I haven’t been on a vacation since my first mystery novel (A VALLEY TO DIE FOR) was published in 2002.

Until that year, husband John and I went on yearly vacations in August.  The gift/decorating/antique shop where I worked closed for three weeks in August to have cleaning and painting done, and so I could take a vacation.  Since it was August and we were camping–sleeping in the back of our van–we went north for comfort.  We love the ocean, so most frequently headed for a northern coast in the United States or Canada, though we saw quite a bit of the Great Lakes and central Canada as well.  I have wonderful memories of all those vacations.

However, by the time my second novel, MUSIC TO DIE FOR (Ozark Folk Center State Park), had appeared, vacations turned into book research/and/or book promotion trips.  In some ways, these were mini-vacations as well.  Conferences and conventions?  We have seen Austin, TX at a Bouchercon Writers’ Conference, and El Paso at Left Coast Crime.  We fell in love with Omaha over and over during repeated visits to Mayhem in the Midlands, and enjoyed visiting the Washington DC area after a long trip by car to attend Malice Domestic.  We have seen some of  Indiana and Tennessee, several additional locations in Texas, plus Missouri and Kansas and, of course, Little Rock and Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Which brings me to another type of “vacation.”  Book research trips.  Since I site my novels at tourist destinations in the Arkansas Ozarks, most of my research is done on day trips.  One of the more distant exceptions is A TREASURE TO DIE FOR,  set in Hot Springs National Park. That required one two-week vacation stay, and two additional overnight trips. This was all the fault of my major characters, Carrie McCrite and Henry King.  Carrie wanted to attend what was then called an Elderhostel, sited in Hot Springs. (As did her creator, Radine. What a happy coincidence.)

John and I enrolled in the chosen Elderhostel.  Carrie, wanting to lure Henry into attending with her, followed friend Elinor Stack’s advice, and made a meatloaf, since (Elinor assured her) feeding a man meatloaf and oven potatoes was guaranteed to make him say yes to most anything. However, Carrie is no cook, and her road to meatloaf is covered, I hope humorously, in that novel.  The eventual result did the trick, and Henry agreed to go along. ( He may have had regrets later because he ended up in more pain and more danger than even Carrie, though she had trouble enough on her own.)  At the end of the novel, moved by many exterior and interior hazards lived through, he finally asks Carrie to marry him.

Which takes us to A WEDDING TO DIE FOR (The 1886 Crescent Hotel and Eureka Springs, AR), A RIVER TO DIE FOR (Buffalo National River), JOURNEY TO DIE FOR (A&M RR Passenger Excursion Train ride to historic Van Buren, AR), and A FAIR TO DIE FOR (War Eagle Craft fairs and Hobbs State Park).

Coming next year, A GARDEN TO DIE FOR.  Now that doesn’t require a long trip at all.

Radine, at



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  1. Patricia Gligor Says:

    Your post brings up an interesting question. If a “vacation” is primarily for book research, is it tax deductible? 🙂
    Last year, the first two novels in my Malone mystery series were published, one in April and one in November. With all that entails, I didn’t get to take my always anticipated annual vacation to the ocean but, this summer, I’m going. I need some R&R!

  2. radine Says:

    Research trips, at least in part, are tax-deductible. Obviously if you “side trip” that part won’t be. Car mileage to a book research location is deductible, and, if an overnight stay in a motel is required, then you can deduct meals related to that.

  3. bill morris Says:

    Radine, your going on an elderhostel really piqued my interest. Marietta and I loved the ones we took but haven’t gone in several years. When we get our health back in shape, we plan on another trip but maybe not an elderhostel but some time in Branson, Mo. If we see you while we are there, that would be a blessing. Many thanks for your bhlo0g. bill morris

  4. radine Says:

    Hi Bill, We loved the Elderhostel though that’s the only one we have ever attended. I have spoken and sold books at a couple of others in the Ozarks area, however. Elderhostel has been re-named–wish I could remember what they’re called now. I will be in Branson at an Authors’ Fair on June 21, 4-6:00 in what they call the Branson Community Center which is (I am told) “just up from the hospital.” I may also be there at T. Charleston in Grand Village Shops on May 17. Don’t know if either of those might mesh with your plans. HOWEVER, since signing at T. Charleston is always good for my sales I might consider a trip up there (about two hours from here) at a time when you’re there. Summer and Fall are the best times for book sales since there are lots of tourists.

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