Episode 3: Behind the Scenes


Episode 3 is available (Amazon, Kobo and Nook)!

In A Shattered Silence, episode 3 of The Roaring Redwoods, a flood changes the course of the hotel and the characters’ relationships.

Flooding was a huge issue in Santa Cruz for decades before the levees were built along the San Lorenzo River. It was one reason China Camp doesn’t exist any more- it was suffered flooding constantly as it was situated on an island in the river.

In the Santa Cruz Mountains, rain (in non drought years) can be heavy. My first year in the Mountains (2002), heavy rain contributed to two huge trees falling across the main road in/out of where I lived. I actually didn’t even know there was another way in/out until a neighbor told me.

The trees were Redwoods. This is very unusual as these trees seem custom made for the environment here- profoundly resilient to the climate. As are the inland version of Redwoods for their climate. This is not true of all trees. And Redwoods out of their environment can be high maintenance.

All sorts of life lessons in that info, isn’t there?

Trees do fall here, but it is rare for it to be a Redwood.

In 1922, the stream running through the Brookdale Inn property changed course due to heavy rain and the Brookroom was born. I remember reading this factoid and marveling at how someone would see such an event and be inspired to create something so lovely from what others would see as disaster.

There had to be mud, tree limbs and other debris…I’m sure plenty of others saw damage from the stream in ’22 and said, well, that’s that, nothing to be done there. Whole thing’s a loss. But at least one person could look that and not be cowed. Not listen to others. See a future.

More life lessons, right?

And you’ll see how I made a scene out of that for my story (and moved it to 1926). Time knows no bounds in fiction.

I sadly did not get to see the original Brook Room, I have a post card and some hazy photos and my writer’s imagination to fill in the gaps. It is this version that I try to describe in Redwoods for Joe Santone’s RiverWood Lodge and Casino.

The incarnation of the Brook Room I did visit was still pretty special. I must have been 8 or so. And I remember it vividly. I returned as an adult several times. It had aged poorly and declined rapidly. But you could see how special it was. A creek- a real creek- runs through the dining room.

Locals are excited about the new ownership and hoping he sees a future for this special place. That amidst the vandalism, age and neglect- he sees a future. And if he does, I will go back. It is a special place.

Almost as special as RiverWood.


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The Diamond I Wear Now

photoWhen my marriage ended, there were a lot of losses. It seemed to be a season of loss. I’m using past tense though I’m not sure we’re done yet. There was the loss of everything within the marriage, but others as well (I’ll blog on those in their due time, don’t worry.).

One of the losses was wearing my wedding ring. It took weeks to stop feeling its absence.  I still look at that bare finger, somewhat startled. Like the feeling when you wake up in a hotel room and- for a second- forget where you are.

As I put my wedding jewelry away, I pulled out another diamond ring I have.

It was a gift from my Grandma June.

As I have said before, I am blessed in the Grandma department.

My Grandma June bought herself this ring. She used to work at Macy’s. I’m sure she was strolling the mall one day and browsing and decided she wanted this ring. My Grandma worked decades in schools, insurance offices, Macy’s, and the ticket box office of the local junior college. She provided me with so much goodness.

The obvious kinds like tickets to great events and nice clothes.

She was also the Grandma who sent away for all those fun toys the cereal boxes advertised if you saved up so  many “proofs of purchase”. She had oodles of art supplies, costumes, and good snacks. She loved the San Francisco Giants and took me to my first games. She traveled the world. She cared for her parents, her kids, foster kids, foreign exchange kids, grandkids and the list went on. Holiday dinners were huge with people wandering in from all over.

I wear this ring now because it reminds me of her. It reminds me she didn’t give up. She was feisty. She didn’t settle. She worked hard. She loved. She had fun. She laughed. She met challenges head on and didn’t take defeat easily, or well. She regrouped and found a way to make the life she was determined to have.

And- especially now- as I face this new season of life, one so unexpected… I want to remind myself that I am her Granddaughter. And- from her- I got more than my love of Giants baseball.

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Redwoods: Behind the Name

LC_TheRoaringRedwoods_compressedHelen is my heroine in The Roaring Redwoods.

I tried to change her name a few times, but just kept coming back to Helen.

I love the soft sounds of it. I love the old fashioned names that still hit the ear in a lovely way. Bertha doesn’t do it.

Helen does.

I have also known two amazing women named Helen (it was high on my list for girl names for Little Sir had he been Little Ma’am instead).

I met the first one when I got a job straight out of high school as the Social Service Assistant at a Retirement Home. Helen lived on the skilled nursing floor. She had no visitors. She had no children. She was my favorite. Any lull in my schedule had me drifting towards Helen’s room.

One day I was dressed in a denim skirt with Keds. She laughed and said, “Young women these days.” I think I got rid of the skirt that day.

Her hair was that beautiful white we’d all give up Clairol for if we knew we could have it. Her skin was tight and smooth. She dressed in smart suits that only showed their age by their thick polyester fabric. She is what you would describe in intellect and appearance as Smart.

Helen had been a teacher.

One of the activities I led was reading aloud. This was not as tedious as it sounds because the residents couldn’t read small print, so I read the news stories and some short stories by literary greats. I once stumbled over some pronunciation and Helen smacked me on the backside. It was impulsive, and I’m sure she wished she’d had a ruler.

Helen told me she had been married only ten years and every single day they had fun. Every. Single. Day. Only 10 years, but every single day had been filled with love.


She passed on my day off and I am so relieved she knew I couldn’t have handled it had I been there. Helen is that woman we all want to be like and wish we’d been friends with before age took a lot of her away.

The other Helen I was privileged to know was my former husband’s Aunt. I only met her once, but her life is legendary within his family. And, from what I can tell, deservedly so. She was in the Army, taught herself Norwegian, cared for relatives, traveled extensively, and the list goes on and on…

I only met her once and she was failing. But she still joined us for dinner and was lively and a joy to pass an evening with.

My fictional Helen has a lot of growing to do over the course of The Roaring Redwoods, but I hope she can do justice to her namesakes.

Because they deserve nothing less.

In fact, they demand it.

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