Category: Uncategorized (page 1 of 6)

What I Know About Being 60-Something

When I was younger, I thought age came in only two flavors—you were old or you were young. I preferred young. I dreaded being—old. But I’ve discovered some things I wish someone had told me when I was 40.

The sixties (not talking about the 1960s—the hippie, Beach Boy, maryjane toke years, ) talking about the years between 59 and 70. I haven’t experienced so much growth and change since I was a teenager.

These are the years where the decisions we made in our 40’s reap consequences—for good or bad. When I was 40 I thought the consequences were immediate—divorce or stay together, your kids go to college or they don’t, you get to go to Europe (or Alaska or Hawaii) or you don’t. I didn’t realize that what you put into your mouth at 40 stays in your body like a simmering volcano, waiting to erupt when you reach 60. Ditto, the conversations you have with your husband, the disposable income you tuck away, the amount of exercising or couch potatoing you do.

The early 60’s seems to be a gateway. People die of heart attacks, have strokes and cancer. They die on golf courses in greater numbers. I thought it was my imagination, or my unlucky choice of friends, but my doctor told me that if I live to 70 I’ll probably live to 90. Wow. Not sure I want to, but that’s another story.

Here’s what I know about being 60-something:

Sixty comes in like a lamb. You and your husband are those happy people in cruise line and Viagra commercials—smiling at the camera like you have a secret. Smiling with your own teeth and hair, wearing sexy shoes and real make-up. You think nothing of driving into “The City” to take in a show. Midnight and wine are your friends. So is your chin. In good lighting you could pass for 48. And you do.

By 68 you start to see life as an assembly line. Some of your family and friends are dropping off. People who rode the conveyer belt on the last loop aren’t there anymore. You start to wonder if it’s your turn for the packing box.

You start making a mental “Bucket List” that includes unfinished novels, a collection of short stories from all the stories you’ve written. You start giving things away—advice, clothes, a little cash to your children (as long as they don’t call saying they’re in jail in Mexico.) You start reading about senior abuse. You make a medical end-of-life plan—just in case. You go elk hunting, walk part of the Pacific Crest Trail, learn to fish, learn to play the piano. You buy the luxury car you always wanted because it may be your last.

You notice that the clothes and shoes you’re drawn to in stores aren’t that comfortable. You make some unwise fashion decisions and reality starts to dawn. You find an excellent assisted living facility for your mother. You go through her closets and you keep a few pieces of her clothing that you always liked—and you hang them in your own closet. You wear the muumuu a week later. It becomes a staple.

Your brain starts to get really smart. You’re a whiz at Sudoku and Scrabble. You hang onto candidates’ policies and can’t understand why everyone doesn’t vote. You see both sides of the issues—either that or you become radically one-sided. You read prostate statistics. Take an over-55 driving course—and ace it. You record TV shows because you don’t need 90% of the stuff they sell in commercials. The most important phone calls start with, “Hello . . .Grandma?”

Listening to your friends complain about their mates gives you a headache. So do a lot of things that you decide to cut out of your life. Church becomes personal, the journey more spiritual, people more lovable. You share meals at restaurants and over-tip out of guilt. You post photos of your grand-kids on the refrigerator and Skype them on Sunday afternoons, and spend long weekends at soccer games and gymnastic try-outs. You play with the grand-kids because their parents are too busy working—and too serious about life. You eat ice cream sundaes. You play.

You make plans for the next ten years but you live every day in the moment.

What’s With All the Dog-Crazy?

I had an epiphany yesterday while driving to town. (Writers do their best thinking on road trips.) It started out with me already worrying about the ranch dogs at the place where we plan to park our travel trailer for two weeks while we explore the Central Coast.

Don’t hate me! But I find dogs to be rather a nuisance. Akkk! I can hear it now. In a country where an estimated 17-62% of people sleep with their dogs, I realize I am so politically incorrect. Most people would consider it a character flaw—a lack of sensitivity, coldness of heart, mean spiritedness and maybe a dark side that can be detected by four-footed little critters. I see myself in the politician who picks up a poopy little baby at his political rally and gives it a smooch for the cameras. Then hands it back to the mother before he breaks into hives.

I pet dogs with reluctance. For several seconds I’m considering the downside of extending my hand, which scientifically speaking is magnified a hecka-lotta times by the cones in a dog’s eyes. It sees this immense catcher’s mitt swooping down, blocking out the sunlight and invading its personal space. And what does it do? Wags its tail and begs for more. I find this insane.

