Hey, Donald, this is what love and actually "being there" for people looks like. San Juan Mayor Yulin Cruz, comforting a nursing home resident in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria's direct hit on Puerto Rico.

For a short Fire on the Wind book trailer, click here

Three-and-a-half-year-old grandson Nolan Crew made it special by cutting and making the "eclipse" bouquets a day ahead. He even hauled the flowers up from the garden in the trailer of his little John Deere tractor.

With grandsons Nolan and Emery and niece Mallory from Vancouver, B.C., at our eclipse eve gathering.

We were surprised to come out that morning and find the sky full of private jets trying to land at our tiny airport a few miles south.

Lt. Jason Harvey of the Corvallis Police Department. Photo by Andy Cripe.

Pick it up at Mari's Books And....in Yachats, Oregon, or click on Available titles above and get it straight from the author.

Available on Amazon.com and at Grass Roots Books in Corvallis, Oregon

Good way to spend the solstice, my husband and I and grandson making the hike to the top of Marys Peak. It's so great to be well and alive and out in the world again.

Happy anniversary to us! Married in the front yard under the oaks 43 years ago today.

What a great-looking guy! I'll take whatever he's taking!

Do I look like your idea of a drug addict? If it could happen to me, it could happen to anyone. Just because your doctor prescribed it, doesn't mean it's not having a terrible affect on your brain.

Chris Cornell

Stevie Nicks, Klonopin survivor

I recommend this book to anyone considering going on any sort of psych drugs. Gave each of my three adult kids copies with instructions they should read it cover to cover if they or anyone they love is told they should take these drugs.

Feeding the Jacob sheep, a heritage breed dating back to Biblical times.

Julia's Instagram-worthy chicken coop. You can check her other farm pictures at Wileyjofarms on Instagram.

The acreage includes a gorgeous grove of Doug fir trees

Wall Street Journal essay adapted from Ms. Petersen's new book, "On Edge: A Journey Through Anxiety."

Andrea Petersen's book is receiving good pre-pub reviews and it sounds like her memoir might be of interest to fellow sufferers of anxiety. My comment here is not a book review, just a warning about the dangers of benzodiazeplines.

Rick and Jenny on the porch of the old house on their wedding day, April 11, 1982

Standing at the site of the old house, now a black walnut orchard with weeping willow preserved.

One of Jenny's gorgeous handmade glass beads she sells on Etsy.

Please click here to view a two-and-a-half minute YouTube trailer for ACCIDENTAL ADDICT.

I hope this timely book gets widely read. Linda Crew’s experience has been shared by millions of Americans and many have lost their lives. The medical community has accidentally created an epidemic of addiction by overprescribing narcotics, and now everyone, including prescribers, needs to know how easily these drugs can destroy lives.
Andrew Kolodny, MD—Executive Director, Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing

After telling in lucid prose how she become an Accidental Addict, Linda Crew provides a prescription that all of medicine should heed: “A doctor should never prescribe a drug without an understanding of what it takes to get off of that drug, and a willingness to help his patient accomplish this.” One hopes that everyone who prescribes benzodiazepines and opioid painkillers will read this compelling memoir.
Robert Whitaker, Anatomy of an Epidemic

MY construction-site-on-opioids picture.

Ten days off of Oxycodone and thinking I'm in the clear, not knowing I will be sick for three more years.

The world pours into the streets, January 21, 2017

My private protest, featuring my favorite Christmas gift this year, a Nasty Woman mug from my son Will!

Uncle Will

Aunt Mary

Mary with her wife, Jaci Abbatantono, a veterinarian in Lake Oswego

Theresa Nelson Cooney

Dawn of a new day at Wake Robin Farm, November 18, 2016.

From Richard Scarry's Best MOTHER GOOSE Ever

The requested John Deere tractors combined with the replica vintage fabric patterns I used in the pioneer dress worn by King Family descendant Haley Thompson on the first edition cover of A Heart for Any Fate.

Every darling miniature accessory--every fan, glove, dainty boot, "reticule" and parasol was described in loving detail.

The book's happy ending which I wanted for myself.

My grandmother & the original Lovey Mary.

