Posted on August 15, 2014

Wyatt and Josie Earp in Nome, Alaska

You may wonder if the Earps really were in Nome in 1900, as my book Quicksilver to Gold suggests. They were.

Wyatt Earp was most famous for his participation in the O. K . Corral gunfight in Tombstone. His vivacious wife Josephine came to Tombstone as a member of a Gilbert and Sullivan traveling troupe, and one person called her “long on daring but short on decorum.” Wyatt and Josephine led a long life together after that event. They split their time between California and gold rushes around the West, Wyatt sometimes making their living in gambling saloons. They followed the Klondike Gold Rush, spending time in Rampart and St. Michael. Then they built the Dexter Saloon in Nome, Alaska in 1899, with Charlie Hoxie. Josie’s brother Nathan joined them at one point.

As I describe in my novel, the Dexter was one of the nicer establishments in Nome, with mirrors and draperies from San Francisco, and polished wood panels and wallpaper on the walls. The Earps met many famous people in Nome including Jack London, Rex Beach, and a young Herbert Hoover. Wyatt was arrested for participating in a fight, but released. Josie helped with relief work after a storm destroyed much of the town. I enjoyed weaving these facts into the plot of Quicksilver to Gold.

The Carrie M. McLain Memorial Museum in Nome has great articles from the time period and cool artifacts from the Dexter Saloon. There are many books about the Earps. My favorite is Wyatt Earp: The Life Behind the Legend by Casey Tefertiller. I recommend it if you’d like to learn more about Wyatt and Josie and the adventurous life they led.

I’ll be giving a talk about the Nome gold rush at 7 pm on Sept. 4th at the Loussac library in Anchorage, AK. Stop by if you’re in town.

Also, you can enter a Goodreads giveaway for Quicksilver to Gold at or preorder the book at Release day is August 21st!

Posted on August 8, 2014

Quicksilver to Gold: Preorder, Upcoming Events!

As you may know, Quicksilver to Gold is coming out August 21st!

Here’s a short excerpt to wet your whistle:

He looked up toward her, and their eyes locked. For one moment Jeannie forgot about the gold, the claim, everything but those liquid brown eyes focused on hers. She’d seen some handsome men in her time, but never anything like those beautiful eyes framed by long, thick lashes. They seemed to call to her, to promise to tell her things she’d never heard before.

Then she blinked, and his eyes blinked in return. She stood, exhaled as she realized she’d been holding her breath, and heard her voice saying, “You have the most beautiful eyes.”

Clint’s skin turned beet red from the neck of his shirt up to the brim of his hat.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to embarrass you,” Jeannie said as she gathered her tools. She’d spoken without thinking, again. She had to stop doing that before it got her into trouble. Luckily, that was the last panning she needed to do here, so she could leave now. She walked away, leaving the silent Clint to the gurgling stream and his gold panning.

Prism Book Group has set up a preorder page on Amazon, so you can order the paperback now and have it shipped on release day. Click here for that option:


Or you can wait until August 21st to buy the ebook or order from another venue, your choice!  :-) Click to the Quicksilver to Gold page on the Prism Book Group site here:



I’m arranging several events around the release. You can see my interview with I. B. Nosey on Aug. 21 at If you haven’t met Nosey yet, let me tell you his interviews are unique, and funny!


And if you prefer face-to-face events, I’ll be in Anchorage, Alaska for these upcoming events:

The Alaska Gold Rush, for Teens and the Young at Heart

Sept. 4, 7 pm at Z. J. Loussac Library, Public Conference Room

Young adult author Lynn Lovegreen will talk about the history of the Alaska Gold Rush and the inspirations for her novel about gold mining and the claim jumping controversy in Nome in 1900.

Each person who donates food or money to the Food Bank of Alaska at this event will receive a free bag of book swag!


All You Need is Love – Forging an emotional connection through the stories we write and read

Sept. 11, 5-7 pm at the UAA Bookstore

Alaskan Romance authors Jennifer Bernard, Tam Linsey, Lynn Lovegreen, Miriam Matthews, and DeNise Woodbury talk about their inspirations and connections made through their books.

Posted on August 1, 2014

Cover Reveal: Quicksilver to Gold

You may have heard that the next novel in my Gold Rush series is Quicksilver to Gold, set in Nome, Alaska in 1900. Here’s the blurb:


Gold mining is in Jeannie Kelly’s blood. But it’s a dangerous time to be an honest miner in Nome, Alaska—claim jumpers have invaded the territory. Jeannie has set her sights on Clint Tilghman, the strong, quiet man next door to her family’s claim. Clint fights his feelings for the impulsive lady miner, fearing he’ll lose his independence. Jeannie tries to change her tomboyish ways to attract Clint and gain respect from others, but there’s a lot to learn amidst gunplay and bar fights. Jeannie must woo Clint and beat the claim jumpers before summer’s end.

