Dance to a Wylder Beat by Marilyn Barr is in the Featured New Book Spotlight

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Book cover for Dance to a Wylder BeatLet’s welcome Marilyn Barr back to West of Mars! This isn’t her first, err, rodeo here, so let’s get right to business.

Marilyn Barr, what song makes you think of your book?

The core issue of Dance to a Wylder Beat is the need for community. Nartan’s secret Shamanic dancing and Olive’s paranormal secret keep them on the outskirts of Wylder society. In line with their desires, their song is “Stolen Dance” by Milky Chance.

Listen to this haunting song here – https://youtu.be/k750IIdKq08

In the late 1870s, the Arapaho nation’s way of life was being destroyed by the US Government. Their nomadic existence was at odds with the settlements, like Wylder Wyoming, popping up along the railway line. The Arapaho followed the migratory herds with small bands creating circles of teepees for a season before packing their travois and heading to the next place. The US Government turned tribes against each other and in 1871, the Shoshone and Arapaho battles destroyed the Antelope Band which broke my heart. This conflict is the catalyst for Nartan and his brother, Ikshu to set up their homestead at the edge of Wylder.

“I hope they didn’t get your mind
Your heart is too strong anyway
We need to fetch back the time
They have stolen from us.” –Stolen Dance, Lyrics – Clemens Rehbein

Away on a vision quest, Nartan missed the chance to defend his band. His younger brother, Ikshu, was with the women, elderly, and children when the attack happened. His PTSD gives him night terrors and selective mutism. Despite being a Shamanic apprentice and destined for mystic greatness in his tribe, Nartan becomes a humble leather tanner and protector of Ikshu’s fragile state. What he refuses to give up is the support of his spirit team. The six spirits answer his calls when he dances in secret. His ceremonial herbs, dance steps to create the sacred geometry of his people in the dirt, and incantation (the same incantation I use in my energetic healing practice) are offerings to the spirit realm. Such practices are against the law on the reservations which is a second reason why Nartan left. While I would argue Nartan is never stoned, the unbelievers contribute his visions to the ceremonial herbs – which were most likely sage, tobacco, and sagebrush in 1878.

“You’ve never danced like this before
We don’t talk about it
Dancin’ on, doin’ the boogie all night long
Stoned in paradise
Shouldn’t talk about it” –Stolen Dance, Lyrics – Clemens Rehbein

What about his love interest, Olive? While she doesn’t dance, this song has a ring of truth for her story as well. Olive is a guttersnipe. These were orphaned kids who rode the railways to find their adventure. Olive migrated from “Mexico to Montana” with the native tribes who would protect her. She learned many skills – such as the basics of leather tanning – from the gentle souls who helped her along the way. Unfortunately, her paranormal secret has kept her from assimilating into the settler towns of the Wild West. Yes, Olive is too wild for the Wild West and tired of wandering alone.

“I want you by my side
So that I never feel alone again” –Stolen Dance, Lyrics – Clemens Rehbein

When a medicine man on the Wind River Reservation suggests answering Nartan’s telegraph ad for a wife, Olive dares to dream of living in a house with a soft bed and a roof over her head. Could she keep her secret, learn to be a settler wife, and have a family of her own? She has nothing to lose.

“Coldest winter for me
No sun is shining anymore
The only thing I feel is pain
Caused by absence of you” –Stolen Dance, Lyrics – Clemens Rehbein

Will they put aside their differences to create a family nestled in the community of Wylder or will Nartan reject Olive out of the desire to hide his spiritual past? Find out in Dance to a Wylder Beat.

Whoa. There’s a LOT going on there. And I’m fascinated.

And this song? It’s catchy. Fun. I’d add this to my Spotify playlist. I can see myself singing along as the miles while away on a road trip. It’s got that vibe. Also, it kinda makes me want to dance. That would definitely be hard to do while driving.

Ready for the back cover copy? Here you go:

Nartan Sagebrush’s name may mean “to dance” in Arapaho, but he dances in secret. Forced to abandon his Shamanic apprenticeship, he is overwhelmed with homesteader life, and even his spirit guides are at their wit’s end. Nartan takes fate into his own hands. Instead of divine intervention, a wife will help with his responsibilities and in assimilating into the Wylder community.

Olive Muegge answers Nartan’s “wife wanted” advertisement. Wildly independent she has secretly dreamed of a family to call her own. The secret she carries inside makes her an outcast and her wild ways don’t fit the quiet wife Nartan thinks he desires. Despite their differences, they are drawn to each other but a mistake may drive them apart. Will Nartan embrace his Shamanic past to save them both or will he choose to rid himself of Olive forever?

Yeah… I’m so there. Are you? Grab a copy of Dance to a Wylder Beat by Marilyn Barr
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Go and connect with Marilyn Barr! She and I chat very occassionally on Twitter and just based on that, I can say she’s lovely.
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Still here? Good! Remember that the Featured New Book Spotlight is open to any author of pretty much any book or even if you have a short story in an anthology. I’m here to help spread the word about your fictional masterpiece!

And since the best way to say thanks to an author for all their hard work — well, other than buying their book (often in multiples) — is to leave a review, if you’re struggling with one, drop me a line. I’m really busy right now and this isn’t a free service, but if I’ll make the time for you, I’ll also make it worth your five bucks.

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