Lovey Mary the Second




Herb giving Thy and Miles a tractor ride circa 1972. Thy had a copy of this picture I took in his possesson and sent it to me.

Tony with his sister and mother

Tony on his wedding day with his wife and daughter

My son Miles with Thy. One day Miles asked me, "Mom? When is MY hair going to turn black?" These kids from Southeast Asia were his only playmates, so it wasn't the strangest question!

First published September 1944 by the Viking Press

The "gooder" page

Marie Hall Ets, 1895-1984

Nolan is a great appreciator of flowers. The painting behind him was done by his artist grandfather in China.

Learning to snap beans with his American grampa.

He has one comment when eating strawberries--"More!"

Kosta Karageorge, 22. RIP

My Cambodian character became a way to show the American game of football from the viewpoint of an outsider in this novel, published in 1989.

Valentine's Day 2009. A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou, beside me singing in the wilderness....

The family has always considered my grandfather's purchase of the little cabin at Yachats one of the smartest things he ever did. The family still enjoys the place, although it has in recent years been completely rebuilt.


Kind words for Accidental Addict

November 28, 2017

Tags: Accidental Addict, prescription drug addiction, baby boomers, Writer's Digest

Because it's just about impossible to secure reviews for a self-published book, I entered my memoir, Accidental Addict,in the Writer's Digest Contest for Self-Published books, hoping to get some attention. When I didn't win, I figured I'd been ripped off for the hundred dollar entry fee just like everyone else who entered.
What a nice surprise, then, to now receive this short "critique." Somebody actually read the book after all. I've posted its entirety on my Accidental Addict web page, but these are the lines that pleased me most as a writer. We so want people to "get" our books. Also, as a human being healing from this trauma, nothing feels better than kindness, and knowing that my story has been heard:

"Her witty depictions of the depths she is forced to wallow in, over and over, will warm the heart of every other smart baby boomer woman who feels alone while surrounded by family and marks of alleged success. I dare anyone in that reader category not to consider Crew a personal friend by the end of this memoir."

Wedding in Yangshuo

November 24, 2017

Tags: travel in China, weddings in China, cross-cultural marriage, Children of the River, writers' memoirs, Oregon, Wake Robin Farm

Once upon a time at Wake Robin Farm in Oregon, I was miraculously pregnant with our first child.

That same summer, on the Li River in Southern China, a pretty woman exactly my age was also expecting. She and her husband were both artists.

Our child, born in August, was a son. Theirs, born in October, a daughter.

Twenty-two years later these children, now grown, would meet in Beijing.

The girl from Yangshuo had been studying English.

Our son, traveling with a university program, was rapidly become proficient in both Mandarin and Cantonese.

These two could talk to each other.

They could fall in love.

And did.

This is their story.

And ours.

Everything in this book actually happened, even the lovely, fateful coincidences.

Especially those........

So begins my new memoir, which is just out as an ebook and will be available as a paperback shortly. For readers of Children of the River, now in print almost twenty-nine years, Wedding in Yangshuo can be read almost as a companion book, as it explains the inspiration for the YA novel, and shows how deeply impacted the future of my life was by its research, writing, and publication.

For everybody else, my memoir is simply the story of my writing life, my marriage, and the life-changing trip my husband and I took to Yangshuo, trying to carry the family flag as our son married a girl from this most scenic corner of China.

BRIDES OF EDEN: a True Story Imagined

November 5, 2017

Tags: Franz Edmund Creffield, religious cults, Holy Rollers, end time cults, Corvallis, Oregon, Eva Mae Hurt

Finally....a reprint edition of Brides of Eden, which was originally published by HarperCollins in 2001. The new edition, in paperback and ebook, contains all the original historic photos of the original.

So much has been written over the years about the scandal that erupted in sleepy little Corvallis when charismatic Franz Edmund Creffield came to Corvallis, dubbed himself Joshua, and gathered around him the wives and daughters of several prominent families.

When my book came out, I ended up meeting some of the descendants of these folks. One older man was still terribly upset about the whole affair, although why he traveled a hundred miles to confront me in a bookstore to say he wished people would stop writing about this and embarrassing him in public I cannot say.