My husband is a big yellow flower in the garden of dogdom. There is no dog too big, too growly or too stinky. He beckons and soon the dog is standing in front of us, panting and drooling, and I’m looking for froth, like with Old Yeller. Meanwhile my mouth is dry. My hands are trembling, I’m getting hot and my skin is producing fear scent. Still, I pet most dogs. And as soon as I can, I retract my hand and mentally count my fingers. Meanwhile my husband is burrowed in the dog’s fur and the two of them are romping around like new best friends while I look for someplace to wash my hands. Then there’s the matter of picking up the excrement when we walk our own dogs in town. Yuck. Can I say that again? Yuck.

Here’s the scoop (metaphorically speaking.) There’s a reason why dogs and me are a bit standoffish. I come from a long line of Norwegian women who didn’t let dogs in their tidy little houses—although to be fair, the great-greats in Norway kept goats under the house in the winter. These women prided themselves on their homes. Immaculate, germ-free homes. A huge, muddy dog on a Norwegian sofa? Think again.

Growing up, we had scruffy sheepherding dogs that stayed with the herd (and tended to kill any strange dog that entered the pasture.) Not exactly Lassie. And my cousins kept ranch dogs that were great guard dogs. I have the scars to prove it.

Full Disclosure, our Labs have the run of ten acres. They roll in strange stuff, swim in murky water and stink an hour after their baths. They fill anal glands with regularity and they don’t sleep in the house. They guard the chickens like their own, bark at the UPS man for treats and seem to be having a wonderful life in spite of having to sleep on their own beds.

Back to my epiphany. God and dog have the same three letters. I get that for many, rescuing dogs is an act of pure love—like feeding the poor, tending the sick or clothing the naked. Rescuing dogs is a Corporal Act of Mercy. For many, dogs are the path to spiritual enlightenment. For others, snakes, hamsters and little white rats.

I like the concept.  I just don’t want to do it. I’ll feed the poor, diaper the poopy, anything. Does that make me crazy? Not to my friends who are cat crazy. They get my dog thing, completely.

Good Friends, Good Food, Good Grief Let’s Eat

Ever have a blast-from-the-past, let-the-good-times-roll, crazy fun good time?

Just waved some friends off after they spent several days visiting us from California’s Central Coast; amazing storytellers who grew up on the same street as my husband and who knew the old crowd. I suspected something great was in store the moment Cindy began pulling frozen Cattaneo Brothers sausages out of her tote and started with a great story about the local legends. And the stories never stopped.

It was an intense, creative, problematic, story-telling, throwback Thursday sort of week that left us giggling like seventh graders at a slumber party. I sat and listened as the three of them (Classes of 65, 66, 69) reminisced about hamburger hangouts, cherry Pepsi’s, days at the beach—and jet skiing at the lake, the Sunset Drive-in, late night escapes in borrowed cars, stolen kisses and the cops on the beat. Growing up in San Luis Obispo in the 50s and 60s sounded like a hoot. Names from the past peppered with stories about defending the huge letter “M” that marked the territory of Mission High School from the “SL” that marked the territory of San Luis High. High school rivalries, beauty queens and Vietnam casualties remembered with love and respect.

So many stories, so many great times. I watched the years roll off and laughter soften the wrinkles. Let the good times roll. We toured the Redwoods and the Oregon Coast, Crater Lake and Lake of the Woods while stories flowed. We target shot, shopped, sipped phosphates at the old soda fountain, toured antique stores and explored Southern Oregon while stories of another time and place kept inserting themselves into the here-and-now. I learned a lot listening to three people share their deep roots in one town. Good for the soul, those memories.

So now they’re gone and it’s back to the business of living. But the energy of their visit remains like the fading scent of a favorite cologne. I learned a lot about being a welcome visitor from watching these two. That’s how a visit should be—each party thinking they got the better of the arrangement.

Adios for now, Tom and Cindy. Don’t be strangers. We’ll keep the light on.

Got the Hanging-Out, Old Man Blues

I’m retired. It should be easy to spend an afternoon in the hammock. To lie beneath the sky on a spring day and watch the cumulus clouds float by, to watch the breeze push the fluffy cloud bridge into a puffy old man with a sunshine wink. But I think I’ve forgotten how to do this. I remember from days past a childhood when the hot hours of the day were spent beneath the elm trees, just being alive. One day I found a patch of shamrocks in the lawn, huge shamrocks with four-leaf-clover leaves and I plucked one and pressed it in the old dictionary that had been my grandfather’s at the turn of the century.

