janet fisher~writer

Following strong women through history

Authors Set Aside Serious

1226-authors-at-lunchWhen three authors get together to present their books at the Book Nest Venue in the Indulge! Antiques shop, it’s triple the activity of the former one-author format. And we just had to ham it up a little for the camera.

That’s me on the left of course, then Valerie Ihsan in the middle and Lynn Ash on the right.

We enjoyed the new digs at the Springfield Gateway Mall where Indulge recently moved. Amanda Bird, proprietor of the Book Nest bookstore, keeps a presence there, though not the separate niche she had in the previous location.

Imagine a long narrow table set with candles and knickknacks and books down the center on a bright autumn-orange runner. Sorry, I get distracted easily and forget to take more pictures. Around this attractive table the three of us shared brief descriptions of our books with the guests who joined us. And over a delightful lunch we all took questions and had wonderful conversation.

Valerie talked about her new novel The Scent of Apple Tea, Lynn presented her travel memoirs The Route from Cultus Lake and Vagabonda, and I discussed my Oregon Trail stories, The Shifting Winds and A Place of Her Own, as well as upcoming work.

The food was delicious, and Indulge is filled with tempting antiques in charming displays. Thanks to Amanda for the invite to a lovely event.


Back to the Book Nest

I’m packing up books again to head back to the Book Nest in Springfield, Oregon, where proprietor Amanda Bird puts together lovely luncheons for authors and guests. We’ll meet this Thursday, October 20, at 12 noon at the new location in the Gateway Mall (see below). This time I’ll be joined by my author friends Lynn Ash and Valerie Ihsan in a new multi-author format.

910-newbooks-crop-2Lynn will bring copies of her travel memoirs, The Route from Cultus Lake and Vagabonda. Valerie will bring her Scent of Apple Tea and Smell the Blue Sky. In addition to my new Shifting Winds I’ll have copies of A Place of Her Own.

I had the pleasure of being invited to share A Place of Her Own at a Book Nest Author Lunch a couple of years ago shortly after that book came out and am delighted to be invited again.

The Book Nest, housed in the Indulge! Antiques collection of shops, has recently moved into new quarters in the Springfield Gateway Mall at 3000 Gateway Street, Suite 406. That will be new to me also. But I’m sure the lunches will be as exquisite as ever, coming from the Blue Pig Cafe in the same complex.

Each of the authors will a give a short introduction of themselves and their work, five minutes or so. Then we’ll go to questions and conversation. The event is open to the public with a no-host luncheon. You can find the lunch menu and pricing here. More on Indulge! here.

To find the place just go into the mall through Sears. From Sears it’s on your right. If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by. It’s a great venue.


Oh, Ashland!

A soft October sun brightened the colors as I rolled into Ashland yesterday afternoon for my reading and signing at Bloomsbury Books. After dropping some books off at the store I had time to take a walk and let the festive Ashland charm wrap around me. I strolled down Main Street and over to Lithia Park, stopping by a pond to breathe in the calming beauty.

ashland-parkBack up Main Street I began to read menus at the many restaurants along the way, confident that any one of them would offer exquisite fare. Even a quick, light dinner had a gourmet touch. Along the street the flags never let you forget the town’s Shakespearean reputation, and music from stringed instruments drifted on the air. It’s no wonder the place drew me a couple of decades ago to live there for a while. So I returned with some sense of a homecoming for this second book signing at Bloomsbury’s. I went there a couple of years ago to present my pioneer ancestor’s story A Place of Her Own.

ashland-book-displayThe staff at Bloomsbury set up a nice display with both books this time. They hold readings upstairs in the store loft, a pleasant spot–the author’s garret, I guess. A good group came up. I read from the opening pages of historical novel The Shifting Winds, my featured book at this event, and the audience clearly appreciated the reading. We had an excellent discussion. So rewarding to find such enthusiasm. And several bought both books.

Afterward I had a long drive home in the dark, but a feeling of satisfaction went with me.


