Category Archives: About
Taylor Browning Cozy Mystery: Book 2
#99Cents Introductory Price for First Week.
While rescuing a kitten, mystery editor Taylor Browning witnesses a murder. Only she doesn’t know it, but the murderer sees her. A dangerous game of cat and mouse commences in this second outing for the Taylor Browning Cozy Mysteries series. And no, Oscar, Taylor’s Abyssinian cat is not amused by the new baby in his kingdom.
At the Santa Fe book publishing house, things aren’t much better. A new metaphysical mystery writer, Crystal Visions, is exhibiting symptoms of an uncooperative nature. Taylor is sent to Sedona to encourage the author to fulfill her book contract. Once there, she is spellbound by the New Age community and its magical vortexes.
Detective Victor Sanchez is relieved Taylor left New Mexico. He believes she will be safer in Arizona while he works to solve the murder. Her amateur sleuthing had already led her right into a gruesome discovery. In the small town of Sedona, Taylor receives a disturbing note and realizes the killer followed her. The detective travels to Arizona to protect her, but has to leave his gun at home.
While Taylor explores one of the vortexes in Arizona’s beautiful Red Rock Country, she becomes aware she is no longer alone. By the time Victor arrives on the scene, Taylor is fighting for her life along the treacherous cliffs in the suspenseful conclusion.
Where Did the Idea Come From?
Before walking a reporter’s beat, I worked at a book publisher. Publishing is composed of exhausting details related to editing, bluelines, cover art, print runs and writing copy. The glamour is occasionally broken by an author who slams out of the office because it’s taking so long to publish the baby. And oh yeah, it’s not a baby to a publisher, but a product to be sold. And the hope is, it will make money.
I’ve taken these experiences, added cat companions and quirky staff to populate the Pinon Publishing office in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In this, the second outing for Taylor Browning, I threw in some travel to Sedona’s Red Rocks Country. And then, there’s the killer!
For more on publishing: https://reluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com/?s=We+say+we+want+a+revolution
Ghosts Haunting Santa Fe
Ghost at La Residencia
La Residencia, located at Palace Avenue and Paseo de Peralta, has been a convent, hospital and nursing home. It was the location of the first St. Vincent’s Hospital prior to the “new” hospital being built south of downtown during the late 1970s. Now the Drury Plaza Hotel.
During its life as a hospital, a boy and his father were brought in for emergency treatment after a car accident. Sadly, both died. It is said the child died from his injuries in room 311. Reported phenomena include the sound of a crying child in this room. It was heard so often the hospital tried not to use the room.
When museum exhibits were stored in the building’s basement, unexplained sounds occurred there. Nurses described a strange phenomenon, which appeared to be blood oozing from a basement wall.
But it is the cries of a frightened young boy who haunt his third-floor room we find most disturbing.
Ghost of Julia at La Posada
La Posada de Santa Fe Resort and Spa has probably the most famous of the Santa Fe ghost stories. Julia Staab who
Abraham Staab had the three-story Staab House built in French-inspired styling which included a mansard roof and a ballroom on the top floor. It would become the hub of society in 19-century Santa Fe. But it would not last. The couple’s eighth child was ill and finally succumbed. Julia was never the same and took to her room, which became room 256 when the house was converted to a hotel.
During a construction project, a befuddled crew came to work one morning and found their building materials in disarray. An enlightened worker began leaving roses for Julia. The mischief ceased.
Other encounters have been more personal including sightings of a transparent woman in a long dress and hood. One man reported a woman’s image in the mirror of the men’s room. And in the basement, which retains its earthen floor and stone walls, an employee of the hotel has noticed a fragrance cloud of orange and rose blossoms.
Visitors to the six-acre resort still ask for room 256, but there was the case of one man who checked in, and returned to the front desk in minutes demanding another room.
