Rails and Roads

Well, my dream writing residency is now a (potential) reality! I am in the process of applying for an Amtrak Residency for Writers. I’ve been in love with train travel since I was nineteen years old and circled the country on Amtrak, going south from Seattle to Los Angeles, east to New Orleans on the Sunset Limited, on to the Carolinas, north to visit family in Boston, and back west on the Empire Builder. The Empire Builder became my favorite route, not to mention the inspiration for Gail’s journey west on Highway 2 in A Long-Forgotten Truth. Highway 2 parallels Amtrak’s Empire Builder for much of the route. Here’s an excerpt:

“The land was an earth molded from different clay, the surface brittle and taut, like the fissured skin of overripe fruit, split and showing the meat underneath, the cracks and bruised places—pastures of mud, standing water, lean herds of cattle. I settled into that wounded prairie and all it did not offer, no gas station postcards or sentimental songs on the radio.”


I am already imagining furiously writing away as days and nights of American landscapes pass by…


Applying for the residency has given me an excuse to finally get a Twitter account, @RachelRBallard. I’ll try to be funny (and I’ll have to be succinct!) I’ll post updates about my new manuscript as well.


Ahh, the railroad bridge. I love this view of the trestle and the foothills. Again, this is Index. I crossed this bridge several times on Amtrak's Empire Builder route when researching the book.

Invented Place

I had an AMAZING time in Port Townsend reading for the Jefferson County Historical Society. It was the first time I’ve ever been asked to do a lecture and I didn’t know exactly how it would go. But I quickly learned that an engaged audience makes everything go well. I spoke about the fusion of several Cascade foothills landscapes that became my invented town of Sylver in A Long-Forgotten Truth. I’ve included a few of the beautiful pictures Mike Wood took for my slideshow below.

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I love Bellingham!

Well, the Northwest book tour was AMAZING!  I am currently gearing up for a lecture in Port Townsend at the Jefferson County Historical Society on October 7.  There will be slides, I promise!

I was thrilled to learn yesterday that I’d won Best Writer in the Cascadia Weekly’s Best of Bellingham 2011 issue.  What an honor!  I am truly humbled and soooo appreciate everyone who voted for me.  The only way I can think to thank you is to write another book.  Also on the horizon, I’m hoping to tour the Midwest in the spring or summer, and possibly hit the East Coast as well.  I will certainly update as dates get confirmed.

For now, I will muster all my technical savvy and try to get links posted to recent press about A Long-Forgotten Truth.  More soon.


Northwest Book Tour Dates!

Hey everybody!  Here are my tour dates so far, more details to follow:

Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island, WA August 4, 2011 7:30 p.m.

Garfield Book Company in Parkland (Tacoma), WA August 7, 2011 4:00 p.m.

BOOK LAUNCH PARTY! at The Ridge in Bellingham, WA August 18, 2011 8:00 p.m.

St. Johns Booksellers in Portland, OR August 27, 2011 2:00 p.m.

Gray Skies Reading Series in Olympia, WA September 15, 2011

Third Place Books in Seattle, WA September 17, 2011 6:30 p.m.

Village Books in Bellingham, WA September 23, 2011 7:00 p.m.


And thanks so much to everyone who supported my Kickstarter project, which was successfully funded!  So that means I’ll be announcing East Coast tour dates soon!