Wednesday, April 09, 2014

A Generation Touched by Fire

By Lorrie Farrelly

Touched by fire was Oliver Wendell Holmes’ description of the three million men – many of them scarcely more than boys – who fought in the War Between the States. Over 600,000 of them would die; nearly all those who survived found their lives changed forever. At the war’s end, veterans poured into the west; some sought adventure, some sought fortune, some wanted only to outrun their demons and find a reason to go on living. Most could scarcely remember peace; many had no choice but to try to start over.

I’ve always been interested in the Civil War, and I love Westerns. My dad used to say he’d always dreamed of riding shotgun with Wild Bill Hickok. True, Wild Bill was a bit before his time, but those Old West stories lived vividly in his imagination, as they do in mine.

Sorting through a box of old family papers, I came across two I’d never seen before. One was a parole pass, and the other, an oath of allegiance. Both had been signed in 1865 by my great-grandfather, William McClain, who had fought in the 42nd Georgia Infantry. In signing, he swore he would never again bear arms against the United States, and he would abide by all new laws, including the emancipation of slaves, So Help Him God. In return, he would be paroled (as a prisoner of war) to go home – assuming he still had any home.

I stared at that young man’s signature for a long time. I had so many questions: Why had he fought for a new country founded on terrible injustice? Had he feared for his home and family? Had he expected excitement and glory? And what had he felt as he signed those papers? Humiliation? Bitterness? Exhaustion? Relief? What would he make of his life now?

And there it was: the inspiration for Western historical romance Terms of Surrender, the story of former Confederate cavalry Captain Michael Cantrell, a young man who has lost everyone and everything he loved. He roams the Western frontier, seeking peace and some purpose to his life. When a violent encounter in Wyoming Territory lands him in the middle of Annie Devlin's war, Cantrell chooses to make a stand with the young rancher, testing the limits of his courage, his mettle – and his passion.

From Readers’ Favorite: “Filled with sweet emotion, but also heart wrenching hurt, Terms of Surrender is exactly why I am such a fan of historical fiction! It…had my emotions all over the place. From the harshness of the West, to the birth of a new baby. Tenderness at one turn, but heartbreak could be right around the corner. The storytelling is done with such amazing clarity that I found myself easily transported into the characters’ lives…each literally jumps off the pages…Great characters, a touching romance with a bit of sizzle, and a plot that provides danger and suspense make Terms of Surrender a stand out historical romance.”

Lorrie Farrelly is the author of a Western historical romance trilogy, contemporary romantic suspense novels, and sci fi/paranomal romantic suspense novels. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Northwestern University, she's been a Renaissance nominee for Teacher of the Year, a ranch hand at Disneyland’s Circle D Ranch, and a “Jeopardy!” television quiz show champion. Her novels have earned Reader’s Favorite 5 Star Awards, and Terms of Surrender is an Orange Rose Award finalist. Lorrie and her family live in Southern California.

Lorrie’s books are available as ebooks, paperbacks, and audiobooks on Amazon and YouTube.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Coming Home to Women Writing the West's 20th Anniversary Conference

Join Women Writing the West as we celebrate 20 Legendary Years in Golden, Colorado at The Table Mountain Inn and The Golden Hotel for four days of jam packed presentations from authors, editors, agents, publishers, and bookstore owners. Our theme? "Coming Home" to where it all began 20 years ago.

It all begins on Thursday, October 16, 2014 with three incredible pre-conference sessions and ends on Sunday, October 19th with High Tea at The Briarwood Inn. There will be a choice of four break-out workshops per session, and the conference will also feature a WILLA Reception, the WWW Quilt, the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum tour, and the film Cherokee Word for Water at the Colorado Mountaineering Center.

Start making your plans and come join us! You can stay informed by checking in with Women Writingthe West Facebook and Women Writing the West 2014 Conference page for ongoing updates. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March Member News

Congratulations to our WWW authors for their new books, newly re-published books, short stories, awards and best-seller lists!
New Releases 

After twenty-six years in print at Houghton Mifflin, Harriet Rochlin's landmark illustrated social history, has been re-published by the  Authors Guild/iUniverse. The San Francisco Chronicle celebrated it as "social history at its best -- entertaining, engaging and filled with little known information about famous and not so famous Jewish pioneers."  Several valuable new features have been added, including updated contact information for 64 of the 219 period photographs; and newly-obtained facts about the image of a semi-nude woman long misidentified as Josie Marcus Earp, 47-year companion of Wyatt Earp.