Ghost Story at New Mexico State Penitentiary
Many people don’t realize the New Mexico State Penitentiary is near Santa Fe. It’s usually the last thing on anyone’s mind as they drive into Santa Fe enjoying the clear skies, high desert air and anticipating a few days of nonstop green chile and margaritas. But in February 1980 one of the worst prison riots in the US happened here. At least 33 people killed, but the total couldn’t be certain. Two hundred treated for their injuries. The convicts in Cell Block 4 were targeted because that was where the snitches were isolated from the general population.
Eighteen years later, former Gov. Johnson closed the prison due to “uncontrollable disturbances.” The inmates moved into new facilities. After that, the old prison became a filming location for movies as well as a training center for police. One movie extra decided to explore, walked into a cell, the door closed behind him. Once a guard let him out, he left the set and did not return. Other reports of cell doors opening or closing, apparently on their own, lights coming on or going off without reason, unexplained sounds and even shadowy figures that suddenly disappear. Most disturbing are the burn marks on the floors where inmates died that cannot be cleaned or painted away. The marks always return.
Other deserted prisons are considered haunted. Maybe life sentences extend into the afterlife.
Ghost Story at 122 Grant Avenue
This week we have another Santa Fe ghost story. In 1898 a rancher built a house at what is now 122 Grant Avenue, a few blocks from the Plaza. Seven years later a young family moved in. Their son was sickly and required a wheelchair to move about. Unhappy, he was known to beat the walls of his upstairs bedroom to get his mother’s attention. Despite her constant ministrations, the lad died and his parents moved on. When the house was vacant, the neighbors reported seeing lights in the boy’s former bedroom.
In l981 the property was bought and renovated. It became the Grant Corner Inn, a bed and breakfast which hosted such notables as Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan (in better days), and illustrator Garth Williams. It had a knockout breakfast which was open to the public. But the problems did not abate. In Antonio Garcez’s book Adobe Angels: Ghosts of Santa Fe and Taos,he related the experiences of the former caretaker. He told of hearing loud noises, sudden dips in the air temperature that could kill indoor plants and the stench of rancid meat.
Several years ago, the Andrew Smith Gallery bought the property and moved into the house. No further reports of disturbances have been disclosed. Perhaps the boy is now at peace.
Answer at end.
Ghost Story of the Weeping Woman
There are many ghost stories in Santa Fe. A few blocks from the St. Francis Cathedral, along the Santa Fe River, is a story that endures. I’m told there are more than 40 variations on this ghastly tale and it is a favorite throughout the southwest.
Many years ago, the poor would park their wagons along the Santa Fe River (more of a trickle most of the time). According to the story, a woman from one of those wagons met and fell in love with a Conquistador. After having two children with him, she found he had been unfaithful (isn’t that just always the way?). In her sorrow, she took her children, and drowned them in the river. There are two versions of the ending: either she rejoiced that they were gone, then fell and suffered a fatal injury, or she hung herself in regret.
There are reports from people walking in the river park that they heard a woman calling for her babies, but saw no one. She has been seen at the nearby PERA Building. Workers have reported she is a dark shape and messes with the lights in the building. This ghost is known as the Weeping Woman.
Answer at end.
Ghost Story of La Fonda
While La Fonda has stood the test of time, it has also racked up a good number of ghosts. There are so many that we’ll cover just a few this time.
During the 1800s a gambling hall was part of the hotel. As we all know, for every person who wins, there are many more who do not. In one particular incident, a man was hung in the courtyard (sometimes referred to as the backyard). Maybe it he was cheating, but whatever the reason, he was lynched. It has been reported that some guests to La Plazuela have seen the shadow of a man hanging.
The Hon. John P. Slough, who was a chief justice of the Territorial Supreme Court, was shot in the lobby and later died of his wounds. He insulted Capt. Rynerson, also with Territorial government, calling him dishonest. Rynerson took offense and shot the judge. Guests say they’ve seen a man walking the hotel dressed in a long black coat (robes perhaps?).
