NERO WOLFE BANQUET

 

Ever hear of the Wolfe Pack?

All mystery writers and everyone else who loves a good read should know who Rex Stout is. He introduced us to the modern mystery by his characters: Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. The 70’s TV series was loosely based on his books, Ellery Queen.

 

 

Many years ago, when I first began to write mysteries, I was told by a well-known author to read Rex Stout. I did. His books are fun to read. We’re introduced to a private detective who never leaves his brownstone and his gumshoe, Archie.

 

Nero loves beer and orchids. Archie loves milk and chasing down the bad guys. It’s a fit made in heaven.

I recently had the opportunity to attend The Rex Stout Banquet when I attended a convention in Toronto, Canada. It was fabulous. No words could explain it.

We toasted each other constantly with all the many guest speakers. The meal was to die for. The passed canapes included caviar. The salad was made from butter lettuce. The vegetables were also to die for. However, the peppered beef tenderloin melted in my mouth. The desert almost dropped me to my knees it was so good, Hazelnut and caramel mousse. Can you beat that?

 

 

 

We also had fun with making up parodies using characters names. One group received a standing ovation. An older gentleman from our table wanted to sing solo, so we let him. We also had trivia questions to answer during the evening. It was so much fun. My friend, Carol Pouliot sat beside me and we had so much fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I encourage everyone to experience this banquet if the chance should ever arise. It was well worth it!

I write the First Ladies mystery series, historical mysteries, poetry, and picture books.

http://www.barbaraschlichting.com

https://twitter.com/BSchlichting

https://www.goodreads.com/BarbSchlichting

 

 

 

 

 

Have you ever rode the rails?

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Have you ever rode a long journey on a train? It’s a blast.

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My love for the train goes way back to my grandpa who had been an engineer for the Milwaukee Road and drove the Hiawatha from Minneapolis to Chicago and points beyond. My dad loved the train. He brought me twice to Chicago over the Thanksgiving long weekend when I was fifteen and sixteen years old.

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Dad with my boys. 1978

Looking out across the plains and watching the world go by will always be in my memory. I remember riding in the dome car and eating in the dining car as well as having a soda in the lounge.  Both trips, we spent two nights in Chicago. Dad knew his way around Chicago. We traveled all over the city via the L-train. It was so much fun to be alone with my dad.

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The old depot in Duluth, MN, also has train rides. One year for our anniversary, we rode the pizza train! It brought us to and from Two Harbors, traveling along the coast of Lake Superior. It came so close to the water, that I swear I saw fish swim.

When my husband and I went to Norway and Sweden, we took the train to northern Norway, transferred to a ferry and then enjoyed the fjords. The trip was marvelous.

Currently, my husband and I are planning a train trip across the Canadian Rockies in 2018 onboard a train. I’m excited.

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My next book is an historical mystery which is set on a Zephyr train during the fall of 1943.  A body is found in the Chicago rail yard. Come and ride along with the passengers and enjoy the dining car and lounge while my two characters, Brita and Ron, search for the killer.  It is titled, BODY ON THE TRACKS. It’s scheduled for publication by the end of the year. Please sign up for my newsletter on my website.

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Barb’s Books 

 

 

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I’m saying ‘thank you’ to all who post images online.

 

 

 

Outside the Comfort Zone

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

 

Last weekend I took an extra day off from my “regular job” and traveled alone through Colorado and part of New Mexico to spend time with a friend I’ve known for more than 35 years. Despite having a GPS and an atlas, I got lost a few times, trying to navigate some towns and cities in which I’ve spent little or no time. At one point, the interstate traffic was extra backed up due to a traffic accident, and I sat on the road for quite some time before embarking on locating a different route, eventually getting to the place I’d intended. Even without the accident, car congestion raged like a tornado – neither of which is an event with which I’m comfortable.

cars on freewayDespite some fear and uncertainty, I relished my journey, experiencing breath-taking scenery, a wonderful visit with my dear friend, and exploring history and culture that I have little interaction with on a regular basis. Even though I enjoy traveling and seeing new sites and having new experiences, I stepped out of my comfort zone by doing all the driving – and having several significant setbacks – alone. It’s been more than 15 years since I undertook such a major trip basically alone; the last such adventure I had a dog and cat to keep me company (and somewhat protected). Plus, I was younger then – now that I’m older, getting outside my box of travel comfort (Wyoming and Montana with their subdued traffic) was somewhat terrifying, truthfully. But, I survived. And, brushing away the troubles I experienced, I really did enjoy myself.

