I’ve been quiet and you probably think I fell into the ocean or got blown away by coastal storms. But no, I’m still here, learning all I can about my new home.
The reason I’ve been silent is that I’ve been busy. For a tiny dot on the map between Yachats and Lincoln City, Newport’s population is about the same as the town I left in Idaho. If you want a Costco or a Lowe’s you have to drive several miles, just like I did in Idaho. But unlike the town I left behind, there is so much more to do here I barely have time to read, let alone write.
Check out the latest issue of Oregon Coast Today and you will see there is always something going on. Add to that everything happening in The Valley between here and Portland and there is no time to be bored. Ever.
Take for instance last weekend. Since I don’t like to drive Portland traffic my son quietly obliged, taking me to Portland’s annual book festival Wordstock. I was so revitalized I’m still vibrating. My favorite author, Alice Hoffman, was in town and spoke about her new book Faithful. She even signed my copy and thanked me for stopping by. So many other talented writers attended, not to mention many Oregon presses including Ooligan Press, Tin House, and my favorite, Laura Stanfill from Forest Avenue Press. If that wasn’t great enough, admission to the event included admittance to the Portland Art Museum and the Andy Warhol exhibit. Now my son was vibrating, snapping pictures and studying one-of-a-kind art. Yes, it was raining. But in spite of the rain, it was a positive, energizing day.
That evening my family took in The Drowsy Chaperone, a musical put on by my grandson Dante’s high school class. The students were top notch, high energy, and amazing. The day ended with dinner at The Ram and a glass of wine. Perfect.
Many people told me I was crazy to move to Oregon. Several said I’d get depressed and miss the sun. And even though I miss my friends in Idaho, and sometimes I do miss the sun, mostly I love it here. Even when it’s raining.
For more than thirty years my vacation destination was the Oregon Coast. Leaving behind stressful jobs and busy schedules, my husband and I drove to the coast, almost every year, usually in late September or early October. We’d rent a vacation home overlooking the ocean and do nothing. Well, not really nothing. He’d golf and I’d either write or read. We’d take long walks on the beach, or just sit back and watch the sun set. We loved the quiet easy-going pace we found here and a chance to unwind and recharge before heading back to the real world in Idaho.
If you know anything about the Oregon Coast, you know there is always something happening here, either in Lincoln City or all the way down the coast to Florence. Even after all those trips, we never had time to do everything we wanted to do. Often we would leave saying next time I’m going to ….
One of the things I always wanted to do was attend one of the writer’s events back when they were still held in Yachats. But I could never fit it into our schedule.
When we moved to Oregon, one of the first things I did was attend a Writers on the Edge event at Nye Beach. It wasn’t long before I joined the board and became more involved in the organization.
A strong writing community is one of the reasons I moved to Newport. After thirty years, I still feel like I’m seeing the ocean for the first time. And every day I spend here, I learn to love Oregon more.
For our final event, Writers on the Edge will host Johnny Bargain on June 18 at 7 p.m. at the Visual Arts Center on Nye Beach. If you’re in the area, please stop by and help us celebrate a wonderful organization. And just in case you are interested, here are some things you may not know about our next author, Johnny Bargain.
11 things you may not know about JOHNNY BARGAIN
1) Why did you become a Writer? How did you get started?
The stories from my past were circling in my head. I’d wanted to write a letter to my friend’s 18-year-old son who had been gunned down in the 1960s by the police as he rode his Harley Sportster in Rosebank, Staten Island. Three bullet holes punctured the boy’s back, for no good reason at all. I wanted Stitch to know he had not been forgotten even though 50 years have gone by. The memories weighed heavily and I couldn’t shake them.
Over time, I mentioned some of the incidents to Carla Perry, publisher at Dancing Moon Press and she suggested that I record them on a tape recorder since I didn’t have the patience, eyesight, or ability to write them out on paper and I don’t have a computer. She said the stories were tragic, appalling, poignant, eye opening, and funny, and that they provided a glimpse into the world of motorcycle clubs and gangs that was unlike anything she’d encountered before.
