“All who wander are not lost”

I am finally home.

The above quote, or something like it, is generally attributed to J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s an apt quote, however, for the last year or so of my life, or so it seems.

My last blog in April somehow got lost while I was on the highway heading home. I guess it did anyway. However, I’m now mostly settled and back in business.

I’ve traded in my adorable 26′ tugboat for a 43′ craft that is more suitable for the lifestyle I plan to live from here on out to the very end of my years. My husband and I have resyned our nomadic years. Our children are grown adults with children of their own. My animals are gone, except for my dog. There was no reason to continue the status quo.

Wondering if we’d ever find anything we could afford was often depressing, but the idea of buying yet another house when we returned to the Pacific Northwest somehow seemed anticlimactic…”Let’s buy another boat! One we can travel farther on and live longer on!” My husband took no persuading.

After spending four months searching for the perfect craft, we found it. I confess I also bought a tiny house in Arizona so I could escape the rainy, windy winters here in Washington State and see my family during the holidays…besides my grandsons, ages 3 and 6, still think we’re the greatest thing since popcicles and I don’t want to miss out on that.

Moonlight Mesa will continue to operate – just from afar. Any books we publish from here on out will probably be ebooks. I’m still waiting for the one manuscript from “Barbara” that sounded so enticing three years ago when she queried and teased me with four finished chapters.

Book sales, unfortunately, mostly languished during the pandemic months, with the exception of A Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule. Ingram sent out 159 copies of the book one month alone.

But the best news of all…I can now begin earning my Marine Naturalist Certification. Currently I’m being trained to work as a docent in the Friday Harbor Whale Museum. Ever since I took the Marine Naturalist class two years ago I’ve wanted to complete it by becoming a Certified Naturalist. Hard to do in Arizona! I’m on my way now! I’m incredibly happy that my husband and I are back among people who also love the water, whales, and sea life.

Indeed, I am finally home.

Time to Call it Quits?

It’s time for a new adventure, and I want to go home.

It seems like ages ago we moved to Arizona – actually it’s now been 16 years. I’ve enjoyed it here in many ways…but I don’t think I’ve ever really been happy-happy here. 

What do I like about Arizona? 

1. Winter weather here can’t be beat. Maybe Florida’s, come to think about it. 

2. Our properties have been large enough that I’ve had chickens, horses, mules and dogs during this period. (I had the same in Oregon though.)

3.  I started a small, traditional publishing company and published a number of award-winning titles and terrific westerns.         

 J.R. Sanders’ two books, Some Gave All and The Littlest Wrangler, both won awards;   

Lee Anderson’s equine books, Developing the Art of Equine Communication and The  View from My Old Saddle, were both award winners;                                                                                    

Rusty Richards biography of Casey Tibbs  has been a best-selling title and won an award;    

Historian Robert Walton’s civil war book, Dawn Drums,  won a total of 5 awards;   

Three of my own publications have won awards: Life Was a Cabaret, Sam’s Desert Adventure, and Northern Escape.                                                      

There were other books that often out-sold the award-winners, such as Jere D. James Jake Silver Series.

During this time I also learned some hard lessons: 

  1.  Insufficient funds for marketing pretty much killed me.
  2.  Often I worked far harder at personally selling authors’ books than some of them did.
  3.  Selling books is the hardest part of the whole publishing business.

We are now at a crossroads, and some of our frustration may indeed be due to Covid, but perhaps most is just due to the fact that my husband and I can no longer ignore that we are fish out of water in the desert, something we’ve both known for a long time but never discussed much. So, we’ve listed our home for sale, even though we just moved to this new location a year ago. Since our mules are now gone, we’ve come to realize even more that we don’t “fit in” here (our license plates even say “We Row”) and we never have been very good members of the cowboy-horse culture here in Wickenburg. We tried, but…

Moving is not easy, but I came to the conclusion that going back to the northwest is what we needed to do after I read an article that asked readers to think of where they’d been most happy in their life…and if they weren’t there now, why weren’t they? As retirees, we don’t have jobs that hold us down; our children are both approaching 40 and are well-established here, so no kids to fuss over. My husband is particularly not happy, and neither is my dog Holly (a Chesapeake Bay Retriever). We instantly realized that where we’ve been our happiest is in coastal environments: Newport Oregon, Wrangell Alaska, and cruising on our sailboat decades ago. I know the winter weather will be a shocker…but we lived in the northwest for decades before we moved and it never seemed to bother us then. I miss snow-shoeing, Nordic skiing, ice skating, the beautiful smell and sight of fir trees, and fall and spring weather (you don’t get much where we now are). We’re homesick.

