Finding the Story–with Linda Ford

I am fascinated to hear how authors get the idea for a particular story. I can never quite remember how it all started. Usually the seminal idea is a little flash or a scene, one that often doesn’t make it into the book but gives me a feel for the story. For instance I wrote a book Unchained Hearts (Heartsong Presents #268)  (Also available in the recollection Alberta Brides)  that began in my mind as a dream where I saw this scarred, withdrawn man hiding in a cave with a pretty young woman. She is trying to console him as he sits huddled in the opening of the cave looking out at something that fills them with trepidation. So I had to figure out this story and write it.

It’s one of the few I can remember WHY I started writing it.

Except for my Jan. Love Inspired Historical release. I had a contract for 3 books set in the Depression Era. I had only written one (The Road to Love). I came up with the second, The Journey Home. But I was near the end of the second story and still had no idea for the third when Emma walked on to the final pages of The Journey Home as Charlotte’s new friend and bridesmaid. This is what it says in my book, “Emma had joined the hospital staff during the summer, and she and Charlotte soon became fast friends. Emma, practical to the core, seldom bothered to dress up. She usually kept her thick blond hair in a tight bun, as suited a nurse, she insisted when Charlotte tried to talk her into letting I hang loose. But Emma had allowed Charlotte to have her way for the wedding and her hair hung in shimmering waves halfway down her back.”

So I had my heroine. Now I needed a hero and into my computer leapt Boothe Wallace, a widower who is running from his life back east. Not for his own sake but because of his little son, Jessie. I immediately knew why because both my husband and myself have relatives who were born in the Depression and taken by friends because of economic circumstances. In both cases, the parents were powerless to prevent it as the courts considered such things as how many children the biological family had as opposed to the family wanting to adopt the child. As well, they considered the fact that the adoptive family was better off financially. This happened far too often and left permanent scars in the child and the family who lost their child. But it seemed a natural fit for my story.

I needed something to happen to Boothe’s wife that would make him resent the medical profession. About that time I was visiting my daughter and son-in-law (who is a doctor) and we talked about medical mistakes in the 30s. While I was visiting, he received a medical journal that mentioned the history of quinine—guess what? The drug was used widely in the 30’s and caused death in certain cases. (I love synchronicity.)

I needed one last element—something that made Emma irresolutely committed to being a nurse to the exclusion of marriage. I again drew from my own experiences and the guilt one feels when things go badly wrong and one feels they are responsible for that bad event. I don’t want to give any more details from my book on this matter because it is a secret that isn’t revealed in the story until close to the end.

Doing research was also fun. Of course I had done extensive research on the drought and how it affected residents of the Great Plains but now I had to research medical things. One books was Yes, Father, Pioneer Nursing in Alberta written by Alvine Cyr Gahagan.  I don’t remember where I found the copy I originally read but enjoyed it so much I wanted my own. I searched for it on Alibris and found a copy at a nearby city so didn’t have to pay postage. And it’s signed by the author. How cool is that? The book is full of personal details and specific details about nursing in that era. Some of the things she shares emphasizes the difficulties of the era. She mentions that a grateful mother had crocheted a bit of lace around a little hanky as a gift. The material used was a bleached salt bag. She talks about dressing a lye burn. Lye was used freely in making soap and bleaching the wide unfinished floorboards. Lye burns and scalds were too frequent as boiling water was used widely on washday or when rags were dyed for making braided rugs.

Dust Bowl Diary by Ann Marie Low was another excellent book.  The author mentions in an early entry that she went to the first talking movie then at the end of the book mentions a movie in Technicolor. She worked part time in a library for twenty-five cents an hour and considered herself fortunate. Under a 1931 entry she says ‘The heat deaths in the country total 1,231. I mean humans. Lord only knows how many animals have died.’ Her description of the conditions is heartbreaking.

I found a children’s book that was excellent. It is part of the series Dear America and called Survival in the Storm, The Dust Bowl Diary of Grace Edwards.

Her descriptions of how they made things from flour sacks and working as a volunteer in the hospital where people were dying from or recovering from dust pneumonia were so good.

My story was fun to write because so much of it seemed to fall into my lap—a gift.

The book is due out Jan. 09, The Path to Her Heart.

Everyone who comments will be entered into a drawing for a copy of this book.



