Author Interviews: Marsha Ward

Author Marsha Ward

Welcome back to my Author Interview series. Today we have the wonderful historical fiction author, Marsha Ward with us. Ward is an Amazon best-selling author who writes authentic historical fiction set in 19th Century America. She is a multi-published writer, editor, workshop presenter, mentor, and consultant. Marsha has written five novels in The Owen Family Saga, another that begins the Promised Valley series; and many other works. A former journalist, Marsha is the recipient of the 2015 Whitney Lifetime Achievement Award and President of Arizona Rim Country Chapter of Arizona Professional Writers.

Thank you, Marsha, for visiting with us today.

1. Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby?

Almost every author will say “reading,” but I consider much of my reading to be business, education, or entertainment, so I’ll say writing and arranging music. I was raised in a musical home and majored in music on the university level. Hearing or performing music sooths me. A natural extension of my love of and training in music is to arrange a piece of music to make it suitable for the small choir in my congregation to sing.

2. If you had the opportunity—who would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?

I think that depends on my motivation. If I’m looking to the edification of my soul, I would choose Thomas S. Monson, the president and living prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons), because he is such a gentle, caring man who can teach me much about giving service to others (and I need to be reminded of that daily) and centering my life on Jesus Christ.

If I’m seeking advice about my writing and publishing businesses, I’d like to spend an afternoon with Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, because they are the best teachers and mentors I can think of in that realm.

3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?

I drink water or fruit juice. If I am traveling and am getting sleepy, I’ll drink a caffeinated soda like Dr. Pepper, but recovering from the caffeine takes a day or two, so I pay a price for that and prefer not to do it.

4. What are you working on right now?

I have a couple of projects I’m working on concurrently: a nonfiction book about a checklist I use in indie publishing, and a piece of fiction called That Tender Light, in which the principal characters of my fictional Owen family, Rod Owen and Julia Helm, meet and marry.

5. How would you describe your writing style?

My brain is wired so that I am a pantser (discovery, or organic writer) if I want to make any writing progress. If I outline, the little grey cells rise up in rebellion at the suggestion that they cooperate in writing the story thereafter. They complain, “But you already wrote it! Don’t expect to involve us in doing it again!” I can begin with some kind of end in mind, but I let the characters reveal the story to me as I type.

6. Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?

Read, read, read. Write, write, write. Don’t overlook “practice” as you learn the craft of writing. Trust your creative voice to know how to tell a story. Don’t revise the life out of your piece. You don’t really know what needs correction, if anything does.

7. Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life?

I do an immense amount of research sometime during the writing life of a work, whether that’s from reading, exploring a place, or talking with experts, because I write historical fiction. The ideas, however, come all the time, faster than I can keep up with them. I don’t know if that’s because of the research, or if something in life sparks a thought.

8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?

I love to hear from and interact with my readers. Here are the places to find me:

Twitter: as well as
To be notified of new releases, join my Readers Mailing List at

Thank you so much, Marsha for taking the time to chat with us.

Gentle readers, Marsha’s latest works include Blood at Haught Springs, Faith and the Foreman, and From Julia’s Kitchen: Owen Family Cookery, a recipe collection from America’s earlier times. See the cover above. Isn’t it beautiful?

Flash Fiction Friday Story: Explorer Evan and the Bloody Wall

Knight-by-jorsch-d65hbwt, Knight

Knight by Jorsch via

Evan’s horse pranced in front of his hundred soldiers. He reined the nervous horse into line. On the hillside opposite his tiny force, at least five companies of enemy soldiers faced him across the valley. His goal, the Wall of Truth, was on the other side of the hill where his enemy massed. What was left of his legion had fought their way across mountain, desert and multiple armies to the goal just beyond this battle. They had to win through.

“Sir Evan.” Jason, his second-in-command brought his racing steed to a hard stop, the horse rearing, battle-shod hooves cleaving the air. “The enemy has left a gap, Sir. It’s to the left, half a mile distant. The man used a rag, the remains of the once bright tunic that covered his armor, to wipe his face of the sweat brought on by the noon-day sun. “It is within your grasp. We need only flank these barbarians and the prize is ours.”

Evan reined his horse in again. It was his last battle steed, brought all the way from his own grass-covered estates. It had survived all this time but Evan was ready to walk the whole way home if he could only reach the bloody wall. That’s what he’d begun to call it, to himself only, after the first six months of the trek. His original reason for seeking the Wall of Truth was long burned to ashes in his mouth. Now it was just the quest. It mattered not that he had anything left after reaching the damn thing.

He nodded to his second. Steadfast, honest, loyal, the man didn’t deserve a leader such as Evan. “Well done, Sir Boyne.” The noise of the opposing force, yelling insults, banging spear and sword against their shields, made it difficult to speak. “We’ll send ten of our men to feint to the right, ahead of the rest of us. We’ll ride for your gap. With luck the barbarians will be confused.”