Other descendants of a younger generation seemed to understand that, unlike everything else written about this episode, I was telling the story from the point of view of the young women involved. I had sympathy for them as the victims they were.

One man called me and said he had only just learned that he was descended from the followers of Creffield. He had been advised not to read about it, but was told that if he did, he should read the one called Brides of Eden, because that's the only one that explained how it really happened. I took this as the best compliment, especially as my book is the only one written as a novel.

The story of a powerful man bending women to his will just keeps playing out, doesn't it? Check out the link to my newly posted book trailer to see how it happened in Corvallis, Oregon, in 1903.

Fake Words

October 3, 2017

Tags: San Juan Mayor Julin Cruz, President Donald Trump, Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas mass shooting

When I was in the 8th grade, I decided to enter the city-wide essay contest sponsored by the Corvallis Chamber of Commerce on the theme of “What America Means to Me.” I set about this writing task with determination, congratulating myself on my rather scientific approach.

My method? I sat down and put on all my Peter, Paul and Mary records and copied out the ringing phrases that might work. Words. Somebody else’s words. Then I strung them together.

It worked. My mother was thrilled to open the local paper one evening and see a small headline: Linda Welch Wins Jaycee Essay Event.

My handwritten-in-pencil essay is tucked into a scrapbook she put together. Because she did this, I cannot bear to throw it out. I also cannot bear to read it. I mean, I literally cannot. I start in and just want to gag. The words were well-crafted for an eighth grader, I guess, but the essay contains nothing fresh, original, or anything that even represents my actual thoughts or feelings. Just one cliché after another.

I thought of that essay when NPR started playing President Donald Trump’s condolence speech on the mass shooting in Las Vegas. What a pile of crap! Somebody writes up a bunch of appropriate phrases, loads them on the teleprompter, and then he reads them in that sing-song, bored-with-it-himself voice. Something about we will be united by the power of our love? This coming from a man who clearly has no idea of the concept of love for anyone but himself?

It’s hard to know which is worse, this sort of stuff or all the times when he actually says or tweets what he really feels, giving us a horrifying look into the dark, empty void of his narcissistic soul.

He says the Mayor of San Juan, Yulin Cruz, “showed such poor leadership!”

I just want to gag.

Can’t somebody please find a way to free us from him?

Fire on the Wind

September 5, 2017

Tags: Forest fires 2017, Oregon, Eagle Creek, Portland, Tillamook Burn, Fire on the Wind

The forests of Oregon are on fire, and we are sitting under a blanket of smothering smoke. My town of Corvallis, situated on the west side of the broad Willamette Valley, had been spared the worst, giving us only the sun as a red disk at rising as a smoke indicator. Then, Sunday, the overcast layer began to thicken, smell like smoke, and become truly oppressive.

It makes me think of the scenes I researched for my historical novel, Fire on the Wind, which details with an accuracy of which I’m proud the course of the huge Tillamook Burn of 1933. All the descriptions of the fire and smoke darkening the skies were taken from eye-witness accounts published in newspapers of the time.

One scene I wrote jumped to mind—that of a young farmwife on the coast, running out to greet the welcome rain pinging on the roof, only to find falling from the sky blackened fir needles.

So, last night, when my daughter—that’s her at fourteen on the cover of my book—texted that ashes were raining down on her Southwest Portland neighborhood, I felt like we were all living this story again. These would be ashes blowing in from the Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia Gorge, blown east by that same drying wind from the desert that played such a part in the Tillamook Burn. My Mary, the model for Story Faye, the log camp girl in my book, is now thirty-one and pregnant. I want breathing her fresh air!

If you’re stuck inside, waiting for the skies to clear, you might find Fire on the Wind diverting. It’s such a fast read, in fact, that if you download it to your Kindle and start in, you’ll likely be finished long before the smoke over Oregon blows away.

I used this 16th century poem in my book and I thought of it again today:

Oh, Western wind, when wilt though blow
That the small rain down can rain?
Christ, that my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again……

Yes, please let it rain.