So what do I do about Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc., my little S-Corporation? I think it’s time I dissolved my corporation and became a sole-proprietor again. I’ll certainly keep an account with the printing company so authors can still get their books and the books will still be available online or with vendors, but I just feel like throwing in the towel, going back to free-lance writing, getting my Marine Naturalist Certification, and focusing on sea life, whales in particular – especially orcas. I might even become a radical about plastic pollution and protecting our oceans, and saving our wild salmon! I can spend more time on JUST ONE THING. That would be fun. What I’m doing now no longer is.

I’ll keep my website…I think…maybe. And I’ll be blogging less about books, and more about LIFE. I’m ready. It’s time for a new adventure, and I want to go home.

Major Changes to Publishing House

Three primary areas have become the publisher’s center of attention: The Ocean; Whales; and the Rights of Nature.

Becky on her mule, Reba Peru.

It’s become apparent to many of Moonlight Mesa’s blog followers and customers, that the publishing house is no longer the same company that used to avidly only promote western books and authors. “There is no question that we’re on a different path,” admitted publisher Becky Coffield. “The change is a difficult, time-consuming, uphill struggle, and one we’ve been trying to win using emotional appeal – not tactics. It hasn’t been as easy as I thought it’d be. Somehow that’s got to change.”

It’s tempting to say that the biggest cause of struggle is Moonlight Mesa’s rural location – being housed on the borderline of a dinky seasonal community and a small cowboy town. This hurts, but it’s not the only issue. Not being a coastal state, Arizonans generally tend to be indifferent to the issues that Moonlight Mesa’s publisher finds to be a priority. “This is to be expected, I suppose. Arizona has issues and problems of its own to deal with that are troublesome: drought and potential water shortage; rapid growth due to a massive influx of newcomers; and border issues to name a few. Expected, but disappointing,” Coffield said.

So, what is the pubisher’s focus? Three primary areas have become the publisher’s center of attention: the Ocean; Whales; and The Rights of Nature. That is, of course, a simplification, but it generally sums it up.  Coffield is also a supporter of NRDC, CELDEF, and GARN.*

For starters, as chairperson of the JUST ONE THING Alliance, Coffield decided to house the small, grass-roots movement on Moonlight Mesa’s website as its own domain. (www.justonething.life) She has also recently added Moonlight Mesa’s publication, Saving Our Oceans. (www.saving-our-oceans.com) as a domain on the website.

“Though the addition of these two domains to Moonlight Mesa’s website does not in any way help book sales or the company, the fact is it’s a step in going where I have to go,” Coffield said.

Coffield became an ocean/whale devotee after spending six years blue-water sailing on a Cal 2-34, traveling around 25,000 miles, then living on the Oregon Coast for many years. Originally from the Northwest, Coffield has spent years boating in the San Juan Islands and traveling the Inside Passage to the Broughton Islands and S.E. Alaska. “I’ve had fantastic whale encounters in S.E. Alaska,” Coffield recalled. “And, of course, a person can’t help but love the Southern Resident Pod that hangs out in the San Juans.” Coffield is currently endeavoring to complete a Marine Naturalist Certification.

It’s become apparent to all who know the publisher that she (and her husband) are  fish out of water living in Arizona – The big question is “for how much longer?” She’s choosing not say at this time –

Meanwhile, look for the saving-our-oceans.blog in the very near future.

*CELDEF: Community Environmental Defense Fund

NRDC – Nature Resource Defense Council

GARN – Global Alliance for Rights of Nature

Blog submitted by Renee Witty

Change is Good!

I’m beginning to feel like our “relocation” is a very long saga, so I’ll make the ending brief.

 

1. Yes, we moved

2. No, we did not relocate to the Northwest

3. We relocated to a great location just outside of Wickenburg – so we’re STILL IN ARIZONA. It’s all the change we needed.

 

So, back to business!

 

For the last few months we’ve been struggling to get Lee Anderson’s new book into print. The last technical glitch wasn’t mine (this time). But despite being computer-less for several weeks due to the move, we finally have the book in print. Lee’s new book is phenomenal…and bold. People will love it, or they’ll be furious. Getting it into print has taken its toll on all of us, however. Release date for this title is January 15, 2020.

 

cover for lee
Author Lee Anderson and his horse Concho

As for end of the year business…I’ll have final numbers soon, but I do know that A Beginner’s Guide to Owning a Mule  was the second highest selling book via Ingram this year.  The other three top titles for Ingram sales were Some Gave All, by J.R. Sanders; Developing the Art of Equine Communication  by C.L. (Lee) Anderson; and Saving Our Oceans, by R.L. Coffield. Note that these are all nonfiction.

 

9780977459391.MAIN.E-book sales have not been tallied, and not all books are in ebook format, but Casey Tibbs – Born to Ride,  by Rusty Richards (available in both paperback and ebook), looks like it snagged first place  in total sales in 2019. That being said, final results have not been determined yet.

