WG: Welcome and thanks for stepping into my spotlight this month. To start off, please tell us about yourself.
LF: Thanks for having me. I live in Alberta, near Calgary, near the mountains. I have 14 children - 10 adopted, 4 biological. They are all grown up but two still live at home. I have 11 lovely grandchildren with more on the way. My husband is a rancher. I take care of a live in client - a paraplegic man with both legs amputated.
WG: Let's talk about your own personal road to publication:
Is there some individual, group or event that you can point to as the catalyst/impetus that set you on the road to becoming a writer?
LF: I started out knowing nothing about story but loving a romance. Thanks to various writing organizations and generous critiques I am finally learning the structure of a story. It's a journey I expect to be on the rest of my life.
WG: Tell us about your journey.
LF: Our adopted children came with lots of baggage that unfortunately did not go away with love, discipline or any other tool we had at our disposal. During one of those times when the dream seemed more like a nightmare, when several of the kids were teens and acting out in weird and awful ways, I got invited to a writer's meeting. I sat around a table with other people. I can't say if they were like-minded or not. I doubt it. We listened to a tape telling how to organize our thoughts into chapters and write a non-fiction book. It all sounded so ... so controllable. I went home, picked an idea. Something about my early childhood. And I started to write. From the beginning I was hooked. I had found a world I could control. Although I hadn't planned to write, I had always made up stories in my head, often late at night when I couldn't sleep. I thought everyone did the same thing. I credit my writing with keeping me relatively sane through that difficult time when my life seemed out of control. I still find my fictional worlds often make more sense than my real world. Am I the only one who feels this way? Or is this why we read and/or write? - to find a world that makes sense and where people act in ways we can understand because we are privy to their thoughts and motivations.
WG: How many books did you complete before you sold your first? Have all/any of them sold since?
LF: After many revisions and rewrites I actually sold my first book. But wrote many - MANY - others that have never, and will never, be published as I learned about story structure.
WG: Can you tell us something about your experience in getting 'the call'?
LF: I had two calls. The first from Heartsong Presents. I don't think I responded much to that as I was so stunned. About 10 years later I got my second call from Love Inspired Historicals and was absolutely giddy. Honestly, I don't think my feet touched the floor for several hours.
WG: How has being a published author impacted your life?
LF: Besides giving me a fictional world to which I escape it has validated the time I spend sequestered in my office.
WG: What aspect of life as a 'published author' surprised you the most - either in a good or bad way?
LF: I am still surprised at the amount of time and effort it takes to get a book ready to be published - the revisions, edits, line edits, etc. Also, I am surprised at the number of projects that I find I need to have on the go simultaneously.
WG: What about your writing process:
Do you maintain a set schedule? Is there such a thing as a typical day for you?
LF: A typical day sees me in the office most of the morning with lots of getting up to attend to other things and care for my client. If I have a lot of writing to do I might also spend the afternoon in and out of my office. My schedule, however, is of necessity, very flexible.
WG: Do you set writing goals for yourself?
LF: Yes and no. I am a tad bit OCD about my writing so when I am doing a first draft I practically live in my book. I have to get the story down before my head explodes with it so I write fast and furious and put in long hours.
WG: Do you have a 'mood setter', something (music, ritual, environment, etc) you use to get you going when you sit down to write?
LF: Nope. I can't afford to depend on moods. What works for me is turning on my computer and opening a document.
WG: Do you do a lot of up front plotting before you start or do you just dive in?
LF: I do some basic plotting. I know what has to happen at the various points. I just don't know what events will carry that information until I get into the story. I have a basic synopsis but I know my characters fairly well - their motivation and conflict.
WG: Do you normally start with storyline or with character or with some combination of the two?
LF: I start with a concept - two motivated characters in conflict then develop a beginning, middle and end.
WG: Do you find certain themes or character archetypes making recurring appearances in your stories?
LF: More and more I feel like I do - stories of learning to trust, and find and accept love despite adverse circumstances.
WG: What do you see as your own personal strengths as a writer?
LF: I'd have to say my biggest strength is my determination. I'm not easily discouraged. As to the stories themselves, I've been told I write deeply emotional stories with a touch of humor. I like that.
WG: Are there any obstacles/conflicts, specific to your particular lifestyle, that get in the way of your writing? If so, how do you try and overcome them?
LF: Well, I share my life with four men - my husband, two sons and my client. Doesn't that say it all? Lots of interruptions. Plus I like to spend time with my children and grandchildren and I raise a very large vegetable garden which requires a lot of time during the summer. I have learned to work around interruptions. I've also learned to set aside my writing for a day or two when I need to focus on other things.