Natalie Bright: "A Cowboy's Life" appears in the March 2014 edition of APPLESEEDS, a social studies magazine for kids ages 6-9. The article includes Natalie's photos taken during their spring branding. Kids will learn that ranchers rely on the work that cowboys and cowgirls do even today as they did in the old west.  

Nanette Day writing as C. Jai Ferry has published three ebooks of short storycollections Honeysuckle Road, Honeysuckle Memories, and Honeysuckle Dreams, which explore everyday relationships among people making life-altering decisions in not-soeveryday situations.

Awards and Recognition

Roni McFadden: TheLongest Trail has won the EPIC award for non-fiction. As a young teen, McFadden left behind the confusion and pain of her unhappy preteen years. She tells of how she went up—up onto horses, up the road to a man who could help her, and up the mountain, to where she could see clearly and breathe deeply. As she travels "The Longest Trail", Roni evolves from a girl stumbling along treacherous and twisted paths to become a strong young woman who knows where she is going, how to get there, and understands she will have help along the way.

“As you ride with McFadden up the trail in this book, you will know the joy, fear, grief, humor, beauty and wonder she experienced in the high country, in Altadena, and all along the way, as she journeyed to this time and place by way of "The Longest Trail." ~M. Cairn


Susan Wittig Albert: A Wilder Rose topped the Thorndike large-print bestseller list for March. The novel was published in October 2013 by her imprint, Persevero Press.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Bushel's Worth: Part Two

This is the second of a two-part article. The first part was published March 12.
by Kayann Short
Kayann and her sister Kari (front) at their grandparents' farm.

As I began compiling the bits and pieces of my farming stories in a new draft called Farmroots, I borrowed from digital stories I had created about my great-grandmother’s teaching and farming lives, which now seemed so close to my own. I also drew from blog posts about my two prairie grandmothers, using one of their diaries to describe the weather and land that shaped their day-to-day tasks. I alternated chapters about Stonebridge with North Dakota memories, loosening the seasonal structure and adding photographs and recipes to illustrate the connections between the farms.

Once again, I sent queries to New York agents, who this time told me that interest in farming had already peaked. One agent even said she’d gone down to her local bookstore and found a “whole shelf” of farming books. It seems another farming book would be hard to sell without a national platform, one I didn’t have.

A whole shelf of farming books didn’t sound like a lot to me, but I understand the topical cycles of conventional publishing. I noted, too, that many of these farming books were about, in the words on one back cover, urbanites “escaping city ways.” My book was not about escape, but rather about reunion with my family’s farming past on our own Colorado land. I decided I needed an independent publisher who understood stories of the West. And that’s when I found Torrey House, whose mission is “to increase appreciation for the importance of natural landscape through the power of pen and story.

As I prepared the manuscript one final time, I brought the Stonebridge story up to date. Torrey House co-publisher Kirsten Allen urged me to emphasize some of my concerns about farming. I joked that I didn’t want to seem too big a worrier, but that last summer finishing the manuscript upped the worry ante with injury, drought, and wildfire. I strengthened, too, environmental themes by including my fifth-grade memory of the first Earth Day, childhood camping trips in the Rockies, and discussion of development pressure along our foothills corridor with its attendant urgency for local farmland preservation. We titled the book A Bushel’s Worth after the chapter about Stonebridge’s instructive attempt to grow wheat. The subtitle comes from my own idea of “ecobiography” as ecology-based memoir at the intersection of nature writing and personal narrative.

Writing, like farming, takes persistence, patience, and a belief in the regenerative power of work, all lessons I surely learned from my grandparents and from the land itself. The generous support I’ve received from Women Writing the West members has been a wonderful boost on my journey, as has the encouragement of friends and family. My path to publication wasn’t easy, but I kept going until I found my niche.

At readings for A Bushel’s Worth, I offer this advice: write the stories you want to see in the world. With all the publishing opportunities today, be open to options that offer a better fit. Be open, as well, to revision and new ideas about your writing. Be flexible and welcome feedback, adapting what you need to further your greater vision. Once your book is in the world, keep listening. Stories don’t end with a book’s publication. Each reading provides another chance to harvest the stories we share.

Kayann Short, Ph.D., is the author of A Bushel's Worth: An Ecobiography. She is a writer, farmer, teacher, and activist at Stonebridge Farm, an organic community-supported farm in the Rocky Mountain foothills. Short’s writing has appeared in Pilgrimage Magazine, Colorado Gardener, Redstone Review, Women’s Review of Books, The Bloomsbury Review, Edible Front Range, and various academic journals. Short has taught ecobiography workshops on “Writing the Self in Nature." Read more about Kayann at her website.