Arizona author Marsha Ward received the 2015 Whitney Lifetime Achievement Award by the Utah-based LDStorymakers. She has been known as a mentor to writers in the LDS writing community for the past thirty years. As the founder of her own writing group, ANWA (American Night Writers Association, Inc.), she has touched the lives of many hundreds of LDS women writers and the list continues to grow.
“It’s a great honor and quite a surprise to be the recipient of the 2015 Whitney Lifetime Achievement Award,” says Ward, the branch organist, Primary pianist and secretary for the Christopher Creek Branch, Payson Arizona Stake.
Ward says, “It has been my great pleasure and has given me deep satisfaction to serve other writers as a mentor, coach, cheerleader, and editor in helping them to achieve their writing goals.”
“Words from ANWA members to describe Marsha include friend, pioneer, courageous, visionary, mentor, funny, down to earth, kind, approachable, knowledgeable, old soul, and, simply, ‘she’s got gumption.’ Marsha Ward is respected, admired and loved by her ANWA sisters,” says Deb Eaton, current Executive President of ANWA.
Ward says, “I’ve been a writer all my life. My older sister tells me that when I was a toddler, I covered pages of notebook paper with scribbles and said it was my novel.”
Ward, the mother of four grown children and seven grandchildren, is an award-winning poet, editor, and author, having published over 900 articles, columns, poems and short stories as well as six novels. An Amazon best-selling author, she writes authentic historical fiction set in 19th century America, and contemporary romance. Two of her novels, Spinster’s Folly and Gone for a Soldier, were Whitney Award Finalists.
Of her writing journey, Ward says, “in 1986…after several failed attempts to find a writer’s group where I could receive valuable feedback to grow and be nourished as a writer in a positive atmosphere, I decided to start my own. The first meeting was held in the basement of the Gilbert Arizona Library with six women present.”
From humble beginnings, ANWA has grown to include 26 physical chapters, 5 online chapters and 300 members increasing weekly.
“Today, we are a strong group of LDS women, spanning the United States, including Hawaii and a new chapter in Canada,” says Ward.
“Marsha has personally influenced hundreds and hundreds of clean, entertaining, uplifting books, articles and family history through the chapters of ANWA — from Stephanie Meyer and Aprilynne Pike, to Kristen Jenson and Sara Eden, Marsha’s bright affect has rippled through the literary world,” says Eaton.
Ward’s books include the Owen Family Saga: The Man from Shenandoah, Ride to Raton, Trail of Storms, Spinster’s Folly, and Gone for a Soldier, and the first book of the Promised Valley series, The Zion Trail. The Men of Haught Springs series so far includes the eBook Blood at Haught Springs.
When asked what she would most want people to remember about her, Ward says, “I hope people will remember me as a pretty good writer, but more importantly, as a kind person who tried to live according to the teachings of Jesus Christ.”