Woodward, Okla. —
A Northwest Oklahoma first-time novelist will be signing copies of her book this Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Plains Indians and Pioneers Museum.
As a career journalist and former assistant editor of the Woodward News, Rachael Van Horn has extensive experience writing non-fiction.
But now Van Horn is proud to announce the release of her first piece of fiction, a modern-day Western adventure titled "Sage."
The novel follows an ousted former sheriff, a newspaper reporter, and 2 ranch workers, each with their own troubled past. "Forced together by fate and a blizzard in the Sage covered country of western Oklahoma, the foursome discover the courage to help each other make better choices, which opens doors for each to a more genuine future," according to the back cover description.
When asked to describe her book, Van Horn said, "It's a book about community." In particular, the pros and cons of small town life.
"The thing that makes small towns wonderful is that everybody knows you, but then no one really knows you," said Van Horn, who lives near the community of Laverne.
She said that is a big theme in the book, being misunderstood.
"That's the thing about all my characters, they're all misunderstood, even the ancillary characters," Van Horn said.
She said the setting and themes of the book are "based loosely" on her own experiences.
For example, she said, "I love the community where I live because there's such a rich tapestry of personalities, and yet at sometimes it is difficult to experience how rich it is because people are guarded because others refuse to understand or gossip instead of learning about others."
In writing the book, Van Horn said she was able to explore "the best and the worst of why I chose to live where I live."
But while the book is about "the idea of small town America," Van Horn said she thinks a wide variety of readers will enjoy the novel.
"I think regional people will like it, the people who understand the area and the type of people it takes to make it out here," she said. "But I also thing the people used to flying over the area, going from coast to coast, who don't know what it's like to live in Oklahoma now, will find it an adventure."
She also believes the book will speak to a wide age range.
"I've seen a 16-year-old reading and enjoying it and I've seen up to 50-year-old reading and liking it," Van Horn said.
The first-time novelist said she found the fiction writing experience to be challenging but also rewarding.
"A lot of people do not understand, and I was one of them who didn't understand, just how absolutely difficult it is to write fiction," she said. "But it was the most rewarding learning experience because I kept working at it and kept working at it. I kept reading other authors and learning how to give my characters a voice and develop my characters through action rather than background."
Adding to the challenge was finding the time to write.
Working first as a cowboy at an area feedlot and then moving on to work as a pumper in the oilfield, Van Horn said, "getting time to do it was difficult; that's why it took me 3 years to write."
Now that the book is finished and published, she said "it feels good, but it was a lot of work."
However, she continues to write. "I have another one (novel) I'm working on and a couple of non-fiction titles," she said.
If you are unable to attend this Saturday's book signing, copies of her book "Sage" will be available at the museum, The Cowboy's Tack Shop and Michelle's Chic Boutique. Van Horn said she also plans on gifting a copy to the Woodward Public Library.
Copies are also available online, including a digital version, at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.