For the last year, I have been tossing around this idea for a writing project. It includes two of my favorite things: local history and suspense novels. Near the northern edge of the Sheldon National Antelope Refuge (Nevada) is an abandoned homestead called the IXL Ranch. Since visiting it last year, I have been unable to get its haunted remains out of my mind. 

The IXL ranch is off an Oregon highway, about ten miles down a dusty dirt road and just across the border into Nevada. Grey weathered wood rises up into an impossibly blue sky, a moody oasis smack in the middle of the glorious high desert.

Exploring the abandoned locale made my imagination run wild. What if someone came here to run away from her troubles? What if an emotionally fragile woman tried to survive in an environment where only the most hardy creatures (antelope, lizards, sagebrush) exist? And what if fear was her constant companion, and suddenly her fears didn't seem quite so unreasonable? The locale itself, otherworldly and somewhat sinister, will serve as one of the villains in this gothic-inspired novel.

With no great confidence, I am going to attempt a new writing genre: psychological thriller. The working title is "Fear Less." I aim to weave faith into the suspense, but not a romantic K-Love kind of faith. This story will include the kind of gritty faithlessness many of us humans experience- complicated doubts, rage, the sting of betrayal, isolation, mental instability and tragic human failure. I want the main character to wrestle with the message of God's unconditional love, a grace stripped completely bare of any religious trappings. I want her to suspect it, reject it, quarrel with it, and need it.

I'm not completely sure I'm up to the task, but I figure there's no harm in trying. My 2019 motto is: Taking Risks. Like the wind, you can never tell exactly where God's spirit is blowing... and no matter the outcome, the journey is guaranteed to be fruitful.

Local readers: can you help me with the research phase? I would love to know more about IXL ranch history. I have exhausted online resources and managed to gather enough for a general framework. But I'd love more... do any of you have local contacts or information (even just folklore) you'd like to share? 

I also plan to weave in a plot line that includes the Warner County Correctional Facility. I have a ton of questions for anyone willing to share their knowledge.  

Comment below if I can contact you and ask you about the IXL or the prison.

Thank you!





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