Tag Archives: Southwest

Author Kris Bock, on Finding Inspiration in the Southwest

Please help me welcome today’s guest, Kris Bock, with an interesting and informative article, plus some books that look like great reads!

Finding Inspiration in the Southwest

I live in New Mexico, and the Southwest inspires my work, as I bring suspense with a dose of romance to the land I love. Here are some of my favorite spots – heavy on the adventure.

Socorro: For most people, this town in the middle of the state is mainly a rest stop between Albuquerque and El Paso, except in October/November when huge flocks of cranes and snow geese fly in to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. But as a local, I know the special sites nearby. Hikes can take you out in the desert or up to the mountains, visiting native petroglyphs or hunting for fossils. Hundreds of rock climbing routes provide adventures for anyone, beginners to experts. Plus, you have a good chance of seeing unusual wildlife, from roadrunners to foxes to great horned owls.

In my treasure hunting adventure, The Mad Monk’s Treasure, the heroine and her best friend hunt for the lost Victorio Peak treasure, a real Southwest legend about a heretic Spanish priest’s gold mine, made richer by the spoils of bandits and an Apache raider. I drew on personal experiences hiking in the desert for Erin and Camie’s adventures – though fortunately I’ve never stumbled on a rattlesnake nest or gotten caught in a flash flood!


My treasure hunting series now includes three books, which stand alone, with no cliffhangers. The second, The Dead Man’s Treasure, also has scenes in Socorro, as well as at other sites around the state. (I’d name them, but that would involve spoilers. In the novel, the heroine has the chance to inherit a fortune – if she can decipher clues that lead her on a treasure hunt.)

My most recent novel, The Skeleton Canyon Treasure, also starts in Socorro. From there, Camie and her feisty cat Tiger help a burly geologist who says he’s searching for his missing uncle. But can they trust him? Their adventure takes them into southeastern Arizona, including the famous town of Tombstone. My husband and I have visited Tombstone several times. It’s touristy, but still fun and full of the history of famous gunslingers and gunfights, such as the shootout at the O.K. corral.


Jemez Springs: This small town in the mountains of northwestern New Mexico is known for its hot springs. You can also visit the ruins of an old Spanish church; Soda Dam, a cool rock formation formed from the mineralized water flowing in the river; and Battleship Rock, so named because it resembles the prow of a battleship. (Pictures on my Pinterest page.)

I’ve attended many writing retreats at a camp north of the town, and those experiences inspired Counterfeits. Of course, in the book, the site isn’t quite so relaxing. When Jenny inherits a children’s art camp, she discovers that her grandmother’s death might not have been an accident after all. The men who killed her grandmother are searching for stolen paintings, and they think Jenny and her old friend Rob, the camp cook, are involved. Doing research at a real camp tucked away in the woods, and hiking above Battleship Rock for a scene where Jenny gets lost, helped the setting feel realistic.

Hovenweep National Monument: This one is not actually in New Mexico, but it’s close. Located on the southern border between Colorado and Utah, these ruins once housed 2500 people between A.D. 1200 and 1300. It’s one of many sites left behind by the ancestral Puebloans, also known as the Anasazi. It’s a small site, but that’s part of its charm, as you can hike and camp without crowds.

In my romantic suspense Whispers in the Dark, my heroine is an archaeology Masters student working at the fictional “Lost Valley” monument, which is closely based on Hovenweep. The lonely location allows for an almost Gothic atmosphere – mysterious lights in the canyon, spooky moaning sounds, and plenty of people hiding secrets.

Whispers in the DARK

Lincoln County: What We Found is loosely based the mountain resort town of Ruidoso. The forested town at nearly 7000 feet elevation is not what most people probably imagine when they think of New Mexico. Yet it seemed like the perfect place for the story of Audra, a young woman who stumbles on a dead body in the woods. More than one person isn’t happy about her bringing the murder to light, and in a small town, it’s hard to avoid people who wish you ill.

What We Found was inspired by the true experience of finding a body, as I described in this blog post. I also spent time with a man who raises falcons and hawks (photos on my Pinterest page), and that comes into play in the story. It’s real-life adventures like these, both good and bad, that make New Mexico a great place for a writer!

Leave a comment for a chance to win an e-book copy of one of these books. Let me know your favorite spot in the Southwest, or where you’d like to visit if you have the chance.



Kris Bock writes novels of suspense and romance with outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. 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. 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.

