Saturday, April 19, 2014

Saturday Sample - April 19, 2014

Welcome back to my Saturday Sample. In this scene from Gone for a Soldier, my novel that will be released later this summer, Ella Ruth Allen is excited to go on a shopping expedition to the nearest big city, Harrisonburg.
~~~


The day began too early for Ella Ruth's taste, but Poppa insisted on an early start to avoid the likelihood of meeting with enemy troops on the move. The Yankees were said to be tucked in safely down the Valley in Martinsburg, unlikely to come up to battle against the steadfast Virginians holding the line, but Poppa seemed cautious lately.

She climbed into the buggy with his assistance, regretting her sporadic fits of crying over the last two days. All the thinking and the tears had given her a tremendous headache. Even so, excitement bubbled in her stomach. In an effort to cheer her up, Poppa was taking her with him to Harrisonburg. She planned to shop to her heart's content.


"It is mighty kind of you to include me in your trip," she exclaimed with a smile as she settled into the seat and adjusted her hat and veil. She turned to look at the servant getting on a horse behind the buggy. "Will Thomas be able to keep up with your prize team?"


Poppa raised an eyebrow. "He rides well enough." He lifted the lines and clicked his tongue at the horses. Once they were on their way, he said, "I will not be able to accompany you for shopping, but Thomas will be with you to carry all your baubles."


"Poppa! I would be just fine all alone. I do not plan to buy more than five or six 'baubles,' as you put it. I must have a new hat, however. This old veil is too thin for the sun."


"You won't go unaccompanied, daughter. I cannot allow you that liberty."


"Pish and tush." She looked again at the old black-skinned man following them. "Well, he does seem to know how to ride. If you insist on him coming along, I suppose I shall endure it."


"Thomas is reliable, Ella. You will treat him well."


"Of course I will, Poppa! To hear you speak, one would think I was heartless."


He glanced over at her, but said nothing.


"I'm not heartless. I treat everybody well."


"Then what of your tears the past day?"


Ella Ruth sniffed. He knew she had been crying over her lost love affair. "You should have permitted me to marry Benjamin, Poppa."

~~~

What kind of personality do you think Ella Ruth has? Do you think you and she would have been friends? Why or why not? What kind of attitude does she have about the war?

I hope you enjoyed this tidbit from Gone for a Soldier. Thank you for visiting. I love to read your comments, so if anything in the sample compels you to speak up, rest assured that I eventually read what you write and will reply, if needed. Questions? I'm open to them, too.

Please come back next Saturday for another sample. Thank you!


Marsha Ward is the award-winning author of an acclaimed novel series featuring the Owen family. Her latest book, Spinster's Folly, won the 2013 USA Best Book Award for Western Fiction. A former journalist, Ward has published over 900 articles, columns, poems and short stories. She is the founder of American Night Writers Association aka ANWA.




Friday, April 18, 2014

Fresh Book Friday - Walls for the Wind

Today I'm beginning a book spotlight series that I'm calling "Fresh Book Friday." Here's the initial brand new book:

Title: Walls for the Wind
Author: Alethea Williams
Genre: Western historical
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Date of publication: April 2014


Synopsis:
Can an angel survive Hell on Wheels? When Kit Calhoun leaves New York City with a train car full of foundlings from the Immigrant Children’s Home, she has no clue she might end up as adoptive mother to four of them in rip-roaring Cheyenne, Wyoming. Kit has spent her life in the Children’s Home and now she rides the Orphan Trains, distributing homeless children to the young nation’s farmers as fast as the rails are laid.

The first time handsome Patrick Kelley spies Kit in Julesburg, Colorado Territory, he wants her. But circumstances, and a spectral-looking demented gambler, as well as Kit’s certainty no one in his right mind would want her cobbled-together family, conspire to keep them apart. As Patrick and Kit and her brood ride Hell on Wheels into their destiny, they’re all forced to leave behind everything they knew and forge new lives in the raw American West.


Excerpt:
“Frau Goff, you must listen,” she said softly. “Your son was arrested by the constable. Helmut will not be coming home. Reverend Howe is trying to convince the magistrate to release the boy into our custody, rather than have him spend ten days in the public Juvenile Asylum under the influence of the older, hardened hooligans incarcerated there. It was Helmut, Frau Goff, who told us where to find you.”

At the news, the woman’s hand flew to her mouth. Her eyes distant now even though they never left Kit’s face, she moaned, rocking the little girl back and forth. “Ah, Gott in heaven, what shall we do now?” she pleaded under her breath.

