WIP: Branches

Seems controversial enough, I think; getting a reader to care for a person persisting in a profession villainized by the public for forty years or more.

WIP: BRANCHES was born from my interest in local history, – specifically logging history in this case- my granddaughter’s fascination with Native American culture and history, a Bible found inscribed with the name and picture of a 12 year old boy who was killed in Vietnam at age 20, the rise in homeless and/or drug addled persons, and wondering if…when a person dies – do their deeds die or do they live on in the deeds done by those they left behind? — Their branches.


Thirty-four year old Mason Bouchard is the recently widowed father of nine-year-old Madi. After the gruesome and tragic death of his pregnant wife, Reva, Mason and Madi move home with his parents, Nolan and Sybil Bouchard. The parents combat demons of their own, in particular Nolan’s Vietnam War related PTSD and Sybil’s struggle with an overwhelming sense of responsibility to the homeless. The Bouchard’s are a third generation logging family with strong ties to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, where Branches takes place.

Mason begins to question whether Reva was poisoned after some dangerous toxins are found in the well water of their home. Upon realizing the poisoning was possibly caused by an intentional application of Agent Orange from ancient barrels, he begins to search more diligently for who caused the death of Reva and the unborn baby.

As any child would, Madi struggles with the loss of her mother. While camping with her best friend, Amy Stecketee, she falls and is hospitalized. While in a coma, Madi sees her mother and when she awakens, she is comforted by the vision and becomes less apprehensive. Trying to comfort her dad is made difficult by his lack of belief, but Madi’s faith never waivers.

Branches is a 90,000 word family drama with many historical elements from the Vietnam and Afghanistan wars as well as a history of the logging industry and Mason’s own trifecta of a mystery which includes seeking answers about the death of his wife and unborn son, appeasing the protesters who threaten the logging industry, and fighting against Senator Leeza Migford’s Senate Bill. In his quest, Mason finds Carl Cooper, who he initially assumed was behind the poisoning in the watershed but realizes he’s a simple stooge, and Mason helps Carl recover from drug addiction.

Working together as a family and for the community with a book-box project brings Nolan forward out of his PTSD and helps Sybil honor Reva, an important element of her grieving process.

One way to tell if a branch is alive or not is by bending one of its small twigs between two fingers. If it bends easily, then it’s alive. If the twig is brittle and breaks, then it’s likely that the branch is dead.

Back Cover Copy:

The complications of a  still birth take Mason’s wife, leaving him a single father to nine-year-old Madi. As mysteries throw shadows of suspicious circumstances over her death, he becomes enraged as well as determined to find who is responsible. Are there even larger forces at work? The press is lying about him and there’s a crooked Senator staging protests for the purpose of usurping Mason’s logging business.

The Willamette National Forest

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