Wednesday, March 25, 2020

In the Spotlight: L.T. Ward ~ Author of "Return to Cahokia"

Over the past nine weeks, the IWSG Anthology blog has featured posts
from nine of the authors in Voyager: The Third Ghost.
Our author today is, last but not least, L.T. Ward.

L.T. Ward on her short story "Return to Cahokia" ...

Before January 2019, I was not a writer. I had been a stay-at-home mom with four children, working part-time in marketing. My eldest, a teenager, had come home one day the previous December and told me that her dreams of becoming an actress were stupid. Before my frustrations at her dismissing her aspirations settled in fully, I asked her why she felt that way. She explained that everyone in her life said it was foolish, lacking pragmatism, and that she should focus on a more reliable future. When I said acting made her happy and that I supported her in her creative goals, she said it didn’t matter and couldn’t be done.
I asked why. She said because no one in her life ever did anything they wanted, just what they were expected to do, especially me.
That set me off, because NO ONE, not even me, was allowed to convince my children they didn’t deserve to go big with their lives.
So I started writing.
For my first novel, I had researched Cahokia Mounds, the pyramids located outside of St. Louis, MO were fascinating. To see them firsthand, I took my children to visit the mounds during a vacation. The pyramids were beautiful and the history there, rich. I wanted to learn more, but found there was a lot of missing history as the city had demolished so much of the land during urban development. I went home inspired and a little sad, but the images and feel of the sites wouldn’t leave my mind.
Back home, I started a second novel, completed it, then tried to figure out my next step. Both novels needed heavy editing, but I wasn’t ready to tackle that. Yet, I had found in writing what I saw my daughter has when she is on stage--satisfaction. I googled “insecure writer help” and found The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. It was everything I needed to push me in my aspiring writing career.
The IWSG put out a call on Facebook for their upcoming middle grade anthology. The theme for The IWSG Anthology was Historical-Fantasy/Adventure. Both of my novels were young adult fiction, but they each maintained speculative fiction. I still had that needling idea about Cahokia Mounds from my visit so I decided I had to write a short story to submit.
To begin writing, I thought back on what had inspired my novels. Weather. I live in an area fraught with erratic weather. I’d seen the damage of floods, F5 tornados, and violent winters. Mother Nature is powerful and magnificent. Each season, I’m in awe of the effects the sky has on the land and people below. Weather isn’t common small talk because it’s convenient; it’s because we all care about it. During long walks, I watched the skies, felt the winds, and the idea for “Return To Cahokia” grew.
To my extreme surprise and thrill, my very first short story will also be my first publication. The story and its creation are very near and dear to my heart, which adds to my joy at its upcoming release.
An added bonus: My eldest has resumed her big dream aspirations.

The Birdman Tablet
The Birdman is etched on a lot of the artwork and pots that have been found at Cahokia.
Cahokia Mounds State Park, Collinsville, Illinois, USA 
Photo by L.T. Ward


Will Tonalli, her mother, and her siblings, Warm Weather Gods, complete their spring journey back to Cahokia, and what will happen if they don't?

Excerpt from "Return To Cahokia" 
by L.T. Ward ... 
“Tonalli, my daughter,” my mother calls, “have you prepared yourself for our journey?”
“Yes, Mama,” I tell her. Mama knows my siblings and I are all ready for our return to Cahokia. It has been nearly eight months since our last visit, and we are--literally--bursting with anticipation to return.
Since our departure from our summer home, my family has traveled long distances over the earth, until we reached the dark, chilly waters in the east. We rode the clouds south, toward the warmer climates, as is our duty as the Warm Weather Gods. We spent our winter lounging and resting over the lands, providing the luxurious humidity and heat our people need. Wintering over the southern lands, they reward us with offerings of their bountiful harvest. Cocoa is my favorite, but my mother, Yolotl, loves the offering of guava.
But now, spring is nearing and we get to finally return to our favorite home.
“Come along, Tonalli,” my mother says. I follow her obediently, walking carefully atop the clouds. My father, Yaxkin, never joins us. He has to remain behind to lighten the days, reflecting his warmth to his brother, Metztli, to brighten the nights. Mama will guide us, though. My many siblings and I will make the journey every spring to Cahokia without Papa, but he will visit as best he can. He usually makes time several weeks in the late summer, just before we prepare our eastward trek to the sea. And he will join us for the Arrival Celebration.


LT hails from the Land of Corn,
otherwise known as Central Illinois,
where weather inspires her literary works. 

When not writing speculative fiction
shorts and novels, she spends her days
raising a brood of plague monsters
(a.k.a. her children) as well as
satisfying her never-ending thirst
for knowledge through reading,
meeting people, and first-hand life experiences.

Coming on Wednesday, April 1, 2020 . . .

Our authors will share their favorite middle grade books.

* * * * * * * * * *

Upcoming Blog Interviews and Virtual Tours:

1. March 16 - Yvonne Ventresca

2. May 4 - June McCrary Jacobs

3. May 6 - C. Lee McKenzie, Author

4. May 6 - Literary Rambles – Natalie Aguirre

5. May 11 - Juneta Key

* * * * * * * * * *

The release date for VOYAGERS: The Third Ghost 
is May 5, 2020,
but purchase links are available,
and you can preorder a copy now.

Print 9781939844729 $13.95
EBook 9781939844736 $4.99
Juvenile Fiction - Historical / Action & Adventure / Fantasy & Magic
Dancing Lemur Press/Freedom Fox Press

Amazon - Print

Barnes & Noble -

ITunes -

Kobo -


  1. What a journey! (And really glad you found our site when you Googled those words.) I thought the mounds were in a more exotic location - now I've learned something today.

  2. Thanks for supporting Liz, Alex! You've been wonderful about encouraging each author!

  3. I am so glad your daughter is pursuing her acting dreams. It's so important to do that! And I'm so glad you have pursued your dream to write! I'm looking forward to reading your story!

  4. You became a great example for your daughter.

  5. Wow, wow, and wow! What a fabulous story and inspiration you are to your daughter! And I LOVE the idea behind your story and am SO looking forward to reading it.

  6. Pursuing our dreams are what lifts us up and aspire. May your daughter 'break a leg'. Looking forward to another tasty tale. Cahokia has fascinated me for a while as a book-bound archaeological/history addict, as have the American cultures everywhere as well before 1492.

  7. I'm glad you showed your daughter how important it is to stick to your dreams.

  8. Cahokia is such an interesting time. The Gears have several books that center on it but I always wanted more. This sounds great.

  9. I’m so glad you let your daughter’s needs inspire you! We do have to be careful what we model for them—I realized that I had taught my younger son to be hyper-critical of his own mistakes, by my tendency to beat myself up for my screw-ups. I really tried to change, though I don’t think I was as successful as you are!

    Looking forward to reading the story in its entirety!


Delighted to hear from you!