Hello, and welcome to my new blog. I write books, using the ancient art of storytelling to offer a glimpse into other lives, both real and imagined, following strong women through history to inspire today’s women to be all that we are.
In this blog I’ll talk about writing, about history and the women who live it, and about the people and places they love. Or whatever else strikes my fancy.
My focus now is my newest book, Two Women Across Time: A Pioneer’s Dream to Keep. Four years ago when I took over the farm that’s been in my family since my great-great grandmother bought it in 1868, I knew I wanted to write our unique story. A woman bought this farm for the family. Now another woman in the family owns and operates the place. It’s one of the few Century Farms in Oregon named for a woman. Having another woman owner, bracketing the generations, makes our story even more unusual.
I grew up on this farm, hearing about my pioneer ancestors who crossed the plains to Oregon in the days of the great westward migration in this country. My sister and I would act out pioneer stories in play, but I usually assumed the role of a man—or his horse. These lives seemed much more vital somehow than those of the women. I didn’t realize we had a role model for women in our own pioneer family.
I don’t remember when I learned that Martha had bought this family farm on the Oregon frontier after her husband was killed. Sometime in the late 1960s or early 1970s my parents set a plaque on their dining room buffet declaring the “Martha A. Maupin Farm” a Century Farm. I took a certain pride in knowing it was named for a woman, but I still didn’t know her story. I knew her husband Garrett was killed while hauling freight when a wagon full of wool overturned and smothered him, and I knew their oldest son Cap, only eleven years old at the time, was driving the wagon. That’s about it.
Meanwhile, others in the family were searching, digging through courthouses and gleaning information from old-timers. Another thing was happening in the country. The women’s movement prompted others to seek out stories of women. The West’s great story of the bold pioneer crossing a continent had already been told and told. How brave the men, how great their challenges. Now researchers and writers were turning their focus to the women who followed those men into this glorious wilderness. Women faced their own challenges and showed great bravery themselves.
Thanks to the work of cousins and strangers, the framework for Martha’s story was emerging before I began my own search. Shortly after moving to the farm I sat at my computer and googled her name, not really expecting to find anything. How thrilling when sites popped up with her name in bold. I also found books about westering women, as well as a series of books presenting diaries of women on the Oregon Trail, and more. Great resources. I connected with cousins I’d never met, including a third cousin, Linda Maupin Noel, another of Martha’s great-great granddaughters, who lives just forty miles away. She had dug out documents with information none of the family seemed to be aware of, and she generously passed along reams of information.
With so much at my fingertips I began to get a picture of Martha in my mind. But to write the book I wanted to see through her eyes, walk in her shoes. To do that I chose to present her scenes in fictional form, while wrapping my own segments around hers in simple narrative. Though I have a journalism background, I’ve been writing novels for several years, so I used that experience to fill in the gaps I couldn’t possibly know. Her story took hold of me and carried me with her on that heroine’s journey to this farm, impacting me more than I ever expected.
The book is complete. This and a few more of my stories are highlighted on the “Books” page of my website. I’ve been pitching Two Women Across Time to agents and editors, gaining interest, and will hopefully make a connection soon to have it published and available to readers. Then, either through traditional publishing or one of many other publishing options available today, the others will follow.
I’ll keep readers updated on this blog. Thank you for stopping by. Please come back again sometime. I’d love to hear from you.