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

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Filed under Author Blog Post, For Writers, New Release

Interview – Patti Sherry-Crews, Author of Margarita and the Hired Gun

Please help me welcome today’s guest, Patti Sherry-Crews, who is sharing a little about herself and her brand new release!

1. Where did you get the idea for Margarita and the Hired Gun?  

Margarita and the Hired Gun is my first historic western romance. I always wanted to write one, and I had this story in my head for years, but I wasn’t sure I was up to the challenge of writing with historic accuracy.

2. Was there anything unusual, any anecdote about this book, the characters, title, process, etc, you’d like to share? 

To prepare myself I read other books in that genre and spent time researching. When I did sit down to write, the story poured out of me. But I had to stop frequently to fact-check!  Things like, they’re setting up camp for the night and going to light the campfire–Wait, did they have matches yet? What foods would they have brought with them? And I couldn’t let them ignore their horses. How did they keep their mounts in good condition? I did find a really good book written by two Englishmen who rode the old outlaw trail on horseback, and that was a great resource for me.  I’ve since written three more historic westerns and though it’s not typically what I write, I do enjoy the challenge. I love the old west, having grown up watching all those old westerns on TV.  I repeatedly watched Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid when I was young. My favorite scene was the opening one that takes place in Hole-in-the-Wall. I knew Margarita and Rafferty would need to hole up in an outlaw hideout for a while.

3. Are there any tricks or habits you use when creating a story?

I’m a visual person, so creating Pinterest boards for my books is one of the first things I do. The boards are especially helpful when writing an historic piece. I have boards devoted to the fashions, everyday items, and keep articles on 19thc America. I refer to these boards frequently.  I can now look at a lady’s dress and know right away which decade of the 19thc it came from.

4. What book have you read that you wish you would have written?

This question gave me palpitations. There are so many books I’ve enjoyed over the years, but the thought of taking credit for any them makes me uneasy! I love the question though, so if I had to choose one, I’d go with Pride and Prejudice by Patti Sherry-Crews–I mean Jane Austin. For one thing that book has staying power and has inspired so many modern retakes in both film and literature. Also, when someone says something demeaning about romance novels, I say “Tell that to Jane Austin.” She wrote Chick Lit! Smart, funny woman and their love life problems.

5. Do you have another occupation, other than writer? If so, what is it and how do you like it?

I have a strange and arcane occupation. I cane and rush chair seats. My mother, who wanted to stay home with us, taught me, which allowed me to stay home with my own children. I have a love/hate relationship with caning chairs. I don’t love it, especially as I get older, but it can be meditative like knitting. I do some of my best writing while caning a chair. I don’t even advertise I do this anymore, but people turn up on my doorstep with broken chairs all the time–and the money isn’t bad. It’s a weird occupation to have to explain to people. I now say I’m a writer.

6. What do you dislike that most people wouldn’t understand?

This is a strange one, but I really hate snorkeling. Everybody else seems to love it. The times I’ve gone snorkeling, I was either terrified or bored and cold–nothing in between. While worrying I was drifting out to sea in Hawaii, I came face to face with a giant sea turtle and couldn’t remember if they attack humans or not. Another time snorkeling in Mexico I was so cold I lost feeling in my hands when I found myself in the midst of barracudas–and I did remember their attitude toward humans. I chose a certain excerpt from my book for today because Margarita has the same response to being on the trail that I have toward snorkeling. She is either terrified and uncomfortable or bored with a companion who at first only talks to her when necessary.

Thanks so much for joining me today. Fun interview! I enjoyed getting to know more about you. I’ve never snorkeled, but I think I would find it terrifying and exciting at the same time. I have a fear of underwater creatures, namely sharks!

And now, tell us about your book…




Pampered Margarita McIntosh is not used to being forced to do things she doesn’t want to do—but when her father, Jock, sends her away for her own safety, she has no choice. The long journey from Flagstaff to Durango tests her personal strength of will as never before, and the secret she carries in her saddlebag could be the death of her.

A rough Irish gunman, known to her only as “Rafferty”, is entrusted with getting her to her destination “safe and intact”—something he fully intends to do to claim the reward he’s been promised by Jock McIntosh. With a price on his head, the promised money is Rafferty’s ticket to a new life, and he’s not going to jeopardize that for anything—not even love.