On to Ashland

Next stop on my journey to present my book The Shifting Winds is the lovely Bloomsbury Books in the southwestern Oregon town of Ashland, known for its elegant Shakespearean theater productions and other theatrical offerings. I’ll be there tomorrow evening, Monday, October 10, at 7 pm. That’s Bloomsbury’s in the photo below.

627-ashland-outside-bloomsbury-2I thoroughly enjoyed last week’s visit to Coos Bay at the Coos Bay Public Library for a book presentation and signing. My thanks to Ellen Thompson, Assistant Library Director, for inviting me and making all the arrangements. A very literary audience offered such a gratifying response. Many had already read my first book, A Place of Her Own, and expressed how much they enjoyed it. After my talk and reading with a slide show, we had a lively Q&A session. Many attendees had kinds words for me, but one heartfelt comment brought tears to my eyes when a woman thanked me for bringing history to life. It’s what I try so hard to do, and her affirmation touched me.

Tomorrow night will be a more traditional reading and signing. I’ll say a just few words and give a reading, then take questions before signing books.

I lived in Ashland about twenty years ago and had a wonderful gig there doing play reviews for the Sneak Preview, an Ashland monthly newspaper. What fun! My job meant attending all sorts of plays, including one fantastic dinner theater production, and of course writing reviews.

Bloomsbury Books was my go-to bookstore when I lived there. One thing about living in a lot of places, as I have, I’m a local author in many locales.

If you’re in the neighborhood, please stop by. As I recall, my last event at Bloomsbury’s had a lively Q&A too.


Coos Bay Library Presentation

I head back to the beautiful Oregon coast tomorrow, October 6, this time south to Coos Bay for an appearance at the Coos Bay Public Library. The event, open to the public, starts at 7 pm.

coos-bay-boardwalkPhoto Courtesy of the City of Coos Bay

The above photo captures the reflected beauty of a sunrise over Coos Bay’s boardwalk. I hope to explore a little while I’m there.

My presentation will include a short talk, a reading, some Q&A, and book signing, along with a slide show of photos related to my two books, The Shifting Winds and A Place of Her Own. Both are stories delving into Oregon’s pioneer history with a focus on strong women who made the formidable trek over the Oregon Trail to a wilderness across the continent.

If you’re in the Coos Bay vicinity, please join us. The library is located at 525 Anderson Avenue. Here are a few highlights from the slide show:





Shifting Winds Recommended

I’m excited to announce that my new book, The Shifting Winds, has been recommended by the Oregon Quarterly, the University of Oregon alumni magazine. I just opened my Autumn 2016 edition and here it is in their “Bookmarks” section of new books by U of O alumni authors.

oregon-quarterly-bookmarksoregon-quarterly-autumn-2016What a delightful surprise! Here’s the magazine cover, at right.

My first book, A Place of Her Own, received the same recognition after its publication in 2014. I told about that in a post back then.

But you never know.

The Oregon Stater alum magazine recognized A Place of Her Own too, shown in another post. I got a master’s degree in journalism from the U of O and a bachelor’s from Oregon State, making me a platypus, I guess, a cross between a duck and a beaver.

I need to keep an eye on these magazines. I’m so glad they appreciate the work.


Foray Into Florence

So I got on my dusty steed yesterday morning and made for Florence on the Oregon coast for the Florence Festival of Books.

I won’t talk about the accumulation of events that got in the way of an early start, or describe my grumbling over that slow car on the winding coast highway that loomed as the last impediment to my much-desired progress. Could I make it in time to set up before the 10 o’clock opening?

Happily I made it with minutes to spare, although a determined attendee bought both my books before I had entirely arranged my display. She didn’t quibble. Nor did I.

florence-festival-janet-edit-2florence-fest-lynn-3Here we are, my friend Lynn Ash and I, showing our books. We shared a table.

She presented her two memoirs describing her experiences as a solo camper, The Route from Cultus Lake and Vagabonda. I presented my two Oregon Trail stories, A Place of Her Own and The Shifting Winds.

The organizers do a nice job with this event. About 50 individual authors participated, as well as several writers groups and publishers. From 10 o’clock in the morning until 4 in the afternoon we pitched our stories and heard many intriguing tales from people who came by our table, and we signed books for our buyers.