It’s still there. I saw it the last time I rummaged through the old trunk. But where did the girl disappear to, the girl who noticed all those sweet clovers just under her nose? Is it a coincidence that I’ve never found another four-leaf clover in all the passing years? Maybe. But I never looked.

So now I’m the puffy old lady in the clouds. My granddaughters think I’m wise beyond words. I guess to them, I am, but inside I feel like I’m waiting for something to happen. And all that waiting makes me nervous so I stay busy.

On my list for today: Write the next big American novel, cure the lawn of whatever ails it, give a talk to my marketing group, go to the gym, post two letters, clean a closet, bake a pie, participate in a conference call for an organization I lead. Oh, and in the middle of it all, sit at the computer and write a blog.

Creating Balance seems to be the national pastime. Well, I can’t speak for everyone, but something is seriously out of whack. I sign up for more than I want or need in my life. Make promises to myself, my family, my God, my community that start smarting before the ink is dry on the contract (metaphorically speaking.) Hard to admit, but I’m that smarty pants kind of person who thinks she can do it all. I like the sound of my own voice.

Spring is shortly here and quickly gone while housework is forever. Add to that the constant pressure of clubs, social media and the smart phone. I don’t mean to be cranky, but none of them are a fair trade for the old man in the sky. So that’s it. It’s midnight–officially a new day. Time to apply the lessons that I learned today. It was a good one, this day. But tomorrow…

 

No matter what, tomorrow I’m hanging out in the hammock.

Sharing the Deep Roots of Belonging to a Place

I recently read a man’s journey of coming home that stirred a need to share my own story. This is a reprint of the article published in the Grants Pass Courier on Sunday, March 22,2015.

I grew up in similar circumstances in Thousand Oaks, California, then a small community where my family farmed for five generations. My family lived on a rural road, on land my great great-grandfather Borchard divided among his eight children. The elementary school I attended was filled with first and second cousins. My roots were deep; I was twelve years old before I ever entered a room where everyone there didn’t know and love me. I came to see death as an occasion for grand family reunions.  My world included a half-dozen Catholic funerals by the time I was ten; elegant events for ancient, regal German great aunts and uncles, great-grandmothers.

In 1959, Los Angeles exploded into our farming community. We moved to a tiny town, Shandon, east of Paso Robles, California, where my father established a sheep farm. Shandon was a closed community that required my six brothers and sisters and me to find a way to fit in. We were the odd, sheep-raising Catholic family in a Protestant community of cattlemen and pioneer families with their own deep roots. Everything in me wanted to shout, “I have deep roots, too!” But I said nothing.

The first week in my new school the class took a field trip. Afterwards we were required to write an article for the Paso Robles Press about the field trip. The teacher read the top articles and after three tie votes, someone shifted their vote from the popular boy’s to mine. When I saw my byline printed in the newspaper, I knew I had found a way to survive my loneliness. I would be a writer.

In later years I wrote a memoir of my family roots; Branches on the Conejo: Leaving the Soil after Five Generations.  I later wrote another memoir about the small steps of a woman’s journey: Ordinary Aphrodite. As a writer I learned to see the world with eyes wide open. My husband and I traveled the West and I wrote short stories and essays for print magazines.  

In 2012, we saw a house and ten acres in rural Grants Pass that we loved, but I wanted to meet the neighbors before we made a decision. Jack and Ruth are lovely people, he in his eighties. It turns out that he and I attended the same college, Cal Poly. But more surprisingly, his family was a pioneer family from Shandon. He asked if I had ever heard of Truesdale Road. I told him that my family had lived next to Truesdale Road. His grandfather was the Truesdale, he said. His family is buried in the Shandon Cemetery. I took that as a sign and we bought the property.

When I am downtown I’ll hear it repeated five, six times a day, the boast that someone is a lifetime Grants Pass resident. I understand the pride, the sense of place that this feeling expresses. In many ways I envy them. But I also understand that everyone has deep roots somewhere. I honor mine by writing our history for other newcomers to discover

What I have learned is that there are two kinds of joy. There is the joy that comes from having deep roots; a family in one place for five generations, but there is another kind of joy in leaving the roots behind. I am an Oregonian now, one of the working people with a smile for others and appreciation for the basic joys in life. I see bent-over, work worn men on the streets of Grants Pass and they remind me of my father, who passed, like some of his hard-working neighbors, of a heart attack when he was fifty-nine.

Life is good in the woods. I live among the treetops now, seeing life in a new and fuller way. Still, I’m so grateful for the people who have tended the deep roots of my new home, Grants Pass. Thank you to everyone who shares their history with  others.

