Travels with Heather, Part 2

Still with me?  Onward!  (Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, today’s post is guaranteed 100% potty-free…)

The last of my trio of recent trips was a local one.  Well, sort of local.  Long-distance local.  Because PIES & PREJUDICE was nominated for an Oregon Book Award this year (my friend Emily Whitman’s wonderful book WILDWING was the winner), I was invited by Literary Arts, the organization that sponsors the awards, to go on a mini-book tour.  I jumped at the chance! For one thing, it’s an honor to be asked, and for another, it’s just plain fun.

So I packed my suitcase, and off I went to a stretch of the Oregon coastline I’ve never seen before:  North Bend and Coos Bay.

I have to admit it’s cool to blow into town and see your “wanted” poster plastered everywhere. Here’s one on the window of Ciccarelli’s, the restaurant where we ate the first night.  (Yum!)  One of the best things about these tours is the chance to get to know some other Oregon writers.  I was incredibly fortunate to tag along with two delightful and incredibly talented people — George Estreich, whose book The Shape of the Eye, a moving, heartfelt memoir about raising a daughter with Down Syndrome, won the award for creative nonfiction; and Geri Doran, a poet whose lovely collection Sanderlings was a finalist in the poetry category.

Our fearless guide for the tour was Susan Denning from Literary Arts.  She’s a peach.

And she was a willing partner-in-crime, too, when I suggested we skive off and do a little sight-seeing.  We made a beeline for the ocean, of course, and landed in a great spot called Shore Acres State Park.  Can you believe this view?

There used to be a fancy mansion perched on this cliff, the home of pioneer lumberman and shipbuilder Louis Simpson, but it’s long gone.   Too bad.  Like Emma Hawthorne, I’m a sucker for old houses, and I would love to have seen it…

All that remains are pictures, alas.  Oh, and the estate’s formal gardens.  Which brought Susan and me to our first dilemma of the morning — which to visit first, the gardens or the beach?

We opted for the gardens.  All I can say is, wow!

I want a fountain like this one in my garden:

And rhododendrons like these:

And a Japanese pond like this one, please:

That’s not too much to ask, is it?

There was a greenhouse, too, where we admired a variety of beautiful flowers …

… and gawked at a VERY odd plant that looked like a pussywillow wearing a feather boa:

Does anyone know what this is?  I’m clueless.

When we were done touring the garden, it was time to hit Simpson’s Beach.  Oh joy!  We were the only ones there!

Is this gorgeous or what?!

Such a stunning setting definitely called for kicking back, relaxing, and soaking up a few of those rare Oregon rays …


It’s times like this that I’m convinced I have the best job in the world.

I could have lingered in this beautiful spot all day, but there were workshops and readings and school visits ahead, so Susan and I reluctantly pried ourselves away and headed back to civilization. I taught a writing workshop that afternoon, followed by a group signing at the lovely North Bend Public Library, then the following day I visited a couple of schools, including North Bend Middle School, where I hobnobbed with the fabulous librarians from there and from North Bay Elementary School:

Oops, there’s that purple shirt again!  Where’s Megan when I need her?  I really have to go shopping…

The students gave me a fantastic welcome, as you can see.

They’d all read my SPY MICE books, and I had a blast talking to them about my path to becoming an author, and about books and writing.  And then we brainstormed some fractured fairy tales together, which was great fun.

The kids also made some beautiful notes and letters and artwork for me, too, which totally bowled me over:

You can’t tell from the picture, but this one below is 3-D!  Glory’s (the mouse’s) nose and ears have a sort of sandy texture added to them.  Really cute!

An entire class collaborated on that one, and on this amazing collage below.  I’m planning on getting it framed to hang on my office wall:

See why I’m convinced I have the best job in the world?

43 thoughts on “Travels with Heather, Part 2”

  1. Those are beautiful pictures! I have a sore spot for old houses, and gardens– my dad has one in our side yard, complete with a pergola that has wisteria growing on it, and we have roses too. I’ve never been to a beach like Simpson’s beach before, but it looks incredible!

