a two foot wide ledge, a mile drop to the right, and people coming at you from the other direction. There will also be puddles of wather on the path! This video will definitely get you into the mood to write! Highly recommended.

    Thanks for all the pictures. We are planning our next trip which we hope will be a vacation.


  49. Hi Carol,

    Your 8 month old should be old enough now to really enjoy what he/she is seeing.

    And you'll enjoy it as an adult also.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  50. Hi Mary,

    It was fun helping you with research as I had to go through photos which brought up memories of fun times. smile

    I can hardly wait until Deep Trouble debuts in May. I know its going to be an exciting read given that it is set in the Grand Canyon AND a Mary Connealy read.

    I'll have to look up the book that inspired you.

  51. Hey Walt, We're going to have to become best sellers so that we can make that trip.

    Keep it on your mind. It WILL happen.

  52. Mary, Carlsbad Caverns. They are fantastic.

    What a great book you mentioned for research.

    And yes, spooky about those bodies. Might have been people exploring and lost. Or murdered and hidden.

    Oh boy. May for Deep Trouble and now another in July. woo hoo

  53. Fascinating, Sandra! I bet you did hear some great real-life stories interviewing the ranger--what a gold mine for an author!

    Love the Grand Canyon.

    And I loved Carlsbad Caverns, Mary! We were there in 1994, I think, and I remember going back in the evening to watch the bats fly out of the cave. A simply amazing sight!

  54. Sandra, I love that mug!!!

    One should ALWAYS USE CAUTION when around an author....


    Hey, I brought sponge candy. Getting ready for the influx, and you can't have a holiday here without sponge candy. Sponge candy rocks.

    Sandra, I love picking your brain about places. I think you are hands down the most well-traveled Seeker.

    I've been like, nowhere. I live vicariously through you.

  55. Hi Vince, Mega thanks for the offer to "beta read" my novel. Never heard that term before and it sounds intriguing.

    Yes, you must take the train ride to the canyon. Lots of fun. And the video sounds great.

    The trails down the canyon are that scary. It is a HUGE drop. Photos simply do not do it justice.

    Yes, the Nevada Barr books are great. Thanks for mentioning them.

  56. Hi Myra, Yes, I love interviewing people for my novels. I was able to interview many professional cyclists for THE PRICE OF VICTORY, my book coming out in June.

    They just bring you so much info that enriches your stories.

    Carlsbad Caverns were amazing. Glad you were able to "get batty" and observe the bats. it is something to see.

  57. Yes, my book is set in southeastern South Dakota. It comes out in late December. I don't have an actual release date yet but my copy right date is 2011, so I'm sure it's very close to the end of December. : )

    Thank you for asking and looking for it!

  58. Ruthy, You are too funny. Did you see the comment from Walt. He wants one of those mugs. Got any left?

    And I'll definitely take some sponge candy. yum.

    Wish I could boogy over the prairies and through the woods to your house this Thanksgiving.

  59. Thanks Rose, I'll definitely keep my eye out.

    Keep reminding us when the time gets near. We love to celebrate with our Seeker friends.

  60. If you haven't read Myra Johnsons One Imperfect Christmas yet, it is a great read for the upcoming holidays. Makes a great Christmas gift also.

  61. The Man who Walked Through Time by Colin Fletcher. Hiking the length of the Grand Canyon.

    I just loved that book.

    And The Discover and History of Carlsbad Caverns by Jim White.

    The history of Carlsbad Caverns is so weird and interesting.

    Jim White, a cowboy, found this hole in the ground because he saw bats whooshing up out of it.
    This is New Mexico desert, a wasteland, a hole that drops? Fifty feet, then a ledge that he coudl stand on before climbing down another 20 feet.

    He got a long rope and went down. This was about 1902. (I'm not sure of these depths and the dates, but like all good fiction writers, I'm filling in blanks...some might call this lying....but I digress)
    He found this cavern that went on and on and on, the stalagtites, the towering ceilings, the bats, the stunning beauty.

