Sunday, July 31, 2016

Best Prep For A Writing Career

I believe one of the best preparations for a writing career is getting a wide variety of social experiences. This especially applies to jobs where you meet and work with many people.

Of course, some people might think the ideal job for a writer is working alone, late at night, say, as a parking ramp attendant, so that you can write on the job.

I don't think so. Writers need a huge amount of exposure to other people so that we can learn how people act, react, function, think.

This is the kind of experience that helps you learn how people behave and talk.

This of course runs counter to the jobs and experiences that often appeal to writers, who are mostly introverts. We'd rather be foresters in the woods with the animals for companions than office workers dealing with dozens of people all day long every day. But observing those social interactions up close is what shows us how people act and talk and move. That's how we learn facial mannerisms and gestures and body movements and dialogue quirks.

If you find a written dialogue that seems wooden, with no spark, chances are that the writer hasn't spent thousands of hours observing and listening to a great many people talking.

If you find character movements described in ways that don't seem alive or real, chances are the writer hasn't spent thousands of hours watching people move.

Get out there. Mix it up. My ideal dream life of working a ranch, just me and my horse and dog, might be a glorious experience. But it ain't gonna help me write believable human characters.

This is the kind of experience that may make you very happy, but it won't help you write believable human characters.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Tahoe Dark Signing Schedule

Hi Everybody!

My new book, TAHOE DARK, is about to launch! My initial signing schedule is below. 

TAHOE DARK is the 14th book in the Owen McKenna Tahoe Mystery series. The prestigious Kirkus Reviews refers to Owen McKenna as:

"A hero who walks confidently in the footsteps of Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe, and Lew Archer"
Kirkus Reviews

TAHOE DARK is about a young woman named Evan Rosen, whose dreams of one day attending law school are ruined when she is arrested for murder...

Here's my initial signing schedule organized by area. More dates will be added as they area scheduled, and they will be put on my "Events" page on my website.


July 29, 2016, 4 - 7 p.m. Signing TAHOE DARK, Artifacts 4000 Lake Tahoe Blvd (in the Raleys Village Center just     southwest of Heavenly Village) (530) 543-0728

August 3, 2016, 6:30 p.m. Talk and Signing my new Tahoe mystery TAHOE DARK at the South Lake Tahoe Library, Rufus Allen Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, CA

August 7, 2016 8:30 a.m. Signing for TAHOE DARK at The Red Hut Cafe at Ski Run and Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe, CA


July 30, 201611 a.m., Talk and Signing for TAHOE DARK, Sundance Bookstore at 121 California Avenue, Reno, NV (775) 786-1188

August 13, 2016 8:30 a.m. Signing for TAHOE DARK at The Red Hut Cafe 3480 Lakeside #1, Reno, NV


July 30, 2016 3 p.m. Signing TAHOE DARK at Geared for Games, Boatworks Mall, Tahoe City, CA


August 4, 20165-7 p.m.signing TAHOE DARK at "Truckee Thursdays" in The Bookshelf tent, downtown Truckee, CA


August 5, 2016 6:00 p.m. Talk and Signing for TAHOE DARK, at Shelby's Bookshoppe, 1663 Lucerne St. in Minden Village, Minden, NV 775-782-5484

September 24, 25, 2016 Exhibit and sign books at the Candy Dance Festival, Genoa, NV

October 5, 2016, 4:30 - 6:30 Exhibit and sign TAHOE DARK at the Minden Library Author Day, Minden, NV


August 6, 2016 8:30 a.m. Signing for TAHOE DARK at The Red Hut Cafe 4385 S. Carson, Carson City, NV

September 27, 2016 6:15 p.m. Talk and signing TAHOE DARK at Browsers Books, 711 E Washington St, Carson City, NV (Across from the Carson City Library)


September 10, 11, 2016Exhibiting and sign books at the Mountain View Art & Wine Festival, Mountain View, CA

November 11, 12, 13, 2016  Exhibit and sign books at the San Mateo Harvest Festival, San Mateo, CA

November 25, 26, 27, 2016 Exhibit and sign books at the San Jose Harvest Festival, San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, CA


November 4, 5, 6, 2016  Exhibit and sign books at the Sacramento Fine Arts Show,  Sacramento Convention Center, Sacramento, CA

November 18, 19, 20, 2016  Exhibit and sign books at the Sacramento Harvest Festival, CalExpo, Sacramento, CA


December 2, 2016, Exhibit and sign books at Epilog Books for the Quincy Sparkle celebration.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Vegetable Gardening In Tahoe - Ha! It's Going To Freeze Tonight!

I've written about this before...