“You need to go to the hospital, Frau Goff,” Kit urged, even though she knew the charity wards were full to bursting with sick and dying immigrants. Reverend Howe, however, was prepared to use all his considerable influence to convince the Baldwin sisters to take just these three more into their already overburdened care.

“I cannot go to hospital.” The woman covered her mouth, throat rasping as she coughed up more blood. Twin spots of fever-induced color suffused her sallow cheeks. “Then Hannah would have no one.”

The woman’s hands lovingly kneaded the little girl. Kit waited, fingertips resting on the woman’s arm. Puffs of vapor escaped the child’s rosebud mouth, freezing as her warm breath hit the cold air. Hannah’s eyelids drooped as she lay quietly now in her mother’s arms, and she blinked sleepily.

“It makes no difference if I agree, yah? All you have to do is wait. When I die,” the sick woman said in a dull rasp, “my children will truly be left all alone.”

Kit swallowed the reply that wanted to spill from her lips, words of false hope and promise that the woman would recover. Perhaps, with time, good food, rest and a change of climate, there might have been a chance. But as it was, destitute and starving and already ravaged by her illness, there was in truth little the medical profession could do for Helga Goff.

“Will you sign?” Kit asked in German, fingers tightening on the woman’s skeletal arm. Educated at the asylum in languages, as well as painting and piano, at least some of her training stood her in good stead this day. “Will you give us the opportunity to shepherd your children toward a better life?”

The widow Goff studied Kit with burning eyes. “You will keep Helmut and Hannah together?” she pleaded, also in her native tongue. “Brother and sister always. You will not separate them? Make your solemn pledge to me now, before Almighty God.”

“I assure you the asylum will educate them and find them a home.”

“No! To you! To you alone will I give up my children. Promise me they will be together. Always.” Her voice fading, the woman’s last word ended on a sigh. Her small strength in defense of her children spent, her head drooped toward her chest.

Kit craned her neck, looking frantically over her shoulder to Reverend Howe for guidance. He held out his hands, palms up. “You have chosen to do this work, Katherine.”

Finding no help from the bear of a man in the massive greatcoat, Kit turned her gaze back toward the woman and child. Looking down on the little girl’s soft, golden curls, she said, “Very well, Frau Goff. I promise you that Helmut and Hannah will remain together.”

The sick woman raised her head. For an instant she searched Kit’s face. Then apparently reading truth there, she reached unsteadily for the pen that Reverend Howe had already dipped in ink. Her lips moved as she struggled to read aloud in English:

This document certifies that I am the mother and sole legal guardian of Helmut Goff, age eight, and Hannah Goff, age two. I hereby willingly agree for the Immigrant Children’s Asylum to provide them a home until they are of age. I further promise never to interfere in any arrangements made on their behalf.

Once more she raised fever-bright eyes to Kit’s, as if seeking a way out of signing away her children. But both of them knew it was too late. There was no rescue in this world for Frau Helga Goff. Shoulders rounded in defeat, she lowered her eyes to the release form and signed in a spidery European hand.


Buy links:
Whiskey Creek Press 

Kindle 
Nook 


Author bio:
Western history has been the great interest of my adult life. I've lived in Wyoming, Colorado, and Oregon. Although an amateur historian, I am happiest researching different times and places in the historical West. And while staying true to history, I try not to let the facts overwhelm my stories. Story always comes first in my novels, and plot arises from the relationships between my characters. I'm always open to reader response to my writing.

Website: http://aletheawilliams.weebly.com/
Blog: http://www.actuallyalethea.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AletheaWilliams.author
Google+: google.com/+AletheaWilliams
Twitter: @ActuallyAlethea https://twitter.com/actuallyalethea
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5753104.Alethea_Williams
LinkedIn: http://lnkd.in/by89znA
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Alethea-Williams/e/B0077CD2HW/

This sounds like a story I want to read. How about you?


Buy links: Whiskey Creek Press | Kindle | Nook 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Holy Week (Semana Santa) Contest

In commemoration of the events that changed the world 2000-odd years ago, I'm holding a
HOLY WEEK CONTEST
which begins today (Palm Sunday) and ends at noon on Monday, April 21 (Easter Monday in Canada). The prize for the
HOLY WEEK CONTEST
is an autographed copy of one of my Owen Family Saga novels, The Man from Shenandoah, Ride to Raton, Trail of Storms, or Spinster's Folly.


