Colorado watercolor artist Bertie Stroup Marah contacted me awhile back, in search of coaching and editorial support. She had a story to tell, a book she needed to write, and she was in a hurry. Some of her family members were in failing health and this book would tell the rollicking, heartfelt and heart-wrenching story of a family growing up dirt poor and hard-scrabble in southern New Mexico. Bertie finished her book and it is now beautifully illustrated with her paintings and drawings and published by Plain View Press. Her signings at chain stores and independents are attracting crowds and her readers are calling it, "...funny, touching and sometimes heartbreaking...ultimately teaches the tenacity of the human spirit."
With Bertie's permission I share an excerpt:

"Earlier in the day, mama and P.G. decided to go to the dance and told us kids we could go too. Besides us, the bar patrons that night included a tall blond man named Jessie James and his sassy redheaded wife. James was standing at the bar rail drinking beer and bragging about Texas and Texans, when he antagonized Mama, with the intention of causing a fight between her and his wife. "You better watch out," he goaded, "my little redhead just might mop up the floor with you." Predictably, Mama rose to the challenge. "I don't think so," she said, just as the bantam rooster redhead strutted up to her. She never had a chance. Because Mama always believe the first lick would win the fight. The redhead's butt quickly and decisively met the floor with a thud and Mama jumping astride her, started beating and pummeling her. Seeing his wife on the losing end, James roared over and kicked Mama in the side.
Willie and Murrel, about fifteen at the time, were watching the fight from a bench along the opposite wall. When he saw Jessie James kick Mama, Willie jumped in to intervene.
"Hey, that's my Mama you just kicked," he shouted as he drew back his fist. Willie wasn't quick enough for the experienced brawler who hit him, sending him flying backward across the room. His butt hit the floor before his boot heels did. Murrel, who had jumped off the bench to help Willie, ran into the same fist.
By this time the redhead had surrendered, mama got to her feet, her eyes darting around the room, "Who was the cowardly son of a bitch who kicked me?"
"That man, mama," Willie pointed from where he lay on the floor.
With that, Mama decked James with an uppercut. "

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