One year, I decided to try growing some veggies. It turned out that the last freeze of "spring" was in late June. And the first freeze of "fall" was in early August.

Less than six weeks of growing season.

I was thinking about that today, July 10th, when I looked at the National Weather Service website. It is supposed to freeze in Tahoe tonight. I guess that puts an exclamation point on Tahoe's growing season!

Here's the full screen shot:

Here's the closeup of today and tonight: (Remember, this is JULY 10th !)

Bottom line is that we should really enjoy our farmer's markets and supermarket produce sections, because we ain't gonna grow no veggies to speak of!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Best Hikes In Tahoe - (Near The Northwest Shore) Five Lakes Trail

Category - Moderate (although a no-nonsense trail - As with all hiking, No Flip Flops!)
View Rating - 4 out of 10
Distance - Approximately 4.5 miles round trip (The trail continues past the lakes and on into the Granite Chief Wilderness Area)
Elevation Gain - 1050
Highest Point - 7600

The Five Lakes Trail is a nice way to experience a bit of "single-track" trail hiking in the Sierra. It does not have spectacular views compared to many of Tahoe's more amazing hikes. And in fact there isn't a single view of Lake Tahoe, which lies to the southeast. However, the trail takes you to a group of small, pretty lakes nestled in a forested "saddle" on the trail. The trail isn't too long, and it is a great way to get a feel for what the Alpine Meadows ski area is like in the summer. (Don't worry, you won't see much ski area stuff, just a few lift towers from a distance.)

The trail climbs across the slope where the owners of Alpine and Squaw Valley hope to one day put in a gondola to connect the two areas. If that happens, the combined area will - by some measures - become the largest lift-served ski resort in North America.

The trail head is almost hidden in the woods to the right of this photo and opposite where Deer Park Drive intersects from the left. Parking is along the side of the road.

To get to the trailhead, drive about 4 miles west from Tahoe City on 89 (or about 10 miles south of Truckee on 89). The road follows the Truckee River, and if the rafting conditions are good, you may see dozens of rafts plying the light rapids.

When you come to the River Ranch hotel and restaurant, turn west up Alpine Meadows Road. 

Drive 2.1 miles up Alpine Meadows Road to where Deer Park Road intersects from the left. The trail head is in the trees to the right.

 The same trail that leads to Five Lakes also accesses the PCT and other trails.

For hikers heading past Five Lakes and into the Granite Chief Wilderness, there is a sign.

As with all trails, if you see what looks like large fireworks or small artillery or tubes that could be dynamite, DON'T TOUCH! These are avalanche control explosives that didn't detonate when they were supposed to. They are still very lethal and may go off at any time.

As the trail heads up, you get your first view of the peaks that make Alpine Meadows skiers very happy. This is one of our favorite ski areas.

This isn't considered a great wildflower hike, but there were still some delights.

Soon, the trail emerges from the forest, and you get nice views.

Ski lifts in the distance.

Ski resort lodge down in the beautiful bowl that makes up much of Alpine Meadows. (Although a good part of the resort is on the far side of the mountains toward the rear of this photo.)

If you turn around and look to back to the east, Lake Tahoe sits in the blue valley in the distance.

Looking up above to the north, you can see the top of Squaw Valley's KT-22 lift, which comes up from the far side and services black-diamond terrain down to Squaw Valley.

The trail rises up to a saddle for a nice level stroll, and goes back into the forest where the shade is cool. Soon, you will come to the lakes.

To the northwest is the back side of Squaw Peak at 8900 feet.

Don't worry about finding all five lakes. Three of them pretty much hide in the woods, and two of them become one when the snow runoff raises the water level in spring and early summer. The lakes are fun to explore and swim. They are also stocked with trout for fishing.

A delightful hike, not too long, not too high. And if you don't demand the greatest views, it could be just right.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Sneak Preview - TAHOE DARK!

Coming in one month...


In TAHOE DARK, Tahoe Detective Owen McKenna fights to save a young woman who appears to have been wrongly accused of murder. 

Three people have been killed, and Evan Rosen, a house cleaner with dreams of someday attending law school, had a strong motive to want the victims dead. Worse, she had opportunity and she was found in possession of a murder weapon. Maybe Evan has been framed by a devious killer. Or maybe she's guilty...

The only way McKenna can get her off death row is to find the real killer. But it looks like the real killer is going to find McKenna and his Great Dane Spot first...

TAHOE DARK is not yet in most book data bases. Sometimes, knowing the ISBN number makes life easier if you want to place an order at your favorite bookstore. If so, here's the info:

TAHOE DARK ISBN: 978-1-931296-24-3

Stay tuned for my initial signing schedule...