Blog for Release of My Traveling Man - February 22, 2017
Hey DeeDee, tell us about the diary writers of My Traveling Man
Writing My Traveling Man got me thinking about times in my life when I kept a diary. As a young girl I was enthralled by the notion of having a small pink covered book, latched by golden clasp, and opened with a miniature skeleton key. Yes, I was enticed but never owned one of these super-secret thought holders. Looking back I’m sure I suspected in my family of six privacy was not a given, I’d most likely lose the key, and what thoughts were so precious I had to record it thus?
As a college student I took longhand notes and this practice morphed into 6 X 9 ½ inch notebooks where I recorded my thoughts. But my journey as a diarist started in earnest when I began to travel as a young adult. Usually I was on my own and the journal became a place to share with a “friend,” record the daily news, and remember the important events of my trip.
Like many others I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and faithfully wrote my morning pages for a good stretch of time. This daily action inspired me to read Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards so my morning pages became morning drawings.
Because a diary is so central to the story of My Traveling Man I wondered if we ever write our journals with the expectation they may be read by others. In this novella I set out to celebrate the journal writers, diarists, and note takers who traveled the Oregon Trail between 1846 and 1869. Their thoughts and notes provide the everyday person’s mindset of pioneer’s traveling this arduous trail. Additionally, they give us an idea of natural landmarks used to mark the passing of miles. For example, an experienced wagon master believed he must get his train to a certain large rock by the fourth of July to be ahead of winter snows. The rock became known as Independence Rock and you can still see many emigrants’ names carved in it if you travel the trail in Wyoming. Some of the diaries published today are actually packets of letters sent back to family in the east as the pioneer traveled west.
Though I do not believe my diaries should or will become public, I do believe in this note taking communing with self. At this stage my diary is a large notebook, not pink and no key. In it I write small passages but more often tape photos, ticket stubs, love notes from my husband, letters from my friends, or small mementos. I don’t suspect it will be an historical document one day but the action of writing, taping, and remembering gives me pleasure. In this I feel a bond with the diarist of the trail.
Blog for Release of MY LAW MAN - July 8, 2016
Hey DeeDee What’s Up with you and Museums?
Since I started working on the Slip in Time series and creating the fictional Cowboy and Western Museum of Idaho Falls, I’ve thought a lot about museums and the important place they’ve had in my life. Though I’ve never been to a museum that slips women back into the Old West to meet or re-meet their true love, I have had some pretty wonderful museum experiences. My visit to the Denver Art Museum - http://denverartmuseum.org stands out because it inspired the interactive nature for the “Lawmen of the West” exhibit in MY LAW MAN.
My whole visit to Denver back in September 2012 was fairly magical; I found the best deli in Denver (by accident), a woman found me in line to buy a ticket for the musical Peter and the Star Catcher and gave me her husband’s unused ticket, (added bonus she was a wonderful seat companion) I saw the newest Cirque show, and one sunny afternoon took a long walk culminating in one of the best museum outings I’ve ever experienced.
The main exhibit at the Denver Art Museum that fall was “Spun, Adventures in Textiles.” Opportunities abounded in interactive exhibits including a quilt block making corner where people like me, who love quilts, but have never learned to quilt could glue together our own quilt blocks. I used black and white fabric, red triangles, buttons, ribbon, and made my very first quilt block. It sits on my writing desk, a decorative splash of color and design. Another area welcomed us to make handmade stamped postcards with outlines of cactus, cowboy hats, spurs, a barbed wire fence, a cattle brand etc. They even had postcard stamps to purchase and a mini US post office box for mailing immediately.
Their current exhibit sounds amazing and makes me want to plan a trip to Denver, Why We Dance, American Indian Art in Motion. This will highlight the museum’s annual Friendship Powwow and American Indian Cultural Celebration. What I love about this museum and the fictitious museum I’ve created is the exhibits are not only visually stunning. Oftentimes the works of art or artifacts have a listening, smelling, feeling, and even tasting component that makes them not art pieces, beautifully lit and roped off on a wall but instead an interactive event.
I used two real life museums to inspire my writing; National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma http://nationalcowboymuseum.org and in Idaho Falls, The Museum of Idaho http://museumofidaho.org both are on my “Can’t hardly wait to get there” list.
And if you still don’t think museums are you’re thing, I totally understand. In fact it was fun creating Phebe the heroine for MY LAW MAN who started off hating museums and eventually learned to love museums as much as I do:
The museum wasn’t like school where she had to sit still and memorize, but like life where she experienced living right alongside people in another time period.
Wherever you’re summer travels take you, I wish you happy reading!
