Friday, August 25, 2017

What We Really Found: The Murder That Inspired a Novel

hiking in the Southwest
I like to say that for a writer, everything is research. That attitude can help when things are bad. For example, when I had a car accident that left me with a fat lip from the airbag, I thought, Well, now I know what it feels like to be punched in the face.

You never know when experiences like these might be useful in writing a novel. Or in some cases, an experience might inspire the whole story. That happened a few years ago, on what started out as an ordinary day....


What We Found


Two friends and I were exploring the mountains, looking for some suitable gravel to try gold panning (because, why not?). We found a likely spot and were about to take a sample when the guys smelled something horrible. A glance in the right direction showed them a dead body hidden just out of sight of the path. 


The next hour passed in a surreal blur. None of us had a phone on us. We got back to our vehicles, where the phones were, and then had to find a place with reception. We called 911, waited for the police, and led them to the body. Later that night we were interviewed by detectives. By the following day, they had identified the body as a woman who had been missing. Seeing her picture on TV and learning about her family made the situation real in a new way. We wanted justice for someone we’d never met. Fortunately, they already had a suspect. Having an actual body instead of merely suspicions let them proceed with his arrest, but it took nearly a year to resolve the case.


As a writer, I knew I was getting rare first-hand experience into something powerful. I took pages of notes during that first week, even though I didn’t know how or when I might use them. I was fortunate to be with two men who talked openly about their experiences: the nightmares, the guilt over violence against women, the anxiety that came from now wondering what you might see in the bushes. 



Life Lessons

Three things struck me most strongly. First, we all felt deeply invested in the case, even though we’d never met the woman in life and didn’t know anyone else involved. We followed the news stories, and when the murderer was finally sentenced … well, I wouldn’t say we celebrated; more like we relaxed. This isn’t an experience I would wish on anyone, but we’re glad we helped bring a crime to light and a murderer to justice.


Second, it affected every aspect of our lives for weeks. Even though the likelihood of finding another body, or even witnessing a different crime, was extremely slim, we were on high alert at all times. It was a struggle to put it behind us while still honoring the memory of the victim and holding on to what we had learned.


And finally, we heard from someone in law enforcement that often people don’t report crime scenes like these. How could someone walk away from that? I started thinking about all the reasons someone might want to cover up their discovery, even if they had nothing to do with the crime. And that inspired my romantic mystery What We Found.


Several years passed before I felt distant enough from the experience to fictionalize it, but I still had all those notes and memories to draw on. Some elements of What We Found, mainly the emotional ones, are taken directly from that experience. Most character and plot elements are completely fictional.



A Better Experience

A personal experience does not have to be negative in order to inspire story ideas. I combined the murder plot in What We Found with something much more enjoyable. Through a friend of a friend, I met a man who raises hawks and falcons. My husband and I went on a couple of hunts with him, and I visited his home and got to meet both baby and adult birds. (Learn more about these experiences in a series of posts that starts here.) In What We Found, the heroine meets a mysterious young man who helps his grandmother raised birds of prey.


My other romantic suspense novels all have some personal angle to them. The Mad Monk’s Treasure and The Dead Man’s Treasure involve treasure hunting in New Mexico and draw on personal experiences of hiking in the desert and visiting the various spots that turn up in the books. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins and was inspired by a visit to Hovenweep National Monument some years ago. Counterfeits is set near Jemez Springs, in northwestern New Mexico, at a children's art camp. I've attended many writing retreats at a similar camp. (Learn more at www.krisbock.com or my Amazon page.) 


All of these stories are fictional, but the real-life experiences help them feel real. After all, one benefit to being a writer is that everything – good or bad – is research. 



Kris lives in New Mexico, where she enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and watching the sunset from her patio. Her home office looks out on nature, complete with distracting wildlife such as roadrunners and foxes. Her BFA in photography is used mainly to show Facebook friends how lovely the Southwest is.

Fans of Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, and Terry Odell will want to check out Kris Bock’s romantic adventures. “Counterfeits is the kind of romantic suspense novel I have enjoyed since I first read Mary Stewart’s Moonspinners.” 5 Stars – Roberta at Sensuous Reviews blog

Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page. Sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Mad Monk’s Treasure, a Free Romantic Suspense #MFRWHooks

Erin could hardly believe what she was seeing. Could this be it? After all this time waiting, searching, had she finally, finally, found what she was looking for?

She leaned forward and ran her fingers over the grainy photograph. With that one image, everything seemed to fall into place. This was the clue. It had to be.
The Mad Monk’s Treasure, a Romantic Adventure by Kris Bock

The lost Victorio Peak treasure is the stuff of legends – a heretic Spanish priest’s gold mine, made richer by the spoils of bandits and an Apache raider. When Erin, a quiet history professor, uncovers a clue that may pinpoint the lost treasure cave, she prepares for adventure. But when a hit and run driver nearly kills her, she realizes she’s not the only one after the treasure. And is Drew, the handsome helicopter pilot who found her bleeding in a ditch, really a hero, or one of the enemy?

