Why I Write

What makes a person want to write?  That takes time, inspiration, research…..and “seat of the pants” work.  I have now completed six novels, the Briana Fraser series, and thought I’d share some of the “inspiration” part with you—in case you might want to write or wondered why I did.

My writing partner, Sharon Owen, writing as Sharon St. George, has penned a series, published by Camel Press, in part featuring Northern California medical facilities, eastern cities, and travel to the Azores, in search of the truth about an injured young man, then for a lost girl, and into a string of dangerous accidents, including a mysterious death. The titles so far: Due for Discard, Checked Out, Breach of Ethics, and Spine Damage.  She was careful to have characters with particular skills, employment abilities and difficulties, plus challenging relationships with each other, including a romance, making her novels realistic. I liked what she’d done with her website; I asked if I could “imitate” her site. She agreed.

As a voracious reader of mysteries, especially those placed in dangerous locales, I have written a series about an Ashland, Oregon bookstore employee and Shakespeare Festival volunteer, who reluctantly signs on to assist the U.S. government with “problems” in foreign nations. (The titles so far: “Argentine Assignment”, “Belize Barter”, “China Caper”, “Peru Paradox”, with “Mexican Marimbas” and “Russian Ruse” following in short order.)

My main “hero” characters aren’t saints, nor geniuses, but they love their country and take dangerous risks to complete “assignments” given to them by their government to help make a difference for that country. Even my anti-heroes, except in the Mexican novel, aren’t intrinsically evil, but they won’t win any cheers; maybe a bit of sad recognition or understanding.

Important to me was to develop novels that portrayed at least my vision of, respect for, and appreciation of the people of the countries in which I placed the action, including the problems the people of those countries face—poverty, power, anti-law attitudes, pride—even the religious goals of a group of nuns in Peru! Other action includes a bull fight, a contest that perhaps portrays human struggles to succeed in a dangerous world! (And I have spent considerable time in these countries.)

Other struggles are faced by the human characters in the novels, all presented in the culture, climate, church affiliations, courage, and conviction of the characters as they fight to fulfill their assignments.  Ashland gets a big “plug” because of my love of the town and for Shakespeare. And for the deer who each spring make national news as they flood into the small town (and in my yard when I lived there!) by the hundreds.

My hope is that readers will enjoy and appreciate some of the “atmosphere” of the countries mentioned earlier, as much as I did in reliving the days, weeks, even months I’ve spent in those wonderful places. But it’s always nice to come home!

 

 

 

 

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Machu Picchu is truly a place to wander and wonder

What drove religious and political leaders of Cuzco, Peru to leave the relative comforts of that city and move their followers to an isolated inland fortress centuries ago? Fear of Spanish invaders? Fear of other aspects of the world?  Those were my questions when I boarded the train at Cuzco for a day trip to an important religious and political site in the varied history of Peru.

Machu Picchu is truly a place to wander and wonder. The massive rock that looms there was constructed to fight Spanish forces approaching from the west.  Perhaps obvious conflicts between Incan religious and political powers also spurred exploration and led to the challenging building in a “forbidden,” but honored, place.

The early settlers are easy to identify: religious Incan leaders fearing the Spanish habit of forcing their beliefs on people Spain conquered. Those leaders uprooted themselves and their followers to head for safety into an unknown and unsettled territory.  Exciting lore surrounds the journey: why this particular site and about the builders themselves?

Today, a very challenging walking trail leads to Machu Picchu; a comfortable train conveys tourists there; a modest number of hotels and restaurants meets most needs.  A day trip means one can return to Cuzco to known comforts. (But stay overnight; at sunrise the rock seems to glitter.)

The story of this site is a tale of intrigue, fear, betrayal, and ultimate success that defines the value of visiting the towering rock.  It honors bravery and imagination. The little restroom is now improved.  Walking around the area, peeking into the tiny window-less huts, and gazing with amazement at the nearby mountain that towers so protectively over the site, are some of the rewards for making the trip. (Little llamas cavorting beside one is also a special treat.)

Chloe Ryan Winston’s latest novel, Peru Paradox, has just been published; available at Barnes and Noble.

