Cute? Funny? Or Just Plain Ugly?

They started a few years ago with huge blowup Santas and snowmen adorning front yards.  And they evolved.  Now they’re animated snow globes, gingerbread houses, trains, sleighs with reindeer, life-size airplanes with turning props and even Nativity scenes.  I’m talking, of course, about the myriad of inflatable Christmas lawn decorations that are puffing up all over the place during the Christmas season.  Are they cute or funny?  Or just plain ugly?  You decide.  During the day they often morph into colorful piles of limp plastic when the fan that blows them up is turned off–but by night, fully inflated with lights aglow inside they are a sight to behold.  In my Christmastime mystery, Let’s Make It Merry Christmas, the good folks of New Oslo, North Dakota hold a contest for the Ugliest Inflatable Christmas Lawn Decoration–which, of course, results in skyrocketing sales for the blowups.  Everybody’s gotta get one!  Love ‘em or hate ‘em, they are a part of Christmas in America, and like the proverbial Ugly Christmas Sweater, they add a festive AIR to the Christmas season.  They’re always entertaining and I always enjoy the roadside show they put on for us.

Christmas comes to North Dakota

“ANY LUCK FINDING a place for the festival?”  Jenine slid into the passenger’s seat and buckled up.
“You bet we did!”  Will beamed with excitement.
“Not at Sak Shores, I take it?”
“Nope.  Not on a ranch, either.”  Will fastened his own seatbelt and started the engine.  “How ‘bout a whole Christmas town?”
“A whole Christmas town??!!”
“You bet!  New Oslo is soon to become Christmas City, North Dakota!”
From Let’s Make It Merry Christmas, Chapter 6, ‘Calling Card’.

Available in paperback from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine online booksellers.  Also in Kindle, Nook and Kobo editions.

Connect with the author on Facebook www.facebook.com/rl411anderson and Twitter @AuthorRollie

Welcome to the New Member of the Family!

The Will Nickerson Mysteries family, that is!  Just in time for Christmas, the fifth installment, WHAT’S UP IN WYOMING, is now up and running on Kindle, Nook and Kobo, and in paperback, available online from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine online booksellers.  As with any author, it’s always exciting for me to see my latest literary endeavor come on the market at last after a year or so in the making.  The inspiration for this one came from one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken, a week on a working guest ranch in Wyoming.  So–why not send Will Nickerson to a similar place?  And, of course, it’s a mystery, so I had to add a murder for him to solve!  I moved the location a bit farther to the west, so as to include a visit to Yellowstone, which I visited, myself, on another trip to Wyoming.  The story is fiction, but it’s true to the spirit of this awesome state.

R. L. Anderson, Author, Will Nickerson Mysteries:
Ranch Park
It’s A Place For Trees
Viking It Is
Let’s Make It Merry Christmas
What’s Up In Wyoming

Connect with me on Facebook!

Sorry I’ve been out of touch for awhile.  Been busy setting up my Facebook account and learning all about the exciting world of the social media.  My FB Page is now up and running, at long last, and you may now connect with me and all of the Will Nickerson Mysteries at www.facebook.com/rl411anderson.

New Installment Coming Soon!

The Will Nickerson Mysteries series will soon have a new member of the family, to be titled What’s Up In Wyoming.  Since it is not yet published, I won’t go into any details as of yet, but as the title suggests, of course, Will Nickerson of New Oslo, ND makes a trip to Wyoming.  I have visited that state numerous times myself, so I was inspired to write about it in my newest novel.  As with my previous books in the series, I’ve included a lot of background details relating to the geography, history and nature of the setting, as well as a mystery to be solved by Will and the gang.  Perhaps we begin to see a bit of a rivalry starting to brew between Will’s two on-again, off-again romantic interests, Jenine and Laurel.  More details when the new book hits the presses.  Stay tuned!

R. L. Anderson, Author, Will Nickerson Mysteries:
Ranch Park
It’s A Place For Trees
Viking It Is
Let’s Make It Merry Christmas
*****COMING SOON***** What’s Up In Wyoming*****

Check ‘em out on Amazon.com (Kindle and Createspace), plus Nook and Kobo.

P.S.  I’m on Twitter now.  Follow me @AuthorRollie.

SORRY FOR THE SILENCE!

Sorry I haven’t posted anything for awhile.  It’s been a busy summer for me–and–oh yeah, excuses, excuses!!  Not much motivation to sit at the computer when it’s been nice weather to be outdoors, albeit a bit cooler than I’d have liked this year.  My sheep shearing business kept me busy much of the spring and summer, plus I’ve had my hands full with yard work and repairs to the house (repairs made necessary by the severe winter we had last year).  But now I’m back at the computer and have a new installment in the Will Nickerson Mysteries coming soon.  More on that next time!

