I won NaNoWriMo 2016 and a look ahead

img_3117Since my November was interrupted with a transatlantic trip and a book release, I had little hope that I could write 50,000 words. With help from friends and a large bucket of inspiration, I did it.

I’ll be talking more here about the transatlantic trip (two days in Barcelona, cruise, and two nights in Orlando). The ship stopped at two ports, so theoretically I had 11 days at sea for writing. I spent two of those days editing/proofing my Young Adult Dystopian novel. 62,000 words. I’m glad I did. I hadn’t looked at the manuscript since June and the immersion put me back in that world. I was able to write thousands of words while watching endless nautical miles of ocean roll aft.

When I returned, I jumped into the 2016  NaNoWriMo Butt in the Chair event hosted by Tari Potter-Jewett. We ran sprints day after day, all hours of the day. This is where the numbers piled up. This is where I first posted last night that I crossed the 50K line.

A great feeling! I hope you are also celebrating a NaNoWriMo win and will tell me about it in the comments below. I’ll strike up the band with my hearty congratulations. Who will sign up for next year?

Cheers, Michelle

Posted in travel, Uncategorized, WRITING | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Last Chance for a FREE Book and to Pre-Order EGRETS, I’VE HAD A FEW


Back from my transatlantic cruise and research fest, I’m looking forward to sharing that trip with you next week. Today I’m  putting the last polish on my second Deluded Detective book.

I’m excited about the release Friday. It’s taken two years to get this novella to publication, but I hope you’ll find it worth the wait. My beta readers liked it even more than the first one, and reviews of Jack Fell Down were positive.

Which reminds me! To celebrate the release of Egrets, I’ve Had a Few, Amazon offers the enovella Jack fell Down FREE November 20-25. Only two days left!

img_2888The second book in the Deluded Detective series Egrets, I’ve Had a Few is ready for pre-order for a pittance: $1.99. The 150 page novella will be released the day after Thanksgiving. Black Friday. That price won’t last!

Click on the titles below for the deals:

Jack Fell Down (FREE Thanksgiving week)

Egrets, I’ve Had a Few (available for pre-order now)

If you like the book, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon or Good Reads. Reviews really do help the author and readers!

Happy reading!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

FREE Book and Pre-Order EGRETS, I’VE HAD A FEW

jack-fell-down-copyTo celebrate the release of my latest novella in the Deluded Detective Series Egrets, I’ve Had a Few, Amazon offers the enovella Jack fell Down FREE November 20-25. Here’s a description of the first book in the Deluded Detective series.

No one will tell ex-science teacher Pam Graff what catastrophe left her brain damaged 17 months ago. In the middle of a seizure, she alerts two high school students about a child kidnapped the same day as her accident. Was she possessed by her dead Aunt Hillary? A victim of the delusions that plague her daily?

Astonished to find that the child Jackson did exist and is still missing, Pam knows she is the last person to be looking for a lost child. Yet her teacher instincts and the hope that this may reveal what happened to her 17 months ago drive her to find him. Discovering that another child is dead raises the stakes.

With the help of family, students, felons, and a female Elvis impersonator, Pam searches doggedly throughout Southern California for the young boy.

The second book in the Deluded Detective series Egrets, I’ve Had a Few is ready for pre-order now for a pittance: $1.99. The 150 page novella will be released the day after Thanksgiving.

Pam Graff faces challenges after her last blackout. Ghosts in her bedroom, egrets on the stairs, and an obsession with climbing buildings are her new normal after suffering brain damage.

But no problem solving a cold case, right?

Once a physics teacher, she now works as a private investigator who sometimes moonlights as a fake fortuneteller. With the reluctant help of high school students, a genius hacker approaching his expiration date and her deaf neighbor, Pam battles lawyers, family, and rogues of the worst sort to discover whether a young hero-in-training is alive or dead.

While the dangerously handsome uncle might have been the reason Pam took the case, a series of odd coincidences force her to flee the FBI when she takes on danger of the killing kind.

Click on the titles below for the deals:

Jack Fell Down (FREE Thanksgiving week)

Egrets, I’ve Had a Few (available for pre-order now)

If you like the book, I hope you’ll consider leaving a review on Amazon or Good Reads. Reviews really do help the author and readers!

Happy reading!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Out of Africa Zoo: Prescott, AZ Discovery Trip Part Three

This is my final post on my September Prescott, Arizona discovery trip. To be exact, the Out of Africa wild animal park is in Camp Verde, an hour’s drive from Prescott. I love the goals of the zoo workers and the animals at the zoo. Lots of camels, tigers, lions, birds, ostriches, antelopes, etc., even a colony of prairie dogs. You’ll have to visit the zoo to see them. This post also includes memories of my 2007 Africa trek, leaving me only time to talk of zebras and giraffes.