If the winner is not from the United States, I will email him or her instructions for downloading a free copy of the novel of their choice as an e-book. They then can go to Authorgraph.com and put in a request for a digital autograph (or they can do it from the gadget over in the left sidebar).


Each person who follows the rules below and comments on this post with the desired information will have his or her name placed in my ten-gallon contest-drawing hat. The winner's name will be drawn from the hat on Easter Monday, April 21, at 12:30 p.m. Mountain Standard Time (because, you know, I live in Arizona).


Here are the Rules: 
  1. Think about the novels you have read from the Owen Family Saga. 
  2. Determine which is your favorite character.
  3. Figure out why they are your favorite character.
  4. Comment on this post and tell me who that character is and why he or she is your favorite.
  5. Tell which book you want autographed and sent to you if you win.
  6. Include your email address for winner notification.
  7. You may only enter the HOLY WEEK CONTEST one time (but see the Bonus Rules below).


Bonus Rules:
  • If you also include in your comment which book made you like this character best, I will put your name into the hat a second time.
  • If you include a favorite passage from one of the novels that is no longer than three paragraphs long and is pertinent to why you like your favorite character, I will put your name into the hat a third time.
Remember: This contest starts today and runs through Monday, April 21. Each commenter may enter only one time, as you know, favorite is favorite, after all... even if your opinion of your favorite character will change next time you re-read one of the Owen Family Saga novels... or read the next one, Gone for a Soldier, coming later this summer.


Good luck to all of you!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Saturday Sample - April 12, 2014

Welcome back to my Saturday Sample. In today's opening scene from Gone for a Soldier, my novel that will be released later this summer, Rulon Owen is headed into Mount Jackson, Virginia, on an errand. What happens in town changes his life.

In case you haven't seen the gorgeous cover art for this novel yet, here it is. What do you think of it?
~~~

Rulon Owen is going to war...and he isn't taking prisoners.

Rulon Owen hadn’t intended that crisp Friday in April to be momentous.

In fact, when he’d saddled his horse in order to do an errand in Mount Jackson for his ma, he hadn’t given much thought to anything but stealing a few moments to see Mary Hilbrands.

She was only a little bit of a thing, a girl with dark hair and eyes that shone like... well, they kind of smoldered nowadays whenever he looked her way. Those smoky dark eyes tended to give him a shaky feelin’ that spun his head in circles and tied his gut into knots that...

“Whew.” Rulon realized he’d let the horse slow to a walk while he’d been off in a reverie, somewhere not in Shenandoah County, as far as he could tell. He got the horse loping again, and wished it was already a year from now. Mayhap folks wouldn’t get their tails in a twist about them keeping company once Mary turned sixteen. He was almighty tired of Ben and Peter, and especially Pa, accusing him of robbing the cradle because he’d taken such a shine to the girl. Yes, he’d concede she was young, but when she spoke his name, his knees felt like they was composed of apple jelly.

Ma sides with me, he thought. Pa was the true cradle-robber of the family when the two of them wed. Him twenty-four and Ma barely sixteen herself. Humph! If I ask her to say a word to Pa, she won’t let him keep ridin’ me.

He knew he wasn’t likely to throw his opinion on that subject in his father’s face any day soon. Firm. Formidable. Those were good words to describe his father. Rulon shook his head. Receiving back-sass from his offspring did not sit well with Roderick Owen. But at age twenty, Rulon hadn’t taken a lickin’ for a long spell. Maybe Pa’s gone soft in his old age. That's likely, now that he has nigh onto forty-five years pressing him down.

Rulon slowed the horse to a walk as he entered the town. Ahead, he spotted his brother Ben pulling sacks of grain out of a wagon parked in front of the mill where he’d taken employment over the winter. Glancing up, Ben saw Rulon, and stopped to raise his hand in greeting, a big grin splitting his face.

Rulon drew rein and halted. “Brother Ben.” He clasped the outstretched hand. “What makes you so happy today?”

“I am put in a smilin' mood from seein’ you with that enraptured look on your face. Can’t wait to thrust your hand into the cookie jar, huh?”

Rulon snorted at Ben's fancy.

Ben kept on talking his nonsense. “Oh yes indeed. You're an enchanted man, spellbound and smitten, ready to do that girl's bidding.”

“Speak for yourself, brother.”

Ben laughed and said, "Give my best to Miss Mary,” then smacked Rulon's horse on the rump, which caused it first to shy and then to run.

After half a block atop the runaway, Rulon regained control of the animal. “Heartless boy.” He settled the horse down to a sedate walk once again as he proceeded on his errand.

As he came in view of Mr. Hilbrands' store, he saw a crowd of excited men, some coming, some going. Some were running. Running! What was amiss?

He drew up and dismounted. As soon as he had his feet on the ground, a friend of Pa’s shoved the newspaper from Harrisonburg into his hands and bid him take it home. Slapping him on the back, the man ran down the street.

Rulon watched the man's hasty departure, then looked at the immense black headlines of the special edition. He read the subtitles interspersed with the text on the front page. His heart went cold at the urgency of the words. It soon rebounded, and began to beat at a rate he’d not experienced many times in his life. He looked up from the paper, his breath as quick as his heart rate, and made a decision. Feeling the cogs of his life shuddering to a halt and then changing direction, he strode into the store to put his plan into action.
~~~


