Meet the Author: Bear Lake Family Saga

To win an ebook or an Audible audiobook, answer this question: “Why do you like historical romances?” and your preference of ebook or audio.

Who is Author Linda Weaver Clarke?

I was raised among the Rocky Mountains of southern Idaho and live in Color Country in southern Utah. I am the author of 23 books. I have several genres that I write in—a Historical Romance series: Bear Lake Family Saga, a Mystery Suspense series: The Adventures of John and Julia Evans, a Cozy Mystery series: Amelia Moore Detective Series, and a Period/Adventure Romance: The Rebel Series. I am also a missionary at the Family Search Center. I help people find their ancestors and learn about their heritage.

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What draws readers to this historical romance series: Bear Lake Family Saga?

This series has strong female characters who have a destiny to fulfill. Each woman wants to make a difference in someone’s life. No matter the trial that comes her way, she is ready to fight for what she believes. I love the male characters. Even though they are strong and masculine, they have their tender moments that can melt your heart. Bear Lake Family Saga has plenty of adventure along with a tender love story.

What was the inspiration for this series?

My ancestors were my inspiration. I was writing their histories so my children would learn to appreciate their heritage. Their stories were intriguing and full of adventure. When I was done, I decided to write a historical romance series and give these true experiences to my fictional characters.

Give us a brief description of each story in this series.

Melinda and the Wild West (Book 1): Melinda is a schoolteacher. She has many challenges but it’s a rugged rancher who challenges Melinda with the one thing for which she was least prepared—love.

Edith and the Mysterious Stranger (Book 2): Edith is a nurse. When a mysterious stranger starts writing to Edith, she gets to know a man’s inner soul before making any harsh judgments. Whoever he is, this man is a mystery but is he as wonderful in person as he is in his letters?

Jenny’s Dream (Book 3): Jenny is an aspiring author. She has a dream to fulfill, but the only thing standing in her way is an unpleasant memory, which has haunted her since childhood. She must learn to forgive before she can follow her dream.

Sarah’s Special Gift (Book 4): Sarah is a beautiful and successful dance teacher but she is not an average young woman. Sarah is deaf, but this does not stop her from living life to its fullest. And it does not stop her from falling in love with a man who needs her help.

Elena, Woman of Courage (Book 5): The Roaring Twenties was a time of great change, when women raised their hemlines and bobbed their hair. As Elena fights to prove herself as the town’s first female doctor, the town’s most eligible bachelor finds it a challenge to see if he can win her heart.

Are your books in audiobook form?

Yes. I have a narrator who is narrating them for Audible. I have one narrator for Melinda and the Wild West, and then changed to a different narrator for the next four. Carolyn Kashner actually sings in Edith and the Mysterious Stranger, and she has such a lovely voice.

Who is the most intriguing character in this series?

I love all my female characters, but I feel that Elena from Elena Woman of Courage is the most interesting. She has to endure a lot of prejudice from the town bully who feels that women doctors have no right to practice medicine. But that isn’t all. This story takes place during the roaring twenties, and Elena has decided to be a part of this new generation by bobbing her hair and raising her hemlines. That takes a lot of courage. Of course, the town’s most eligible bachelor finds her most intriguing. He actually admires her tenacity. I admire Elena, as well.

(For history buffs: Bobbed hair caused a lot of commotion. A teacher in Jersey City was ordered to grow her hair back by the school board or she would be fired. Women with bobbed hair were fired from prestigious department stores without any warning. A preacher pounded the pulpit, saying that a “bobbed woman was a disgraced woman.” The raising of hemlines had its problems, as well.)

They developed a new vocabulary during the roaring twenties. What were some of the words you discovered while writing this story?

This was the fun part of writing Elena Woman of Courage. During this time period, theyLindaweb spoke a language foreign to their parents.  Here are some examples.

If you were excited about something, you say: Cat’s pajamas!

If you didn’t agree with someone, you say: Ah, horsefeathers!

If you were a feisty woman, you were referred to as: a bearcat.

If you were an attractive woman, you were referred to as: a doll.

Women were also referred to as: a tomato.

When John wanted to “spoon” with Elena, she said: The bank’s closed.

A woman’s body was referred to as a chassis and her legs were gams.

Where can readers find you?

My website has sample chapters to read:

My Audible Page:
My Book Trailer:

Breaking TWIG a Thought-Provoking Read

8 x 10 updatedby Deborah Epperson

Thanks, Heidi, for inviting me to be your guest today. I’m honored to share some thoughts on your blog about my book, Breaking TWIG.

Set in rural Georgia in the 1960s, Breaking TWIG is a coming-of-age novel about Becky (Twig) Cooper, a young woman trying to survive the physical and emotional abuse of her mother, Helen, a beautiful, calculating woman. Not even Twig’s vivid imagination, keen wit, and dark sense of humor is enough to help her survive the escalating assaults of Helen and a new stepbrother, Donald, but help comes from an unexpected source–Frank, her stepfather.