    He spent the next TWENTY YEARS trying to convince people the cave was cool. He bought a bit of land around the entrance to the cavern, built a cabin. He and his wife made a living at first scooping up and selling the bat guano, then giving tours.

    It was crazy hard to get people to come out.

    No roads.

    No one believed him.

    He'd get them to ride out, across the desert thirty miles and go down and his tourists would be stunned and awed, then they'd go home and he'd take another group out, but it was a LONG RIDE. And they'd stay the night in his dinky cabin. No one important would come and see it.

    Really fun story. A tiny, elderly book. Little more than a pamphlet honestly.

    I bought mine used and it is signed. But it's in his own words. His own impressions.

    then finally he got someone to come and see it from some National Park service or something and they're all...."WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL US ABOUT THIS???"

    And he says, "I've been writing and trying to get someone's attention for twenty years!!!"""

  62. Hi Mary, What interesting history about the caverns.

    So many caverns have been destroyed or damaged by tourists that it is good when the park service can monitor and preserve them.

    Some explorers in Arizona found caves on the Kartchner Ranch in 1974 when they saw bats leaving the hole in the ground (similar to your story of Carlsbad). They kept the caves a secret until they were able to convince the State Parks to take over. The caves in Kartchner Caverns State Park are really protected with rules that you can't even touch any of the formations because the oil from our skin damages them.

  63. Sandra~
    I have to say the the title of your post had me scoffing. I've always hated the research part of any writing project. Though I'll admit the thrill of finding just the right nugget of truth to fit into the hole in the project. Your research method is also much more interesting than mine. No money to go west and research Colorado Springs and the railroad like I need to for my book.

    These topics are merely background info in my book, they don't change anything about my story. So I've decided to write the story all the way through, then do the research and fill in the blanks and make changes as needed later.

    About Millstone Coffee...I get it at Wal-Mart here in SW Missouri. I like to mix the Chocolate Velvet with the Raspberry Creme. (It's yummy and much more affordable than the Chocolate Raspberry I used to get at a "high falutin'" coffee place. Sorry, Sandra, if this shocks your Chocolate Velvet loving sensibilities :)

    Linette~ I'm an Ozarks girl too. Extreme Southern Missouri. Gotta love these Ozarks hills and curves!

    Julie~ I hear you on the Christmas deco. I know exactly where mine are (I even recently found some I thought were lost last year). I just have to inspire my dh to fetch them in for me. My mom and I ususally work together on both of our trees Thanksgiving weekend. Time's comin'.

    Ruthy~ I've never heard of Sponge Candy, and I confess, it doesn't sound yummy. Please explain.
    Also... I read Made to Order Family and loved it. The affection between Brooks and Rita comes as naturally to them as breathing. They both realize, romance may not be the most wise thing for them, but they don't fight it like a lot of couples in romance novels do. Definitely on my keeper shelf. BTW that was my first Seeker book.

    Vince and Sandra mentioned "beta reader." My best friend, known as MJ around here, called me a beta reader for her novel. I'd never heard the term, but I understand it to be one who reads purely as a reader, then comments on ways to make the work better for readers...not ways to improve it in the eyes of editors and publishers.

    It was great. We've all bought and read books and then thought, "I think this part would be better if..." or "Why didn't he say what he was thinking here?" Beta readers get to tell the author those thoughts before the book is published, when it might actually make a difference.

    At least that's my take on it.

  64. Great photos!!! All research should be that beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

    Susie Sheehey
    susiesheehey (at) verizon (dot) net

  65. My my Andrea, Aren't you full of info this morning.

    I hope you're saving pennies for that trip to Colorado Springs because you will love it there. But many of us have used other methods of research and it works. smile

    I'm not sure why you think you've shocked my sensibilities. I get my coffee at Fry's here in Arizona on Senior discount day or when I'm traveling I can usually find a Wal Mart.

    And thanks for clarifying the Beta Reader. Sounds intriguing. Like I said, I've never heard of it before. Now I'll for sure take advantage of the offer.

