July 2, 2015

In Praise of the Fourth of July




I wish they could have seen her, those white-wigged guys in their buckle shoes. Propped up in a hospital bed, wearing one of those silly gowns, she was nearly as pale as the bleached white sheets and pillowcases behind her. She was one month shy of her 41st birthday, six months into chemotherapy. She’d hit a rough patch at the start of July, spiking a fever and landing herself in the sixth-floor oncology ward. I came to distract her, because that’s what friends do, staying with her for the afternoon while her worried and worn-out husband—trying to keep things normal when “normal” no longer had meaning—took their nine-year-old kid for a swim. (more…)

December 4, 2014

The Duke and Miss Jane Austen



In the summer of 1980, through a combination of chutzpah and luck, I snagged a job as a college lecturer on an American travel/study program in England. This sounds more impressive than it actually was. The course was a two-week adventure, far more “travel” than “study,” with no required reading or papers and an emphasis on field trips. I was only 24 at the time, barely out of college myself, but I had enthusiasm and pluck and a natural knack for leading tours, so in that sense—if not academically—I was qualified for the job. I mention this only to explain how it was that long ago, on a sunny morning in August, I herded a flock of Americans onto a rural English bus and through the green Hampshire countryside to Jane Austen’s cottage at Chawton. (more…)

August 11, 2014

The “Real” Indian Shirt Story


I’d always intended to post an article someday about the connection between my Northwest novel and the original White-Pioneers-Meet-American-Indians story from the Bigelow House Museum in Olympia. I never dreamed I would post it as a video. But here it is—and it’s fun: Washington State Historical Society Program – The Indian Shirt Story.

If you’d prefer to watch me read and sign books in person, come on along to one of my author events scheduled for fall. I’d love to see you there.

Shoalwater Tribal Library (Tokeland, WA) September 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm

Cooper Point Village Book Club (Olympia, WA) October 16, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Orca Books (Olympia, WA) October 24, 2014 at 7:00 pm




May 12, 2014

A White Girl Remembers Billy Frank


There is delicious irony in the fact of Billy Frank, Jr., lying in state this past weekend literally within a stone’s throw of the first American pioneers to settle on Puget Sound. For five hours on Saturday, friends and admirers of the most famous—and arguably most beloved—American Indian elder in the Pacific Northwest paid their respects not 50 yards from the graves of old pioneer settlers in Tumwater’s Union cemetery. Those pioneers were the vanguard of the huge wave of Oregon Trail emigrants who would soon displace and marginalize the indigenous people of Washington, changing their world forever.

Somewhere, Billy is grinning. “Goddamn,” he says. “We’re still here.” (more…)

April 15, 2014

Stepping Away



It turns out I’m lousy at blogging. Perhaps I was simply born too late—old dog, new tricks—but I never really developed the knack for banging out short, breezy blog posts over my morning mug of tea. I get distracted by bothersome things like double-checking my research and making sure my words and ideas amount to something worth reading. My quirky little history blog has been a grand writing experiment. But it’s time to step away. (more…)

March 11, 2014

Blues Highway

On a warm October morning in the Mississippi Delta, more than a decade ago, my husband and I set out before dawn to search for the grave of the man who—according to legend—sold his soul at the crossroads so he could play great blues guitar.

No figure looms larger in American blues mythology than Robert Johnson. Whether by a deal with the devil or through his own hard work and practice, Johnson played wicked slide guitar during the 1930s. He died in Greenwood, Mississippi, in 1938, ostensibly poisoned by a man who thought Johnson was eyeing his wife. Or at least that’s the story. The tale of the jealous husband, like that of Old Scratch at the crossroads, adds both danger and mystery to the King of the Delta Blues. (more…)

February 18, 2014

Upcoming Author Events

Monday, March 10 at Noon

The Coach House at the State Capital Museum (211-21st Ave SW, Olympia)

Olympia author Heather Lockman reads from and chats about her Northwest e-novel The Indian Shirt Story—a tale of integrity, celebrity, salmon, and beer set in a fictional (but very familiar) town in South Puget Sound.


Wednesday, June 11 at 7:30 p.m.

Olympia Timberland Library (313–8th Ave SE, Olympia)

Author Heather Lockman reads from and chats about her novel, but promises to say different things than she did in March.





 Heather Lockman’s The Indian Shirt Story, an irresistible novel from the Pacific Northwest, is now available as an ebook from Amazon, Musa Publishing, and most other ebook stores.



February 6, 2014

George Washington Underfoot


When it is it acceptable to tread on the face of George Washington? The senator from Samoa thought the answer was “Never.”

“This is terrible,” he said, hanging back in the foyer of the Washington State Governor’s Mansion while the rest of his tour group moved on. “So disrespectful—walking over George Washington. This is an important man, a man who fought for freedom. He shouldn’t be here on the floor where people step on his face.” (more…)

January 13, 2014

Kam Wah Chung


From the outside it doesn’t look like much. Given its location, standing alone in a city park in the small eastern Oregon town of John Day, the stout little structure might be mistaken for some kind of shuttered concession stand—a place to buy hot dogs and soft drinks in summer, when the park swimming pool is open. Except for the hand-lettered sign overhead saying Kam Wah Chung & Co., and the fact that its address is on Canton Street, you’d never guess that this building— just blocks from the Grant County Fairgrounds—once stood at the center of one of the largest “Chinatowns” in the American West.

When gold was discovered not far from John Day in the early 1860s, Chinese immigrants flocked to eastern Oregon just as they’d rushed to the California gold fields a decade earlier. In 1887 two Chinese men, Ing Hay and Lung On, bought the existing Kam Wah Chung store in what was then a flourishing Chinese frontier community. They would own and operate their idiosyncratic business—part general store and part traditional herbal dispensary—in its original building for more than 50 years. (more…)

December 20, 2013

A Modest Suggestion


Know anyone getting a tablet or ebook reader for Christmas? Woody (adorably pictured above) has two helpful ideas for spreading bookish good cheer:


1) The Indian Shirt Story makes a great quick, inexpensive gift for readers of all sorts. Really. Buy it on Amazon and have it delivered through cyberspace—whoosh!—just like that.