Writers are environmentally friendly; we don't waste anything.
Author Dovie Ruth shares a perfect example of that with her guest post, which also answers that ever-popular question: Where do writers get their ideas?
Once Upon an Equinox is the first in Dovie's new Mystic California Cozy series. "When Delaney Fox made up her mind to attend a session at The Tilted Plume Writers’ Retreat in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, she had no idea how winding and treacherous the road was going to be. Eerily, none of the other students showed up. And perhaps Delaney should have stayed home, too."
Spooky, right? Intriguing? Mysterious? You ain't read nothin' yet. Check out Dovie's post below, then go straight to your favorite bookseller and grab a copy of Once Upon an Equinox to enjoy the rest of the journey.
Once Upon An Equinox was born out of two conflicting emotions: Awe and bitter disappointment.
Every time I travel in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Northern California, I am filled with a profound sense of awe. Getting out into the far reaches of nature is one of my priorities. I am a venturesome sort and plan a fair share of my weekends and vacations around various retreats where I can indulge my senses in some beautiful scenery while I write, watercolor, take photographs, or practice yoga.
Now, back to the part about my bitter disappointment; that happened in regards to a writers’ retreat I attended many, many years ago. Interestingly enough, none of the other promised students showed up. I took a cozy mystery I was working on. It was about a misguided spinster who was trying to hire a witch to cast a spell of revenge on someone. Little did I know that the writing teacher was a spinster and a misguided witch. Judging by her hot temper, I don’t believe she was pleased with my story. When I realized she was planning to take me to her coven meeting the next evening, I got really scared. I didn’t really know the woman or her friends, and I was a couple hundred miles away from home. So, I waited until the teacher wasn’t watching. Then I threw my bags in my car and boogied on down the road. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I’d stayed.
Delaney Fox, the main character in Once Upon An Equinox, was inspired by a young lady I met at a watercolor workshop in Sequoia National Park. She was about halfway through her first pregnancy and was delighted to have made it to the class. Her enthusiasm was nothing short of beautiful.
I actually chose a former property manager for the prototype of Mavis Beasom, the writing teacher in my novella. My property manager was a rather seedy woman. She changed her name four times within the four years I lived in the top floor of an old Victorian house she was overseeing. Every once in a while, she would show up in the middle of the night and yell for me through the ground floor mail slot. She always wanted me to re-write my rent check with her new name on it. Those unexpected visits scared me to death. I loved the apartment, but I was happy to leave the sleazy woman behind when I moved out.
The setting for Once Upon An Equinox is Three Rivers, California, which is an artists’ haven just south of Sequoia National Park. The surrounding wilderness is breath-taking, and the park is home to some of the largest trees on earth. The fictional retreat in my novella is called The Tilted Plume. It is located on a treacherous and winding mountain road that follows the East Fork of the Kaweah River. In my real life, I meandered up that same road decades before on a photography trip. I was instantly mesmerized by the rare beauty of the landscape. Once I spotted the Kaweah River Bridge, I knew it was going to be the inspiration for something creative. I wasn’t sure what it would be at the time. As it turned out, the bridge is featured prominently in Once Upon An Equinox.
Several people have asked me why I chose to call my mysteries dark. Like the majority of cozies, mine have no violence, no gore, no sex, and extremely little foul language. They do, however, portray multi-dimensional cast of characters including real witches, psychics, and tarot readers. They are not cartoonish avatars with supernatural powers. They are humans whose interest in the occult has forced them to lead shrouded lives. Most of the books in the Mystic California Cozies series also include themes with serious overtones. For example, the second novel in the series, The Murder of Miss Toadvine, concerns a young autistic man who is accused of murdering a lonely spinster. The Burning Bowl recounts how fires keep starting in a small desolate oil town after a female electrical engineer moves in. Serious themes. No talking frogs. I hope my readers enjoy the stories.
You can find and contact Dovie Ruth here: