A few days before Christmas, my husband and I drove to Brownsville and visited the Linn County Historical Museum, also known as the Brownsville Historic Pioneer Museum. Exhibits are displayed in Brownsville's original railroad depot and six Southern Pacific railroad boxcars, and cover Native People, Oregon Trail immigrants (including the original covered wagon that carried the Drinkard family to Oregon in 1865), regional mining, the filming of Stand By Me (1986), and so much more. There's even a 29-seat theater in one of the boxcars!
But it was the extensive genealogy section and the lovely staff member who dug up rare bits of information on the short-lived mining town of Quartzville, Oregon, that made the day for me. I now have a map showing where the town was located and a detailed description of the area's geology.
Yes, Becker's Trail is fiction, like all of my books, but it's important that my stories have a base of realism. If you watch the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race in Alaska this March, you'll see that my characters in Iditarod Nights stop at the same checkpoints and follow the actual rules of the compition. The places that Ray, Benny, and Grace see in Destination Stardust can be found on any road map. And Alice's journey in Come Snowfall follows the historic Oregon Trail route from Baker City, Oregon, to Little Medicine Bow River and Laramie, Wyoming. I want readers to finish a book feeling like they were there, that the story could have really happened.
As for the gold panning in Becker's Trail ? I've done my share.
Store shelf display in the Brownsville museum.
And now we're halfway through the first month of the new year. I'm not big on resolutions; they're a fast track to disappointment. Would I like to get Becker's Trail published this year? You bet. But time will tell. There are eleven and a half months to go!
We've been in our new home for a year, and what a busy, fulfilling year it was. With home improvements, a 15'x20' vegetable garden (canning, freezing, and dehydrating included), and day trips to places like Newport, the Scio Covered Bridge Loop, and Smith Rock, is it any wonder writing has taken a back seat?
That's why I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month this year. Writers challenge themselves to complete a 50,000-word rough draft of a novel during the month of November. I put my own twist on the rules and have challenged myself to write every day for 30 days, and to finish the current draft of Becker's Trail, which got its start as a NaNoWriMo project two years ago. (Check my March 2021 newsletter for details.) I am closing in on my goal!
New releases to announce! Thanks to a collaboration between Apple and Draft2Digital, my back-list romances, A Bed of Roses and Her Phoenix Heart, are now available in audio books, narrated by a digital voice based on a human narrator, through Apple Books. Ooligan Press released the audio of Iditarod Nights in 2020, narrated by Desiree Wilson, making my romance audiobook library complete.
As 2023 quickly comes to a close, there are still boxes to unpack and an endless amount of stuff to organize, but I keep reminding myself to be patient. New beginnings take time. I'm grateful every day for the changes in my life, the new friendships formed and those that have endured time and distance, the continued strength of family bonds, and the wonder of discovery around the next corner. What are some of the things you're grateful for?
Cheadle Lake on a calm morning.
2023 got off to a busy start here, with delivery of the PODS that contained the last of our stuff from the move. We were happy to be reunited with things we'd been missing (and a lot we'd forgotten about!), but with only seven days to unload it all, we had our work cut out for us.
We beat the deadline in spite of the persistent rain, and now our house is a chaos of boxes and sorting and organizing.
It was a joy to finally put our two bookshelf units, along with three sets of wall shelves, in place and stock them with box after box of books that had been in storage for almost five months.
The New York Library introduced Library Shelfie Day in 2014. Celebrated every fourth Wednesday in January, readers are encouraged to share shelfies of their favorite library shelves or home book collections. Mom and Dad were avid Louis L'Amour readers and saved every paperback they bought. I remember reading them as a kid and was the first in line when it came time to pass them down. They've seen a lot of years and miles, but the stories and memories contained in their pages are priceless to me.
We escaped to Waterloo County Park one cloudy afternoon. The Santiam River was running high and fast, and we had the park to ourselves. JoJo took to the trails like a seasoned pro.
A future research trip to Brownsville, founded by settlers from the Oregon Trail in 1846 and made famous as the location of the movie Stand By Me (based on Stephen King's short story "The Body"), is in the works.
In the meantime, settling in and establishing a writing routine continues. I hope your new year is off to a grand beginning.