Life calls us to step out of our comfort zone on occasion; so can our writing. We can write in one genre, write across genres (weave two together), or write multi-genre (two or more different types). For example, someone who is a poet may attempt a novella. Another who writes mysteries may add a touch of romance. Someone who writes children’s books may try their hand at women’s historical fiction. Not all crossovers succeed, but some do. Adventuring into a new land of writing can challenge us, uplift us, or defeat us … but we never know until we try. For a few interesting articles on crossover writing, visit http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/crossgenre.shtml, http://livewritebreathe.com/writing-in-multiple-genres/, and http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/how-to-write-sell-the-cross-genre-novel.

My tag line for years has been, “I write inspirational dog stories for children and adults.” And, I love what I’ve composed the past seven years! I’ve been blessed to put together five books and to have five short stories accepted into Chicken Soup for the Soul, including last week’s release of “I Can’t Believe My Dog Did That!” I’ve spoken at libraries, in classrooms, and for senior and women’s ministry groups – and I love doing those presentations! I’m published in several magazines, including Creation Illustrated and WREN, and this year I dabbled in essay/creative nonfiction … a bit “out of the box” for me, but I found I thoroughly enjoyed it! This winter I’m going to experiment with a romance story – I have several friends who write romance and I’ve read several and now I’m intrigued. I remember being young and overwhelmingly in love – I’m hoping to capture those remembrances and see what I can compose as a sweet yet saucy story (I think having my 35th class reunion helped spark the spark!) … and I just may throw in a dog rescue sub-theme for good measure! Perhaps, like a few of my friends, I’ll use a pen name as I explore this genre – there are options for getting out of the box of comfort, just like there were options for me to get to my destination as I was ‘boxed in’ the traffic!

dog in a box

Have you stepped out of your comfort zone in life or in your writing lately? Were you ultimately glad you did? Perhaps that could be a challenge to each of us as we anticipate the close of one season and the start of another – finding a favorite place to write and attempting a new genre — just for the heck of it! If you do step out of your comfort zone and attempt such an endeavor, I wish you great ideas, amazing inspiration, and good ol’ fashion creative fun! After all, writers don’t need to box themselves in, so I encourage you to step out of your writing comfort zone, expand your horizons —  I’m going to give it a whirl!

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Gayle & Mary outsideGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including the latest dog book The Dog Did What?, released August 19, 2014. She also writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as for the Casper Journal and River Press newspapers, and she’s had articles published in Creation Illustrated magazine. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

 

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Relishing Summer

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis blog post by Gayle M. Irwin

 

During summer it’s easy to “relish” – watermelon, apples, ice cream, ice tea, the occasional strawberry daiquiri or margarita (or both!): all quench a parched throat, dry from summer’ warmth.

But, there are other things to “relish” as well these days: the season itself with respite from snow and cold; hikes and walks in woodland splendor; laughter of children; companionship of family and friends – treasures of summer’s majesty.

Writers Group at CabinI’ve been fortunate to relish – and revel in – many things this season, like cabin solitude and cabin time shared with family and friends, including my parents, and good friends such as my writer’s group just a few weeks ago; and the spider-webbing of my writing through new magazine and blog opportunities, several of which will be published this fall. I recently received the new copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What? and had my first sales of the book last Friday! I spoke at a library and senior center in a town about 90 miles south of Casper and connected with more dog people, and later this month I travel to Colorado to speak at the Fort Collins Senior Center. I relish these opportunities to share uplifting presentations with a call to action – to help animal rescue groups in the area. During this particular weekend I will continue my travel south to New Mexico, to visit a friend I’ve known more than 35 years, and then drive back north with a stop in Colorado Springs to visit places I’ve not seen, like Garden of the Gods and the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. I’m also planning to share dinner with Doris McGraw!

TetonsIn July I spent time with another friend, someone I’ve known about 30 years, when he and his family visited Teton National Park, therefore, I was fortunate to return to a lovely part of my state: Jackson, the Tetons, Yellowstone National Park. My parents visited at the end of July, and in September my father and I will visit national parks in Utah as well as the Grand Canyon. I’ve been to a few of these places; my dad never has. At 78 years of age, he’s put this trip on his “bucket list,” and I will “relish” sharing this vacation – and nature’s grandeur – with him.

