Fair week in Douglas County, Oregon, brings out the people and critters and crafts every August. Today we head into the third of four days, expecting a cooler time than the stifling first two.
Here author friend Dianne Kaye Carter and I take up our post to sell and sign our books at the Author Table in the foyer of the air-conditioned Conference Hall/Community Hall, first building on your left as you come in the main gate. We’ll be there again this afternoon and tomorrow afternoon, Friday and Saturday, August 11 and 12 from 3 to 7 pm. Dianne is presenting her suspense noel, Misled, and I’m presenting my Oregon Trail stories, A Place of Her Own and 2017 Nancy Pearl Book Award Finalist The Shifting Winds.
Our local AAW writers group will be at the Author Table earlier on these days from morning until 3 o’clock.
Oblivious to the history these sleepy pigs snooze on an unusually warm evening for Oregon, dreaming of home or juicy corn or whatever else pigs might dream about.
This fuzzy one glances up from its drink when he sees me with my camera. It gives me that look. “What is that thing in front of your face and why are you staring at me? I don’t know why I must be here. Do you? Can you imagine wearing a suit like mine on a hot August day? Yet I must stay here and be cute and spectacular just so I can maybe win a ribbon. Is that it?”
Of course we know bunnies don’t talk out loud. I remember as a kid when my mother got tired of our noise and we all had to do bunny talk, which meant wiggling our mouths and noses without making a sound. We got very good at it.
This guy is very good at it too.
These are more silky than fluffy. Fingers just want to touch them, but resist.
Whatever farm animals you like, you’ll probably find them, from chickens to horses to cows to sheep and goats and more you may not have imagined.
In addition to the animals entered for prizes in the fair, there are the beautiful crafts.
Of course the fair would not be a fair without the rides. Ah, the rides at day’s end when the lights turn bright against the dark night sky. And so we end a busy day with a walk on the runway and the traditional ferris wheel dominating this world of wonder.
Two more days. If you live anywhere close by, come on down. The forecast calls for much pleasanter weather today and tomorrow with temperatures dropping into the 80s with a mix of sun and clouds, then balmy evenings.
I’m just back from a great Seattle writers conference. This annual conference of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association brings together writers and agents and editors to forward the hopes and dreams of writers throughout the country.
I found my agent Rita Rosenkranz at the PNWA conference in 2012. And here we are at this year’s event at the Friday night Autograph Party where authors sold and signed our books. Rita stood by me during the party, which was great. She’s a wonderful agent–she was there from New York–and I feel very fortunate to have her represent me.
Thanks to author Evelyn Hornbarger of Nebraska for taking the photo.
Please note the little black and gold ribbon on my nametag (see enlarged thumbnail), which reads “Nancy Pearl Book Award FINALIST.” This recognition brought me to the conference, which I hadn’t planned to attend this year. But when PNWA President Pam Binder called to tell me I was a finalist for the award, I decided to take the long drive north so I could traipse around the conference wearing this delightful ribbon.
Both of my books were nicely displayed in a prominent location, with the main focus on the finalist, The Shifting Winds, my historical novel, story of a reluctant young pioneer woman who’s torn between two men, one British, one American, who vie for her as their nations vie for the rich land of Oregon.
Something different at the Autograph Party this year: Instead of sitting behind a table to sell and sign books, we stood and mingled while we were entertained by singer, songwriter, actress (and now author) Donn T. She’s a cool performer.
PNWA has a contest for unpublished work in many categories. I’ve been a finalist in that contest a couple of times and have learned that this looks great on a query and is well respected in the industry even if you don’t win or place.
The Nancy Pearl Book Award is for published books and received the highest recognition at the conference. The 2017 award is for books published in 2016. A winner is selected in each of two categories, with only three finalists in one category this year and four in the other. So I knew I was a winner already, just being a finalist.
I was told several times how much the judges loved my book, The Shifting Winds. While I did not win the award, a highlight of the entire conference for me was when all seven Nancy Pearl award finalists were asked to stand and told what a monumental achievement this was and I looked out at the many faces in the huge room and saw my agent waving at me. Standing a little bit taller, I smiled and waved back.
A moment to remember.
Several finalists joined the celebration at my table. From left to right: Evalina Mason, Nancy Pearl finalist for her book The Seekers; me of course; Janet Oakley, literary contest third place winner in the historical fiction category for Thatch’s War; and Debu Majumdar, Nancy Pearl finalist for Sacred River. Winners all!
