Update: Marcia Gorrell will be available at The Marshall Democrat-News office, 121 N. Lafayette Ave., Marshall, to sign copies of her book. The book signing, with refreshments, will be from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18.
One regular feature of The Marshall Democrat-News that often elicits responses from readers is Marcia's Gorrell's popular "Semi View" column.
The column alternates between humorous accounts of a former suburban girl's adventures in farming and her advocacy for family farms in a time when farmers seem besieged by attacks from various interest groups.
The first "Semi View" column appeared in January 2008. Gorrell said former editor Chuck Mason encouraged her to start writing regular comments, but she had been writing stories about her family and its farming endeavors since the late 1980s.
Several were published in Farm Journal, and those will be included in the book, too.
The column's name comes from one of Gorrell's farm jobs, driving trucks to the elevator during harvest.
"One time when we got a new truck, as a surprise my husband put my name on the door," she said. That truck door has been the frame for Gorrell's column photo ever since.
Gorrell said her role models are women writers Erma Bombeck and Laura Ingalls Wilder. The latter wrote articles for Missouri Ruralist magazine long before she wrote her famous Little House on the Prairie books.
She also gets inspiration from agriculture advocate Trent Loos, who has visited the area numerous times, especially to participate in the Houston Mull Memorial Cattle Drive.
Gorrell follows the advice of advocates like Loos who urge farmers to "tell their stories."
That's what Gorrell's column is all about -- telling the story, including ups and downs, challenges and joys, of life on a Saline County farm.
"I'm pointing out that there are family farms left," she said, countering claims by some groups that all farms these days are corporate "factory" farms. "I decided it was time to start speaking up."
Some of her most popular columns, though, give a humorous spin to the typical experiences of farm families, from dealing with the challenges of living with a husband and two sons who are farmers through and through to the travails of farm life, like nursing ailing animals in the kitchen and dealing with chronically uncooperative weather.
She apparently succeeds at capturing the family farm experience.
"I'd say the biggest compliment I get is from people who say, 'I think you've been at my house,'" she said.
She notes that her family, husband Keith and sons Bill and Rob, get to read each column before she submits it for publication.
Because they are so often characters in the stories, she wants to make sure they are comfortable with how they are portrayed.
The book can be ordered at the MDN office, 121 N. Lafayette Ave., in Marshall. A discounted rate is available through Friday, Sept. 28. The cost until then will be $21 for the first copy and $17 each for additional copies.