After the Eclipse

August 30, 2017

Tags: 2017 Eclipse, zone of totality, Corvallis, Oregon, Davis, California

Life moved on quickly after the eclipse last week. People got in their cars and drove back north or south on I-5, south on 97, joining what proved to be the only real traffic jams caused by the celestial event. In the Willamette Valley, we turned our attention to the thick smoke of forest fires blanketing us, and tuned into the reports of devastation out of Texas thanks to Harvey. All the reports of devastation from Houston made the dire warnings of the effects of too many eclipse visitors to Oregon seem almost laughable.

Afterwards, authorities said they’d just picked that number—a million visitors—out of the air, and probably the fact that it wasn’t so bad is due to the fact that not nearly that many showed up. The predictions of traffic gridlock were so scary, we warned our out-of-town guests we wouldn’t blame them if they backed out.

Now we’re so glad they didn’t! Because seeing the eclipse in totality turned out to be amazing for everyone, and none of the bad things predicted came to pass. That afternoon, when it was over, I took my niece Mallory from Vancouver, B.C., downtown, and I had never seen so many people walking our streets. Happy people. The mood was totally celebratory. They came, they saw, they shopped for souvenirs.
A lovely woman from Davis, California, wrote a letter of thanks to our local paper, the Gazette-Times, for the hospitality she found in Corvallis. No, thank YOU, Stephanie. You and everybody else who showed up and played nice. Apparently nobody picked fights or started forest fires (Mother Nature handles that on her own), people didn't overwhelm the hospitals with fried eyeballs, and authorities in Central Oregon were reporting a surprising lack of residual trash.

Whether the viewing party was formally arranged as was ours, or ended up being an impromptu gathering of neighbors, it seems everyone felt blessed to be able to go outside and for a few minutes, share this amazing phenomenon with others.

Our farm is two miles from town, but just like my memory of the eclipse of 19790, at the moment of totality, we could hear the cheering.

Countdown in the Zone of Eclipse Totality

August 16, 2017

Tags: Eclipse 2017, Eclipse 1979, Corvallis, Oregon, eclipse totality

Yep, my own hometown of Corvallis, Oregon, is sitting square in the path of totality for next Monday’s eclipse, and every day the news warns us that a million people are headed our way and surely all hell is going to break loose.

How come this didn’t happen with the eclipse of 1979? No internet? My husband and I don’t even know anyone else who even saw it. We, however, did.

It was February, so there was no way going to be a shot at seeing it from the rainy Willamette Valley. We decided to go to Eastern Oregon, looping up around the Columbia Gorge and then south. We booked a motel room in Cascade Locks a couple of weeks ahead, no issues, nobody even talking about it. Then, on the day before, we headed north from Corvallis on a scenic route through Silverton and the Cascade foothills.

Our troubles began when we hit Highway 26 at Sandy. We took a left and I was all for waiting until the helpful green highway signs, in which I have great faith, said something recognizable like “Troutdale” as a hint for when to turn right for the Gorge. But Herb felt that surely one of these other right turns must lead to the Gorge as well. Neither of us understood the geographical fact that the Sandy River was between us and the Gorge.

My husband took an impulsive right and soon we were lost. Or at least not making progress towards our goal. And here’s the thing: I was four months pregnant, and soon desperately bladder challenged. Herb was 29 and naturally had, as a young man, no inclination to stop and asked for directions, either to the Gorge or a restroom.

I do not remember how all that was resolved, only that eventually we got back on Highway 26, took the proper turn for Troutdale and eventually checked into the Cascade Locks motel.

It poured rain that night and we were fighting. I could not understand how I was having a baby by a guy who seemed incapable of saying he was sorry for being flat out wrong and making me suffer.

In the morning, still hardly speaking, we got up and drove east until we emerged from the rain to the dry side of the Cascades, then headed south. When we figured we were in the zone, we pulled off to the side of the road and climbed a small knoll.
As predicted, the moon’s shadow began to cross the face of the sun, and here’s what I remember: When the shadow totally eclipsed the sun, a great cheer rose from the neighboring hills, startling me. I hadn’t even been aware other people were standing out there until that moment.

