Saturday, June 30, 2012

About Time - Double Time On The Oregon Trail

I am pleased to say, that after working on this little book for around 14 years, it has finally been published on Kindle for $3.99 or for $11 in paperback.  The kindle version is available now at

 and the paperback is available now as well from CreateSpace.

or on Amazon at

If you have been following this site, then you know the book is written for those students in middle school who are studying the Oregon trail and have developed an interest.  I just want to re-state that so no-one is disappointed at finding the print larger and the story simpler than they expected.

The past and present meet on the Oregon Trail when two girls travel the same trail with the same lap desk 152 years apart. 
Kenyon is traveling in 2002 from Pittsburgh to Salem, OR. Her mother is pregnant and staying behind to close escrow on the house and then flying west to join the family. Kenyon; her 5 year old sister, Melissa and her father are in a Dodge Caravan, with a trailer hitch. Her Grandfather has given her a plain, black polished ebony wooden lap desk lined with a scented wood that still smells faintly of cedar. The box is filled with thick, creamy paper, envelopes, a calling card, a hand mirror, pens and pencils and a small Swiss army knife, postage and an electronic address book. Her Grandfather is not moving with them but plans have been made for him to fly out in December for a visit. Kenyon strongly resents being expected to entertain Melissa at the motels in the evenings. Her father has decided to take the long way and show his girls some of the wonders of this country and Melissa is excited but Kenyon is determined to not have any fun.
Traveling in 1850, Della, age 15, has already traveled from Northern Illinois to St. Louis, then a week by steamboat on the Missouri river. She stopped in Independence, MO to prepare for the journey and meet with the wagon train. She left behind her 60 year old grandmother who feels too old to attempt the trip, but who gave her a gift of a wooden lap desk. The desk is filled with paper, a small mirror, wooden handled pens with steel nibs, a metal letter opener, hair pins and a small sewing kit. Her younger brother, Orville, her father, and her pregnant mother are traveling with her. She has been asked to teach the younger children around the campfire in the evenings.
What happens when they open the desk to see the other girls journal?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

4th of July Freedom from the Mind Bog

 On October 19, 2011 I wrote about why I was bogging down in writing my Oregon Trail Novel, before that, on August 3 I gave you the prologue to my Oregon Trail, work in progress, and on Sept. 12 I shared the first chapter. 

Now I am delighted to report that I suddenly came unbogged.

I restarted the Monday after school got out.  Three days after my youngest son graduated from high school.  Every day I set my alarm and got up like I was still teaching, and started writing again on this story that I think I first began in 1998 or 1999.

Today I finished the second draft of the novel.  I am so pleased with it, and I hope that you will com to love it also.

 Subject:  The past and present meet on the Oregon trail when two girls travel the same trail with the same lap desk 152 years apart.  Sometimes they open the desk and find the other girl's things including a diary.

Rationale or takeaway point:  the fact that while modern conveniences have made daily travels and chores easier, people haven’t changed enough to lose the sense of hope and fear and the dream of a better life at the cost of the old security.  The blindness of prejudice can be overcome with trust and familiarity.
I have decided to share the 4th of July Chapter to celebrate.

CHAPTER 14 – Della

Dear Journal,
The wagon train has stopped for a time to rest the animals and allow for the hunting of fresh meat. Fresh meat! My mouth waters simply from writing the words. While we are stopped, there is less of the endless dust to breath, but even so, when I blow my nose – it covers my pocket rag with clay. I guess I should be glad I am not using the embroidered hankies with Mother’s careful tatting on the borders.
The mention of dirty hankies and the bloody fingerprints on this page should let you know which task the women are employed at during the lull in this endless trail.
We made camp beside enough clean water to do laundry, and the cold water rinse, the boiling water wash, and the lye soap have removed skin from our hands as they removed dirt and grease from our clothing and bedding. If lugging the water and armloads of cloth doesn’t put a permanent stoop in my back, hunching over the rocks to pound the clothing will. At last the prairie around the camp is white with cloth spread out to dry and bleach in the sun and for a moment I had time to write.
Now I must find Orville and . . . well, he comes at a run even now – shouting that the men are returning. Here we can see Independence Rock and tomorrow we shall celebrate the birthday of this nation. We shall celebrate even more if they have managed to bring us fresh meat, and there were a lot of buffalo nearby so the hope is strong.

