Monday, May 2, 2016

May: A Homestead-Style Celebration for Mothers

When I was far from home and a freshman at the University of Wisconsin, my friend Ann's mom would invite me to Sunday dinner every week. They lived in Madison -- a big city for someone who'd graduated with a class of 84 kids. My freshman class was 7,000.  Anyway, she'd prepare roast beef, cooked to perfection vegetables and always some sweet and comfy-food dessert. Leftovers were a given.  She made certain that I had at least one good meal a week. She was a fill-in  mom for my own mom living several hours away. Ann's mom has "walked on" as my Native American friends say as has my own mom but they are remembered with love.

This month as part of our celebration of my 70th and Homestead's 25th, I'm seeking nominations of moms. Fill-in moms; your mom; your neighbor who is a mom to bunches of kids in the neighborhood though she never had any kids of her own; moms who visit other moms at assisted living facilities or bring food to that elderly couple just down the street or who are super transport moms taking kids to preschool, soccer practice, the equestrian team practice.  Tell us your "mom" story.

Meet Evariste, our Batwa friend and his mom 
who motivated him to go to school and become a 
member of parliament and work on behalf of his people. 
In  May we celebrate Mother's Day, an observation begun in 1908 and formalized in 1914 in the United States. We all have moms and our experiences of them are as varied as snowflakes -- intricate and unique. Some moms are round and warm and funny. Some mom's are tall and lean and serious and some are both. Please consider nominating a mom in your life and tell us the story. Use the form please. We'll select a winner who will receive a signed copy of Homestead as will the nominator. All names go into the pool for selection of lunch in August with Jerry and me and three of the winner's friends.  At the homestead! Help me honor moms...I  miss mine immensely.  If this is the first you are hearing about our Homestead Celebration, you can read all about it here.

We continue to raise funds for Burundi as well through purchases on my website or monetary donations through PayPal.  You can read exactly how to give on the Homestead Celebration launch post here.

My September release, by the way, is about a woman named by the Oregon Legislature as the "Mother of Oregon." More to come on that....

Monday, April 18, 2016

The Cocoon of Cancer: An invitation to Lovely Deeply - an interview with author Abbe Rolnick

One of the joys of being a writer is attending events with tons of other writers and booksellers. A few years ago, at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers annual event, Jerry and I enjoyed a breakfast when a woman introduced herself to me as Abbe Rolnick. Her husband finished up his breakfast behind her and she joined us for a few minutes. She’d been reading my Story Sparks in which I’d shared about Jerry’s many vertebra fractures. She said her husband Jim had been dealing with the same thing and we both figured it was severe osteoporosis but were going through the cancer inquiries. Small world we caregivers find ourselves in.

We exchanged emails and not long after we connected again. I could tell her that Jerry’s diagnosis was severe osteoporosis and he’d begun daily injections (following his three kyphoplasty surgeries). She told me of Jim’s new diagnosis: Multiple Myeloma and his complex evolution of the cancer. Her emails spoke of hope wrapped in the reality of the fragility of morality. When she sent me her book Cocoon of Cancer: An Invitation to Love Deeply. I saw the writing as a healing force for her and that Abbe’s words could bring insight and hope for others. Abbe joins me today and I’m delighted to encourage the reading of her book by anyone touched by cancer – or any debilitating disease.

Thanks for joining me today, Abbe. Can you tell us what you mean by Cocoon of Cancer? 
The moment Jim and I entered into the world of cancer, I felt that we had left behind our normal life. A cocoon encases and protects. Jim has two tattoos, one on each arm. One is f a butterfly and one is a frog. Both go through a metamorphosis. With cancer the change is internal, and there is no guarantee that you will emerge. The world outside matters less. Jim and I view life differently than before. We saw others with cancer and connected on an emotional level. Bonds fortified and nurtured us. Even now with Jim in remission, there is a separation from the old way of living. The cocoon still holds us. We may look the same, but inside we are more aware: we care more, give more.

The cocoon is a great metaphor for all the changes you’ve had. Why did you write this book? 
I didn’t mean to write anything. My essays and poems were part of how I began my days. I’d get up early, before Jim woke, to find my center, to connect all my emotions. I wrote so that I could be strong for Jim. Jim wrote to understand scientifically the cancer and the protocols.
Somehow our words made a difference to our friends and gave them an inside view of cancer. I found that the staff and doctors valued the essays. They don’t often get to hear the thoughts of the patient and caregiver. The essays made us all more human and provoked questions and answers that no one anticipated.