And **drum roll please** here’s the fabulous cover designed by Prism Book Group’s Joan Alley! I like how it captures the Alaskan setting and coordinates with the covers of Worth Her Weight in Gold and Fools Gold.


QuicksilvertoGold-Ebook copy small

To be released on August 21st, so stay tuned for details!

Posted on July 24, 2014

Salmon and Rhubarb Time

Alaska in mid-summer has many attractions. But two of them are salmon and rhubarb.


The red salmon are hitting big this time of year. Whether you’re a commercial fisherman in Bristol Bay or a weekend combat fisherman on the Kenai River, this is the highlight of your summer. (Side note: some people are starting to use “fisher” as a non-gender specific way to refer to fishermen and fisherwomen, but some hate it, so I go for the usual word for tradition’s sake. It can mean either gender.) My writer friend Tiffinie Helmer ( was just out in Bristol Bay, and she said it was insanely busy this year, to the point where she and her family crew members almost couldn’t handle the volume. I don’t often fish myself (long but not very interesting story), but I have three family members at the Copper River dipnetting for reds this week. I hope to have lots of filets and smoked chunks in the refrigerator by the time you read this.


Every Alaskan has his or her favorite way to preserve and cook salmon. For ease, nothing beats cleaning, filleting and throwing it in the freezer. We got a vacuum pack machine a few years ago, so our filets are preserved well for a year or more. We also smoke some if we have enough; it takes more time but it’s not hard once you get the hang of it. My husband loves to eat smoked salmon for lunch, which no doubt makes everyone in the faculty lounge green with envy. Smoked salmon is a prized gift or possession around here.


Cooking salmon is not difficult–just remember to give it a light hand and take it off before you overcook it. Our favorite way is to grill it with equal parts olive oil and lemon juice, with a little garlic, onion, and whatever herb or spice you have to throw into it. It can be baked the same way. Leftovers (or canned salmon) can be easily added to chowder, pasta, salad, made into salmon patties or salmon loaf. If you want to be a little fancy, throw the smoked salmon into those dishes, and it’ll taste like a gourmet meal.


I don’t fish, but I have a couple huge bushes of rhubarb nearby, so that’s my contribution to summer dishes. I started cooking rhubarb with my next-door neighbor’s recipe for rhubarb bread, a sweetbread heavy on brown sugar that works as a dessert. Now I’ve branched out to rhubarb pie, crisp, buckle. I like the sour taste myself, but often add berries to sweeten it up a bit. My daughter discovered that you can chop up a stalk or two and freeze it, so you can have a taste of summer anytime.


It’s time to go whip up a batch of rhubarb crisp!

Posted on July 18, 2014

Hay Fever

According to the OED, the first written use of “hay fever” was in 1835, and it is defined as “a disorder of the early summer, characterized by a catarrhal condition of the ocular, nasal, and respiratory membranes, accompanied generally by asthmatic symptoms, usually caused by the pollen of grasses and some flowers, sometimes by the dust of other substances or the odorous emanations of some fruits and animals.” (I love the way they put things, so I gave the whole definition here!) I looked it up because my hay fever has been really bad this summer.


I’ve always had hay fever. Sneezing and itchy eyes is just a sign of summer to me. I’ve taken most allergy medicines over my lifetime, changing every now and then as my body gets used to the latest one and it’s time to switch it up. I had a scratch test when I was young, where they prick your skin and deposit extracts on your back to see which things cause a reaction. My back had red dots all over it, and the doctor pronounced I was allergic to every plant in Alaska.


This year, under current conditions, the plants seem to be pollinating even more than usual. I’ve switched medications a couple times already, trying to find the best combination of chemicals that will shut down my body’s reaction to the histamines. Right now, nothing seems to work, and I’ve developed a sinus infection on top of it. So my days are filled with congestion, a raw throat, and sinus headaches. Gardening is out of the question–the weeds can take over this summer. It’s hard to focus and get things accomplished when I cough every time I talk and my head throbs. But I guess that’s the price for living in Alaska. It’s one I’ll pay, but I can’t say I’m enjoying it either. Maybe we’ll get a good rain or something so I can get a break soon.


Hoping your summer is a fun one, without hay fever!

Posted on July 11, 2014

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Posted on July 4, 2014

4th of July in Alaska

Historically, Alaskans are big on celebrating the 4th of July. Even before we became a state, territorial residents made a point of partying on Independence Day. In my research, I’ve seen photos of parades in Skagway in 1898 and Nome in 1900, and a huge crowd celebrating in Fairbanks in 1904. (The photo here is from Nome in 1916.) And those are just the settings I researched for my books–I’m sure there are many more photos in archives and collections.


