Morningstar by CR Petersen Genre: Mystery, Light Romance
Morningstar by author CR Petersen is a cleverly written journey of Anna, a young girl who is moved from her big city life and privilege to a rural setting in Utah. Nothing she has been used to compares to this new life and surroundings, including what she thought were important in life.
This journey includes Anna's discovery of the disappearance of an entire family who lived there prior and an unsolved murder. Anna, along with her newfound friends, is determined to solve this disappearance and murder.
This investigation takes the reader on a journey that includes fascinating Native American history, culture and values, as well as the real life mysteries, and subsequent teachings of space and time, and the finding of love in the most unexpected way.
This novel has it all. Lots of twists and turns as the author paints a vivid picture of what life is all about and what it means to build and trust strong friendships as they are thrust into a mysterious unknown that is thrilling to read! - Karen Daniels
Morningstar is about a self-centered “queen-bee” who, due to her family’s financial setbacks moves from an upper middle-class lifestyle in San Francisco to what she initially considers an impoverished backwards life in Logan Utah.
Just before her departure from San Francisco, she is filled with many of the stereotypical prejudices about almost any rural American town and a few peculiar to Utah. The move thrusts her into two murder mysteries, including a person she feels inexplicably close to, and her own journey of guilt, growth, discovery, true friendship, and the almost impossible decision of staying with her family and friends or being with the young man she has searched for, dreamt about, and fallen in love with.
Karen and Dave Turner were coming to the end of a weeklong trip to San Francisco with their twelve-year-old son, TJ They made the trip to visit a specialist for TJ, attend court, and at last, finalize the bankruptcy of their business which had closed months earlier. Their fifteen-year-old daughter Anna had stayed home and in school while her parents and brother returned to California. Hoping to surprise Anna, they were returning a day early, but as the day wore on, they were becoming increasingly worried. Calling many times, they were unable to reach her by phone since early the evening before. Three friends had stayed with Anna off and on for the week; however, the Turners knew, the parents of two of Anna's friends, the two staying with her Friday and Saturday night, had all gone to a cabin for the weekend where there wouldn’t be any cell coverage. The lack of response was a concern; but not too much. After all, they both agreed the girls may have just gone to the cabin without letting them know or perhaps the phones were dead due to a storm they knew had passed through the region. Dave and Karen went through the typical cycle of being worried, to being upset with Anna for not letting them know what was going on, to being worried again.
When the Turners arrived home, the house was still and eerily quiet with a fresh, snow fall, providing a pristine appearance in-spite of the chaos of the night’s storm. The neighborhood was littered with branches, both large and small, which had broken from their trees during the night. Some garbage cans, trash, boxes, and miscellaneous yard items were blown over and around. Some were lying in a neighbor’s yard next door or down the street. Most had been picked up and returned to their proper place. When they entered the home, they called for the girls then Dave Turner walked into the den, still calling for Anna and the others. In the middle of the floor was what looked like a bloody knife of some sort lying next to a small spot of blood still damp on the old fading carpet. It was in almost the exact place as an older spot of blood, which had been barely visible to those who knew to look for it, from ten years before. Bolting into Anna’s bedroom, Dave discovered a three-ring binder lying on her unmade queen size bed, with a hand-written note. The words: Mom, Dad, had been scribbled on top. There was no sign of the girls.
Opening the binder, Dave found still another hand-written note laid on top of a typewritten, well organized and overfull binder.
If you are reading this, we didn’t make it back. I hoped we’d be back by tomorrow, (even possibly today if we were REALLY lucky), before you and the other parents got back. Before anyone will miss us. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about everything. It’s been incredible. It’s been unbelievable. I hardly believe it and didn’t think I could possibly explain it to you. It was just too crazy. In the end, it happened so fast. It’s a mess and we’re trying to make it right. Please share with the other parents so they will know what happened. It will be almost impossible to understand. You will probably need to share this with Sgt. McKay. I am so sorry, please know I love you very much. There was no time to wait, we have to go now or we may lose them forever.
Dave removed the binder from Anna’s bedroom and took it to the den where he called for Karen to join him, pointing out what appeared to be another blood stain on the carpet.
