Welcome back, Linda. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
I’m currently finishing up the second novel in a series, this one set in 1914. This year’s novella, A Christmas Measure of Love, is a prequel to it. I plan at least three novels and three novellas in this series before I move on to other stories waiting on the sidelines. I’ve heard many family tales I want to use as launching pads.
Tell us a little about your family.
I was reared on a farm in Raymondville, a small
Rio Grande Valley
community in the southernmost tip of Texas.
We were the rural version of the 1950s TV shows, Father Knows Best or Ozzie and
Harriet. I attended
and graduated as a speech pathologist in 1968. Fast forward twenty-six
years—past marriage, kids, military family life, and a divorce—to Abilene
Christian University Oak Hills Church in San
Antonio and one mighty fine man who reached out and
welcomed me. And claimed my heart. Al and I have been married 23 years now, and
I can’t imagine how I ever lived without him.
My two grown children—son Lane and daughter Lynn Lee—are veterinarians practicing together in
Antonio. Between them, I have six beautiful
grandchildren, three of whom are triplets. Al and I simply adore them all.
Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
I write historical fiction, so historical isn’t usually my “go-to” genre for reading for pleasure. Instead, I reach for legal suspense and crime novels. I love Robert Whitlow, Randy Singer, and Steven James. But Lena Nelson Dooley’s historicals go perfectly with a cup o’ tea.
Thank you, Linda. What are you working on right now?
My brain’s aswirl with ideas for the completion of novel #2 and diving into #3. The heroines of these stories are secondary characters from Novel #1—The Calling of Ella McFarland. All three novels are threaded with the hard realities of life in Indian Territory prior to
statehood and the following two decades. They highlight some of the
consequences of women’s exclusion from their own governance by being denied the
vote. And they put on display the strength of certain women whose names might
not appear in history books or on historical websites documenting women’s
battle for the vote, but who contributed to the Suffrage Movement all the same.
The ramifications of women taking their places at the ballot box can’t be overstated.
What outside interests do you have?
Without a doubt, family claims the lion’s share of my outside interests. But I have always loved to read more than anything in the world. I can’t imagine not reading. Dante’s Inferno would definitely include empty bookshelves for me.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
Thus far, the settings for my novels and novellas have been based in family history. As a child, I was intrigued by my mother’s and grandmother’s stories about life in Indian Territory prior to
Oklahoma statehood and in its first two
decades, as well as in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas in the 1920s, the Great
Depression, and beyond. I’m a native Texan with experiences of my own in the ’40s,
’50s, and ’60s that I believe readers will be drawn to.
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
I would love to spend an evening with two women—Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s mother—and Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, his stepmother who reared him from age 9 to adulthood. Those two women together molded the greatest figure in American history. Oh, the stories they could tell.
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
I had no idea how intricate and complicated and exhausting and emotionally draining and consuming of thoughts and energy the process of writing a novel can be. I guess I’d compare it to having a baby. While you’re embroiled in the process, you wonder what came over you to put yourself in this position. But when it’s complete, the memories of pain and agony disappear, and all you see is that beautiful baby book.
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
Writing hurts. But it also lifts the spirit in similar ways to other creative activities. Like art. Sometimes I think of Michelangelo on the scaffolding in the Sistine Chapel and remind myself even he groaned—surely—but look what he produced and how many spirits have soared as a result. Which always brings me back to THE Creator and how my pitiful efforts pale in comparison to His. And how dependent I am on Him for my 71-year-old body and brain to continue to function. The Lord is teaching me to meet Him in the moment as I write.
What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
Determine why you want to write. If the answer lies somewhere between monetary reward and accolades, you’d best think again.
Believe it when you’re told you must be patient. Quality writing is work, and it takes time. Publishing is a s-l-o-w business.
Critiques are painful, so prepare yourself. Chuck your pride. Other eyes see what you don’t. Other brains process what you miss. And other tastes … Well, other tastes are just plain different. Return to (1) and have another go.
Tell us about the featured book.
I often heard from readers of The Calling of Ella McFarland that they wanted to know more about Ella and Andrew and their love. And don’t we all just love Christmas and all that goes with it? A Christmas to Remember became that Christmas novella that picks up with Ella and Andrew 3 years into their marriage. I figured this year another novella as a prequel for the next novel sounded like a good idea, and A Christmas Measure of Love was the result.
I combined the two in one title—A Rock Creek Christmas Collection—to cover the years between Ella’s emergence in 1905 and the closing of her story in 1906 to Lily’s stepping onto the stage as a main character in 1914.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Since this is a pairing of two novellas, how about I give you the first couple paragraphs of both?
A Christmas to Remember:
4 days until Christmas
The line of delicate stitches blurred to a crimson smudge.
Ella Evans adjusted her spectacles and squinted.
The oil lamp cast naught but a feeble glow in a room pitched in black. Sunlight would course through the window come morning, but Ella could delay no longer. Christmas was coming.
Flipping open a cloisonné magnifying glass, Ella peered at her handwork. The outline of an embroidered E emerged, neat and straight.
Aye. She would complete her husband Andrew’s monogram tonight.
A Christmas Measure of Love:
Other girls measure their heights, waistlines, and bosoms. I measure my scars. And wonder why my pa never loved me.
Eighteen years old today, I’m perched alone on a parlor settee reserved for the birthday girl. Adelaide Fitzgerald, my benefactor, has invited
’s socially elite to celebrate at
Broadview, her grand estate on the banks of Rock Creek. Glover County, Oklahoma
Trouble is, when these precisely coiffed young women were girls romping at garden parties, I was toiling in a cotton field across the way.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
To purchase The Calling of Ella McFarland: http://amzn.to/2ixn4pe
To purchase A Christmas to Remember: http://amzn.to/2yxAk8h
To purchase A Christmas Measure of Love: http://amzn.to/2j3vwjK
To purchase A Rock Creek Christmas Collection: http://amzn.to/2zRedXt
Thank you so much,
What a blessing to be allotted two of your slots before Christmas!
Have a blessed and joyous Christmas and 2018.
Thank you, Linda, for sharing the stories from your family in such a wonderful way. I have loved reading them, and I know my blog readers will, too.
Readers, here are links to the book.A Rock Creek Christmas Collection: A Christmas to Remember & A Christmas Measure of Love - Paperback
A Rock Creek Christmas Collection: A Christmas to Remember & A Christmas Measure of Love - Kindle
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