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Excerpt from “SPRING RETREAT”…A Short Story set along the Russian River, before it had that name.

“The days of my uncleanness are upon me, my husband. I go from you for a time, even as our son reaches his Days of Manhood. I will pray to Old Man Coyote to guide him in the trials to come.” Ni’ka made her statement as she gathered acorn meal and dried salmon into her feathered basket.

While it was unusual for her to leave the village, she had done so on rare occasions. The village was scarcely that: a collection of brush shelters, not destined for permanence. . A Dreamer Woman, she often retreated within herself, away from the Red Earth People.

The People were seasonally nomadic, settling in the oaken plains to gather acorns in the fall and then to remain through the winter. Spring would find them fishing the Shabaikai, or Snake, River or climbing the mountains to camp on the shores of the Sacred Lake. For Ni’ka’s group, spring usually found them following the Shabaikai through the Forest of Dark Giants to the Endless Waters, where fish and shells were more than abundant. Berry gathering preoccupied them at the edge of the cool woods and mountains in summer. Then, the cycle would start over again.

Ni’ka thought of these things as she made her way down river in the simple tule canoe, more commonly used on the Sacred Lake. The sun warmed her as the chill of winter lifted from the land. The great blue heron and a flock of snowy egrets watched her passing and were neither surprised nor fearful of her.

Coming to the place she sought, Ni’ka pulled her craft above the waterline and anchored it with heavy rocks. With a quick pace, she turned away from the river and headed into the forest. Ni’ka’s movements gave no hint of fear or revulsion for the myth of Evil Spirits in this darkened glade. It was late afternoon before she reached her destination, about five miles inland.

Alongside a thin creek, the giant tree she called “Old Friend” waited for her.At the base was a room larger than the brush shelter left behind that morning. Using a broom of ferns, she swept the place clean of rodent droppings and debris of five years absence. Filling her water basket and placing her food on high, she was satisfied by the completion of her tasks and settled in. She wouldn’t go far from the tree again until it was time to return to the People.

Sitting in the entryway, Ni’ka watched the darkness come quickly on the forest where dense treetops hid the setting sun. She listened for the rare sounds of animal life and was rewarded. A doe and her fawn came to drink at the creek and approached Ni’ka. They lay down near her, the fawn taking nurturance from its mother. The trillium, just outside the den, closed upon itself for the night.

Entering a suspended state, Ni’ka sought understanding, peace and renewal. Her son was passing into manhood and, with that passage, he would become her equal. She welcomed this strong muscled young man exuding the high spirits of youth . She mourned the loss of her baby, his buttercup soft skin, his deep trust. She remembered the seriousness of his infant gaze as his eyes followed her movements. How wise she was then, how quick, how able to meet his every need!

Ni’ka regretted the passing of her age of power. Now, her son was beginning to know the limits of her power to protect, to guide, to share. In coming into his own adulthood, he was discovering something of the frailty and powerlessness of the human adult. True, he had learned some lessons along the way, as when his friend, Ts’it, died, or when the People nearly starved during the Year of No Water.

She studied on the future. How could she keep him, but also let him go? The answer didn’t come readily. On the fourth day, sitting in her doorway, Ni’ka spied a grandmother sea trout making her way downstream. Ni’ka considered the ways of the salmon and sea trout. Each fights its way upstream in wild wintry waters. Then, spawning their young in near-glacial pools, their similarity stops. The salmon, exhausted by the task, dies, but in early spring the trout returns to the sea.

“I am as the sea trout. My young has spawned and grown. He has been just behind me in the creek of life. I can still guide him a ways yet. And as he catches up to me, we can swim companionably, side by side, past shimmering sands, warning each other of rough places and obstacles. When he passes me, as his strength and youth insist, I will be content to follow his lead. He may take me to new places and new ideas. I will not be able to follow him everywhere, but, then, I won’t want to. It will be enough to rest in my own quiet pool and enjoy his comings and goings.”

Ni’ka rested fully that night and returned to the People, her husband and her man-son on the fifth day.

