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:
Fort Umpqua Days will be back this year after two years off, and that seems worth a celebration.
It all begins on Saturday morning, September 3 at 10 o’clock at the Elkton Community Education Center, 15850 OR-38 W, Elkton, Oregon, west of town.
That’s by the popular Butterfly Pavilion. The fort lies just down the hill. It’s a two-day event from 10 to 4 on both Saturday and Sunday, plus evening performances of the annual “Echoes of The Umpqua Pageant.”
This Labor Day celebration has become a tradition in small-town Elkton, Oregon, home of the reconstructed Fort Umpqua, the southernmost outpost of the British Hudson’s Bay Company in the 1800s. It will be good to return to that tradition.
Locals and visitors gather on the weekend to enjoy a parade through downtown, a pie auction, BBQ, live music, tours of the wonderful Butterfly Pavilion, and more. I’ll be among the vendors up near the pavilion, where I’ll be selling my books, stories about Oregon’s dramatic history of those days–A Place of Her Own and The Shifting Winds.
Kids will find plenty of fun, including a voyageur expedition, to see what these fur traders did in the heyday of this fort.
My second book, The Shifting Winds, delves into this era with fictional mountain man Jake Johnston as a good friend of historical mountain man Joe Meek. Both came west to Oregon in the early 1840s after the beaver played out in the Rockies. Once in Oregon they wanted to help their fellow Americans claim the rich Oregon Territory, which was then jointly occupied by the US and Britain.
Folks who reconstructed Fort Umpqua worked diligently to maintain an authentic representation of the original, and people will be on site during the Labor Day event to answer questions.
Reenactors and blacksmiths often attend, showing their work to add more color, and they’re happy to offer information as well.
You might even find a mountain man or two.
Remember Karen “Many Voices” Haas who was there for Fort Umpqua Days last time? I was so glad she showed me how she uses a drop spindle. It’s a device that was used for many centuries, millennia even. I have a character in my upcoming historical series spinning thread with a drop spindle some 3,500 years ago. After watching Karen I was better able to describe the process.
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.
History resonates in every Fort Umpqua Days celebration as people come from many places to share a glance back to the early days of Elkton, Oregon. The reconstructed British Hudson’s Bay Company fort provides a centerpiece for the gathering. This year a number of reenactors came to give the fort even more authenticity.
In the above photo reenactor Karen Haas, who describes herself as a weaver of words and fibers, spins yarn on a drop spindle while wearing period dress, such as you might have seen in the days of the original Fort Umpqua.
This is the period of my two published books, A Place of Her Own and The Shifting Winds. But the drop spindle is a device so ancient that I describe a character using one in an upcoming book that goes back roughly 3,500 years. I was glad to watch Karen spin with a drop spindle so I could see how she made it spin. This will help me describe how my ancient character spins with hers. More than one of my characters can be called weavers of story and thread. I think they share an affinity with Karen “Many Voices” Haas.
I had a chance to visit with Karen Sunday afternoon when she stopped at my booth where I was selling my books. After I closed up shop I went down to the fort with my daughter Carisa to see some of the reenactors, and there was Karen outside a Hudson’s Bay Company tent (it must have been an HBC tent because they were waving an HBC flag). And she was spinning. We recognized each other and it took me a moment to realize what exactly she was doing. But there it was. She was working a drop spindle. Every once in a while she would put the spindle against her billowy skirt and stroke her hand across it to keep it turning. Then she would reach up again and make sure the yarn was coming out in an even thread. An amazing process. So ancient. So elegant in its simplicity, yet no doubt requiring considerable skill and practice.
With that we wrapped up another Fort Umpqua Days enjoying a delightful glimpse into our past. Thanks to Karen for showing us one significant thread of that story.
The beauties of Oregon’s remarkable coast become the focus next weekend when I venture to Conrad Books in Winchester Bay on Saturday, August 24, from 3 to 5, for a signing party and reading of my books.
It’s time for the town’s celebration of Kool Coastal Nights, and Izzy Pescadero, new proprietor of Conrad Books, asked me come share the fun. Conrad Books is a great little bookstore with a big heart and fantastic view overlooking the bay, just west of Griff’s seafood restaurant.
It’s at 156 Bay Front Loop about five miles south of downtown Reedsport, off Highway 101.
Under Izzy’s new management it’s a friendly place with new and used books, even vintage, soft couches, music, art, poetry. And the coffee’s always on.
I’ll be reading short segments from my Oregon Trail stories, A Place of Her Own and Nancy Pearl Book Award Finalist The Shifting Winds, and possibly a little preview of my upcoming book of adventure and romance in the exotic pre-Greek world of ancient Crete. And of course I’ll have books there to sign and sell.
If you’re nearby or looking for a destination of fun and spectacular beauty, please come join us. Listen to a snippet of story while watching the sun drift low over the bay and share laughs in the good company of book lovers.
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.
On a gorgeous golden Friday yesterday I had the privilege of being included with my books at First Friday in Oakland, Oregon.
In the photo above I’m signing a copy of A Place of Her Own for a customer, Holda Crocker, who came with her little helper. My table is right outside Tolly’s, a restaurant with plenty of old-fashioned atmosphere, in the alcove of the right-hand door. Thanks to Victoria Kietzman for taking our picture. Victoria’s the lady who directs this monthly event highlighting local artists.
“My definition of art encompasses a great deal,” Victoria said. “It can be gardening, canning, ceramic, painting, photography, writing, produce, soaps, candles, lotions, music, acting knitting, plants, jewelry, crocheting, macrame, dream catchers and so on. If the hands and mind were involved then it must be art.”
This is the last First Friday for the year. They’ll start up again in May.
Before the day’s event began I took a short walk from Tolly’s and snapped a few pictures. A walk in Oakland’s downtown feels like a walk through the past.
Up the street on the opposite corner you find Stearns Hardware. As the sign shows, the store dates from 1887, and it still sells hardware.
I remember my grandfather talking about shopping there when I was a child.
Beyond Stearns you walk past some cheery seasonal decorations to the Oakland Ice House of 1905 (below), a slightly younger establishment.
Everything looked quiet at 4:30 in the afternoon.
Across the street the lofty Page & Dimmick Building (below) now houses an antique shop, but the building is an antique itself.
I love the artistry in the brickwork.
When I went back to set up my table it remained quiet for the first half hour or so. I wondered if anyone would come by, though I enjoyed the pleasant breeze whisking down the street on this warm fall day.
Things picked up suddenly, and customers started coming by. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with folks and it turned out to be a good sales day for me. And when it’s time to leave this historic town you just hop onto a–oh, wait! Wrong event. The stagecoach wasn’t working during First Friday, as it was at Oakland’s Living History Day last fall.
They aren’t doing Living History Day this year but hope to next year. As Victoria said, I’ll have to get out my bonnet then.
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.
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.
The conference culminated in the Saturday night awards banquet where the finalists all received kudos and award certificates. Nancy Pearl finalists received beautiful certificates like the one below.
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!
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.