Researchin’

Well, I obviously haven’t been putting a lot of time into updating this blog lately, now have I? It’s going to happen soon, though, I promise. Encountered a road block earlier this week when I spilled ice tea all over my computer. Horror of horrors! After a very frantic phone call to a friend in California who’s a computer whiz, I removed the battery, turned the computer upside down and pointed two fans at it on high for 8 hours. Followed that with submerging the computer in a bag of rice to draw out the moisture. Three days later, hallelujah, the computer lives!

In the meantime, computer-less (which is strangely like losing a limb), I’ve finally had the motivation (read: nothing to do without the computer) to get my hind end over to the town archives (which is really, really cool) to start doing research for a historical fiction novel idea that’s been taking up space in my cranium for a while. Not going to divulge the secrets of the novel here on the blog, but I’ll let you know that I know quite a lot about prostitution in the early American West now!

I have scads more research to do (which is a bit overwhelming), but I am making some definite headway, tackling the information subject by subject. Historical fiction is HARD, folks. A writer can take some liberties, but not too many. It’s important to get all the little details right, down to the way interiors of houses looked during the selected time period, to what people wore, to how people spoke. But on the other hand, there’s something really cool about taking history and making it into something new. I’ve got tons of ideas buzzing around in my head now that were inspired by true events that I’ve begun to learn about.

The hardest part, of course, is writing. Getting those ideas to translate into words and sentences and paragraphs that sound coherent. And writing a lot of those words and sentences and paragraphs. Which is a stretch for a journalist who is used to writing stories in 30 inches or less! But I have lots of free time these days and I’m itching to be productive. Hopefully all this hard work pays off!

In other news, summer has arrived in earnest in southwestern Montana. It’s been pretty hot here the past week (mid-80s, which yes, is freakin’ hot by my definition). And so lilac season has ended (sadness). But not without some photos:

Remember to stop and smell the lilacs!

Advertisements

Thankful

A very happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

This year, a number of friends have kept “thankfulness diaries” throughout the month of November, to remind themselves how blessed they are even when family and friends are unemployed, they are far from home and it’s cold outside. Despite our woes, personal and national, we as Americans have much to be thankful for.

So here’s my thankfulness diary. I hope your diary is as rich as mine!

Nov. 1 – I’m thankful for my God-given ability to write. I started writing a novel today.

Nov. 2 – I’m thankful that I live in a country where I can safely go to a polling place, cast my vote and know that no matter how small it seems, my vote matters.

Nov. 3 – I’m thankful for lectures at Glacier Discovery Square that inform me and others about community gardening. It helps us focus our plans.

Nov. 4 – I’m thankful for teachers in this community. The students in School District 6 are getting a great education despite budget cuts.

Nov. 5 – I’m thankful for people like Elly Jones, who commits her time to making beautiful quilts for people in need. Love and beauty are powerful healers.

Nov. 6 – I’m thankful I can enjoy breakfast with my husband in Butte at Great Harvest. Their biscuits and gravy are unequaled!

Nov. 7 – I’m thankful for quality time with my husband, who lives far away.

Nov. 8 – I’m thankful for people who attend school board meetings and speak their minds in defense of their children. I’m hopeful that those people will petition their elected officials to properly fund Montana schools and continue improving education.

Nov. 9 – I’m thankful for a thriving business community in Columbia Falls.

Nov. 10 – I’m thankful for lunch with a very good friend with whom I can talk about work, good books and good food.

Nov. 11 – I’m thankful for veterans like Jesse Mann, who served his country in Iraq and sacrificed watching one of his daughters change from a baby into a little person so that I can write these words without fear.

Nov. 12 – I’m thankful for sunset over the Columbia River in Washington.

Nov. 13 – I’m thankful for a friend’s hospitality and the chance to visit Seattle for the first time. I’m thankful for the color and excitement of Pike Place Market, for thought-provoking art at the Seattle Art Museum and for a Nebraska Cornhusker bar in a Seattle suburb.