Your words add to the good research about writing and healing. Is this your first involvement with cancer?
Just before Jim was diagnosed, I had started writing my third novel in which the main character’s twin sister had died of bone cancer. Fiction became reality when Jim called me up to tell me his fractured back wasn’t because of osteoporosis and that he had an advanced stage Multiple Myeloma.

During his year of treatment, my mother was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. In breaks between caring for Jim, I’d fly down to be with my mother. Ten days with Jim, five days with my mother. She passed after only three months. I was blessed to be able to hold her hand as she left this world.

Those are moments that stay with us always. Tell us a little more about your writing of this book. How long have you been at work on Cocoon of Cancer? How did the idea originate?
Months before Jim received his diagnosis, I noticed his decline. I wrote words of encouragement to keep us both going. When the actual diagnosis came, my writings became a way to share the journey with family, friends and even the staff at the cancer clinic. The by-product of Jim’s year treatment became, Cocoon of Cancer: An Invitation to Love Deeply.

A much more powerful by-product than pain! Did this book involve special research?
As a caregiver, I needed to know what to expect and independently gathered material from the internet, the cancer clinics, and magazines. Understanding Multiple Myeloma takes more than a simple definition. It isn’t a blood cancer, it isn’t a bone cancer. Plasma cells aren’t the same thing as the plasma in your blood. Months would go by and we would think we understood until determinations from doctors like “a mutation of your P53 gene puts you in the highest risk level,” set us off on more research. Jim and I went to the library at Fred Hutchinson Research Center, part of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, to find the history of bone marrow transplants. We learned the term M-spike and how the excretion of this protein devastated Jim’s spine. We researched each and every trial and medication offered. Our understanding helped form new questions. Because now, according to Dr. Fred Appelbaum, is the ripest time in the world of cancer research, Jim saw more hope than frustration in his diagnosis. Our questions mirrored those of actual researchers. Did we find answers? Some, and with others we can only hope for more technological advances. Since this is a book of inspiration for those with cancer, the more important research was a journey of understanding and patience.

Caregiving encompasses a universe of feelings. Your book offers a map through some of the challenges. Did the book entail any unusual writing habits or places?
I wrote in the wee hours of the morning, before Jim awoke, or while he rested most of the day. I wrote in the doctors’ offices, and sometimes right after procedures to keep my mind occupied and off the sadness or worry of “what if”.

We writers are always having to explore marketing when we decide to open ourselves up to others through a book. What do you see as competition for your book and how does your book differ? What are the special markets and promotional key point of your book?
Cocoon of Cancer, is a memoir on the journey of cancer, and it is also an inspirational book that encourages the caregiver, the newly diagnosed, staff members, and anyone who faces a debilitating illness. While this book deals with the specifics of multiple myeloma, many cancers follow a similar protocol. The crossover allows for a wider audience. Because it is written from the caregiver’s and the patient’s viewpoint, it is less technical and more personal. As a gift book, the prose and poetry give voice to the ups and downs of any illness, and celebrates the spirit that lives on.

I thought of it as an inspirational memoir with poetic overtones. I like that it “celebrates the spirit that lives on.” Would you say this is a book about death?
The idea of death becomes a reality with the diagnosis of cancer. Cocoon of Cancer is about intimacy. It is about living. Both Jim and I never changed what we enjoyed. We talked about death, but each day we made a choice. We chose to laugh more. During the procedures, the chemo, radiation, the stem cell transplants, we didn’t plan for the future. Those days, we learned. We participated in his healing. This may seem odd, but death became our friend. Jim told me the other day he now has to rethink death. I smiled. He knows life.

Yes, it is a book about intimacy. What would you say to those newly diagnosed with cancer?
I would offer my hand with warmth. I would let them know that the process, while difficult, is doable. That the bond begins with each of them. That they have entered into a select group of people who have value not yet tapped. Their journey will teach lessons unasked for. The will live a life fuller and freer, as well as more defined.

Now that Jim is in remission, what is next? 
We will ignore the statistics. We will continue to live our life. We will pay attention. We are still in the cocoon.

Thanks so much for sharing this intimate journey with your readers and with me today. We’ll continue to hold you in our hearts as you continue to live your lives, still in the cocoon. 

