Category Archives: Stars

The Mascot

When the Captain and I were on one of our trips to Baja California, we stopped to do some shopping in Ensenada. I found a puppet-style doll that I couldn’t live without. She was the Mexican version of Annie Oakley. What made me even happier, was buying the doll that had to be her partner.  He is pictured in the photo below Annie.

The store proprietor told me that this doll represents the hen-pecked husband, the Honeydew man (Honey, do this and Honey, do that), but in Spanish they called this fellow a “mandelon,”  because he is ordered about. What woman would not want a mandelon to do things for her? I had to have this doll!

In my novel Orion’s Gift,  Sylvia is all alone in the world and has more than her share of problems. She really needs someone, so I gave her a mascot to lend her strength. Below is a short excerpt from Orion’s Gift, telling about how Sylvia came to adopt Annie.

Excerpt:

In one shop, handmade puppets on strings hung from the ceiling. Each doll had a unique character and, like orphans hoping to be adopted, seemed to call, “Take me with you.” I fell in love with a Mexican Annie Oakley. She held a mini six-gun in each hand and radiated confidence and self-reliance. I paid for her and happily carried her home to my van. I rigged up a spot on the curtain rod behind the seat for Annie to watch over me at night. She’d be my mascot, a reminder that I was strong and could take care of myself.

If you would like to read about Sylvia, you can purchase the e-book for less than the price of a hamburger. Just click on the link to amazon.com.

Click here:  amazon.com

Please help spread the word about Annie the mascot and the book she lives in by re-tweeting this post.

Desert Camping, Hot Love

I’ve copied this post from my other blog, https://annelisplace.wordpress.com/ in the hopes that I could interest my wordsfromanneli followers to check out my second blog. That blog is dedicated mainly to authors, writing, and books, but it need not be of interest only to writers. Without readers, we writers are like rudderless ships.

Please indulge me the copied post this time, and please do go visit my other blog if you feel the slightest interest in writing-related topics. Check out the archives in https://annelisplace.wordpress.com

I wanted to tell you how it came about that I wrote the book Orion’s Gift, so if you’re still with me, here it is:

While camping in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula, I noticed a woman sitting alone in a van parked near the beach. I never saw her get out of her vehicle. She sat in the driver’s seat most of the time, listening to audio tapes and chain smoking cigarettes.

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The beach was beautiful, the sun shone every day, the water was clear and inviting, the place was a paradise. Why would she not get out and inhale that fresh air, go for a walk or a swim, or enjoy this little bit of heaven? I certainly did.

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It puzzled me and I wondered what her story was. Her plates said San Diego. I mulled over many scenarios. Why was she alone? Why did she never get out of her van? Was she trying to kill herself with the first and secondhand smoke in the enclosed vehicle?

The seeds  of a novel were germinating in my head. A California girl comes to Baja alone. But why? I would make her health-minded, young, and beautiful. Yes, the character was taking shape in my head.

palapa 2

She would need to find a love interest, but who would be down here on his own and why? Men come to Baja alone, looking for … something ….

Each of the characters had good reasons for being on the run, but would that interfere with them starting a new relationship? What if the attraction was so strong, they couldn’t resist?

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But what if their past troubles are coming after them? Will the new lovers stick together? Will they panic, split, and run to escape their pursuers? And what about that drug runner who is out for revenge for a slight on the road?

sunset at La Perla

Life could be so perfect, if only those nasty people from their past weren’t coming after them.

For a gripping story of love and suspense wrapped up in a Baja adventure, why not spend a big $2.99 and download Orion’s Gift from amazon.com or smashwords.com today?

Cover design for Orion’s Gift is by Anita B. Carroll. Thank you, Anita for a great cover image. You can contact Anita at anita@race-point.com

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Ironing the Beach

This is an old photo I came across. Pablo, the man in the photo, took care of the beach where we stayed. The land belonged to his wife’s family for generations, he told us. There are no facilities, except an outhouse, but most people who camp there have everything they need in their RVs. When we stayed at Pablo’s beach the price was very reasonable at $3.00 per night to park on the beach. $5.00 if you wanted a palapa as well. We stayed for about three months and loved every minute of it.

This was what they call dry camping, not because the desert is dry, but because there are no amenities like running water or electricity. It’s very rustic, but also very natural and beautiful. It is quiet there unless someone brings battery-operated radios or (in those days, about 18 years ago) cassette tape players. More often you’d hear someone playing a guitar by the campfire or a group of friends singing at happy hour.

Pablo was rightly proud of his beach and kept it clean. He took the seaweed away in a wheelbarrow and dumped it far from the camping area so the little flies didn’t infest the sandy beach. Hard work for a man in his early 70s.

Here he is, ironing the beach. I couldn’t believe it when he told me he was “planchando la playa.” Ironing the beach?! I looked it up. Yes, that’s what he had said. He was flattening the sand that many footsteps had scuffed and as he ran his homemade ironing board over an area, it raked up any foreign objects (like cigarette butts, and beer caps) that would otherwise make the beach messy.