Nov. 14 – I’m thankful for hot coffee and a long drive with my husband. We love driving together because we spend the time chatting, enjoying the scenery and reading to each other from our favorite magazines.

Nov. 15 – I’m thankful for early birthday wishes from old friends.

Nov. 16 – I’m thankful for 25 wonderful years on this earth. Here’s to many more!

Nov. 17 – I’m thankful for a church that trusts me with its junior high youth. I can’t wait for many more fun youth group gatherings to come.

Nov. 18 – I’m thankful for the kindness of people in this community. I’m thankful for churchwomen who make me a quilt for a wedding present. I’m thankful for a guided snowshoe trip and “winter getaway” trip from a West Glacier resort as a wedding present.

Nov. 19 – I’m thankful for a husband who cooks me a delicious birthday dinner of deer filet, from a deer he shot himself.

Nov. 20 – I’m thankful for a fabulous group of friends who I can join for dinner, drinks and conversation, followed by a celebration of November birthdays.

Nov. 21 – I’m thankful for a church community committed to the wellbeing of its members.

Nov. 22 – I’m thankful for a warm apartment filled with the smells of a good supper and the company of two lovely kitties.

Nov. 23 – I’m thankful for my brother Josh, who turns 10 years old today! I’m also thankful for one month of being happily married.

Nov. 24 – I’m thankful for the anticipation of a potluck Thanksgiving with friends tomorrow.

(Thanks Pottery Barn for the image … I wish I could spend lots of money at your store!)

Mist in the morning (and stories at night)

Today, as I drove to the daily newspaper in the valley where I live for a long day of designing the newspaper on our asinine new computer system, I was treated to some spectacular misty views on the stage road. I couldn’t help but stop to shoot a couple photos.

Idyllic, no?

In this photo, I love how the fenceline undulates up and down into the mist, with the imposing mountains behind.

NaNoWriMo update: I have written 3,955 words so far! That’s about 600 words ahead of schedule. I’m having fantastic time with the writing so far. I sneaked home for lunch yesterday and spent most of it writing. After the school board meeting last night, I went home and wrote for another hour or two. Today, I drove back from the daily newspaper, shoved some food in my mouth and wrote some more. Let’s hope I can keep up the pace!

Here’s a teeny excerpt (please note all contents of this blog are copyright!):

As Tom negotiated the next curve, Clint craned his neck to stare at the sloping back of Summit Mountain. The verdant mess of pine crept up the stone and came to an abrupt end at tree line. Every time Clint passed the mountain he thought about Brody Thompson, one of his best friends from high school, who’d gone alone to snowboard down the bowl, triggered an avalanche and came home in a body bag three days and a long search later. Clint had gotten the phone call his sophomore year at Northwestern. He’d flown home for the funeral, the one time he ever did. He remembered Brody’s girlfriend’s sobs from the front of Two Ocean United Methodist, how they seemed deliberately out of sync with the hymns. Remembered Brody’s father’s face, which looked like all the light had drained out of it. Brody’s mother wore a black veil and didn’t move during the entire service.

Clint and his best friend Derek Wilson split a case of Bud Light that night in Derek’s truck behind the Get N’ Split. They talked about Brody in the glow of the radio dial.

“Remember when he sacked that mean sonufabitch from Chester High during the game when you blew your knee? You might’ve blown your knee, but that kid looked like he might worry himself up a tree until the end of the game,” Derek laughed around a gulp of beer. “Kept looking over his shoulder and hesitating, waiting for another wicked hit from Brody.”

Clint tossed an empty can over his shoulder into the back seat and reached for another in the cardboard case between his legs.

“Remember when he first started dating Laura?” Clint recalled, a faraway look on his face. “Man, he was into her. Even skipped practice once to go make out with her in the church parking lot.”

“Yeah, they made a pretty swell pair,” Derek mused and the two clicked their beer cans together. “To Brody, snowboarder, football player, friend.”

“To Brody,” Clint replied and chugged the remainder of his beer.