Update on 2016 Publishing Plans

Remember back in January when I told you what the Characters in Marsha’s Head had planned for publication in 2016?

the-zion-trail-ebookcover_300wThe year started out well, with the ebook release of The Zion Trail on February 19, followed on March 25 with the print edition (yes, there was enough reader demand for a print version). This book features Julia Owen’s first cousin, Elijah “Lije” Marshall, and is the first novel in a trilogy labeled “Promised Valley.”

From there, things got interesting.

Instead of letting me finish and publish Mended by Moonlight and purchase a cover for that “gloves” story so it could appear, other Characters horned in and gummed up my plans by demanding their time in the spotlight. So . . .

blood-at-haught-springs-web-150w-05072016Wes and Lonnie Haught got their moment when I released the novella Blood at Haught Springs on May 27. These Characters have no relationship at all to the Owen Family. They live in frontier Texas. This is the first of three works in the “Men of Haught Springs” series. The ebook contains two bonus short stories, Cottonwood Cowboys and No More Strangers.

With Mended by Moonlight still unfinished when the calendar approached July, I chose to publish Faith and the Foreman instead, which is a stand-alone novella that marshaward-72dpi-200x267was first seen as part of the Old West Collection, A Timeless Romance Anthology Book 9 from 2014. These Characters are also unrelated to any of the Owen family, as they live in frontier Arizona. A bonus story, The Usual Game, is also set in Arizona, in the early days of Statehood.

marshaward-72dpi-1500x2000_2016-09-08-200wThen somebody in a review mentioned their displeasure that the book they’d read from The Owen Family Saga seemed to be out of order. I agreed. I’d had my struggles with putting Gone for a Soldier as Book 5 in the series, since chronologically, it is Book 1. I decided the best way to address the problem was to publish the books of the Saga in chronological order, in one huge ebook. I polled several of my author friends on whether I should do such a project, and they thought it was a great idea. On September 30, I released The Complete Owen Family Saga as an ebook. All the favorite Characters from the series are intact. Sales so far have validated the idea of publishing this box set containing the five Owen Family Saga novels in the best reading order.

I don’t know if I will publish anything else this year. I am working on three projects at the same time, bouncing back and forth between what I presume is a novel, a novella, and a non-fiction project. If I finish one of them before the year is out, it will be published. Otherwise, 2017 is right around the corner!

In the meantime, to get purchase links to your favorite online vendor for all of the above books, go to the Simple List at the Bookshelf on my website.

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What the Characters in Marsha’s Head have planned for 2016

2015 was an interesting year for Marsha Ward and the Characters in her Head. Although they didn’t release any new novels, they did a lot of thinking, planning, and writing for 2016’s ambitious publishing program.

Marsha took a few dings from fate, including a painful bout with what the doc called call tennis elbow, but was really just awful pain in one arm from an injury that prevented her from writing as much as she wanted to do; a nasty fall that resulted in bruising to the ego and the body; and the death of a sibling.

Notwithstanding those slings and arrows, Marsha and her Characters worked hand in glove to prepare for a better year in 2016.

The Zion Trail coverFirst up will be a novel featuring Julia Owen’s first cousin, Elijah (known as Lije to family and friends).  The Zion Trail doesn’t reveal that family relationship, but jumps back to the 1840s to tell the story of teen-aged Lije Marshall’s adventures that begin when he invites traveling preachers to eat lunch with the family. You’ll never believe what happens next!

The ebook will be released in February. If you want the exact date, please sign up to Marsha’s Mailing list. The link is at the top of the sidebar –>

The release of a print version of the book will depend upon reader demand. Use the Contact Form (see menu at top of page) to request that Marsha fight off the Characters long enough to prepare a print edition for you to purchase. Thank you.

Other stories will come throughout the year, including Mended by Moonlight, a heart-warming romance featuring one of the Characters from Gone for a Soldier, and a story featuring gloves.

That’s it for now. Marsha installed a widget that lets you follow the site by email, so click the “Follow Now” button to get an alert for the next post.

Have a Wonderful New Year!

How Much Do You Know…

…about Rulon Owen? Take this little quiz and see how closely you’ve read the Owen Family Saga books in which he appears.