And yet another man lost his life in what is now the restaurant (La Plazuela). Originally it
was the courtyard and in the center was a well. Apparently a businessman lost his company’s money in a round of cards. He was so distressed, he jumped into the well to his demise. Although the well was filled in long ago, you can still see where it was. Look at the fountain in the center of the restaurant. It even closely resembles the look of the well in the postcard shown. Hotel staff and guests have seen a ghostly figure cross the room to the site of the old well and watched as he disappeared into the floor.
The Southwest Ghost Hunters Association conducted an investigation into La Fonda in 1998 and found the strongest suggestion of paranormal activity in the parking garage. During its construction, human remains were found there. This happens from time to time in Santa Fe and environs. All work ceases until the remains can be recovered.
Answers to Questions:
A. What was stored in La Residencia’s basement that resulted in the bizarre noises? Indian Artifacts.
B. The man who demanded another room stayed in Julia Staab’s room 256 for how many minutes? 7 minutes. He was referred to as the “7-minute man.”
C. What movie was filmed at the abandoned state pen? The Longest Yard.
D. What kind of tree was cut down in front of the house at 122 Grant Avenue? Weeping Willow.
E. The name of the Weeping Woman was? La Llorona,
F. La Fonda has had several names over the years. Which of the following was one of them? The Exchange Hotel.
Reluctant Medium Set Free
Beginning Sunday, August 12, 2018 at midnight, Reluctant Medium will be FREE for three days.
Reluctant Medium is the first in the Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series.
It all began innocently enough, Rachel only wished to speak with her dead father. A journalist, he had died under mysterious circumstances. She employed a Hopi ritual she hoped would accomplished this.
FROM THE BOOK: “Rachel learned the ancient ceremony while researching an article about the Hopi Nation. Some Native Americans and followers of eastern philosophies believe one can call back the dead. In her interviews, Joseph, a Hopi holy man, had recounted instances. It was unusual for tribe members to discuss such things with outsiders, but she had written a sensitive portrayal of life within the reservation and Joseph warmed to her. He liked Rachel’s sincerity and the deep respect she had for their traditions.”
As the ceremony progressed, Rachel began to feel anxious as things she didn’t understand developed in her living room.
FROM THE BOOK: Her body trembled as she watched the vapor seep first from the seam where hardwood floor met plaster and then from the intricate crown molding. It poured from beneath the couch like mist on a lake and slid along the wallpapered ceiling, coming ever closer while she watched, fascinated, but with growing anxiety. The hissing began softly, rising to the clamor of a den of disturbed rattlesnakes. Midpoint in the room, the two streams rose and dipped to join in a common countenance. The darkest colors of the miasma collected in an eerie spiral holding pattern, while the particles which reflected light crept away like fog throughout the room, closing off escape.
Once a figure materialized before her, Rachel knew something wasn’t right. She was certain it wasn’t her father.
FROM THE BOOK: “You’re sputtering, Rachel.” He knew her! “How is brother dearest? Still looking over his shoulder?” The comment carried a threat.
Before she could think of anything to say, the arrogant spirit hastened to the front door and vanished, through it, beyond it, into the night.
Rachel stared at the door, willing it to reveal the truth of what just happened. She’d made a terrible mistake. “Oh, my god,” she whispered. “What have I done?”
Now it’s up to Rachel to send back the undead with the help of her best friend, spirit animal and her psychic cat. Along the way she meets an actor filming his series in Santa Fe. She is drawn to him, but he’s married. In the meantime, her divorce from her husband, a documentary producer, is going forward. Will her boss be receptive to taking her back at High Desert Country magazine? And she’s developed a new talent; she sees dead people, no really. Change is everywhere.
Meow Wolf Has Bite! Me-ow!
Meow Wolf is part art installation; all fun house!
by G G Collins (Copyright 2018)
After standing in line for more than an hour–you know March is spring break, right?–I entered this magical place in Santa Fe that wasn’t the least bit southwestern. The exterior sports a mammoth spider and people actually eat beneath it. Not me!
