August 2023 Story Sparks
I have a guilty pleasure beside chocolate: it’s watching fixer-upper programs. I also read stories about 700sq ft apartments in New York City that go from a bathroom-size home to looking like we’re inside the Taj Mahal. Not that I’ll ever do a single thing those creative people do to make those changes. I just like seeing things fixed: the reveal they call it. Early in my Dale Evans/Roy Rogers movie—watching days, I loved the scenes of the old cabins being “fixed up” by Dale with new curtains, floors that in one scene were dirt become polished wood floors in the next. That Dale knew how to decorate!
On my walks, I like to see how people have fixed a yard that had an electrical unit in it, or was a corner lot they hoped to deter second grader feet from using as a short cut. Once when Jerry and I lived on the ranch, we had a dog, Josie (Mrs. Butterworthless we called her because she ate butter if left in the house by herself.) Anyway, she tore a back leg. We drove 50 miles to Goldendale, Washington to the vet. He sewed it up and when we got home, Josie jumped out of the car and tore out all the stitches. The skin was very thin and the fishing-line used to stitch just pulled through. What to do?
Worst came to worse, we’d drive another 100 miles. But we wondered if we could fix it ourselves. (Necessity is the mother of invention, right?) We needed more skin. We needed an antiseptic thread of some kind, thicker than the fishing line. And we needed something to dull the pain of the procedure. Jerry came up with using Preparation H to shrink the flesh so we plastered that on the leg. I came up with dental floss for suturing. And we had a spray thing to numb a sore throat. Off we went with our EMS afternoon. Josie tolerated the Preparation H. I sprayed the wound and Jerry used the ribbon dental floss to stitch. It held and Josie was soon back to normal (climbing on chairs to get at the butter). Jerry and I high-fived each other for days.
What is it about fixing that is so satisfying? Maybe the writer in me likes having a beginning, middle and an end. It’s exercising creativity, finding my McGyver side. For our Josie repair the option was another long drive but sometimes the challenge offers an Amazon quick fix, ordering something to make the fix because it’s easy to do. Not that I haven’t done that more than once! Multi-tasking as a caregiver gives us all permission to click “purchase.” But there is something sweet in finding an inventive way to correct a problem. Or in seeing those “Good Bones” result in making something lovely out of something “not so much.” And in these days of fast-moving life, finding a completion is satisfying indeed. Got fixing in your life? I’d love to hear your stories.
News and Reviews
Beneath the Bending Skies is a Finalist for the 2023 WILLA Literary Award for Historical Fiction sponsored by Women Writing the West. I’m so happy about that because it’s my last novel for awhile about an ordinary woman who lived an extraordinary life in Montana and California. Several people have said it reminded them of my very first novel A Sweetness to the Soul.
A reader contacted me trying to find large print books for his mom. I don’t have any and at first my publisher said they didn’t have any either. But I persisted and they contacted their contract division and reported on the large print publisher! Center Point for large print editions website is: https://www.centerpointlargeprint.com. My last three books can be found there: Beneath the Bending Skies, The Healing of Natalie Curtis and Something Worth Doing. Two other titles of mine are back ordered. And you can find any number of other great books in large print there too!
The local paper in our new home, The Redmond Spokesman came to interview me a few months ago. I thought the story would be about how much we’re enjoying our new community. And we are! The walking trails, the limited traffic, access to health satellite clinics so we don’t have to drive the 20 miles to Jerry’s doctor appointments. And the restaurants and Senior Center are pretty neat as well. Instead, the author wrote about my writing career in a blush-worthy story that was front page (above the fold, as they say). There’s an on-line version on my website jkbooks.com news and events section that includes a picture of Rupert, our Cavalier, too. The best picture of the article included a painting by Beth Verheyden who was part of the Read and Paint program about the book The Healing of Natalie Curtis. Her painting of a dancing child is so special to us. I also told a story repeated in the article about a Sherman County rancher giving me the wisdom of learning to pass good things on. Beth sent me a sweet YouTube video with a song about passing it on. A soothing tune so sing along!
Updates on screenplays: Homestead was optioned last year for a film. They now have three years to produce it. A screenwriter is working on it but I don’t know anymore!
Speaking of screenwriting, the last few months I’ve spent exercising my creativity by learning a new program Final Draft and at the request of my film agent, writing a screenplay for The Healing of Natalie Curtis. The program has visual support but I really needed a Final Draft for Dummies. I needed to read! I found a book, not quite for dummies, but it helped me learn how to use the basic tools. My film agent was familiar with the program and she helped edit my first draft. And out of the blue — another of my divine research tools — Natalie’s great nephew contacted me and we’ve been corresponding about the story, his collection of Natalie memorabilia and our shared desire to tell her story to a larger audience. He edited the script too and I discovered he’s a former editor/publisher himself. What a gift! It’s still too long I think! But the process has been very gratifying. Maybe those negative harpies have been asleep, not bothering with “an old woman pretending to write a screenplay.” As a result, I did it! Now we need a rich benefactor who is moved by Natalie’s story of faith, finding purpose and advocating for the lives of Native Americans way back in the early 1900s.
This is news about one of my favorite authors, Bob Welch. Bob hiked the Pacific Crest Trail over several years and has written a much-awaited for book titled Seven Summers (And a Few Bummers) My adventure Hiking the 2,656-Mile PCT. Some of you may think of the PCT story by Cheryl Strayed that was a movie. Bob’s story could be a movie, I have no doubt! To order visit https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Summers-Few-Bummers-Welch/dp/B0CDK8SMHC
August 26 at 5:00pm Sunriver Books and Music. Join Jane as she talks about Beneath the Bending Skies. This is always a great event in a great bookstore.
On September 9, at 5:00pm another great event (but must pre-register at sunriverbooks.com) when Craig Johnson of Longmire fame comes to Sunriver to talk about his latest book. Craig puts on a great show with his grace and humor. It’ll be a lovely early evening event. Sadly, Jane will miss this event as she’ll be on the coast researching.
Sunriver’s address is 57100 Beaver Dr, #25, Sunriver, OR 97707.
The Letter Tree: A Novel by Rachel Fordham.
I was asked to read this book early to give an endorsement which was easy to do. I don’t write many endorsements these days but for Rachel? Of course. Rachel is a talented writer (and awesome woman — wife, mother and foster mother too) who got started writing just a few years ago. The Letter Tree is set in the 1920s in Buffalo, NY and more specifically, near the zoo that was famous even back then. The publisher blurb says it’s Romeo and Juliet meets You’ve Got Mail and I confess, I did indeed think of Romeo and Juliet. But there are many more twists and turns in this congruent yet unpredictable sweet story. I loved it!
Finally, with the Writer’s Guild of America on strike halting film production on many projects— which is no laughing matter — I have a nominee for best actor to fake his own death in this short video from Australia. He did his best to fix the scene! I get it.
Have a great month. Fix what you can and celebrate it. And forgive yourself if you can’t.
P.S. I often get requests from those wishing a book list of my titles. Incidentally, Wikipedia has some errors. Visit my Bibliography webpage for the real scoop.