Scenes and Settings ~ New Mexico

I love to visit the western United States. There is beauty in the vast, wide-open spaces, mountains, canyons, and even the desert. Some of the states my husband and I have visited are New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado.

Since John and I both love the outdoors, we are especially fond of visiting our National Parks. We’ve seen herds of bison and other wildlife in Yellowstone, marveled at the majestic beauty of the Grand Tetons, toured the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde, gone deep inside the earth at Carlsbad Caverns, hiked along the rim of the Grand Canyon, and camped in Rocky Mountain National Park.

So when I was asked to contribute to an anthology of short stories set in the west, I readily agreed. The idea for my story, The Blue Moon Murders¸ came about last summer on, you guessed it, the night of the blue moon.

I jotted down notes, character names, and ideas. I first imagined setting the story in Texas or even Oklahoma. Now I can’t imagine the story setting any other place than the west. And although I’ve created a fictitious town and don’t name the state, in my mind the story takes place in northern New Mexico.

What’s not to love about New Mexico? There are mountains, deserts, lots of wildlife, and a rich cultural history. The aromatic fragrance of the piñon pine. (I often burn piñon incense or throw a log of piñon wood on our outdoor fire pit.) The brilliant color of aspen trees in the fall. Herds of antelope on the vast grasslands and the sounds of coyotes that call at night.

Nights are most often pleasant and cool in the high desert—even in the heat of summer. And, being a connoisseur of Mexican food, I love the savory dishes you’ll find in New Mexico (much different from the Tex-Mex we have here.)

Wide open spaces? Once, while traveling on I-40, my husband and I saw a distant hill. We guessed it to be two-three miles away but when we took the mileage, it was actually sixteen miles! You can imagine what it would be like to watch the full moon rise there.

AIW Press plans to release the short story collection in late May. I’ll post more about The Blue Moon Murders, including teasers and a character interview in the weeks to come, so be sure to check back here.

If you haven’t been to New Mexico, consider it. You might find you’ll want to visit more often than “once in a blue moon.”

  • I have no idea what piñon pine smells like. I hope you include that in your story. I love scene descriptions. I’m really looking forward to reading what you write!

    • It’s a wonderful fragrance. Woodsy, but not overpowering. When my brother lived in the western part of Texas, people would often burn a stick of piñon (also spelled pinion) in their fireplaces. He loved to walk around town on an overcast day and envelope the aroma. Piñon seeds are also edible and are very tasty in salads.

      • Sounds heavenly. Something I’d enjoy on a brisk October night.

  • Congratulations on being asked to participate in an anthology. Your plan sounds beautiful and likely intriguing. However, I want to point out that you did not mention visiting Oregon. I invite you to come and see what we have to offer in the way of parks, rivers, lakes, mountains, wild and tame animals, and Bob and me!

    • Sherrey, Oregon is on my bucket list. I’ve flown over your state, but don’t count that. I’d love to see Mt. Hood, Crater Lake, and more. If I divide the US from Texas to North Dakota and go west, all I need to visit is Oregon, Idaho, Nevada, and North Dakota and I will have covered the western portion of the 48 contiguous states.

      • Whenever you decide to hit Oregon, I was serious about letting me know. We have friends here in Portland who have just opened the neatest little AirBnB out behind their home. Lovely and reasonably priced. We could do day trips together or you could set out on your own. But I’d love to meet you and John.

        • Would love to meet you and Bob also. We haven’t decided where/when we’ll spend our vacation this year, but rest assured when we do come to Oregon, I’ll let you know.