I relish writing, speaking, travel, knowledge, my pets, family, and friends.

Many people make relish from summer gardens – I remember my mother doing that for years. I am neither a cook nor a gardener so my “relish” is a savoring of life’s sweetness when certain opportunities come my way: enjoyment of friends and family; sharing my passions, talents, and gifts in a variety of ways; and creating memories … and anticipating more in the weeks, months, and years ahead.

What “sweetness” will you be relishing soon? SAVOR!!

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Gayle with book buyerGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including the latest dog book The Dog Did What? to be released August 19, 2014. She also writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as for the Casper Journal, Douglas Budget, and River Press newspapers, and she’s had articles published in Creation Illustrated magazine. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

 

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Glancing Back, Looking Ahead

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

This weekend is my 35th high school reunion. Actually, I have two reunions: one in Iowa and one in Wyoming. My parents and I left a 14-acre farm near a small Iowa town the summer of my senior year. We moved from the Mediapolis area, in the southeastern part of Iowa near the Mississippi River, to Casper, Wyoming; I went from a graduating class of 84 to one of 600+ – “sticker shock” best describes the experience. At first, it was an adventure, but the closer graduation came and I still had only about six strong friendships in that class, the more homesick for my smaller community I became. However, I endured, and I proudly marched next to a young woman I’d come to consider my best friend, to receive my Natrona County High School diploma in Casper, Wyoming, May 1979.

Gayle with Stacy and CindyGayle and two of her former NCHS classmates — “we’ve come a long way, baby!”

I’ve wanted to return to Iowa for one of the high school reunions in Mediapolis, but I’ve not had the opportunity. I would have gone this year but with the passing of my father-in-law and an anticipated fall excursion with my own father, I had to pass again. However, this Friday evening I will join that same friend I “marched” with in 1979 as we attend the 35th reunion of the our graduating Casper class. I still don’t “know” many of those “kids,” but I know a few more than I did back then, and though not everyone I still consider myself friendly with will be there, it’s fun to think I’ll see some familiar faces and share a memory and laugh or two – as well as a few cocktails! I will toast my Casper class and also my Mediapolis compatriots as the memories – and wine – flow.

30th ReunionGayle & some former classmates, NCHS 30th class reunion – Casper, WY, July 2009

A lot has happened in my life these past 35 years. I began writing during my teens, but it wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that anything significant occurred – my first job with a newspaper; my second was even more significant: the editor and reporter for the West Yellowstone News, a position which allowed me to write about important ventures in Yellowstone Park, such as the reintroduction of wolves and a visit by President Bill Clinton. And, I’ve grown even more since then, having authored and published five books and having articles published in magazines and newspapers, regionally and nationally. And, in August, I’ll have a story in another Chicken Soup for the Soul (My Dog Did What?) – my fifth acceptance into this world-renowned compilation.

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I may not be a Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, or be as acclaimed in my publication endeavors as my friend Nina McConigley (her short story collection is nominated for a PEN award), but as I glance back upon the past 35 years (actually 35+ since I began writing television scripts about my favorite shows, like Bonanza and Starsky and Hutch, essays about the environment, and poetry about doe-eyed, unreachable romance), that phrase “you’ve come a long way, baby” hits home. As I look ahead, I anticipate more books and stories, hoping to inspire, encourage, and educate.

Gayle_Mary_reading eventThat road opens in the coming months as I prepare for three speaking engagements in August and begin conducting monthly presentations at my local library in September. Those sessions will include my dog Mary, who is trained as a therapy dog. I’ll be joined by my friend Chris Lenihan, an educator in the Casper school district, who also has a dog certified as a therapy pet. We will take our canine friends to the library to conduct various programs and then have the kids read to the dogs. Many libraries around the country have a Read-to-the-Dog program, and we hope to launch something similar in our community, but also combine it with topical programs relevant to the kids and our community. I’ll write more in the fall about pet therapy and our programs after we’ve had a session or two under our belts. Meantime, it’s time to celebrate – 35 years since I graduated high school… gosh, I’m OLD!

Do you attend your high school reunions? What significant things have transpired in your life, personally and professionally, since your graduation? As you glance behind and look ahead, what are some goals you have for your life? I am making my bucket list this summer, including visiting some national parks with my dad in September that I have not yet seen. What about you – what’s on your bucket list?

