I’m sure you’ve heard of patchwork quilts. Years ago, the girls and I made several crazy patchwork quilts. No pattern except that the quilt was made in 12” squares. The result is colorful and…well, crazy. Kind of fun to make.
This week I am doing a major revision on one of my stories. I am taking out some elements, adding others and rearranging much of the scenes. It’s messy and a real work out for my brain. Pages look like this. (Page purposely blurred so no one can see which story it is and judge me. You know you would! )
It’s not my favorite way to write but hopefully, after much more editing, it will produce a story that works.
For no real reason except to clear your mind after that blurred picture here are some flowers from Hawaii. Besides, flowers are pretty and easy on the eyes (and brain).
Do you do anything that seems to have no rhyme nor reason until the project is finished?
I spent a week at a nearby lake (one of my favorite places) with 2 daughters and 5 granddaughters.
There is something about the water,
the many benches and chairs along the promenade,
and the ice-cream stores—Big Moo and More Moo.
The powers that be continue to improve the park. New amusements are added.
It was a break from writing, weeding and gardening. A time of refreshment and enjoying my family.
What is your favorite activity of the summer so far?
It’s August. The garden is at its peak which means…
beans, peas and raspberries to pick. (that’s 5 gal. of beans.)
A new book has arrived. It never gets old to get these boxes of my book. This is the first of a new series set in NW Montana during a gold rush.
And working on a new series of stories I plan—romances along the Santa Fe Trail. So doing lots of research.
How about you? How is your August shaping up?
This weekend, my husband and I attended a family reunion for my side of the family.
I come from a mixed up family. My father married a woman with four children. His wife was injured in a car accident and subsequently passed away. She and my father had three children. So now there were 7. A few years later, my father met and married my mother and there were three more children. I am the second youngest. All in all, there were 10 children spread over quite a few years. But was have always been family and cherish our times together.
Seeing my remaining siblings brought to mind the story I did line edits on this week. It’s the second in my new series BIG SKY COUNTRY. The book is to be titled, MONTANA COWBOY FAMILY and will be out in 2017
It is a story about family. I’ve created a collection of quotes from the story.
I was going to title this bog July Joys but then I would have had to list a whole bunch of things like family reunions, company, trips with grandkids to the lake, picnics, wiener roasts, long walks in the cool of the evening, etc. I don’t have time for that. So instead I am just going to share a couple of things from July.
First and foremost because it consumes the most of my time is the gardens. I know when I say garden, some people think little flower gardens. I do have those which are sadly neglected.
But for me gardening means the long rows of vegetables. Already we are enjoying baby carrots fresh from the garden, beet top greens (which are so good drowned in butter), fresh sweet lettuce and raspberries. The peas are heavy with pods so they will be next. My fingers are crossed that the beans hold out until the peas are done but only time will tell.
July has also been extremely rainy. 6” in the first two weeks. Sudden and vicious storms almost daily. We now have warmer weather but with all the moisture there is, we also have evening storms.
And yes, I can relate this back to my writing. Because I am writing up a storm most days as well.
The first book in a new series will be out in Oct. but I can’t wait to share the cover with you.
The six-book series is called BIG SKY COUNTRY. As you might guess, it is set in Montana. The setting is a fictional town called Bella Creek that has been built mostly by a big old cowboy—the patriarch of the Marshall family. The series will tell the stories of the three young Marshall cowboys, their sister and a couple of their closest friends.
It is set in the 1890s when gold was found in north western Montana. The town was built as an alternative to the nearby rough mining town.
Things I like about this series:
1. The strong family unit the Marshalls are. They support each other through thick and thin.
2. The setting—to the west is rugged mountain areas, to the east, rolling grasslands perfect for raising cattle. As one character says, “Good cow country.”
3. The strong community that pulls together to take care of its own.
4. The research I got to do which involved a trip to that part of Montana. Such beautiful country.
5. Cowboys. Need I say more?
And here it is. The cover of the first book in the series: Montana Cowboy Daddy.
We have two new lawn ornaments.
