Thursday, November 15, 2012

Meet Marsha Ward, author of Spinster's Folly

Today I am excited to welcome Marsha Ward, author of the NEW Western family saga Spinster's Folly, now on blog tour.  

I love the title of your new book!  Marsha, please tell us about Spinster's Folly:

Marie Owen yearns for a loving husband, but Colorado Territory is long on rough characters and short on fitting suitors, so a future of spinsterhood seems more likely than wedded bliss. Her best friend says cowboy Bill Henry is a likely candidate, but Marie knows her class-conscious father would not allow such a pairing. When she challenges her father to find her a suitable husband before she becomes a spinster, he arranges a match with a neighbor's son. Then Marie discovers Tom Morgan would be an unloving, abusive mate and his mother holds a grudge against the Owen family. Marie's mounting despair at the prospect of being trapped in such a dismal marriage drives her into the arms of a sweet-talking predator, landing her in unimaginable dangers.

This fourth book in the Owen Family Saga is infused with potent heart and intense grit.

We've asked Marsha to interview her character, Marie:

* Way back in 2009, some of my characters began to visit me, and I established a blog entitled The Characters in Marsha’s Head, just so I could publish a record of our encounters.

First, some of the Owen boys came by, having slipped under the rainbow during a storm. We had a nice visit. Then their sister Marie knocked on the door in August, encouraging me to begin the book that would help her move on with her life. That, of course, is my newly-published novel, Spinster's Folly. I guess Marie came by the other day to check on the progress, because even though I've moved since her visit, she found me. It was after nightfall when I heard footsteps outside on the ramp up to my deck, and after a moment or two, I heard a rapping on the door. When I opened it, my security light came on and I knew Marie instantly, but I didn't recognize her clothing. It was nothing like what she'd worn before.

ME (flabbergasted to see her): Darling Marie! Come in, come in!

MARIE (Hiding her eyes from the bright light with her hand, then peering over her shoulder.): I have to hurry. I can't stay long.

ME: Whyever not? Let me just move these books off the chair. Sit down. What can I get you to eat or drink? (I move a pile of Civil War reference books onto the floor.)

MARIE (Moving hesitantly into the room, her hand still in front of her eyes.): I can't be gone long. He'll find out.

ME: Sit down, dear. (I feel my brow furrowing.) Who is "he"? You seem frightened.

(MARIE finally lowers her hand. We're both still standing.): Truth to tell, I am frightened, more than I've ever been.

ME (Gasping as I digest the fact that her face is mottled and colored with bruises.): What happened? Who's been beating you? Not your Pa!

MARIE: No, not Pa. He would never—

ME (Grabbing hold of her arms.): Who did this? He won't get away with it!

MARIE (Face crumpling.): I thought he loved me.

ME (Mumbling strong words under my breath.): I'll get a cold cloth.

MARIE: No. I can bear the pain a tad bit longer, if you'll just finish my book.

ME (Closing my mouth that's fallen open from amazement.): (Silence.)

MARIE: Please. (Her voice quivers, on the verge of losing control.)

ME: I'm-- I'm doing a final edit. It won't take lo—

MARIE: Now! You've got to publish it as soon as may be!

ME (Sinking into my chair.): Or . . . ?

MARIE: I'm obliged to stay in his power until folks can read the words. He won't release me until then. (She collapses into the chair beside mine.)

ME (My mouth is gaping open again. I close it with difficulty, knowing who "he" is, and what she's been through.)

MARIE: Please, Mom! (She's sobbing hysterically.)

ME (Shaken): I had no idea. I— Some folks have read it. At least they've read the first draft. They said lovely things about it.

MARIE (Looking at me through teary eyes.): That must account for how I was able to get away for a spell. (She sniffs, somewhat less bereft.)

ME (Digging out a tissue and handing it to her. On second thought, I give her the entire box.): I'll get a hold of Linda on Monday. Tuesday at the latest.

MARIE: Who is Linda? (She blows her nose and drops the tissue into the waste basket beside her chair.)

ME: She's the very helpful lady who will arrange my words all pretty for the inside of the book. Can you hold out until she's finished with it?

MARIE (Blowing her nose again.): I'll venture to do it, Mom. Ask her to hurry, please.

ME: You hang on! I'll get a hold of Deirdra and we'll figure out what to put on the back cover, too.

MARIE (Brightening a bit.): Some of them lovely things the folks said?

ME: You may be sure of that!

MARIE (Letting out a gusty sigh and dabbing at her eyes.): It won't take long?

ME: Oh sweetie, we'll go as fast as we can! I promise you, as soon as Spinster's Folly is published, he won't be a-worryin' you no more.

MARIE (Slightly chuckling.): You sound like Ma. (Sniffs)

ME: You'll see her soon. It will be a favorable reunion. I promise.

MARIE: It makes my heart glad to hear that. (She suddenly turns her face toward the door.) Did you hear that? I'm obliged to leave! (She gets up and kisses me on the cheek.) Mind you, hurry! (She's out of my arms, out the door, and running off my deck before I can move a muscle.)

ME (My shoulders slump.): Oh my gosh! (I try to get my mind around the idea that characters remain in dire situations until their books are published. I turn to the laptop.) Oh my gosh. (I look at the words swimming before me through my tears.) I promise you won't be in pain very long. (My voice is hushed. I had no idea!)

*This is a work of fiction. I don't really talk to time-traveling characters from my novels. I do like them a lot, though, and am glad they pass under the rainbow from time to time to visit me in my own place and era.