California Redwoods, ALS and the Elephant in the Room

I’ve reached an age in life where writers I knew “way back when” are achieving significant success. I count film makers, top-selling authors and trend setters among my long-time friends. These are content producers who have gotten lucky after making their way into their writing room for  the 6,500th time.

For writers, professional jealousy can be the five-ton elephant in the room that seems to be devouring our share of the canapés tray. If our friends get to the tray first, then logic tells us there won’t be anything left by the time we get there.

But I just had a lesson taught to me by Anita, a lovely woman visiting me from Seattle for a trip to the California Redwoods.  She’s a much better writer than I am. She’s spent her career in the Foreign Service, living in Europe, South America and points between. She writes masterfully, but for whatever reason has been unsuccessful in finding an agent and subsequent publication. And here she is, thumbing through Cholama Moon, my new novel release, genuinely thrilled for me. “I am proud of you,” she says. “You are so successful in your field.” Successful? She’s traveled the world alone. She’s written a memoir that should be a chart topper, and she’s happy for me?
I heard the words and it struck me that she has all the reasons in the world to think that life is unfair. Because of course it is. But she understands that my strengths do not have the power to cast shade on hers. In fact, we benefit from association with each other. Having friends is called “networking.” It’s what we spend hours doing on social media. Having successful people on speed dial is a good thing—right?

Anita’s RHODIES IN THE REDWOODS
We’ve all experienced the downside, friends who disappear at the first sign of our success, who fail to buy our books and who remain strangely silent in the din of applause that follows our publication. We are hurt by the betrayal of friends we have supported, who fail to support us when our time comes around. But I suspect that we forgive ourselves when we do the same thing to them.

One of my biggest boosters is a woman who has suffered from ALS for the past decade. She’s confined to a wheelchair now, but she encourages me with every breath. She’s taught me to let the small stuff go and concentrate on the journey ahead. Her message is: Be gracious, buy books and write reviews, don’t worry, be happy.

Share the canapés. There’s enough to go around. What fun would the party be if we were the only ones there?

How about you. Any five-ton elephants in your writing closet?

Blogging Cholama Moon Like There’s No Tomorrow

Here’s what I’ve been doing lately, since I obviously haven’t been writing for my own site. I invite you to take a blog tour to see why, how and what I write.  There will be more.

I guest blog about finding my writing authenticity on Andrea Downing’s Blog, My Word, My World, My Work  http://andreadowning.com/ or (as time goes by)

http://andreadowning.com/2014/05/01/romancing-the-vaquero/#comments

I blog about “Historical or Romance” on MK McClintock’s blog http://www.booksandbenches.com/2014/04/western-historical-or-romance-cholama.html?spref=fb

I blog about the grit and determination of our pioneer ancestors “No Sunbonnet Sue” on Jean Henry Mead’s blog Writer’s of the West http://writersofthewest.blogspot.com/2014/01/no-bluebonnet-sue.html

I include an excerpt from CHOLAMA MOON on Shanna Hatfield “Hopeless Romantic Blog” http://shannahatfield.com/2014/04/01/anne-schroeder-and-cholama-moon/

Chapter one of CHOLAMA MOON is on Heidi Thomas’s blog http://heidiwriter.wordpress.com/2014/04/04/cholama-moon-book-giveaway/
A Pioneer Woman’s Femnist Rant?

http://www.jamesrcallan.com/blog/2014/05/23/bring-on-the-women/#comment-3917
A bit about researching Historical Westerns
www.MaryTrimbleBooks.com/marys-blog

Romancing the Historical Western

Friends, Fealty, & Five-Star Reviews

I’m starting to notice a pattern with the reviews I’m posting on Amazon and Goodreads.

It used to be easy. I had no problem explaining my reaction to books when the author was an anonymous name on a cover. In fact, I prided myself on my savvy and open-minded analysis. But these days I’m reading a lot of my friend’s books and I feel pressure to post a good (make that great) review. And I’m starting to feel like a marketing agent, feeding superlatives into the Star-Maker Machine. I don’t think I’m alone, so I’m writing this in hopes it will do one of two things: 1) serve as an explanation for all future reviews and 2) beg forgiveness in advance from friends for any damage done to our relationship.

This is how it used to work– a NY publisher released a book, a few dozen advance copies were  reviewed by newspapers and magazines and the results used as a marketing tool. Books were well edited. They were the cream of the crop. Readers bought everything a favorite author brought out and expected to enjoy them. And for the most part, we did.

