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Obituary for Meg

Meg’s friend, Jan Hanken, on 22nov2017 posted on FaceBook in the private group, Meg’s Village:

Meg left us peacefully today at 11:00 am PST. I was so blessed to have been with her when she left this world. I am overwhelmed by the love and support she received during her final days and we all have been touched by this incredible woman. She did so many things in 58 years. I know for a fact that she is on to bigger and better adventures.

Here is the obituary Meg prepared for when the time came:

Meg (Mary Margaret) Justus

Born: April 8, 1959

Death: November 22, 2017

Service: No service. Ashes to be scattered privately at Sunrise on Mt. Rainier to fertilize the wildflowers.

Meg died from metastatic cancer in Lacey, Washington.

Meg was born the caboose (much younger than her siblings) of four girls in New Orleans, Louisiana. She grew up in suburban Los Angeles, Denver, and the California Bay Area. As an adult she also lived in Oregon, Indiana, Ohio, and Montana before finally landing in Washington state at age 34.

Meg graduated cum laude with a degree in British and American literature and history from Ohio University in 1990, then completed a master’s degree in library science at Indiana University in 1991. Later in life she also completed a certificate in museum studies from the University of Washington.

Meg held many jobs pre-library school, from music school secretary to hog farm bookkeeper. A volunteer position at her local library eventually led to library school, and she worked as a librarian for fourteen years, when she switched to museum curation for five years.

But Meg’s true passions were writing and travel. She published a number of books under the moniker M.M. Justus. She liked to say what she wrote was 90% history and 10% fantasy, set in the Old West. Due to her background she was a stickler about getting the history right, and her books were set in places she’d traveled to herself. Her travels included two long trips of multiple months each; the first was documented in the travel memoir Cross-Country.

She liked to call herself a professional dilettante. Her other passions included quilting and other needlework, gardening, meteorology, and wild plant identification, especially wildflowers.

Meg is survived by her three older sisters, Susan Moore, Nancy Nowell, and Ann Mattas, her best friend of 52 years Jan Hanken, who was the sister she should have had, and more wonderful friends than she ever expected to make.

If you wish, please send a donation to the Yellowstone or Mt. Rainier Foundations or any organization working towards the survival of wildflowers.

Rest in peace, Meg.

New Admin — Meg Justus Legacy

Hi, I’m Judy Johnson, and Meg has asked me — due to her illness — to take over her blog pretty much from now on.  She is suffering from metastatic cancer and in hospice.  Meg wants to  “keep the books alive” as long as possible, and has willed the copyrights to me for this purpose.  She turned the website over to me as well, and the sales-outlets accounts.

Meg has written her obituary in advance and I will post it when the time comes.  She has asked not to be flooded with sympathetic comments, since she doesn’t have the energy to reply politely.  Meg wants all her friends and fans to know how much she appreciates you and not be offended or worry when she doesn’t reply.


It’s so funny to see everyone posting around and about saying that they voted, because we’ve been vote by mail only here in Washington state for a long time, and I actually voted and mailed my ballot in last week.

But I am glad people are voting!

Around Olympic National Park, Day 1

The third week of July, a friend and I decided to make the loop around Olympic National Park, which occupies the heart of the Olympic Peninsula and is encircled by U.S. 101, which makes a horseshoe at its northernmost reach.

Neither of us had done the route in a long time — not since my nine-year-old car was brand-new, to be precise. The weather at home was hot, so the idea of heading to the coast was very attractive, too.

The only problem was making reservations for a place to stay, since the whole loop is about 360 miles, which is a very long day if you’re actually going to stop and walk around anywhere. Olympic National Park is a popular tourist attraction, plus Forks, which is a good midpoint stopping place, is still a favorite of Twilight fans, so this took some finagling with less than a week’s notice. After a few calls, though, we finally ended up reserving a room about fifteen miles outside of Forks. I’ll tell you a bit more about that in a bit.

We headed out fairly early, and, after picking up what I always think of as an insta-picnic at a Subway in Aberdeen, added some north to our west.

The road from the south to the coastal section of the park is mostly an endless progression of farmed forest and clearcuts, but once in the park itself, things improve drastically. We drove past Lake Quinault, and stopped briefly at Kalaloch, but our first goal for the day was Ruby Beach, where we ate our picnic then walked down to the beach itself.

