The NW Book Festival

The 6th Annual Northwest Book Festival brought many authors out to Pioneer Courthouse Square in the heart of Portland on a warm, sunny Saturday, and many readers anxious to check out the books. I attended with my new book, A Place of Her Own, here with a display of photos from the book, and a new poster of the cover art. The photo display seemed to catch the eyes of many shoppers.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARight across the aisle from me (pictured below) was my good friend from Montana, Shirley Rorvik, and her husband, Charles, who does illustrations. They were there with Shirley’s book, Jack’s Carousel, a heartwarming story of love overcoming prejudice, and their delightful children’s picture book, Pickles’ Predicament, which my granddaughter simply had to have.

Sami and ChasShirley and I were in an amazing critique group in Kalispell, Montana, during my time there. (See “Ink and Magic,” a guest post by another member of the group, Leslie Budewitz, for more about this remarkable collection of authors.)

book fair rugIt was great seeing Shirley again after many years. Also good to see friends Billy Cook and Diane Goeres-Gardner there. And I enjoyed meeting new people, including Gary Beaudoin, who I had the privilege of sharing space with. He displayed a lovely Navajo rug to illustrate his beautiful book, Unbroken Web, about a family of Navajo women who have maintained this art form. You can see the exquisite rug in the background in the photo to the right.

Photography became a challenge on this bright day between the sunny aisles and the shadowed interiors beneath the canopies.

Thanks to my daughter Christiane for taking the photo of me.



Seattle Conference a Huge Success

We started the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference in Seattle with stories of success. Months ago, after some back and forth with PNWA President Pam Binder, I put in two ideas for presentations at this year’s conference, hoping perhaps one would be selected. They asked for both, a a panel of authors highlighting recent PNWA success stories, and a workshop entitled “The Power of Perseverance.” I thought I could speak about perseverance, given the long years I had worked before I got this book published.

success stories panelOur Success Stories panel opened the conference first thing Thursday morning. And since it was the only session, we spoke to a packed room of authors eager to hear our stories, with a lively Q&A session afterwards. As designer of the presentation I had the privilege of moderating, as well as telling my own story. From l to r, our panel includes Richard Hacker, Ethan Reid, me, Tracy Weber, Andie Newton, Stephanie Joyce Cole, and Jared John Smith. Everyone did a super job.

It was a great conference. My agent Rita Rosenkranz was there, and she and I had some wonderful visits. On Friday at the Agent Panel–one of the best attended sessions at the conference–Rita set my book in front of her and told the huge crowd about it when her turn came. She even dressed in colors coordinating with the book cover. Delightful! None of the other agents displayed books as she did.

For the rest of the conference everyone seemed to know about my book and me. A thrilling experience. We had good sales at the conference bookstore. And I met many enthusiastic people who found inspiration from my presentations, which was especially gratifying.

My thanks to Ethan for sending me this photo.


Lovely Bookmine Event

The friendly atmosphere at Cottage Grove’s The Bookmine set the stage for a lovely signing and reading event yesterday evening. Relatives came, cousins I didn’t know at all, one who’d just made contact a week or so ago. Alerted by the big story in the Register-Guard about the book and me, they made a point of attending this event to get books firsthand and to meet me. What a pleasant surprise to find more cousins.

Bookmine crowd smilesGail, the proprietor, even gave me a beautiful corsage. In the photo above where we’re sharing a pleasant exchange, that’s Gail standing in the back, wearing bright blue. The man nearest the camera is a second cousin, Gary, going back to Martha’s daughter Mary, our great-grandmother. Below, from a slightly different angle you can see his sister, Joan, near the camera on the right. More of Martha’s great-great-grandchildren. In this shot I’m reading a short segment from Martha’s trek over the Oregon Trail.

Bookmine reading

Bookmine making pointThere were points to be made, and I’m evidently making one here on the right. You can see the prominently displayed Register-Guard story by Randi Bjornstad with photos by Paul Carter.


And there were more relatives to meet. Juanita, with me in the photo below, would be a fourth cousin, I believe, going back to Garrett’s sister, Lucinda, who came to Oregon with her husband Parker Bryan in 1851, the year after Garrett and Martha came. The common links for Juanita and I are Perry and Rachel Maupin of Ray County, Missouri, Garrett and Lucinda’s parents.

Bookmine with JuanitaSuch a pleasant evening. Quite a few others from Cottage Grove also came, and from as far as Drain to the south and Eugene to the north. Gail served wonderful refreshments. And afterward my daughter and granddaughter and I walked up Main Street and had a delicious dinner at a sidewalk table at Jack Sprat’s.

Thank you to my daughter, Christiane Cegavske, for taking these pictures.



Next Event at The Bookmine

bookmine & bikesThe Bookmine in Cottage Grove, Oregon, sells books, plants, and gifts. It’s a delightful place, just up the street from where I used to live before moving to the farm. Many a day I walked over there to buy flowers or herbs or other plants, or a book, or to chat with Gail, one of the proprietors.

So I’m happy to be having a reading and signing there this Friday, July 11, from 5 to 7 pm. Gail will provide refreshments and I’ll read an excerpt from my book. We’ll have books to sign and conversation to enjoy.

If you think this looks like an old-fashioned store on a charming street in small-town America, you’d be right. It’s on the town’s main street, appropriately called Main Street, number 702.

Whether you visit it Friday or some other day, I recommend you check it out. If you haven’t been to one of my book signing events–and happen to live within easbookmine door with booky driving distance–this would be a great place to start. You couldn’t ask for friendlier. Or even if you have been to one, come visit us anyway. I try to pick different excerpts to read at different events. And every event has a character all its own, as every venue has its own personality.

Oh! And look what’s just inside the the door. Look closely, directly above the half-door. See it? When I step in the door of a bookstore it’s always a pleasure to see a sight like that.

