“Outlaw Trail” is my latest historical western romance, released by Champagne Books on December 1. http://www.champagnebooks.com. This novel takes place in 1882 New Mexico, telling the story of Josie Hart, a 19-year old half-Tewa Indian who lives a hard life on her farm, and Grey Paladin, a man who seeks justice after having had his fortune stolen out from under him. A cryptic letter guides Josie on a perilous journey toward freedom. Grey will do whatever it takes to retrieve what’s rightfully his and reunite with the only family he has left. The two form an uncertain partnership with promises to share in what lies at the end of the trail, but there are others who want what they’re after and will stop at nothing to get it. The two must battle outlaws, nature, and each other, while riding 200 miles to reach their destination—leading them to rethink what the future might hold for them both.
Ask anyone who knows me and they’ll tell you I’m in love with New Mexico. Why? Because the skies are bigger and bluer, the sun shines brighter, the light is magical, the people are unique, and the landscapes are diverse and beautiful. I’ve set many of my stories in The Land of Enchantment. That way I have a good excuse for traveling there often—to do research.
When I began writing “Outlaw Trail,” I had to map out all the places Josie and Grey would ride to or through. Many of these actual settings I’d been to before. Some, I had not. One of the places I’d not visited was Nambe Falls, and this was to be, I’d decided, the spot where a climactic scene in my story would take place. If I was going to be accurate in my description of the waterfalls, however, I had to see them for myself, right? You bet. So I made plans to take a research trip to Northern New Mexico. I invited one of my best childhood friends, Linda, to meet me there, because she needed a vacation bad. I’m from Maryland and Linda flew in from Illinois. One rental car later and we were off on our adventure!
Nambe Pueblo is one of the Tewa Pueblos of the northern Rio Grande region. The name is a Spanish interpretation of the Tewa word “name”, which roughly translates as “earth roundness.” Nambe Pueblo sits at the base of the rugged Sangre de Cristo Mountains, 16 miles north of Santa Fe. It encompasses 19,000 acres of land surrounded by national forest. Its terrain is scenic and striking.
A 15-minute walk along shaded cottonwood trails next to the river takes you to the base of Nambe Waterfalls. A longer hike up the side of a steep, rocky canyon affords a magnificent birds-eye view of the stunning triple-decker falls. Can you guess which hike I chose to take? My dear friend, Linda, is not a hiker. However, she was a real trooper—all for the sake of research. Despite her fear of death by falling over the cliff to the jagged rocks below, she climbed that canyon with me all the way to the top.
As I gazed at the stunning three-tier falls that dropped through a cleft in the rock face to tumble into a reservoir below, I asked Linda if she’d ever seen anything so gorgeous. As we stood at the top and gazed out at the mountains and desert for as far as the eye could see, she agreed the tenuous hike up the canyon had well been worth the magnificent view.
I snapped lots of photos, took many notes, and sat for a while on the rocks lost in the sights and sounds of the waterfalls and surrounding area so everything would be firmly etched in my memory.
Months later, when it came time to write that scene, I traveled right back to Nambe Falls in my mind. My heart started to pound as Josie and Grey rode their horses up the steep canyon wall. I could feel the spray of the water when Grey entered the mouth of the falls. I could hear the loose rocks falling and footsteps thudding as enemies surrounded Josie. And I could feel the adrenaline pumping through my veins as Grey held the box up and… Hold the horses!
Sorry, you’ll have to read the story to find out what happens next! Readers who post today will be entered in a drawing for a free digital copy of “Outlaw Trail.”
Please visit my website to read an excerpt and to view a video for “Outlaw Trail.”