So I headed down to California for a three-day biker party and by day ten, I’d managed to record several stories. Carla transcribed the recordings when I returned, but she said more stories were needed to flesh out a full book. When I said I couldn’t remember more, she suggested I create a map of my Rosebank neighborhood — the bars, Dapper Dan’s motorcycle shop, the houses where I lived, the police station, the location of the murders, the location of infamous parties, the cemetery where Stitch was buried, and the various motorcycle club headquarters. Each time I drew a building or marked an X on the map, stories flooded out, clear as the day they’d happened. So, I headed south again for another biker party and came home with plenty of material.
2) What is your writing routine? How do you discipline yourself to keep at it?
I clear the space in my head by inhaling sweet weed, think of an incident from my past, turn on the tape recorder, and start talking.
3) How many drafts before you feel the book is finished?
Carla Perry prepared three drafts for me. The first was to make sure the information was correctly transcribed and that I was okay with the short story titles. The second was to put the stories in order and correct name spellings. The third was the final draft. The cover designer, Sarah Gayle, also drew cartoonish maps to illustrate the locations where the stories took place, so those are interspersed throughout the book.
4) What was the best thing that happened with regard to your writing career? The worst?
The best thing was getting the stories out of my head so I don’t have to remember them anymore. I feel a sense of freedom knowing I’ve done what I hoped to do – reconnect with Stitch by writing this book dedicated to him. The worst thing is there are still more stories I’d like to get down on paper. Maybe there will be a volume 2.
5) What part of your job do you love the most? Hate or dislike the most?
I can’t write longhand anymore because my eyesight is not so good and I will never use a computer, so talking into the tape recorder worked great for me. Telling stories from my past is not a job. It’s something I’m compelled to do to make peace with my early life.
6) What was the best advice you received as a writer? The worst?
The best advice was when Carla Perry suggested I draw a map of my neighborhood. That was amazing. Every street corner, every bar and tavern, the cafes, the movie theater, the houses my friends lived in, every building, park, church, and school contained vivid stories from my life in Rosebank, Staten Island. It was like taping into full-color movies of what went on in the 1960s. I could remember conversations, the sounds, the smells. It was all there, hidden away in my memory.
7) Who has influenced you the most in terms of developing your personal writing style?
I just speak it out so my writing style is just the same way I talk. Except it’s a little more cleaned up through the editing process.
8) If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I’m a retired building engineer. I’m an artist of three-dimensional representations that hang from the ceilings and walls. I’m already 80 years old. I never planned to become a published author.
9) What quote or personal saying do you live by?
“If I don’t see you real soon, I’ll see you down the road someday.” (lyrics from “Car Outside” © Jimmy LaFave.)
“I’m surprised you’re alive.” – Fred, a member of Johnny’s Yoga class.
10) What’s next up for you, writing-wise?
Maybe more stories. Volume 2 of “A Collection of Bummer Summers.”
11) What would you like us to know about your latest release?
The absolutely true stories of my life are in that book.
Yesterday I received an email from my brother. So, it said, do you still like it there?
Let me think.
I’m headed into the third month in my new house. The boxes are unpacked. Everything has been put away or donated to Goodwill. Most of the pictures are on the wall, with the remaining three in a dining room chair waiting for me to find the perfect place. Finally there is time to take a walk through the wooded neighborhood or sit in front of the window and sip coffee. Finally there is time to take in some community events, which are many.
In spite of the loud clothes my husband sports, we are quiet people. We don’t like a lot of hustle and bustle or big crowds. Newport is anything but quiet during the summer months, but come September vacationers return to their homes and things settle down here. But not too much. In fact, not at all. We’ve discovered there is always something to do on the Oregon Coast. From Lincoln City to Florence, there is always something going on: farmer’s markets, mushroom walks, kite festivals, writing workshops, woodworking classes. This is not a community of old people. This town is very active.
Newport isn’t as big as Jerome, Idaho, which boasts approximately eleven thousand people. Newport has a population of about ten thousand after tourist season. Newport has a great medical facility and the library is awesome for such a small town. Just this week the Newport Public Library Foundation sponsored author Marja Mills, who spent her day talking to Newport students and then, that night, read from her book and shared with the community what it was like to live next door to Alice and Harper Lee in Monroeville, Alabama. The evening was interesting, and it was free.
