There are times in life when we encounter someone who touches us in a profound but unexpected way. The passing of two friends, Marty Beard and Joan Barsotti--both writers, did that to me. However, as writers they were on the opposite ends of the writing spectrum just as they were in real life.
I met Joan at a librarian convention in Seattle in 2004. We were part of a small booth among hundreds of booths. In our booth at least 70 authors were represented. It was my extremely good luck that Joan and I were paired to work together. If I remember correctly, the convention lasted 3 days and we worked different hours each day trying to get passing librarians to consider buying the books that were displayed in our booth. Joan was fun, kind, and considerate. When the convention was over and she returned to California and I to Oklahoma, we continued our friendship online.
I never met Marty in person but I got to know her just as well as I did Joan and perhaps even more so. I'm not sure in what year Marty joined an online group, which I usually referred to as the "Recipe Club" or "Comfort Food Club". We were a group of people who had met, for the most part, on AOL's food message boards. We broke away from the boards and created an e-mail group. Marty was not part of that original group but her best friend was. When she first burst onto our scene, she wrote in "cyber shorthand", which drove me crazy at first. Eventually, however, I realized what a very funny person she was and, most important, very kind. Although squabbles appeared once in a while in the group, Marty never took part in them. She got along with everyone.
Joan came from a prestigious family in California and belonged to many organizations, especially charitable organizations. Marty, a Cherokee, lived in the hills of Tennessee with her husband Joe, the love of her life. Never have I met two such diverse persons but both with a goodness of soul that one rarely encounters.
Joan created her own publishing company and wrote books for children. She visited elementary schools and read her stories to the students. Marty's writing was much more diverse. She wrote poetry, both nutty, comical limericks and deep-feeling poems of great beauty. But her strangest writing dealt with horror stories. Her stories were so dark and gory that she made Stephen King and Dean Koontz look like wimps!
Joan created a website (http://www.barsottibooks.com/) and her work can be found there. Marty published many of her poems online but the sad thing is that neither I nor her best friend can find that site. I have done every kind of search that I can think of but cannot find her. If anyone can find Marty's work online, please let me know. She also used a Cherokee name as a pen name and I cannot remember that name either.
Marty died a year ago on Halloween at the age of 51 and Joan died last summer at the age of 70. Both left us much too early and I am sure they had many more stories and poems to share.
Note: One of Marty's friends has found some of her poetry (pen name Martha Moongazer Beard) at these sites:
Five of her poems are found here:
And one of Marty's poems is on this site:
this site has a copy of her poem "The Cherokee Path"
I wish I could publish the poems here but I do not have the rights to them.