TJ, exhausted from the trip, had already crawled into his own bed upstairs. The following typewritten pages were found in the binder. Each section divided by a titled tab as follows.
CR Petersen was born in Idaho Falls which was the closest hospital from the very small town of Firth Idaho. Grew up and graduated from high school in Clarkston, Washington. Spent a career in children's developmental disabilities and mental health. Married with four children and seven grandchildren and two foster children. Loves people, animals, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, gardening, and a great mystery.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I was born with congenital cataracts and was legally blind in my right eye. I’ve had nine eye surgeries, with seven on the left and two on the right with the final surgery on the right being an enucleation. I’ve struggled with eye problems my whole life and yet I LOVE to read and have always. As a child and teen, I used to read the Readers Digest versions of the classics. I love history and mystery especially but also love many genres of literature. Reading has often been a struggle and today I do most of my reading electronically with a black background and lime green print. This is easiest on my eyes.
About twelve years ago I had a vivid dream, which was the impetus for Morningstar. I started writing soon after and submitted it to a few publishers. One was very interested and asked for a rewrite. Because I was so busy with work and a family business by this time, I partnered with someone to do the rewrite. It made it though the next review but at the third and final review they decided the market was overly saturated with the genre and for the age group. I gave up.
However, a couple years later I decided to edit my own work again (never a great idea to do your own editing) and self-publish. A few copies were sold and those who I knew read it, really loved it.
A couple years ago I decided to dust it off again and hired a publishing company to edit it. I added to the story and it was recently published. My hope is to create a series.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
Like most of you, there are many quirky and unusual things about me. When I was a kid, there was a popular book out titled: I’m OK, You’re OK. A then famous psychologist, Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote a response: I’m Not OK, You’re Not OK. But It’s OK. Personally, I believe that is more accurate.
I have a friend who is a macular facial surgeon. Periodically, he goes on missing trips with groups to do surgery around the world on people with cleft lips and palates who would not otherwise have access to this kind of medical intervention. For many, this is a life changing surgery. Unfortunately, due to covid, he has not been able to do this for a few years. One time, not long after a trip, he and his family were at our home. He had been talking about one of his trips and some of the surgeries. As a part of the conversation and talking about my surgeries, I removed my right eye. One of his daughters was excited and asked me to remove my other eye (thankfully it is still the natural eye and removal is not in my best interest). One time, visiting with two of my grandsons I was doing a card trick and telling them what card they were looking at. I had removed my prosthetic eye and positioned it where it appeared to be looking at their card. They were convinced I was seeing the card through the prosthetic eye. Typically, I remove this eye every night and periodically give the socket a rest and leave it out for a day or two at a time. If I do not, it becomes very painful. One time I took a trip to our daughter’s home without the prosthetic. One of these same grandsons, who was about twelve at the time, gasped in shock that I had driven all that way without the eye. He then realized I always drive without the eyesight from that eye.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
Well, the eye surgeries, the associated pain, and the removal of the eye has been interesting. While I would not wish it on anyone, I have learned to benefit and use adversary to help myself and others. I used to have multiple medical problems to include diabetes, brain fog, fatty liver, sleep apnea, major depression, neuropathy, and high blood pressure. I lost over 100 lbs and have significantly improved my healthy. I then volunteered in the community for about four years in teaching diabetes prevention. I’ve also facilitated addiction recovery for three and a half years in the community and a year in a prison in a neighboring community. My time in the prison was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I’m still in touch with a few of the men I worked with there.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Honesty is extremely important for me. Lying from politicians or anyone grates on me. When I was young, I lied a lot. There was something very important I told my father and he did not believe me. I had told him the truth. I realized it was mostly my fault because I did not have a reputation of being honest. I have committed myself to honesty from that point forward in my life. I have not been perfect, but I am earnestly/honestly working on it.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I grew up in Clarkston Washington, a small town in Eastern Washington. It was a nice place to grow up. There used to be the 4-10 drive-in, which according to an article they had pasted on the wall, Arnold’s drive-in of Happy Days (old TV show) fame was modeled after. I had a horse and at that time could take her down to the river to swim in ponds, out to fields to run, and even to the Article Circle drive in where I used to love to go through the drive thru on my horse.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
I would spend the day with my family and writing to those I could not spend the time with. I would write to them of things that matter most to me.