I’m very gratified to announce that Marie has been able to escape her dire situation, due to the release of her story, Spinster’s Folly, on November 10th.

Marsha, please tell us a bit about yourself: 

Marsha Ward is an award-winning poet, writer and editor whose published work includes four novels in The Owen Family Saga: The Man from Shenandoah, Ride to RatonTrail of Storms, and Spinster’s Folly; and over 900 articles, columns, poems and short stories. She also is a workshop presenter and writing teacher.

Marsha, thanks so much for being here on Actually Alethea today!  Readers can find Spinster's Folly at these locations:

Read more about Marsha Ward at: 


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Writers and Teachers of Writing Meet – And Both Get Inspired!

This guest post is by Carol Deering.  It first appeared in the October 2012 Wyo-Writer, the official newsletter of Wyoming Writers, Inc.

Carol Deering reading at the Central Wyoming College Sinks Canyon Center
Photo courtesy Wyoming Department of Education
“It was a new experience for me.” 

“The Wyoming writers’ presentation was a wonderful opportunity for teachers to learn about the joy. ... and the need to write, and how that need can be fostered.” 

“If I had the chance, I would take advantage of such an opportunity again.”

Across the state this summer, writers read to teachers of writing, and both felt enriched. ...

Shortly after our conference in June, I was contacted by Kathy Shirley, a consultant with the Wyoming Department of Education (WDE) and a former writing teacher, to organize readings at their weeklong training sites.  At the Central Wyoming College Sinks Canyon Center, at the Beta Coffee House in Cody, at the Night Heron Bookstore in Laramie, at the Natrona County Library in Casper, and at the Campbell County Library in Gillette, a total of 21 writers from around Wyoming spent a Wednesday night reading from their work to teachers attending these sessions. Many of the 21 writers were members of Wyoming Writers, Inc. Nine read poetry, eight read nonfiction/memoir, three read fiction, and one read several genres. The teachers at every site said the readings were a highlight of their week!

The first reading, for the facilitators of the remaining WDE sessions, was magical. On a gorgeous solstice evening, beneath a canopy and birdsong — and connected to technology (for a piece of music and photographs) by a long and winding extension cord — a small, receptive crowd sat at picnic tables and listened to four writers share their work. Marjane Ambler read from her book manuscript, Paradise Isn’t for Sissies: Life in the Heart of Yellowstone; Sara Wiles read and showed photographs from her book, Arapaho
Journeys: Photographs and Stories from the Wind River Reservation. Echo Klaproth read from her essays, stories, and poetry. And I read poems from my chapbook manuscript. Teachers who seemed hesitant about their own writing got animated by the end. As Echo remarked, “The evening served as a shot in the arm; I can’t explain it any other way than to say it was spiritual.”

At Cody’s reading, coordinated by Lynne Bama, one first-grade teacher “absolutely loved the Wednesday night with the poets,” and said it “filled her soul.” Lynne, Mary Robinson, Jazmyn McDonald, and Rob Stothart enthralled their audience with poetry ... and would each volunteer again.

The reading in Laramie, coordinated by Diane Panozzo, was a great success. The fact that there were two younger and two older readers helped to create a diverse audience including university students, teachers, and the public. Diane and Maggie Mullen read fiction; Aaron Graham read poetry; and Pam Galbreath read a nonfiction piece about her son’s drug addiction. Afterwards one teacher remarked, “I was so impressed with the writing ... and am inspired to write more myself. I felt much more connected to the human experience after hearing them read!”

Those who attended the reading in Casper, coordinated by Cindy Bower, interacted positively, both through their attention, laughter and tears during the readings, as well as their personal thank-you greetings at the end. Cindy read the beginning chapters of a middle-grade adventure book; Cindy Grafton read from a poignant memoir about her
life as a disabled child mistreated by her family; Vicki Windle read and performed a variety of serious and humorous poems; and Keith Cottam read a nonfiction article concerning a Vietnamese refugee and her heroic efforts to help others in camps as she awaited her release and emigration to the United States.

At the reading in Gillette, coordinated by Darcy Lipp-Acord, five writers read their work and made a huge impression. Darcy and Katie Smith read nonfiction/memoirs; Pat Frolander, Wyoming’s Poet Laureate, read poetry; Chris Ellsworth read fiction; and Mikayla Howard read poetry. 

One teacher wrote: “I was thoroughly impressed with the writers’ honesty, vulnerability, and talent. ... Thank you for such a neat and memorable experience.” Overall, comments glowed. “What an awesome experience. Their writing inspired me to keep writing and to ... go for the jugular.” “The experience last night was phenomenal. It is so important to hear not only authors reading their own work, but to listen to the process they go through to produce such works of art.” “I would love people like that to come to my room and share. It would be great for someone besides myself to ... talk to [students] about writing.” “These authors were passionate as they read their words. Hearing the stories behind their pieces gave a new voice to what they read. I want to have some of these authors visit my classroom, and they expressed an interest in this possibility.”  “I really think that good things can come out of this burgeoning relationship between the Wyoming Writing Project, the Wyoming Writers, and the Wyoming Department of Education.” “A great idea. Let’s keep it up — all over Wyoming.”

A few comments reflected the need for more coordination between WDE and the writers.
Everyone hopes this summer’s experience will be repeated next year, when it will be even better. Meanwhile the Wyoming Writers’ board will be considering more regional writing events throughout the year.

I am deeply indebted to the other site coordinators for all their efforts and for some of the wording in this article.  And thanks to all the readers for making this series a magnificent success!
Carol Deering
Secretary and Past President
Wyoming Writers, Inc.