What do you think is going on in Rulon's town? What do you suppose he has decided to do? How do you react when a crisis occurs that impacts your community?

I hope you enjoyed this tidbit from Gone for a Soldier. Thank you for visiting. I love to read your comments, so if anything in the sample compels you to speak up, rest assured that I eventually read what you write and will reply, if needed. Questions? I'm open to them, too.

Please come back next Saturday for another sample. Thank you!


Marsha Ward is the award-winning author of an acclaimed novel series featuring the Owen family. Her latest book, Spinster's Folly, won the 2013 USA Best Book Award for Western Fiction. A former journalist, Ward has published over 900 articles, columns, poems and short stories. She is the founder of American Night Writers Association aka ANWA.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Indie Author Hub Writing & Publishing Conference - June 7, 2014

Indie Author Hub is throwing a party . . . well, it's really a Writing & Publishing Conference, but if I know anything about the people involved in the planning and execution of the event, it will be immensely fun, as well as exceedingly informative!


It all takes place at the Courtyard Marriott, 1600 N Freedom Blvd (200 W.), in Provo, Utah. Here's a link to the particulars, where you can register to get in on all the good stuff.

Did you notice the price??? What a sweet deal! It doesn't include lunch, but you have several options for feeding yourself. Details on the site.

Here's a sneak peek at the schedule:

7:30-8:30 – registration/complimentary bagels and juice
8:30-8:40 – Welcome/door prizes
8:40-9:30 – Keynote Amy Harmon NYT bestselling author
9:40-10:30 – 1st breakout
10:40-11:30 – 2nd breakout
11:40-12:30 – 3rd breakout
12:30-1:30 – Lunch
1:30-1:40 – Welcome back/winner of cover contest/door prizes
1:40-2:30 – Panel: The Pros and Cons of Indie, Traditional, and Hybrid Publishing. Amy Harmon, Stephanie Fowers, Rachael Anderson, Heather Moore, Andrea Pearson, Rachel Ann Nunes
2:40-3:30 – 4th breakout
3:40-4:30 – 5th breakout
4:40-5:30 – 6th breakout/complimentary snack
5:40-6:30 – 7th breakout
6:40-7:20 – Mass author book signing 

With 21 Breakout Sessions, this is a don't miss event, so, if you have any interest in Indie Publishing, DON'T MISS IT!

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Saturday Sample - April 5, 2014

Welcome back to my Saturday Sample. In today's brief scene from Spinster's Folly, Bill Henry is on the hunt, but he's also getting discouraged by circumstances beyond his control.
~~~

Old Man Owen was as good as Rulon’s word, Bill reflected as he saddled up by lantern light. He had no pocket watch, and could only guess at the hour, but from the aching in his limbs, he figured he hadn’t slept very long. Midnight, maybe? It could be later, but he was sure it wasn’t nigh on to dawn.
His horse was just about played out, as were the other mounts. The thought that they couldn’t go at the speed he would have liked galled him. There was nothing he could do about the situation. Thorne was getting away from them.
“Steady there,” Sourdough spoke from behind him.
Bill thought he was talking to his horse, but when the man’s hand settled on his shoulder, he knew the advice was for him.
He glanced around, and yes, the old-timer was looking at him.
“I know you’re in a rough spot, Henry. Keep in mind, the girl has spunk.”
~~~
Buy Spinster's Folly here:
Print: CreateSpace | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Bill's friend Sourdough is trying to keep Bill's spirits up. How do you think Bill is going to react to his efforts? How would you try to encourage a friend during a tough time? When a friend has tried to cheer you up, how did you react?