For you ’70s buffs, here’s a YouTube link to the Starsky & Hutch theme song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gsJ4pALlbEM

And, a YouTube tribute to my all-time favorite western, theme song sung by Lorne Greene:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kA-PdP4k4Xw

Gayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, including the latest dog book The Dog Did What?to be released August 19, 2014. She also writes for WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric Network), Crossroads, and Our Town Casper magazines, as well as for the Casper Journal and River Press newspapers, and she’s had articles published in Creation Illustrated magazine. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

SageBigAdventureFront-small   Walking_FrontCover_small   Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final   Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014

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Days Pass Quickly

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

“I’ve been lately thinking about my life’s time – all the things I’ve done and how it’s been…The days they pass so quickly now…” So go the words to a song titled “Poems, Prayers, & Promises” by John Denver. Another year has rolled around. Three of my high school friends have celebrated birthdays, and another’s is just a few days away. My birthday arrives in March – all of us are past the half-century mark, closer to 65 than we are to 35. This year marks our 35th high school reunion – where does the time go?!

John Denver’s reflection in that song reverberates in my heart and mind these days. Perhaps because three friends recently found themselves in the crosshairs of cancer – one of them not even 40 years old. The death of a few elderly church members recently also provided pause – our time on this planet is but a blink of the eye, and no one knows when those eyes will close for the final time.

Arch ParkInstead of becoming melancholy, as I easily could, or getting stuck in the “what ifs” and “if onlys” of yesterdays regrets (which I could do even more easily) I am focusing on the future. I am working harder, taking on more projects in the months ahead, in the attempt to dig out of a financial hole that beset my husband and I last year due to less income from his business. Once the debts are paid, then the focus will be on saving more for enjoyment – I want to travel, experience more of America’s majestic landscapes, and spend time with friends and family. Time is more of the essence now than it has been – my parents are in their mid to late 70s and close friends are pushing 60 … relationships are of great value. Yet, I need to work in order to create that financial safety net that will allow me to enjoy those times of travel and camaraderie. I am believing this new year will continue providing new doors of opportunity for both finances and dreams.

AZ saguaroI recently completed reservations for a trip my dad and I will take in September, fulfilling his bucket list of visiting the Grand Canyon. We will see friends during our excursion in addition to some of America’s most breath-taking national parks, fulfilling dreams of mine along the way as well. In March I will be speaking to two ladies groups in Cheyenne, which is only about 90 minutes from Denver. I will take the rest of that week off and fly from Denver to Phoenix and possibly on to California, again visiting friends and taking in amazing landscapes. That trip is my birthday gift to myself, and though I should possibly wait another year and set that money aside, I feel the need to reward myself for the additional work I’ve taken on – the importance of these friends, and my need for some winter reprieve and R&R, is too vital to wait. And, sometimes postponing means never getting around to it. Life is too short to wait these days. I look forward to both the spring and autumn adventures with great enthusiasm!

“The days they pass so quickly now, nights are seldom long – time around me whispers when it’s cold…” so go the words to the above-mentioned song, penned and sung by the late Mr. Denver, who died tragically and before his time in 1997. He would have been 70 years old last month.

Time does pass quickly, and the whisper of cold has been prime this winter in my neck of the woods. My life’s poem, my heart’s prayer, and my mind’s promise is to enjoy the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, as many as I have, with gratitude for the work, the talent, the ability, and the relationships with which I’m blessed.

As we journey through life we take time to evaluate where we are, from where we’ve come, and to where we’d like to go. Set a course and enjoy the journey – even if that means a lot of hard work for awhile … for the days do pass so quickly!

Coniferous Forest Beside a Large Canyon

SIDENOTE: I was and still am a fan of the late John Denver. I was excited to learn that the Leon Gallery in Denver, Colorado is hosting a show of the photographic works of John Denver through March 2, 2014.  A weekend get-away for me down to that big city is probably in order!

Gayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God. She is also a contributing writer to editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul, to articles in Creation Illustrated and Our Town Casper magazine, and in the Casper Journal and River Press newspapers. Her future plans include creating newsletter and brochure content for businesses and writing more magazine articles. She also has two more books in the works. Learn more at www.gaylemirwin.com.

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