    Thanks again for all your info and have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

  66. Hi Susie, Thanks for joining us.

    Have a terrific Thanksgiving holiday.

  67. Sandra, I'm looking forward to the sale of my first Japan-based historical. Then I'll figure out if the I can write off my next trip to Japan as research. :-)

  68. Sandra, I'm chuckling over how you have managed to all those Seeker books! LOL. Talk about a great marketing strategy! And very helpful because I'm filling in my 2011 calendar with new releases! :-)

  69. ;>D Thanks for the book plug, Sandra!

    REALLY looking forward to your book!

  70. Hey Walt,
    Its got to be soon. From the peek I had of it, it promises to be a great read.

    Glad to be of help KAV. Seeker books are the wonderful. I'm so thankful to have such inspiring writer friends.

    Like Myra. And the others. smiling

  71. About Beta Readers

    My understanding is that a beta reader is like a beta software user. You use the program before it is released, as a user, and try to find bugs. The people who are actually going to use the program are often best at finding problems. The idea is the same for beta readers. They are not critique partners. They are real readers, reading for enjoyment, (and not to find mistakes per se) but if they find a bug, they will report it in time for it to be fixed before publication.

    Beta readers are especially good at finding problems at the start of a book. CPs quickly know what the book is about and what is going to happen later in the book. Things on the first page that make perfect sense to the author and CPs often are confusing to a new reader.

    Beta readers are also helpful if your book is about the military or about a real city where landmarks may be placed in the wrong locations or even mentioned before they were built. And of course, medical books really benefit by having medical beta readers that are still active in the profession. They can tell you, “It would never happen that way because…”

    I heard about beta readers from authors who like to have two or three readers they feel confident with. Oh, and these authors do not want relatives as beta readers! They may also want different readers for each new book. The idea is to keep it fresh.


  72. .
    Carlsbad Cavern
    The Novel in the Dark

    If you are interested in Carlsbad Caverns and unique writing projects, I suggest you read Nevada Barr’s ”Blind Descent” which takes place almost entirely in the dark! How do you 'show' when it is pitch black for over 90% of the book?

    The book takes place in a much deeper cavern that is not open to the public yet and which is only available to specialists who can help explore it. This is an heroic writing attempt which I didn’t feel worked that well. Trying to write a full novel that takes place in the dark is just too difficult but it was an interesting and heroic effort.


  73. Hey Vince,

    Thanks for the info about beta readers. I have used them and didn't know what they were called. For example in my upcoming novel PRICE OF VICTORY, a bicycle read it to make sure the cycle scenes were authentic.

    So if you're going to be a beta reader, have you had experience with search and rescue in the parks?

    Thanks for the info on Carlsbad caverns. Interesting.

  74. I'm making a concerted effort to NOT do all my research online and in books. That's so simple but it doesn't really get your hands on things, give you a feel for them.

    I've been trying to get to museums. I, for some reason, am particularly fascinated by old guns.

    Which is strange I suppose but most of my hero/heroines are cowpokes so they carry guns.

    But then I get to the museum and I see something that's just pure GOLDEN like an authentic Winchester 73. And I hint around that I'd like to touch it. Then they start looking at me like I'm making them nervous and if I push it just a little..."You know I'm a WRITER. I'm very IMPORTANT. I'm FAMOUS. Well, just I suppose if you've never heard of me then I'm not REALLY all that famous, but still....can't you look at me and KNOW I'm trustworthy???????????

    Then I learn about security procedures as I'm cuffed and hauled away. So it's alllllllll educational.


  75. Oh, Sandra, what fantastic photos and information to prompt us to research! Thank you.

    Did you contact the Ranger Service at Grand Canyon and set an appointment to speak with their Media Relations person? Or just “happen” upon that wonderful contact?

    One of my novels in set in Albania—and I wish I could have visited. But in addition to incredible photography by a talented Albanian, I was able to interview missionaries who served there and expatriates now living in the US. That alone expanded my views and ideas. I was blessed to have a reader express delight with the realistic ambience I included, and surprise that I had not actually been to Albania. I totally recommend your way, though. Can’t beat it.