Our spat was suddenly so yesterday. We were going to have a baby. Our first. And in spite of everything, we had managed to get ourselves to this spot at the right time to see this amazing spectacle. Together. We drove home happy.

So now, thirty-eight years later, we are ground zero right here at Wake Robin Farm and hosting family from Victoria, B. C. and San Francisco for the big event. Kids closer to home are still on the fence about whether to brave the predicted highway gridlock to come share this together. I cannot advise them.

We are stocking up on food, as suggested, and I am cleaning my house. It needs it anyway. I have complete confidence in the scientists that the sun will be totally eclipsed next Monday morning. I have no idea how the drama of a million people coming to Oregon will play out.

But I can be confident that whatever happens on Monday, on Tuesday, my front step bricks will be clean!

Brides of Eden: a True Story Imagined Now Available as an ebook.

August 4, 2017

Tags: Corvallis, Oregon, religious cults, Holy Rollers, Franz Creffied, historical novels, Eva Mae Hurt, Esther Mitchell, Yachats, Waldport, Portland, Seattle, Ten-Mile Creek, End Time Cults

Brides of Eden was first published in 2001, before ebooks were a thing. I've finally now been able to make it available in an ebook edition that contains all the lovely historic photos of the original.

Check Goodreads for a lot of great ratings and reviews.

A Scene that Haunts Me Still

August 3, 2017

Tags: Narcan, naloxone, opioid overdoses, Corvallis Gazette-times, drug addiction, addicts relapsing, San Jose, first responders, opioid withdrawal

Yesterday’s front page article in our local paper, the Corvallis Gazette Times, reminded me of a story I’ve been meaning to tell. The headline reads “Corvallis police pack antidote to opioids.” The picture features a friendly looking police officer holding up a package of Narcan, and the article is upbeat about what this will mean in terms of lives saved from opioid overdoses in our town. Narcan (naloxone) instantly counters the effects of opioids and can miraculously revive a person just moments from death.

Now, to backtrack. A few weeks ago I flew to California to hang out with my old childhood friend at her oceanfront home in Santa Cruz. This is not Instagram or Facebook, so I’m not into posting vacation pictures in hopes of inciting envy. Hey look! I’m logging time in prettier places than you are! So I’ll just say it was lovely and only one final incident was negative and relevant to what I sometimes write about here concerning drug addiction.

On the way to the San Jose airport to fly home, we stopped at one of those huge malls. Right outside Nordstrom, as we approached, a young woman was absolutely freaking out. Three or four people were trying to restrain her, and others were watching from a distance, what I like to think hopefully of as respectful witness rather than just maudlin gawking.

“I said no Narcan!” I heard her scream. Or something like that. Something against Narcan, and the name of the drug I heard clearly.

I was one of the people who walked right past into the store, and would have looked to anyone watching like someone who couldn’t be deterred from shopping to show concern for a fellow human being. But that’s not what was going on in my head.

I wonder if maybe I was in a better position than the others present to have a feeling for what this woman was going through. “Take it easy,” the men who restrained her were saying. “Everything’s going to be okay.”

Well, no it wasn’t. This was not somebody overdosing. This was somebody who’d been jerked back from death and into instant opioid withdrawal. Narcan works by instantly pulling all the opioids from the brain’s opioid receptors. What I suffered over the course of months in coming off of Oxycodone, this poor soul was experiencing in an instant. The intensity of her physical and mental anguish haunts me still.

When we came out of the mall—we weren’t in there long, and since I hate malls, I don’t know what possessed me to agree to this last stop in the first place—an ambulance was parked there, presumably with this woman aboard.

There’s so much controversy about Narcan. In towns like ours, everybody’s feeling pleased that they’ll be able to save lives. In towns where the same people get saved over and over, only to shoot up again, patience and the good feeling of doing the right thing begin to wear thin.

But here’s the thing—unless they get that young woman to some sort of a rehab place right now, she WILL shoot up again. It will look to the outside world like just the stupidest decision ever after these nice people saved her, right? But after my own experiences, I see it differently. Any human in such physical and psychological distress will be thinking of only one thing—how to get out of it. And the most immediate way is a hit of opioids. Their brains are highjacked. This is not a moral decision. Unless the person is rather forcibly cared for without a chance of finding relief from agony by using again, yes, they will use. Addicts will be revived over and over until finally they overdose when no rescue Narcan is at hand.