After it was all done, our table cleared, and things packed up, we were ready to kick back.

And I got my clam chowder while watching seals and waterbirds play in the bright-blue Siuslaw estuary as the sun lowered and gilded the Florence bridge. A calming moment before I took my dusty steed on the long, beautiful drive home.


To the Coast and Beyond

I’m heading for the coast tomorrow, September 24, as a participant in the popular Florence Festival of Books to sell and sign my books, The Shifting Winds and A Place of Her Own. This annual book fair is held at the Florence Event Center in Florence, Oregon, just minutes down Highway 101 from scenes like this, which I visited with my family last month before my grandson Alex went back to college.

web-thors-well-touristsPhoto by Robin Loznak

That’s Thor’s Well at Cape Perpetua, where the big waves slip through holes in the nubbly lava rock and explode with a huge whump at the well’s opening, occasionally giving a quick shower.

So the book festival offers a great opportunity for folks to spend some time exploring the work of local authors, then taking in some of the magnificent sights along Oregon’s famed coast.

And Beyond

The “beyond” in the title of this blog post relates more to time than space. To be clear, I have no immediate plans to go out to sea beyond the rugged shore. But I am developing plans for book events a ways out in the future. I just got word today that I’ll be a presenter next June at the Historical Novel Society 2017 Conference, which will be held in nearby Portland, Oregon. I’ll be co-presenting with authors Janet Oakley and Carole Estby Dagg, in a panel entitled “Historical Fiction Through a Pacific Northwest Lens.” We’re very excited about that.

More to come, though, much sooner, when I’ll return to the coast with a presentation at the Coos Bay Public Library October 6, then down to Bloomsbury Books in Ashland October 10. I’ll be posting additional events to my sidebar and Events page as schedules firm up.

So with that news, I’ll share one more look at the coast near Florence from a family trip last winter while Alex was home. Robin caught this scene on the beach below the Heceta Head Lighthouse. As the sun sets and light fades, it must be time for a steaming bowl of clam chowder.

sunset-at-heceta-headPhoto by Robin Loznak


History Lived in Old Oakland

Oakland’s first Living History Day echoed with laughter and story as folks stepped back more than a century for a little taste of the good old days. That’s the historic town of Oakland, Oregon, where the echoes never quite stop. Today as we vendors and exhibitors set up our booths the stage rolled in.

oak-15Oh-oh! Shotgun just had to check his cell phone.

oak-8He did what?

He’s checking his cell. Doesn’t he know? We’re in the 19th century now.

Snort. He’s not quite in uniform yet. Like us.










Ah! And like Mr. Tim Mitchell who showed up in an authentic frock coat with genuine beaver hat. Quite dapper.

But wait! Something’s going on down at the Hokey Pokey Jail. There’s a distinguished-looking couple. Why, it’s Mr. and Mrs. Forbes, Lynn and Gordon.

But the sheriff looks downright nervous. Watch out, Deputy. Something might be amiss.

oak-9No. Don’t worry. Everything will be all right. The President and First Lady are here. I did promise, didn’t I? Abe and Mary. Welcome, Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln. What a handsome pair.

oak-12Don’t look now, but the can-can ladies have just sashayed over to the Hokey Pokey Jail and they might have to dance the hokey pokey and turn themselves in–around, that is.

oak-13My daughter Carisa Cegavske snapped this photo of me when she stopped by my booth while covering this rollicking event for The News-Review. I’m happily displaying my books The Shifting Winds and A Place of Her Own.

oak-11oak-18Next to me, in the Pavilion, spinners spun. That’s Chris Gorecki at left and Jana Cunningham below.

Note the old treadle sewing machine behind Jana.

My booth was in the Oakland City Park, so that narrowed my view to only those activities in the park.

Beyond the park, booths lined the streets around town with fur bedecked teepees and a feed grinder at work, a blacksmith, and much much more. The DAR rang their bells and mountain men made loud noises with their muzzleloaders, although given the fire danger they weren’t allowed to create the necessary spark to oak-19fire the rifles.