A sidenote: since it was my birthday month, my zoo visit was free!


ooa_zebratimeoutI’m starting with the zebras because they’re my favorite. At the zoo, I saw them in two contexts: one where the zebras are put in a time out and one where they can roam free. Their timeout enclosure definitely did not look like punishment.  See photo above? Do you see a hint of repentance in those saucy eyes? Yep, I don’t either.

The zebra timeout enclosure was directly across from the giraffe’s timeout enclosure. More on giraffes later.

I fell in love with zebras on a 2007 trip through Kenya and Tanzania. On a safari in a caldera, I saw a zebra taunting satiated jackals napping after a kill. Obviously taking a dare from his herd, a lone zebra eased up to the pack. Quite proud of himself, strutting before his human and zebra onlookers, he missed an irritated jackal who slowly rowe to its feet. Fortunately, he finally did catch the movement in time. Before he galloped away, his stunned “uh oh” look made me laugh.

00a_zebra-mafiaI like how our Arizona safari guide likened zebras to the mafioso of the park. See the mobsters above? The animals are given “cookies” to draw them closer to our bus on the veldt. The zebras line up on the road to stop the bus and refuse to give way till given cookies.

Another 2007 story. We stopped on the road through the park by a herd of adolescent zebras, standing in a cluster, seeming to communicate with each other nose-to-nose. They weren’t there to extort cookies from us. Suddenly they galloped at full speed into a herd of peaceful wildebeests, causing them to scatter in a panic. The zebras romped back with delighted expressions on their faces.

At the end of this post, I’ll include another sneaky zebra moment, but this time in Arizona.


A highlight of the trip was feeding a celery stalk to the giraffe. Gentle and ever so polite, the giraffes would lean into the bus window and accept the celery with their very wet, sticky tongues.

The zoo has only male giraffes. Females are pricey. The one giraffe in timeout was there because he’d come to believe another giraffe had hidden a female. This would make a fun mystery plot with an end of the world theme. Man kills a friend who claims he’s locked the last female left on earth in his attic. After the murder, he discovers that there was no female and now he is truly alone. I read that resentment and despair in the eyes of the giraffe in timeout.



As promised, I’m including this photo as a final note to my visit. Check out who snuck in the picture!

Please let me know of your favorite spots and things to do in Prescott. Anyone else visit the Out of Africa zoo in Camp Verde? Did you see the tiger splash show?

Trip report respectfully submitted by Michelle K

Posted in travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Feast for NaNoWriMo 2016

Food plan alert. Mine is ready. Is yours?

I’ve participated in how many NaNoWriMos? Nine, ten, eleven? The National Novel Writing Month in November is a writing signpost for me. My compass is somehow always tuned to it. If I’m not planning for one or editing a book that I wrote in one, then I must be in one.

In October, I’m usually feverishly planning for it and desperately finishing up other projects. This month is no different. My sequel to Jack Fell Down is with beta readers and I’m doing pre-publication work: the novella’s front and back matter, designing a cover, and setting up for pre-orders. I’m also waiting for two critiques of a short story I wrote, which I will then do a quick edit turnaround and send off to a publisher. I’m also deep into the fourth revision of The Foreign Story Collector, a suspense romance novel with paranormal elements. I hoping it will go to an agent in the next week.

In November, it will be 50,000 words in 30 days.  It’s almost a rule that you start November 1st with a fresh idea, a token stab at a few characters, and the barest outline possible.  See the website and/or Baty’s book for more information.

My NaNo? I’d dearly love to finish my YA dystopia novel. If there’s time left over, I’d like to beat my murder mystery novel with elements of olives and steampunk into shape.

But the real preparation? Getting food in order so that I can concentrate on writing.

Breakfast: hard boiled eggs on a handful of spinach leaves and kraut with a slice of papaya on the side.  A large mug of hot, black coffee.

Lunch: slaw tuna sandwich with cut veggies (cucumber and rainbow carrots). Slaw tuna is canned tuna mixed with a favorite slaw recipe then slapped between sliced bread.

Dinner: I eat chopped salad most nights accompanied by a small piece of salmon or mahi or shrimp. Sometimes with lasagna rolls.

I hydrate with iced ginger tea.

Easy-peasy preparation is how you make novels.

Questions? Please leave your favorite NaNoWriMo recipes and prep plans here!

