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Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Seven Parts of Never Done

When I decided to write a novel based on my great-grandmother's life, I read and reread her hand-written memoir, looking for inspiration. What impressed me was how hard she worked most of her life. Work isn't a very compelling subject, so I decided to include it in my story, but not focus on it. For a more detailed description of woman's work, I recommend Never Done, A History of American Housework by Susan Strasser.

In an attempt to organize the 148 pages of my great-grandmother's manuscript, I began  going through it paragraph by paragraph, highlighting every mention of work. Thankfully one of my cousins had transcribed our great-grandmother's handwritten life story into a Word document. In the margins of the Word document I wrote baking, cleaning, doing laundry, etc., so I could find what I was looking for when I wanted to mention that particular task in my story.

There are many versions of the children's nursery rhyme, “Here We Go ‘Round the Mulberry Bush." The one I recall describes the tasks women in the past performed on certain days of the week. "This is the way we wash our clothes," for example. Using the typical Monday--laundry, Tuesday--ironing, pattern, I decided to write Never Done in seven parts—each part representing one day of the week and its related chore.

So I created seven Word documents, naming them Monday thru Sunday. Then I went back through my margin notes and transferred the work incidents into the appropriate document of the week. Later, as my novel came together, I revised the names of the parts to reflect both the daily task and what takes place in the story during that part. The appropriate workday is mentioned somewhere during each part of my story, but only as background or as the setting for a scene. 

That method of organizing my story was appropriate for Monday through Saturday, but in the past, Americans considered Sunday to be a day of rest. My great-grandmother never seemed to rest, so in part VII, I wrote about the devastating effects of Spanish flu on her life, as well as the people of Colorado, and named it "No Rest."

                                                           Part I: “Cowboys and Clotheslines”
                                                           Part II: “Hot Irons, Cold Nights”
                                                           Part III: “Make Do and Mend”
                                                           Part IV: “To Market, To Market”
                                                           Part V: “New Brooms Sweep Clean”
                                                           Part VI: “Live, Love, Bake”
                                                           Part VII: “No Rest”

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Where I Write

Here is where I spend a few hours of most of my days. I take up roughly one quarter of the small third bedroom my husband and I refer to as the den. In addition to my writing corner, the den contains bookcases, a sofa, and a great chair to sit in and read. My writing space is always messy, but I know  where to dig for what I need.

In the reading chair, usually asleep, is Kiki, my writing buddy. I think the sound of my typing soothes her. On the other hand, she sleeps most of the time.

On the wall in front of me is a clock my cousin Arlin Phillipps (Arlie) made from a large burl. He removed the burl from a tree, sliced it, and coated it with fiberglass resin. After the resin dried, he added numerals, hands, and a pendulum. Pictures don't do it justice.

To the left of my work space hangs a framed book carving of my novel Brute Heart. When I saw the artist's work at an art fair, I just had to have her create this beautiful three-dimensional heirloom. The artist, Sarah Bean, lives in Gold Beach, Oregon. Many of her book carvings hang in the Library of Congress.

The process is rather difficult to explain. First Sarah separates a soft cover book into two halves. Then she uses some kind of very sharp cutting tool to carve intricate designs into the pages, going deeper with some cuts than others. Finally she adds the cover, pictures, and miscellaneous small items to create a collage representing the physical book as well as the story within. Someday I am going to have Sarah make one for my second novel, Never Done.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Bad Grammar

Bad grammar makes me shudder. A person doesn't have to know the rules, but can't they hear how terrible it sounds?

Tuesday, November 7, 2017


Pinterest is a photo-sharing website that is enjoyable and informative. Type almost anything in the "search" window and you will be directed to pictures of it. I enjoyed the experience so much I created boards representing my two novels--Brute Heart and Never Done.

In my writing I try to describe people, places, and things well enough for readers to visualize them, but  now they can go to my Pinterest boards and see actual pictures in some cases, close approximations in others. They will never see pictures of the characters, though. The people in my stories need to be assembled in each reader's imagination.