Rulon Owen is Not a Patient Man1. In Gone for a Soldier, how much does Rulon have to pay Mr. Moore for officiating at his wedding?
a. One dollar
b. Two dollars
c. Five dollars
d. Ten dollars

2. What new skill did Rulon learn when he went off to earn money to pay for the wedding?
a. Smelting pig iron
b. Driving a team
c. Felling trees
d. Grinding charcoal

3. What illness struck Rulon that put him into the hospital?
a. Measles
b. Smallpox
c. Polio
d. Mumps

4. Who taught Rulon the skill of tracking?
a. Rod Owen
b. Vernon Earl
c. Garth Von
d. Ren Lovell

TMFS-160w5. What secret does Rulon think he’s keeping from his family when he agrees to go west with them?
a. Mary is pregnant
b. He’s addicted to laudanum
c. His war wounds aren’t healing as they should
d. Roddy isn’t his son

6. How does Rulon use his skill of tracking in The Man from Shenandoah?
a. He finds the Great Bend of the Arkansas River
b. He finds a place where someone watched the Owen wagons pass by
c. He finds Ellen in a snowstorm
d. He finds the correct trail of the kidnappers

SF-pcover-1507. When Pa set out to build a barn in Spinster’s Folly, why was Rulon put in charge of the logging operation?
a. His axe was the sharpest
b. He’s the eldest son
c. He learned to fell trees in Virginia
d. Bill Henry was sick

8. Why did Rulon lose the trail of Marie and Mr. Thorne?
a. Tom Morgan walked his horse over the fresh trail
b. Too many horses had traveled over the tracks
c. He had forgotten how to track
d. A rainstorm washed away the tracks

Congratulations on finishing the quiz! The first person to send me the correct answers by Monday, August 31, using the contact form, will receive a free digital copy of the short story, “Happy Halloween.” Specify the file you prefer: mobi, epub, or pdf.

I will post the answers next Tuesday.

Ben Owen Follows the Rainbow

(The post was originally published on July 17, 2013. It was the first time I had been visited by my character Benjamin Owen.)

This is a work of fiction. I don’t really talk to time-traveling characters from my novels. I do like them a lot, though, and am glad they pass under the rainbow from time to time to visit me in my own time and place. To order autographed copies of my novels, Gone for a Soldier, The Man from Shenandoah, Ride to Raton, Trail of Storms, and Spinster’s Folly, visit marshaward.com or westwardbooks.com

Gone for a SoldierI sit on my deck after an intense rain storm to enjoy the cool air. I’m not sure if I nod off or what, but when I raise my head and open my eyes, a young man sits across the table from me.

He notes my alarm and hastens to assure me that he means no harm, calling me “Mom,” and saying he is Benjamin Owen.

I should have known him right off, although he hadn’t come visiting before now. He resembles his younger brother, Carl. Or maybe I have that turned around, and should say Carl looks like Ben.

When my breathing regularizes, I become curious about the reason for Ben’s visit. Usually, my characters come to urge me to tell their story, but I’m in the midst of doing just that with Rulon Owen, and to a lesser degree, with Ben.

Me: I’m glad to make your acquaintance, Ben.

Ben (eyeing me speculatively): Are you now, Mom?

Me: Indeed.

Ben: Rulon’s gettin’ the bulk of the words you write. Sometimes I feel a mite cast aside.

Me: This is the first draft, Ben, and I’m jumping around a lot, and writing out-of-order scenes with this novel. Be patient.

Ben (squirming a bit in his chair): I ain’t a patient man. Ella Ruth can attest to that.

Me (arching an eyebrow in my best imitation of Randolph Hilbrands): You’re much like Rulon in that area. You take care. I don’t want to add a tragic subplot about an unwed mother.

Ben (rising to his feet): Unwed mother! I wouldn’t— Well, I’m sorely tempted, but I’d druther not face Ma’s fury on that head. She would flail the skin off my bones, she would.

Me (signaling him to be seated): Then control your passions. Don’t meet the girl in private. Keep to crowds when she’s with you.

Ben: That wasn’t my idea, there behind the mill. She crept up on me. Surprised me.

Me: Don’t let it happen again.

Ben (hanging his head): She makes it difficult. A body would think, well, it would almost appear she . . . (his voice trails off)

Me: Ben, she’s more than a little bit spoiled. She expects to get anything she desires. (I look pointedly at him.) She desires you, but wrapped around her little finger and doing her utmost bidding.

Ben: I get that same feeling, ma’am. I recall that speech she spoke me about the suit she expects me to wear for her dream weddin’! I can’t afford such outlandish trappings, nor would I buy them if I could. But ma’am, Mom, how my body does betray me whenever I get a whiff of that good-smellin’ perfume she wears!

Me: Benjamin, you must strive to be the good Christian gentleman your mother raised you up to be. Strong. Mannerly. Celibate. (I stress my final word.)

Ben (groans): Ma does have her standards. (He looks at me searchingly.) Did Rulon—

Me: No, he didn’t. I expect you to be the consummate Southern gentleman, as well. I have my standards, too.

Ben (seeming to grit his teeth between halting phrases): Then I will … give my most … fervent efforts toward that end, Mom.

Me: You will keep yourself in hand?

Ben: Help me. Don’t let Ella Ruth, ah, ambush me again.

Me (quirking an eyebrow): Fervent efforts, Ben. Fervent efforts.

The sun comes out, and he’s gone.

Copyright © 2013 Marsha Ward