Folks showed up with happy faces for the return of Fort Umpqua Days after two years off. One of my favorite things about presenting my books at these events is all the stories I hear. People are curious about my books, of course, which delve into the area’s fascinating history. But so many people have stories of their own that they’re eager to tell. I love hearing these. I came away from this two-day event, head full of so many individual histories. My thanks to all who shared a bit of their worlds.
I also love the costumes many people wear for the occasion–the reenactors as well as the actors who perform in the nightly pageant, portraying stories of the era. I was happy to see reenactors Karen “Many Voices” Haas and her husband, Patrick, back again. I met Karen at the last Fort Umpqua Days in 2019 and featured her in a post back then. The two are shown in the previous post. We had a good visit yesterday. They stopped by my booth, looking quite fine, as if they had walked right out of the past.
Robin took a few more photos at the event (shown below). I’ll let his pictures speak for themselves.
And one more favorite Robin Loznak photo from a past Fort Umpqua Days moment:
With hopes of better days as summer approaches, I’ve begun scheduling book events again. First up will be a book signing event hosted by Gail Hoelzle at The Bookmine on Main Street in historic downtown Cottage Grove, a friendly place full of books and flowers and other gift items. It’s the regular Cottage Grove Art Walk held from 6 to 8 pm on each last Friday of the month from April through November.
I’m delighted to be returning to The Bookmine with my books, A Place of Her Own, the story of my great-great-grandmother Martha Maupin who trekked across the Oregon Trail in 1850, and my other Oregon Trail story, The Shifting Winds, a Nancy Pearl Book Award finalist.
Weather permitting we’ll set up a table under cover at the front door of 702 E Main Street pictured above. Whether outdoors or in, the art walk is always a fun event.
A Place of Her Own describes Martha’s incredible journey. She walked the whole 2,000 miles in 1850 from Missouri to Oregon–while pregnant–and that wasn’t the toughest part. They settled first near Eugene City in Lane County, then a hotbed of North-South rivalry. Things got especially hot for my great-great-grandfather, a staunch southern sympathizer, and they fled south to Douglas County–just ahead of the law. He was killed in a wagon accident leaving her with a passel of kids and no means to support them. Determined not to give up she purchased a farm by herself, although her 13-year-old son had to negotiate for a loan because the lender wouldn’t negotiate with a woman. I now own that farm, still in the family for more than 150 years.
The Shifting Winds describes the challenges faced by American pioneer Jennie Haviland, whose family travels the Oregon Trail to Oregon in 1842 during a time when the United States and British both vie for that fertile land. Meanwhile a gentleman working for the British Hudson’s Bay Company vies for Jennie’s hand, while an American mountain man does all he can to disrupt the British guy’s plans. Their story follows the actual history of the American-British conflict leading to the historic meeting at Champoeg that could change everything. Which way will the winds blow?
Martha’s story is true with fictionalized scenes. Jennie’s story is fiction set in a lot of real history.
That’s what it was all about. And lovers of story came out Saturday for my reading and signing at Izzy’s bookstore in Winchester Bay, Oregon.
You couldn’t find a more delightful setting than a room circled with soft chairs and couches, walls lined with books, except for one wall of windows overlooking the spectacular beauty of the bay where water rippled in the sunlight and boats rocked on the gentle tide. Behind conversation the soft cries of gulls echoed on the wind, and an occasional bird swept past our view.
Our congenial, partially rotating group munched on cookies and sipped coffee while we talked about books and ideas. I read short passages from three of mine, the two that are already out, A Place of Her Own and The Shifting Winds, and one I’ve just completed, which isn’t out yet, its working title, Beyond the Waning Moon. All three fit into my theme of following strong women through history, the first two in the mid-19th century pioneer period in the American West, the new one moving way back to ancient Minoan Crete, opening in 1470 BC. Both eras found women facing significant challenges that demanded their remarkable strength.
My thanks to Izzy for inviting me for her first author reading. It was an absolute pleasure. I wish her well in this new venture of hers. Once known as Conrad Books, the store under Izzy’s new ownership will now be known as Windy Bay Books and More. Her enthusiasm resonates throughout the place.
If you missed the event, you can still visit the store, a great stop in this lovely seaside town. And you can find my books on the shelves there–if she hasn’t sold them already. If she has, we’ll get more.
Authors and artists gathered at the annual Authors and Artists Fair in Eugene yesterday to share their creative work in the spirit of the holidays, and I was delighted to be among them to welcome a fine crowd of shoppers.
My writer friend Lynn Ash stopped by and snapped a photo of me. Then I wandered over and took a picture of her at her table.
I was also delighted to see writer friends Valerie Brooks and Melissa Hart, who were there with their books. Valerie was the first person I remember meeting on my initial visit to the Mid-Valley Willamette Writers in Eugene, and she was always so welcoming. I met Melissa when she was a speaker at one of the meetings and appreciated how encouraging she was for my work. During the afternoon shift yesterday she joined the ring of tables where I was located, setting up right next to me. So good to see these friends again.