The first is a Rock Island steel wheel tractor. Can you imagine riding that thing for hours? My father-in-law used it. My husband operated it a time or two.
And now my son has ‘driven’ it into place.
Near as we can figure it was manufactured about 1928.
We now have a memento of the good old farming days.
Our second lawn addition is a little buck deer who has taken up residence in our trees. He seems content to share accommodations with us.
He’s fun to watch as he plays in the trees. Yes, he might be eating my apple tree but a good pruning is beneficial. Right?
He doesn’t bother running for shelter as we go in and out and as my client rattles up and down the ramp in his wheelchair. He seems to know we mean him no harm.
We’re enjoying his company.
I admit it. I can make anything about writing. Take this week for example. We drove east an hour or two to attend a funeral. The sky was sunny and bright. The landscape green and lush. It felt peaceful and ordinary.
The funeral was…well, a funeral. A little bit out of he ordinary but not unexpected. But during the service, thunder rumbled and roared and it crossed my mind that we could sit there while a tornado threatened and not even be aware of it. At one point, I’m sure lightening struck the building. The lights went out momentarily. Several women screamed. Very spooky.
We left and headed back home. The storm followed us. Or maybe we followed the storm. The clouds went from threatening to more threatening. It rained heavily. Lightening flashed and thunder rolled.
Before we reached home blue sky beckoned.
How, you ask, does this relate to writing? Well, it made me think of plot. First, the characters are making their way through life with little concern about what lies ahead. (Also called the Ordinary World). Then something changes…like a funeral that calls the characters to make a move. Still, things seem somewhat normal. But wait, problems and threats escalate—a storm, impending trouble. The trouble continues to escalate until the characters must go through a bad storm. But if the characters persevere, deal with the circumstances and use their growing skills, light breaks through and they conquer the challenges. They find their Happy Ever After.
Now if only plot was that simple and easy when I confront a new story which I am doing this week and for most of the summer.
My father was a gracious man. He never left the table without thanking the cook for the meal. Early in life he made a conscious decision to never complain. When he passed away after a few years in a care facility the staff said the appreciated his positive attitude and said he never complained.
My father lived through hard times. The death of his first wife left him with four young children to raise. He took pride in the fact he lived through the Dirty Thirties and was able to support his family while many others had to turn to the government for assistance.
Dad as a young father:
He taught me many things. How to drive, how to identify birds, the enjoyment of history, and how to handle a firearm. He taught me a love for the Bible.
One of my fondest memories is the years we spent living ‘on the road’ with him and Mom as he working and camped far from town in order to build and maintain roads. We lived in a primitive bunkhouse. I don’t know how my mother coped but as children we saw it as a giant adventure.
A typical bunkhouse such as we stayed in:
I say much of this every Father’s Day in honor of my father. I will likely, without apology, continue to say it on a yearly basis.
My dad has been gone for a few years now but the lessons he taught and—more importantly, lived—endure.
Writing a story always leads to ‘The End.’ But that isn’t the ending I want to talk about this morning. On Friday, June 10, 2016 almost 100 years of the Fords farming in the Chinook area came to an end. Our son has sold the place.
We attended the auction sale of the machinery and miscellaneous.
The big old house saw many children of three generations grow up. It saw hard times and wonderful times. And it’s getting weary. I hope it receives more children and the noise of another young family.
It was nice to see how green and lush the prairie was and to again be able to see three days in every direction. There’s nothing to compare with the wide-open spaces of the prairies. It seems to me the wideness causes one’s heart and mind to expand in an attempt to reach the horizon.
The windmill has stood through all those years. Oh the stories it could tell—of boys learning to shoot a gun, of girls learning to drive a tractor, of moms and dads standing arm and arm on the doorstep watching the fields turn green, or admiring the baby calves running about.
We are taking one memento home to park by our barn. Every time we look at it, in our minds we will be back on the hill staring out at the prairie and remembering.
Yes, it’s sad to say goodbye.
And yet, just as when I come to the end of a story and begin a new one, we look forward to a new beginning.