But now a lot of my friends are writers. As we know, writers don’t buy books so we press free copies on them and wait for their glowing praise to hit Amazon and Goodreads. The implied contract is that they will 5-star me if I 5-star them. There’s the problem. Many times I really want to rate them three stars. After all, three is average, middle of the pack. It means “this book is okay.” But I wrestle with issues of loyalty, friendship and whether I am going to torpedo their career with a less than glowing rating. None of us are immune from this. Even well-known writers panic over a low rating like a model with a broken fingernail.

It is a fair assumption that each of us brings out the best book we are capable of writing. But are we all equal? I have wrestled with a few reviews lately that left me wondering whether to be fair, brave or accurate. And I resent being put in that position. Yet, authors need our reviews.

Here’s what I intend to do. I’m going back into my reviews and I’m going to critically examine what I wrote. One book I’m reading right now actually starts on page 17. That’s where the author stopped playing editorial catch-up and actually started writing the story. It’s a tough thing to be honest to your friends. Ask any husband whose wife asks “Does this dress make me look fat?” (A deer-in-the-headlights moment we’ve all experienced.)

I went back and reviewed Amazon’s rating system, and here’s what it says: 1=I hate it, 2= I don’t like it, 3= it’s okay, 4= I like it, 5= I love it. That makes the number of stars I assign a book about me, the reader, not about the writer. It’s my job to explain my reasoning in the box.

Some people are braver than I am.  My favorite review is one that says “IMHO it is too long. The author could have written two books.” That was my opinion, which I voiced to the author, but I choked when it was time to review her. In retrospect, I betrayed all three of us: myself, the author and the reader.

When did I realize I wasn’t being fair? When I read something Velda Brotherton, a notable writer, wrote on MK McClintock’s Blog about my new novel, Cholama Moon, a work I am very proud of.

Anne, what a charming comparison of your work to the mix of chocolate and peanut butter. As you know, I thoroughly enjoyed your book and think your writing is as near to perfection as anyone gets. You put the reader on sight until they feel they have become one of the characters. I’m sharing this on my FB page so everyone I know can see how talented you are.

And it got me to thinking. I know when I deserve an accolade—and so does every other writer—in their heart. So here it is, a promise to be fair and honest, even if it hurts.

I’d love to hear comments, if only to know I’m not alone out there.

Guest Blogger Shanna Hatfield

This time I’m hosting a wonderful, zany author and fellow Women Writing the West member, Shanna Hatfield. Below is an essay on bravery, the subject of her new novel, an April release of the next book in her historical romance series.  

The Bravery of Women

I’ve always admired strong, brave women.

Trying to image how hard, how challenging, how utterly soul-wrenching life was for some of our pioneer grandmothers, it is almost beyond my ability to fathom. Believe me when I say I would not have been a good pioneer. I like electricity and an endless supply of steamy hot water too much to try it.

Leaving behind the familiar existence they knew, these women ventured into the west following their husbands, fulfilling requests as mail-order brides, or making their own way as enterprising entrepreneurs.

Because they have won my admiration and respect, I like to write about those types of women in my stories.

The Pendleton Petticoats series is set in the western town of Pendleton, Oregon, right at the turn of the 20th century. Each book bears the name of the heroine, all brave yet very different.

During the period of 1900 through 1910, Pendleton experienced a boom in both population and modernization, making it the perfect setting for my series. Although many thought it was a Wild West town (which it was), it was also a very progressive town with a theater, opera house, French restaurant, and tearoom. Pendleton opened a telephone office in 1902 and was the second city in the state to install paved streets in 1904.

The people who inhabited the town were an eclectic mix from every background imaginable. In addition to the sheep growers, wheat farmers, and cattle ranchers who lived in the area, there was a substantial Chinese population. Miners, railroad workers, teamsters, harness makers, Indians from the nearby Umatilla Reservation, and business professionals could be seen walking down the streets of the town that billed itself “the queen of a golden empire – an empire of golden wheat.”

During the early 1900s, Pendleton also boasted 32 saloons and 18 bordellos, making it the “entertainment hub” of Eastern Oregon. The city had an enviable railroad station, designed to handle the burst of growth and export goods from the region including wheat, wool, cattle, and produce.

As I began writing the first book in this series, I envisioned a mail-order bride stepping off the train, completely unprepared for what awaited her. She expected the town to be quiet, dusty, and backward. What she found was something so entirely different than she anticipated, being a girl from Chicagowho’d never set foot in a rural area.

