Category Archives: True Gold

Karin’s sewing machine

Tonight my friend Tina and I went to a program/exhibit at the Lacey library.  It was put on by the Pacific Northwest Vintage Sewing machine organization.  It was fascinating.  All kinds of antique and vintage sewing machines, as well as a program where several people spoke about them.  Some folks there own more than a hundred sewing machines!

There were also quilts up on the library’s walls from a couple of local guilds, which was nice.

And I got to try a sewing machine about the right age to have been Karin’s sewing machine from True Gold, which was truly cool.

Here are some of the photos I took.

One of the oddest sewing machines I’ve ever seen. 1930s vintage.
I’ve never seen a white Featherweight in person before.
This one’s about the same vintage (if not the same maker) as my old sewing machine.
Some of the quilts on display.
This one looks a lot like the one my mother had.
A 1914 Scottish Singer machine .
Not a very good photo, but this machine could be the one Karin carried over Chilkoot Pass and the Golden Staircase in True Gold.  It’s a vintage 1895-1905 Singer portable.
And the carrying case for Karin’s machine.

Oh, and by the way, this is a photo of the Golden Staircase up to the top of Chilkoot Pass that Karin carried her sewing machine over, and the conditions in which she would have done it.

September 14: A Really Big Bison, and more history (are you tired of that yet? I’m not)

I found the World’s Biggest Bison this morning before I left Jamestown. It is a big bison, I’ll give it credit, but I saw the skull of an extinct bison this afternoon that I bet was bigger than that.

The world's biggest bison.  See the picnic table for scale?
The world’s biggest bison. See the picnic table for scale?
That sky looks like a just-rolled-out package of quilt batting.
That sky looks like a just-rolled-out package of quilt batting.
I find it amusingly practical that since they have to mow between the highway and the fence, anyway, why not bale it, too?
I find it amusingly practical that since they have to mow between the highway and the fence, anyway, why not bale it, too?
Another cute rest area, done up as an old-fashioned gas station.
Another cute rest area, done up as an old-fashioned gas station.

This was at the North Dakota Heritage Center, which is another name for state history museum [g]. After driving the hundred miles, give or take, to Bismarck, North Dakota, the cute little state capitol, population a bit over 67,000, so it’s actually bigger than Olympia, my state capitol, which is just under 50,000. The difference, of course, is that Bismarck is the second largest city in North Dakota, and Olympia – isn’t.

Anyway, I think I lost control of my sentence there, and I’m not going to fix it. I’m just going to say that after lunch I spent over two hours at the museum, which was just renovated completely a couple of years ago, and the shiny new is wonderful. There’s a whole huge room on the pre-man history, dinosaurs and glaciers and all, and a whole huge room on the dozen or so tribes of Native Americans, with these neat audios of people speaking in their own languages, and a huge room on the history since the Europeans showed up. Which they did way earlier than I thought – a French explorer made it to what’s now North Dakota in the 1730s, although the story really didn’t pick up till Lewis and Clark in the first decade of the 1800s, and after that didn’t get real steam till after the Civil War.

Interesting stuff, though. Lots of stuff about homesteading and the railroads, among other things, and populism and farmers vs. the big city and so forth.

Woolly mammoth skeleton in the lobby of the North Dakota Heritage Center.
Woolly mammoth skeleton in the lobby of the North Dakota Heritage Center.
That's one nasty looking fish, and the turtle to its right is *fifteen feet* long.
That’s one nasty looking fish, and the turtle to its right is *fifteen feet* long.
These are two extinct bison skulls (center and left) and a Bison bison (the scientific name) to skull to the right.
These are two extinct bison skulls (center and left) and a Bison bison (the scientific name) to skull to the right.
This is a wedding dress from just about the same year that Charley and Eliza got married in Repeating History, and the dress matches the description amazingly well except for the color.  Eliza's was more golden brown.
This is a wedding dress from just about the same year that Charley and Eliza got married in Repeating History, and the dress matches the description amazingly well except for the color. Eliza’s was more golden brown.
It never dawned on me that Montana and the Dakotas all became states the same year Washington did.
It never dawned on me that Montana and the Dakotas all became states the same year Washington did.
A lefse roller and lifter, just like the ones Karin used in True Gold!
A lefse roller and lifter, just like the ones Karin used in True Gold!

After I finally dragged myself out of there, I drove past the strangest-looking state capitol I’ve ever seen. It looks like a condo building from LA or something, and its nickname is the Skyscraper of the Plains (it’s by far the tallest building in Bismarck, I’ll give it credit for that). Then I drove seven miles south of the town of Mandan (sort of Moorhead to Bismarck’s Fargo, except Mandan’s on the west side of the river) to Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park.

The Skyscraper of the Plains, aka why does that state capitol building look like Cockroach Central? (that's a Vorkosigan reference, for those who don't know)
The Skyscraper of the Plains, aka why does that state capitol building look like Cockroach Central? (that’s a Vorkosigan reference, for those who don’t know)

Fort Lincoln was George Armstrong Custer’s last post before he headed off to the Little Bighorn and got himself and a bunch of his troops killed. It’s where his wife was when she found out he was dead, too. They’ve reconstructed his house there, but really, the most interesting part of Fort Lincoln State Park is the partial reconstruction of a 500-year-old Mandan Indian village. Five round houses (as opposed to tipis) on a slope near the Missouri River, two of which have exhibits inside them. The village was abandoned in the 17th century after the first of a number of smallpox epidemics basically wiped out 4/5ths of the population.