Today the sun is shining. Outdoors it’s a balmy 50 degrees. There is no wind. There is no snow. There is no freeway traffic.
So, to answer my brother. Yes, I still like it here. No, wait, that’s wrong. I not only like it here, I think I’m in love.
Any time I get to hang out with writers and artists is a good time. Thanks, everyone, for stopping by and making this a great event.
Every day I give thanks that I live in such a nurturing community. Thank you Magic Valley and Barnes & Noble for a great afternoon talking about books and writing. I love my job.
June, July and August, my three summer friends . . .
Gosh, I love the old songs. This one was always one of my favorites. And it is so true, soon it all must end because here we are smack in the middle of July already. But I’m keeping busy. Here’s what I did this weekend. Thank you Magic Valley and Barnes & Noble for a great event.
My writing partner and I had a great time speaking with more than three hundred fifth-graders at the annual Career on Wheels held at the Eldon Evans Expo Center in Twin Falls on May 21. One of these students might be the next Stephen King or Alice Hoffman.
Almost 50 people turned out Oct. 15 to hear Marie Cuff of Boise, executive director of the International Paranormal Reporting Group, discuss paranormal activity in Idaho.
The International Paranormal Reporting Group has been serving Idaho and Oregon since 2000 and is a member of the TAPS organization.
The event, held at the Twin Falls County Historical Museum, was sponsored by Other Bunch Press to kick off submissions for its upcoming book, “Hauntings from the Snake River Plain.”
Cuff discussed the mission of the group, talked about different types of hauntings and shared audio and video clips from the group’s investigations.
Check out a news story on KMVT-TV about the event.
Do you believe in ghosts?
Do you have a ghost story about Idaho to tell?
Join us for A Ghostly Affair, as Marie Cuff, Executive Director of the International Paranormal Reporting Group, and her team talk about paranormal activity in Idaho. The Other Bunch will provide details on submitting your ghost stories for its new book, Hauntings from the Snake River Plain. Marie and her team will be investigating historical Stricker Ranch the night before. Come find out what she found lurking in the dry cellar, if anything. This will be a fun event, and admission is free!
When: October 15, 2011
1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Twin Falls Historical Museum
21337A US HWY 30, Filer, Idaho
Join us for an enlightening day and learn a little about the history of southern Idaho. Hope to see you there!
Join me and over 20 Idaho Authors on October 1, 2011, for the Canyon Rim Bookfest. Admission is free. From 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. participants will share tips and tricks every author should know. The bookfest continues 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Twin Falls Center for the Arts, 195 River Vista Place, Twin Falls, Idaho. Call (208) 734-2787 for more information.
I’ll be joining writers Patricia Santos Marcantonio, Dixie Thomas Reale, Jennifer DeNaughel, Betty Hare, Cliff Johnson, Niels S. Nokkentved, Jack Goodman, and Merri Halma at a holiday book fair December 11, 2010, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Zulu Bagels & Java Jungle, 1986 Addison Avenue East, Twin Falls, Idaho. Stop by, say hello, and support these local authors. Our books will make great stocking stuffers.
Some people shake their heads when I tell them where I live. They know where Twin Falls is, but they have no clue where to find Jerome, Idaho.
Jerome is eleven miles northwest of Twin Falls, or as locals say, “North of the river.” Jerome is smaller, and not as busy as Twin, but Jerome has its distinct advantages.
Take for example the Smithsonian Institution’s exhibition “Journey Stories.” This traveling exhibition is slated to visit up to 30 states and 180 communities through 2015. In Idaho, Jerome is one of two towns hosting the exhibition. The other town is Hailey.
Mobility is part of our American heritage. “Journey Stories” will try to answer some of the questions surrounding our mobility. Where are you from? What is your story? Why do we move? How do we move? Do you think changes in transportation have changed us as a nation? Why would people need to think about moving or exploring?
My own family moved from Bismarck, North Dakota, to Twin Falls, Idaho, in 1959 because my father hoped for a better job working as a serviceman for Sears. Coming from a farming community, Idaho seems to suit my family well. My parents are deceased, but my brothers and I still reside in Idaho. We have moved away from Twin Falls, but not very far. We seem tied to the land and the many adventures living in Idaho brings.
