Grand Junction woman’s self-published novel gets judges’, readers’ attention
Grand Junction author Lucinda Stein has a winning formula for her fiction: Take a proud, ethnic, freedom-seeking, female protagonist and dispatch her to unfamiliar environs in the West.
As it turns out, this method is popular not only with readers, but with judges, as well.
Stein’s second novel, “Three Threads Woven,” was the 2010 WILLA Literary Award Finalist in the Contemporary Fiction category.
The award is named for Pulitzer Prize-winner Willa Cather, whose novels including “O Pioneers!” and “My Antonia” chronicled frontier life on the plains.
Contest sponsor is Women Writing the West, a nonprofit association of writers, editors, publishers and others promoting authentic portrayals of women in the West.
In others words, it’s exactly what Stein writes about.
In “Three Threads Woven,” protagonist Wenona Black Elk braids together a life from three heritages: Dakota Sioux, Navajo and white.
She lives for a time on a South Dakota farm, on a Navajo reservation ranch and on Glade Park in Colorado.
Mining for specific, accurate details for her writing, said the retired public school librarian, is intoxicating.
“I found the research becomes a very interesting thing for me because I’m learning so many new things and I hope that comes across in my novels,” Stein said. “But that definitely is a big part of a novel because you want it to be believable, whether it’s a time setting or a culture.”
Her first novel was “Maggie’s Way: The Story of a Defiant Pioneer Woman,” published in 2005 by Western Reflections Publishing, in Lake City.
“Maggie’s Way” chronicled a woman of Irish heritage who became a mule skinner in Ouray. A mule skinner is someone who leads a string of pack mules, in Maggie’s case, up and down the rugged San Juans.
“Three Threads Woven” was self-published.
Stein now is writing short stories while working on a third novel, which will be loosely based on a cult in the Molina area.
When not hiking to petroglyphs and exploring old mining areas, Stein enjoys speaking to fellow literature enthusiasts.
“I’m always happy to meet with any book clubs that are interested,” she said.
Her work has benefited from the constructive criticism of writing groups, and she shared one piece of advice that has enriched her writing.
“I’ll always recommend keeping a writer’s journal or notebook and just jotting down little things that strike your interest,” Stein said.
“It could be a person’s gestures, and it doesn’t even have to be a complete sentence, and after you start collecting things over a period of time, you have a great addition to your work.”
“Three Threads Woven” is available at Barnes & Noble, Hasting’s, Amazon.com, Ingrams and Baker & Taylor for $19.95.