Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mother's Day

As Mother's Day draws near and people are searching for the right gift, I have two books from the Cup of Comfort series and one titled Blessings for Mothers that may be just what you're looking for.  They are all anthologies, with a collection of stories from various writers including myself.

A Cup of Comfort for Mothers & Sons is just that...a collection of stories written for mothers and sons.  My story Some Distance Now Required shares a story about my son David at a time he changed from this 'sweet, affectionate little boy' to a 'standoffish young man' at the start of seventh grade.  Needless to say, it caught me complete off-guard! 

In A Cup of Comfort for Single Moms each submission shares a heartfelt story for single mothers.  My story A Home Built for Three shares a time in my life when I purchased my first home.  As a fairly new single parent this was our chance to establish a new 'home' after moving from Tennessee back to Minnesota when my daughters were only five and eight years old.

In Blessings for Mothers I wrote a story from the perspective of a step-mom when I married a man with three kids and we became a blended family of 'yours, mine, and ours.'  Imagine taking six kids on a 27-hour drive from Minneapolis to Florida in an RV that "claimed" to sleep eight. I worried what those circumstances would unleash--especially with four teenage girls on board.  Rather than arguments or complaints, our two week vacation went by smooth as silk, and today ten years later, all six kids enjoy reminiscing about that trip. 

To say we've been blessed as a family is an understatement...

If you're interested in any of these books, send an email or give a call!


The Cup of Comfort books are edited by Colleen Sell and published by Adams Media.  Blessings for Mothers is from Regal Publishing.!/barbara.marshak

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Time of Transition

Today I finished my novel Seeds of Salton. I mean really, finished.  The edits are complete; the manuscript is complete--Chapter One through Chapter 30.  It's an odd feeling.  After all, this is the story I've been involved with on an intimate basis nearly every day for the past three years.  I know the very heart of my protaganist, Grady Kramer; I've felt his pain.  My writing journey has included two trips to Eastern Montana and of course countless hours at my computer.  That's why it's a little hard to let the book simply sit on the corner of my desk. I'm tempted to carry the manuscript with me everywhere I go, just to show people...look what I've accomplished; look what I've spent the last three years of my life doing. 

And I do this because I love to write. 
Seeds of Salton is in fact a beautifully moving story of courage, love, and the transforming power of forgiveness. 
The book runs 370 pages in length, 97,000 words, (general fiction), and has been through a content edit and a minor copy edit with Susanne Lakin, an editor/author from San Jose, California.  What I love about Susanne is that she "gets" my protaganist, Grady Kramer and the difficult relationship Grady has with his father, Frank Kramer.

But now comes a time of waiting...

...waiting for the right agent to act on behalf of Grady Kramer.

...waiting for a contract with a publisher. 

In the mean time I need to keep writing.  And fortunately I have another incredible story to write.  It's a non-fiction project titled, Michigan and Rookie...Guardians of the Night, A remarkable story of a cop and his K-9 partner Rookie, dedicated to serving their community as the eyes and ears of the night. 

More to come on that later...

Thursday, April 8, 2010


One of the workshop sessions I attended at the Northern Colorado Writers Conference in March was "Intimate Emotions, Universal Themes & Synchronicity" presented by author and writing coach Page Lambert.  (By the way, Page's memoir "In Search of Kinship" was a Rocky Mountain bestseller and her novel "Shifting Stars" was a finalist for the Mountains and Plains Bookseller's Award.)  In this workshop Page talked about some of the synchronicities that happened while writing "Shifting Stars", a book born from stories/memories surrounding her own grandmother.  Page shared that she allowed herself to "become" her grandmother as she wrote, thinking, feeling as her grandmother might have, and in turn it brought deep, honest emotion to her character.

Page read from "Shifting Stars" using a distinct voice for each character.  Her personal journey had many synchronicities--from choosing the title, to literal shifting stars, which referred to Haley's Comet crossing the sky above the plains in 1832, to a letter from her grandmother written in 1910 where she talked about seeing the comet, unbeknownst to Page beforehand, to the Native American phrase "shifting stars" which also references the comet.  Truly an amazing example of generational synchronicities!

This theme struck a chord with me since I had recently written a short story about my Swedish great-grandparents who settled in Minnesota's wilderness in the 1860s, a heart-breaking story of tragedy and loss.  Today I received notification that my short story "Prairie Promises" won First Place in the Talking Stick contest sponsored by the Jackpine Writers Bloc in Park Rapids, Minnesota, and will be published in Talking Stick-Volume 19, set for release in September.  The reward for me comes as an affirmation for what we choose to write about. 

Synchronicity...yes, I think I am familiar with it as well. 

In seven weeks I'll be on my way to the Vee Bar Guest Ranch near Laramie, Wyoming to participate in the Literature & Landscape of the Horse, a retreat hosted by Page Lambert.  I learned after signing up for this retreat that Page Lambert is a lifelong member of the the Bearlodge Writers group in Sundance, Wyoming.  It just so happens that the Bearlodge Writers co-sponsor a residency together with the nearby Devils Tower National Park.  In 2008 I won the residency, based on the opening pages of my manuscript "Seeds of Salton".  When I spent my full week at the Devils Tower I had the distinct sense that my being in that very place to write that book was no accident.  "Seeds of Salton" you see, is based on real people and real lives, and is set in the tiny town of Wibaux, Montana.  Wibaux sits on the border of Montana and North Dakota, where long ago two of the famous cattlemen who settled that part of the open range were a couple of rough riders named Teddy Roosevelt and Pierre Wibaux.  Teddy Roosevelt later became President of the United States and in that capacity established the first national monument in the country--the Devils Tower. 

Hmmm.  It's no wonder I look forward with great anticipation to Page Lambert's retreat in Wyoming.  Who knows what other interesting synchronicities might come our way.