How did your grandparents come to America? Why did they come? If you have a travel story you would like to share, go to Journey Stories and share your story. And if you are near Jerome, Idaho, in December, drop by the Jerome Public Library anytime after December 11, 2010, to see this memorable exhibition.
The Other Bunch is putting the finishing touches to our Finding Your Voice workshop that will be held April 17 in Twin Falls, Idaho. We are excited to have bestselling author Joanne Pence as our guest speaker. Her books have been USA Today and Independent Mystery Bookstore Association bestsellers. Author of more than thirteen books, Joanne will lead a workshop on how to find your own unique voice.
Other workshops will include Tools to Fire up your Creativity, Memoirs: Who has to Right to Write One which includes family histories, Creating Sparks and Banning Doubts, and The Writer’s Life.
If you’ve ever had the desire to write, this workshop is for you. You can find out more about the workshop here.
Dixie, Pat and I had a great time reading and answering questions at “Random Readings” last week in Boise at The Cabin. The room was full and there were so many questions and great discussions we ran over our allotted time by half an hour. As things get increasingly tough for writers (downsizing, magazines and papers folding) it’s nice to gather with other writers to discuss alternative opportunities. If you live in Idaho and haven’t already joined the Idaho Writers Guild, give it some thought. This is a professional group of writers helping other writers so we can all do what we love. For those of you who stopped by to say hello, or bought our book, thanks so much for your support.
I’m starting the new year out right. On January 30, I’ll be reading from “Voices from the Snake River Plain” in Boise at The Cabin. I’m excited to be part of the Idaho Writer’s Guild and participate in their first event for 2010. If you are in the Boise area on January 30, stop by The Cabin between 1 – 3 and join us while we talk about books, writing, and publishing. Hope to see you there!
Here is the Idaho Writer’s Guild news release.
The publishing world is changing daily, it seems, and there’s a lot of interest in the area of non-traditional forms of publishing. As “Writers Working for Writers,” the Idaho Writer’s Guild is proudly launching a new series called “Random Readings” on Saturday, January 30th from 1-3 pm at The Cabin, in Boise. Featured writers will share their experiences, from writing to publishing.
Here’s what you can look forward to: authors will read from their books, with commentary. Afterwards, there will be time for asking questions and sharing thoughts about the nuts and bolts of a variety of publishing processes. Not-to-be-missed refreshments will be served.
Southern Idaho residents Bonnie Dodge, Dixie Thomas Reale and Patricia Santos Marcantonio wrote and published “Voices from the Snake River Plain.” A collection of short stories, poems and essays, the book has been described as “a small treasure….we learn there is beauty in the landscape around us and people with stories to tell.” Some of the tales by these award-winning writers include a jackalope, an old Mexican ghost story, haunting landscapes and a road trip with Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey.
Val Robertson was the former president of The Couer du Bois Chapter of Romance Writers of America, and the founding and current president of the Popular Fiction Association of Idaho, which produces the Murder in the Grove mystery conference. She is also the organizer of the Boise Speculative Fiction writer’s support group. Her debut novel is entitled “Blade’s Edge.”
Also from Boise, Ken McConnell is both traditionally published and self-published. A Software Test Technician, Ken wrote and published “Starstrikers” in 2008. His first novel is “a military space novel that takes place between two galactic civilizations.” He also wrote “Null Pointer,” a mystery novel about a programmer sleuth.
“Random Readings” will take place in the Jean Wilson Reading Room, on the basement level at The Cabin, 801 S. Capitol Blvd, Boise. Admission is free. For further information contact Diane Graham at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On November 6, Pat, Dixie and I enjoyed reading excerpts from Voices from the Snake River Plain to a standing-room-only crowd in Twin Falls, Idaho. A heartfelt thanks goes out to everyone who helped celebrate the launch of our new book. If you missed the event, copies are still available at the Magic Valley Arts Council, 132 Main Avenue South, Twin Falls, Idaho. They are also available at the Log Cabin Literary Center, 801 S. Capitol Boulevard in Boise, Idaho.