The handle of the “iron” Pablo is using, is made from a spine of the cardón cactus. Very hard wood.

ironing the beach [1]

It was after spending a couple of winters in Baja at Pablo´s beach that I decided to write my novel “Orion’s Gift.” In the story I had a character like Pablo but named him Alfonso.

If a romantic suspense drama in Baja interests you, why not check out “Orion’s Gift”?

Orion's Gift

Available at all amazon outlets and smashwords.com.

smashwords.com.

Amazon.com

Three Treats

Here is a fabulous deal for anyone with an e-reader. For the next month, until May 15th, just in time for Easter and Mother’s Day, my e-books will be on sale for only $1.00. Do you like reading the kind of book where you come away feeling like you’ve learned something new? I know I do. The setting and background in each of my books are very different from the usual.

1. The Wind Weeps takes place on the West Coast of British Columbia and takes you up the coast from Vancouver Island, to the mainland, and north to the Queen Charlotte Islands and back. But it’s not a travel book. The characters live and work on the coast and this is where their story evolves. While I have you in the grip of romantic suspense, you will inadvertently be finding out about life on the coast, at times, on a fish boat and at times in a remote cabin. Ah … a romantic remote cabin. How wonderful! But only if you’re with the right person. For $1.00 you can can enjoy chewing your nails to find out what happens next.

The Wind Weeps

2. If you’ve ever been to the Mexican state of Baja, you’ll enjoy revisiting the trip as the events in Orion’s Gift unfold in that setting. This one is not a travel book either, but you’ll feel as if you’re right there, with my main characters, Kevin and Sylvia. They each are looking for an escape to the unhappy situations they have left behind. The sparks fly and we think they might have found real love at last, but what they don’t know is that their spurned spouses are hunting them down. Discover Baja, a setting that is like a double-edged sword with its natural beauty and its raw harsh elements. Please take the time to see a recent review of Orion’s Gift at Luanne’s Writer Site. 

Orion's Gift

3. Now for something completely different again, we go to Europe in the days before, during, and after WWII. It is not a war story, but a story of a young woman who lived through it, hoping to find the man of her dreams. Timing and circumstances are rarely in her favour, but her love for her children carries her through harder times than she could ever have imagined. Love triangles always end in heartbreak for someone. You’ll laugh and you’ll cry when you read about Julia, but you’ll end up loving her, too.

Front Cover OnlyYou can buy all three of these books for a grand total of $3.00.

Go to Anneli’s Author Page to see all three books for Kindle.

If you have an e-reader other than Kindle, you can buy the books at smashwords.com. Click on the book you want to buy at the regular price and then type in the coupon code to get the bargain price of 99 cents.

Here are the links and codes for each book:

The Wind Weeps Coupon Code NF43D

Orion’s Gift  Coupon Code UQ49E

Julia’s Violinist Coupon Code JH64Z

Baja Getaway – Part Seven

I forgot to tell you about the swaying motion of the Boler. Yes, the Boler bounced up and down too much because of the weight of the trail bike on the back, but even after  mounting the bike on the front of the truck, the Boler still had a tendency to sway back and forth. This wobble usually started after hitting a pothole, or overcorrecting on one of Baja’s many curvas peligrosas – those tight, tight, dangerous curves.

I monitored the passenger side mirror constantly, announcing the beginnings of the whiplashing motion in hopes that Gary could correct the sway before it got too wild. But if I thought we had troubles, they were nothing compared to one of the transport trucks we followed for many a mile before daring to pass it.

This truck carried a load of what looked like agricultural packing boxes, stacked extremely high—way beyond the height of the sides of its trailer. It caught a lot of wind and the load had shifted some time ago, so the truck had to travel slowly. That may have been a blessing in disguise, since its back wheels were way over to the right of its front wheels. The whole frame seemed to be askew. In order for the rear wheels to be on the pavement, the driver had to put the front wheels of his tractor well over the center line, into the oncoming lane. From time to time we saw the right rear wheel leave the pavement and wondered if it was just a matter of time before the whole load tipped over. Since we had no opportunity to pass him as long as he used both lanes, we kept well back.

After many miles of watching this poor fellow dogleg along Mex 1, we came to one of the few Pemex stations along the way. The rig pulled in to the station and rolled into a wide gravel area. The driver wiped his brow as he got out to inspect his precarious load, while we did the fastest fuel up in history and got back on the road before he resumed his trip.

At San Ignacio, we stayed a couple of nights in an RV park right on the lagoon that makes this small town special. It’s an oasis of lush greenery in the middle of the desert. Gary and I put our skiff in the slow moving river and enjoyed the birdlife on the river and its banks while our fellow travellers took advantage of the water to rinse out a few bits of laundry with a minimum of soap.

The next day we walked into town to see the old Jesuit mission built in 1728, still a beautiful structure after all those years.

When we continued the last leg of our trip to our camp south of Mulegé, we first had to negotiate the famous Sta. Rosalía hill. This part of the highway made such an impression on me that I decided to use it in my novel, Orion’s Gift. Although my characters, Kevin and Sylvia, don’t have a truck with a Boler swaying side to side as they traverse this mountainous stretch of road, Sylvia, driving her new VW van found it terrifying enough. Kevin is behind her in his truck and camper. Here is a small excerpt from Orion’s Gift from Sylvia’s point of view. She has a Mexican doll named Annie hanging from the curtain behind her seat and sometimes talks to Annie to bolster her courage.