 Click on covers to Order from Amazon


+ posts

31 thoughts on “Finding the Story–with Linda Ford”

  1. It’s so interesting to a non-writer to hear about how your story develops! And all the research is fascinating.

  2. Hi Linda–

    Welcome to the Junction! We’re so happy to have you here and hope you enjoy it as much as we are.

    I love the title of your newest release. The cover is really neat. Love how your heroine the nurse and your hero is swinging the child between them. They look like they’re having fun. Besides, I just really enjoy Depression era stories. I’m going to have to have this one.

    Have a wonderful day and come back again to visit soon!

  3. Wow, Linda. How cool that so much was a gift, makes the book that much more special, doesn’t it? I also think it’s a sign it was meant to be written by you. I hope it continues to bring you many more gifts!

  4. Hi Linda, I loved your blog post. It just amazes me how authors come up with their ideas. I am a reader and could never be an author. I think it takes a special gift to be able to write and I think you have it. Your books sound wonderful and I am glad you stopped by the Junction to share with us.

  5. Hi everyone. You all must be an anxious as I to get back to a normal routine after the holidays.

    Karen. I love research. I can get lost in it. But it’s frustrating when I remember some little detail that I want to check and can’t remember when I read it.

    Anon. Thanks for congrats on my book. I hope you pick it up and I hope you enjoy it.

    Linda. I agree. My cover is wonderful. Love Inspired Historicals have some of the best covers out there IMHO. 🙂

    Michelle. I wish all books felt like a gift. The one I am currently working on does NOT. (For more details on this not-so-much-a-gift book see my blog (

    Quilt lady. Nice to see you again. I tell people that creativity is a muscle that develops with use.

  6. Hello, Linda! The Fillies really appreciate you giving us some of your weekend here in Wildflower Junction!

    I’ve noted your resource books, and I, too, have used the Dear America books in my research. My daughter has the full set, and each book is so well done! A true keepsake that offers fascinating glimpses into American life.

  7. Pam,
    How nice of you to have me here.

    There is a set of books written about Canadian history that is similiar to the Dear America series. It’s called…guess what?…Dear Canada. Equally as well done. (Probably both done by Scholastic). These are great resources.

  8. Hi Linda,
    Wow, it seems like you have taken some sad experiences and a hard part of our history and turned them into a a wonderful story. I realize it’s fiction, but you want to believe that there were some love stories born out of the Great Depression.

    Just thinking about how people survived then is an inspiration when we worry about our daily struggles now.

    Thanks for an inspiring post. Have a nice weekend.

  9. Za,
    I hope you don’t mind that I use the shortened version of your name. My dyslexi fingers would like not get the longer version right.

    I agree about Depression Era love stories–wonderfully strong overcomers make for wonderful heros and heroines. I am currently working on another Depression Era series (as yet uncontracted) and again am amazed at the things these people endured without feeling sorry for themselves. Great role models.

  10. It is amazing how creative authors can be… all the work, time and research put into the heart of one story! Congrats on your book!!! 😀

  11. Hi Linda an welcome,as a nurse myself,now retired due to a illness,but I loved it so much when I was able to work,this book sounds so interesting,nursing has come a long way,thanks so much

  12. LOL Linda do you know that every time I hear you talk about research I think about your “filing” system?!!!!

    I really really enjoyed Charlotte’s story so I’m looking forward to this one.

  13. Colleen, thanks for dropping by. Maybe you’ll win my book and can tell me if it’s good or not.

    Vickie, researching medical stuff was very interesting. It’s always a challenge to get the right details for the year I’m working in.

    Julie, my book is out mid-January. I hope it will be available in your area.

    Donna, can we say compulsive-obessive about reasearch. But finally organizing it has paid off in that I’ve been able to lay my hands on a few necessary details. I’m glad you enjoyed Charlotte’s story.

  14. Great post, Linda!
    I can remember making things out of flour sacks. I wasn’t born during the Depression, but during WWII.

  15. Linda, what a wonderful post. I am facinated by all that goes into the writing of a book. I envy the talent of the authors. I shall be searching out these books. looking forward to reading them.
    I, too remember sewing with flour sacks. In fact back in the 50’s my whole family of 8 wore clown suits that my mother had made from flour sacks for a clown celebration our hometown started.