Sir Boyne smashed his mailed fist against his chest-plate. “You will win through, Sir.”

Evan slapped his visor down with a creak, shutting out the bright, sunny day. On the run for the last three years, he’d lost his yeoman and many supplies. No matter. It was now or never. Sir Boyne raised his javelin, the ribbons long tattered. Their lone horn sounded. The javelin was lowered, pointing forward. Every tenth man raced forward, three of them, archers, shot arrows across the flower-studded valley.

It took a moment but when the enemy realized the attack was on they charged down the hill. Three companies of horsemen, horse-hair tails streaming from their helmets, screamed their defiance.

When the ten reached the bottom of their hill, another twenty raced after them, then another thirty. In the confusion, Evan and his manservant slipped away to the left, heading for the gap Sir Boyne had indicated.

The horses plowed through the stinking mud. Evan raised his visor to get at least a breath of air. Carried on the wind the sound of the battle drifted over them. It seemed so far away. The two men located the passage between the hills and found themselves behind enemy lines. It was a mile ride to the wall.

The wall dwarfed anything Evan had ever seen. It rose above him the height of seven men and in both directions as far as the eye could see. Crenellated at the top, defensive towers were placed every hundred feet. The two men hesitated, afraid of the towers, but no arrows flew.  At the wall rust red stains ran from between the courses of rough-hewn blocks. It was the sight of a finger bone that made Evan understand that the walls were slaked with the blood of the builders.

“Sir,” his manservant whispered. “It’s time. Ask the question. There may still be time to save the others.”

Evan knew better. The remains of his once mighty army were being slaughtered as they sat there. For what? So that his king might know the answer to a question that no one cared about any longer?

He pulled his gauntlet off of his right hand and laid it against the stone of the wall. “Great wall,” he chanted. “Will King Geoffrey win against our enemies from Detralia?”

Evan’s mind burst with light. Sound and fury washed over him. When he woke, he was on the ground, his manservant trying desperately to pull him to his feet. “We must go, my lord. The battle is coming.”

Evan groaned. His head felt as though it was split in half. He pulled himself onto the horse and his manservant led them west, Evan hardly aware of their escape.

It took two years to sneak back through the countries they’d challenged as they had come through. He arrived at the palace alone, his manservant dead six months earlier of dysentery. A party was in progress. Ladies swirled in bright colored dresses as knights and lords escorted them around the dance floor. The gathering fell silent as he marched, head high, armor rusted and squeaking across the hall to the king’s dias.

He knelt in front of the king’s table. The king held a sop of gravy-covered bread, dripping, between his fingers.

“Sir Evan.” The king said, finally recognizing the man.

“Sire. I have the truth from the bloody wall.”

The hall was silent. “Tell me, good knight.”

Evan stood. Slowly he pulled his sword, his only property still polished bright. “The wall told me,” he took two steps forward. Before the courtiers could respond, he ran the king through. “You were worthless.”

The crowd gasped. Soldiers rushed to contain Sir Evan. Too late. The king was dead. Later Evan was released from the tower. He was the King’s heir after all. The king sent him on a fool’s errand expecting him to be killed. Evan ruled forty years, the land prospered. He knew, after all, the cost of a life.


The End

968 Words

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Flash Fiction Friday: Alone

I heard this little news article about a grave discovered under the paving in a city alley. I wondered what that person would have thought about it and how it happened that a grave was just paved over. Here’s what I came up with.


Baltron Dechant was an angry man. As a mountain man he was never one to talk much anyway but today, he was a malevolent force as he stalked through the fort. He passed through the gate with his horses, one loaded with the supplies he’d need for the winter, the other saddled and ready to ride.

Leading them through the press of Indians, off-duty soldiers and wagons with everything from dry goods to women of loose morals, he tied the horses to the hitching post. He stalked over to the tent where for just a couple of coins, he could get a drink. An acquaintance, another mountain man was there, drinking with some friends. All of the mountain men had been in to sell their furs and pelts and flush with cash, were enjoying the brief respite of company.

Andre called out, “Baltron, my friend! Come have a drink with us.”

The others shouted welcome.

Baltron scowled. “I can buy my own,” and threw the money on the barrelhead. The British purveyor who owned this little concession scooped the coins up and handed Baltron a tin cup with rum in it.  Baltron drank it down, slamming the cup on the barrel.

He stalked back to his horse and mounted, riding away to the hoots of the other mountain men.

Eight months later, Andre was riding through a gap in the mountains. Spring was gone and it was time to take his furs back to the fort to sell. It was getting late in the day and time to camp. While looking for a good site, he noticed a crude shelter built under the pines.

“Ho, the camp!” he shouted.

