Trail of Storms delivers a powerful saga that doesn't water down the hardships of life in the untamed west. It covers a wide scope of feelings from drama to adventure to romance. Marsha Ward's skill as a writer makes the reader's skin crawl at the abduction and violation of a young woman, her family's ultimate flight from their home, and trek across unknown wilderness.
Ward makes her characters come alive with different personalities and ways of dealing with life, but when the odds stack against them, they pull even closer together to make it through. Ward's endings are always satisfying, not always what you expect, but the way you instinctively know things ought to be.
Shirley: Marsha, you look good in that cowboy hat. Do you have one for me? Or should we be wearing bonnets?
Marsha: I have some bonnets that a good friend of mine made. She's also a writer of Westerns, named C. K. Crigger. But yes, I did bring you this “John Wayne” style hat. I hope you like it. Bonnets can be a bit restricting at times, like when you want to look left or right. To see anything, you have to turn your whole head. Hats don't make you do that.
Shirley: Looks like it's time to hit the trail for Arizona . How did you find out about this old time vacation plan anyway?
Marsha: Dude ranches used to be very popular, before time-shares came along. We're going to one near Wickenburg. It'll give us that old time Western experience, something like in the movie "City Slickers."
Shirley: Oops - look out for that cow pie. Nice side-step there! You ought to join the square dancers. This is your third novel in the series. When you wrote your first one, did you know there would be three?
Marsha: No. I began what became my first novel, The Man from Shenandoah, in 1965. At the time, my goal was to write “The Great American Novel.” Soon I had a “novel” of twenty chapters that I carted around with me for years, but I didn't seriously work on it again until the 1980s. After learning what commercial writing really entailed, I realized that I had a nice summary. I began to hone my natural talent and bit by bit, after throwing away a lot of chaff—such as too many characters—and adding the good stuff—like sensory details and emotions and actual plot—I had something to send out. That I did. I was getting good remarks from editors (but no offers yet), when I had a health crisis in 2002. It looked pretty bad. I wanted to leave my work behind in fixed form so no one would throw it out upon my death, so I looked into self-publishing. After some intensive study and thinking about what form of self-publishing I wanted to engage in, I chose to go with iUniverse. After a terrible false start on the cover, I provided them with a photo to use. I was so delighted with the quick turn-around and then the great response from readers, that I decided to use the same method of publishing for the follow-up novel, Ride to Raton.
When word leaked out that my third novel, Trail of Storms, was finished at last, I was encouraged to submit it to a couple of publishers. I knew it wasn't right for them, but did so. I regretted wasting those eight months until rejection when a reader came up to me in a grocery store and begged for the new book. Why delay what clearly had a market? I went back to iUniverse for a third go-around.
Shirley: How did the idea of this series come to you?
Marsha: The first book ended happily for one brother in the large Owen family, but I wondered, “What about the brother who lost the heroine's heart? What happened to him?” The answer came to me one day in the shower. Naturally that required another book. Then, due to the bittersweet ending of the second, a third was indicated. Although this third one completes a story arc, I'm sure there will be more books about the Owen family.
Shirley: Cactus alert! Boy, is that stuff ever habit forming. Not only did my husband sit on cactus twice, but my teenage son has already done it once! Runs in the family. What have you got in the writing pipeline next?
Marsha: Actually, not an Owen family book. It's set in 1893, and it's a bit of a Western mystery, starting with a threatening telegram to a New York City debutante who has fallen on hard times.
Shirley: That sounds fabulous! Keep those fingers tapping on those keys! I want to take a look-see at that new story of your'n.
Well, looky there, the sun's getting lower in the sky. Time to stop for some rattlesnake stew and biscuits to eat while the coyotes howl. Is there anything else you'd like to tell the cowpokes on life's trail who enjoy a book by the campfire now and then?
Marsha: Sure! If you think all Westerns are about outlaws and lawmen, or cowhands and sheep-herders, guess again. The Western genre has grown and evolved into many sub-genres, including my action/adventure/sweet romance works dealing with Western Migration and post-Civil War angst. Tom Sellack once said there should be a shelf in bookstores labeled "Darn Good Reads." I like to think my novels go there. Give them a try.
Shirley: Well, you get the bedroll and I'll take the down-filled below-zero rated sleeping bag. No, this was your idea, you get the bedroll. It's more authentic, just like your writing.
BE SURE to check out Marsha Ward's website BY CLICKING ON THIS LINE!
MARSHA'S BLOGSPOT IS RIGHT HERE! OO, OO, CLICK ME, CLICK ME!
AND MARSHA'S TWITTER IS HERE! (No, I didn't say "critter," it's "Twitter," you old cowpoke! So click here and I won't have to click my sidearm! Got it?)