For her riveting novel Answer Creek, author Ashley Sweeney and her husband plotted the Donner Party’s route along the original Oregon Trail, then—as closely as intervening years and and land access allowed—they followed it.
From Lincoln, Nebraska to South Pass, Wyoming.
From the Hastings Cutoff across Utah and Nevada, where they reconnected with the original California Trail.
Through Elko, Nevada to Sacramento.
Ashley’s impeccable research went beyond the countless hours she spent at museums and historical sites along the way. As she travelled the Donner’s route, she absorbed the sights and smells of land and sky, felt both enmity and affection in the terrain and weather that imprisoned the ill-fated pioneers and pushed them beyond limits few could endure.
And then, welling from her sensory experience, facts, and a fertile imagination, Ashley let resilient 19-year-old Ada Weeks relive the story of that harrowing journey.
She held me spellbound through the final page.
I thought of Answer Creek last week when we arrived in the Palouse—the setting of my next novel. Thought of how Ashley’s research process has inspired me to bring the Palouse to life on my pages. Years after we moved away from there, the people and land still thrum in me, nourish me. During every visit since, I’ve been memorizing them. And now I’ll write about it.
That’s why, this year, I rode a combine.
“Wait, wait, wait,” you say. “What about your other book? The one we’ve been hearing about for a while now?”
Oh yeah : ). I’m delighted to say that Sugar Birds, born from the award-winning manuscript I first told you about two years ago, will launch next summer—on August 3, 2021— through She Writes Press, 2019 Indie Publisher of the Year.
And in an eggshell, here are posts from earlier this week:
Almota, Snake River. (The grain barge behind the pickup will haul grain downriver.)
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
Standing wheat . . . up in smoke.
“But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.”
—1 Corinthians 3:15
Reason #83 in the series “Why I love this man”:
➡️ Hikes with dogs.
Smoky southern Idaho.
“His lightning lights up the world; the earth sees and trembles.”
Breathe . . .
Sunset at our eastern Oregon campsite.
At a rest stop in Eastern Washington, these:
3 little boys
6 hound puppies
2 patient parents
Blessings, friends. I’m glad you’re here.
Watching Nature, Seeing Life: Through His Creation, God Speaks