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Learn about my writing experiences and my books

October 6, 2009

I’m going to start telling you about my background. My life experiences are reflected in my writing for a reason. In the late eighties, a retired Benton Community School teacher said to me, "Fay, write what you know about." At the time I didn’t know how that suggestion was going to help me since I didn’t see much in my life that looked like fuel for writing material. However, I had time to think about the teacher’s advice, and I’ve seen it in other authors books. Take for instance, Mark Twain. He used his surroundings at Hannibal, Missouri, his childhood and the people he knew when he wrote Tom Sawyer. His riverboat trips down the Mississippi gave Twain the sights and sounds Huck Finn experienced on the raft. One of my favorite books is "Gone With The Wind". Margaret Mitchell must have drawn on people in Atlanta to make her characters so real. Of course, I like to think Mitchell pictured Clark Gable as Rhett Butler when she was writing the book. I know I did when I read the story.

The first fourteen years of my life was spent on an 80 acre farm 100 west of Kansas City. My early memories include a wood cookstove, a blue wooden ice box, an outhouse and Dad’s team of work horses. My older brother is 11 years older and left home by the time I was in second grade. My first four years of school were in a one room school house an eighth of a mile from my house. Dad loved the outdoors. My parents took my younger brother and I mushroom hunting in the spring, fishing in the summer and squirrel hunting in the fall. Afternoons on nice days, we walked a quarter mile down a lane to the pasture with my parents to get the milk cows. A large extended family lived around us. We always had company on Sunday or went to a relative’s home for lunch. Memorial day was a family tree lesson and picnic combined. We spent all day going from one cemetery to another, listening to my parents tell about family members. Thanks to an Uncle, 4th of July we had fireworks as pretty as any town. Hot summer evenings, we sat in the yard watching the moon rise and stars sparkle while we waited for Sputnik to come over. Dad had a telescope we took turns using while he told us stories. We learned during the Civil War my parents home town thirty miles away had been burnt by Union soldiers and rebuilt after the war. To the west of our farm was Blue Mound. So called because of the blue haze around it. The spot where the Osage Indian village had been before the government moved the Indians into Indian Territory was a few miles from us. They called that mound The Wailing Mound. It was the burial site for their chiefs. When the Indians came to pay respects, the women cried loudly. Their wailing carried on the wind. When Dad plowed a field, we always found arrow heads and spear tips from Indian hunting trips.

Farming was a hard living. Dad got a part time summer job. Mom kept us in food by canning. What was left over, we took with us to the grocery store in Schell City. Her whole life, my mother called shopping "going to do the tradin’." Mom traded potatoes, strawberries, blackberries and eggs for sugar, flour and coffee.

We left that life behind when I was 14. My parents took over a gas station near Keystone, Iowa with a history that went back to the Lincoln Highway. My summers were spent pumping gas and washing windshields. After high school, I married a man who worked for a local farmer and had a son. A few years later, my husband went to work for the Iowa DOT. We moved into a trailer house on my parents acreage. Dad had two sons and one daughter and out of all three I was the only one who had farming in my blood. I loved animals. The acreage was once a working farm so I took advantage of the outbuildings, and we soon had a menagerie of animals and birds. As my sheep flock grew, we joined the local sheep producer group. My efforts to promote lamb trained me to do public speaking and got the group awarded a plaque two years in a row for promotion from the Iowa Sheep Association as the top promoter of 99 counties. In the late eighties, my life changed again. My parents closed the gas station, and Dad got Alzheimer’s. My husband and I had been looking for a place of our own. In 1991, we moved north of Keystone seven miles from my parents. In 1993, I went to work at Keystone Nursing Care Center as a CNA. That meant most of my animals had to go. Until my dad died in 1999, I spent mornings helping my mother care for Dad and worked afternoons. I enjoyed my conversations with the elderly about their lives in the "Good Old Days". Through those years, I was awarded Nurse Aide in 2004 by Iowa Health Care Association and Professional Caregiver in 2006 by the Alzheimer’s Association. For 8 years I was a facilitator for an Alzheimer’s Support group and since 1999, I have been a volunteer speaker in my area for the Alzheimer’s Association. My husband retired three years ago and I retired in Dec. Our acreage is suited for us as long as our health holds out. The upkeep here is labor intensive to keep the area looking like a park. So far we are succeeding. We know because of compliments from people who drive by. Winters can be long, but for me the time flies by while I’m dreaming and writing a book.

Come back, and I’ll begin to unravel how I got this far.


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