The first thing readers usually want to know is if the storyline is based on my personal experience? I am quick to say my mother was the polar opposite of Helen. My mother was loving, kind, and supportive. I had a large, wonderful extended family also, but it was my mother, Betty, who encouraged my writing. Mom passed away before Breaking TWIG was published, but she did get a chance to read it. The book is dedicated to her.

The second question I’m asked is what was the inspiration behind the story? Frankly, the idea stems from my college studies. I majored in biology and English and have always been interested in the issue of heredity verses environment in child development. Which one has the most influence on a child? At times, Becky (Twig) worries that she has inherited her mother’s “picker” ways and her gene for chicanery, but Becky also believes having one person who loves and believes in you is all a person needs to keep hope alive. Growing up, both Becky and Henry (a family friend) had one parent who berated and abused them, and one parent who gave them unconditional love and support. Helen had no such love or support system when she was a child. I wanted readers to think about how important the roles of unconditional love and a supportive environment—or the lack of these two influences—are in helping to shape a child’s development into an adult.

The largest writing difficulty was in regards to the changing relationship between Frank and Becky. It shocked some author photoreaders. I hadn’t planned that relationship, but as many writers have said — characters in a novel seem to take on a life of their own. Also, there are racially-charged words that are not politically correct in today’s society, but they were typical of the language used in the Deep South in this time-frame when traditions like segregation were colliding with Civil Rights, integration, and Vietnam.

My goals in writing are to remain true to my characters, and to tell a good story. A story that shows nobody is perfect, life is messy, and we all fail more often than we’d care to admit. But with faith, love, and perseverance, we can find the strength to continue toward our own truth with a bit more forgiveness and understanding for others and for ourselves.

Today, I’m working on a romance-suspense called Caddo Girl. It’s set in Louisiana in the 1970’s. After it’s completed, I’m doing a sequel to Breaking TWIG because so many readers have asked me to continue Becky’s story.  They have actually called me to ask if Johnny and Becky ever got together. I tell them I don’t know. My imagination hasn’t got that far yet.

Thanks for stopping by and have a blessed holiday season.~ Deborah

Thank you, Deborah, for sharing your writing journey with Breaking TWIG. I loved the book and I’m looking forward to reading your next one!

You can find Deborah on her Website, her blog, on Twitter @DDEpperson,  on Facebook, her e-mail, and the book is available in paperback and ebook on Amazon.

Published in: on December 13, 2013 at 6:30 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Weeping Willow Sings: A Fine Debut Novel

Weeping WillowI’m excited to feature Billie Grable and her debut novel, The Weeping Willow Sings. She and I were classmates in the University of Washington Commercial Fiction certification course in the early 2000s. It’s great to see the final product that came from that beginning.

Welcome, Billie. Where did the inspiration for your novel come from?

I have to say that the book evolved over a very long time. When I first started writing, I was doing a memoir. I wrote madly for days – pouring my life and soul onto paper. Then one night I heard a famous person being interviewed on TV about a memoir she’d published. The interviewer asked her “Is there anything you wish you could take out of your book?” Her immediate answer was something like Chapter 4 and 15 – I clearly remember her answering without hesitation and I thought, do I really want to put my life in print – and never be able to withdraw those private moments? Would I live to regret it? I now call that piece of work my ‘past purging’ and I must say it was not only liberating, but it rekindled my love for writing!

From that point, I tried to ‘convert’ my life to fiction. I remember one of the exercises we did in the Commercial Fiction class where we had one of our characters write us a letter. Becca (the main character that had been shaped from my life) ‘wrote’ to me. She told me in no uncertain terms that I’d already made all of those mistakes and that she wanted to make her own mistakes. The letter ended with her telling me if I couldn’t honor her request, to leave her out of the book. Imagine how surprised I was when I finished writing the letter – and how real those voices in my head became! J I took Becca’s advice and she became a secondary character.

John, Maggie’s father developed over time. I knew that he was going to die from the very beginning. What I didn’t realize was how attached to him I’d become and how his death haunted me. That is when I realized that he would remain a central character and his life after death experience one of the main themes.

Mental illness has had a huge stigma attached, but we are all becoming more aware and accepting. Was this a difficult subject to write about?

Not at all. And now I shall air some of my own family secrets. J My great aunt spent her later years at what used to be called the Oregon State Insane Asylum. I remember going there as a little girl (about five years old) and sitting with her. What I loved about her was her laughter. She’d start giggling and I would too. Then she’d break out into uncontrollable laughter and I’d join in. I never really knew why she was laughing but I just loved that she did. I didn’t find out until I had kids of my own that she was schizophrenic.