Four authors of historical fiction with Pacific Northwest settings got together to offer a panel at the 2017 Historical Novel Society Conference held this year in Portland, Oregon. From left to right: me, Kirby Larson, Libbie Hawker, and Janet Oakley. We called it “Historical Fiction through a Pacific Northwest Lens,” which seemed appropriate since the UK-based Historical Novel Society was coming to Portland. They meet in the UK every other year with North American sites in the opposite years.
The idea for our panel started with Janet Oakley and her writer friend in Washington State Carole Dagg. I had met Janet at a couple of PNWA conferences in Seattle, and she invited me to be part of a panel. The three of us put together a proposal which was accepted. We cheered our good fortune. Then Carole learned she’d be unable to attend so Janet found not one replacement but two. And Kirby Larson and Libbie Hawker joined us Janets.
For our session we had a lively discussion about what led us to write about this region and some of the challenges, like writing realistic history without offending 21st-century readers. We also discussed the pleasures of researching and the thrill of discovering actual documents from the times of our stories, about finding the untold stories, about the people who populated this land before the Europeans, and about other facets of history on America’s far northwestern frontier.
As we said in our proposal, “The region holds a unique position as the continent’s last frontier. When nearly every coastline in the world had been mapped, America’s northwest remained a mystery to explorers, a blank wilderness. That untamed edge resonates in the land’s character.”
Libbie served as moderator, and she kept us on our toes with some unexpected questions among the ones planned. We had a good Q & A afterward with an enthusiastic audience. A fun time.
Thanks to Stephanie West Allen for taking the picture.
This award is offered by PNWA for books published in the last year.
Winners will be announced at the July conference in Seattle. Finalists will enjoy excellent visibility throughout that conference.
I’m thrilled to receive such recognition for my book in this highly contested award.
Oregon’s turbulent past comes alive in the story through the eyes of protagonist Jennie Haviland and two men, one British, one American, who vie for Jennie as their nations vie for the rich disputed land of the Oregon country.
The Eugene Public Library provided a poster for my upcoming book talk and slide show there this Sunday, June 10, at 2 pm as part of their summer reading program.
Looking forward to this event at the beautiful library facility at 100 West 10th Avenue in downtown Eugene, Oregon. For more information you can check out my June 2nd post here.
I’m delighted to be speaking about my books at the Eugene Public Library Saturday, June 10, at 2 pm. For folks in the neighborhood I hope you’ll jot it on your calendar and stop by.
During my talk I’ll present a slide show with photos related to my books, illustrating events and scenes to help bring the stories to life. I’ll delve into some of my personal history that led to publication of my first book, A Place of Her Own, and the door that milestone opened to a second book, The Shifting Winds.
Both are Oregon Trail stories. A Place of Her Own is the true story of my great-great-grandmother Martha who came west over the trail and dared purchase a farm on her own after she lost her husband. Not an easy matter for a woman in those days. I grew up on that farm, the Martha A. Maupin Century Farm, and have now returned, so her story touches me on a deep personal level. The book reads like a novel, with interludes describing my search for her, and I’ll talk a little about that search.
The slide show will include old photos like the one above right of one of Martha’s daughters, who I imagine looks like Martha. And photos like the one at left of my book reading in Missouri when my daughter and granddaughter and I backtracked Martha’s footsteps over the Oregon Trail and received a surprising Missouri welcome at the other end.
Publication of Martha’s story led to The Shifting Winds, which I wrote some years before about the same era, a novel with fictional characters who walk through a lot of true history of those early American settlers in the Oregon country. I’ll discuss how the research for that book helped inform Martha’s story and how research has changed dramatically with the advent of the internet–and how it hasn’t.
Photos related to The Shifting Winds include the one at right taken on the reconstructed site of the British Hudson’s Bay Company Fort Vancouver, where a number of scenes take place. During my reading and signing event at the fort, photographer Robin Loznak looks right down the barrel of an HBC big gun in front of the commander’s house, while I stand by in the white hat listening to our tour guide, Dr. Robert Cromwell, Chief Ranger and Archeologist. Not to worry. The guns were spiked, like the originals.
I’ll do some short readings from both books to provide a bit of flavor.
After my presentation the session will be open to Q & A so people can ask what they really want to know about the stories or about the writing process or whatever else comes to mind. I always love the interaction of Q & A so really look forward to that. Afterward books will be available to sell and sign.
I’m happy to be giving a talk about my books this Wednesday, May 10, at the Cottage Grove Genealogical Society meeting at the Cottage Grove Community Center, which shares the Library building at 700 E. Gibbs Avenue. The program starts at 11:30 a.m. in the Shepherd Room with a salad bar lunch, and is open to the public.