    The seashore with wind and pounding waves has always spoken to me of God’s amazing power and creativity, so I set novels on both coasts and gladly explored the settings. One experience at twilight stunned me enough that thirty years later I could still remember the view and feeling: tiny creatures that glow like fire flies when disturbed in the water. (Sandra, that was book one; you critiqued ten pages of book two.) That experience was so strong that it became the title! You are so right—experiencing a place opens up amazing possibilities.

    And in keeping with Thanksgiving, from Albania I share with all at Seekerville: llokume – also known as Turkish Delight, a sweet morsel similar to Aplets and Cotlets.

    Enjoy! And Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.
    Mary Kay
    mary [at] marykaymoody [dot] com

  76. Vince, I want to know more about your Japan-based historical. My husband's mother is from Chiba prefixture. Her dad was the equivalent to a state senator who opposed the war and died of pneumonia in prison; and her mother is the first Japanese woman to become a school principal - a very high achievement in Japan. A Fujitani, she is descended from royalty. They allowed only so many children to remain as royalty. I don't remember the count, but the rest of the children in the palace had to go out into regular civilization and make their own way. She is a descendent of one of these children. Fascinating history, so of course I want to know about your book. :D


  77. Andrea! No way! Really? What part of the Ozarks? I'm from a little bitty town called Ellington. We must chat! I try to tell my husband I'm a Southern gal, but he refuses to believe me. It he'd heard my accent growing up, he'd know without a doubt. :D


  78. Mary, You'd love the Arizona State Historical Museum. They let you touch. The curator loved children and I'd take my classes there every year. She'd have a treasure hunt for them and she'd let them touch things, climb on and under things, try things on. So fun.

    You're still a kid at heart. smiling.

    I love old guns too. You do need to touch them because they weighed a ton and handle so different from modern day guns. So to write about them, you would need to know that. I love that your heroines were sharpshooters. It makes sense. The pioneer women would have to be resourceful.

  79. Linette -

    I ALMOST set part of my MS in Mark Twain but it was too far away for a day trip from the west side of Springfield [where I live now]. I think I was going to go with the Ironton area, but ended up with Lampe [near Branson] instead.

    Sunny and 60s early this week, sleet on Thanksgiving with thunderstorms and tornado warnings in between [there was a funnel cloud over Springfield yesterday but it didn't actually touch down]. Gotta love the Ozarks ;).

  80. I love your photos, Sandra. I believe you found the only tree in the park, huh? And you're looking great!

    As for stimulating adventures, a couple years ago I took an excursion on the 19 century train The Prairie Dog Central running out of Winnipeg, Manitoba. We went down the line, turned around on a real turntable, stopped for a farmers' market, and went back. I loved it. I want to go back for a refresher so I can use the sounds and smells of that old train in my wip. Only problem is everything around here is now closed until spring due to the snow. :(

    Your book sounds intriging. I'm looking forward to it. :)

    Anita Mae.

  81. Hi Mary Kay,

    I should have called and made an appointment, but I was very fortunate that she happened to be available when I walked in.

    Seems like the people I need to meet always show up. Could be a God thing. wink

    And you were very resourceful to find contacts of people that had been to Albania since you couldn't go. They can be your beta readers Vince was talking about.

    I did that when I wrote a book about a Viet Nam veteran. I had not been in the war but I found some marines who had and they read the parts I needed help with and yes, I needed to make many changes. But it was worth the effort it took to find someone. They even helped me with dialogue and told me "this is the way a guy or vet would say it."

    And the sparkly tide is what we call Red Tide on the Pacific coast. It is algae and it glows flourescent in the moonlight when you kick it up in the air.

  82. Linnette, Its Walt who has written the historical set in Japan. Hopefully it will be published soon and you can read it.

    How fun that you've met a fellow Ozark gal. You and Andrea will have to exchange notes. Isn't it fun to find people like this?

  83. Oh and Carol too. Fun fun fun

    I'm praying there are no tornadoes, especially on Thanksgiving day.