Who is your hero and why?
There are many people I look up to and try to emulate. This is a more personal question than I’d like to share at this time.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I understand I have many limitations and understand society runs best when people are free and able to make informed decisions on their own. My spouse and I are foster parents. There have to be limits, expectations, and boundaries, but kids, and people prosper best when they make their own good choices and if not too damaging, when they are also allowed to make their own mistakes.
What are you passionate about these days?
I’m very concerned about societal decay in the United States as well as many parts of the world. It concerns me when politicians and news organizations blatantly lie. In both cases, if they are saying what they believe to be true and have not done their basic homework to know the truth, it is just as egregious.
I am concerned about the war in Ukraine and the smaller wars but also deadly combat in places like Eastern Congo. I’m concerned about slavery across the world. There is more slavery and human trafficking today than at any time in recorded history and so many countries turn a blind eye or even promote it for their own power and control. (If you doubt this, it’s easy to look up.)
What do you do to unwind and relax?
I walk with my dogs, Belle and Beau. Belle is an older white German Shepherd and Beau is a Giant Poodle. We also have a rescue cat, Miss Emmie. I also love to garden and even pull weeds.
How to find time to write as a parent?
Our children were mostly grown when I started writing, so that was not a significant problem. Now, as a foster parent, I’m also retired and have time when they are in school.
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Honest, positive, loving, supportive, responsible.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have spent a career working in developmental disabilities and children’s mental health. I was considered a subject matter expert in the field at one time. However, the more you get to know about a subject, the more you realize you do not know and need to learn. I know a lot more than most about these things, but a lot less than many. I suppose it’s the same with writing.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
I would love to see Morningstar and if there is a series, the entire series being made into a movie.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
There have been many:
The History of the English-Speaking Peoples
Harry Potter (I did this to better relate to and have something to talk with our oldest son about)
History in general to include history from the perspective of various cultures
Developmental Disabilities and especially Autism
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
What inspired you to write this book?
The dream I mentioned plus the many life experiences to include vicarious live experiences of friends, family, and close associates.
What can we expect from you in the future?
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Yes, but I’ll wait for the sequels.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in Morningstar?
Anna is a spoiled but bright Queen Bee (that used to be a characteristic in many schools). She is arrogant and self-absorbed, the journey and people she comes to know, changes her dramatically. The rest of the characters, you’ll need to get to know.
How did you come up with the concept and characters for the book?
Almost all of the characters come from people I have known or composites of people I’ve known through my life. Many of the little side stories are true or basically true and really happened to someone I’ve known, to include my own family members.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
These are also based on family members, people I’ve known, and family members of friends.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I love the story in the book. I love the development of Anna’s character as well as others.
Tell us about your main characters- what makes them tick?
Anna is driven to get out of Logan and use whoever and whatever she needs to, to make it happen.
Amanda is unsure of herself, but patient and wise and like Anna, grows and changes through the story.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
Morningstar has multiple meanings in the book and the complete meaning will not be revealed until the series unfold.
Who designed your book covers?
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I did lengthen some of the chapters in the latest rewrite. I might do that even more.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I learned that I love writing and fell in love with the characters. One of the characters, Bekah generates a lot of ambiguity in readers. One friend who read and loved the book told me that the next in the serries needs to be about anyone but Bekah; however, her difficult story may be the most logical next in the sequels.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Honestly, I don’t know enough about current film stars to respond.
Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Please read and tell your friends about the book. I don’t have the budget to do a lot of promotion but it’s not only a wonderful story, it’s also timely for our culture and times.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
My favorite part is the change and maturing of Anna, the insights into a brother with a disability, and her mysterious love interest.
If you could spend time with a character from your book whom would it be? And what would you do during that day?