I hope you enjoyed this tidbit from Spinster's Folly. Thank you for visiting. I love to read your comments, so if anything in the sample compels you to speak up, rest assured that I eventually read what you write and will reply, if needed. Questions? I'm open to them, too.

Please come back next Saturday for another sample. Thank you!


Marsha Ward is the award-winning author of an acclaimed novel series featuring the Owen family. Her latest book, Spinster's Folly, won the 2013 USA Best Book Award for Western Fiction. A former journalist, Ward has published over 900 articles, columns, poems and short stories. She is the founder of American Night Writers Association aka ANWA.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Saturday Sample - March 29, 2014

Welcome back to my Saturday Sample! Today's brief scene from Spinster's Folly takes place after Marie Owen has taken matters into her own hands and run away with a man who seems to love her.
~~~


Within an hour, Marie was thirsty, and leaned over the pommel to retrieve her canteen. Not knowing how long Mr. Thorne had it in mind to travel that night, she took only a shallow sip of water. That served to refresh her though, and she continued to follow the man ahead of her on the moonlit road.

Finding herself yawning, Marie closed her eyes for a moment and let Bess follow the other horse. The gentle gait of her mount soon had her fighting to stay awake.

She must have slept, because the next time she opened her eyes, the moon had risen higher in the sky than it had been before. The flat landscape, broken by the occasional stream bed and butte, glistened here and there where minerals lay exposed on the earth. Marie gave herself a little shake as she endeavored to awaken, but soon, she was nodding in concert with the horse’s easy movement.

Bill Henry soon joined her, in a dream so vivid that she might have said his name in her surprise. He talked of her Pa’s heavy-handed ways, and Marie could only nod vigorously, given the recent events that had caused her such grief. He lifted his hat and raked back his hair, and then reseated the head gear. Suddenly, she was rebuking him for calling her foolish. The light in his eyes faded and his expression grew guarded. His grave voice echoed in her mind, “I didn’t mean you, I didn’t mean you, I didn’t mean you.”

The next thing she knew, Marie opened her eyes to find Mr. Thorne standing beside her stirrup, shaking her shoulder and muttering her name.

“Come on, wake up. I don’t have all night to stand here.”

Marie pulled away at the frank irritation in her lover’s voice, straightening her torso from her sleepy crouch. Guilt at dreaming of another man at the very onset of her elopement made her cautious, and she replied tersely, “I’m awake. Are we camping here?” Did I speak his name aloud? Did Mr. Thorne hear? Did I upset him?

“No. We’ll rest the horses for a spell, then travel along for a while longer.” The irritation had left his voice, and he smiled at Marie. “I apologize for being short with you. I fear I’m not at my best tonight. It must be nerves from the anticipation of having trouble getting away.” He helped her dismount, then continued. “I must say, I’m vastly relieved that no one was about to stop us from leaving.”

Marie nodded, feeling a release of her anxiety, and smiled back. “I reckon I’m a bit unsettled myself. It was quite unnerving riding between the camps. I feared a dog would bark and set up an alarm.”

“We’ve had luck on our side tonight. That is sure.” He kissed her on the brow, gently, tenderly, briefly.

Marie yearned for a further expression of affection from the man, but Mr. Thorne took himself away to tend to the horses. She found a suitable place on the ground to sit and rest, a hummock of earth crowned by a sparse grassy growth, and lowered herself onto it. She reminded herself that she must bridle her passions, as the Bible counseled, until she was a married woman. When that moment came, she could enjoy all the expressions of affection with which Mr. Thorne chose to favor her.

~~~
Buy Spinster's Folly here:
Print: CreateSpace | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Why do you think Marie would elope with a man she had known for only a short time? What kind of marriage relationship is Marie likely to find with Mr. Thorne? When humans feel unloved, what kinds of misadventures might they get themselves into?

I hope you enjoyed this tidbit from Spinster's Folly. Thank you for visiting. I love to read your comments, so if anything in the sample compels you to speak up, rest assured that I eventually read what you write and will reply, if needed. Questions? I'm open to them, too.

Please come back next Saturday for another sample. Thank you!


Marsha Ward is the award-winning author of the acclaimed novel series featuring the Owen family. Her latest book, Spinster's Folly, won the 2013 USA Best Book Award for Western Fiction. A former journalist, Ward has published over 900 articles, columns, poems and short stories. She is the founder of American Night Writers Association aka ANWA.

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