ThursdayDoors: Antler Art


IMG_0689We ran into this gate on one of our many road trips from California to Utah. It’s decorated with sun-bleached antlers formerly belonging to deer and elk. Antler art is huge in the West and especially in eastern Nevada.  I believe these gates lead to a camping ground because in the distance we could see Wheeler Peak, the highest mountain in Great Basin, a national park which runs along the Nevada and Utah border.

We had just passed Major’s Place, one of the last places to get a beer before heading into the Mormon stronghold of Utah.


This is the town of Major’s Place – just one building which is of course a bar.

As you can see the antler theme prevails here as well. It’s easy to miss Major’s Place as you speed along the highway, however if you do happen to spot it and stop, beyond the doors you’ll find more antler art, antler furniture and antler lamps. In that part of the world you just can’t overdecorate with antlers.


This guy got to keep his antlers probably because he looks like a dude you wouldn’t want to mess with.

I stole the bottom two images from Stay on Route 6, a website devoted to exploring the longest contiguous transcontinental route in the USA. Highway 6 is also known as the “Grand Army of the Republic Army” because it passes through many historic sites dating from the Revolutionary War.  We didn’t go into Major’s Station as it was closed and it’s beyond foolhardy to trespass in eastern Nevada.  You could end up in the ground and not in the slammer. Those folks love their guns


From Antler Art

Check out other doors over at Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors shindig.

Snippet: Return to Echoing Waters

The stuff of my life had been dumped without any thought into cardboard boxes stacked to the ceiling in one of those rent-by-the-month storage facilities on the south side of Vegas.  If I hadn’t come back from the dead who knows what would have happened to it.  Sold probably. The proceeds given to the state.

I turned to the manager and asked, “Are you sure all that crap is mine?”

“Your name is Dr. Fiona Butters, right?  And you lived at 3814 Juniper Drive?” he read from the rental agreement.  Poor sod was sweating profusely in the hot September sun.  His polyester SafeStorage shirt was a size too small, a couple of strategic buttons were missing but at least his fly was up.

FacebookProfileAbove is a 150 word snippet from Flipka 2, Return to Echoing Waters.  I’m posting it as part of a Sasha Black/Hugh Roberts #writespiration event. The challenge is to post a 150 word snippet from your WIP along with the working title.  Generally I don’t participate in writing challenges (too lazy) but sadly I had no door for Norm Frampton’s #ThursdayDoors and no ideas jelling for a blog post so I decided to play along!

Return to Echoing Waters is a sequel to Flipka, which you can read about here, if you like.

Feel free to play along!  Either in the comments here or on Sasha or Hugh’s blogs.

My Favorite Part of Writing


Golden Poison Dart Frog. Cute but how do I fit him into my plot?

My favorite part of starting a new novel is the research.  Truth be told, I probably add unnecessary elements to my stories just so I can research something like “poison dart frogs” and find out their venom is used for treating stomach ulcers (oh yeah – gotta fit that into the plot!!)  Some stories don’t require a lot of research but when you have a protagonist like Fi Butters, a lover of all things odd and curious, you’ve got to keep your mind and a Google window open. That’s what happens when your characters are much smarter than you are, folks! 


From the Giant Red Haired Cannibals – one of my most popular posts for mystifying reasons.

Of course, with the first Flipka book it was easy. The story is set primarily in Nevada, home to Giant Red-haired Cannibals, mysterious rock formations, prehistoric fish, whorehouses, nuclear fallout, Area 51, desert rats (the human kind), conspiracy theorists, UFOs, the Burning Man festival, the Virginia City Camel races, tumbleweed filled graveyards, the Cartwrights, plenty of goof ball politicians and, of course, Vegas. It’s a regular cornucopia of bizzarities waiting to be explored.

So you can understand my trepidation at setting the first part of Flipka 2 in the area near Hudson New York, home to farms and cows and cheese.  What delicious oddities about Dairyland could Fi Butters manage to fit into one of her long rambling asides? 


Said to be the ghost of a Hessian trooper (mercenary hired by the British) who lost his head to a loose canon during a “nameless battle” near Sleepy Hollow

Well, luckily a headless horseman haunts that area, inspiring Washington Irving to write his classic tale, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.  The problem is, I currently have no idea how to fit a headless Revolutionary War trooper into Flipka 2.  A possible rival to Professor Lopinski?

The good news is you can find plenty of oddities anywhere.  The problem, how to fit them into your story! What sort of things have you stumbled upon while researching a novel that you just had to fit into a plot?

BTW:  I’m considering adding a page to the blog for promoting writers who have specials going on their books or an upcoming release.  What do you think?  Would you be interested in participating? 

The Girl Behind The Window


Pa (Ben), Adam, Hoss and Little Joe Cartwright -not the dudes most people associate with Halloween but I do!

Dear Readers – I wrote this post a few years back to honor Nevada’s 150th birthday. which was on October 31, 2014. Yes, arguably the nation’s wackiest and most haunted state was admitted to the union on Halloween.  Happy Birthday Nevada.

One of the best things about growing up in Reno was we got Halloween off from school. If the 31st fell on a Saturday or Sunday, we’d get the following Monday off.  If weather permitted, we kids would run down to the main drag (Virginia Street) to see the Admittance Day parade hoping to get a glimpse any celebrities who happened to be in town and there were generally quite a few.  Among the many I saw were Red Skelton, Wayne Newton, Bertha and Tina (performing elephants), Bob Newhart and Shari Lewis (with Lambchops, of course.)

However, the Cartrights (from the TV show Bonanza) were the only regulars. I suspect their appearance was mandated by their publicists to prepetuate the myth that the show was actually filmed in Virginia City and not LA. However, the Cartwrights really did know how to ride horses. Little Joe, the cute one, always rode a pinto (and who cared about the other Cartwrights.)

They’re all dead now and probably no one under 60 remembers their show. But Halloween will always mean the Cartwrights riding down Virginia Street.


Bowers Mansion

There are many haunted places in Nevada as it has over 80+ ghost towns, however, my favorite is Bowers Mansion.  It was built in the valley between Reno and Carson City by Sandy Bowers, a man who struck it rich during the mining boom and his eccentric wife, Eilley. Rumor has it that their daughter, Persia, who died tragically at age twelve, haunts the children’s playroom on the second floor. However it could be Eilley, who, after her husband died broke, told fortunes and had seances in the mansion. Eventually she lost her home to debtors and moved to San Francisco where she died penniless and desparate. Nevada is full of tragic boom and bust stories like hers.


Girl in the Window, Edvard Munch

To the right of the mansion is a county-owned picnic ground and swimming pool where I spent many an afternoon within view of the children’s playroom, Sometimes I could feel Persia Bowers watching me, always hungering for the life I lived. If I felt brave, I’d walk up to the tiny graveyard which holds the remains of the Bowers family.  Strange things are said to happen up there: cameras refuse to work and a chill air prevails all year long. But it’s the overwhelming sadness of the place that always gets to me.

Okay, just to embarrass my children, here are some my favorite ghouls:


Bridget as ???


Demon with funky angels


Keisha, Flapper Girl and Maitre’d?




Katie, the babysitter, as Pancho Villa