December 16, 2015- For the release of MY GAMBLING MAN
When I write our Christmas letter, which frankly speaking is sometimes a “Valentine’s Day letter,” or a “Never” letter, I include a list of five fun things we did during the year just past. So this is a list of five fun things about being on a gambling riverboat. Unlike my heroine in, My Gambling Man, I cannot time slip to 1835, and board a gambling riverboat traveling down the Mississippi River. Although, I do think I’d look quite dashing in a tall stovepipe hat worn by gambling men of the time! So I am sharing these thoughts from my experience aboard the Emerald Queen a stationary paddlewheel riverboat casino run by the Puyallup Tribe of Washington state from 1996 to 2004.
Five Fun Things!
The creak and groan and bobbing movement of being on board a riverboat with a large paddlewheel. Even though we were not moving it was wonderful to lean out over the gold plated railings on deck and feel the flow of water beneath.
The buffet where I learned that prime rib is the PERFECT delivery device for horseradish. And that made me learn the joy of clutching the table with eyes tearing after chewing a perfectly dosed bite of meaty horserasdishy goodness.
Mystery shows where I could set up my friends as suspects, rat people out with abandon, make up lies, create other personas and generally have a great time that always ended with SOMEONE in handcuffs.
The slots of course! I’ve never been a big fan of table games, at least the ones where I have to bet money on the draw of the cards. However, I am definitely willing to double my twenty dollars on the penny taking “Copper Droppers.”
The moonlight reflected on the water was a beautiful sight to see. For me it was especially mesmerizing in the romantic ambience of a riverboat.
The Emerald Queen, at least the riverboat casino part, is no longer in use and at last report sits empty in its same berth at the Port of Tacoma. The Puyallup Tribe Emerald Queen Casino digs have moved closer to I-5 (The major North/South highway through Washington State) to two locations in Fife and Tacoma. And the legacy of the boat still remains during “The Battle at the Boat” fighting bouts which started at the riverboat, retained the name, but changed their locale to the I-5 Tacoma showroom.
Needless to say I am still looking forward to the time I am on a riverboat that is actually traveling down the Mississippi River. While researching my novella I did find several examples currently running, including the American Queen which cruises from Memphis, TN south to New Orleans, LA. So I guess I need to include the other “list of five things” I write for our Christmas letters… “Five things we’re looking forward to in the coming year.”
May 2015 - For the release of MY MOUNTAIN MAN
When my mother and I took a road trip from Tomah, Wisconsin to Sioux Falls, South Dakota I knew it was going to be an adventure but had no idea it would be the inspiration for a series of novellas. We set out on Interstate 90 to go to the National IFYE conference. IFYE is the International 4-H Youth Exchange and both of us had participated in the travel exchange program. My mom to India in the 1950’s and approximately 30 years later I went to Italy. The conference was a chance for both of us to connect with other IFYE’s and road trip to South Dakota, with the vow to stop where ever we wanted!
To give us a theme Mom brought along the book American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads. Author, Pascale Le Draoulec, drove through the US looking for great pie to eat, pie makers to interview and recipes to collect. We knew we needed to pare it down a bit so we focused on the by-ways near I-90 and apple pie. We hoped, and it turned out to be true, that looking for pie would give us the encouragement to look out for other hidden road trip gems.
By the time we reached Mitchell, South Dakota, home of the Corn Palace we were in full adventure mode, apple pie connoisseurs, and frankly looking for a stop that had NOTHING to do with pie! After we visited the Corn Palace and marveled at all the creative uses of the corn plant we asked a local for recommendations. She gave us directions and a brochure to the Dakota Discovery Museum another cultural highlight of the area. The brochure described the museum: “Our engaging environment invites you to explore the traditions of Native American culture and early American settlers through artifacts dating from the 1600′s through 1940.” And with that we decided to by-pass the café advertising pie and take in the museum instead.
When we arrived I was immediately drawn to the Blacksmith’s exhibit area which was set up with many of the artifacts used by early Dakota settlers. It was so realistic I could almost hear the neigh of the horse and the clang of steel horseshoes. I remember thinking, “What would it be like if this exhibit came alive and I could just walk into it?” Outside we visited the Historic Village Complex, walking from school house to settler’s home through grassy fields, kept to look like a prairie. Again, I was struck by how amazing it would be to learn history by slipping back in time. From there my imagination took off, adding conflict of course. What if you didn’t want to go back in time? And it just happened? And what if you slipped into another time and found your greatest desire?
Several years later when I was imagining the story of MY MOUNTAIN MAN I was able to create a story that tried to answer these questions.
So my Mom and I never ate pie in Mitchell but we discovered a road trip gem and eventually made it to our conference in Sioux Falls. And on the closing banquet night when we could choose between a slice of delicious looking apple pie or a raspberry sorbet… both of us chose the sorbet.
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