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Please note: MWW is a diverse community of authors. We strive to maintain a professional and quality blog of interest both to readers and fellow writers. The authors are varied, write books on many topics, and come from many backgrounds. While we support and respect each others’ work and opinions, the statements expressed by individual bloggers on this site do not necessarily represent the group as a whole.

With that in mind, read on!

Montana Women Writers 009

Back row, L to R: Christine Carbo, Patti Dean, Marie Martin, Ann Minnett, Jeannie Tallman, Anne B. Howard, and Constance See

Front row: Gail Ranstrom, Kathy Dunnehoff, P.A. Moore, Marlette Bess, Leslie Budewitz, Nan McKenzie, and Betty Kuffel

Camera shy: Deborah Epperson, Angela Miller, Ina Albert, Karen Wills, and Lise McClendon

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Arbor Day Connections

By Karen Wills

Climate change thrusts us into a heightened awareness of nature. Oceans, lakes, meadows and trees are the living matrix of which we are a part.  Trees in particular have figured in much fiction and nonfiction of late. Of course, poets have long written about and concerned themselves with trees. overstory treesAmerican poet Robinson Jeffers planted about 2,000 seedlings on his sea cliff property near Carmel, California in the first half of the 1900s.

There is a kinship of us humans to trees. Tree deprivation became as real for me when we lived on the Alaskan tundra as it was for settlers living on the virgin prairies of America. I loved the big, empty tundra with its miles of tiny wild cotton, but trees have always meant shelter, the promise of something to lean against, and shade in the glare of summer. I missed them.

In a recent blog on my website I quoted from Joanna L. Stratton’s, Pioneer Women, which tells of a woman whose husband took her along on a journey to bring home wood. She’d not seen a tree for two years. “…when they arrived at Little River, she put her arms around a tree and hugged it until she was hysterical.”

That reminded me of when we lived on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. We explored the countryside, often peering into abandoned settlers’ houses. One was a stone cottage with a small grotto beside it sheltered by trees. The woman who pioneered there had walked nearly ½ mile each way every day carrying buckets of water to keep her seedlings growing. They flourished. She is gone, but her trees remain, providing homes for birds, being natural wind instruments, and soothing the prairie with their sighing leaves and branches.

An insightful novel about those who plant, nurture, and preserve not just trees, but whole forests, is The Overstory by Richard Powers–winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. One of its most interesting characters is a Vietnam veteran who finds his purpose in life replanting clear-cut, logged-out areas for a living. But he learns that replanting rows of trees earns his corporate employer permission to clear cut more and more forests at a greater profit. That knowledge drives the veteran to desperate, reckless acts.

Another character in The Overstory is Patricia Westerford who devotes her academic and personal life to the study of forests. According to Patricia, everything that happens in nature happens for a purpose. “The environment is alive—a fluid, changing web of purposeful lives dependent on each other.” She also concludes, “We’ve been shaped by forests for longer than we’ve been homo sapiens.”

To return to Jeffers, in his poem “Ghost” he imagines himself as a spirit revisiting the new owner of his former property.  He has the following exchange with the startled man:

“I see you have played hell
With the trees that I planted.” “There has to be room for people,” he
answers. “My God,” he says, “
That still!”

This Arbor Day, enjoy the forests if you can, plant a tree if you’re able, and take a deep breath. Feel your connection to the earth of which you are still a part.

Keep the Peeps      

by Deborah Epperson  

Unlike my older brother, Gary, who can grow anything anywhere, I knew from an early age that my ability to nurture and grow any sort of flower, vegetable, or anything else that had to be planted was severely limited. So growing up, it seemed natural for our family of four to be divided into two separate but equal camps. Mom and Gary were the gardening duo, while my father and I were caretakers of all critters with paws, claws, and hooves.

There was some crossover. Gary loved feeding the chickens and gathering the eggs, and although I never gave a second thought to climbing on the bare back of a 1000 pound quarter horse, I knew his two-pound Bantam rooster was a demon chicken waiting to peck me to pieces. (I readily admit that in my youth, I was traumatized by the Hitchcock movie, The Birds)

Even those colorful Peeps, which are everywhere this time of the year, creepPeeps Easter candy me out. Chocolate bunnies are fine. It is chocolate after all. But marshmallow chicks? No thanks. Who wants a little yellow or pink chick’s head bobbing up and down in their hot chocolate? Yuck!

Over the years, I’ve had horses, cats, cows, rabbits, dogs, more dogs, and more dogs. I raised a baby armadillo whose mother had been run over by a car. Once, I rescued a snake before a guy who didn’t care that it was a harmless grass snake could chop it into pieces. Hubby and I even adopted three wild ducks who decided to homestead our four-year-old daughter’s blow up swimming pool. Sorry, Tara.

As a lover of omelets, I am grateful to all who do raise chickens and gather the eggs. Every species of animal, reptile, fish, and fowl must have its champions. Still, I have never had the urge to raise chickens. Come to think of it, Tara doesn’t have a great fondness for ducks either.