Erin isn’t sure she can trust Drew with her heart, but she’ll need his help to track down the treasure. She heads into the New Mexico wilderness with her brainy best friend Camie and a feisty orange cat. The wilderness holds its own dangers, from wild animals to sudden storms. Plus, the sinister men hunting Erin are determined to follow her all the way to the treasure, no matter where the twisted trail leads. Erin won’t give up an important historical find without a fight, but is she ready to risk her life – and her heart?

“The story has it all - action, romance, danger, intrigue, lost treasure, not to mention a sizzling relationship....”

“Great balance of history, romance, and adventure. Smart romance with an ‘Indiana Jones’ feel. Well-written with an attention to detail that allowed me to picture exactly in my head how a scene looked and played out.”

Genre: Romantic Suspense
Book heat level (based on movie ratings): PG13

Now free at all retailers!



Visit all the Book Hooks author blogs. 
You might find your next great read! 


Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town.

The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. In The Skeleton Canyon Treasure, sparks fly when reader favorites Camie and Tiger help a mysterious man track down his missing uncle.

Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon page. Sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Hiking the Frijoles Canyon Trail, Bandelier New Mexico

My husband and I recently made a trip to Los Alamos, New Mexico, to visit a friend. While there we hiked Frijoles Canyon Trail. We started at the Ponderosa Campground, which was almost empty even on a Saturday in July. You can do the trail as a 13-mile loop, or hike eight miles one way and end up at the Bandelier National Monument Visitor Center. We made a seven-mile out and back hike.


The 2011 Las Conchas fire destroyed many of the larger trees and allow for subsequent flooding. However, smaller vegetation is coming back with a vengeance, and the lack of trees provides clearer views of the lovely cliff faces. 


The stream is at risk of flooding during heavy summer rains, but during our visit it was easy to cross and pleasant for taking a break to cool the feet.


Wildflowers grew in abundance, and we saw birds, a deer while we were up on the plateau, and a variety of interesting insect life.


This boulder, which must have fallen from the cliffs years (or centuries) previously, appeared to have holes cut into it like a ladder. We were, after all, close to Bandelier, where the Ancestral Pueblo people lived from approximately 1150 CE to 1550 CE.


As we did the hike, it started out fairly flat, then headed down a steep trail to the valley. After hiking along the river for a couple of miles, we turned back and had to do the steep trail again. This hike not only provided great exercise, but also excellent views and a variety of nature!


Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town.

The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. In The Skeleton Canyon Treasure, sparks fly when reader favorites Camie and Tiger help a mysterious man track down his missing uncle.

Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon pageSign up for the Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Hiking at Fenton Lake and Valles Caldera New Mexico

My husband and I recently made a trip to Los Alamos to visit a friend. On the way, we stopped at Fenton Lake State Park New Mexico where we were greeted by this golden-mantled ground squirrel.

Fenton Lake is a popular spot for fishing, and it has campsites, though they're pretty close together. If you prefer a more remote experience and don't need amenities, you'll find plenty of backcountry camping nearby. 
Still, we had a lovely three-mile walk around the lake, admiring the many wildflowers.
Fenton Lake is in the northwest part of New Mexico, a few miles north and west of Jemez Springs. From there, we headed more or less eased through Valles Caldera National Preserve. This circular depression, caused by a spectacular volcanic eruption about 1.2 5 million years ago, is America’s newest national preserve. 
Some areas are restricted or require permits, but parts of the preserve are open to hiking, biking, hunting, and fishing. We stopped at a couple of random pull offs alongside the highway. The first trail was temporarily closed (I can't recall if it was fire danger or flooding danger, but both are risks during New Mexico summers.) The second was less of a trail than a few crisscrossing cattle paths, but we had some great views.
Fun trivia – the TV show Longmire is set in Wyoming but it is filmed in New Mexico, mainly in Las Vegas New Mexico and the Jemez Mountains. Sheriff Walt Longmire's cabin is actually an old cabin in Valles Caldera.

Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Whispers in the Dark features archaeology and intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. What We Found is a mystery with strong romantic elements about a young woman who finds a murder victim in the woods. In Counterfeits, stolen Rembrandt paintings bring danger to a small New Mexico town.

The Mad Monk’s Treasure follows the hunt for a long-lost treasure in the New Mexico desert. In The Dead Man’s Treasure, estranged relatives compete to reach a buried treasure by following a series of complex clues. In The Skeleton Canyon Treasure, sparks fly when reader favorites Camie and Tiger help a mysterious man track down his missing uncle.


Read excerpts at www.krisbock.com or visit her Amazon pageSign up for the Kris Bock newsletter for announcements of new books, sales, and more.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

#AuthorLove Book Blog Exchange - Whitley Cox and #99c Tropical Tryst Boxed Set

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Tropical Tryst Boxed Set
Coming AUGUST 1st
25 Books for 99cents

Escape with these 25 brand new and exclusive sexy reads from NY Times, USA Today and International bestselling authors.

