With the holidays behind us, a new year of book events begins. First stop in 2017 takes me to the public library at my previous hometown, Cottage Grove, Oregon, a small historic town about twenty miles south of Eugene. I’ll be giving a presentation about my books The Shifting Winds and A Place of Her Own in the library’s Shepherd Room on Monday evening, January 23, from 6 to 7:30.
The above photo shows the entrance into Cottage Grove’s historic Main Street, where the community has three bookstores–The Bookmine, Kalapuya Books, and Books on Main–impressive for a town of about 9,800 people. Just two blocks away at 700 E. Gibbs Avenue, on the corner of Gibbs and N. 8th Street, you’ll find the thriving Cottage Grove Public Library, shown below. A very literary community.
For my presentation I will talk about both of my published books set in the days of Oregon’s early pioneers, while showing a collection of slides related to the stories. I’ll give some background on the history behind the stories, how those books came to be, and about other projects in the works. After a short reading from the latest, Shifting Winds, I’ll open up to Q&A, then sell and sign copies of both books.
This event brings me to a familiar setting. I lived about a block up from the library, on 8th, so it became an easy place to visit and a particularly vital destination during the year my daughter and granddaughter lived with me in Cottage Grove. The librarians all knew my granddaughter Calliope, an active preschooler and lover of books.
So it’s a pleasure to be offering a presentation there. I look forward to it. Thanks to Pete Barrell, City of Cottage Grove Community Services Director, for arranging the event.
Oregon authors filled the halls of the Oregon Historical Society’s Portland center last weekend, more than 85 of us, and I was thrilled to be there with my new book The Shifting Winds, along with A Place of Her Own. All day at this lovely event I focused on the delight of the moment, not letting a niggling uncertainty mar the holiday cheer.
Here I discuss my books with a prospective buyer. In 2014 when I took part in the event with the then new Place of Her Own I was seated downstairs with nonfiction authors. This year, since my new featured book is fiction, I had a place at one of the long tables in the great room looking out at the wintry scene along SW Park Avenue. I think the photo below was taken just as I stepped away from my post so you won’t find me, but the shot offers some perspective on the setup. I sat at the table by the window.
Given the distance from home and the midday start time, I had arranged to drive up on Saturday and stay a couple of nights. The plan made sense when I scheduled my trip to Kansas City for an extended Thanksgiving visit with my daughter and granddaughter. But plans don’t always meet expectations.
A Friday return flight from Kansas City offered the cheapest rate, and I found an itinerary that got me into Eugene, Oregon, by 9:30 in the evening. Not so bad. My other daughter and her husband came to pick me up. However, I wasn’t thinking of the long ride home that took until 11:00 and the bit of laundry between trips that kept me awake until midnight–which was 2:00 in the morning in Kansas City, with my internal clock still telling me I was on Kansas City time.
No worries. I had all morning to sleep in and get repacked. I did want to arrive in Portland before dark. My hotel was familiar to me, but I also recalled it could be a little tricky to find. I woke bright and early Kansas City time. But with one thing and another I did not get away soon enough to arrive in Portland in daylight. I told myself the city would be well lit. And the weather looked agreeable–until I reached the Portland outskirts.
As darkness fell, so did a whiff of rain. The windshield wiper that had been giving me some trouble sounded a little sketchy. I didn’t see the off ramp Google maps recommended, and I didn’t want to end up at the zoo. I’ve done that before. Ready for a good rest, I needed off the freeway. When I saw a sign for 6th Avenue, I went for it. I used to live in Portland. I knew I could find my way from 6th.
Up in the Nob Hill area, though, I had trouble seeing signs in the dark. What if I got completely lost up here? About the time that thought crossed my mind, I saw it. My hotel. I checked in and parked, but as I was about to turn off the engine, the left-hand windshield wiper slipped off the windshield with a loud whack, wrapped around, and glommed onto the driver-side door window like the groping arm of tentacled alien. I opened the window and grabbed the thing, which resisted mightily. But by turning the wipers on and off just so, I managed to situate the errant wiper arm back onto the windshield. No time to deal with the issue now.