Happy noveling, Michelle

Posted in Uncategorized, WRITING | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Morning Hikes: Prescott, AZ Discovery Trip Part Two

The dogs must be walked every day, a splendid excuse for a morning hike. In Prescott, Arizona that can mean dozens of rambling opportunities from your front door or within a short drive. Here are a few walks we did the third week in September 2016 and other gold Prescott nugggets.

Willow Lake Trail Hike

img_2725A small zoo is at the entrance and the park sprawls across the road from the Emory Riddle Aeronautical College. An archeology team is working two dig sites for pre-1200 AD Adobe huts and masonry pits at one end and we finished in the Dells at the other end. The hike was much easier than yesterday’s in the midst of the Dells at Watson Lake (where unfortunately I took no pictures), though this path was rife with midge swarms.

You can see Thumb Butte on the right side and the City of Prescott in the background.

Excellent information about the early natives around the digs. I hope to see the archeologists at work on my next visit, maybe even attend a tour or a talk. I understand those are available.

The zoo looked friendly too. Another fun outing I must plan for my next trip.

img_2748The Highlands Center for Natural History

Very fun trails in this pine forest, some are circular. I really felt like I was getting away from it all. Newly minted, the buildings were occupied early that morning, but few people on the trails. Rain was expected later, so everyone was checking the skies.

Please try this site to see what the Highlands Center has to offer.

No lie about the vistas and the vegetation! I took advantage of a memory bench to catch my breath. On a different note, a grounds worker stopped us to ask if we knew anything about snakes as he’d found one in their compost pile. We declined to examine it.

I will explore more here.

Peavine Trail

img_2809Part of the Prescott rails to trails program, the peavine trail head is located near the Humane Society. The six mile trail was originally built by the Santa Fe Railway in 1893.

We walked about fifteen minutes for an easy thirty minute walk total. Good information about the river environment. The walk takes you to Watson Lake. We saw pretty river views like this.

Good description of the hike at Peavine and Iron Trails.

After lunch, I filled my car at $1.86 per gallon at Frys. Popped into the Purple Cat bookstore and then over to Method coffee shop for maple lattes. The day never warmed past 64 degrees so the hot latte hit the spot.

At 3:00, we headed over to another spot near Watson Lake, the Dells in the background, for an American Indian Pow Wow. We stayed about an hour, long enough to enjoy a gourd dance, see native craft, and take fry bread home.

Yavapai College Walk

img_2826On the morning I left Prescott, we walked the dogs around the college. Redolent of pines and lovely architecture, this walk was very pleasant.Even though we walked at a good clip, I slowed to take pictures in the sculpture garden. How could you not?

After exhausting the dogs, we raced through a good-sized farmers market. I picked up some Lebanese bread. The produce looked wonderful, as did eggs, honey, and artesian soaps and candles.

I’ll do a last post about a zoo visit in Camp Verde and that will be my last share of my September discovery visit to Arizona.

Please let me know of your favorite spots and things to do in Prescott.

Trip report respectfully submitted by Michelle K

Posted in travel | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting There: Prescott, AZ Discovery Trip Part One

After the two women road trip adventure, I decided that I was up for a solo drive. On September 17, I jumped in my trusty 2011 Elantra, recently outfitted with new tires and shocks, and set my navigation system for the 450 mile trip to Prescott, Arizona.

Summary of timeline and metrics: I left Southern California at 9:30 and arrived safely in Prescott, AZ at 5:30. I stopped briefly in Rancho Mirage and Quartsite. Gas is 70 cents cheaper in the latter Arizona town. What with the gusts and the mountains, not to mention the idling, my average mpg was 30.

Scarcely out of my county, I encountered an accident at the 57/60 interchange where I sat for nearly an hour. I almost returned home to try again Sunday. Traffic stalled again near Oak Glen for 30 minutes.

Taking the AZ 60/71/89 route from the 10 freeway was an adventure and one I will probably not do again. No traffic on any of the interchanges. One lane in either direction. It did cut 70 miles and 90 minutes from the drive. BUT the 60 was sparsely populated. A good place for Breaking Bad, but not Breaking Down. AND the 89 was 23 miles of hairpin turns looking 3000 feet down. Scary! Later conversations with Prescott residents led me to believe that I was unnecessarily hysterical. Uh huh.

img_2733I tried the Phoenix route on the return. Stay tuned for that report, but I look forward to a route of the jerky stands and gun shops I know and love.

My family’s new home is lovely (photo of the view from the deck showing San Francisco Hills and the Dells). I’m finding Prescott immediately appealing. Stay tuned for daily hikes and local events like wild animals, tarantulas, and Pow Wows.

Trip report respectfully submitted by Michelle K

Posted in travel | Tagged , , | Leave a comment