Seastacks and creek estuary at Ruby Beach.
Seastacks and creek estuary at Ruby Beach.
Cobbles at Ruby Beach, some flat enough to skip.  Or to stack.
Cobbles at Ruby Beach, some flat enough to skip. Or to stack.

It was pleasantly cool and cloudy there, which was terrific after the heat inland. The short trail leading to the cobble beach was a bit difficult for my friend, who has some mobility issues, but she made it. And the views were well worth it. We had fun trying to skip stones into the water, too. I used to be good at that, but I’m not anymore. Not enough practice, I guess.

A rather odd — I’m not sure what to call it — was interesting, too. But I have pictures, so I’ll just show you.

What someone with way too much time on their hands did at Ruby Beach.
What someone with way too much time on their hands did at Ruby Beach.
More mini-cairns.
More mini-cairns.
And more.  This was only a very small part of the display.
And more. This was only a very small part of the display.
And more.   I'd be willing to bet over a thousand of these rocks were stacked like this.
And more. I’d be willing to bet over a thousand of these rocks were stacked like this.

Literally hundreds of the cobbles were stacked up like this, all over the place. I have no idea who did it or why, but it was kind of cool.

Then it was on to the rainforest. The rainforest along the Hoh River thoroughly creeped me out the first time we visited here when I was a kid — I always felt like something was going to reach out and grab me. But now I appreciate it much more, although I still like the Carbon River rainforest on Mt. Rainier better. I’m not sure why.

Emerald green moss at the Hoh Rain Forest.
Emerald green moss at the Hoh Rain Forest.
Looking up into vine maple leaves and huge evergreens.
Looking up into vine maple leaves and huge evergreens.
Trees in the rainforest grow huge.
Trees in the rainforest grow huge.
This will give you some idea of the scale of these enormous trees.  And don't they look like they could reach out and grab you?
This will give you some idea of the scale of these enormous trees. And don’t they look like they could reach out and grab you?

The rainforest along the various rivers running west from the Olympic Mountains to the ocean is very rare. Most rainforests are tropical, but this rainforest is in the temperate climate zone. It’s very beautiful. My friend and I got out and walked the shortest of the trails, the one called the Hall of the Mosses, which I think she might have considered to be a bit too long. Still, as you can tell from the photos, it was well worth the time and the energy to walk it.

By then it was getting to be late in the afternoon, so we drove on through Forks, which, if it weren’t for Stephenie Meyer, would just be another everyday western Washington logging town, and to our motel, which, as I’d figured, was basically a hunting lodge in the off-season, with all that implies (and some — the TV remote from heck — it doesn’t). Still, it was a place to sleep, and the attached restaurant was running a special on ribs, which we both chose. I haven’t eaten that much meat at one sitting in years.

It’s Women’s History Month

March is Women’s History Month, I’m told.

So.  Ask me something about one of my female characters, anything you’d like, from backstory to future plans, from choices to “what’s a lefse?”

First ten questions/prompts will get answered.

The person who started this, Aldersprig over on LiveJournal, added, and I challenge all y’all who write to do the same. Write something about your women characters. Write something about women in history. Tell us about your female characters.

Hattip to Jeriendhal over on LiveJournal as well.

Also, here’s a list of my primary female characters so far:

Repeating History
Eliza Byrne
Anna Cooper
Lucy Doyle

True Gold and ‘Homesick
Karin Myre
Mamie Thielsen

Finding Home
Jo Bennett

another marathon is over

And the manuscript for Much Ado in Montana is finished.  All 71,850 words of it, which took me ninety days to revise from a ten-year-old manuscript of ~45,000 words.  If you’d like to see what it’s about, click on the title link.

I have contracted with a cover designer (the first time I’ve done this, and so far it’s an interesting process), to see if a non-homemade cover will make a difference in my sales, and contacted the copy editor who did such a good job on Finding Home (except for a problem with quotation marks, which was entirely my fault).  Hopefully she’ll be able to take this book on for me, too.

The goal is to get it up for sale by the end of March.

Next it’s on to a new project I’ve been looking forward to for some time now.  Good times.

Repeating History on the Fussy Librarian


I am happy to announce that the first book in my Time in Yellowstone series, Repeating History, will be discounted to $2.99 for a week starting Monday, 2/10, as part of its listing on the Fussy Librarian’s daily deal email.

Bewildered by the number of ebooks out there? Choose from 40 genres, select content preferences such as the amount of sex and violence, and emails you daily deals.