In a Sow’s Ear |

In a Sow’s Ear

Writers of both fiction and non-fiction have penned the history and stories of the western landscape. Authors like Zane Grey and Louis Lamour ” painted fictional pictures of life “out west” while Charlie Russell created unforgettable images in oil and watercolor. And let’s not overlook the hours of yummy enjoyment of movie champions like John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Roy Rogers. The cowboy and the rancher are heroes we all love to love.

Athough there can be a dark side to ranching. Cruelty can exist and go on and on, unknown and unpunished when it happens on a place so far back in the hills, it’s almost on a different planet.

Recently I was contacted by Barbara Richard, a woman raised on an isolated eastern Montana ranch. Ms. Richard has written a shattering memoir. To quote some of her press release, Barbara Richard is a Circle area native, author of the memoir “Dancing on His Grave,” and its sequel, “Walking Wounded.”

“Dancing on His Grave” is the true story of five sisters and their mother who survived unspeakable abuse at the hands of their father. At times graphic, always heart wrenching, the story is a must read for those seeking affirmation of the strength of the human spirit.

The sequel, “Walking Wounded,” continues the girls’ story of first enduring, then escaping their father’s abuse, only to find themselves cast into the world drastically ill-equipped to cope with the demands of adulthood, marriage and motherhood. The family members find their paths mined with the untruths and denial learned in childhood, and a lack of self-esteem and faith in their own abilities. In spite of these pitfalls, the young women’s innate intelligence, visceral determination and love for their children keep them striving toward normalcy.

Every reviewer raves about Barbara’s books and praises her writing skills. “I’ve finished Barbara Richard’s memoir. She’s a wonderful writer, graceful and clean and powerful, and this book is full of memorable scenes.” – Sarah McGrath, Simon and Schuster. “‘Dancing on His Grave’ is mesmerizing, heartbreaking, vivid and utterly terrifying.” – Aimee Taub, Penguin Group. “I read the manuscript – avidly, compulsively, because it was impossible not to finish once I started.” – Beth Rashbaum, Random House.

Barbara Richard is currently touring the western states giving readings, booksignings and memoir-writing workshops in which she teaches how to write your own memoirs. While most people don’t have the excessive trauma in their lives like Barbara endured, we all have led lives with scenes, incidents, people, and animals. Perhaps the goal is not to go after national publication, but rather to leave a record for one’s family members. Barbara Richard offers tips and detailed information on how to organize, how to compile facts and photos, and how to write your story in an interesting manner.

She advises students on the new arenas of the publishing world such as: How you can publish your own work; how you can choose a Print on Demand publisher. She lectures on the business of marketing, agenting and editing. Ms. Richard always allows workshop students plenty of time for Questions and Answers.

Additionally, Richard Wheeler, a writer of western fiction with more than 60 books to his credit, has written a literary memoir called, “An Accidental Novelist.” Mr. Wheeler has agreed to give a talk from the perspective of a long-time writer of successful fiction.

When Barbara Richard contacted me and asked if I’d host a workshop and booksigning, I did not hesitate. We set the Memoir Writing Workshop date for Saturday, July 28, at the Carnegie Library here in Big Timber. Interested? Call me at: (406) 932-4227 or email


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