WG: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about your process?
LF: I'm always trying to learn more and improve my craft.
WG: Do you have a favorite sub-genre as a writer? as a reader?
LF: I love a good historical read.
WG: Is there a genre you haven't been published in yet that you'd like to try your hand at someday?
WG: Do you have any advice to offer writers still striving toward publication?
LF: Write. Write. Write. It takes a lot of words to learn how to write well. Learn all you can from everyone you can. Don't miss opportunities. If you hear of an author doing a workshop nearby, go. If you're invited by someone to submit something for critiquing, do it. That sort of thing.
WG: Rejections, notes from unhappy readers and less than stellar reviews are all part of this business. What is your own method for dealing with these and moving on?
LF: When I get a rejection I phone my friend and whine a lot.
WG: Is there some piece of advice you received or bit of 'conventional wisdom' that you wish you had ignored?
LF: One thing I wish I'd learned earlier than I did was that no one person's method is right. What is right for me is what works for me and I've learned to value and guard my method.
WG: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about being a writer? What aspect do you struggle with the most?
LF: The most rewarding thing for me is escaping into a fictional world. Second to that is seeing my stories in an actual book.
The hardest is the stage of developing a story when I know I have one. I know the characters will work but I can't get it all together in a sound shape that will carry me from beginning to end in a logical fashion. This is the time when I moan and groan and pray a lot.
WG: When you're not writing, what do you do for fun or what is your favorite self-indulgence?
LF: Work. Ha. Ha. I love to travel especially if I can combine it with research. I spend time with family. I read. I like to walk.
WG: When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
LF: I wanted to run an orphanage. My story is on my website under bio.
WG: What would your readers be most surprised to learn about you?
LF: What? You mean learning I have 14 kids isn't enough of a surprise? lol
WG: What are your favorite movies and/or TV shows? Why?
LF: Corner Gas. The program points so strongly at funny things we often do.
WG: I love to collect quotes, all kinds of quotesinspirational, quirky, motivational, profound, etc. Do you have a personal favorite you'd like to share.
LF: I collect quotes too and some of my favorites come from Ralph Waldo
Emerson. 'Without ambition one starts nothing. Without work, one finishes nothing. The prize will not be sent to you.' 'For everything you've missed, you've gained something else.'
LF: I have several on the go. One series is about early ranchers in Alberta. Some of the historic ranches are still intact so it's lovely to visit them. Bar U is such a ranch that has become a national historic site so has been preserved much as it was back in the 1800s. It is situated in some of the prettiest country you can imagine. Lots of rolling hills tumbling up to the majestic Rocky Mountains. Little streams and bigger rivers. Trees - both deciduous and evergreen. I'm keenly affected by my surroundings and these places fill me with an urge to write.
WG: Please tell us about your current project.
WG: What inspired you to write this particular story?
LF: The setting as I've said. But also the history - Englishmen facing the new west. Mounties policing vast areas. Young women conquering challenges. There are three stories so far and they will be released in Jan. Fed and Mar. 2013 with Love Inspired Historicals. A prequel Christmas novella will come out in 2012.
WG: What sort of research, if any, did you have to do? Did you stumble across any unexpected interesting/fun tidbits along the way?
LF: As I've already said, I love to do on-site research. There is nothing like being in the very spot my stories take place. I love to visit museums. I have a large collection of history books, some quite rare. The things I love to stumble on are journals and diaries written by people in the era and setting I'm writing about.
WG: Tell us about your upcoming plans.
LF: I have a three book series - Three Brides for Three Cowboys - coming out in Jan., Feb. and March of 2012 - The Cowboy Tutor, The Cowboy Father, and The Cowboy Comes Home. Interestingly enough, I originally titled the series Wanted: A Few Good Men. This is a Depression Era series.
I also have a Dec. release. Glory and the Rawhide Preacher. This is with Heartsong Presents and is the first of a 3-book series. Unfortunately the line has folded so the second and third stories have been orphaned. I am planning to e-publish them so watch my website for updates on them.
As well, I am working on a historical western I hope to e-publish in the near future. Watch for Lasso My Heart. Coming soon to an e-reader near you.
WG: And before we close, tell us how your readers can get in touch with you.
LF: My website is www.lindaford.org. My email is email@example.com
WG: Thanks so much for spending time with me and my readers this month. It was fun 'chatting' with you, as always!
LF: My pleasure.