  84. Anita Mae, Thanks. You're a sweetheart to say so. We have to especially pay attention during the holidays don't we?

    The Prairie Dog Central Railway sounds like a kick. I love old trains.

    There is one in Colorado also and you get covered with black smoke just like the pioneers did in the old days. It is called the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad.

  85. Yeah - we're supposed to get bad storms tomorrow afternoon too - maybe even worse with the disparity in temperatures in front of/behind the line.

    [One of the worst recent tornado outbreaks in my specific area was in January a few years ago... The school my girls are at now lost part of the roof and my sister got a new roof out of the deal - the local news station that's best on tornado/storm stuff was on the air for like 11-12 hours straight to keep up with all the warnings/sightings etc. In JANUARY - like the 5th!]

    Oh - and the Grand Canyon - yes my kids would love it now but we haven't been out that way since '02. One of these years...

  86. Oh my Vince, I just reread my posts and saw where I wrote a bicycle read my book. roflol.

    I meant a bicyclist read my book PRICE OF VICTORY.

    Tooooooo funny. I'm surprised you didn't catch that.

  87. Carol I remember hearing about those storms. So scary.

    We had one here in Arizona last month. Scared all of us because we know nothing about them and don't have basements or anything for them. They are very rare here.

    So I'm praying.

    And you are your children have something fun to look forward to. One of my favorite things is to plan my next trip.

    My dream, as I told Ausjenny this morning, is to go to Australia. I've pretty much explored most of the Western Hemisphere. Thanks to hubby who must be related to Daniel Boone.

  88. Linnette:

    I'm only about 30 miles from you!!!


  89. Hi Helen, Grab some coffee.

    I can see it now. An Ozark party coming up.

    Oh I'm jealous.

  90. CarolM:

    My daughter lives in Springfield. She and her husband will be traveling down here tomorrow. Hope the weather doesn't interfere.


  91. Sandra, that Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad excursion looks great! Well, except for the snow. LOL

    I'd love to view the mountains from an old steam train - soot and all. At least you get to actually enjoy the scenery instead of zipping past. :)

    Thanks for the tip.

    Anita Mae.

  92. Hi Sandra:

    I would be a good beta reader of a southwest genre mystery as I’ve read a good many. But as far as park rescues go, all I know is what I’ve read in novels and (the way writers take liberties to make their stories work), that’s not a safe place to get your research.

    I’d really like to read your bicycle story. This June we went to the Crested Butte writer’s conference and when we passed through Chama, (we had to ride the Chama train, of course) we passed by thousands of bicycle riders strung out for over thirty miles! And this was at over 10,000 feet going through mountains. This is so unusual it really deserves a novel.


    P.S. I thought that you were so much into bicycling that you were personifying the bicycle. I took it as a sign of enthusiasm. (That is, divine inspiration.)

  93. This comment has been removed by the author.

  94. Vince, you're too funny. I am enthusiastic about bicycling, but not that much. lol

    The train ride in Chama sounds interesting and all those cyclists. Sounds like the Coors Classic that wound up and down the Sierras.

    Those cyclists are hard core.

  95. Ozark gals, I'm not in the Ozarks at present. I'm in South Carolina. I lived in Ellington until I was 17. My first MIP is set in the area where I grew up. "Coming Home, the Chronicles of Logan Creek, Book 1." I've set it aside for now. I wrote it before I knew how to write, so it needs a major overhaul, but it's a good story and I still plan to write it.

    Carol, I wish I'd known you before. I moved here from Belton (Kansas City). A bit of a drive, I know.

    Helen, which town do you live in or are you out in the boonies?


  96. Walt, this was meant for you. Sorry!

    I want to know more about your Japan-based historical. My husband's mother is from Chiba prefixture. Her dad was the equivalent to a state senator who opposed the war and died of pneumonia in prison; and her mother is the first Japanese woman to become a school principal - a very high achievement in Japan. A Fujitani, she is descended from royalty. They allowed only so many children to remain as royalty. I don't remember the count, but the rest of the children in the palace had to go out into regular civilization and make their own way. She is a descendent of one of these children. Fascinating history, so of course I want to know about your book. :D


  97. I grew up in Glendale/Phoenix and I think Maricopa County had ONE tornado warning the whole time I was there - and it was just one tiny corner of the county that had it.