Della tucked the desk into place in the wagon and hurried to join her brother. When she saw the men were indeed returning, and that eight groups of them were leading horses, dragging large buffalo quarters, she called to the women. They quickly assembled a group to help carve and share out the steaks and roasts and begin cooking a feast.
Along with the buffalo they had sagehen and antelope. There were bottles of pickles to be opened and shared out and the water could be flavored to make a “lemonade” using sugar, citric acid and a few precious drops of essence of lemon.
Today, they would also bake pies in their Dutch ovens with glowing coals both beneath and on the lids of those essential kettles. While the women worked at cooking, the men helped serve out the leftover bacon and cornbread from the morning meal to the hungry children, and in a burst of good spirits, they organized some races and contests of sharpshooting and axe throwing.
Mother insisted on helping, but stopped often to straighten and press a fist to her lower back when she thought no one was looking. Finally, the meal was cooking and the other women encouraged her to go sit in the shade and watch the games.

Nobody slept in the next morning, even though they would not be traveling. The ones who wanted to were planning on going to the giant, turtle shaped hill and climbing up to the top or reading the names of the many who had been there before them. They had waited until today so that when they carved their names in the sandstone, or painted them on in axle grease, they could proudly add the date July 4, 1850.
Being at Independence Rock on Independence Day made them all very much aware of their place in the history of the birth of a great nation. Della had prepared her students for the day by gathering scraps of red, white and blue cloth and helping them sew a flag, complete with 30 stars although when they left back East there was rumor that California would soon add the 31st star too the flag.
The children walked together and sang the songs that they had been working on; songs like “The Star Spangled Banner” which they sang loudly and badly, and “Yankee Doodle” which had them laughing and joyful, songs of America to stir the pride and blood of all of them as their little parade crossed the grassy flat lands and the enormous rock loomed ever larger. Their song paused and then resumed even louder as they realized it was being joined by other groups as overlanders converged upon the landmark for the holiday.
That evening they dressed in costumes and had a contest to see which children could recite the most from “The declaration of Independence.” They gave three cheers for America and danced until long after dark.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Books On My Shelves, Review

This time I just feel so incredibly blessed to have a fellow blogger, all the way over in India, read my book and feature it on her book review blog

I need to say that she did a very thorough and flattering review and that she participates in a very cool program where she collects books to donate to a school, so not only did she read and review my books but she is making sure that they get into the hands of students in India.

Please check out her blog, and if you feel so moved, leave her a comment or send her books for her school project.  Many Many thanks

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Random June Moments

 I know that I need to write something on this blog simply to get the giveaway off the top spot since the giveaway has ended and my book is back to $2.99 on kindle.  Yet, what to write?
 June has been strangely unfocused and "eclectic" around my world.  We had storms and sun and School and the crazy life changing moments that happen when your last baby is about to graduate from High School and your world is tilting on its axis.

I did find a fun recipe that I had to try, an apple tart baked in the apple itself 

 and I got to dog sit for my oldest son when he went up to Seattle for a LMFAO concert.  My Greyhounds have not been replaced, so it was nice to have dogs in the house again, and nice to send them home later too.

 I live in  a gorgeous neighborhood, so both this redwood state park and the drive-in movie are within an easy walk of my house.  Strange to think that the barren drive-in movie lot was once a lush forest too.
 This falling down house is between the drive in and the state park campground
 The rhododendrons are looking lush right now
 We spent a long evening, cheering as the community gave around $400,000 dollars in scholarships to graduating seniors and my son and his girlfriend both got their share.  We are amazed and proud and grateful.

 Today was a Saturday farmers market and then a beach walk.

In just a week the graduation will be over and I will hopefully be able to focus on my writing more.  Hopefully.  For all of you who are already out of school, or at least on summer mode, enjoy!