 

 

JUST ONE THING

I’ve been rather forced to take a break from publishing this year (2020) as I have no staff left. Renee is sulking (for good reason and won’t be back for a long, long spell if then). Vin (our fantastic cover designer) has relocated to Ecuador. Jered took a job as Account Executive with Shamrock Farms (which pays much better than I do). And on and on. Even Tom has taken on other projects. I’m thinking it’s a sign I need to move on. It’s been 10 years – change is good.

 

So now on to the fun stuff: If I’m not going to publish in 2020, what am I going to do? JUST ONE THING, that’s what I’m going to do. JUST ONE THING.

 

My goal is to start a JUST ONE THING grassroots movement. It’s simple, right? IF EVERYONE, every single person, did JUST ONE THING to stop plastic use and pollution the results would be phenomenal. I’m not talking big sacrifices either. How about buying coca cola in the can or a glass bottle – or any of the many other plastic bottles of crapola  produced? How about saying no to the plastic bag that you don’t really need? We can all make a change that will be beneficial for the environment.

 

MARINE NATURALIST

We’ll be in the Northwest again this summer where I’m hoping to get in some hours toward my Marine Naturalist Certification. Yes, my heart is still in the Northwest, but thousands upon thousands of hearts there are working for the whales, the ocean, the chinook salmon, and cleaner water. My voice won’t be missed. Instead, I’m hoping to bring these issues to Arizona so that they make sense to the people here.

 

I’ll be blogging regularly about all these things and also on a rampage about a few of them. I hope you’ll stay tuned and think about CHANGE!

Change is in the Air

logoMMA-lg for WP 200    After all my off and on hullabaloo about moving my company and household, and my 180 degree reversals on this decision, it actually looks like it’s going to happen! Our home in Wickenburg is in escrow, and as we watch the days slowly slide by waiting for things to officially close, it looks like it’s a done deal on November 19th.

Of course I have not started packing. I have not ordered moving boxes. I did, however, rent a gargantuan storage unit – and I may need another. I just want to make 100% certain it’s a done deal. My husband is convinced it is, and I want to be… I think I’m still in shock.

So the plan is to return to the Pacific Northwest. We’re leaving behind two sons and two grandsons in Arizona, but we won’t be strangers to them. My Alaska Airline Credit Card is so high I’m sure I could fly once a month from Washington State to Phoenix for at least two years. And I plan to be that naughty word “snowbird” for a short spell every winter (for as long as I can stand living in a tiny trailer, that is).

SOOpc jpeg

As for Moonlight Mesa Associates, Inc., I will be closing the Arizona corporation and will be opening a DBA as Moonlight Mesa Associates in Washington in due time. My authors will be able to access their books when needed, and I may continue to publish, but probably only personal work. I’m also going to finish my practicum to get my Marine Naturalist Certification! That’s where my heart is and has been most of my life – with the sea and its residents.

Basically, I’ve reached an age where I just want to write, paint, row (even if in the rain) hike, and ride my mule! I was reminded the other day that I don’t have forever to do these things as much as I’d like when I was sternly persuaded to start high blood pressure medication when I registered 200/98. Very weird since I’m a health nut, but I guess our genes don’t understand that always.

So, soon my blogs will be filled with new items and energy! It’s time for a change and a new adventure. I hope you’ll stay with me through it all.

Our last publication, C.L. “Lee” Anderson’s The View from My Old Saddle, will be released in January 2020. It’s a fantastic book to end our 10 years of western passion on.

Muley cover

Good-bye Arizona

Becky and Reba Peru

 

 

 

 

Day 3: Spotting Whales

After two long days of lectures we will now be out in the field for the next 3 days!

Today’s outing was to Lime Kiln State Park to look for whales passing by, take a hike, and two more classes…two outside and one inside.

It’s interesting that the Southern Resident pod is finally finding its preferred food on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and not so much here in the Salish Sea. Reports from the coast are that the whales are looking fatter and happier! Meanwhile, a transient group of orcas, Biggs transient pod, is now in this area more. The Southern Resident pod prefers to dine on Chinook, and the transients like seals, sea lions, etc. And there are plenty of those around here. Their population has exploded in the last 40 years since they were listed as an endangered species…so no more shooting them for stealing fish off your hook! The Southern Resident pod is still around some though, but this year they even hit up Monterey Bay for food. It’s been a spell since the Southern Resident pod has traveled that far for Chinook.

The day, incidentally, was great! Weather was accommodating, the speakers were knowledgeable and interesting.

The question is growing in my mind, though, can I be a Marine Naturalist in Arizona? How’s that going to work? I will have to give this A LOT of thought. I signed up for this course thinking we’d be relocating back to the Pacific Northwest. This may not come true if our house in AZ doesn’t sell. Bummer.

Could I be a naturalist in Arizona? I just don’t see the culture there embracing this. We’ll find out soon enough.

Oh…we saw no whales.