    The town I live in now - just west of Springfield - gets hit with them several times a year. We knew we wanted to live here, but one of our requirements for a house was a basement for safety reasons. The ones in January a couple years ago - our town got hit by 3, though the closest was a couple miles away. One of my neighbors [he was CRAZY and probably half drunk at the time] climbed onto his roof and could see the one that hit the elemetary school.

    Fortunately, we have some really good weather guys in our area and as long as we have power they do a great job of keeping us informed. I'm also glad our town doesn't always turn on the sirens if we're under a warning [or they do but turn them off] when OUR TOWN isn't in danger. The county can be under a warning when the tornado is in the extreme opposite corner and we've got sunshine [or drizzle and no wind].

    Wish I'd known you then, too, Linette! I was born in the KC area and my in-laws live in Olathe. The conference I went to a couple weeks ago was in Overland Park.

    Do we have an Ozarks/Greater Springfield/SW MO ACFW group? Or are there too few of us spread too far out to make it worthwhile?

  98. Carol, Ironton is about 40 miles north of Ellington. It's beautiful there. Ellington is in a valley central to the surrounding towns. All the springs and parks are within an hour's drive in every direction from there: Big Springs, Blue Springs, Owl's Bend, Round
    Springs, Alley Springs, Johnson Shut-ins, Elephant Rocks, Jack's Fork and Current River, Clearwater Lake, etc. It was a great place to grow up. Minus the ticks.


  99. No way! Was it the Heart of America Christian Writer's Network conference. :D I attended the last four years. I'm a member of that group...Mark and Jeanette Littleton.

    Two of my boys were born at Olathe Med. :D This is too fun!

  100. Carol said: "Do we have an Ozarks/Greater Springfield/SW MO ACFW group? Or are there too few of us spread too far out to make it worthwhile?"

    I don't know. I belong to HACWN in KC. Of course, being in SC the closest writer's network seems to be an hour away. Bummer!

  101. YES! It was HACWN! This was my first year to go. I will very likely be back :).

    I was born in Excelsior Springs but only lived there for a few months.

    I had found a place in Mark Twain that I was going to use for my remote cabin but it was too far away to plan a day trip from the Springfield area.

    Helen - I hope your kids have a safe trip. It looks like tomorrow could be really nasty weather wise.

  102. This is a test -- Sandra's trying to teach me how to do links in the comments section. :)

    Another good source:

    Women of the Grand Canyon

  103. I'm writing my fourth novel set in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, where I went to my junior and senior years of high school. I went back to do research twice and enlisted my high school best friend as my assistant. She was an introverted researcher's dream, and squired me around introducing me to everybody and anybody.

  104. Hooray Glynna


    Great going.

  105. Ann how fun to go back to high school days.

    What a great research project.

    Did you find it really livened up your wip and your imagination?

  106. Carol, I obviously wasn't abel to attend this year, but a friend said it was good. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Mark and Jeanette are great and they have great contacts. I mean, they're friends with Andy Scheer - one of the main editors for Jerry Jenkins. Maybe we'll both be able to attend next year. :D Email me.

    Lr. mullin at live. com


  107. Helen,
    The other side of the dam. :D I have family in Piedmont, or at least used to. I'm related to Scaggs, Hampton, Snider... Most of my family is in Ellington and the St Louis areas.

    Feel free to email me. lr. mullin at live. com

  108. I have been to many exciting places in my lifetime but unfortunately I never captured my trips on paper. I do have memories of living in Japan, spending two weeks on a naval base in Spain, many visits to wonderful scenic spots right here in our beautiful USA. I have started to collect a lot of those memories on paper so I can pull from them in my writing journeys.

    Thank you for the wonderful post today. May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving Day!