I was especially happy to meet Melissa’s daughter, who I’d met previously only on the written page in Melissa’s wonderful book, Wild Within: How Rescuing Owls Inspired a Family. I recall being so captivated by that book I didn’t want to put it down. I don’t mean that I couldn’t put it down during the reading, although that was true enough. But when I finished the last page I just wanted to hold onto it. I thumbed back through for a while, then just held it a little longer, basking in the pleasure of the heartwarming story. It was so good to be able to chat with Melissa’s daughter, Maia, who’s almost twelve now.
During the day we were entertained with some music and dance in that holiday spirit. The dancers circled the room with this choreographed number and brought many a smile and a little tapping in place for the rest of us.
All in all a lovely event. Many strangers shared their stories with me as we talked about my books of Oregon Trail days, A Place of Her Own and The Shifting Winds, and some familiar folks came by who I hadn’t seen in a very long time. Always a pleasure.
The people of Oakland, Oregon, sauntered back in time this weekend to live their rich history during Living History Days, and I joined them with my books that delve into these early times.
Betty Tamm kindly invited me to set up my book signing table in her Triple Oak Wine Vault in downtown Oakland, a unique Tasting Room located in a renovated 1892 bank building. In the photo above she’s displaying the art of spinning, which many in our past have done.
Not every tasting room has a bank vault for wine storage, complete with safety deposit boxes. And despite the sign on the front door you would not have found me back in the deep vault sipping wine. I believe the whole establishment counts as the vault.
I actually had a lovely table in the front of the room to set up my books.
Nancy Anderson and Diane Brown brought historic treasures–exquisite quilts, vintage clothing, old news stories, and more–to be displayed in the Tasting Room, so they joined me at my table and we shared some delightful conversation and a bit of delicious, decadent food.
Things seemed to be going quite well. A good crowd meandered through to taste some wine and check out our handiwork, many of them in costume in this town where history resonates through the streets and in every downtown building. So I gave little thought to the gentleman in hat and boots, a gun on his hip, until he stepped to the door with sudden alarm.
Who knew the North and South would be at it again? But there it was on the historic streets of Oakland, yet one more battle brewing between the union and the confederates.
All in all, the weekend event was, as I promised, a rip-roaring good time.
Martha’s Century Farm, whose story I told in my book A Place of Her Own, just hit the 150-year mark today.
On this day of April 24, 150 years ago, Martha A. Maupin purchased a farm on her own, according to the document filed in Douglas County, Oregon, from H. M. Martin To M. A. Maupin, which reads in part:
This Indenture made the 24~ day of April 1868 between Howard M. Martin & his wife Margaret Jane Martin of Elkton precinct, Douglas County, State of Oregon, of the first part and Martha Ann Maupin of the said County and State of the Second part Witnesseth that the party of the first part for and in Consideration of the sum of One thousand dollars lawful money of the United States to them in hand paid at or about the unsealing and delivery of these presents by the party of the second part, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged have bargained sold transferred and Conveyed & by these presents do transfer and convey unto the party of the second part her heirs and assigns, forever, all the following described premises to wit Donation Land Claim No. 46 beginning at . . . containing 320 acres more or less situated in the above County and State To have and to hold . . .
A copy from the first page shows the flowery handwriting of the day (I did my best to transcribe that and took a bit from the second page).
As told in the book, this purchase was no small matter for a woman in 1868. Martha had lost her husband a year and a half before and either could not or would not depend any longer on the aid of family and friends. She chose to make a home for her children and herself. However, she didn’t have the $1,000 she needed to buy this property. A man in nearby Scottsburg had the money to loan her, but he would not negotiate with a woman. Her son Cap, thirteen years old, had to negotiate for the money, but he was too young to own the property. It became her farm, owned by her alone, 320 acres along the Umpqua River.
Now, 150 years later, it has become mine, the second woman in the family to own and operate it. I’ve had it for about 10 years now.
In 1968 the property qualified as an Oregon Century Farm, having been in the family for 100 years. Now it has been in the family for 150 years and will qualify as a Sesquicentennial Farm.
A big day for Martha’s farm. I’d like to think she would be pleased.
For more of Martha’s story, you might want to check out the book, if you haven’t already. You can ask for it at your local bookstore or see the sidebar for more options.
I headed north to beautiful Newport, Oregon, Sunday for my afternoon speaking engagement with the Willamette Writers Coast Branch, taking the coast route where the journey is part of the pleasure.
After a quick stop at the Heceta Head beach for a sack lunch, enjoying this view, I continued northward over what must be one of the most spectacular stretches of Highway 101.
The road winds around precipitous folds of towering mountains, threading through dim mossy woods with brief glimpses of light and water, then opening out onto raw windswept slopes to reveal the endless sweep of rippling gray-blue fringed with the ever-surging white crests.
