Women Writing the West

Alice Trego, Arletta Dawdy, Randi Platt, Mary Trimble at registration

This year’s Women Writing the West conference is once again history. And once again, I come away with an uplifted spirit after meeting old friends and making new ones, creative encouragement, and many new tidbits of information to digest and use in my writing and marketing endeavors.

Heidi, Randi Platt, Mary Trimble

The conference was in Washington state, where I live, and I had the honor of helping our Conference VP, Mary Trimble, plan this event. We started more than a year ago lining up speakers, workshop presenters, and looking at hotel venues. The year progressed, with a new deadline nearly every month, until the last 3-4 weeks turned into an all-consuming, nearly 24-7 effort to weave all our efforts together and tie off the loose ends.

Highlights included the luncheon honoring the WILLA finalist recipients and a humorous, entertaining keynote speech by Seattle librarian Nancy Pearl. The Saturday evening banquet for WILLA winners was also a special highlight for me, as I received my lovely trophy for Follow the Dream. Author and poet Ellen Waterston was our keynote speaker that evening.

Another highlight was having my publisher, Lee Emory of Treble Heart Books, family and friends there to see the awards ceremony.

Lee Emory, Marylou Thomas, Heidi and Janet Oakley


Mary and I are now breathing sighs of relief and contentment after a successful endeavor. Thanks to all the members who made this possible. I look forward to seeing you all again next year in Albuquerque, NM!

Author Interview: Meet Jared McVay

My guest this week is Jared McVay, author of The Legend of Joe, Willy & Red, a story  of the outrageous ’30s and the unlikely friendship of three men who choose the hobo trail rather than face the consequences of crimes they were accused of, but did not commit. They find themselves in a harrowing adventure of epic proportion and in a fight for their survival.

Jared, you call yourself “The Ultimate Storyteller.” How did you get started telling stories?

Actually, “The Ultimate Storyteller,” came about because about ten years ago, another author tagged me with that title; then two storytelling groups started saying that about me – along with other people and it just kind of stuck.

Back in 1956, one of my teachers in high school liked the stories I wrote for class projects and asked me to join a group of other students who were going to an orphanage in a nearby town to entertain them. When we got there, I sat down with a bunch of small children and just started making up stories about animals. Then later, my five children all wanted bedtime stories. But it wasn’t until in the late 1960s that I started doing it professionally.

When and why did you decide to write a book?

Like many of us, I’d thought about writing a book for years, but for some unknown reason, I limited myself to journalistic works, ghost writing for screenplays, and writing short stories. Along the way, my children’s storytelling events seem to grow and, for the most part, I write the short stories I tell at these events. After a while, I started receiving requests for me to put some of these stories into a book; so in 2010, I wrote, volume 1 of Bears, Bicycles and

Jared and Freckles

Broomsticks. It has been well received and is now in England and Russia to the east, and Australia to the west. I’m hoping to bring out volume 2, sometime next year.

Tell us briefly about your children’s book, Bears, Bicycles & Broomsticks.

It’s a collection of children’s short stories I’ve written for storytelling events that include stories about animals, a little boy named Randal Owen Hudstedler and a little girl named, Molly. It’s a book for children of all ages – five to a hundred and five.

Where did the idea for Joe, Willy & Red come from?

From watching the movie, Emperor of the North, staring Ernest Borgnine and Lee Marvin. Borgnine is a vicious railroad bull who brags that no hobo has ever ridden his train. Lee Marvin plays a hobo who takes up the challenge. It reminded me of some of the adventures I had encountered as a young man riding the rails. People seem to like period pieces and I wanted to write a story about hobos and the problems they face.

You have a background as an actor in film and television. How does that help you with your writing?

It helps a lot. I have had the good fortune to play a great many characters, from a nice guy to a demon and almost everything in between. I get inside each of these characters to understand how they tick – who they are and why they’re doing what they’re doing. Now, combine that with the fact that I’ve traveled a good share of the world, met many people from all walks of life, been many things, such as a rodeo rider, a rodeo clown, a lumber jack, a carnival barker, a single handed blue water ocean sailor, a screenwriter and so on – along with a strong desire to write, which I believe makes me a good candidate for being a writer/storyteller.

If your book were made into a movie, who do you envision would play your main characters?

If I had enough funding to afford them and they were available, my first choice for Joe would be Russell Crowe. My first choice for Willy would be Danny Divito, and at this point I’m not sure about Red, or the woman, Jo Ann. She would have to play two roles. But I’m sure they’re out there.

Is it easier to write screenplays or books?

I used to think screenplays were easier because they are so much shorter – scenes and dialogue, and that’s it. Plus, I didn’t think I had it in me to be able to write the amount of words a novel takes. But now that I’ve written a novel and getting such great response from the readers, I don’t see much difference. A novel for me is like writing a movie, it just takes a bit longer.

Did you do a lot of research for your historical adventure novel?

Even though the story is written during a historical time in this country, I didn’t set out to write a historical piece. I just wanted to write a good story about people’s struggles during a time when America was at war with itself, and I think that’s what I’ve done. I like to think of it as a period piece, during a time in our past. And I believe as I know you do, with your novels, that people enjoy these kinds of stories. I know I do. But to answer your question; no, I didn’t do a lot of research because I had lived some of it. I did however check out the actual locations along the train route. It was important that the towns, etc were actually where I said they were, but the rest, the characters and the story itself all come from my imagination.

Are the characters based on anyone real?

Yes and no. I say that because as I’ve said, I’ve traveled a lot and met a lot of people whose images I keep stored somewhere in my head. Plus, as an actor, I’ve played a lot of roles and those characters are also stored in my head. When I write a story, I never know who will be in it, they just show up. I can only surmise they come from somewhere in my subconscious, maybe even a combination of one or more characters traits in each particular person. None of my characters are visually contrived.

What project are you working on now?

At the present, I am working on a western novel. I love westerns and I’ve always wanted to write one. Along with the fact that I’ve read everything from Zane Grey to Louis L’amour; worked as a cowboy during my youth, a rodeo rider and rodeo clown, I think my imagination will take care of the rest. I’m getting great response from my editor who keeps saying, “I love it. Give me more.”

Where can readers buy your books?

They can purchase my books on Amazon or Createspace. They can also get it through my website, www.jaredmcvay.com  If they buy it through one of the local book stores and you want a personally signed copy tell the people at the store and I will be happy to stop by and sign it for them.

In Washington: Anacortes – Watermark book store;  Mt. Vernon – The Tattered Page book store; Bellingham – The Village book store;  Friday Harbor – Harbor Books

In closing I would like to say, thank you Heidi, for this interview and may your success  keep growing with your award winning books, Cowgirl Dreams and Follow the Dream

 Thank you, Jared and good luck to you in your writing endeavors.

Old Time Photos

I love looking through my grandparents’ photo albums and trying to get a glimpse of their world, what it must have been like to live in the early 1900s.

Take another look at that world at Frontier Life in the West, photos by John C. H. Grabill. Between 1887 and 1892,  Grabill sent 188 photographs to the Library of Congress for copyright protection. Grabill is known as a western photographer, documenting many aspects of frontier life — hunting, mining, western town landscapes and white settlers’ relationships with Native Americans.

Published in: on October 8, 2011 at 7:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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