Carol Cox: Trouble in Store


While doing research for my latest novel, Trouble in Store, I realized I needed to learn more about Native American cliff dwellings. As enjoyable as it is to study about historic sites in books and online, it’s even more fun to visit them in person. Fortunately, a number of protected sites are within easy reach here in northern Arizona.

One of those is found at beautiful Walnut Canyon, a short drive east of Flagstaff. This site captured my imagination the first time I saw it at age nine, and over the years I’ve become more fascinated with each visit.

Inhabited by the Sinagua people some 900 years ago, the homes in Walnut Canyon were constructed within the limestone ledges in the canyon walls.

The ruins can be reached by way of a steep trail hugging the cliff walls. And that’s one of the things I love most about Walnut Canyon. Visitors don’t have to experience this glimpse into the past at arm’s length. Instead, they’re able to walk in the steps of those who came before, peer into the soot-stained rooms and touch the walls erected so long ago.

Hiking along the narrow path, I tried to envision myself living there centuries ago and wondering about the challenges a mother would have faced in that setting. Can you imagine what it would be like to keep track of a brood of young children, with no baby gates, no fenced lawn to keep them corralled? Or when your “front yard” was only a few feet wide . . . and one false step would lead straight down to the bottom of the rocky canyon?

I’m glad to be a mother in this century. Parenting has never been a simple task, but I’ll take most modern problems over the ones those ancient moms faced any day!

About 50 miles farther south is Montezuma Castle National Monument, located near Camp Verde.

Like the dwellings in Walnut Canyon, Montezuma Castle isn’t what most of us picture when we think of a Native American encampment. Instead of lodges or tepees clustered in a village, this centuries-old, high-rise apartment is nestled into the side of a towering limestone cliff. Try to imagine the logistics of something as simple as making a daily trek to gather food or get water!

These rooms didn’t boast a lot of closet space, so some of the residents’ food and other supplies were kept in storage caves at the bottom of the cliff wall—sort of a “downstairs pantry” concept.

While staring from the abandoned dwellings above to the caves below, I felt a tingle. Suddenly, I could see a similar cliff dwelling as part of the area surrounding my fictional town of Cedar Ridge. That mental image inspired the background for several pivotal scenes in the book.

That’s one of the things I love most about research—you just never know when some tidbit of information will prove to be the very thing that sparks an idea that breathes life into a scene!

Many thanks to Karen Witemeyer for inviting me to spend time with you today! I’ll be giving away a copy of Trouble in Store, so be sure to leave a comment in order to be included in the drawing.


I look forward to hearing from you! Visit me at

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46 thoughts on “Carol Cox: Trouble in Store”

  1. Such an interesting post today Carol. Thank you. I always wanted to go and visit areas such as you’ve mentioned, but as yet I’ve only had ‘virtual’ tours.

    Your book TROUBLE IN STORE is one I have had my eye on for some time. Would love to win a copy.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  2. We traveled from Georgia to thru Arizona to Nevada 2 years ago on a road trip. I wish I new about this , we would have made la point to stop. We stopped in flagstaff. I a few years we plan to take another trip, so maybe we can visit the ruins. I would love to read your book thanks for sharing!

  3. Carol, welcome to the Junction. The cover for Trouble in Store is adorable. Very eye-catching. I love research, too, especially when I get those aha moments like you did. What a great behind the scenes story. 😉

  4. What a neat place to visit. Thanks for posting for us! I’m looking forward to reading your new book!

  5. A fascinating area. Where we live in NM there are places very similar which I have visited. Historic and very interesting. Trouble in Store looks so appealing and very lovely.

  6. I had the amazing opportunity to visit Indian cliff dwellings in Colorado when I lived there last year and found the energy to be very strong with spirits galore! Fascinating! Great blog and I too love those moments when you get such a spurt of inspiration. For me, it often comes at 3 o’clock in the morning and I have to get up, turn on my computer and capture it before it’s gone. Thank you for sharing.

  7. I am captivated with your post today which resounds with me. We take road trips and are always entranced with the areas filled with unique places to explore and learn about. Blessing and much happiness for Trouble in Store.

  8. Cindy, I hope you’re able to visit these sites–or something like them–in person some day! Virtual tours are great for whetting the appetite, but there’s nothing like seeing them in person!

  9. Kim, that was quite a drive, traveling from Georgia to Nevada! My family loves road trips, too. It’s so much fun to see visit new parts of the country! If you do come back to the Flagstaff area some day, I think you’d enjoy taking time to see these two sites!

  10. Janine, the history of those places intrigues me, too. I love trying to imagine what everyday life was like for the people who lived there!