The Next Big Thing Blog Chain


Sandy Baker, writer and friend, sees the Next Big Thing as a reference to the next major earthquake to hit California.  When Sandy sold me on the idea of the Next Big Thing Blog Chain, I didn’t realize what I was getting into.  A simple series of questions to answer about my work in progress, right?  NO,! It turned into a challenge, my next big thing, that I dragged my feet and psyche through. I should have taken lessons from Sandy’s children’s gardening books , Mrs. Feeney and the Grubby Garden Gang or Zack’s Zany Zucchiniland  and dug much deeper and sooner. Sandy wrote and published The Tehran Triangle last year with Tim Reed. A wild ride with CIA operatives in danger and mayhem you will want to check out at Then, watch for Sandy’s WIP, Tehran Revenge coming to you very soon.


A Blog Interview of Arletta Dawdy

What is the working title of your new book?

ROSE OF SHARON is my work in progress or WIP.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I knew this would be the third in a loosely connected trilogy; I wanted a young writer/heroine with paranormal powers (the “gift”) who spends her life in the Huachuca Mountains of southeast Arizona.

What genre does your book fall under?

Historical Fiction.

What actors would you choose to play your character in a movie rendition?

Rose of Sharon Welty is short (5’2”), full figured but not chubby, long red tresses and is a very emotional person. She has major self-doubts yet is very independent; fearing her gift, she is often lonesome and conflicted about her talents. Rose is a keen observer as seen in the dime novels she writes. She ages from 8-60. Perhaps Scarlett Johansson  would fill the bill.

Rose’s twin, Jacob, is also a redhead, tall and lanky with a strong work ethic and determination to go to West Point.  Jackson Rathbone might fit this part.

White Buffalo/Buff could be Chaske Spencer. White Buffalo is multi-racial: half  Native American and about a quarter each white and black. May have to leave that to a casting director.  Buff is 14-18 when he lives in the area, leaves and returns 10 years later. He is determined to educate himself and attain a strong role in society but can’t do that in the Huachucas.

For Blake Harris, perhaps Kellan Lutz, a tall, well-built cowboy/family man who finds his allegiances compromised. He is 24 when first met and ages well.

Elise is a thin, about 5’4-6” black haired schoolmarm ; I’d love to see Pauley Perrette take this on.  She’s in her late twenties when she first enters the scene.

Finally, we have Jim Blaine, cowboy, adventurer and loyal friend; he’s in his 40’s when he meets up with Blake. I think I’d like Timothy Oliphant in this role.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Rose, of many talents, choses a life of isolation and loneliness when she fears her psychic gifts will create more havoc than hope.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I will self-publish ROSE OF SHARON with Amazon and Kindle..

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

ROSE OF SHARON is very much a work-in-progress and, as such, I am in the process of polishing it. The book began as a short story which now serves as the first chapter. It has been dormant until recently while I focused on publishing the first two books in the series: HUACHUCA WOMAN and BY GRACE. I will soon head to Cochise County, Arizona to spend six weeks in the Huachuca Mountains’ Ramsey Canyon. It is home to the fictional homesites in my work. In current time, the area hosts The Nature Conservancy’s Hummingbird Preserve and, right next to the cabin I’ll rent, is the Arizona Folklore Preserve with cowboy music concerts every weekend.

I plan to send blog posts from this inspiring and beautiful setting…and finish  ROSE OF SHARON.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I know a number of writers who portray real or imagined strong female characters of the Old West: Nancy Turner, Velda Brotherton, Jane Kirkpatrick, Eunice Boeve and many more. I am not aware of even a somewhat similar book to compare to Rose of Sharon; her psychic gifts take her into the present and the future. Is this a new sub-genre in historical fiction? As Rose reveals more of herself in my writing, I may be better able to answer the question…or leave it to the critics.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Rose is a healer, a prognosticator and a writer. Her challenge is in how she integrates these in her life. There’s humor, enchantment, stories of love and betrayal along with a bit of magic and beauty.

All three of the books are stand-alones, meaning they can be read in any order and are not dependent on the others. What binds them are the Huachucas and Josephine who makes cameo appearances in BY GRACE and ROSE OF SHARON after telling her fictional memoir in HUACHUCA WOMAN.


 Julie A. Winrich writes mystery/suspense/thriller novels, young adult, and Spanish/English children’s books. She loves writing as it completes her, feeds her soul, and provides entertainment. She has published three short stories, has three completed novels, and is working on two more. I was intrigued when Julie asked her readers for suggestions for the title of her WIP. She chose a working title from the offerings:  Night Terror Arsonist.  Now, how’s that for Julie’s next big thing?

Check Julie A. Winrich out at: for “Thriller Writing, Views on Writing.”