The center of attention wasn’t the colorful array of flowers at South Shore Greenhouse last week, but rather one person who sat perched on a colorful chair.
Polson resident and author Milana Marsenich was the guest of honor for a book signing, celebrating the release of her second book, “The Swan Keeper,” Friday, June 29.
“It’s always exciting when a local author gets published after working really hard for it,” she said following the book signing.
“The Swan Keeper” is the sophomore release of Marsenich, following last year’s “Copper Sky.”
The coming-of-age novel is set in the 1920s Mission Valley. Character Lillian Connelly protects trumpeter swans from a hunter who kills the fowl and leaves their carcasses for wildlife to ravage.
Marsenich said she was inspired to write the book after she volunteered with The Montana Waterfowl Foundation.
“Inspiration came from being around the swans and listening to John Jarvis (president of the foundation),” Marsenich explained.
“Copper Sky” was based in Butte, where Marsenich grew up.
“I have a fondness for the town and people, and its history,” she said.
Her books are published by Open Books and took nearly a decade to write her books.
“I find time to write on weekends and time off,” Marsenich, a mental health therapist, said.
When she has extra time off work, she fills time by jotting down her ideas usually during her favorite time to write: in the morning.
Marsenich’s process includes writing down a story line, which she said isn’t “any good at all” as a rough draft. “Then I rewrite. I really like rewriting alot.”
While she’s working on the rewriting, Marsenich said she can develop themes and imagery. “I do have a scene checklist that I use to check my scenes,” she said.
Sometimes, she’ll write from a first-person narrative “to get depth of the character,” then flip to the third person.
Marsenich holds a Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Montana.
“It gave me some credibilty,” she said.
While she was taking classes, Marsenich found that the workshop-atmosphere of the classes was hard at first because people can be critical. “It took me a while to get use to that process, but I’m glad I did it.”
As Marsenich wrote her books, she said that they weren’t published right away.
“When (Open Books) wrote and said (they) wanted to publish Copper Sky, I was just thrilled,” she said. “I was so happy someone finally said yes to me.”
The book signing last week was the second held at the greenhouse, and Marsenich said she signed and sold 38 books.
Marsenich has two fur babies, a husky named Sammy and a labrador/retriever mix called Chacko.
One of the swans in “The Swan Keeper” was named after her cat, Pearl.
Kathy Shore, owner of South Shore Greenhouse, said that hosting the night for her friend was an easy decision.
“We had a book signing last year and it was such a success we decided to do it again this year with her book,” Shore said.
Local businesses donated foods and wines, while staff at the greenhouse made appetizers to share with the 50-some people who turned out to support Marsenich.
“It is very awesome,” Shore said of the evening.
A portion of the proceeds from last week’s book signing will benefit The Montana Waterfowl Foundation, Marsenich said.
For information on the Montana Waterfowl Foundation, visit www.mtwaterfowl.org. Information about Marsenich and her novels can be found at open-bks.com.
“The Swan Keeper” is available at Super 1 Foods, 50331 U.S. Highway 93, Polson, South Shore Greenhouse, located at 39912 Montana Highway 35, and Print, at 329 Main Street SW, in Ronan.