R. L. Anderson, Author, Will Nickerson Mysteries:
Ranch Park
It’s A Place For Trees
Viking It Is
Let’s Make It Merry Christmas
***COMING SOON*** What’s Up In Wyoming

Check ‘em out on Amazon.com (Kindle and Createspace), plus Nook and Kobo.

P.S.  I’m on Twitter now.  Follow me @AuthorRollie.

The Badlands aren’t bad at all!

“We could be on the Moon–or Mars,” Jenine said.  “It’s so–alien.  But it’s beautiful, too.”
“Look, there!”  Will pointed to the bright-red Jeep Cherokee in the little parking area by the roadside.  He pulled in beside it.  “Yep.  That’s hers, all right.”
“I guess she’s here.”  Jenine’s voice was less than enthusiastic, but she climbed out and fetched her backpack out from under the tonneau cover.
Will grabbed his backpack, too, hoisted it into position, and slammed the tailgate shut.
They paused for a look at the austere stone shelter house, looking like a toy with the sweeping vista of the Dakota Badlands as a backdrop.  The Little Missouri River slashed like a knife wound through the scenery, far below the shelter’s lofty perch.  “This is so awesome!”  Jenine kept saying.
“Wait’ll you see the view from the shelter house.  C’mon on.”
They hiked the rest of the way to the rocky little pavilion, a relic of the 1930s’ CCC make-work program, and found a girl seated on one of the rocks at its base, her waist-length dark hair swirling in the stiff wind.  She was staring out at the river, calmly munching on a sandwich.  On another rock by her side was a backpack with a Smokey Bear hat partially shoved underneath, so as to keep it from taking off in the wind.  The kind of hat worn by park rangers and naturalists.  She appeared to be lost in thought, almost as if meditating.  With her back turned to the newcomers and the wind whistling in her ears, she did not sense their approach.
“Angie?” Will spoke in the softest voice he could muster, so as not to startle her.
He startled her anyway.  She turned sharply, jarred from her reverie, and stood up to face them.  “Will!”

From Ranch Park, Chapter 25, “Where Badlands are Good Lands”.

One of North Dakota’s undiscovered gems is Theodore Roosevelt National Park, consisting of two units, the North Unit located near Watford City and the South Unit near Medora.  Both are operated as one park–which is said to be America’s least visited National Park.  That’s not a bad thing.  Lreast visited means least crowded.  Least spoiled.  A great way to experience the beauty of the famous Dakota Badlands without the mobs of tourists you’d be more likely to see at South Dakota’s more highly publicized Badlands National Park.  The location is near where Theodore Roosevelt had a ranch for a few years before he became President, and it left a lasting impression on him, to do all that he could as President to protect the beauty of the West before it was too late.  My imaginary characters Will and Jenine enjoy a visit there, as I enjoyed my visit to this great park.

R. L. Anderson, author, Will Nickerson Mysteries

Check out Ranch Park on Amazon.com for the paperback and Kindle editions, and also on  Nook or Kobo.  Click on the book icon on any of the sites for a free “try before you buy” preview.

Oh, the Joys of Being a Landlord!

As they approached the fence marking the northern boundary of the Ranch Park, Will felt a chill go up and down his spine as he glimpsed an enormous black Ford F-450 Super Duty pickup, the kind with extra rear tires and crew cab, bumping along on the other side of the fence.  It was a  macho truck, the kind that said I rule the road, and get outta my way.  Harlan Plachkow!  The man Will considered his arch enemy.  Plachkow owned the land on the north and west sides of the Ranch Park and leased several hundred acres of wheat land to the east.  A few years ago, while he was building his house, a couple of miles to the north, he had rented one of the two condos that Will owned in New Oslo–the same one where Alastair and his mother Shirley Pienaar now lived.  The condos were intended to be an investment–an investment to be cashed in, which would form the bulk of the downpayment on a ranch.  In fact, Will had his eyes on a nice thousand-acre spread a few miles east of the Ranch Park–not a huge property by western standards, but he felt that by using rotational grazing, it could easily run a hundred cow-calf pairs.  Plachkow had a six-month lease on the condo–and refused to pay a single penny of it.  Will tried in vain to get him evicted–and when he finally moved out, he had completely trashed the place.  The repairs cost more than the condo was worth–especially replacing all the flooring to get rid of the stench left behind by Plachkow’s three Irish Setters.  The downpayment on the ranch was gone–and so was the ranch.  It was purchased by the Plachkow family before Will even had a chance at it.  So he landed right back where he had started, back in the office supplies business and back to playing rancher at the Ranch Park–when he should have been on his own ranch.  It was hard not to feel bitter. He did not wave at Plachkow and hoped Jenine didn’t, either.  He didn’t dare turn around to look.

