Category Archives: introduction

more writing process

Thanks to Marja McGraw at , I have been tagged once more for the Writing Process Blog Tour, so in case anyone missed it the first go round, here it is again!

If any of you follow more writers besides me, you’ve probably seen others doing the Writing Process Blog Tour, in which different writers discuss the stories they’re working on and how they do it. They tag the writer who tagged them, and find other writers to join in. What you get out of it? Finding new writers and spreading the word!

Here are my answers:

What Am I Working On?
Right now, I’m working on what I hope will become the first book in another series, set in what will later become Mt. Rainier National Park.  My hero is a young man from Savannah, Georgia, who is traveling west in the summer of 1885 in hopes of a cure for his consumption (tuberculosis, very common but as yet uncurable at that time, although not always fatal in the short term), but also to escape from his smothering family.  And that’s about exactly how far I am with Stephen’s story right now, except that it does have a title:  Zoetrope, which is also the name of a simple 19th century gizmo for creating the illusion of moving images, which may give you a slight idea as to where I intend to go with this one. Or not.

I’m also revising my “highway patrolman crashes his cruiser out in the wilds east of the Cascade Mountains and finds himself in the local equivalent of Brigadoon” story.  Brigadoon if it wasn’t silly and full of music, that is.  That one’s called Sojourn.

How Does My Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre?
I’ve never actually run across other books in my particular sub-genre, which isn’t to say that they don’t exist.  My books are fantasy, but they’re not quest fantasy or urban fantasy.  Definitely not urban.  Almost all of them are historical because they involve time travel and other fantastical hijinks, but they’re not in located in the usual settings for historical fantasy, even though there’s a lot of straight historical fiction, and other time travel novels for that matter, set in the Old West, but not any fantasy set in national parks that I’m aware of.  Love stories are central to all of my books, but only one of them is a genre romance, and it’s contemporary.  It’s also something of an aberration, because I have no other genre romances in the works.  I have to admit this has made my Yellowstone trilogy-plus (the plus being the short story “Homesick“, which is available for free through my website) the marketing challenge from heck.

Why Do I Write What I Do?
Because I have a penchant for looking at perfectly ordinary things and thinking, “what if?”  Well, okay, Grand Geyser is not ordinary in any normal sense of the term, but I don’t know of anyone else who has watched the Grand erupt in all its glory and thought, “wouldn’t that make a terrific time travel device!”  A lot of my writing (like much of my own sense of identity) is inspired by a sense of place, and from learning about a place’s history.  The people generally just show up and tell me that I need to take their dictation about the bizarre adventures they’ve had, which isn’t to say that they’re not important.  I read for character, pretty much full stop, so I write for it, too.

How Does Your Writing Process Work?
Lois McMaster Bujold once talked about her writing process as “writing to the next event horizon.”  That’s pretty much what I do, too (imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, especially when it works).  I brainstorm the plot until I’ve gotten as far as I can get, then I sit down and write up to that point, then I brainstorm till I’ve hit the next event horizon, then I write to that point, and so on and so forth till I’ve reached The End.

I like to know the end point I’m aiming for early on, but that doesn’t always happen, and even when it does it often changes before I get there.  The only time I actually knew the very last sentence in the book when I started was with True Gold, my Klondike Gold Rush novel and the second in my Time in Yellowstone series (yes, I managed to get Yellowstone into a Klondike Gold Rush novel – if you want to know how, read the book [g]).  I won’t say what it was because it’s a spoiler, but I knew from the very beginning exactly who was going to say the last line, and what he was going to say.  And he did!

So, that’s how I write, and now I am tagging Angela Highland, at

I hope you enjoyed this encore presentation of my writing process blog.


Welcome to Much Ado in Montana

So.  I’m back to my roots in one way, and about as far away from my roots as I can get otherwise.

Back about twenty years ago, when I was rather desperate in a lot of ways, I took a job in a small town in the mountains of Montana.  For someone who’d grown up in suburban Los Angeles, Denver, and San Francisco, it was one heck of a culture shock.  Twenty-five hundred people in town, twenty-five thousand in a county the size of Connecticut.  The nearest mall was ninety miles away, and the the movie theater was only open three nights a week.

I didn’t stay there very long, because I was offered another position near Seattle a few months after I arrived, and western Washington was where I really wanted to be.  But by the time I left, I knew I was going to miss that little town in Montana, where a traffic jam consisted of three cars and a moose, where a federal wilderness area was less than a dozen miles from town, and whose residents called it the Last Best Place.

I still sort of miss the fact that I could not walk down the street there without someone calling out, “Hey, Meg, how are you?”  When I first moved there, my employment as the first degreed reference librarian they’d ever had put my picture on the front page of the bi-weekly newspaper, so everyone knew my name.  I never did get to the point where I could say, “Fine!  How are you?” without wanting to add, “Do I know you?”

Anyway, I’ve always wanted to set a book in my small town in Montana.  Much Ado in Montana, which will be coming out the end of March, is about a small-town librarian who falls in love with the doctor who comes back home.  No, it’s not a Mary Sue.  Tara Hillerman has lived in Campbell, Montana, all of her life except for college, and she wouldn’t leave it again on a bet.  Timothy Swanson, however, has no intention of staying when he comes home to help his ailing father close up the only medical clinic in town.

What happens when bets are actually made and Tim’s father comes way too close to ruining their best friends’ love life is the stuff Shakespearean homages are made of.

If you click on this link, you can read the first chapter.  I hope you’ll want to read Much Ado in Montana when it comes out this spring.

just wondering…

I’ve been blogging here for a little over a year now.  I have to say I’m curious as to whether I’m just blogging out into the ether, or if anyone is actually reading this.

If you are reading this, please comment and let me know a little bit about yourself.  And what you’d like to read about on this blog.

Maybe we can all learn a little bit more about each other.

Or maybe I will discover that I am indeed blogging out into the ether [wry g]

Welcome and why

It’s too trite to start a blog on New Year’s Day, but here I am, anyway.

I am fascinated with the possibilities of what if. The memories of a place that some people call ghosts, the mobius strip effect of time travel. You won’t find vampires or werewolves here. Or horror. I am more interested in the potential effects of the fantastic on actual history, and in inserting it into well-researched historical events, populated mostly by people who really lived.

My favorite period is the not-so-distant past of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and my favorite place, the one that draws me back over and over again, is Yellowstone National Park. Ten years ago, on a three-month cross-country adventure, I spent five days in Yellowstone, mostly wandering the geyser basins waiting for things to erupt. Watching my first-ever eruption of Grand Geyser, five lovely bursts 150-200 feet high, I suddenly thought, now wouldn’t that make a terrific time travel device. Apparently that’s simply the way my brain works. Chuck McManis, a young man for whom everything in 1959 has gone awry, wanders past the Grand just as an earthquake and eruption hit, and winds up in the middle of the fleeing Nez Perce Indians in 1877. Finding out who he really is and what he is supposed to be has to take second place to sheer survival.
I will have a website up soon with samples and synopses from my novels as well as information and research links and bibliographies. I intend to write here about writing, research, the museum certification program I am attending, and possibly even the occasional post about quilting or cats or geysers.
I hope you’ll want to stick around.