Birds speckle strands and jutting rocks. Mists stir. Gulls soar, their white feathers catching the light to glisten against a somber sky. Time loses importance. You need to savor the wonder like a taste of rich chocolate feeding the soul.
Spits of rain followed me into Newport but didn’t dim my enthusiasm. The event went quite well. The audience–mostly writers–welcomed me with appreciation for my personal story when I described my long road to publication, which finally culminated in my two Oregon Trail stories, A Place of Her Own and The Shifting Winds.
One man who’d been sitting against the back wall came over after my talk and told me how much he enjoyed hearing my words. He’d been afraid it was going to be a boring how-to workshop and instead found the presentation truly inspiring. This is the kind of response that keeps a writer going.
Afterward I checked in at the Sylvia Beach Hotel, which the writers group graciously arranged for me, a charming old hotel right above the beach whose theme is writers. Each room is named for a well-known writer. They have a quiet library upstairs and books scattered throughout.
On the chance I took a notion to do a little writing they provided a typewriter in my room (shown in the photo below). That’s my laptop in its case to the right of the old Underwood–bookends in keyboarding history.
By dinnertime the weather had turned drizzly and cold, so I dressed down from my skirt and pumps into jeans and walking shoes with a warmer top.
When I stepped back outside to head for dinner, wind had picked up quite a bit. Raindrops appeared small. But there were so many of them, and they didn’t exactly drop. They swept straight at me. My umbrella quivered and flapped so hard I thought it might lift off à la Mary Poppins, but somehow it stayed in front of me and without turning inside out. The only change in the rain came when I passed openings between buildings where gusts hit harder.
By the time I reached a cafe the incessant spray had soaked the front of my pant legs. Thankfully the cafe was warm and I enjoyed fish and chips with fresh local rockfish and a side of coleslaw.
Back at the hotel I thought to ask for a hair dryer, which dried my jeans nicely.
I had a room with a view–and a real plant. It was the Lincoln Steffens Room. Though I must confess I’m not familiar with Mr. Steffens’ work, I loved the room. I spent quite a while in that chair in the corner watching the waves play against the sand as the skies dimmed and outdoor lights came on.
I hoped for better weather in the morning.
Skies looked brighter the next day. The hotel offered a delicious breakfast of pecan pancakes with a variety of fruits and fresh-baked goodies in a dining room with wraparound windows overlooking the water.
After a pleasant visit at my table with Freda and Lorayne of Corvallis and a young man from Germany, I wandered downhill for a lovely walk on the beach.
The hotel looms above the sea on its lofty site atop the cliff. A vigorous climb back up those stairs.
Sun broke through at last and the old hotel looked cheerful in the morning light.
After exploring the town I headed south again, stopping along the way for one last glimpse of Heceta Head and its lighthouse. A delightful trek. My thanks to Sue Lick and Lori Tobias of the Willamette Writers Coast Branch for arranging my visit.
For my next book event I’ll be heading up the north coast again to speak to the Coast Chapter of Willamette Writers in Newport, Oregon. It’s always nice to visit one of the most beautiful areas in the world.
Photo by Robin Loznak
The above photo was taken a little bit south of Newport as the lowering sun sheens the water below one of Oregon’s historic lighthouses.
My speaking engagement with the Coast Chapter was originally scheduled for last February. In fact, I packed up and headed out that Sunday morning, excited about the trip. I hadn’t gotten far when a spit of snow began to spatter my windshield. I wasn’t too concerned. We don’t get much snow in February and the coast is even less likely to have snow.
That day proved to be an exception. It kept snowing harder. I told myself it wasn’t sticking and I’d get into the temperate coastal zone soon. But it got worse the farther west I drove. Snow did begin sticking. It was not getting better toward the west. I wasn’t set up for snow and finally decided I’d better turn around while I still had hopes of returning home safely.
Happily, we rescheduled. I’ll be there for their September meeting this coming Sunday, the 17th, from 2 to 4 pm at the Newport Public Library, 35 NW Nye Street. And we don’t expect snow.
I’m going to talk about my long road to publication of my two Oregon Trail stories, 2017 Nancy Pearl Book Award Finalist The Shifting Winds, and the one that started it all, A Place of HerOwn, with a few words on what’s waiting in the wings. A slideshow will offer a backdrop of photos related to the two books. After some Q&A I’ll have books available to sell and sign. Because I’ll be talking to fellow writers I hope I can offer some ideas and encouragement that might help others on their writing journeys.
I’m also a member of Willamette Writers, which has branches throughout Oregon. When I lived in Portland I met with the Portland chapter and now meet with the Mid-Valley chapter in Eugene.
Thanks to Robin, I have one more photo to share, another of those glorious sunsets on the Oregon coast. Looking forward to my upcoming visit. If you’re in the area, please think about stopping by the Newport library for some book talk in a beautiful place.
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.
Yay! My historical novel The Shifting Winds has just been named as a finalist in the 2017 Nancy Pearl Book Awards, sponsored by the Pacific Northwest Writers Association.
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.