Peru Paradox now for sale!

peru-paradox-coverCome to a book signing at 2 p.m.  Feb. 18th at Barnes and Noble. The fourth novel in the Briana series is Peru Paradox. Briana once again finds herself embroiled in adventure and political intrigue as part of a U.S. intelligence courier group en route to the depths of Peru. A sinister political group is making moves to swipe a vacant UN seat. The consequences – both local and global – are potentially enormous. This time, Briana is operating under the guise of a casual visit with her cousin, a nun, living and serving with her sisters in the villages surrounding Arequipa, the famous “White City” of Peru. Here, Briana and her group face unexpected dangers in the convoluted political scene in Peru. Now more than ever, our heroine is questioning her dedication to a life of espionage. Is her mission worth leaving the comfort of her Oregon book and travel shop? Is she equipped to handle the guilt that comes with deceiving the innocent convent community?

With danger around every corner, the potential romance between Briana and one of her partners seems impossible at times, but for the occasional glimpse. Still, as she tries to find her place within the world of espionage, Briana perseveres with her trademark wit and determination. Page after page of Peru Paradox is filled with old-school adventure and spiced with modern politics.

Peru Paradox is available for purchase at Barnes and Noble and on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback. You can also catch up on the rest of the series: Argentine Assignment, Belize Barterand China Caper.

More Than Just a Tip

There’s someone I want you to meet.  She’d been a long-term waitress or ten-year employee at IHOP restaurants. I first met her when writing my first published book, Argentine Assignment, and I used to spend three to four hours a day in a booth in a California IHOP.

Because I’m a natural snoop—or educator, take your pick—I found out she had a family, and a job, and was going to school to get her degree.  Of course, that fell right into my “butt-in-ski” personality. For a couple of years, I received almost daily reports on her progress in all those areas.  And how I admired her determination to get her college degree—and was pleased at all the future doors it would open for her.

For a variety of reasons, I began coming in earlier (or later) than her IHOP shift, but this day, after a drought of two years, she was my waitress again.  And did I ever take advantage of that, figuring she might have given up some of her plans.  But, no!  She now is registered at SOU in Ashland, Oregon, plowing ahead to reach her educational dreams.

I was so delighted that I let the eggs and potatoes grow cold while we talked.

So, there’s a story behind every face one sees.  We all need to dig a little, inspire some, and encourage all those we meet.  It’ll feel great!  It almost scares me—the influence one has on others—good or bad, or even indifferent.  I almost didn’t stop for lunch that day. My residence community meals are already paid for, so I’d be paying twice if I ate at IHOP. For some reason, and it suddenly was apparent why, I stopped for lunch at the same restaurant.

Do people like her cross your path? Do you ask questions of your food servers or others employed elsewhere?  Do we encourage people enough to reach for their dreams?  Ships do pass in the night—and may we all see them in time to get aboard!  And since we only pass this way once, we need to grab every encouraging opportunity we can.

So my food got cold—so what!

Book Signing at Barnes and Noble

I will be signing copies of my newest book, Belize Barter, at the Redding Barnes and Noble this Saturday, April 23 at 3:00 p.m.
 
In Belize Barter, Briana Fraser is back. Swept once again into a dizzying world of espionage, revolutions, and misadventures, Briana is asked to take a hiatus from running her travel store in Ashland, Oregon, and reprise her one-time role as a courier for a U.S. spy agency.
 
This time, the exchange will happen in Belize, a veritable hotbed where mysterious groups vie for political control. Briana finally agrees and boards a cruise ship south, but she gets more than she bargains for when her teenage sister, Leslie, is dragged into the fray. Briana must summon all her wits to save more than herself and her mission: this time, she must save her sister.
 
Come on by the Redding Barnes and Noble at 1260 Churn Creek Rd. to pick up your signed copy!
Belize Barter Front cover

The second installment of the Briana Fraser series!

Belize Barter Now Available for Purchase

Belize Barter Front cover

Briana Fraser is back. Swept once again into a dizzying world of espionage, revolutions, and misadventures, Briana is asked to take a hiatus from running her travel store in Ashland, Oregon, and reprise her one-time role as a courier for a U.S. spy agency.

This time, the exchange will happen in Belize, a veritable hotbed where mysterious groups vie for political control. Briana finally agrees and boards a cruise ship south, but she gets more than she bargains for when her teenage sister, Leslie, is dragged into the fray. Briana must summon all her wits to save more than herself and her mission: this time, she must save her sister.

 

Belize Barter can be ordered in Kindle or paperback from Amazon.com, or in paperback or NOOK from Barnes and Noble.