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.


  109. Hi Cindy,

    Wow, great places to have visited. What a blessing and now you're reliving the experience by putting it on paper.

    You have a blessed Thanksgiving also.

  110. You Ozark girls are having such fun.

  111. Thank you, Sandra. :-)

    Ruthy, what is sponge candy?

  112. See what you started, Sandra? LOL :D

    Thanks for a great day, all!

  113. Cindy, my dh lived in Rota when his dad was in the Navy. His mom is Japanese from Chiba - across the bay from Tokyo.


  114. Wow, Sandra! Gorgeous photos!! You got me excited about the setting, and that story starter idea of the two hikers has my brain clicking! :)

    Thanks for sharing how you did the interviews. I'm always intimidated to ask people about their work. I'll try to be braver.

  115. Waving at Missy and Linnette,

    Yes, it has been a fun day.

    Be brave Missy. Its easier than you think.

  116. I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't know what sponge candy was (not that I do now but I did look it up online).sounds kinda icky except I did catch the word chocolate in one description so can't be all that bad I don't guess.

    so beyond glad I'm off work tomorrow and Thursday - just regular days to me but they changed out our computer systems and it keeps logging us out like every 10 minutes and I work a 12 hr shift and don't sit at the computer using it constantly..I get up and do some work then go back to enter the data just to find myself logged out and it requires 2 log-ins to get back in just to get kicked out once again. Not fun!

    I've been reading Cheryl's wings of Refuge series (on book 4 now and of course I hit the separated for 10 yr theme which sure ain't a fave of mine but this one's still ok in spite of that LOL!) and seriously I reached my limit at work and hid in the breakroom with food out pretending to eat just in case someone walked in! I was thinking about the bathroom but luckily it was quiet today except for us yelling at the computers and wishing we could replace the entire IT department and thinking IT stands for 'idiot traitors'. My coworker wouldn't oblige me by reading the book to me while I rested my eyes but said if I wanted to make those mountain dew apple thingies sometime he'd be willing to try those..men!

    gonna take the doggies out to potty, take a bath, and crawl in bed with this book and the rest of the series..at the rate I'm going I should be done pretty soon unless I fall asleep which is highly likely!

    anyone here who hasn't read this series should get it - I'm halfway through book 4 and am loving the entire town and people in the books show up book to book..hard to pick a favorite but I think Manny's my guy so far with Joel a close 2nd (he might've been first but I'm not jumping outta no plane no way no how for nobody!)


  117. Andrea, huge thanks for your sweet comments on Made to Order Family!

    I'll smile all night just thinking of that. I'm so glad you liked it and to be on a keeper shelf....

    You've made my day!

  118. Anita Mae!!!!

    Oh, I love that picture of you! It's just wonderful!

  119. Sponge Candy:

    Sponge candy is a delectable honeycomb type candy that's then coated in light or dark chocolate. Here's the recipe:

    Butter a 13 x 9" pan lined with heavy duty aluminum foil, then butter foil. Set aside.

    Mix in five quart saucepan:

    1 cup sugar
    1 cup corn syrup
    1 TBSP vinegar

    Bring to boil, stirring frequently. Boil to hard crack stage or 300 degrees if using a candy thermometer.

    I spin a thread to check for hard crack stage. As the mixture darkens a bit and condenses, coat a tablespoon with the mixture and let it drip back into the pan. The last threads from the spoon are your 'test'. If they bend, you're not quite ready. If they snap, you're good!

    Remove from heat. Add 1 TBSP baking soda to candy mix, stir, mix with FROTH UP....

    Pour into 13 X 9 pan right away. When cool, break into pieces and coat each piece with chocolate. I use Ghirardelli melting bars for the dark chocolate, and Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips for the light chocolate.

    So amazingly delicious and very popular here in upstate New York. I think the original recipe came from Greek immigrants who developed soda fountain/candy stores here.

    This is a must try treat.

  120. Susanna, I love that series too!

    And I think Manny was my fave hero as well. He was so delightfully normal, so easy to identify with, wasn't he???


