Fabulous Fall, Amazing Autumn

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” ― Albert Camus

I’m back after a week off. Not “off,” really, but last week all of my spare time went into getting my manuscript, Shear Murder, book four in the Melanie Hogan mystery series, finished and off to the editor.

And now for this week’s post…

Whether you call it “Fall” or “Autumn,” the message is the same…

Beyond Beautiful!

When I first moved to Colorado from Minnesota 22 years ago, I’d heard so many exclaim about the beauty of the Golden Aspens of Colorado. I have to admit, I was sorely disappointed. The autumn colors in Minnesota (yellow, purple, red, fire orange, pink, browns that are beautiful, gold…you name it) are unlike anything else I’ve experienced.

However, I now see the beauty of the Golden Aspens and, yes, it takes my breath away. And there are other colors, as well. But I think the real beauty comes from the bluest skies I’ve ever seen and the majestic mountains along with the Golden Aspens. The beauty in Colorado has captivated and caught me in its grasp. Below are some photos of Colorado’s beauty. Enjoy!

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Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.
― Lauren DeStefano, Wither

Diverse, Unique Taos

 

Beautiful Taos

Last week I shared photos of old cemeteries we visited in Taos. This week I want to share some photos from our time there that are not cemetery related. I am enamored with this city of all things art. However, working in the law enforcement arena, I chose to research the crime rate. While I was there, no less.

Yup, I just had to go there, because that’s how I roll. And I was totally shocked.

Neighborhood Scout shows that across communities of all sizes, the violent crime rate is one of the highest in the nation. By “violent crimes,” they’re including rape, murder, manslaughter, robbery, and assault. Property crime is even higher. To put things in perspective, they state that the chances of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime is 1 in 11. Ninety-eight percent of the communities in New Mexico have a lower crime rate than Taos. Yikes!

Bestplaces.net ranks crime from 1 to 100, the higher the number, the higher the crime. Below is where they rank Taos:

Taos County violent crime is 53.9. (The US average is 31.1)
Taos County property crime is 49.9. (The US average is 38.1

Yet with that all being said, and noted, I still can’t help but love the place. It’s filled with art, diversity, culture, and character, like no other place I’ve visited thus far. Below (and above) are some photos of the beauty.

The below two photos are of the Bed and Breakfast where we stayed. Every afternoon they have Tea Time when they serve just that–tea–and so many delightful goodies! The 2nd photo is the dining area where they serve breakfasts that are out of this world!

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The next two photos are of the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. Just a tad frightening. But the beauty was breathtaking.

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After looking at the next two, you can guess that I love to photograph doors. I’m not sure if there’s more to that than I’m aware of or not. 🙂

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Below is a trail we hiked in Carson National Forest, named after Kit Carson.

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Below is a stream that ran along one of the shops in Taos Ski Valley, followed by a photo of some low-hanging clouds on mountains colored with golden Aspen trees. The scenery there is stunning!

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As you grow older, you learn a few things. One of them is to actually take the time you’ve allotted for vacation.  –John Battelle

 

 

Welcoming in September

Happy September!

I’ve always loved the months of September and October. Not because I want summer to end, but because those particular months carry with it evenings fit for hoodies, vibrant colors, the beginning of a new school year, renewed energy, fall decorations including the warm glow of orange lights, and all things pumpkin flavored!

My home office is decorated with a fall theme all year long, and it’s there I hibernate when I need a reprieve from the chaos of life.

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Thursday, September 6th begins a 4-day writing conference, Colorado Gold, which is a writer’s paradise. So much learning, connecting with other writers, and networking, that by the time conference is over, my head is usually so packed with information that I’m ready to once again retreat to my home office and put what I’ve learned to the page.

Mid-September my husband and I are taking a trip to Taos, NM, one of my favorite places to visit. It’s an artsy town where I feel completely at home. Last time we visited there, author Natalie Goldberg made an appearance at the bookstore. Quite the treat!

And finally, at the end of September is a 3-day conference I’m attending for work in beautiful Breckinridge, Colorado, a town at the base of the Rocky Mountains’ Tenmile Range.

What about you. Any plans for the beautiful fall months? What is your favorite season of the year and why?

Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.
― Lauren DeStefano, Wither

I can smell autumn dancing in the breeze.
The sweet chill of pumpkin and crisp sunburnt leaves.
~Ann Drake, 2013

 

God’s Splendor

My husband and I celebrated our 15th wedding anniversary this past weekend in Estes Park, CO. Below are some of the breathtaking views from a hike we took at 11,500 feet above sea level, as well as a few other memorable sights.

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This was my little guy’s (Roscoe) first hike. He did so well!

One picture I didn’t get on camera is the bear that ran mere feet in front of our hot tub Monday morning. While we were in it! Beautiful, but a wee bit scary!

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks. -John Muir

 

 

Camp NaNoWriMo

Off to Camp

So in further explanation from the brief mention of Camp NaNo in last week’s post, what exactly is Camp NaNo? It can be summed up in two words:

Fun Challenge!

Camp NaNoWriMo is a spinoff from November’s NaNoWriMo where participants from all over the world strive to write 50,000 words in the month of November. Camp NaNo is a bit looser. Where November’s goal is to write the first draft of a novel, Camp allows the participants to set their own goal in word count, page count, minutes or hours. The “campers” are also given a place to stay with like-minded campers in virtual cabins, making virtual s’mores over virtual campfires, but having real conversation. Cabin mates encourage one another, share their expertise and knowledge, and new writer friendships are developed.

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I’ve participated in November’s NaNoWriMo in the past (in fact, my first published book, The Inheritance, was born from my very first NaNoWriMo experience), I usually participate in the April Camp NaNo, but I never miss a July Camp. I dust off my lantern, prepare the month before by planning my project and reading what I can. When Camp starts I celebrate with a real s’more on day one (No virtual ones for this part) and at set intervals to celebrate accomplishments along the way.

This year I’ll be working on edits and revisions on book four in the Melanie Hogan Mystery Series, Shear Murder. Shear Madness, Shear Deception, and Shear Malice are available here and here. I’ve set my goal at 40 hours, I’ve printed my manuscript and placed it in a 3-ring binder, I’m re-reading the book Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell (one of the best books on editing I’ve ever found), and I’m ready to roll!

One last thing–Each of the Melanie Hogan Mysteries contains a recipe. Shear Madness, book one in the series, actually contains three! I’m searching for hotdish recipes for my new book. Unless you’re from Minnesota, you’re probably wondering what in the world hotdish is. It’s a casserole that typically contains a starch of some sort, meat, and canned or frozen vegetables with canned soup. Minnesotans can get pretty creative, let me tell ya, don’tcha know. Since the Melanie Hogan series is set in northern Minnesota, the chosen recipes are native to Minnesota (like hotdish) or those that were special to me as a child growing up. If you don’t have a hotdish recipe but want to participate, anything native to Minnesota will do. Nothing with Spam though, please. I’ve yet to see anything that makes Spam edible. Ugh!

I’ll be accepting submissions for the next couple of months, and the chosen recipe, along with the winner’s name, will be mentioned in the book. If you’re interested in participating, send your recipe via email to rjblackhurst0611@gmail.com.

And now it’s back off to Camp!

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Nature’s Brilliance, Week 4

Nature in its Perfectness

The final week of sharing shots of nature that I’ve discovered this past month. And just in time to focus on Camp NaNo. What is Camp NaNo, you ask? Tune in next week and I’ll share what it is and what I’m working on. But first, one more week of nature. Sit back and breathe in the silent beauty.

 

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From birth to full-bloom. Each holds its own beauty.

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Oftentimes, raw beauty is the best kind. Nature, unaltered, unmanicured, all natural. It’s these things, unseen if we don’t take the time to notice them, that make up so much of life.

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If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, those things can unexpectedly become great and immeasurable. –Rainer Maria Rilke

Nature’s Brilliance, Week 3

Another week of nature’s splendor that speaks far louder than words.

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Sunrise, sunset…

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This lady was hard at work laying her eggs.

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And here’s the critter that taunts my dogs every day. He’s taunting me here, too, daring me to come and get him. Challenge accepted.

The most beautiful gift of nature is that it gives one pleasure to look around and try to comprehend what we see. –Albert Einstein