Cheers! 🙂


Martha in the Magazine

Remember the interview for the magazine article that had me so excited last spring? The one for Woodland magazine? Well, the story just came out in the summer issue of this national trade magazine of the American Forest Foundation. Here’s the broad view:

Woodland storyThat’s me on the left above the book jacket of A Place of Her Own, Martha’s story. I’m standing in the patch of 75-year-old Douglas firs my dad called “the cathedral.” That young man on the opposite page is my dad, Gene Fisher, about the time he graduated from Oregon State College (now Oregon State University). He bought the family farm from his great-uncle Cap Maupin, Martha’s oldest son, shortly after graduation. The photo in the oval is of my great-grandmother Mary, one of Cap’s sisters.

Woodlanad coverAlthough my line goes through Mary rather than Cap, my dad’s purchase kept the farm in the family and eligible for Century Farm status in 1968.

Now, in a little less than four years we’ll be eligible for Sesquicentennial status. April 2018.

The old photos of my dad and Mary are included with several old family photos in A Place of Her Own, with modern photos of the farm taken by my son-in-law Robin Loznak in another section. Robin took the photo in the cathedral for Woodland.

Exciting to have the book gain so much attention. This is a nice magazine, and writer Kathy Westra wrote a great story.

My thanks to Kathy and to the editors for featuring us.


Ink and Magic

I’m delighted to introduce my friend Leslie Budewitz, whose novel, Crime Rib, has just been released. It’s the second in her mystery series set in an almost-familiar small town on an almost-familiar lake near Kalispell, Montana, where I lived for a few years. First in the series is the award-winning Death al Dente. Here’s Leslie to tell you more about “Ink and Magic.”

* * *

by Leslie Budewitz

Once upon a time, in the magical land of Nod…

Oh, wait. Wrong story.

Once upon a time, six women gathered in the small conference room of a law office in Kalispell, Montana. They brought pages of novels in progress. They brought pencils and red pens, coffee and cookies. They brought decades of experience as readers and writers, and their understanding of setting, plot, imagery, dialogue, and characterization.

They brought their trials and tribulations, compassion, and enthusiasm.

In short, they brought their lives.

I can no longer tell you how long Janet Fisher, Debbie Burke, Deborah Epperson, Shirley Rorvik, Rena Desmond, and I met weekly to share our stories. Two years, a little more? I can tell you it was magical, an experience each of us holds dear in our writing lives. We began our critique group with some of us good friends, others new acquaintances, but all connected through the Authors of the Flathead, a multi-genre writing group that has nurtured hundreds of writers since its founding more than twenty-five years ago. We came from very different backgrounds and regions, with very different personal and professional lives. All but one of us had completed a novel, but although we’d published short stories and magazine and newspaper articles—Janet had even worked as a journalist—none of us had published a full-length book, fiction or nonfiction.

A synergy arises when compatible people gather for a shared purpose, as we did. The very best critique groups have it—usually from the start, although it may take some time and effort to develop workable ground rules that serve members’ goals and fit their personalities. Each member wants to learn and be inspired, to improve her own work, but also to prompt and support the others. To share honestly, to dig deeply into problem passages and identify what’s working and what isn’t. To brainstorm plot directions and character backgrounds. To help each other see a path through the word weeds, to cultivate a regular writing schedule and a rising word count.

In truth, I learned as much from delving into the others’ work—carefully, because an artist’s belief in her self and her work can be fragile—as from their review of mine. We all seemed to recognize that. Misunderstandings were rare, and worked out in the group. We left each meeting energized and more determined.

That’s what happens in the midst of what another friend, not a writer but a committed, passionate creator, calls “intentional creativity.”

That’s another term for magic.

My second novel—my third book—is just out this week. Janet’s new book fills a gap in western history. Deborah and Shirley have each published a novel, and Debbie and Rena continue to write extensively for regional magazines. We meet occasionally to catch up—without Janet, who returned to Oregon a few years ago.

But the magic lives on, on the page, and in the glow of friendship forged in ink.

About Crime Rib:

CrimeRib_CV.indd“Gourmet food market owner Erin Murphy is determined to get Jewel Bay, Montana’s scrumptious local fare some national attention. But her scheme for culinary celebrity goes up in flames when the town’s big break is interrupted by murder…

Food Preneurs, one of the hottest cooking shows on TV, has decided to feature Jewel Bay in an upcoming episode, and everyone in town is preparing for their close-ups, including the crew at the Glacier Mercantile, aka the Merc. Not only is Erin busy remodeling her courtyard into a relaxing dining area, she’s organizing a steak-cooking competition between three of Jewel Bay’s hottest chefs to be featured on the program.

But Erin’s plans get scorched when one of the contending cooks is found dead. With all the drama going on behind the scenes, it’s hard to figure out who didn’t have a motive to off the saucy contestant. Now, to keep the town’s rep from crashing and burning on national television, Erin will have to grill some suspects to smoke out the killer…”

About Leslie:

Leslie Budewitz is the national best-selling author of Death al Dente, first in the Food Lovers’ Village Mysteries set in northwest Montana, and winner of the 2013 Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Crime Rib, the second in the series, will be published by Berkley Prime Crime on July 1, 2014. Her Seattle Spice Shop Mysteries will debut in March 2015.

Also a lawyer, Leslie won the 2011 Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction for Books, Crooks & Counselors: How to Write Accurately About Criminal Law & Courtroom Procedure (Quill Driver Books), making her the first author to win Agatha Awards for both fiction and nonfiction.

For more tales of life in the wilds of northwest Montana, and bonus recipes, visit her website and subscribe to her newsletter. Website:   Find her on Facebook: LeslieBudewitzAuthor