Below are a few pictures from my Pinterest boards. To see more go to 

Friday, October 6, 2017

Five-Star Reviews

Reviews for Never Done have been good so far. Below are a few of them.

This historical book about a very strong woman in Colorado was one of the most moving books I have read. I was impressed with G. Dehlinger's research on cattle drives, the trees and flora of Colorado as well as the dress of the times and how they dealt with the lack of amenities. The relationships this woman, Clara, had with family members and others is quite intriguing and kept me engrossed throughout. L.S. Raleigh, NC

Dehlinger has done it again with another well-written and thoroughly researched novel. The characters are flawed, and the relationships are not perfect. Geneva and Clara never reach the easy friendship you're rooting for, yet there'a feeling of peace in the end. When Clara triumphs over a hardship, you root for her. My emotions ran the gamut as I read this book, and I look forward to sharing it with others. Loved the descriptions Dehlinger uses for the towns, mountains, dangerous roads, and animals. It was an enjoyable novel, and I hope she writes another one! S.R. Bend, OR

I love stories that are based on historic truth and Ms. Dehlinger had a clear window to history, when she acknowledged the extraordinary life of her great grandmother who lived to age 98, leaving behind a hand-written memoir. The result is a well-written fact-based fictional view of one family’s survival in Colorado in the latter part of the 19th century. Survival was always tenuous in changing times, and particularly hard on women with agendas that were “Never Done.” Heroines Clara and Geneva are teenage cousins whose friendship is shattered when one becomes stepmother to the other. Both grow up fast in times that most of us can hardly imagine. Ms. Dehlinger paints a realistic picture—with prose to match—about their troubled relationship and double coin of survival over thirty plus years. I was brought to tears when the drama climaxes in the 1918 flu pandemic that killed more people than WWI. “Never Done” is a vivid testimonial to the indomitable spirit of all ancestors who struggled to survive while holding family together. I look forward to reading more from this talented author who seamlessly blends fact with fiction in a well-told relateable and thoroughly entertaining story. C.F. Rochester, MN

Ginger Dehlinger has written a novel based on her great grandmother's life in the early west. The girls are very young to have faced the hardships of living in primitive surroundings with which most adults would not be able to cope today.The author's research into the details of life in the period make her writing authentic and the story rings true. Well done! K.B. Bethesda, MD

Friday, September 8, 2017

Opportunity to Promote My Writing

I'm excited to be the guest speaker at this month's Bend Genealogical Society meeting. I was invited after one of their members, a friend of mine, read Never Done. Since Never Done is based on information gleaned from my great-grandmother's memoir, she thought her club members would find it interesting to learn how the story came about. I took her idea and expanded it, creating a PowerPoint presentation that covers not only my great-grandmother's memoir, but many types of documents with story potential.

Title: "Family-Inspired Fiction: How to Use Family History & Documents to Create Stories"

Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Time: 10:00 a.m.

Place: Williamson Hall (Williamson Hall is part of the Rock Arbor Villa Mobile Home Park at 2220 N.E. Hwy 20, Bend OR

Monday, August 7, 2017

Less Is Less These Days

I usually don't share Facebook posts in my blog, but this one caught my attention. I rearranged the original version and added several lines. The resulting "poem" captures my thoughts, using one simple suffix.

Feeling Hopeless

Over heat that's fireless
we cook food that is fatless
while cars that are keyless
ride on tires tubeless.

Today's work week is sweatless,
and hospitals are germless.
Highways may be bumpless
but all progress isn't harmless.

Wearing tank-tops sleeveless
using cell phones wireless
complain youth who are clueless
as to why they are jobless.

In a country godless,
relationships are meaningless
leading to babies fatherless
who become children mannerless.

Attitudes careless and
feelings heartless
produce education valueless
and leaders who are shameless.

We've forgotten fearless,
selfless, and guileless,
and with a government that's worthless
I'm left feeling hopeless.