After hours of clip-clopping around the streets of Oakland, the black-and-white team grew weary. The hostlers made a quick change of horses and the new team brought the stagecoach back around for more riders to take a spin.

Shotgun has long since donned his uniform and not a cell phone in sight.

oak-14All in all, a fun day, and I sold quite a few books. Other vendors had a good day too. I think the Oaklanders may be onto something here.


Living in the Past

Oakland, Oregon, will take a bow to its vibrant past tomorrow, Saturday, September 17, from 9 am to 5 pm when the historic town celebrates Living History Day with a focus on the 19th century.

I’ll be there with a table selling my books The Shifting Winds and A Place of Her Own, both set in the 19th-century West. People will get into the spirit of things by donning the typical garb of the day, as shown in these pictures I use to illustrate my characters from Shifting Winds.

25-jennie-brushed-2-titleThat’s m15-ft-vanc-alan-titley protagonist Jennie at right, whose face you can imagine yourself. The young woman’s father brought the family west over the Oregon Trail in 1842, much against her wishes.

The dapper fellow in frock coat and top hat represents the British Hudson’s Bay Company clerk who asks to court her despite rumors of war between their countries.

RawScan.tif, Mon Aug 24, 2015, 9:41:36 AM, 8C, 9000x12000, (0+0), 150%, Repro 2.2 v2, 1/20 s, R60.8, G31.1, B45.6The mountain man, a painting used by permission from artist Andy Thomas, represents the American who aims to shatter Alan’s plans for Jennie and British plans for Oregon.

Their clothing would be typical for the period Oakland plans to celebrate tomorrow.

Oakland history as a town goes back to 1846 when Rev. J. A. Cornwall came west and with another family took refuge from a fierce storm. They built a cabin on Cabin Creek near where Oakland grew up, then left in the spring to continue to their destination in the Willamette Valley.

The town of Oakland was laid out in 1849, first surveyed town in the Umpqua. When the railroad bypassed the old town in 1872, Oakland moved closer to the rail line and the new town became a commercial center.

When my great-great-grandparents, Garrett and Martha Maupin, moved to Douglas County he became a hauler, carrying goods by wagon from Oakland to Scottsburg, where things could be shipped out by boat. Garrett had just left Oakland on one of these treks when a load of wool turned over on him and smothered him. The details of that fateful day are told in my book, A Place of Her Own.

Morning Dresses Sept. 1803Somehow the small town of Oakland always kept one foot in the historic past, even before the reviving of historic structures across the country became popular. So it seems fitting for Oakland to celebrate its colorful past with a Living History Day. Oakland has been living its history for as long as I can remember. I have an Oakland address, although I confess I don’t often visit the town. It’s a little out of the way to get there.

Bypassed yet again, the second time by the Interstate Freeway, Oakland was left to dream of bygone days. The old buildings were maintained, perhaps for lack of need to create bigger and plainer and infinitely uglier new ones. You can walk down the street and feel the past all around you as the charming structures of an earlier time smile back at you.

So pull out the best representation in your closet of something folks might have worn in the 19th century. Ladies might choose something from the slimmer skirts of the early years to the simple calicos of pioneer times to the wide hoops of Civil War and later days.

1800s-wide-skirtsGentlemen, you could choose anything from frock coat and tall hat to buckskins, to jeans and shirts–and yes, they did wear jeans, sometimes called “janes,” even before Mr. Levi came on stage.

Come live in the past with us. I do that often when I walk into my stories. Such an intriguing place to explore, the past. Oakland will have spinning and weaving, blacksmiths, a trapper encampment, Fort Umpqua muzzle loaders, butter making, chuckwagon cooking, children’s activities, and more.

Abe Lincoln will be there. Who’d have guessed? And what’s that? Can-can dancing? Oh my.

Minter, Harold A. Umpqua Valley Oregon and Its Pioneers. Portland, OR: Binfords & Mort, 1967.
Except for Andy Thomas’s painting of the mountain man, all photos on this post are from antique fashion plates.