Valley Vignette: Foster kids, horses among catalysts for author Marsha Hubler


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A can of kerosene in one hand and a few matches in the other, the teenager sat on her mother’s porch roof and contemplated her next move.

At that moment, she hated her mother. She was ready to do some damage.

The scene may sound familiar to those who have read the bestselling Keystone Stable book series by Middleburg’s Marsha Hubler. That’s because Hubler was drawing on real-life experience when opening the second book, “On the Victory Trail,” with a similar scenario.

“In the book, Sooze is on the roof and Skye, a foster girl from the first book, is trying to talk her down,” Hubler said. “Nearly 30 years ago, I was the one trying to connect with an angry teenaged girl on a porch roof. When I eventually told her of my interests in horses and competitive softball, she came right in off the roof.”

The moment was one of several that inspired Hubler and her husband to participate in foster parenting for 12 years — having as many as five foster children at a time — and was one of many catalysts behind a suc¬cessful writing career that has spanned the past two decades.

Hubler is best known for her eight-book best-selling Keystone Stable series that follows various foster children at a special horse ranch as they learn about faith through their relationships with horses and other people. Hubler has published five other books, including one about homeschooling and a bible study.

More recently, Hubler has published an Amish/Mennonite fiction series called “The Loves of Snyder County” and has been writing short stories involving some of the characters from those books and releasing them online under the “Snyder County Quilting Bee” series.

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Wanna be a writer?

“Only a writer really knows how hard it is to get published,” Hubler said. “You have to decide early on if it is going to be a hobby or something more serious. It takes a tremendous amount of discipline.”

Hubler, who tries to de¬vote a solid four hours a day with a goal of 1,000 to 1,200 words at a clip, also stresses the importance of humility.

“It can be hard to turn your work over to an edi¬tor and have him mark it up — it’s like slapping your own baby,” she said. “But it is such an incredibly important part of the process. I also urge all potential writers to join critique groups and at¬tend writer’s conferences to learn more about the craft.”

Hubler also recom¬mends purchasing a writer’s market guide as a way to save time and money when deciding where to send manuscripts.

Changing marketplace

“Ten years ago, the trend in writing was to print the books and eventually turn them into ebooks,” Hubler said. “But in the past two to three years, things have changed totally in the opposite direction. Now, stories come out in ebook and online well before they come out in print.”

She admits there are some nice perks with the new way of doing things.

“Before, it would take a long time to see a manuscript printed in book form. Now, I can write something and it is published online so much faster,” she said. “Kids love to have their toys and there is no denying that is where the market is. It took me nine years to finally start getting royalty checks for my writing, and nearly two-thirds is from ebook sales.”

The shift in how stories are published has forced writers to change how they promote their work.

“Many contracts now, up front, expect writers to be active in marketing their own work through online media like Facebook, blogs, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other platforms,” Hubler said. “As more and more book stores close and places to host book signings become harder and harder to find, there is little denying the importance of creating an online pres¬ence.”

Keeping busy

Outsite of writing, Hubler has become a major force in the local homeschooling network, functioning as an evalu¬ator and helping assist families that wish to homeschool their children.

Hubler also loves playing Scrabble, gardening and playing organ at church. And, of course, Hubler likes to read.

“All writers need to read, right?” she asked with a smile.

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~ by zaktansky on June 26, 2013.

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