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.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Organically Grown in the West: A Bushel’s Worth: An Ecobiography

This is the first of a two-part article.
by Kayann Short
A journal. Newspaper clippings. My grandmother’s diary. Some weather reports. I started gathering seeds for A Bushel’s Worth before I knew I was writing a book.

Like all memoirs, mine began with the stories I wanted to remember, entries recorded in my journal from the day I moved to Stonebridge Farm, a ten-acre, century-old farm on Colorado’s Front Range. I wasn’t a consistent journal-keeper, instead noting the most memorable occasions: wildlife encounters, extreme weather, the vicissitudes of fieldwork, poignant celebrations, frightening risks, and always, the first day of the New Year.

Those were the stories I wove into a draft of Farmgiving, a term I created to mean lessons learned from the generosity and bounty of the land on which we grow vegetables for our community. The idea for the book came to me on a women’s writing retreat in a wintery Chautauqua lodge. I had already begun one essay—which became the chapter “Appling,” about our annual apple pressing—and at the retreat, plotted out eleven other chapters that followed our farm through one year. I grouped them by season and placed an event at the center of each. And then I began writing.

It took about a year to finish that first draft, in part because I wanted to follow the farm through the seasons by capturing the rhythms of our days. Once finished, I sent query letters to agents who specialized in nature writing and women’s memoirs. A few asked to see the manuscript. Their feedback was helpful and accurate: I had written two books. One, in their words, was a “nuts and bolts” guide to small-scale farming; the second, a lovely but “quiet” memoir that would be harder to sell in this publishing era of tragedy, disclosure, and scandal.

While waiting for these responses, I turned fifty and began Pearlmoonplenty, a blog about farming, food, books, and feminism. Started as a site for writing practice, the blog became a place to deposit ideas outside the book. Many of these stories came from my childhood summers on my grandparents’ farms in North Dakota. Some of them particularly resonated with my readers, whose enthusiasm encouraged me to continue in that vein. One day, I realized that my book needed to include those early experiences because they formed my farming roots. I could also show the continuity between then and now in small-scale farming and draw stronger connections between my family’s farms and Stonebridge with themes like rural thrift, family legacy, agricultural preservation, and farm-centered community.

How did Kayann incorporate her experiences in a book? Read the rest of her journey to getting published next Wednesday.

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.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Connecting the Past and Present: The age old tradition of Livestock Branding

by Natalie Bright

The alarm clock blasts the silent morning. Time to get cracking, on eggs, that is.  The scene outside my window hides in shades of gray, and I’m thinking about the dugout dating around1895 that established the headquarters of the Sanford Ranch.
The dirt dwelling has endured many transformations through the years as evidenced by crumbling cement, sagging roof, and rusted plumbing. How many countless families and ranch hands have called this crude shelter home? I wonder about the woman who once lived there. Garland Snow Whiteside Sanford would have risen before sunrise, just like me, for spring branding.
She most likely had great dreams of building a life in this place where no one had ever lived before. Arriving as a newlywed in 1901, the original dugout became the back room to a two-story dwelling. Years later the wooden house was destroyed by fire, however the dugout remained and was used for a cowboy bunkhouse.
As I listen to sizzling bacon, I imagine Garland Snow had a cast iron skillet much like mine. I wonder if she was lucky enough to have a wood-fired cook stove, or perhaps she cooked on an open flame.
With spurs jangling, hungry men file past me for breakfast. I realize that time has not changed the fundamental need for the working cowboy. These men really do work from “can see to can’t”. In the pre-dawn light, I watch a frenzy of brushing, saddling and stock trailer loading. Our Ranch Manager wants everyone in their assigned pastures by first light.
The joy of another opportunity to greet the rising sun on horse back shows on the old-timers faces. The younger men are unable to suppress their grins, and the perceptive, skittering horses are anxious as well. In what seems like no time at all, men, horses and cattle will squeeze through a gate into a set of working pens and the peaceful morning will explode with frantic calls of mommas and the answering bawls of their babies.
 The sky dawns bright orange, pink and blue. I figure Mrs. Sanford might have taken a moment to appreciate the stunning site before she washed dishes, stirred beans, and prepared the beef brisket. The menu hasn’t changed much.
As a western writer, it’s important that I strive to help others understand about the rich traditions, the magical land, and the back-breaking labor that  embraces a part of history. Some people might not realize we’re still here. We are. Just over the next rise, at the end of the paved road, this centuries old work continues.

 Let the wilderness drive us forth as wonderers, scatter our broken bones upon these sands…it shall not kill the purpose that brought us here…the dream still lives, it lives…and shall not die.PAUL GREEN

Natalie Bright is an author, blogger, and enjoys speaking about history and story craft. Her stories and articles have appeared in numerous publications, most recently this March “A Cowboy’s Life” will appear in Appleseeds. She is represented by Mr. Stephen Fraser, of The Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency, NYC, who is currently shopping her western novels for middle grade readers. She holds a BBA from WTSU, her husband is a geologist and cattle rancher, and they have two teenaged boys. She’s on the web at Facebook/Natalie-Bright-Author, Twitter @natNKB, Amazon Author Pages, Pinterest/natbright, her website is, and she blogs every Monday at