In The Writer's World

The State of the State

I left y’all last month on the cusp of my trip to Tucson. If I went there to get sunshine, I was sorely disappointed. During my time there, more than two inches of water dumped from the sky–just like home. It was worse in Oregon, where there were snow flurries and general misery. The good news is that I had a fabulous time and really saw a lot of the area I had not seen in previous visits.

A view of hoodoos in a canyon at Chiricahua National Monument in southeastern Arizona.

Among many highlights, my top choice was the Chiricahua National Monument. About an 80 mile drive from Tucson, this park offers some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever beheld. And, with many well-maintained hiking trails, it’s possible to get up-close and personal with its many wonders. My sis and brother-in-law were tireless with their hospitality. At night we watched the Olympics and ate ice cream. And Tucson offers an array of spectacular Mexican food! About as good as it gets.

The other thing on my mind during the past six weeks was the acquisition of Chehalem Winery by my former husband’s business partner Bill Stoller. Papers were signed on January 31, and in a press release dated February 1, 2018, the new owner announced that “faces would remain the same” and yada-yada-yada.

Harry was out the door before the ink dried, and while I was in Arizona I learned that Wynne, my daughter, the head winemaker would be let go as well. It has taken some time for this betrayal to sink in. We purchased our original vineyard property in 1980, the year Wynne was born. She and Harry are what made Chehalem Chehalem. I’ve been gone from the scene for 20 years, but I took particular joy in cooking for the winery harvest crew once a year during those sacred days of September and early October.

Now it is gone, but never forgotten.

The State of the Novel

Still working on the second draft of my stand-alone Gothic mystery novel set in the Columbia Gorge. Hopefully this will be completed and I’ll be a happier girl by the end of March! I’m not unhappy. Actually, I love rewrites. The story line is in place–the bones. Rewrites are about putting flesh on the bones–all the details, the parts that pull the characters more together and refine them.

There can be many drafts to a novel. In the end, the novelist fights with herself over words and the placement of commas–very little stuff indeed. But it’s not little because we choose each word for a reason.

And voice. My girl’s voice isn’t where I want it to be yet. But in time, dear friends. In time.

Meanwhile, another Emma Golden mystery is simmering on the back burner. I can’t wait!


I have a friend, Toni Morgan, who is an author. Before we were friends, we were in a critique group together. I loved her writing then, and even more do I love it now. Her first two literary novels, Patrimony and Two-Hearted Crossing, recently were released by Adelaide Books. I’ve read Patrimony, and will start its sequel as soon as time allows. Her trilogy on World War II is unique in that it shows the war from the Japanese citizen point of view, following four families through the horrors and collateral damages of war. It is slated for publication very soon.

Other reading: Most notable right now is Personal History by the extraordinary Katherine Graham of Washington Post fame. Her story, the story of her family, and of the Post is a tantalizing read, especially for those of us old enough to have experienced the turbulent 1960s-70s, the Vietnam War, The Pentagon Papers, and Watergate. Published in 1997, it won the Pulitzer Prize, and more recently inspired the movie The Post. Graham’s style is warm and accessible and loaded with information and insider gossip. You feel as if you’re having tea with a dear friend.

That, my friends, will have to hold you until next time. As the late Sue Grafton used to end her Kinsey tales: Respectfully submitted, Judy

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  • Lynn says:

    Great update, Judy! Can’t wait to see a draft of your new novel. Keep at it!

  • Val Basom says:

    Glad to read your news, Judy, but I feel bad for Wynne’s loss. Yours too. Such a lovely place.


  • Janet Nedry says:

    It was a fun visit. We will do it again next year. Your Sis.

  • Jennifer says:

    I am a bit slow reading this and thank goodness I did not lose it in my inbox! Full of information and you…saddened by poor behavior of Stoller. A sale is a sale. The betrayal of Wynne is different. Great things will come for her and perfect words for your books! See you soon. Jennifer

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