Treatment. Loving, non-judgmental treatment. That’s what’s needed. Expecting somebody in this position to somehow get a grip on themselves is absolutely futile.

I wish somebody would read this and tell me they know who that woman was and that she’s clean now and on the road to well. Because I can’t forget her agonized cries.

Childhood at the Beach

July 8, 2017

Tags: Gillian Stephenson, Margaret J. Anderson, Someday I'll Laugh About This, From a Place Far Away, WW II, To Nowhere and Back, Smailholm Tower, Lockerbie, Scotland, Searching for Shona, Journey of the Shadow Bairns, In the Keep of Time, perils of the Oregon Coast, hazards of logs rolling in the surf, Mari's Books And....., Yachats, Oregon

Well, time flies! My little cover model for Someday I’ll Laugh About This, Gillian Stephenson, probably around eleven when she posed for me, just graduated from high school. Congratulations!

Coincidentally, I was just shipping another box of this title to the lovely sisters at Mari’s Books And…..in Yachats, Oregon. I wonder how many titles can claim to be sold exclusively in one store? I was going to write that the book is available on Amazon but nobody buys it there, but when I went to check I saw that, yeah, that’s right, probably nobody has ever bought it through Amazon. That’s kind of what a ranking of 8 million or whatever means! So, Amazon gave up. Can’t blame them.

So, this summer vacation story can be bought only in Yachats, where Mary and Mari, the store's owners, do a great job of hand-selling the book the way only independent book store owners can, doubtless pointing out to customers that Yachats is the actual setting of the book, renamed Perpetua for fictional purposes.

It’s certainly dated in terms of the technology available to my characters; the beloved beach cabin, Sea Haven, doesn’t even have a phone, and cell phones are still in the future. But the heaving emotions of puberty are still the same, and I was so sad to see that last summer, a teenage girl from Eugene died in a rolling-log-in-the-surf accident similar to what I describe in the climax. The need to warn of this Oregon Coast peril will never be out-of-date.

Gillian, my model for Shelby, is the granddaughter of my dear friend, Margaret Anderson, who has herself just released a memoir entitled From a Place Far Away: My Scottish Childhood in World War II.

I loved this book! Read it last night in one sitting and it was so soothing, such an antidote to the current state of political affairs and the degradation of our culture. So pleasant to read about decent people coping with the threat of war as they live through what will in retrospect seem rather idyllic childhoods.

Margaret is a wonderful writer, and she had me laughing out loud over and over, describing her childhood antics. It’s a difficult thing to write about oneself, and she pulls it off to perfection. Fans of her earlier novels—who are no doubt now reading these books to their own children—will definitely want to read From a Place Far Away and learn about the places and incidents that inspired her earlier and much beloved works.

From a Place Far Away is a gem. Don’t miss it!

A companion book to Children of the River, a travel story about a family wedding in China, a writer's personal account of the twists and turns on the road to becoming a writer, a wife, and a mother--pick up Wedding in Yangshuo and read it any way you want.
The author's memoir about her inadvertent addiction to and recovery from doctor-prescribed opioid painkillers and the benzodiazepine Xanax.
A mysterious man tears a small town apart with his seductive new religion.
A spirited young woman joins her family in an overland journey to Oregon that will test each one of them to the limits of their faith and endurance.
In in the wake of the Cambodian holocaust, a young Khmer girl struggles to make a new life in the United States.
An eighteen-mile wall of fire is roaring toward Blue Star, the logging camp where 13-yer-old Storie lives with her family. Can they get out in time?
Against a backdrop of the 1960s, high school sophomore Kathy Shay wants to establish her own identity and connect her life with the turbulent world around her.
Thirteen-year-old Shelby has always looked forward to vacations at the family's beach cabin, but this year, everything's different. Everything's wrong.
Robby Hummer loves his family, even if they are somewhat unusual...
Betsy Bonden longs for a baby. Why does this "ordinary miracle" that seems to come so easily to others continue to elude her?

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