Saturday, October 08, 2011

Sweet Saturday Sample: A Fifth Excerpt from The Man from Shenandoah

This week's sample for Sweet Saturday Samples (clean fiction excerpts from authors) is once again an excerpt from the Western novel The Man from Shenandoah, the first book in "The Owen Family Saga." Carl and his parents move indoors to continue their reunion, which holds surprises for the young man. I hope you enjoy this sample.

After knocking the mud from his boots, Carl entered the house, shrugged out of his wet coat, and hung it on a peg inside the door. He pulled his shirt together the best he could and glanced around the room, savoring its warmth and cheerfulness. Then he took the stool his father indicated and moved it close to the fire before sitting.

“What happened to your buttons, boy?” Rod asked. “Were you obliged to sell them for food?” He also sat, and crossed one leg over the other.

“Naw. Some fat Yankee sergeant down the road a ways cut them off me. Said I was in uniform and didn’t have the right.”

“That’s where you got the cuts and bruises and the mud, Carl?” his mother asked.

“I reckon, but they didn’t hurt me none.” He eased his rib cage from side to side to be sure.

Rod slapped his thigh in anger. “Yankees,” he spit out.

Carl looked up, feeling a similar heat. “They ain’t mannerly, that’s for sure, but I came out lucky anyhow. Didn’t lose nothing but my buttons. I hid my horse back in the willows along the creek, and they were too drunk to spot him, so they missed the rifle I snuck off the Yankee weapon pile after I got my parole.”

“Drunk, you say? That sounds like the same Yankee bunch that’s been back and forth through this part of the Valley, teasing and tormenting the folks.”

“Could be them.” Carl shrugged, then looked around the room once more. “Ma, where’s Marie and the little girl? Ain’t they supposed to help you?”

Julia smiled. “Your little sister is nigh on to twelve years old, boy. We kept having birthdays while you were away. You’ve had a couple yourself. Ain’t you about nineteen now?”

“Closer to twenty, Ma. I ain’t a young’un no more.”

Julia looked at Carl’s bearded face. “I see you been over the mountain, son.” She paused to form a corn cake. “I sent the girls in to Mount Jackson to Rulon’s place. Mary’s not feeling well, and she’s got Rulon to tend to, so they’re helping out with young Roddy. You heard Rulon got hurt bad?”

Carl nodded.

“There’s also more food in town,” Rod explained. “Your ma has her wits scraped down to a nubbin to find us enough to eat since Sheridan paid his call.”

“Clay went in with the girls,” Julia added. “He’s got a job at the livery, so there’s just Pa and James and Albert to fix for.”

“And Benjamin,” Carl reminded her.

He watched his mother’s body stiffen, and saw his father rise and take a protecting step toward her. Silence hung in the room like a curtain made of combed cotton fibers, thick and heavy and oppressive. Then Rod spoke, his words muffled and measured.

“Benjamin fell at Waynesboro. I had no way to get word home. Your ma only found out when I got here.”

The words bucked into Carl with the kick of a mule. He sagged on the stool and his head dropped against his hands. First, Peter had fallen at the Second Battle of Manassas, or Bull Run, as the Yankees called it. Then Rulon, the eldest, was sorely wounded in the siege of Petersburg last October. Now Benjamin was gone. Carl felt his ears ringing hollow, filling his skull with a soft buzzing.

He rose to his feet and faced his parents. “I’m powerful sorry,” he said, holding himself still. “Benjamin was always such a lucky cuss, full of life, and all. It don’t seem right he’d be gone.”

Carl bowed his head, took a deep breath, and began again. “Ma, I know he was your favorite son, and I don’t hold it against him. He was the favorite of everybody.”

He took a step toward his mother, watching her white, crumpling face. With another step he had her in his arms, patting her head and shoulders. “There, Ma, you cry. It’ll do you good.”

Rod’s arms went around the pair. “The boy talks sense, Julia. You ain’t cried since you got the news. Let the tears wash out the grief you been carrying around.” He continued gruffly, “I reckon I already done my sorrowing.”

The men waited, suspended, as Julia’s sobs tore the air. After a long time, she quieted, wiped the tears from her cheeks with her apron, and stepped out of the men’s arms. Her face was changed, resigned. “I reckon that’ll have to do for Benjamin, ‘cause the living need their daily bread.” She went back to the table, wiped her hands, and continued to fix supper.

This novel is available from in many electronic book formats, and from in print and Kindle editions. Also available at,, and Search term: "Marsha Ward"

This week's participants:
1. Kay Springsteen contemporary romance
2. Sandy & Sandra – Contemporary Romance
3. Mirriam Smyth – Paranormal Romance
4. Jennifer Lowery~Romantic Suspense
5. J. Gunnar Grey, mystery~adventure
6. J. F. Jenkins Contemporary
7. Marsha Ward~Westerns with Heart & Grit
8. Rachel Rossano – fantasy/romance
9. Beth Trissel-Historical/paranormal romance
10. Lisa Beth Darling~Paranormal Romance Thrillers
11. Joyce DiPastena – medieval romance
12. Mike Arsuaga, paranormal romance
13. Jean Joachim Contemporary Romance
14. Meg Mims – Historical
15. Patricia Kiyono, contemporary romance
16. Dianne Hartsock-paranormal/suspense
17. Carrie-Anne Brownian ~ historical fiction
18. Lindsay Downs-YA
19. Lindsay Downs-Mystery
20. Linsey Lanier – Romantic Mystery
21. Jenna Jaxon–historical romance
22. Sherry Gloag – Paranormal
23. Morgan Kearns – Contemporary Romance
24. Elaine Cantrell, contemporary romance
25. Chynna Laird – YA Suspense
26. The Way of Impressions – Christian Historical Romance


  1. I'm continuing to enjoy this story. I can feel the sorry the family is going through. Thanks!

  2. Always enjoy your samples. This story keeps me coming back for more.

  3. Everything you write pulses with emotion and this sample is no exception.

  4. Beautiful writing. I could see the scene, hear their voices, feel their pain. The dialect let me know a lot about them too, and I enjoyed their homey sayings. Terrific excerpt.

  5. Oh ladies! I'm blushing. Thank you for your comments. Please tell a friend about my books, if you have the occasion to do so. Thanks!

  6. Another great sample.

  7. Anonymous11:09 AM

    Amazing emotion. Wow.

  8. I really love how the novel is grounded in the time period. So many sons didn't make it home. Sometimes none made it back alive. And I love how the mother knows she must get her grief in hand in order to tend to the living. Strong character. Great sample.

  9. You've captured this time period so well. I can feel their grief and acceptance. Such a hard time for everyone. I don't know if I could be that strong.


I welcome your comments.

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