Thanks for stopping by,

Deborah

MWW blog post originally published:  03/24/2015 

 

shadows of home epperson

When Change Comes is it Man that Counts? The Wild? Or Both?

by Mary Frances Erler

Today I ran across a book of poetry and quotes about wilderness that I made in response to a canoe trek I took in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters back in 1970.  mn boundary watersNearly 50 years ago–hard to believe so much time has passed in my life since then.  It was a very formative time in my life, influencing much of what I have become.  As I was reading the quotes I chose from Thoreau, Aldo Leopold, Theodore Roosevelt, and others, I was surprised to find one unsigned poem.  I have a feeling I wrote it–otherwise it would be identified with the author’s name. It was a long time ago, 1970, but as I re-read it, I could tell the words had originally come from within me. And I was surprised to find that my 18-year-old mind had thought such deep things.  But then, maybe not so surprising, for I was a very philosophical person back then.  Maybe still am.  So here it is.

Its original title was “Is It Man That Counts?”

‘How can you be so no-caring?’ a boy demanded,
Staring into the old man’s eyes;
‘Do you want all our life to die
And leave nothing to show our lives ranged?’

‘Every animal dies,’ the old chief would say
And gaze with deep-seeing silent eyes
About the village around them.
‘Timeless is not changeless,’ he would repeat.

But a boy’s heart-strength is different
And his restless feet thus wandered,
Searching over forest-depth and countryside,
His mind straining with searches just as deep.

He drank in the wildness ’round him,
Knowing in his animal-part
It had no time, no beginning,
And no end?  Their village

Already was shrinking, the forest depths
Pricked by hard, cold disruption,
A steeling chill so unlike winter–
More senseless–as rape or pillage.

And as the Wild spread its winter
Blanket, with its natural death,
He prayed that this might be
The end–to die as wild things died.

Then as the cold and steel creeping in
On them increased its breath to a roar,
He knew it wasn’t death that was coming–
Just as the old man had tried

To tell.  It was what the Wild was really
Made of; so though their villages–
And all men–passed; the Wild would
Sustain itself–timeless because it changed.

April Book News

spring robin

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LESLIE BUDEWITZ: Seriously, Spring, we are sooo happy to see you! On the other hand, a long cold winter meant plenty of time to read and write, right? And I have news!chai another day (cover without quote)

CHAI ANOTHER DAY, my 4th Spice Shop mystery, will be out in June from Seventh St. Books. When Seattle Spice Shop owner Pepper Reece overhears an argument in an antique shop, she finds herself drawn into a murder that could implicate an old enemy, or ensnare a new friend. Don’t you just love the dog on the cover? Read an excerpt and find out where to find it on my website.

And I’m delighted that my first historical short story, “All God’s Sparrows,” is nominated for the Agatha Award for Best Short Story. Awards will be given at the Malice Domestic convention, celebrating the traditional mystery, in early May. You can read it on my website, too.

By May, spring should be truly sprung in these parts. I hope you’re feeling a spring in your step, wherever you are!

**********

Author Mary F. Ehrler

Photo.cropped

When the World Grows Cold, Book 4 in her YA series The Peaks Saga will be released April 25th. Its available for preorder now on Amazon, B&N, First Steps Publishing, and other bookstore outlets.

Twenty-five years have passed on Earth, in both the 21st and 31st Centuries.  Two women, Ginna and Martina, who were once connected across the GAP, now have daughters of their own, but Annemarie and Celestia have taken very different paths.  MOCK-Book-Cover-4-revisionSoon, however, all four will be taken into another GAP with many unanswered questions–including who is Annemarie’s mysterious father, why has the System returned to Earth, and why has the world suddenly gone cold? Now it’s time for the next generation to seek their own answers to the questions that have plagued their elders.

 

WHAT EVERY WRITER NEEDS TO KNOW

 

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by Catherine Browning

Writing novels didn’t start for me until after my teaching career came to a successful close. That’s when I purchased a Kindle and started reading everything I could find of interest. In judging the merit of novels, one of the major criteria is grammar. It was a shock to find that many modern day writers didn’t know the rules of English grammar or word usage. Here are some recent examples:

. . . or whomever he was.

He indicated she was to proceed him into the room.

What were you thinking of?

My brother came between Carlos and I.

You may be thinking, what is wrong with those quotes? Allow me to explain. The verb to be is a grammatical equal sign. Subject and object are the same, so the first example should read:  

. . . or whoever he was.

The second example is confusing the two verbs proceed and precede. Proceed means to continue or move forward. Precede means to go before. So, that example should read:

He indicated she was to precede him into the room.

In the next example, the basic rule is to never end a sentence with a preposition. There are multiple ways to fix this example.

  1. What were you thinking?
  2. Of what were you thinking?
  3. What were you contemplating?
  4. What were you considering?

In the last example between is a preposition and requires the object form of the pronoun I.

The example should read:

My brother came between Carlos and me.

Numerous books on grammatical usage are available. Chicago Manual of Style is one that many editors use. Another that I have found helpful is Essentials of English by Hopper, Gale, Foote, and Griffith. Or go to your local Community College and take a basic class. No matter what your answer is, using good grammar can only enhance your writing.

Thanks for reading my thoughts . . . and may your next novel be a bestseller!