This set is perfect for romance lovers of all kinds. Offering up passionate, and enticing tales set in hot and tropical settings, this collection will feed your need for summer sexiness!

Boxed Set Links

Here's one of the many treasures you'll get:

Lust Abroad by Whitley Cox

Piper Valentine knows all too well that life is short. Off to Peru to heal after a grievous loss, she finds more than solace in the hot, charismatic travel journalist sitting across from her on the airplane. Derrick King’s had a brush with death, too, but he has no idea that he’ll face it again — and again — after giving in to his instant attraction to Piper. Their journey to the top of the world, filled with parties, humor, and fun, is turned topsy-turvy as they’re pursued by mysterious gunmen.

Determined to reach Machu Picchu and fulfill her promise to her dead husband, Piper finds that having Derrick along makes her feel safer, even as his lust for her endangers her heart. She’s never found another man so sensual, and with danger on their trail, they keep ending up in each other’s arms. Derrick’s a man with needs — and secrets. Will Piper find strength in surrender? And can Derrick find a way to believe in a future — for both of them?

Excerpt

I watched Mr. Handsome Photographer Man edit adorable baby sloths and cheeky monkeys, while I pretended to read about how awful a grieving widow I was being. I checked my phone briefly and noticed that the battery was getting low, but all the outlets around me were occupied, so instead I turned it off and picked up my book.

What cologne was he wearing? What was that scent? It smelled exotic, like…warm sand and fresh linen, beachy and clean and incredibly inviting…but also manly, very manly. What was his name? Where was he from? What were his plans in Lima? Was he single? Was I ready to start dating? The book said I needed to move on, meet people, find happiness again…which was why I was currently in the Panama airport and on my way to Lima. To do what Ray and I had always planned to do, and that was visit Machu Picchu. This would be our two-year anniversary, a belated honeymoon, seeing as we never got to go on one after we were married. This had been our dream, this had been the plan, and I wasn’t anything if not a planner and a promise-keeper.


A West Coast baby born and raised, Whitley Cox is married to her high school sweetheart and together they have a spirited toddler and a fluffy dog. She spends her days making food that gets thrown on the floor, vacuuming Cheerios out from under the couch and making sure that the dog food doesn’t end up in the air conditioner. But when nap time comes, and it’s not quite wine o’clock, Whitley sits down, avoids the pile of laundry on the couch, and writes.

A lover of all things decadent; wine, cheese, chocolate and spicy erotic romance, Whitley brings the humorous side of sex, the ridiculous side of relationships and the suspense of everyday life into her stories. With mommy wars, body issues, threesomes, bondage and role playing, these books have everything we need to satisfy the curious kink in all of us.

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Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Mad Monk's Treasure for #Free - #RomanticSuspense in the Desert Southwest

Happy birthday to me! Having an August 1 birthday is great, because there are no other big US holidays in August, and it's also Swiss National Day. (Not that I've ever been in Switzerland on my birthday, but it's still fun to imagine people there setting off fireworks.) Plus, when I was in grade school, we often visited family in late July/early August, so I got to celebrate my birthday two or three times – with friends at home, with my grandparents, and with whatever aunt and uncle we were staying with on the actual date.

To help me celebrate, please pick up a copy of one of my southwestern romantic adventure novels. (And a great gift would be an honest review on Amazon or GoodReads, or sharing the book with friends on social media or in person!)

How about this one? It's FREE at all ebook retailers!


Praise for The Mad Monk’s Treasure:

“The action never stopped .... It was adventure and romance at its best.”

“I couldn’t put this book down. You’ll love it.”

4.7 out of 5 stars with 38 Amazon reviews

Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Adventures

A legendary treasure hunt in the dramatic—and deadly—New Mexico desert....

The lost Victorio Peak treasure is the stuff of legends—a heretic Spanish priest’s gold mine, made richer by the spoils of bandits and an Apache raider.

When Erin, a quiet history professor, uncovers a clue that may pinpoint the lost treasure cave, she prepares for adventure. But when a hit and run driver nearly kills her, she realizes she’s not the only one after the treasure. And is Drew, the handsome helicopter pilot who found her bleeding in a ditch, really a hero, or one of the enemy?

Just how far will Erin go to find the treasure and discover what she’s really made of?

“The story has it all—action, romance, danger, intrigue, lost treasure, not to mention a sizzling relationship....”

This is book 1 in the Southwest Treasure Hunters series. The Dead Man’s Treasure is book 2 and The Skeleton Canyon Treasure is book 3. Each novel stands alone and is complete, with no cliffhangers. This series mixes action and adventure with light romance. The stories explore the Southwest, especially New Mexico.



Award-winning author Kris Bock writes action-packed romantic suspense, often involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Her other books include Counterfeits, What We Found and Whispers in the Dark. To learn more about her latest work, visit www.krisbock.com oher Amazon page.