She had to be strong and resilient, brave and determined (and maybe a little desperate) to get on that train in the first place.

I’ve often wondered, as a mail-order bride, what was harder – getting on the train and saying goodbye to what they knew or getting off the train to pledge their life to a man they’d never met.

Aundy, the heroine from the first book in the series, knows she is physically strong and capable to work on her soon-to-be husband’s farm, but she has no idea of the depths of inner strength and fortitude she possesses until it is tested.

The second book in the series, Caterina, features a feisty Italian girl on the run from the mafia in New York City. Have you ever wondered how many women journeyed out west because they jumped on a train with nowhere else to go? Unlike Aundy who arrived in town as a mail-order bride, Caterina is free and unfettered – or as free as she can be, hunted by powerful men bent on vengeance.

Ilsa, my latest release in the series, shines a light on one girl’s struggle to toss off the fetters of expectations placed upon her and learns to believe in herself.

Although these are all fictional stories pulled out of my overactive imagination, I like to think that they represent some of the challenges and hardships women faced as they helped shape communities, cities, the west, and our great nation through their determination and strength.

They truly were stronger than they knew and braver than they believed.

***

Shanna Hatfield is a hopeless romantic with a bit of sarcasm thrown in for good measure. In addition to blogging, eating too much chocolate, and being smitten with her husband, lovingly known as Captain Cavedweller, she is a best-selling author of clean romantic fiction seasoned with a healthy dose of humor. She is a member of Western Writers of America, Women Writing the West, and Romance Writers of America.

Find Shanna’s books at:

Amazon | Amazon UK | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords

Follow Shanna online:

ShannaHatfield | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads | You Tube | Twitter

Email Shanna at shanna@shannahatfield.com

Earthquakes, Bandits, & Romance in Old California

Writing is a calling. Even when words dangle just beyond reach like the old phonetic combinations that hung on wires stretched across the front of my first grade classroom, phoenetic th’s, ing’s and ght’s waiting to be mastered. I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember, and a prolific talker before that, as my mother is fond of reminding me. And I’ve been a listener to old timers’ stories.

Now it’s time to celebrate. April 1stmarks a monumental event in my life, the day Cholama Moon, my first novel, is released by Oak Tree Press. Already I have a review on Amazon—five stars and the stark truth, priceless. (Relax, there’s no way to mispronounce Cho-lam-a. Tourists do it all the time.)

The novel is the first in a series about the lives of two families, a white girl and her father, and an Indian girl born before the secularization of the Spanish missions on the Central Coast of California, when the Franciscan padres were back to Spain. The times were turbulent, the Spanish driven out first by by the Mexicans and then by the Americans in a series of quick and efficient revolutions. Lives were ruined in the process. Blood was spilled, especially the Indians.

I’m gratified by the support I’m getting from readers for this series. The PasoRobles Historical Museum is hosting my launch. Buzz is building on Facebook. My launch will take place on Sunday, April 6th, 1-3 PM. Already people are curious to see what I’ve written about the area where they live, where I lived for fifty years. Paso Robles is a small town in the heart of the vineyards and a few miles from the epicenter of the San Andreas Fault, a seam in the earth where it is possible that one day California will split and drift off into the sea. San Luis Obispo is a beautiful county on the edge of the Pacific, the perfect setting for a historical novel.

It’s an honor to bring something to the table to share, but I’ve only prepared the salad from fruits that others brought me, stories and events from old timers and their local histories. Granted, I’ve done my homework. I attended Indian concerts in the Missions, made adobe bricks to repair the earthquake damage at Mission San Miguel,
tasted authentic Alta California banquets and danced the quadrille to the music of fiddle, guitar and bull kelp shakers, but all of this was produced by the people who have kept the history alive. I only tasted of the fruits of their labor.

I hiked the ancient trails and entered the sacred caves where the pictographs are protected from vandals. I visited chert piles at Montana De Oro and brought my project to the Salinan Indian Tribal Council to get their help. My husband and I were early and enthusiastic students of California history and now I’ve written a series that speaks to the heart of the facts I’ve gathered.

The second book is already finished. Maria Ines, the Indian girl’s story, will be released later in 2014. I’m already planning the third, the story of her very angry son Miguilito, who survives in a hostile world not of his choosing.

It’s a pleasure to write western historical fiction, combining elements of make-believe grounded by true events and setting. I invite you to drop by Amazon and read the first three pages. If you like what you read, the book is available there or on Kindle sometime in late May.

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