The houses are made of the same log and sod construction that the early pioneers built their houses from. Only the shape is different.

Oh, and there’s a wonderful, built-in-the-30s-by-the-CCC visitor center, too, with good exhibits.

The reproduction of Custer's house at Fort Lincoln.
The reproduction of Custer’s house at Fort Lincoln.
A Mandan earth lodge.
A Mandan earth lodge.
Inside a Mandan earth lodge.
Inside a Mandan earth lodge.

By that point it was getting late, and I needed to find a place to sleep and hit a grocery store. I thought about camping at Fort Lincoln, but I hadn’t gone to the grocery store first, and it was awfully windy out there, too.

Maybe tomorrow night at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. If I get that far. I’m going about thirty miles north of here to Fort Mandan and the Knife River Indian Village National Historic Site first, because that’s where Lewis and Clark spent their first winter on the road (so to speak) and I’m curious.

The road inside Fort Lincoln state park, with trees beginning to turn.
The road inside Fort Lincoln state park, with trees beginning to turn.

more writing process

Thanks to Marja McGraw at http://www.blog.marjamcgraw.com/ , 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 http://www.angelahighland.com/.

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

 

a new interview

TrueGold200cover

Vee at Honeylemontea (I just love the name of her blog) has interviewed me about True Gold, my Klondike Gold Rush novel.  She had some very interesting questions, and I think at least one of my answers was something she did not expect.

http://honeylemontea.com/2014/05/02/author-interview-m-m-justus-author-of-true-gold/

 

 

Writing Process Blog Tour

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!

So, Angela Highland tagged me.  She’s annathepiper on LiveJournal and DreamWidth.   She has her own Writing Process post here on LJ and here on DW.

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.

Once I finish building the museum exhibit that is consuming the rest of my life between now and May 3rd when it opens at the Lakewood Historical Society, I will also be 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 if you’re a fellow writer and you would like to be tagged, comment here and I’ll amend the post.

digital photos of paper books

Sorry, I can’t help myself.  The proofs of the last three Time in Yellowstone books arrived today, and they’re beautiful.  I need to tweak a couple of things (two of the covers have spines that are slightly off), then they’ll be approved for sale!

Anyway, without further ado…

True Gold's front
True Gold’s front
True Gold's back
True Gold’s back
Homesick's front
Homesick’s front
Homesick's back
Homesick’s back
Finding Home's front
Finding Home’s front
Finding Home's back
Finding Home’s back
And all four books lined up on the shelf!
And all four books lined up on the shelf!

 

I am so pleased I could pop.

Wow, what a view

Wednesday my friend L and I did something we’d been wanting to do for a long time.  We went up to Crystal Mountain Ski Area, and we rode the gondola, which is open to sightseers in the off-season.  It cost twenty bucks, but it was worth every penny.  I really had no idea how far we’d be able to see from up there.  I’d been to Crystal to ski several times, but that was fifteen years ago, and even then I’d never gotten that high on the mountain (the easiest trail down from the top of the gondola is intermediate, and I never got much beyond high beginner trails the entire decade or so that I skied regularly).

Anyway, the day was about as clear and dry as it gets in the Pacific Northwest (and hot — 90+F in the lowlands, which broke records for this time of year, and in the upper 70sF even at almost 7000 feet at the top of the gondola), and the views ranged from Mt. Adams, clear down by the Columbia River, all the way to Mt. Baker, all the way up by the Canadian border.  And Mt. Rainier looked as if a person could reach out and touch it.

The only view even slightly obscured was down towards Puget Sound, where haze hovered over the water, blocking our view of the Olympics and of the cities down there (I bet the nighttime view in clear weather of those cities must be absolutely amazing).

There’s a fancy restaurant up at the top of the gondola, but it was beyond our price range, so we’d packed a picnic (actually, we’d bought our picnic at a Subway on the way), and we had plenty of chipmunk company while we ate.

All in all, it was a seriously spectacular trip.  If you happen to be in this part of the world on a clear day, don’t miss it.

Mount Rainier from the top of the Crystal Mountain gondola.  That's the White River down below.
Mount Rainier from the top of the Crystal Mountain gondola. That’s the White River down below.
That shadowy curve above the crags is Mt. St. Helens.
That shadowy curve above the crags is Mt. St. Helens.
Mt. Adams, and the tubs of flowers on the path to the restaurant.
Mt. Adams, and the tubs of flowers on the path to the restaurant.
Welcome to Crystal Mountain, elevation 6872 feet.
Welcome to Crystal Mountain, elevation 6872 feet.
That little white triangle on the horizon towards the righthand edge of the photo is Mt. Baker.
That little white triangle on the horizon almost dead center is Mt. Baker.
Lunch company.
Lunch company.
Really brave lunch company.
Really brave lunch company.
Headed back down the gondola.  Taken through the clear cover, so please excuse the reflections.
Headed back down the gondola. Taken through the clear cover, so please excuse the reflections.

Just a reminder, the Time in Yellowstone series: Repeating History, True Gold, and Finding Home, and the story “Homesick” (including chapters from all three novels, and only 99 cents for the e-version), are now available as ebooks on Amazon and Smashwords, and Repeating History is now available as a paper book from Amazon and CreateSpace, with the other books coming in paper editions very soon.