From Ranch Park, Chapter 3, “On Safari–North Dakota Style”.

When I wrote that in Ranch Park in 2009, I had no idea that I would have a similar experience as a landlord.  The Tenant From Hell came my way late in 2012, and as Harlan Plachkow did to Will Nickerson in fiction, this guy did it to me in reality.  The guy stopped paying his rent about a year ago, and after months and months of agony he’s gone at last–and so is the rental property.  Completely trashed–a tragic loss of my investment.  I hope to recover at least a portion of it, however, in court.  There may be some successful landlords out there reading this–and if you’re one of them, consider yourself lucky, and I hope your luck continues.  As for me, however, there will be no more rental property investing in my future.  Instead of gambling on that risky business, I’ll stick with doing what I do best.  Fiction writing.  I guess I could write a great nonfiction “How-To” kind of book sometime.  How ‘bout How To Invest In Rental Property, by R. L. Anderson.  It would have only one word in it: DON’T.  Anyway–the hassle of cleaning out the condo and getting rid of it has been taking most of my time these last few weeks, which is why you haven’t seen any new posts on my blog lately.  Hopefully that will all be behind me soon and I’ll be back to blogging once again, all about the Will Nickerson Mysteries–and back to work on the next volume in the series.

R. L. Anderson, author, Will Nickerson Mysteries

Check ‘em out on Amazon.com for the paperback and Kindle editions and also on Nook and Kobo.  Click on the book icon for a free preview.

It’s the Peace Garden State

“It’s so beautiful here!”  Jenine exclaimed.
“Stand right there,” Will directed her.  “One foot there.”
“Like this?”
“Perfect.  And one foot there.”  He backed off.  “Now you’re straddling the border.  You’ve got one foot in Canada and one foot in the United States.  And so do I.”  He extracted his camera from its case.  “Now let me take your picture.”
“Not again!” she protested.
“Why not?”  It did seem to him that she was more self-conscious about having her picture taken than she was at Ranch Camp.
“All these scratches and bruises.”  She bent over and rubbed her legs.
“Oh–I hadn’t even noticed.  And besides, I’ll fix ‘em on the computer.”
“Well–if you say so.”
He took a few shots.  “Good.  I got you standing on the border, with the Peace Tower in the background.”  He showed it to her on the camera’s viewscreen.
“Now you have to let me take one of you.”  She pulled her phone out of her pocket.
“It’ll break your phone–but OK.”

From Ranch Park, Chapter 23, “Straddling the Border”.

One of the coolest things you can do in North Dakota and Manitoba simultaneously is stand with one foot in Canada and one foot in the US.  The International Peace Garden, which gives the Peace Garden State its nickname, is a magnificent monument to peace and friendship between two great nations.  And, for added realism–and to encourage visitors to consider a stop there on their next vacation–why not send Will Nickerson and Jenine Mescall there?  As my fictional characters do, I enjoyed my visit to the Peace Garden several years ago, taking in all its many beauty spots.  The US side is the cultural side, with venues for music, sports, lectures and the arts, while the Canadian side is the natural side, with hiking trails, forest and great wildlife habitat.  Exquisite gardens line both sides, and in the true spirit of peace, the ones on the Canadian side are tended by North Dakota civic organizations, while the US gardens are tended by Manitoba civic organizations.  Having great Canadian friends and a deep affection for all things Canadian (well–except for the weather!!), I was angered by the US government’s decision to require passports for Canada.  It felt like a slap in the face to our best friend and neighbor.  But unfortunately passports are the law, so be sure to take yours with you when you visit the Peace Garden.  You won’t need it to go in–and while you’re in the Peace Garden you can wander freely between the two countries.  But–when you exit the Garden, a right turn takes you to US Customs and a left turn takes you to Canada Customs–and there you will need that passport.  It’s worth it, though, as North Dakotans and Manitobans know–and for those, like myself, from other areas, discovering all that the prairies have to offer, be sure to include the International Peace Garden on the itinerary.  You won’t be disappointed.

R. L. Anderson, author, Will Nickerson Mysteries

Check out Ranch Park on Amazon.com for the paperback and Kindle editions, and also on  Nook or Kobo.  Click on the book icon on any of the sites for a free “try before you buy” preview.