He listened carefully, straining to hear over the horses stamping and blowing. Dismounting, he led his mount nearer the shelter. He looked around. The shelter was little more than a lean-to of pine boughs slanted against a low hanging branch. There were no horses. He called again, and now, he could hear a small moan from inside the shelter.

He tied his horses off to a nearby tree and came back to the shelter, kneeling down and looking in.  “Baltron, mon dieu! What happened?”

Inside the shelter, Baltron was lying on a bed of boughs, covered with furs. Emaciated, Baltron coughed. “Andre?” he peered into the light coming around Andre in the opening.

Andre crawled in, “Baltron, are you sick?”

“I am, and close to death. Can you build a fire so I can die in comfort?”

Andre rebuilt the shelter so that a fire to be built next to the sick man. He put a kettle of water on the fire and dropped in some jerky to make a broth. As he spooned it up to Baltron he heard the story.

“The Indians, Baltron whispered between sips. Shot me, stole the horses and most of the furs. I made it here but the wound festered. I just wanted to be alone.”

Andre shook his head. “But why Baltron? What happened at the fort?”

“My Cherie, Fleur, wrote and said she was to be married. She could not wait for me. I was angry,” he coughed again, blood coming up in his spittle.

Andre chided, “No woman is worth it, Balton. There are plenty more.”

But Baltron turned his head away. “Not for me. Now, I just want to be left alone.” He turned his head back to Andre.  “Bury me here, mon ami, where I can be alone forever.”

Andre hesitated and Baltron shot his thin hand out and weakly grasped Andre’s arm, “promise me!” his eyes full of pleading.

Reluctantly Andre agreed. Baltron nodded, and Andre covered him again.

Poor Baltron passed away in the night. So Andre buried him in the pass, making a pile of rock his grave marker.

A century later, America was growing, the automobile was king and roads were being built everywhere. A surveyor crew came through and then the bulldozers, Baltron’s grave marker long scattered by frost heave and the movement of animals.

The road went in and the grave was paved over, no one knowing it was there. A ghost is sometimes seen on the road running through the pass, especially in the spring. Late at night drivers slam on their brakes at the sight of a mountain man, hair wild and shaking his fist. Now, he’s never alone.

The End

727 Words

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Flash Fiction Friday: The Signal Fire

Altan stood on the hilltop, wrapped in his cloak against the chill night wind. It was summer but up here, the wind blew cold, especially at night. It was midnight, nearly time for his relief, Bora, to come up. As the Chief of the Watch, he could have taken the day watch but he liked the night. It was peaceful and quiet, just him and the stars. He checked the signal fire pile, everything was in readiness. The brazier held coals, ready for him to thrust the torch into, and it helped to keep the watcher warm. All was ready for Bora.

As he stood, watching to the north where the next signal fire was, Altan could hear Bora coming up the hill. The Visigoths were on the move, he’d heard from the runners carrying messages to the Roman fort at Demre to the south. He hoped they’d decide to attack to the east going to the Black Sea but he knew that was a futile thought. Demre was a port town at the east end of the Mediterranean, near the straights leading to the Black Sea. It was a ripe target, one they wouldn’t pass up.

Bora was close. Altan could hear his breathing and dislodged rocks rolling down the hill. He stared to the north, there! The signal fire was lit; he could see the sparks flying into the night sky.

“Bora!” Altan called out to his friend. “Hurry, the signal fire has been lit!”

Bora came crashing up the remainder of the hill, panting up behind his leader. “Where?”

Alton shook his head, barely visible in the half moon light. “It was lit, Bora. It was!”

They knew the danger. “Are you sure?” Bora strained to see into the darkness.

Altan sighed. “I’m sure.”

“It’s not there, Altan.” Bora’s heavy breathing from his run up the hill was quieting but the worry was in his voice.

“It was there, Bora. I saw it lit. Then, just before you crested the hill, it was gone.”

Bora wrapped his cloak tighter. “An accident. They lit the pyre by accident.”

Altan scratched at his beard. “Perhaps. The Roman runner said the Visigoths were on the move. What if they are at the mountain? What if the watchers lit the fire but the Visigoths put it out before it caught well.”

“What if it was an accident, Altan? The Romans won’t be happy to be pulled out of the garrison and run up here if it was a false signal.”

He turned to Bora, “What if the signal was over run? The Visigoths could be headed here now. They move fast, they could be here by tomorrow evening. Our families would be killed, and no signal would warn Demre. The town could be overrun.”

Bora kicked the wood at the edge of the pyre. “True.” He looked up into Altan’s face, “You must decide. Quickly.”

Altan chewed on a ragged thumbnail. “A signal fire is worthless if it isn’t used in time. Light the fire. If I’m wrong, I’ll deal with the Romans when they get here. If I’m right, Demre will have a chance.”

Bora thrust the torch into the brazier. It sprang to flame and he touched it to the pyre. They stepped back as it roared to life.

The End

550 Words

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