  2. I’ve seen that mystery plant before, but I have no idea what it is! Even having done a quick flip-through of ‘Plants of the Western Forest’ I remain clueless.

  3. Wow! I wish you could come to my school. My brother is really into Spy Mice and I love the books too.

  4. Heather, I’m convinced that you have the best job in the world, too. It reminds me of a part in HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS, when Cassidy says: (after the part where it explains where Cassidy’s mother’s cheeks are flushed and eyes sparkling) “I hope that someday I’ll have a job I love as much as she does” or something like that, you get the picture. When did you decide to be an author? When authors make their stories, do they get to choose which font they want? Do authors write on Microsoft word or something? I hope you don’t mind the questions!

    • Oh gosh, I’ve known I wanted to be an other since I was little, like maybe six. I knew for SURE, though, the summer I was 12. As for the font, all those kinds of details fall in the category of book design, which is the bailiwick of the art department (that means they’re in charge of it). I suppose if I really felt passionately about a particular plug, I could lobby for it, though. 🙂 I don’t know about other authors, but I do use Microsoft Word, although I’m tinkering around with some software for writers called Scrivener. Hope this helps, Sandy.

      • Of COURSE it helps! Thank you very much! By the way, you are my role model. I want to be just like you when I grow up! (I hope this doesn’t sound five-year-old ish

  5. Omg you r sooo lucky that u get to travel around the country. When are you gonna post the excerpt for Wish You Were Eyre????? Fyi tomorrows my b-day so that would be great if you could do it soon

  6. Totally off topic, but someone mentioned that Zach and Cassidy would get married, and I completely panicked. You’re not the type of author who would have your characters elope, right? Also, when is the sneak peek coming? I’m practically drooling at the moment. And not because of a cookie.

  7. Cute pictures! I love HGTV, and was watching a reality show, on it there was a house in England called Ivy Cottage, I will try to get a picture, but it reminded me so much of what I imagined when reading about Emma’s house in MDBC.

  8. Wow, you sure have been busy!! But it sounds like you had a lot of fun-I would too!:) And everything is so wonderful: I loved the art all the kids made. I wish I was an artsy person, but all I can draw is stick figures. Oh well.

    • Wow, thanks Keri! I LOVE that it’s named after “chenille” — like the bedspread and bathrobe! 🙂

      • You’re welcome!!
        I love chenille bathrobes. 🙂

        I can’t wait for Wish You Were Eyre!

        -Keri

        P.S. Will you be doing a book tour in New England anytime soon?

  9. beautiful pictures!! i love photography!! i make a summer camp and after this summer i plan on buying a nice big camera. im so excited!

  10. heather did you write an epiloge in wish you were erye or did you just leave it up do our imaginations!!

    • I don’t think there will be an official epilogue, but I DID tie up all the loose ends, and give you a glimpse of what the future might hold…

      • yay!!! i am sooo happy!! i don’t really like it when the author leaves you hanging at the end of a seires!!!!!!!!

  11. Very pretty!!! This is going to sound bad, but I’ve never been to a beach, and that one was absolutely breathtaking!!! Do you know exactly where you’re going to be touring this summer?

  12. Beautiful! I’m glad you’re having such agreat summer! I too, am having a good one. Yay, swimming!

  13. AWESOME pics! And I love that purple shirt. It suits you. Your really pretty, and the purple… well, purple’s your color!!!!

  14. Haha! I love the picture of the feather-boa-plant. Do you know the scientific name for that? I’m really curious. (My inner Jess is shining through today, it seems!) 🙂

    • Sift through the rest of the comments here, Abby — Keri posted its name, Latin name, and a link to more information about it! 🙂

  15. Oh, that is just a glorious garden! *drools and makes appreciative noises* Since I’m a gardener myself, I’m sitting here scribbling down little notes to myself like, “Must get fountain and pond!!” Hehe. 😀 I need to get one of those feather-boa plants as well!

  16. Your “feather boa plant” is an Acalypha hispida, commonly named “the chenille plant”, a tropical plant originally from Oceania but commonly grown in gardens in Central America.

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