WHERE THE WEST WIND BLOWS. . .
A reader at last Saturday's Palm Springs Writers Expo asked me where I prefer to do my writing and I answered, "Anywhere my laptop goes. . .or the West wind blows." I explained that my writing habits were formed by necessity and the time of day as a reporter, decades ago. If news such as a meeting, murder, or injury accident occurred after hours, I might need to telephone a lead and important details from the site to the city desk. In that case, I would compose in my head from hand-written notes.
"Blue Sky Medicine" came to life in 2008 with concept, characters and a barebones outline. I was still in process with the first novel, "Crossing The Red". Factoid: I realized I would need a sequel to close out the life and misdeeds of prime antagonist Ramiro Jenkins. I already knew I wanted to write about veterans and their PTSD issues when they return from combat. We had just returned from three years in the Middle East where I was exposed to this problem by working with combat vets on staff or entertaining them at the villa in Dubai during their infrequent leaves. A lot of "Blue Sky"gaps had to be filled in but I had my notes and the premise: combat demons can follow you home, sometimes accompanied by their living counterparts.
"Crossing the Red" was finally published in 2016 as the first novel in the Bear Kotah series. I had built out most of the sequel's characters, plot, and outline. I just needed some help with the combat chapters, and a little more in-depth understanding of PTSD. This necessity eventually led to a tent home on the Bay of Fundy.
Fortunately, our youngest son, LtCol Trent A. Gibson, USMC, had recently retired. He and wife, Rocky, were rebuilding a cabin in the Maine woods, but Trent agreed to read some chapters and lend a hand. Carolynn and I had "retired" from defense contracting in 2015 and headed cross-country. We stayed several months with family and Rocky's oasis house in the High Desert, then headed north and east, finally arriving back in Maine. I wrote most of the way, laptop balanced on a bamboo cutting board modified to serve as a mobile office desk in our pickup.
In Maine we helped the younger Gibsons with construction, put up several cords of wood for the winter and spent some time conferring about "Blue Sky" and writing. We slept in a beautiful, snug tent just above the water on the Bay of Fundy. Talk about inspiring. On our way back west (we had decided to relocate to Montana), we stopped in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas for a series of book signings and to visit family. I continued to write most of the way, and completed another novel which actually became the second to be published: "Kotah Gold", a less complex and shorter work about a young girl's escape from human trafficking and survival in Texas' Palo Duro Canyon aided by the Kotah family.
"Kotah Gold" was published on Amazon in July 2019. By then, we knew "Blue Sky" was still several months out. Trent was not only reading out the combat chapters, but also painstakingly fleshing them out with realistic conflict, characters and technical expertise. He gave the narrative a chilling feel of Marines and Native Americans in brutal combat with terrorists, an impact I had hoped for. Trent was no longer "contributor", but "co-author", a transition that began in the tent on the Bay of Fundy. During this period he also took over cover design and coordination for all of the novels.
Along the way, we decided to donate a portion of our proceeds from "Blue Sky Medicine" to the Horses for Heroes - Cowboy Up program in New Mexico. Anyone who goes to their website, and then reads our book will understand our decision.