To get a taste of Abbe's writings, subscribe to Abbe's notes, short and quick writes of her morning thoughts as the world sleeps and before the sun rises.  They are enlightening!  Read a few here an subscribe

Abbe is establishing her social media platform and enjoys connecting online.  You can find her here:
Goodreads (and right now one of her fiction titles is a giveaway through the end of the month: River of Angels

Friday, April 1, 2016

April: A Homestead Style Celebration for Non-Profits and Small Businesses

Thank you to everyone who nominated a library in March, our winner will be announced Monday, April 4th

We're into the third month of my 70th birthday celebration and the 25th birthday of Homestead. Each month we're celebrating a different category of homesteading spirit, people who keep dreams and stories alive. This month its non-profits and small businesses.

“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.” ― Oscar Wilde, The Critic as Artist

In Bend, Oregon, we are celebrating 30 years of a community kitchen providing daily meals for families individuals, children. Trinity Episcopal Church began the non-profit that still has a 91 year old volunteer who was there at the beginning. People saw a need and together they found a way to meet it. A woman visiting East Africa sat next to a man for an eight hour bus ride attempting to talk while struggling with a language barrier. They spoke enough. He expressed a need of his Batwa people and Kelly Bean returned to Portland, Oregon and began a non-profit today serving people in Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania and Kenya with projects to enhance people's independence, identity, dignity and sustainability. I love that outcome drawn from someone having an idea that touches the lives of others in a positive way. Homesteaders hope for well with their neighbors and doing good work while building up a life.

In a town near us, a woman dreamed of owning a bookstore. (Writers often imagine running a bookstore...all those books to read!) The owner of a bookstore in the same town had health issues that drained his world and he looked for a buyer. Herringbone Books was born! A dreamer met someone dreaming of a change and the big winner? The community that gets to keep its bookstore access.

This month, we're honoring non-profits and the entrepreneurial spirit that comes with seeing a need and acting to fix it...or having a small business dream and deciding to follow it. Who in your world is a super volunteer at a non-profit or who started one? Who saw a need and moved to meet it? Or what about that neighbor who started her home business, could she use a little acknowledgment? I'd love to hear about them. Just use the form to nominate. YOU will receive a copy of Homestead and so will your nominee if their name is drawn for April.  Both of your names go into the grand prize drawing for lunch on AUGUST 6, 2016 for three of your friends to have lunch with Jerry and me at the homestead.

To nominate someone, or yourself, fill out the google form.

In the words of John Lennon: “A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” Help me celebrate the reality of a dream achieved.

If you are visiting us for the first time and are not familiar with our 6 month long giveaway, you can read all about it starting here: February's Homestead Celebration

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

March: A Homestead-Style Dream for Libraries

(thank you to everyone who submitted nominations for February!  The book winner will be announced on Friday.  If this is the first you have read about A Homestead Style Dream, visit this post here).

In pioneering days on the Oregon coast, people often shared their books by bringing them to the closest lighthouse. There, on seagull serenaded Sunday afternoons, farmers and fisherman brought their picnic baskets and buckets of milk or brew to sit at the edge of the Pacific. Along with them, they brought books -- or returned their selections from the weekend before. Lighthouses became the keepers of the stories, those precious structures that saved lives on stormy nights being beacons to ships on troubled seas. By day, they saved those who found comfort, healing, adventure and dreams inside stories.

Early frontier people formed communities by building churches and schools and in more than one small town, urged the local trading post to make a shelf for sharing books. That's what Ivy Stranahan did in the burgeoning river town that became Fort Lauderdale, a story I chronicled in Mystic Sweet Communion.

Libraries are also places of rescue for many today. They offer quiet (unless you're in the noisy kid section but even that's a place of rescue). Who can resist a child's giggle or shouts of enthusiasm for the latest Jon Scieszka book (he of The Stinky Cheese Man fame)? In ancient Alexandria, the greeting over the door for arriving patrons was "The Place for the Work of the Soul." Stories do that for us: they offer a window into the world and if we allow it, can transport us to what T.S. Elliot called "Still places in a turning world."

In honor of my Homestead celebration this month of March, I'm seeking nominations of libraries. School libraries, church libraries, community libraries. Maybe those sweet little pocket libraries springing up that I see on Facebook (and have one in our neighborhood as well.). Last summer, I was thrilled to be part of the Title Wave program sponsored by the Coos Bay library in Oregon. I visited lots of libraries those few days including one in Bandon (on the beach) and in a tiny hamlet called Dora in the foothills of the Coast Range. There, the library is housed in a new fire department and community center building. The idea of a library mixed right in with daily life of a community warmed my heart.

