About Me

Marilyn beach photo 1My desire to capture the drama associated with the lives of the familial and the changing culture of the American West in the 1950s and ’60s have been driving forces for my writing.

I grew up on my grandparents’ ranch in eastern Oregon, serious cattle country and home to Basque sheepherders, until spring 1954 when my parents moved our young family to an even larger cattle ranch in northwest Wyoming–the setting for my debut novel, Hardpan, published by Westerly Directions Press in 2015, and my upcoming middle-grade children’s book, The Clark Valley Chronicles.

A short film based on a chapter from Hardpan was selected for the Director’s Award and the Cinematography Award at the UCLA Film Festival. Based on reader feedback for Hardpan, I’m working on my second novel,  Jo, featuring one of the main characters from the novel, Jo Glover.

Recent publications include a personal essay, “Second Chance,” in the April 2019 Round Table Literary Journal, and a small collection of haiku poems entitled “Nordic Impressions” in the 2019 Redwood Writers Poetry Anthology.

A short story, “Meeting at Midnight,” was published in the 2018 Redwood Writers Anthology, Redemption–Stories from the Edge. Previous short stories, “The Drop-off” and “The Invisible Delivery Man,” appeared in the 2016 Redwood Writers Anthology, Untold Stories.

A literary travel article, “Sentimental Journey,” based on my Wyoming book tour in Summer 2016 was published online by Medium.

Along with an MA in English from Cal State-East Bay, I have taken creative writing courses through UCLA’s Extension Program, and participated in the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference (NVWC) and the Mendocino Coast Writer’s Conference (MCWC) to learn more about the craft of writing.

In July 2019 my short story, “Crazed Cat,” won second place for nonfiction in the Mendocino Coast Writing Contest from among 74 entries. Before that, I was honored to be invited by the NVWC to participate as a First Books Panelist at their annual writer’s conference in July 2017.

After ending my career in university administration five years ago, I moved from San Francisco to Sonoma County with my husband Bob and soon joined the Redwood Writers, a large and active branch of the California Writers Club based in Santa Rosa. I’m currently Vice President of the club, and co-chaired the biennial Pen to Published Writer’s Conference in April 2018. I’m also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI); and have benefited from membership in the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) and the Left Coast Writers, hosted by Book Passage in Corte Madera.

12 Responses to About Me

  1. Rebecca norbye says:

    Hi Marilyn Rebecca Hallin but now Nordbye here Cindy Reber younger sister. Saw your post on facebook to Lauren about your book! How exciting! not sure if you knew I live in WA now Federal Way and got married about 1 yrs ago. I have lived here 6 yrs now. I had been in CO for about 19 yrs but was time to move closer to family. hope you are doing well

    • mskinnerlanier says:

      Hi Rebecca,
      What a pleasant surprise! Yes, of course I remember you, though it’s been a long time! Wonderful to hear from you again, and that you’re in Washington, near Cindy. We left Colorado in 1995; like you, I wanted to be closer to family. Bob and I are doing well. We live in Sonoma County now. Maybe we can see you again sometime! Hope you enjoy reading my book. I’ll have hardcover and paperback versions in September!

  2. Gard 3 says:

    Hey Marilyn, dad told me about your book, am very stoked to read it. Thanks for telling these stories, they’re lost on our kids’ generation (they have no clue why Rifleman was a great show or what it takes to really do a full day’s work)

    All my best,


    • mskinnerlanier says:

      Hi G3,
      What a great Christmas surprise! I’m pleased that your dad told you about my book, and that you’re excited about reading it. Very cool. I hope you’ll enjoy it. You’ll probably recognize the JV setting in parts I and III, and maybe some of the characters, though I have to remind my own family members that it’s fiction. That’s the fun of fiction–the author gets to create the scenes and develop the characters as she wishes:) Are you living in Boise? I hope to have a book reading there next year, and would love to see you again! Happy new year to you and your whole family, Marilyn

  3. Donna Markle says:

    Marilyn: feel free to use my letter as needed.

    • mskinnerlanier says:

      Thanks so much, Donna. I’ll post it on my web site tomorrow. I love that we both grew up in rural Wyoming in the 1950s, and that the story of the young ranch family in Hardpan–Kurt and Jo Glover–resonated with you. Best wishes, Marilyn

  4. Hello Marilyn:
    I got your name from a list of reviewers and wondered if you review children’s books. I am the author of a middle grade novel for which I am currently seeking reviews. Thanks for your time. Jessie L. Best

    • mskinnerlanier says:

      Hi Jessie,
      I haven’t done a review of children’s books before, but am willing to give it a try if you still need a review for your children’s novel.
      Where did you see my name on a list of reviewers (just curious!)?
      Best wishes, Marilyn

  5. Judy House says:

    Hi Marilyn,
    You left a copy of your book, “Hardpan” at Book Passage in Corte Madera for review. Unfortunately, your contact information has been lost. I would appreciate your giving me your email address so that I may communicate with you.
    Judy House

  6. Joanne collins says:

    I purchased Hardpan at the Sonoma County Fair and we spoke about living in houses built with square nails that were original Homestead homes. I read the book Sunday and Monday. You had me in the first paragraph!
    I can’t begin to tell you how many times I drove through Jordan Valley and stopped for gas and snacks. Such stunning beauty.
    The true name of a Basque family and the name Skinner made memories flow. I lived in Boise and at one time had a neighbor named Steve Skinner who was from a ranching family in JordanValley!
    I really enjoyed the story and believe it is ideal for Middle School through 109.

    • mskinnerlanier says:

      A belated thanks, Joanne. I left for my big trip to Scandinavia shortly after the Sonoma County Fair ended and somehow missed your very thoughtful comments until reviewing everything this new year! So sorry! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed Hardpan and that you think it’s ideal for Middle Grades, etc.

      I’m fascinated by your connections to Jordan Valley and Boise. Many years ago, my first cousin, Steve Skinner, and his wife lived in the Rock House that my family lived in during my early childhood. Steve’s mother, Virginia (my auntie Virge) was Basque; she married my dad’s brother, Gardner Skinner, and they had 5 sons & one daughter. Both my aunt and uncle are deceased, and Steve (as well as several of his siblings) has lived in Boise for many years! My dad, Jim Skinner and his three siblings–Tom (“Tuck”), Gardner, and Rae grew up on the Skinner ranch in JV in the 1920s and 1930s. They lived with my grandparents, Tom & Violet Skinner, in the 2-story white ranch house next to the Rock House. By the way, several years ago, Steve and his brother Rick reconfigured the Rock House to create the coffee shop that you’ve undoubtedly visited during your stops in JV! I hope we can connect again sometime in the future–maybe at this year’s Sonoma County Fair or at Redwood Writers in Santa Rosa!

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