  121. LINNETTE!!! WOW, thank you SOOO much for using your gift card on my books, girl ... YIKES, I hope you think it's worth it!! :/

    SANDRA ... Unfortunately, I did all my research via the Internet and my imagination, which like my mama always used to say was like a runaway train! :)

    And, yeah, I'm pretty pumped that A Hope Undaunted even made the list much less came in at #5 right below Francine Rivers. WHOA, BABY, what are the chances I'm going to going to clip that page out of Booklist and frame it???


  122. Hi Susanna,
    Wow I hear the frustration in the computer situation. They can be soooo frustrating. Best wishes on getting that fixed.

    Thanks for joining us.

    Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

  123. Ruthy girlfriend, What are you doing up so late?

    Or are you up early back east?

    I'm too tired to figure the time. LOL

    Thanks for the sponge candy recipe. I'm sure all will enjoy.

  124. Julie, I'm sure that's good news for anyone working on a wip and can't get to the locale. It gives us hope that we can get enough info to still use a setting we haven't been to.

    Great going. And sure worth the read. smile

    Congrats again. So exciting.

  125. I will be opting for hot tea this morning in hopes of getting my voice back. My mom hiked into the bottom of the canyon about 10 or 12 years ago with a group of ladies. Her childhood best friend organized a "Ladies' Hike Out" the year they turned 40 I think. Some of the pictures she took were amazing!


  126. Beautiful photos!

    Eva Maria Hamilton at gmail dot com

  127. My mother and I took a trip to Natchez, MS several months ago. Great fodder for research.

    We had a wonderful time together as well as getting to do a lot of research.

  128. Hi Holly, Your mom's trip sounds fun. Wouldn't that make a great book?

    Thanks for sharing.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  129. Hi Eva, Saw you on Facebook today. I'm still learning-sigh

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  130. Hi Pam, How exciting to explore Natchez.

    And to do so with your mom. sigh

    My mom used to explore with me. I guess I should say she taught me how to explore. She was a fun mom.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  131. Hey Folks, I'm calling it a night.

    I'll check in the morning and respond to any late night comments.

    Again, I am thankful for all of the Seekers and our friends in Seekerville.

    Blessings to all of you.

  132. Hi Sandra,
    Thanks for the post regarding the "excitement of research". I am going to make the tour of the locale that I am writing about in Vancouver, Canada.
    This is an adventure for me to look around with fresh "searching" eyes.
    I did this for an article once and took pictures and you are right it is exciting.
    Janet Kerr

  133. Janet, Lucky you. Vancouver area is gorgeous. Have fun with that research.

    Don't be shy to ask people questions. They love to talk about their interests.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  134. what a great idea for a trip- we plan to go there next summer- I love doing research but doing it by visiting the place is great. We stayed at a B&B and it gave me some great stories and devotions. Plus good food as it was Amish. Would love to have my name in the drawing. Happy Turkey Day!

  135. Great blog about research! I must say though, I cringed at the story of the two bodies and the hair in the hand!! AHHH! But you are SO right—there is nothing like the real thing to inspire the creativity!

    Elaine from Iowa


  136. OH MY GOSH!!!! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Indian fry bread and Navajo tacos!!!!

    My mouth is watering and won't stop. I miss living out west.

    Great post and love the photos!


  137. Sandra, I'm a day late on this but I wanted to say I loved this post. Love the GC and research, so...

    I can imagine how excited you were to have all those people willing to talk to you and suggest references.

    You look great by the way. Nice photo, and it's making me long to return. (Can you believe we get the same kind of Indian fry bread here in upstate NY? At least I don't have to travel to the SW for that!)

    I haven't had a chance to read everyone's comments (137?!) but I see a lot of us love the research.

  138. Happy Thanksgiving to all of Seekerville and friends!


  139. wow, I just spotted more comments.

    Waving at Debra, Cheryl, Elaine and BSchwind. Glad you joined us.

    Wow, Indian Fry bread in NY. Super.

    HOpe you all had a great holiday.