Built in a former bowling alley, the outside isn’t impressive; but that all stops the moment you enter this wildly colorful place.
After buying tickets at a bit of a staggering price (but nowhere near Disney World prices), you grab your 3-D glasses and off you go into the wild, blue, purple, pink, orange (oh, I give up) yonder.
The hallway that leads down to the entrance is a bit 1984-ish, but what waits inside is, well, you decide for yourself. Past the door is the House of Eternal Return where you can duck through the fireplace, closet, clothes dryer or even the fridge and you’ll find yourself in another dimension.
Watch where you step because the surface underfoot is constantly changing, even at times into mounds of carpet as if you are walking beneath trees on a moss-covered forest floor.
As you climb that tree via circular staircase, the canopy you are expecting never materializes. Instead it could be a camper. Hmm. Just where am I?
That seems to be the whole point. Each inviting portal leads to another strange and wonderful place. Everyone–and remember I went during spring break–was having a great time. Age is not a factor here. There is literally something for everyone. The kids loved to play the dinosaur bones and frankly, so did I.
For those who are afraid they will be claustrophobic, while it can be quite tight quarters, there are numerous doors leading to the lobby. The people standing around in white lab coats are Meow Wolf staff and they are there to answer questions or give you the fastest route to the restroom. There was one small girl, who wasn’t too sure about a white friendly looking creature. She held on tight to her grandmother’s hand, but even at that, she was wide-eyed in appreciation
There are corridors leading to more portals. Some stairs are wide open while others are circular with tiny steps. Tall people can have trouble negotiating the later. Don’t get stuck!
Meow Wolf is a sensory experience. You can see, touch and hear, but never quite assimilate what you’re experiencing. That’s okay. It’s mysterious and leaves you wanting more. I know I’ll be returning to the House of Eternal Return.
For more information go to: https://meowwolf.com/
Coming soon to Denver and Las Vegas; your very own Meow Wolf.
New Teen Book “Without Notice” by G G Collins
From the author of “Flying Change,” an equestrian novel for teens and up.
Courtney’s life turned upside down when her mother was killed by a drunk driver. Now, they are moving from Minneapolis to her father’s hometown in New Mexico, where he will run an art gallery. Older sister Francine is heartbroken because she has to leave her boyfriend behind. Younger sister Toby just misses Mom.
One thing is particularly disturbing: her dad’s friend Silky. He says they know one another through the gallery, but is that really all? It seems she is always interjecting herself into their lives. Courtney, who is a good cook, took over cooking meals for the family, but lately Silky’s even intruding there. Silky is a terrible cook, but her father eats everything she prepares and compliments it. Being a teen is hard enough, but she doesn’t want a blended family. Courtney’s conflicted emotions cause her to say hurtful things to Silky, and then regret them. She tries to cope with feelings of loss and the need to move on.
Courtney and Francine hatch a plan to sabotage Silky; but soon Francine has found a new boyfriend leaving Courtney alone in the effort. All the while, Silky is trying to make friends with the family. She invites Courtney to tweak her cooking skills with the promise of teaching her how to make pottery. Drawn to Silky’s tales of Native American artists and their search for the best clay, Courtney grudgingly listens even as her interest grows. Silky’s stories are full of intrigue and clandestine journeys to collect clay under cover of darkness. During one of her pottery lessons, Silky shares a painful story with Courtney. Loss does not play favorites.
She meets Audrey, the girl next door, and immediately strikes up a friendship. Audrey is an outspoken know-it-all with a sense of adventure that is infectious. She takes Courtney on new experiences including the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. She and Audrey attend a mass launch which is unlike anything she has ever seen. Courtney is spellbound watching the hot air balloons. Unfortunately, Audrey has a dark side. She makes a mistake that challenges their newfound friendship and threatens Courtney’s delicate relationship with Silky.