Many readers tells me they discovered my books in a senior living library or a church library. My own First Presbyterian Bend library celebrated my birthday last month with librarian Brigitt Dysart creating a collage of my works and posting it on Facebook. I can never forget my beloved Sherman-Public School library where I was a founding member and when we moved into our new facility (from a room in the high school) I helped hand-carry the collections including videos, reference books and even Caddie Woodlawn books from the children's section! During our nearly 30 years on the homestead, the library held Read Alouds and events for poetry month and brought in authors to enrich the lives of that community. That's what libraries do with stories (including those told by art and photographs that enliven the halls of libraries).

Maybe there's a specialty library that interests you. In the town of Astoria, there is an Astorian Collection that gave me information I needed to deepen the story of Marie Dorion. I'd love to hear about your favorite library. I love libraries (can you tell?) for research and admire the work of reference librarians around the world. Yes, they've led me to places Google didn't.

So for the month of March, we're accepting nominations of a library you care about. Tell us the name and maybe a story of how that library has intersected your life -- has it given you a place for the work of the soul? Or perhaps that still place to reorder your world? Maybe the librarian is your special connection. Just nominate using the Google Form we've created HERE. If your library is the winner and they already have a signed copy of Homestead, we'll see if there is another book of mine they'd like to have in their collection. You, as the nominator, as well.

Thanks for keeping the stories in your heart. Let's see if we can't honor a library keeping the stories of a community as well.

Batwa Children with NEW UNIFORMS
And just a reminder: I'm donating $3 for every online at order to the Batwa project. This fall our faith community and African helped send 150 children to school for the first time ever. It's an exciting step forward for the three villages where our Batwa friends live. And many thanks to those of you who so generously sent donations to First Presbyterian Church for the Batwa of Burundi. This is turning out to be the best birthday for me, ever thanks to you!

Have a good Women's History Month too, It's March! Warmly, Jane
If you prefer to donate for the Batwa of Burundi, you can do so here:

Friday, February 12, 2016

A Homestead-Style Dream

It's here! We're celebrating my turning 70 and the 25th birthday of Homestead. We have a plan which is of course what we had to do to build our life on the river though that didn't mean we didn’t have to make many changes to our plan along the way. That's what homesteading (and life) are about. Winston Churchill once said that "Planning is essential but plans are useless." We found that out.

But we have a plan anyway. For the next six months we will have a different opportunity for someone to receive a copy of Homestead, donate (if you wish to the Burundiproject) AND have a chance at the grand prize in August which is lunch with Jerry and me and three additional friends that the winner the homestead!

Now a winner may not be able to make that excursion down the reptile road because he or she lives in Vermont, let's say.  Or Florida. We have a plan for that. We'll identify a lovely restaurant near you, we'll pick up the tab and I'll Skype during your lunch maybe even while we're at the homestead. More details to follow.

Here's how it will work:

NOMINATE a Homestead-Style Dream:

Each month, you can nominate someone (see each month's categories below).  There are  3 ways to nominate someone:
1. Commenting on this blog
2. My Facebook Page and write on my timeline or click here to comment on the announcement post.
3. Reply to my Story Sparks newsletter (Subscribe here)
(please only use first names. If your nominee is drawn at random we'll contact you for their address -- and yours as you'll get a copy too!)

February: Individuals who have built or are in the process of building their “Homestead-Style Dream” for their family.

I'm taking a suggestion from a woman who said how much the book had meant to her when she and her husband were building their dream home, off the grid, where they wanted to raise their kids. The book gave her hope. So we'd like readers to nominate others in your lives that are pursuing their dream to begin something new that might not have the best chance of success but seems like the right thing to do.


March: Local libraries- the keeper of stories. (click here for March's post)

This can be a church library, a senior living facility library, public or non-profit library. The site will receive a signed copy and so you will the nominator.


April: Small Business owners or Non-Profits who are overcoming obstacles and pursing the "Homestead-Style Dream." (Click here for April's post)

Small business homesteaders, people who have dreams to start a business will be nominees who could use a little encouragement. And yes, you can nominate yourselves!


May: Mothers who have faced challenges and teach her children that life is like The Homestead.  (click here for May's post- NOMINATIONS OPEN NOW!)


June: Fathers who rise to the challenge in leading their family and have sacrificed so that their children can live a "Homestead-Style Dream."


July: Public Servants!!!! Police Officers, Fire Fighters, Peace Corps, Missionaries, Service Men/Women, or volunteers who have a passion and dream to serve others improve their communities and/or country.

We'll remind you each month so don't worry. We'll pick two nominees a month (and their nominators) who will each receive a copy of Homestead with the grand prize being chosen from all entries.

