Wednesday, August 14, 2013

An Alaskan Adventure with Yolanda Renee

Today I'm very excited to be hosting Yolanda Renee, author of Murder, Madness, & Love (available next week!) and Memories of Murder, which will be published in October. When I met Yolanda I was very interested to hear about her time in Alaska since that is the setting for my novel Polar Night. So when I signed up to be part of her blog tour it was a no-brainer for me to ask her to share some of her Alaskan experiences here on my site.

Before I turn things over to Yolanda, I just want to say that I am also excited to be featured on her site today. You can read Yolanda's interview with me on her blog Defending the Pen.

Now on to the Alaskan adventures!


         Julie has agreed to host me on her blog today, and has asked that I speak of my Alaskan Adventures, the inspiration for much of my writing. Thank you Julie, I love nothing more than talking about Alaska and my experiences, just don't tell my family or their eye rolls will make you all dizzy!

         I went to Alaska on vacation but fell in love, with the state, and stayed for 4 years. The boyfriend I went there to visit, well, we just didn't work as a couple. I knew the first few minutes after my arrival that I never wanted to leave this amazing place, and if I have one regret, it's that I did leave. Even though I moved to Washington State, a place that ran a close second to Alaska for an adventure seeker, I still hope to return, and make Alaska my writing home.

         That first year I lived near Ester, just outside of Fairbanks and close to the University of Alaska. I worked for a trucking company as a payroll clerk and wrote weekly checks to drivers that equaled ¼ of my paycheck for an entire year. I was mistaken for a prostitute on the plane ride to Fairbanks and refused to wear a dress for almost two years because of it. I worked as an Assistant Field Engineer on the pipeline corridor from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez and eventually settled in downtown Anchorage where I worked for the native Corporation that built the Sheraton Anchorage Hotel. 

         I hiked the Alaskan Range and the Brooks Range, and learned all about survival in the wilderness and the cold despite being a cheechako (a newcomer, unaware and totally unafraid). You learn fast when faced with a crisis. I still suffer in the cold from frostbite to my fingers. Damage that occurred when I had to splice the wires to my engine-heater at 50 below, but I will always prefer the cold to the heat. I spent more money on bug-off, and hiking boots, than perfume or high heels. That first summer I hitchhiked, safely with a friend, until I could convince a bank I would not disappear after the termination dust (snow) hit the foothills in September.

         I've been stranded on a mountaintop at 30 below, shivered through a night (alone) under a mountain of blankets after exposure to the cold – hyperthermia. I learned that the water in a gas tank can freeze and clog not only the gas line but also the carburetor, as well as how to repair it myself. I've stood on ice bubbles ten feet tall and I've eaten grayling direct from mountain stream to skillet and nothing since, has ever tasted that good. I've helicoptered into to a mining camp and listened to the miner's stories of survival while drinking coffee and eating sourdough bread. And in one evening I saw 9 grizzlies, after a spring of hiking the range and not seeing anything but tracks, thank god, I was in a pickup truck at the time of those sightings.

         I've been truly blessed to have had such awesome experiences and have drawn from that to create my suspenseful romance set in Alaska, and Washington states. Murder, Madness & Love to be re-released this month, and Memories of Murder to be released October 4, 2013. The first two books in the Detective Quaid trilogy with a third, Obsession to Murder due out in 2014.

Thank you Julie, for allowing me to visit your blog and talk of my Alaskan adventures and my books! 

Learn more about Renee and her books by following these links:

Murder, Madness & Love
August 19, 2013


After a gritty detective becomes involved with a beautiful widow suspected of murder, rumor and obsession obstruct his quest for justice.


Sunlight blazes on an empty canvas.

Arctic winds gather snowflakes on a frosty window ledge as a statuesque form appears. She moves past a table littered with papers. Headlines splash news of murder, but it's the photo of another young woman with features mirroring her own that draws her attention.

A different headline peeks from underneath the Anchorage Times.

Wealthy Businessman Dies in Car Crash ... BLACK WIDOW SUSPECTED!

Graphic images swirl through her head and a tear rolls down her cheek. She drifts toward an easel and a trembling hand dips a sable brush into a palette of paint.

The Westminster doorbell chimes. The brush slips and blood-red paint stains the floor. 

Detective Steven Quaid waits. His Tlingit, Indian features carved from granite, mask his Irish passion ...

Will he arrest her this time? 

All fingers point to her guilt. 

But, is she guilty of this cunning plot? Or, just a victim of circumstantial evidence?

The door opens ...

His eyes lock on hers ... 

His heart races ...

Hers skips a beat.

