Today I’m featuring author Marsha Ward and her new book Gone for a soldier.
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Rulon Owen loves two things more than life—his country and Mary Hilbrands.
When Virginia secedes from the Union, Rulon enlists, and finds himself
fighting foes both in battle and in his own camp. He struggles to stay
alive against all odds, with a knife-wielding tent-mate and a Union
army that seems impossible to defeat. It will take every ounce of
vigilance he has to survive and, with a little luck, he might make it
home to his wife and the son he’s never seen.
Forced to live with her parents for the duration, Mary faces a battle
for independence. With a mother whispering that her husband won’t come
home to her and a son who needs her to be both father and mother, Mary
has to dig deep for strength to overcome her overwhelming loneliness
and the unknown future ahead.
Separated by war and circumstance, Rulon and Mary discover that not
all enemies wear the Union blue.
Rulon saw the bend in the road ahead where lay the turnoff to a lane that he could find on the
darkest of nights. At the end of the lane, his family would be going about their daily tasks,
perhaps thinking about him, perhaps not. He cleared the bend in the road and reined the horse
into the wide path. He had to be quick. Harrisonburg wasn’t far away, as the crow flies, but he
would need most of the time left of the day to make the trip on horseback.
Julianna saw him first when she turned from feeding the hogs. “Rulon!” his younger sister
shouted, then dropped her pails and ran toward him, braids flying, spindly legs showing beneath
her swirling skirt, skinny arms outstretched to him.
He dismounted before she reached him and caught her in his arms, noting the tears streaking her
“Why are you goin’ to fight?” The anxiety in her voice caused it to come out high and thin, and
he hugged her tighter than before.
“Our country needs me,” he answered, muffling his answer against her sunbonnet.
“What if you die?” she wailed.
He couldn’t reply. When he raised his head to take a last look around the place, Ma was there
with Marie beside her, their grave faces bringing a lump to his already tight throat.
Then Albert, the mischievous scamp, came running down the lane, with Pa and the rest of the
boys walking behind him. Ben was the only one missing. They had made their farewells in town.
He had to hug them all, even Pa. Then Ma began a prayer, and they quit their hats, joined hands
right there in the lane, and listened to her heartfelt plea for a short war and safety for the troops.
As Ma spoke the “amen” and the family joined in, Rulon was reminded that he hadn’t left Mary
with a prayer. Mayhap he should have, instead of bedding her one last time. Devotion to God
should be in their marriage, as it was in his parents’ union, he reminded himself. As he climbed
on the horse, he pledged that he would be a better husband when he got the chance. If I get the
Marsha Ward was born in the sleepy little town of Phoenix, Arizona, in the southwestern United States; and grew up with chickens, citrus trees, and lots of room to roam. She became a storyteller at an early age, regaling her neighborhood friends with her fanciful tales during after-school snacks. Her love of the 19th Century Western era was reinforced by visits to her cousins on their ranch, and listening to her father’s stories of homesteading in Old Mexico and in the southern part of Arizona.
Over the years, Marsha became an award-winning poet, writer and editor, with over 900 pieces of published work, including her acclaimed novel series featuring the Owen family. She is the founder of American Night Writers Association, and a member of Western Writers of America and Women Writing the West. A workshop presenter and writing teacher, Marsha makes her home in a tiny forest hamlet in Arizona. When she is not writing, she loves to spoil her grandchildren, travel, give talks, meet readers, and sign books. Visit her at either her website or one of her blogs!