Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I Don't Attend RMFW Meetings, But I Have a Great Excuse by Barbara Graham

Barbara Graham began making up stories in the third grade instead of learning to multiply and divide. A native Texan, she later lived in Denver, New Orleans and East Tennessee. Inspiration for Silersville (home of her imaginary friends) comes from her Tennessee period.

An unrepentant quilting addict, she lives in Wyoming with her long suffering husband and two dogs. Her motto is “Every book needs a dead body and every bed needs a quilt.”

Murder by Vegetable: The Baby Quilt--the 4th Quilted Mystery--released October 19, 2012.

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I Don’t Attend RMFW Meetings, But I Have a Great Excuse by Barbara Graham

I am one of the distant (geographically) members of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers. I’ve been a member for years and have never been to a meeting. What’s my excuse? I live in Northwest Wyoming, almost exactly 500 miles from the heart of Denver. What’s it like to be an author living up here? Lovely. Remote. Miserable. Fabulous. For years, I was in an online critique group through RMFW and owe much to that, especially Mike Befeler.

I’m a virtual dinosaur with minimal computer skills but I’m in good company up here. Only 80 miles away, a dinosaur skeleton was found not many years ago. My kids went on field trips to find shells from eons ago when this was the ocean. Nearby is the Yellowstone Caldera. I’m assured by the motion picture industry that when it blows I will be annihilated. It is comforting to know.

Wyoming is unique. With a population of 500,000 in a fairly large chunk of land, the closest shopping mall is 110 miles away—in Montana. I think there might be three malls within the state but none closer than 200 miles to me. There are more antelope than people and often 50 miles or more between gas stations. I love it. That said, Wyoming is often described as a single small town with long streets. I know people all over the state. Warning—do not badmouth anyone, you might be talking to the cousin, sibling or parent of the person living 400 miles away and word will get back.

There are two groups of people in the state—those who have hit a deer on the road, and those who will. Speaking of deer, my yard is the crossroads for the various deer herds in town, yes town. One day I heard an odd scraping sound at the window and saw a big buck nibbling on a bush but his antlers kept bumping the glass.

What, you may wonder does this have to do with writing? In my world the most valuable thing for a writer, is good blinds or curtains. Keep them closed. Otherwise there is too much gazing off into space, at the mountains, or the sky, or at the critters.

Many people in Wyoming write. It might be connected to the long winters, or the tradition of storytelling to pass down history or maybe it’s the same everywhere. In my town, I’m the odd duck, even for writers, because I kill imaginary people. There is little more thrilling than finding the right way to do away with someone. I’m always keeping an eye out for my next victim or weapon. While writer friends around me are turning out poetry, history, non-fiction, I’m killing people in Tennessee. Why? Well, I love mysteries and I lived in Tennessee for several years. My little group of imaginary friends live there and are not planning to migrate. The fourth book in my series, Murder by Vegetable: The Baby Quilt released this month.

When the wind is howling and the temperature is plunging—I don’t care (except when walking the dogs)—in my office I have gone to East Tennessee. And yes, it is different from West Tennessee. I’m often asked why I don’t write about Wyoming. I may yet, but this group of imaginary friends likes where they live and are not moving. I know them well enough to be sure they would happily visit in the summer, but they would not live here. A week in Yellowstone is not the real world.

I’d love to attend the meetings and picnics for RMFW and other vibrant writers' groups that I belong to, but, I’m not moving.

The photos:  The landscape picture with the fall colors and two mountains is the view from my office. I have to keep the blinds closed to get any work done. The back side of the mountain on the left is the peak rising from the water, maybe ten miles away. Kind of cool. These four deer spent a whole day in the yard, sheltered from the wind. I nicknamed them “the four stooges.”

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Thanks for the tour of your writing country, Barbara. I wanted to retire to Wyoming until I found out about the cold and the wind. I guess that would be an advantage if you wanted an excuse to stay inside and write.

For more information about Barbara and her quilting mysteries, visit her website. From time to time you can also find her on Facebook.


12 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Thanks for hosting Barbara.

Barbara - Thanks for sharing what it's like to live and work where you are. I can imagine that there are lots of positive aspects to living in a very sparsely populated area. And the 'photos are absolutely stunning. I can see why you feel the way you do about where you live.

Barbara Graham said...

Thanks Margot--It really is wonderful except when it's not. There are times when I'd love to be a bit closer to civilization--even if it's just being able to buy all the ingredients in a new recipe.

Pam/NY said...

Barb-
Love the new book cover...enjoyed reading this. Sounds like you live in heaven...Look forward to reading this book.
Pam/NY

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Barbara,

I love the photos! My husband would love to live in Wyoming or Montana. Unfortunately, our entire family is in NJ. But we love your part of the country. Good luck with the new novel! I'm certain it will do just as well as the previous one have.

Best,

Jacqueline Seewald
DEATH LEGACY, Five Star and Thorndike Press

Barbara Graham said...

Thanks, Pam! Most days heaven, some days, not so much.

Jacqueline--some people move to get away from family. ;)

Ann O. Heberlein said...

Pat, Thank you for hosting Barbara she's a great friend.

Barbara--
Congrats on the next installment. Missed you at RMFW Conference this year; the ride back was totally boring.
Love the views from your office. Don't keep the curtains closed, they are truly awe inspiring.

Barbara Graham said...

Thanks Ann--I missed the conference again because I seem not to have acquired the ability to be two places at once. Now that would be an awesome talent for an other than earth being.

jenny milchman said...

What paradise. We drive cross-country every summer and Wyoming is always staggeringly beautiful. I would love to live as you do. And where you do. I would just miss dumplings.

Barbara Graham said...

Hi Jenni--Well, not all of Wyoming is staggeringly beautiful. I'm a bit curious why you can't have dumplings in Wyoming?

Patricia Stoltey said...

Barbara, thanks so much for sharing a touch of Wyoming with us today. I love the state, but I do think the climate is a little better down here in Northern Colorado. If you're in our neighborhood for a book signing one of these days, make sure you let me know.

Barbara Graham said...

Thank you Pat! You spend so much time doing this great blog--when do you have time to write your own stuff?? Hope to see you soon.

Patricia Stoltey said...

I'm only a small chip in this rock, Barbara. A team blog takes the pressure off by sharing the responsibility.

The things that really mess up my writing schedule are my spoiled, high maintenance cat, mt errand-running habit, and naps. I love naps.