As a young girl, Linda was often found lying on her bed reading about fascinating characters having exciting adventures in places far away and in other time periods. In later years, she read and then started writing romances and achieved her first publication--a confession story. Married with 4 adult children and 2 granddaughters, Linda now writes heartwarming contemporary and historical stories with a touch of humor from her home in the southern California mountains.
Linda's question, which is to be answered to enter this week's drawing: Which of the mentioned inventions do you feel is essential to your life?
Please leave your comment with your email address in the form of name[at]domain[dot]com to qualify for an ebook version of Linda's novel, The Ring That Binds.
Linda, it’s great to have you at Novel PASTimes today. Could you share with us some of the surprises you’ve encountered along the road to publishing?
Before I started writing fiction, I’d had a command of business English through years of secretarial work and had published several non-fiction articles. My biggest surprise was how different the two types of writing are and all the various craft tricks that needed to be mastered to relay character emotion. The learning curve was long—until I learned the technique of using deep point of view to gain reader empathy. Then my stories started placing in contests run by chapters of the Romance Writers of America.
Widow Celina Innes, a dress shop owner in the small 1886 mining town of Aspen, Colorado, struggles to run her shop and live down her late husband’s bad choices for the sake of her four-year old daughter, Keena. She made the mistake of following after one man’s dream of striking it rich and has sworn not to do it again. Co-owner of Toussaint’s General Store, Mikel, watches this proud woman run a successful business but wishes he could make her life a little easier. He has to be contented by slipping treats to the child in hopes of pleasing her mama. When illness strikes the child, Celina turns to Mikel for help and they work together all night to get past the crisis, deepening their friendship. But when the crisis is over, Mikel disappears from Aspen and Celina learns he is seeking to increase his stores. How could she have been so wrong about the man? Can a woman sworn to put down roots and a man looking for more riches find happiness?The Ring That Binds is set at Christmas time in 1886 Aspen, Colorado. What drew you to write about this time period and the location of your story?
I love placing stories in the post-Civil war period through the late-1880s. Since I was a child, I loved to read about the settling of the American West and the resulting ghost towns. These decades saw the invention of so many “modern” items which are still being used in our current lives—telegraph & telephone, gas engine, proliferation of treadle sewing machine followed by the electric one, ready-made clothing, wireless radio, bicycles. Since the release of The Ring That Binds, I have written a story, Wishes On A Star, set in 1895 Montana that’s part of a holiday anthology titled Sweetwater Springs Christmas.
As to the location, I wanted to write about a woman who had been affected by her husband’s feverish pursuit but not about actually “panning” for gold. So I read about gold rushes in various parts of the west that came after the 1849 one in California and found in the 1876 Leadville, Colorado strike what I was looking for. In this strike, the metal discovered was silver and when precious metal is discovered in one place, the surrounding areas are explored too.
That’s what happened with Aspen. The mountains of the Castle Creek Valley had similar rock formations as Leadville and a group of determined miners explored there, establishing the first settlement in the winter of 1879. Further research revealed a successful, but short-lived, mining community called Ashcroft not far away; and that became the place Melvin and Celina Innes gained enough money to move to Aspen and build their two-story building that had space for his accountant’s office, her dressmaker shop and their upstairs apartment. When The Ring That Binds opens, Celina has been a widow for almost two years.
Have you found that similar themes appear throughout your writing? Why? Or why not?
I once read that making the heroine an orphan is good characterization because if her parents were still alive, she wouldn’t be struggling to figure things out. So, if the main character’s parents aren’t dead, I usually place them geographically or emotionally distant. Then a contrast is that the other main character has the opposite situation. Like in While You Were Sleeping where the Sandra Bullock character yearns for a family and envies the one Peter Gallagher and Bill Pullman have. This plotting technique is a bit autobiographical, because I am the middle child and was the rebel whose ideals didn’t really mesh with the rest of the family. I like creating a heroine who struggles to be independent but ends up having to ask for help at some point.
A combination of ancestors who farmed in the Midwest, a father who shared his appreciation for history by teaching me what could be learned about a town by walking through an old cemetery, and my own inquisitive nature. In elementary school, we had to research 3 or 4 generations of our family tree. I became fascinated, and asked my parents about family stories and didn’t stop until I discovered the branch who emigrated in an Atlantic-crossing ship.
If you’re anything like I am, one favorite book is hard to pick! Do you have two or three top picks among the historical genre that you would care to recommend?
What do you consider the best resources for historical research?