The garden is winding down and has been a lush one with a lot of produce to process or let the sheep eat. Fall is here, and the land and air would tell us even if we didn't have a calendar to do so.
photo from Ben Kern wagon train used with permission
The historical Oregon series began in Independence, Missouri, at the start of the trail west and a big wagon train led by a wagon master, which was not how it would soon be for many heading out. It is the story of that trip and two young people, who have been friends since childhood. She is full of dreams. He has known mostly nightmares. One of them has wanted a relationship that went beyond friendship. Does that ruin the friendship? The book is my longest novel, with the trip west as what might be seen as a metaphor for our internal trip as we mature into responsible adults.
Then came the next book in that series about getting to Oregon and the pitfalls awaiting. That one had a surprising heroine (to me anyway when I got the idea for writing it). Set mostly along the Clackamas River (an area I have spent a lot of time in my own life), it also takes the story to Oregon's own Trail of Tears. This plot takes our growth a further step forward as we get what we think we want and then find the pitfalls in it. As we overcome these difficulties, we grow.
Because these books are about the Stevens family of women, the third book was a logical one for another of the sisters. This one picked up the family after the Civil War. Again it is a love story but also about overcoming and how a cataclysmic event, such as the Civil war was for the United States, takes time to heal. It delves into what that time meant to the state I was born in as well as have lived most of my life.
In researching, I learned some ugly truths about my beloved Oregon. Human nature isn't always pretty, but I guess I knew that. Always though hypocrisy amazes me for how we can fool ourselves with righteous words accompanied by disgusting actions or looking the other way to avoid facing what others are doing.
Finally the fourth where I will be writing for at least the next month to nail down its rough draft. It takes the Oregon story forward into one of Oregon's most violent and dangerous Indian wars-- little known, I might add. I found a lot of information for what happened in The Deadliest Indian War in the West by Gregory Michno.
Like my other three books, lots of research was/is involved with this one. It requires digging and often coming up empty handed in terms of finding even good maps from that period. The nice thing about Michno's book is he records details from the newspapers and reports from the time describing the various battles. Quite handy since my fictional hero is an cavalry officer. I did also create a plot for the period but based on what happened many places-- just not historic in the region about which I am writing.
Basically the decision on publishing these books is still hanging out there. I do think they will be paperbacks-- once they are all four finished to the satisfaction of my editor and me. Even though I was and am unsure about the publishing end, I created four covers and backcovers. Creating covers is recreation for me. It blends together my interest in photography, painting and sculpture into a new medium-- book covers.
So for now, my life is all about research and writing-- well and seeing the end to this growing season and getting our place ready for the coming winter.