Friday, December 23, 2011

About Our Authors. First: Janet Muirhead Hill

Here is the first in a series of posts introducing the authors of Raven Publishing, Inc. of Montana. Janet Muirhead Hill, founder of Raven was also its first author. After publishing her Miranda and Starlight series of six books, she expanded her company to publish other authors of important novels and memoir.

We'll start with her.

Janet Muirhead Hill’s three favorite things in life were nurtured on the cattle ranches where she grew up in the Yampa River Valley in the Colorado Rockies. She incorporates them in the books she writes. 1) Kids. More than anything else, Janet, the middle child in a family of six kids, loves children and cares about their welfare. 2) Writing. Her older sister who read to her and taught her to make up stories on the long winter evenings they shared fostered her love for books and writing. 3) Horses. Her father, a horse lover and cowboy, taught his children to ride and to care horses. At a very young age, Janet developed great admiration and a connection with these noble animals.

In 2002, Hill published Miranda and Starlight, the first of a six-book series of horse stories that involve a young girl, Miranda, with problems involving Starlight, the horse of her dreams. Miranda is a lonely girl, sent to her grandparents’ dairy farm in Montana while her mother stays in Los Angeles, seeking stardom. Miranda doesn’t fit in with the kids in the small country school, and she believes that if she only had a horse, nothing else would matter. When she meets Starlight, a black two-year-old colt on a neighboring thoroughbred horse ranch, and the adventures begin.

Hill has published three other novels, one stand-alone about a Montana ranch boy whose father is killed in the war. Danny goes through the stages of grief with the help of his horse, Dragon, until his mother takes them to Denver to live with grandparents he hardly knows. Like all of Hill’s books, Danny’s Dragon was created to help kids through difficult times, showing them that they are not alone and offering support and help wrapped in a gripping adventure story.

Her latest books, the first two novels of a trilogy, gives the reader an intimate look at the devastation that parents can cause when they divorce without understanding the effect it can have on the children. Kendall (Kendall’s Storm) and Kyleah (Kyleah’s Tree) are twins who have not been allowed contact since their parents divorced when they were four. Hill has written Kendall and Kyleah, the third book of this trilogy, which will be released in 2012.

Hill continues to write from her rural Montana home where she keeps three horses and remains very connected to her grandchildren.

The next post will tell the story of another Raven author.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Road Between: Book Review by Marcia Melton

A reader sent us this review of The Road Between. It captures it well.

Review of The Road Between by Florence Bell Ore (Raven, 2011)

Ruts in a country road, stretching out through yellow prairie grass to distant blue mountains beckon the reader from the cover illustration of Florence Bell Ore’s brave and affecting memoir, The Road Between. A sturdy gate punctuates the path which takes the reader into the 1930s and 1940s in Alberta, Canada and into the life of a young girl whose world is woven of three cultures: her English family working as missionaries on the Blackfoot Reserve; her Blackfoot neighbors and fellow children of the prairie; and the Canadian citizens in the nearby town of Gleichen and the city of the region, Calgary.

This childhood and young adulthood is not typical in any way because of the juxtaposition of cultures and Florence Ore’s “between-ness” among them. With her family, Florence is given the expectations of proper behavior for a young lady and schooling designed to lead her to a life patterned in English manners and morals. With respect and love, she honestly presents the human sides of her relatives. They also feel the conundrum of adapting old patterns to new expectations.

In the native culture, she sees another form of community. Blackfoot children living in Old Sun School were taken from their homes to be educated in Canadian culture and the Christian religion, leaving them bereft of their family traditions and stories. The girls continued a tenuous hold on their own ways as they crafted beaded belts and headbands, weaving the old and the new together to form their own society. As Florence vacillates between braiding her hair the way the Blackfoot girls do and wearing English ringlets, the dichotomy is clear. Florence’s Uncle Jack, the serious and sympathetic principal and minister, confided in her, “I sometimes think they have the right idea after all.” These words resonated with Florence’s feelings while watching the clash of two cultures.

The Canadian landscape underlies all of the lives described in this book. The wide, wild reaches of Alberta affect the discoveries and connections of the various peoples dwelling there. An evocative description, characteristic of Florence Ore’s beautiful writing, captures its sense. My new world stretched from the Rocky Mountains, a pale blue ragged edge on the western horizon, east to where the land sloped endlessly down to the Atlantic. Above me spread the vast dome of sky. Lying on my back, watching an armada of cumulous clouds sail in the expanse of blue, the song of the meadowlark connected me to the earth and an awareness of the land and the world I lived in. Wherever I went this would be home.”

This book is a timepiece of the author’s unique life in the 1930s and 1940s. Her reflections and gem-like observations create the prism through which so many insights come. Her descriptions are so clear and personal that the reader is there. It is an unvarnished look at this time, with all its contradictions, and a respectful insight into the family and people of her life. Her young adulthood is not without challenge when her mother becomes single. Like her Indian neighbors, Florence is sent to a private girl’s school where she must integrate one more time into a new culture while holding on to an old one. Through the events and observations, the story speaks to the reader of the value and meaning of understanding and courage.

A closer look at the bright Van Gogh-like cover painting shows that this painting is also by the author, Florence Bell Ore, who paints in both words and picture. For me, her courageous remembering of the past gave a gift which clearly illustrated the power of memoir to bring understanding and meaning to the present.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Road Between: a memoir

The writing is beautiful, the memories of a young girl growing up on the windswept prairies of Alberta on an Indian reserve during the Great Depression, the dust-bowl, and WWII are poignant.

Florence Bell Ore, who now lives and writes from Pony, Montana, shares her memories, revealing many details of places and times in Canadian history. Florence had to sort out her own ideals and beliefs from the three very different cultures that formed her life—from the very proper English morals and customs of her maternal grandmother, to those of the Siksika tribe of the Blackfoot Indians who came to the residential school where her uncle was principal and her father the farm manager, to the elementary school in the town of Gleichen where she walked snowy roads to learn Canadian customs and accents. As she says, "A landscape of grass blowing under a dome of sky became the constant reality used by this Canadian child to forger her own identity."

To order the print book, contact For the e-book see Amazon's Kindle Store or

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ride the Jawbone: a historical legal mystery

Over a hundred years ago, Richard A. Harlow, for whom Harlowton, Montana was named, saw the need for a railroad to connect mining and ranching communities with the world, via the Northern Pacific at Lombard. He financed and built the Montana Railway by persuasive jawboning. Twelve years ago, rancher and attorney, Jim Moore, observed the decaying railroad bed left over from Harlow’s “Jawbone Railroad,” and thought, “Someone should write a story about it.” He took on the task. A year ago, Janet Hill, president of Raven Publishing, Inc. read Jim’s manuscript and decided it was a story that should be shared. Later this summer, or early fall, the book will be in print for anyone to read. It is already available in Amazon's Kindle Store and on as an e-book

You won’t want to miss the intriguing tale about a young, newly-minted lawyer who takes on the seemingly impossible task of defending of a loathsome vagrant accused of murdering a beautiful young woman and throwing her body from the train. Interwoven in this story is an accurate, well-researched history of the era, 1902, with details or ranching practices, transportation modes, and the social and business life in the small towns that sprang up along the course of the Jawbone in its route through Sixteen-mile Canyon, over the pass between the Little Belt and the Castle Mountains, and on to Two Dot in the Musselshell River Valley.