The Spoilt Quilt and Other Stories
Volume XVII, Issue Four | December 2019
The Spoilt Quilt and Other Stories
I had published exactly one short story in my life when Five Star Publishing approached me about writing one for an anthology on frontier women. Not a chance! I thought. Short stories aren’t my thing. Coming up with plots is so difficult for me that I didn’t want to waste one on a short story.
Still, I was intrigued by the idea. There was something attractive about writing a story that was only 5,000 words instead of a novel that was close to 100,000. I had finished a manuscript and didn’t know what to tackle next. And then, most important, an idea crept into my mind, an idea that reminded me a little of The Persian Pickle Club.
I wasn’t sure I could actually write it, however. So I didn’t commit myself. I waited until The Spoilt Quilt was finished and then contacted the editor and said, “Oh, by the way, if you’re still interested…” She liked it, and to my surprise, she used it as the title of the anthology—The Spoilt Quilt and Other Frontier Stories.
The book came out November 20 (Dana’s birthday, by the way, which may explain my good luck), and garnered a nice review in Booklist:
If the male settlers of the western frontier found life demanding, desolate, and deadly, The Spoilt Quilt makes a convincing case that it was even worse for women. Each piece in this 16-story, female-focused anthology packs a punch. The heroines confront death, disease, rape, domestic violence, and poverty, all while living in an era that denies them equal legal status. But that is not to say the main characters lack agency; each woman fights back to the best of her ability regardless of the unfortunate scenario plotted out for her. Some use misdirection (“The Spoilt Quilt”), some use trained skills (“The Well-Witcher’s Daughter,” “Berserker on the Prairie”), some use cunning (“The Hope Chest”), some use pure, unbridled rage (“The Devil’s Rope,” “Abandoned Places”). This collection isn’t necessarily about winners and losers—if it were, many of these women would be failures, and the stories too grim to read. Rather, it’s about personal strength in a time and place when that was often the only resource an individual had in excess. To that end, The Spoilt Quilt provides brief glimpses of optimism in an otherwise overcast world.
My story, The Spoilt Quilt, is about Maryetta, a woman whose husband is found murdered on their lonely farm in eastern Colorado in the early 1900s. The sheriff and his wife, Puss, go to the murder scene, and while her husband takes care of the body, Puss consoles Maryetta, who is a quilter. As the two talk, Puss realizes her friend’s life was not what everyone had believed. It’s a story of one woman’s understanding of and compassion for another.
Westering Women comes out in January
I am so excited about Westering Women, which I wrote about in the last issue of Piecework, and think it is one of my best books. Of course, who am I to judge? I love the characters and the western setting. I hope readers will love it, too. Publication date is January. I have a number of signings lined up: UPCOMING APPEARANCES:
Tues., Jan. 7 at 7:00 pm
TATTERED COVER – COLFAX AVE
2526 E. Colfax Ave.
LONE TREE, CO
Wed., Jan. 8 at 7:00 pm
BARNES & NOBLE – LONE TREE
8374 S. Willow St.
FORT COLLINS, CO
Thurs., Jan. 9 at 6:00 pm
OLD FIREHOUSE BOOKS
Old Town Library201 Peterson St.
HIGHLANDS RANCH, CO
Sat., Jan. 11 at 6:30 pm
DOUGLAS COUNTY LIBRARY
James H. LaRue Branch
9292 Ridgeline Blvd.
Tues., Jan. 14 at 6:30pm