  16. Estella and Connie,
    I love hearing about flour sacks. My parents lived in the Depression and my mother had very creative ways of using everything. I embroidered many teatowels from flour sacks.

  17. I love LS books. This one looks like a wonderful read. I’d love to win this book. Thanks.

    ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

  18. Hi Linda! Seeing that I have both “The Road to Love” and “The Journey Home” on my “Keeper Shelf,” I can’t wait to read this next one!

    I agree with you that some of the best covers of ANY romance novels these days have been on the “Love Inspired Historicals” — and yours have been no exception. The characters AND the era is captured so well by the artists.

    As for the “flour sack” thing — I remember my mom (born during the Depression in Arizona) telling us that my Grandma would seek out the flour sacks — while still at the store, filled with flour — with the best floral patterns to make my mom’s new dresses. We were horrified to hear that Mom had been so poor! We imagined her wearing pitiful shapeless garments made of coarse gunny sacks. But Mom laughed and assured us that the fabric was actually very nice, surprisingly soft, and went on to show us old photos of herself as a small child wearing cute little dresses that my Grandma had made from those flour sacks, having drawn her fashion inspiration from watching Shirley Temple movies at the local (Nogales) theater.

    Take care!

  19. WandaSue,
    What a nice post. Thank you for keeping my books on your keeper shelf. That really makes my day.

    And I love picturing your grandmother picking out the nicest pattern on the flour sack. And Shirley Temple. Ahh. One of the great things of the 30s. That and the Dionne Quintuplets.

  20. Hi Linda –
    I really enjoy picking up a Love Inspired Historical when I want a sweet nice easy read! Sounds like your books are set in an interesting time with “real” characters! I’ll be on the look out to pick them up!
    It is always interesting to learn how an author develops their plot and characters… and which comes first!

  21. Hi Linda! Wonderful post! It’s so fascinating to hear how one idea can be transformed into a book! Your book sounds so interesting. I can’t wait to read your Depression-era love story! Thank you for blogging here at P&P and sharing with us today!

  22. Hi Linda – loved the post. I have a copy of Alberta Brides in my TBR pile.

    And I’d love a copy of The Path to Her Heart. You’ve described the whole process so well. I like reading books when I know what the author went through to write it.

    Looking forward to reading it whether I win it or buy it.

  23. My 86 year old mom has told me about how everyone used those flour sacks for clothes or whatever was needed. I love hearing about all the research that goes into a book. I think that’s why I like historicals the most – they give you so many interesting facts from a different time.

  24. That sounds like a very interesting premise. I don’t think I’ve ever read a depression-set romance, though I have enjoyed many children’s books with that setting. I remember reading about flour sack dresses in Lois Lenski’s books about migrant children.

  25. I remember Mom talking about flour sacks and making tea towels out of them after. I’d love to read this book and some others you mention.

  26. Good Sunday morning ladies,
    It’s nice to see so many of you.

    Martha, thanks for dropping by. I know some authors start with plot but for me, it’s MOSTLY characters I start with though I usually have a nugget of an idea about plot.

    Deborah, it’s always fun to visit at P&P.

    Anita Mae. Hi, nice to see you. I always appreciate your comments.

    Jeanne, willaful and Robyn, 🙂 I’m thinking we could do a collection of stories about flour sacks. There were also salt sacks and oat sacks. Some had very pretty prints.

  27. Hi Linda,
    Ah, the flour sack! Some of my best tea towels were made out of flour sacks. Nice and soft and LARGE. Not the kind we find, now. I was born in the middle of the Depression, but in Bakersfield. The end of the journey for most coming to California. Some of the things these folks learned during that time could well be in the back of our minds right now, if the economy gets any worse. Your books can remind us how lucky we are right now for all that we have.
    That era shaped the way most elders think today about conserving. My own parents were like that. I’m in my 70’s and my mother passed recently at the age of 100. That woman knew how to do so many things and produce meals out of nothing. Something we have all gotten away from because of efficiency (?).
    Can’t wait to read your book.

  28. Mary J,
    I hear what you’re saying about questioning efficiency. I know young adults who eat only prepared food and I do not mean prepared at home. Besides the costs, I wonder about the health side affects of such a diet.

    I’ll check back a time or two before the end of the day but it looks like the visit is almost over. It’s been fun.

Comments are closed.