I'm taking a winter break at Coyote Ridge, our place in New Mexico, south of Taos on the eastern slopes of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. I've brought Molly Maguire (our blue heeler) with me; Bill has stayed back in Texas with the rest of our menagerie. We've been getting some good early snows here in NM, and there's been some rain back in TX, not a drought-buster, but enough to boost the possibilities for at least some spring grazing for the cows. The photo was taken from our deck earlier this week: a heavy wet snow that created some power outages but will give us some much-needed soil moisture. New Mexico is drought-stricken, too.
Coyote Ridge is a log house built against a slope, with a deck overlooking a narrow valley and a wooded ridge on the other side, with the snow-covered Sangres against the northern sky. The loft is mine for writing and crafts; Bill has a big wood-working shop behind the garage. He comes out in the summers; me, I'm a winter-time gal. I never got enough snow when I was a kid. I love to spend December and early January here, to enjoy the snow. I don't have to go out to work, of course--if I did, it would be another matter entirely! I'll be here through the first week of January.
Writing projects. I've been taking a break from regular blogging partly because writing about our prolonged Texas drought is dispiriting but also because I've been putting my writing energies into . . . well, more writing. My fall project--a narrative nonfiction about Laura Ingalls Wilder and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane--is on hold for the moment, while the book (partially written) finds an agent. Looks like that may have happened: when I can make an announcement, you'll be the first to know, I promise.
The current project is Widow's Tears, China's 21st mystery. As it turns out, though, this is Ruby's book, and it's a ghost story, with a back story furnished by the Great Galveston Hurricane of September 1900. Curious about the title? It's a plant in the Commelina family. Some species are used medicinally and as a dye plant. The writing is going well: about 20,000 words so far. And the research has been really interesting. If I get the time, I'll do a separate post about that. The lovely thing about being here at Coyote Ridge: I have the luxury of doing nothing but writing, reading, walking with Molly, and watching the snow fall on the mountain. Can't think of a better way to spend the winter.
One more bit of book stuff: Peggy has posted the page for Cat's Claw, where you can read the first chapter. The book will be out March 6. For those who are tuning in late: this is a Sheila Dawson book, more of a police procedural than a cozy. There'll be two books in 2012: Cat's Claw (March); and The Darling Dahlias and the Confederate Rose (July).
Reading note: Practice is essential. If you’re going to learn to write, it has to be your practice. I’ve been fascinated with the job of learning to write, which is unending. And I enjoy writing. Dealing with the problems it presents gives me pleasure. Sometimes there’s frustration, but if I get frustrated or hit an impasse, I just stop and go back to it later. I don’t like to hear writers talk about how they suffer for their craft. If it’s that bad, they ought to quit.--Wendell Berry