I would love to spend time with Uncle Charlie and Anna’s love interest, just conversing.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
They are mostly based off real people or composites of real people.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story, or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
I held the reigns of the story and it develops nicely and weaves through assumptions and clues.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
It is a beautiful story about personal development, assumptions, bigotry, with subtle cultural insights.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Only self-help, educational, and a children’s book which were self-published. These all need professional editing.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
What did you edit out of this book?
There were a few things that would have told too much about future books in the series.
Is there an writer which brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I’m open to anyone who had been successful as a fiction writer. Some of our natural prejudices can be that we cannot learn or gain from someone. There are lessons all around us. Anna learns important things about and from her disabled brother TJ.
Fun Facts/Behind the Scenes/Did You Know?'-type tidbits about the author, the book or the writing process of the book.
Most of the funny stories are true. Most of the historical and anthropological tidbits are also true. I tried to be true to the characters and cultures.
What are your top 10 favorite books/authors?
I have many and cannot name a top 10. While this is not a nerdy book, I am somewhat of a nerd and many of my favorite books, other than those already mentioned and the many classics I’ve read, are technical. I remember reading a large book on behavior and my manager, seeing what I was reading, commented I was the only person in the world she knew who would read it.
What book do you think everyone should read?
Out of Slavery by Booker T Washington
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing all my life. I wrote poetry as a child and young adult. You’ll encounter one of my poems in Morningstar but attributed to Charlie. In my career I both wrote and taught others technical writing. Writing for pure enjoyment has emerged more over the past twelve or fifteen years.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Some of the characters came to me as I wrote. One rather quirky character came to me in the most recent rewrite.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I did a lot of research on ancient religion, history, and anthropology. Before writing the next sequel, I’ll need to do more cultural and anthropological research.
Do you see writing as a career?
I would love it to be.
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I am extremely eclectic. One of the recent series I read was The Gulag Archipelago by Solzhenitsyn, an especially difficult and dark but very important book.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I need to concentrate and by far prefer quiet with intermittent distractions and return to writing.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
Only one at a time.
Pen or type writer or computer?
I started writing Morningstar in a notebook with pen. I finished with a computer and generally write with a computer as it is much easier to edit. When I do technical writing, I typically write it all out then go back and edit, with fiction, I write and edit as I go and then go back over and over again to edit.
Tell us about a favorite character from a book.
Vizzini and Fezzik from The Princess Bride
What made you want to become an author and do you feel it was the right decision?
I am more than an author. This is only one aspect, but an important aspect of who I am.
A day in the life of the author?
My day almost always starts with getting our foster children up and ready for school or their day. I have most recently begun doing Tai Chi in the morning which I am greatly enjoying.
What makes a good story?
A good story is not predictable from the beginning. I hate when I read or watch a movie and after the first few chapters or minutes can predict how it will end. This was one of the geniuses of Shakespeare and so many of the classical writers. I believe that is the case with Morningstar.
What are you currently reading?
We had a bad leak in February and between insurance, getting contractors, and supply chain problems, our home is only slowly getting put back together and it will be at least three more months before it will be. Unfortunately, my favorite reading spot has totes with kitchen supplies and my reading has been limited. I’m looking forward to having it all back in place.
What is your writing process? For instance do you do an outline first? Do you do the chapters first?
When it was technical writing or when I teach technical writing for professionals, I discuss an outline and where you want to go, what you want to accomplish. As I write fiction, I start with the chapters with still an end in mind.
Periodically I have taught a workshop on Writing Contextually Mediated Measurable Behavioral Objectives. Yes, it sounds like it might be boring, but I make it fun, enjoyable, and educational. This workshop can last anywhere from four hours to two days and is about writing only one paragraph… or even one or two sentences.
So, to answer the question, it depends on what I’m writing. When I wrote poetry, I would just sit down and write and rewrite.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I try to be very original and hope people will love it.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Take your time… be patient… rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from other genders?
I have not found it terribly difficult. Because of my life and work I’ve become quite androgenous. I’m careful though and bounce things off others, but not just for gender issues, but culture considerations too.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It completely depends on what I’m writing. The writing and rewriting of Morningstar took about ten years. The sequels would take a few months.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Of course, for both fiction and non-fiction. With non-fiction, it is often not a problem of what I’m going to write but how I’m going to write it.
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