Alaskans are pretty independent themselves, but proud of their heritage, so this holiday really struck a chord with them. Independence Day celebrations in Alaska usually featured a parade, speeches, and some kind of games. I’ve read about baseball games, canoe races, rock-drilling contests, and eating contests.  Workers at the Treadwell Mine in Douglas, near Juneau, held fire department hose races; you had to carry the hose a certain distance, connect to the hydrant, and start the water running.


Today the tradition continues, with many Alaskan towns holding 4th of July celebrations.  Anchorage, Seward, Valdez, Sitka, Juneau, Wasilla, Fairbanks, Whittier, Kenai, Tok, Seldovia–all have events that pop up with a quick online search, and I’m sure other communities have plans too. Most have parades and family activities. Anchorage always hosts a double-header game followed by fireworks, but to be honest, the fireworks aren’t very impressive when it’s still light out. Many Alaskans’ favorite Independence Day celebration is Seward’s Mount Marathon Race, which started as a bar bet in 1915 and involves running up and down the mountain. Only the brave and sturdy need apply, but everyone can watch the runners from downtown. I’ve never attended, because I’m not big on crowds. But I hear it’s amazing!


What will I be doing? I’ll give thanks for our democracy and its traditions. Then I’ll attend the local parade, and head to Birchwood for the Alaska 49ers (my shooting club) territorial championship, Shootout Under the Midnight Sun. For three days, we’ll dress up like cowboys and cowgirls, shoot old style guns at steel targets, and tell stories with our compadres. I hope to shoot well, but mostly I’ll spend time with my dad and enjoy the company of my posse. (For more on the Alaska 49ers and cowboy action shooting, see our website at


Wishing you a good Independence Day, wherever you are! How does your community celebrate the 4th?


Note: some content from previous blog post

Posted on June 27, 2014


I just spent most of the day with an elderly friend in the emergency room. She had a relatively minor problem, but enough for me to be a little worried about her, and I am glad to say she is doing all right now.

I’m still a little rattled and probably not very articulate yet. But I do want to say thank you to all the health professionals out there. From the nurses’ aides to the sanitary crew, from the nurses and doctors to radiologists, everyone was so kind and helpful today. And I know that people like you are doing great things for patients and their loved ones every day. Thank you.

And I am thankful for my family and friends. We’re all in this together. I’m grateful to have such good people in my life.



Posted on June 20, 2014

Summer Solstice, Alaska Style

Happy Solstice!


Solstice is a big deal in Alaska. Because of the dramatic change in sunlight, we really notice the difference between the longest day and the shortest day. Whether you think of it as a part of old pagan rituals, a mark in the cycle of the seasons, or just want to have fun, summer solstice is a good time to celebrate. Alaskans throw parties, have big events, generally do something on that day.


Summer solstice is a great excuse to throw evening parties, in the land of the midnight sun. Here in Southcentral Alaska, we get about 20 hours of sunlight that day. The baseball leagues usually have a big game that night, and the fireworks people have a midnight show. (Although it’s hard to see, because of the sunlight.) One of my family members got married on solstice–that was pretty fun, and the hubby won’t forget the anniversary day.


As a history buff, I enjoy going to the John Bagoy Memorial Cemetery tour put on by the Cook Inlet Historical Society. This is the 20th year for their walking tour, pointing out pioneer graves and telling their histories. In recent years, they’ve added actors telling the stories in vintage costume. It seems a fitting thing to do on the longest day of the year.


Whatever your celebration is where you are, hope you have a good summer solstice!

Posted on June 13, 2014

Encore: My Wisdom, Part 2

I’m at the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference this week. Here’s the second half of the encore blog post from 2012:

Last week I started sharing what I’ve learned about life. Here is the rest of the list:

6. What you have matters less than what you do with it. That’s true with your body, your material goods, your life situation. You can live a rich life just by using what you have with style or passion.

7. Enjoy the little things, whether it’s a sunset or a friend’s smile. As Laura Ingalls Wilder put it, “I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”

8. Be where you are when you’re there. Live in the moment, instead of ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Feel the emotions you are experiencing now, then move on.

9. Exercise your right to vote (or start when you’re 18). It is interesting to learn about issues and candidates, and satisfying to have your say. And sometimes your vote really makes a difference;  it happens in Alaskan elections quite often!

10. And of course, savor the power of words. Use them wisely, enjoy them, make them part of your life.

Anything you’d like to respond to, or any items we should add to this?