I had planned a leisurely drive home on Monday. Ah yes! The plan! It’s a three-hour drive. I had plenty of time to deal with the wiper on Monday morning. I proceeded to find a restaurant and had a restorative dinner of Irish lamb stew.
The next day, with all thoughts of windshield wipers neatly tucked into the back of my mind, I walked down the hill to the Holiday Cheer party. A brisk walk. As usual the Oregon Historical Society put on a wonderful event. They start by feeding the authors lunch and giving us time to chat with each other. Throughout the day they offer treats and Christmas carols in the festively decorated building.
At the appointed hour shoppers swept in ready to buy, the kind of buyers who appreciate what great gifts books make. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with the customers and with the other authors. My publisher friend Laura Stanfill came. We shared a hug and she bought Place of Her Own for her mother.
I sat by mystery author of Jump the Gun and No Gun Intended, Zoe Burke, also a friend of Laura’s. And on the other side Brooke Barker and Boaz Frankel of Sad Animal Facts and It’s Different Every Day calendar fame, a highly successful author-artist couple who wanted to know more about hazelnut growing on my farm.
My friend Billy Cook was there with her new book about a famous author-artist couple of the early 20th century, Drawn Together. Great to see her. That’s Billy in the middle, at right.
The day turned more chilly, but no rain. Maybe the weather would hold.
Then came Monday. A steady drizzle dampened my optimism. How would I find a place to fix my windshield wiper if I couldn’t see out? When I described my problem to the man at the hotel he nodded and said he did understand windshield problems. He carefully marked my map to show me the way. “You can drive there without a windshield wiper,” he said. “You may think you can’t, but I came to work this morning without wipers. You can do it.”
“Be careful,” the woman at the desk said. “It’s going to start snowing at 11:00.”
“Snow?” It was a bit after 10. A shiver tickled my spine.
If the man hadn’t told me I could manage without windshield wipers, I don’t think I’d have believed it possible. A steady stream of rain poured down the glass. Occasionally I opened my door window and peered out to check street signs. I found the shop, where a mechanic pressed the wiper arm into place with brute force. “Try it now.”
The wipers moved in perfect synchronicity. How easy was that? As he gave me directions to the freeway, the alien arm slipped the traces again and attacked my door window.
Um. Not so easy. He brought out the tools and tightened a bolt on the wiper. That seemed to work. The wiper stayed on track. I could see. I clenched the steering wheel and drove away.
By the time I reached the freeway, icy rain had turned to snow. Everything in me said, “Go south! Go south!” I needed to get ahead of the storm before snow had a chance to stick. My windshield fogged up as I barreled down the busy highway. I wondered if the wiper would keep going. Maybe I could see through rain. Not snow. So much for my leisurely drive home.
Halfway to Salem the snow turned back to icy rain, and by Albany the rain stopped. The wiper held.
That night, safe in my warm house, I read that a polar bear cub at the Portland zoo had a delightful time playing in the snow. Glad he did. I didn’t enjoy it quite so much. I did get home at a reasonable time–just as planned.
Photos compliments of OHS.
The Oregon Historical Society has put out a flyer for their upcoming Holiday Cheer Party in Portland, and I’m excited to be one of the Oregon authors invited to join them with my historical novel The Shifting Winds.
It’s a gala for Oregon authors who’ve had a book published in the current year. Besides all these wonderful potential Christmas gifts, the OHS will have holiday refreshments, Christmas carols, and plenty of book talk and other conversation.
I had the good fortune of being invited to this event in 2014, the year A Place of Her Own came out, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. A wonderful venue, great atmosphere. Carolers, at left, roamed the many rooms of author tables to put us in the Christmas spirit.
In addition to The Shifting Winds I’ll also have copies of A Place of Her Own for sale.
So if you’re in the Portland area the first Sunday in December, come on over to the lovely Oregon Historical Society building, downtown at 1200 SW Park Avenue. It’s a great shopping place for the booklovers on your Christmas list. I’d be delighted to see you and welcome you to this unique holiday party.
When 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.
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.
Back 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.
The 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.
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.
I 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.
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.
Photo 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:
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.
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.