Sunday, November 21, 2010

Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun

Stacie Monroe, freelance journalist
My contemporary romantic suspense novel, Caught by a Clown, scheduled for release in January, opens at a nudist resort outside Phoenix, Arizona. I recently had another opportunity to travel there, to the city not the fictitious resort. I’m too introverted to bare all in front of others. However, the area’s popularity for nudists and naturalists suggests I might be missing out on a unique experience; one that Caught by a Clown’s female protagonist, Stacie Monroe, opted to customize to her comfort level by wearing a champagne lace demi bra and panties during her brief visit.
Valley of the Sun
In any case, October is a beautiful time of the year to visit Phoenix. Summer’s intense sun has mellowed; snowbirds haven’t migrated in yet; and one can enjoy all the Valley of the Sun has to offer in the Sonoran Desert’s northeastern expanse.                                  
During the 1300 and 1400’s, the Hohokam peoples created about 135 miles of irrigation canals. Their knowledge of the land and its promise proved valuable in some of those same canal paths being used for the current Arizona Canal, Central Arizona Project Canal (which diverts water from the Colorado River, hence my interest), and Hayden-Rhodes Aqueduct water projects.
Phoenix was founded in the 1850s by Jack Swilling, a Civil War veteran, who, like the Hohokam, saw potential in the Salt River Valley at the foot of the White Tank Mountains. He, too, had a series of canals built. The broader availability of water encouraged development of a small community called Pumpkinville. Named for the bumper crops grown alongside the man-made water sources, it lay about four miles east and several name changes from the eventual home 150 years later to 1.6 million people gathered within 475 square miles. Amazing!

David Graham

With that many people, and water at a premium, natural landscaping is popular. Who can blame the residents? The stark, fragile beauty of the Sonoran Desert is breath catching. If you don't believe me, go to the Desert Botanical Gardens and walk through some of its 145 acres. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes. I also prefer long pants. Caught by a Clown’s male protagonist, David Graham, observed at one point after arriving at the nudist resort that sharp edges and needle points dug into him at every turn. Everything around him, including Stacie, seemed to camouflage some form of torture. What else did the undercover agent expect?

Maybe the pampering of a spa? Phoenix boasts about three dozen world class spas. I'm not a fan, but many indulge! And, if you like southwest food, take your pick of famous restaurants. I could eat my weight in quacamole. Try it topped with sun dried cranberries--yummy! 
I hope this post tempts you to read my romantic suspense, Caught by a Clown, when The Wild Rose Press releases it in January, and that you’ll seize an opportunity or create one to visit Phoenix. It’s one of my favorite places under wide open western skies.

BTW, Thanksgiving will be here soon. I hope you and your family enjoy a wonderful day. 



  1. Sandra--what a unique setting for your upcoming book!

    Hubby and I went to the U of A--we loved Tucson. Our first jobs out of college were in Phoenix. We were sad to leave when hubby got a transfer but one day we hope to return to the desert--I've yet to see a sunset that beats out those in Arizona.

  2. Thank you, Marin.Caught by a Clown moves on from the natural, desert setting to Dallas, Florida, and then New Jersey. Can you tell I love to travel?

    I hope you make it back to Tucson. It's so much fun to see how places change.

  3. SANDRA--I never knew much of the information about Phoenix and the surrounding area. You've chosen something quite different for your setting, that's for sure. People I know who live --or have lived--in Phoenix rave about it, so I guess I must admit there is a big attraction.
    The story about the Hohokum (sp?) and the irrigating canals is interesting--and that they provided a stimulus for more irrigation canals.
    Congratulation on Caught by a Clown--and I like the photos used for your characters. Very good post, I enjoyed very much. Celia

  4. Hi,
    Good luck with your book. If you ever use a nudist resort as a setting again, feel free contacting me. My wife and I own The Terra Cotta Inn nudist resort in sunny Palm Springs, CA.

    FYI, nudists or first timers would never wear their underwear at a nudist resort. If someone weas shy they would wear a beach wrap, pareo, or sarong. Underwear is way too exhibitionist compared to nudity.

    The national nudist organization is I am on their PR committee and we talk a lot with people in the TV and movie field about having realistic scenes about nudist resorts. I would be happy to talk with you. You can call me at 800-786-6938.

    I know you are nervous about visiting a resort, but they are so relaxing and so much fun. If you are a happy, smiley person, you will love it.

    Again good luck with your book.

    Tom Mulhall

  5. Celia,I'm so glad you enjoyed the touch of Phoenix history I learned. There's more intrigue in the city's past, but that's for another post.

    Thank you for your kind comments and interest. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  6. Tom, I'm so glad to meet you. Congratulations to you and your wife; it sounds like y'all have a fabulous place to enjoy! I really appreciate your offer to be a reliable research source on the nudist lifestyle. Although that setting isn't included in any of the next three books I've written, one never knows what might come up in editorial revisions. LOL

    Thank you very much for your well wishes and interest. May you and yours enjoy a happy holiday season.

  7. Sandy, great post. I hadn't known about the Hohokam (sp.) irrigation canals. Very interesting. I am eager for CAUGHT BY A CLOWN to be released! Have a great Thanksgiving and Happy Birthday!

  8. The book sounds great, Sandy. I know you're excited about its release.
    Bobbye aka Daryn

  9. Thank you Carolyn. I'd forgotten about my birthday. So much going on while we're visiting and I'm learning how to use my new smartphone. I guess it was fortunate my old phone died an early death.

  10. You're right, Bobbye, I'm anxious for the release of Caught by a Clown. The holidays will help the time go fast--we have so much to be thankful for!


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