  11. Thanks for the welcome, Renee! I’m loving my visit to the Junction–what a friendly group! Those “aha” moments are amazing, aren’t they? That’s one of the things I love most about being a writer. : )

  12. An amazing locale which peaked my interest greatly. So much to see and enjoy. thanks for the photos and tour. Trouble in Store looks extraordinary.

  13. Jan, I’ve had those 3 a.m. inspirations, too. I’m not always energetic enough to force myself out of bed to boot up my computer, though! LOL

  14. Carol,
    Thanks for the pictures. I would be such a bundle of nerves trying to raise children on a cliff. If those walls could talk I’m sure they would share some incredible stories.
    Looking forward to reading Trouble in Store.
    Thanks for such enjoyable books.

  15. Thanks so much, Pearl! I love those road trips, too. There’s so much to see and learn along the way, and I hate the thought of missing any of it!

  16. I have heard mention of this canyon before..It is so fascinating.. Thanks for sharing this with us.
    Love the cover of your book..

  17. Thank you, anon1001. I love the cover, too! Bethany House did a fabulous job of capturing the feel of the story, and the model they chose for Melanie was perfect! (And I’d really, really like that dress she’s wearing, but so far no one has offered it to me yet. 😉 )

  18. Ellie, I’m glad you enjoyed the post. It really is an amazing area! And thank you for the kind comments on Trouble in Store. It was so much fun to write, and I hope readers will love getting to know Melanie, Caleb, and the people of Cedar Ridge as much as I did!

  19. Rosie, with all the beauty and history to enjoy there, I have to admit my first thought has always been, “How on earth did they manage to keep their kids safe?” I’m sure you’re right, and there are stories aplenty those places could tell!

  20. Don’t get to travel nowadays so enjoyed your post!

    I am sure I would enjoy your book, too….so thanks for the chance to win it. Love the cover.

  21. Kathleen O, I’m thrilled to hear from someone else who’s heard of the canyon! It’s such an intriguing site, and I love telling other people about it. : )

  22. Jackie, I’m glad you got to “travel” to Arizona through my post. That’s one thing I love about the internet–the ability to visit place we’d never see otherwise!

  23. I have not visited Northern AZ yet… I know there is some great sites to be seen… thanks for sharing with us today… enjoyed reading your post! 🙂

  24. What a fabulous post, it was very interesting. I would love to visit Walnut Canyon. Maybe one day I will.

  25. My husband and I traveled to New Mexico and Arizona in 1983. We were in such a rush to go so many places, we didn’t slow down to see things like this.

  26. I learned something new today! I definitely will have to put Walnut Canyon on my list of places to visit. 🙂

  27. I was very lucky to be able to visit many years ago. They use to let people in to some of the lower “caves” but they stopped because someone may get hurt. It was quite the sight!

  28. Hi Carol, welcome to P&P. We’re so happy to have you visit. I love exploring old Indian cliff dwellings. They’re simply amazing. I can’t imagine wanting to live so high up but that sure protected them from their enemies.

    Congratulations on the new release! It sounds great.

  29. What a lovely cover!
    I haven’t been there yet, but it sounds very interesting and absolutely worth a visit.

  30. Enjoyed reading your article. I have visited both Walnut Canyon and Montezuma Castle a couple of times since i live in Arizona. The most interesting I have visited is Mesa Verde cliff dwellings near Mancos, Colorado. That is where the Anasazi lived. it is quite a spiritual experience.
    My next visit will be to the cliff dwellings on the Hop Reservation in Northern Arizona. They are a scene of many a panting.

  31. Carol,

    I enjoyed your post. We went a few years ago to the cliff dwellings of the Anasazi Indians in Colorado. They too were fascinating. Looking forward to reading your latest book. Thanks,


  32. I enjoyed your comments on the cliff dwellings and dwellers, especially what it might be like to be a mother trying to watch out for little ones! Talk about a challenge!

    I am looking forward to reading Trouble in Store. Thank you for offering a copy.

  33. Enjoyed your post! Reminded me of the time we visited cliff dwellings near Colorado Springs. It was amazing! Thank you for sharing with us today. Please enter me in your giveaway.
    Barbara Thompson

  34. Thanks for being here Carol and for tge give-away. I visited Mesa Verde i N.M. a long time ago. I loved being there. Would have loved to go back but never got to. Please enter me in the contest. MAXIE mac262(at)me(dot)com

  35. Ooh, that looks like a cool place to explore. I also would not like to have children around in that place. Great post!
    Thanks for the giveaway.
    Susan P
    farmygirl at hotmail dot com

  36. What a great post. I’ve been interested in the cave dwelling sine the late ’90’s after reading a book that used them as a part of the story. I look forward to reading your book that will feature them. I would like to be able to read “Trouble in Store.”

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