Memories of Murder
October 4, 2013


World damnation is a psychotic man’s goal, but two obstacles stand in his way, greed and a dedicated detective.


Decades ago, the seeds were planted …

Today, dark, fathomless eyes rake the image before him. One final task and the transformation is complete. Steady fingers screw intricately carved horns on each side of a stiff brow, and a gargoyle suitable for Notre Dame scowls from the smokey mirror in satisfaction.
A jagged smile rips through his smooth, hairless face, and inked, reptilian scales caress his naked body. 

A laugh of hideous resonance emanates from his gut as the demons of hell welcome Lucifer into their fold.

In a dungeon-like chamber, his Lilith awaits. The kidnapped daughter of a nun, groomed to fit the final piece in the complex puzzle for world domination. Will Lucifer marry his bride, on the summer solstice? 

Only two things stand in his way ...

His greed ...

And ...

Detective Steven Quaid.


  1. Obviously you loved the place, despite all those hardships. Hope you get to go back there and continue your adventures. (And always see grizzlies from a safe location.)

  2. Thanks Alex, it was a blast, and I do hope to go back, at least for a visit.

    Julie, thanks again for hosting me today, this was fun!

  3. Nice to meet you Yolanda!

  4. Goodness you lived one of my dreams! Alaska is a destination on the dream map, and we'll get there one day, but I'm not sure how well we'll survive it after spending so much time in Florida. *gulp*

  5. Congrats, Yolanda! And it certainly sounds like you had a lot of adventures while living in Alaska.

  6. Wow, what adventures! You're braver than I. Although, with the outdoor thermometer hitting 102 yesterday, I'd gladly take some cold. LOL

    Lovely cover! Sounds like a great story--both of them. :)

  7. Summer, nice to meet you too, Thanks for stopping by.

    Crystal, I suggest going during the summer but pack your sweaters. My first summer the temps were in the 70s and 80s but I was still cold. Especially if you're coming from Florida.

    Cherie, I did, I was younger and everything was an adventure. Today, maybe it would be more of a hardship, like Alex suggests, but then it was an 'adventure'!

    Melissa, I was very lucky, and totally unafraid of anything. Even the bears, till I saw a few! :) Loved it!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. Those sound like quite the adventures Yolanda. I stand on a mountaintop at below freezing, but never below zero.

    All success on your beautiful books!

  9. Wow. Awesome adventures! Thank you so much for sharing with us. One day, I'd love to go to Alaska. I lived in British Columbia for a year, and I'm sad that I didn't get a chance to stay longer.

  10. FANTASTIC guest post y'all! Loved reading about your time in Alaska Rolanda (and the blurbs for your story rock too)--almost reached for a throw! LOL

    The cover for Murder, Madness, & Love is awesome btw! Think it's going to draw a lot of attention and do good things. :)

  11. M Pax, Thank you, surviving in the cold was a real adventure, on a mountain or not.

    Christine, I hope you get a chance to visit again, the terrain alone is worth the visit, as you know living in the BC.

    Thanks E. J. - Few folks believe it gets in the 80s in the summer, but this year they had a heat wave - summer can be hot and winter colder than - well you know. Thanks for the wonderful comment!

  12. Your books sound awesome, Yolanda. I think there's a reason I live in Texas. Not sure I would survive in Alaska.

    Hi, Julie!

  13. Love the book and blurb, of course.

    How fun to hear about your exciting Alaskan adventures. I live in the mountains, but nothing like that. Not sure how I'd feel about seeing that many bears!

  14. Thanks Carol, I met many a Texan there! My hubby hates the cold, it's why we settled in Washington State, but he does want to visit, and is willing to give me a year there. Really hoping we can make that happen.

    Julie, I had a blast, but when you're young everything is an adventure! Thanks for stopping by!

  15. *shudders* What a cover that is with the spider. I've been hearing from people a lot about how wonderful Alaska is. I've always known it, but people have been talking about it more lately. Someday...

  16. Ooh, I like the taglines.

    I've always wanted to visit Alaska. It seems like there's so much to experience there.

  17. Donna, I know how you feel, I'm deathly afraid of spiders, but the cover actually made me smile - the irony! I hope you get to Alaska, it's worth it!

    Medeia, thanks, and I hope you too, get to go to Alaska.

  18. INCREDIBLE, Yolanda! I had NO idea you've been through all of that! AMAZING!

    I am REALLY looking forward to reading this trilogy.

    Congrats on your upcoming launch... All the best!

    Thanks for featuring Yolanda, Julie. This was some story!

  19. Thanks for stopping by Michael, I was a very lucky and very independent young lady!


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