August will be our grand prize given out from the generosity of the new Homestead owners and from those many nominees and nominators!  Oh, and the winners will get copies of Homestead as well.

DONATE to a country where people are looking for a "Homestead-Style Dream" in search of their identities.  

Some of you remember that last year this month, I went to Burundi with two others from First Presbyterian Church Bend and a representative of African Road, a non-profit organization working in Africa with a local Christian group. We returned committed to help three villages of Batwa people, the indigenous people moved from the rain forests and marginalized by the government. Many of you helped us acquire identity cards for over 800 villagers, helped issue birth certificates and provide new suits and cloth for the dozens who chose to marry once they had ID cards. They also can now access medical services, vote, work away from their villages and utilize the justice system. If you're on Facebook you can visit scenes from these villages by visiting here.

These villagers have become our friends and last fall, we committed to helping them send 150 children to school for the first time providing uniforms, books and school fees. AND, here's the homestead part, we agreed to help them lease land, buy tools, seeds and fertilizer.  For the first time ever, they are working together to raise crops to feed their families. The size of the corn, beans and potatoes and their smiles of pride of accomplishment have been a great reward for our efforts. They are finishing their first harvest and will replant during the rainy season to have food during the dry seasons.

To honor their efforts and to continue raising funds for school fees, seeds, land leases etc, I'm donating $3 from every online book order from this year.

There are 3 ways you can donate:
  1. Placing an order online at my website
  2. Donate through directly
  3. Mail a check to First Presbyterian Church,Bend, 230 NE 9th, Bend, OR 97701.  Be sure to indicate in the check memo line or instruction space that it's for the Batwa of Burundi.
  4. Via PayPal using the "Donate" button below.
Just as our going to the land in 1984, and publishing Homestead in 1991 changed our lives, I thank you in advance for helping change the lives of others through an encouraging word, an inspirational book and now and then a dollar here and there for a people in a far away land. As the sign on our homestead gate still reads: "We seek neither convenience nor ease but to live a the edge of possibility."  That's a huge part of the "Homestead-Style Dream." Thanks for your part in these new possibilities.

I look forward to reading the various stories from our nominators!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Stalwart Life

On September 13, 2015, I helped celebrate the Stalwart Life of Eliza Spalding Warren. I wrote and read a poem at the Brownsville, OR cemetery where the DAR paid tribute to commemorate her life. Here's the poem I wrote for her. It could be a poem for many of the women I've come to know in history...and in my life. Maybe even you!

Stalwart Life
Eliza Spalding Warren

By Jane Kirkpatrick
On the Occasion of the Linn Chapter DAR Commemoration of 1938 Plaque
September 13, 2015  Brownsville, OR

Stalwart child                                                  Stalwart wife
Language-linked                                             Who listened
to English, Nez Perce                                     chose and lived
Cayuse; love                                                   with strains
                                                                        clear that love
                                                                        and duty wedded
Stalwart child                                                  on the Warren Ranch
who told stories
Kept them folded                                            Stalwart mother
in her memory,                                               takes her daughters
tears spilling                                                    back to Waiilatpu,
into sorrow                                                      back to Lapwai,
softening raged edges                                    transforms history.
                                                                        She weaves stories
Stalwart daughter                                            with new endings.
holding mother-memories
warm and strong                                             Brave Eliza
sorting father's                                                letting go of sorrow
changes and demands                                     giving words to
weaving reconciliation                                    grief
into family threads.                                         Her heart so large

Stalwart sister                                                 She reminds us -
urging safety                                                   if we allow her --
cautious laughter                                             to chose a faithful
praying for a future                                         stalwart life
putting pain to rest

The other thing that happened on that day was a gathering of 200 or more who laughed and listened and celebrated her life. Afterwards we did what every pioneer gathering did...we ate! And here is a recipe requested by many for the butterscotch brownies made and served by my good friend Carol Tedder.  Enjoy!

                   Made for The Memory Weaver  launch September 13, 2015

Melt 1/4 cup butter in medium size saucepan on low heat.
Add 1 cup brown sugar and stir until blended. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Add 1 egg and stir thoroughly.

Mix 3/4 cup flour, 1 tsp. baking powder and 1/4 tsp. salt in small bowl. Add to mixture in sauce pan.
Stir well.  Add 1 tsp. vanilla and 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans.

Spread in well-greased and floured square 8x8 pan.
Bake 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees. (Don't overbake!) Cut in squares while warm.

Excellent served warm with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel syrup!