But there are steamy nights and dangers all along the arduous trail for MARGARITA AND THE HIRED GUN, with deadly secrets between them that passion cannot erase. With her father’s enemies after her and the secret she conceals, will Rafferty’s protection be enough to save their lives? And will the heat of their passionate love be enough to seal their future together—if they do survive?


(At this point Margarita and Rafferty have been on the trail for days and relations have been frosty. This scene marks a turning point.)

Rafferty glanced over his shoulder, alarmed, and there she was. She had stopped her horse and was looking out across the desert with an expression on her face which made his heart stop. She looked so beautiful, even in that ridiculously large hat.

 “It’s so glorious,” she said.

He looked out at the vista with the setting sun turning the sky pink. The mountains ahead were red. The earth before it ochre, studded with majestic cacti.

“I’ve never seen this part of the country before. I’ve never seen anything like it,” she continued, her voice soft.

Rafferty remembered the first time he’d seen the desert stretching out for miles in a landscape so alien to him. He never wanted to be any place else after his first view of the west.

“There’s no place like it, is there? It’s the exact opposite of the land I was born in,” he said, forgetting a moment his stance to not talk to her except when necessary.

But he knew how she felt right now, and he wanted to share in the moment. Her face registered surprise at his first attempt at polite conversation. He instantly regretted softening.

“I imagine it’s all green where you’re from. I’m sure it’s beautiful too, but this is…”

“You keep on enjoying the scenery. I’ll keep a look out for things that could kill us. Don’t worry.”

She actually smiled at him then, which hit him like a shot to the heart. “Oh, you!”

“I’m serious! You go right ahead and enjoy yourself. I’ll continue to light the fire, feed you, clean up after you, take care of the horses, and look out for danger while you have your little experience.”

“Enjoy myself? You must be joking. Every minute out here is torture. And don’t be such a bloody martyr. If you want me to do something, you only have to ask. I’ve never been out of the trail before. Remember? I don’t know what you expect me to do. Please, give me some tasks. I’m going stark raving mad with boredom.”

He turned quickly to hide the smile on his face and nudged his horse forward.

After they reached camp, and he settled the horses, he was surprised to find a pile of sticks and kindling, ready for a fire. She was fussing about with it, getting it all wrong.

“Here, no, you have to set up the sticks like a tepee. The way you have it, the fire won’t be able to breathe.”

“Show me,” she said, looking up at him with that smile again.

“I’m only going to show you the one time.”

“Will you show me how to make coffee? I could use a cup now. How about you?”

That evening, he didn’t take out his book. Instead, he began what would become their nightly ritual when he would draw a map for her in the dirt, showing her where they’d been so far and where they had to go yet.




Patti Sherry-Crews lives with her husband, two children, a bad dog, and a good cat in Evanston, IL. She studied anthropology and archaeology at Grinnell College and the University of North Wales, UK.

After college she had an Irish and British Import store for fifteen years, which was really just an excuse for the occasional buying trip during the year and to sit and read books during the day—the shop was pretty quiet.

Once Patti started her own family, she gave up the shop to work from home, caning and rushing chairs, which is a family business. Repairing chairs is still her day job, but she does reserve the afternoons for writing.

She first wrote a memoir, Smoke Damage, and then she went on to write a novel, Patrick III, which takes place in Newfoundland. Two more novels are pending, in various forms of completion. Under the pen name Cherie Grinnell, she’s written four steamy romances that take place in Dublin and Wales.

Whether it is because she watched too many western TV shows with her grandmother or because her bag of cowboys and Indians was her favorite toy, Patti also writes historic western romances. Her book, Margarita and the Hired Gun with Prairie Rose Publishing came out this spring, and she has two novellas out now in anthologies by the same publisher.

Buy links:

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Margarita-Hired-Gun-Patti-Sherry-Crews-ebook/dp/B01EAS7F50?ie=UTF8&keywords=margarita%20and%20the%20hired%20gun&qid=1464193098&ref_=sr_1_1&s=books&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/margarita-and-the-hired-gun-patti-sherry-crews/1123670611?ean=9781532777318

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/margarita-and-the-hired-gun?utm_source=facebookDPAUS&utm_medium=social_paid&utm_campaign=title-Margarita+And+The+Hired+Gun

Where to find Patti Sherry-Crews and Cherie Grinnell:

Website: http://pattisherrycrews16.wix.com/author-blog





Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/patsherrycrews/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CherieGrinnell

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Patti-Sherry-Crews-Author-1560094420912035/



Filed under Author Blog Post, New Release