My talk will focus on the search for my great-great-grandmother Martha, the subject of my first book, A Place of Her Own: The Legacy of Oregon Pioneer Martha Poindexter Maupin. The book offers a creative nonfiction account of Martha’s life. Interwoven in this portrayal are four Interludes, which describe my search for her story.
Like many people who begin looking for their ancestors, I knew very little about Martha at the start. As a historical novelist I’m used to the need for research to learn about the settings of my stories, but the research into a real person’s life added another dimension. I want my fictional people to be realistic, but I can create the situations that drive them. With a real person I needed to ferret out the actual events.
I had the advantage of discovering cousins who’d done much of the genealogical work ahead of me, particularly a third cousin on the Maupin side, Linda Maupin Noel. Linda generously copied me on all the information she had gleaned. Then I did some digging on my own.
Along with Martha’s story, I’ll talk a little about my other book, The Shifting Winds, a historical novel set in the same time period, which was written before Martha’s and published after. The research for that one provided a good background for understanding the world in which Martha lived.
Yesterday my photographer son-in-law, Robin Loznak, walked into the wood on the ridge across from my house to take pictures with his big camera and I went along. I came away inspired to write another “Portrait of a Century Farm,” the series of posts I began after my first book came out, A Place of Her Own, the story of my great-great-grandmother Martha, the founder of our family’s Oregon Century Farm. The series combine’s Robin’s exquisite photography with some poetic words from me. My work is prose, not poetry, but scenes sometimes verge on poetic prose. Robin caught me in one shot. I’m in the distance in a lavender coat and white hat. This wood shows up in one of the Interludes in Martha’s story. See more photos of the day.
Into a Magic Wood
A walk in a magic wood
Infuses the senses
With spring’s promise,
Firs and oaks whisper
Above the steady murmur
Of the creek tumbling over rocks
Between precipitous hillsides,
Spilling across a mysterious cavern,
Threads of water veiling the portal,
Down on all fours I climb the slope,
Heeding the carpet of tender green,
Grasping logs and tree trunks,
Fleecy moss caressing fingertips,
A heady bouquet in each breath
Of waxing growth out of waning decay,
Wisps of ambrosia on the tongue.
The destination appears,
Of white trilliums
Massed across the incline,
Each a delicate wonder,
The whole a coalescence
Rain seeps through the canopy,
Drips in melodic rhythms
On leaves, on stones, on water,
Sheens the air,
Turns trails slippery,
And gilds a rare purple trillium
With a clear gloss.
A walk in a magic wood
Infuses the senses
With spring’s promise,
Here’s my newest creative effort, all tidied up for my beta reader Carol Beckley. I’ll print out more for my other readers, Judy Emmett and my daughter Carisa Cegavske.
After completing the rough draft in record time, I stepped away from it for a few days, then read it myself to smooth it out a little and correct the typos. Odd things appear sometimes when my fingers move fast. I always go through it twice at this point–once on the computer, once on paper. I still see a lot on paper that I pass right over onscreen.
It will need many more reads and fine tuning, but getting it ready for readers is another landmark in the process.
As noted in my last post, this is the third in my trilogy centered in ancient Ireland. The working title is Pushing the Tide. This trilogy is an offshoot of my trilogy set in Minoan Crete. Altogether these epic historicals cover a 100-year period from 1470 B.C. to 1370 B.C., following families who face profound challenges affecting their world. The stories are filled with adventure and romance–sailing and swashbuckling, thundering horses, moments of laughter and tears and of intimacy.
Just as I was finishing this one another story in the series began to grow in my mind. So the epic continues.
I just finished the rough draft of a new novel, an epic historical to conclude my trilogy set in ancient Ireland. Spring always puts me in mind of things coming to life, so it seems fitting that this book has come to life for me now as my daffodils bloom.
My friend Tilly Engholm and I visited Ireland a few years ago when I was researching the first in the trilogy. We spent the month of May there, a glorious time. Scenes I came to know then reappear in this new book–and the stones.
The stone circles of the island hold a special place for the clanspeople in my stories, and I needed to visit many circles on our visit. As Tilly and I headed out one day in our rental car, she glanced at me. “We’re going to look at more rocks, aren’t we?”
I laughed. “Yes, we are.”
She took it in good stride, though.
In this book the characters also travel to Iberia, now Portugal, and to Crete and Thera (Santorini), with other stops along the Mediterranean, places of beauty and wonder and peril.
It has been a great ride and I look forward to sharing it with readers.