(Carol says: Jane, I haven't tried using rice flour in this recipe but it probably would need a couple of tablespoons more than 3/4 cup to make it gluten-free.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Making it Offical: The Memory Weaver & other fun happenings!

This fine article by Jennifer Moody says so much about how I hoped a reader would be affected by The Memory Weaver. Her words are a great opening for the launch of my latest. Enjoy!

Written by JENNIFER MOODY, at Albany Democrat-Herald

Here's the thing about memory: It doesn't stay nicely tucked inside just one person's mind. Even unspoken, it can affect entire families, sometimes for generations.

At its heart, that's the lesson of "The Memory Weaver," the newest historical novel by central Oregon author Jane Kirkpatrick. Set in Brownsville in the 1850s, the novel explores the stories of Eliza Hart Spalding and her daughter, Eliza Spalding Warren, and the memories that affected their lives.

The book's official release date is Sept. 1. Kirkpatrick will be part of a launch on Sunday, Sept. 13, that starts with a Daughters of the American Revolution dedication ceremony for Eliza Spalding Warren at 11:15 a.m. at the Brownsville Pioneer Cemetery.

A no-host lunch is planned at Kirks Ferry, where a period ledger records items purchased by Andrew Warren and Henry Hart Spalding.

Kirkpatrick and Linda McCormick of the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce will be on hand from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Atavista Event Center in Brownsville, 35580 Highway 228, to discuss the book, the Spalding family and the area's history.

McCormick will show slides related to her own historic work on the Spaldings, light refreshments will be served and a quilt will be raffled to help support Brownsville's library.

Admission is free. All events are open to the public.

Kirkpatrick plans several other Willamette Valley appearances this fall to promote the book. She will be at the main branch of the Albany Public Library at 2 p.m. Nov. 14 and will visit Stayton's public library at 7 p.m. Oct. 22 and The Book Bin in Salem on Sept. 10.

The senior Eliza Spalding worked with her husband, Henry, as a missionary to Northwest Nez Perce tribes in the Lapwai Valley of Idaho. They are credited with creating a written version of the Nez Perce language and using it to translate the gospel of Matthew.

At age 10, little Eliza, studying at the Whitman mission about 100 miles away, barely escaped with her life after Cayuse Indians murdered 12 people there in 1847.

In Kirkpatrick's novel, the massacre is the memory that haunts the family, even after they moved to Brownsville, and especially after the senior Eliza died when the younger was just 13. Henry Spalding, ever driven, becomes even more radical as he grieves the death of his wife and the loss of his missionary work. His oldest daughter, buried in her own grieving and trauma, finds a kind of solace in attention from Andrew Warren, but discovers that carries a price of its own.

“I really wanted to tell the story of how a tragic event affects not just the person in the middle of it but the people around it, the people who just stand and wait," Kirkpatrick said.

Faint of heart readers need not fear: Kirkpatrick doesn't dwell on the gory details of the murders. The struggle to understand is more important to her characters and to her story.

While Kirkpatrick stays true to whatever history is known of her characters, she is clear that her works are fiction.

But even with the art of imagination on her side, this novel was harder to write, Kirkpatrick said, because she was working with so many elements: the younger Eliza's current story, her memories, the flashbacks to her mother's life, and the attempt to balance Henry Spalding's outward actions with his inward struggle.

“It was a lot more threads that I hoped I had pulled together, to make a fiber people could hold onto and say, oh, that’s what that carpet is, that's what that quilt is, that's what that weaving is.”

It was hard to say goodbye to the Spaldings when she wrapped up her work, Kirkpatrick said. So, in a way, she hasn't.

Her next work centers on Tabitha Moffatt Brown, the pioneer who helped found what would become Pacific University. She is in Forest Grove when the missionaries show up, post-massacre, and both Eliza Spaldings make a brief cameo appearance.

“I liked this family," Kirkpatrick said. "They were kind of dysfunctional in their way, but they also truly embodied the pioneer spirit of compassion for your neighbors, being resilient, no blaming the rest of the world for the plight that you have, and being willing to say if I spend too much time blaming other people for my life, it will take me away from the commitments that I have.”

If you might have missed the many events happening between now and the end of September, visit my website here to see all the opportunities for our paths to cross.  If you are on facebook, you can see them here as well.

I'm so thrilled to celebrate with my readers and launch of The Memory Weaver, I've decided to do a nice little giveaway.  There is a little bit of me sprinkled throughout all the prizes.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do giving them.   Please share with your friends!

Jane Kirkpatrick Memory Weaver
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