Despite her resentment about moving, thirteen-year-old Courtney discovers this strange new city with its brown houses, Pueblo architecture and ancient stories to be as mysterious as it is beautiful. Even as she resists, Santa Fe casts its spell.
There are 5 copies of new cozy mystery Dead Editor File available as an #AmazonGiveaway. Here’s where you can get them, but don’t delay.
New mystery editor Taylor Browning finds herself a suspect in the death of Endicott Publishing’s leader. She’s not the only one; Endicott wasn’t a well-liked man. Learn the ins and outs of book publishing as Taylor tries to solve the locked room mystery. Victor Sanchez, the Santa Fe detective assigned to the case can be annoying, but Taylor’s cat Oscar takes no prisoners at home.
If you enjoy Dead Editor File, please consider writing a short review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Thank you. Happy reading!
Interview with Character Taylor Browning
“Dead Editor File” First Book in the Taylor Browning Cozy Mystery Series
By G G Collins
Taylor Browning is the new kid on the cozy mystery block. By day she edits mysteries at the publishing house and in her off hours she’s learning to sleuth. That’s the trouble, she has developed an interest in crime solving. Of course, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. She can’t edit her way out of real murder…or can she? Find out in the first book in the new series: “Dead Editor File.”
How did you become the mystery editor of the most prominent publishing house in Santa Fe?
Somehow I managed to impress the publisher and senior editor with my knowledge of mysteries, especially the classics like Agatha Christie, Mary Roberts Rinehart and Phyllis A Whitney. We talked the basics of a good cozy mystery: nearly bloodless murder, cast of suspects and of course the need for tea. But we couldn’t survive in the mystery world today without the heroine having a distinctive job, in my case, a mystery editor. I’ve been on the job less than a year and am learning the ins and outs of book publishing. It’s a strange world of manuscripts, fonts, bluelines and advance review copies. Learning what to do with all of them is challenging. But it’s the authors that require finesse. Even the nicest authors usually slam a door or throw a small fit right before their pub date. But I’m learning. Usually I can keep it together long enough to hustle them out of the office.
Why did you move to Santa Fe to start a new life?
My husband and I dreamed of moving to the Land of Enchantment, but something always stopped us. You know; money issues, job issues, family issues. Life. But when he died, I wanted to fulfill our dream. It was difficult at first. I didn’t know anyone, but I seem to be meeting a lot of people. There is the team at work, the authors, the vendors we use and the bookstore owners we work with. And lately, well, there have been the police. A certain Detective Victor Sanchez who came to our office after the publisher and editor-in-chief was murdered in his locked office. Now that was a bad day. Virginia, our senior editor was sad and Jim, the production manager was nearly ecstatic. I was horrified, but didn’t know him well.
How’s the house renovation going?
You know, it would be helpful if I’d finish a room before moving on to the next one. But no, I have ladders, tools and paint in every nook and cranny. But Oscar and I enjoy the deck the most. We watch the sunsets and unwind with a little wine.
Oscar? Who is Oscar?
Oscar is my Abyssinian cat. You know brown agouti fur with lighter clown markings. I’m told they were the cats of Egyptian kings and pharaohs. Just between us, I tend to believe it because Oscar is a bit entitled especially if dinner is late. There have been a few, uh, incidents. Of course, it’s all because I became involved in the criminal investigation—at least after I was cleared of suspicion. There were times when I was being followed or doing a little sleuthing and was late to prepare his evening meal. It was really no big deal.
How do you see your future?
I love my life—most of the time. Santa Fe is everything I thought it would be, my job is terrific fun and two men are interested in me. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not ready for a relationship yet. For now, Oscar and I are getting along, if only I can stay on schedule. My author, G G Collins, is currently writing the next installment, “The Looking Glass Editor.” It promises to get me into some weird new age experiences thanks to yet another persnickety writer.
Will have to see what happens next, but I feel confident there is murder in my future. Not me, but someone else. I hope.