I am happily married to my first and only husband. We live on a small ranch near the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Canada. I love where we live and I love my house though I am only too happy to pay someone else to clean it for me.
What drew me to writing?
I suppose I always showed a creative streak. All my life I have been stimulated by beauty, form and shape. As a kid I thought I’d like to paint or draw everything I saw but learned I couldn’t do that to my satisfaction so turned to finding words to create pictures. I made up stories for my baby doll and my paper dolls (doesn’t that date me?). And to put myself to sleep, I made up stories in my head. I thought everyone did that.
But writing wasn’t my big dream growing up. No. My dream was quite different. I wanted to run an orphanage with a dozen kids. That was the dream I pursued. I got sideswiped by love, however, and got married. I thought it meant giving up my dream but I’m not one to let detours stop me. So we ended up raising a family of fourteen—4 homemade and 10 adopted so I guess I got my dream.
Many of the kids we adopted were older and came with unique challenges which made life… well, challenging. I recall a time when life was so challenging I could hardly bear it. About 6 kids were teenagers and acting out in weird and wonderful ways. Unless you’ve had the same kind of troubled kids you wouldn’t believe me if I told you some of the details. So I will spare you (and me) the specifics. At that time, a friend showed me an announcement some people wanting to start a writing group. I wasn’t much interested but said I would go to keep my friend company.
From the word go, I was hooked. We listened to a tape about how to organize ideas for a book. It all sounded so neat and orderly and predictable. I thought I could use neat, orderly and predictable in my life. So I went home and worked on a non-fiction idea. For a few years I wrote human-interest stories for the local newspaper. And I took courses. I’d always loved romances and slowly my interest grew in learning to write one.
Learning is the word to note. I knew nothing. My brain had been stolen by raising kids. (It happens to a lot of mothers I’ve heard). But I persevered. As the world’s slowest learner it took me some time to learn to write a decent story and I’m still learning. It’s a bit like raising kids—the more experience you have, the less you know. I am published with Heartsong Presents and Love Inspired Historicals and I am happily creating more stories and living in my imagery world where life is a lot more controllable than the real world.
What inspires my writing most of all?
First—a signed contract and a deadline.
But I am still stimulated by environment. Visiting a beautiful garden, seeing a sunset, sitting under a leafy tree, browsing a fabric/yarn store…so many things fire up my imagination. I purposely seek out ways to ‘fill the creative well.’ Research also stimulates ideas. I recently visited a small museum and saw so many pioneer items and photos. Immediately I am in another world thinking how it would be.
I have done a few research trips and I love that. Having a purpose when I visit a museum or an historical site makes it so much more interesting. People are so helpful and usually give me personal attention. On a trip to the Dakotas I stopped at a small (tiny) town and found the museum. I told the woman behind the desk what I sought and she dug out all sorts of documents and photocopied them for me. Priceless information. When I travel, I take detailed notes—everything from how the place smells to what sort of flora and fauna to the color of the soil. And of course pictures. When I get home I immediately put it all together in a binder. The printed information such as travel brochures, photocopies, etc go into 3-ring plastic sleeves and I mount the pictures and note as much detail as I can. This becomes a wonderful research resource. Now if I were really ambitious I would take my notes from reading and the internet and put them in the same binder but so far I haven’t bothered.
When I’m not working… I’m working—LOL–on something else. I have a live in client (paraplegic with both legs amputated) and he requires attention. We grow a huge vegetable garden so my summer is busy with planting, weeding, picking and freezing.
But I do have some favorite activities.
Walking is high on the list. Walking down our country road is a great way to think through writing problems. But I also like to walk in town and admire the landscaping, etc. It might sound strange but walking down the back alleys gives me a more personal glimpse at the people who live there and always stimulates ideas for me. Now don’t think I lurk down the alleys like some kind of peeping tom. In fact, my favorite walks in town are some of the lovely walking paths. There, how harmless is that?
I always journal and in the slower winter months I sometimes take my journaling to a new level. Just looking through one of those journals trying to pick an illustration to share with you makes me want to sit down with scissors and colored pens and do a page. Just for fun.
I also love to travel. My home responsibilities don’t allow me to be away for very long but you can pack a lot into a 6-day holiday. One of my favorites was a trip to Paris. There’s something about that city that speaks to my soul. I was hard pressed to go an hour without wanting to sit at an outside café and write. Here’s a picture of me in Paris enjoying the ambience. I’ve done my best to recreate a bit of Paris at home but it lacks something—setting perhaps?
Besides all that, one of my favorite activities is family dinners. I love to have as many of the family as can come gather round our tables. We use two or three folding banquet tables and set them up down the center of the living room so we can seat 20 or more at a time. It is a great deal of fun. And a lot of work but it’s worth it.
My writing day.
I try and spend my morning hours at the computer. I have converted a tiny bedroom into my office. If need be, I can close and lock the door. I don’t usually have to. I have an open-door policy because of the other demands on my time. On the whole, those who share my house and my life respect my writing time but when they need me or have a question, I am here. I have learned to work around interruptions, as I must answer the phone re farm business, re my client’s medical needs, etc. If I’m really on a roll with my writing or have an impending deadline, I might put in a few more hours in the afternoon but very seldom in the evening. About six p.m. give or take an hour, my brain turns to mush. I unwind by watching TV, reading or going for a walk.
The one thing I would change is the window in my office. It is too high to see out as I sit at my computer and being so affected by what I see, this makes me feel coped up. So after twelve years of wishing I could see out the window this year I am putting in a big one that will come down to the top of my desk. I hoped it would be in by now but no one let me know that they were waiting for my final okay to order it and then it missed the truck and then the glass got broken when they unloaded it and now the contractor who was going to install it is gone out of town. Sigh. But soon I’ll have it. I’m sure of it. When it’s finally in place I’ll be announcing it and showing a picture on my blog—connected to my website.
Someone recently talked about how they celebrate finishing a book. For me, if it’s completed by sending a manuscript in the mail (or courier) I usually go to a favorite coffee shop and order a large latte. Otherwise, I celebrate by catching up on my housework. LOL. Or even worse, the farm books. At least it makes me VERY eager to get back at my writing.
I am currently working on a series of books set in the Dakotas in the late 1800s. Each of these stories has a child that needs special attention because they are in physical or emotional danger. (As I write this I realize it sounds very autobiographical.) I have no publication date for these stories yet. Again, announcements will be made on my blog or website.
My next release is The Journey Home in August–#2 in a 3 book series set in the Depression era. These were great stories to write as the life challenges of that era were so profound—economic disaster, drought, unemployment. And yet people faced them with pride and perseverance. It makes for some very strong characters in fiction. I suppose I’ve combined a number of things in The Journey Home that are autobiographical. The hero is part native (as are some of our adopted children). He’s been raised by white parents and doesn’t know where he fits because of his mixed heritage. There is also a secret child. And unfulfilled dreams. Plus the constraints of a society that dictated a woman’s acceptable role.
Linda is giving away an autographed copy of THE JOURNEY HOME to one reader who comments today!