From Orion’s Gift:

I felt the van slowing down as the elevation rose. I was climbing a long hill, sometimes winding around small hills, sometimes straight, but constantly climbing.

“Pretty gutless for a new van,” I muttered to myself.

On one of the long straight stretches, was a huge propane-filling plant. I was glad to get past it. Places like that always made me nervous. I had visions of someone tossing a cigarette butt and blowing the whole thing sky high. I concentrated more on the road now, as it twisted in and out, clinging to the edge of the mountainside. At one point I had a fantastic view of the Sea of Cortez, and ahead of me lay the town of Santa Rosalía. The same hill I had just come up, had to be driven down, and it seemed to me that I would be down the hill in a very short time, judging by the steep grade of the road.

“Holy smokes, Annie!” I squealed. “If I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt, I’d be hanging on to the steering wheel to stop myself from falling into my own windshield.

“O-h-h-h-h-h!” I wailed. The narrow road was etched out of the mountainside, twisting and winding along the steep grade. I was pointing downhill at a frightening angle and yet I was having to make sharp turns. I could smell the burning brakes of motorhomes ahead of me. I was glad my lane was on the mountain side of the road. No guard rails! Crumbling shoulders! Oh, my God! And tight curves! The crowning touch was when I stupidly looked to see how far down it was. There, far, far below me, was the burnt out wreck of a transport truck. I almost started to cry from fear. I glanced in the mirror and saw Kevin right behind me, his face pale and tense. Still, he gave me a thumbs-up. Thank God he was there even if only for moral support.

A few minutes later, I had survived the Santa Rosalía hill. I coasted the last mile or so into town and pulled into the Pemex station to refuel.

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Find Orion’s Gift for Kindle at amazon.com  http://amzn.to/QnhEck

For Kindle and all other e-reader formats, find Orion’s Gift at smashwords.com http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/213638

Why Baja?

The mountains reflect the ever-changing colours of the skies.

(Click on the photos to make them bigger. They’re prettier that way.)

Why do people go to Mexico’s Baja? It’s remote, and for the most part semi-desert terrain. Cacti everywhere with spines that  pierce leather runners; terrible, narrow winding roads full of  potholes and drop offs, no guard rails; miles and miles of nothing but desert without so much as a phone booth or a gas station; rattlers, tarantulas, ticks and scorpions, dust and poverty, and more dust. And, bandidos patrol the roads at night. Why would anyone want to go there? Year after year?

Paradise

If you drive carefully, you’ll survive the roads. If you’re  prepared you won’t miss having a store handy every few miles. If you go between November and March, the rattlers will most likely be denned up. The tarantulas are up in the sandy hillsides, the scorpions are hiding from you deep under places you don’t need to look, and the ticks are only after your dog, so leave your dog at home or in your trailer. The bandidos? They’re rare, but if you follow the advice of seasoned Baja travelers and don’t drive at night you’ll be fine.

So why go to Baja? It’s warm in the winter but not overdeveloped. You can enjoy quiet beach camping without all the razzmatazz of city nightlife. Birds and sealife are there to be observed and admired. Hiking is possible in many places. Oh, did I mention the beaches, swimming, snorkeling, and diving?

Clear water for snorkeling.

And the people of Baja? Very friendly and welcoming.

Talking to other campers, I realized that everyone has a story, a reason for choosing to come to Baja. I thought, why not write one of those stories?

One woman inspired the novel I have just published. I don’t know her name or much about her. I only know that the licence plates on her van were from San Diego. She was a chain smoker, tight with her money – not wanting to pay the $5.00 a night camping fee—and she sat in the driver’s seat listening to audio tapes. I never saw her get out to enjoy the beach or put her feet in the water. It struck me as strange and I wondered why she had come all the way from San Diego to park on a Baja beach and never get out of her vehicle.

I made up a story about her, but I changed her from old to young, and from a chain smoker to a healthy, active woman. Now I had a beautiful California girl and a van. Why would Sylvia come to Baja by herself? I had to make up a reason. Maybe she received a letter that changed her life.

Fine. Now I needed to create someone for her to love. A handsome young man from Alberta might also be camping. Why? Maybe Kevin had had some sudden news and wanted a change from his unhappy life.

When Kevin and Sylvia meet, the sparks fly. They spend many a loving evening gazing at the constellations above them under those starry Baja skies. Orion watches over them nightly. It’s a match made in heaven, except for two things that could ruin everything. Kevin and Sylvia each have a secret. To tell all might jeopardize their newfound love. Making matters worse, their vindictive spouses are coming after them.

Read about Kevin and Sylvia’s Baja love affair in Orion’s Gift. Find out what happens when their hopes for happiness come crashing down. Click on the book cover image at the right for the Kindle link to Orion’s Gift. Go to Smashwords  http://ow.ly/d9P9K to download Orion’s Gift for all types of e-readers.

 

Photos courtesy of Amanda Naismith.