Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Oregon history and novels

This is the season of change for the farm, for nature, for life as it's part of a cycle that is both familiar and always new. In my part of Oregon, we eagerly awaited the first real rain in quite awhile. It was a dry summer.

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

This last month, for me, was about finishing the editing of my published and unpublished books. Three unpublished led to finally getting back into writing the one unfinished in the Oregon series. 

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.


Linda Kay said...

Not a lot to do, right....and then there is creating the time in each day for writing. That's my biggest challenge (and most frustrating).

Rain Trueax said...

I am fortunate on the time for it, Linda. My husband not only has his own creative interests but he has taken on the publishing end of mine so that he's an equal partner in this work. That helps a lot to have a partner who is into it

Celia said...

I'm looking forward to your Oregon novels. I have a growing collection of little books of the journals kept by women traversing the Oregon Trail. Their lives are fascinating. Strong women.

Rain Trueax said...

When I wrote the first one, I read a lot of those journals and still have many of the research books. It is amazing how many knew the trip west was an important happening and recorded their experiences.

I live on an original homestead where the family had held onto the land until we bought it 37 years ago. We found on it two old wheels that we are pretty sure came out on their wagon. The story of this couple reads like a romance novel itself ;)