Remembering my great aunt and how, as a child, I had no point of reference to make me afraid of her, made me realize that there are types of mental illness that are feared. The sad part is she ended up in a mental hospital that used shock treatments as part of the therapy (and back then they did serious damage!). I like to think that her life would have ended up much differently had she been able to take advantage of today’s methods of treatment. Having said that, there are so many people who have mental illness and are too ashamed to come forward and seek treatment. That’s where John’s mental illness came into the story. I wanted him to be able to confront where he came from and what he’d done, so he could heal – and also provide healing to those he left behind.

Is there a message in your novel you want readers to grasp?

The single most important message to me is that love never dies. The other message is for people who have lost a loved one to suicide – being able to give them an opportunity to somehow make peace with such a tragic ending.

Have you always wanted to write?

Billie_photoYes! Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve made up stories in my head. And now, I have the ability to listen to those characters and give them a chance to tell their story. The part I love most is letting go of my need to control and allowing them to give me the shape of their life (and yes, I am a control freak J).

Are there any books or authors that inspired you?

I’ve read a ton of self-help books – my favorite authors are Wayne Dyer, Iyanla Vanzant, and Cheryl Richarson and Geneen Roth. Their messages have always spoken to me.

I loved What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson and of course The Lovey Bones. Stephen King creeps me out (in a really good way) and I loved Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Loved The Help (movie not so much) and Water for Elephants.

What helps you with the creative process?

When I first begin a story, I process a lot of it in my head. And then I start writing on notepads that are lying around my house. I prefer to write with pen and paper at first. There’s something about connecting the pen to paper that allows the creative process a direct connection. Just feels like the words flow from the pen.

Why do you write, what is it that makes you do it? (What do you like and dislike about writing?)

I write fiction because of the characters. I love allowing them to ‘speak’ to me. It’s such an adventure. The hard part is having a big enough chunk of time to really let it flow. I work full time and while it pays the bills, it takes a chunk out of my creative process.

What was the major thing you learned from our UW writing course?

The biggest lesson was the importance of character development. You can have a plot, but without really strong characters to carry it out, you really don’t have a compelling book to read.

What made you decide to self-publish?

My Mom. She’s 86 years old and has dementia. The one thing she hasn’t forgotten is that I wrote a novel. When I gave her a copy of The Weeping Willow Sings she cried! It was an incredible moment. She is declining fast and having given her that gift was a memory I will always cherish!

What are you doing to market your book?

I have business cards that I give to just about everyone I meet. I have a Facebook author page and also a personal page. I’ve done several book signings and had a write up in my hometown newspaper. It’s really, really hard work! But I absolutely love it.

What advice would you have for other beginning authors?

Take classes. Get into a critique group. Keep your butt in your chair and find the time to write!

Are you working on another project?

I have a second novel that’s about half done. And I have an idea for a series brewing as well.

Where can readers buy your novel?

You can buy it on line at any bookstore – but go to Amazon please! Here’s the link:

Your website, blog, Facebook, etc.

My Facebook author page is

I’ve had so much interested generated that Facebook created a page for The Weeping Willow Sings! Here’s the link:

Thanks so much for having me Heidi! It’s so much fun to reconnect. And I love Cowgirl Dreams!

Thank you, Billie. I’m looking forward to your next book.

The Art of Falling: a Must-Read Novel

Art of Fallling CoverI read a lot of books. I always have one going. Usually I go from one to the next, like another handful of potato chips and promptly forget what I’ve just read. It’s “mind candy,” pure entertainment, escape fiction.

But once in awhile I come across a book that stays with me—while I’m reading it and long after I’ve finished. It’s a story that grabs my heart and soul and I can’t get enough. I can’t put it down, but I don’t want it to end, and it stays in my periphery long afterward.

The Art of Falling by Kathryn Craft is such a novel.

I was honored to be able to read an Advance Reader Copy. I was swept up in the lyrical prose, twirled into the mounting drama, swooped high and low with the poignant, raw emotion of anguish, rejection, then hope and resilience.

Craft’s debut novel tells the story of a dancer’s life, her struggle with body image, her sacrifice and self-denial, her striving to “live up to” expectations from her mother, her dance teachers, her dance partners, herself.

The title itself is symbolism: a physical fall, learning to love and to accept, death that brings life, movement that brings joy.

Excerpt: “The mirror is prominent in every studio, front and center, like a reflective altar…. The pursuit of perfection is daunting and exhausting with no end in sight. Yet in spite of ourselves, we get up each day and try, while the joy of movement drains from our lives.”

Synopsis: All Penny has ever wanted to do is dance—and when that chance is taken from her, it pushes her to the brink of despair, from which she might never return. When she wakes up after a traumatic fall, bruised and battered but miraculously alive, Penny must confront the memories that have haunted her for years, using her love of movement to pick up the pieces of her shattered life.

The Art of Falling is due to be published in January, 2014. Pre-order links for THE ART OF FALLING, are live at Barnes & Noble and Amazon

This is a “must” for your To-Be-Read list! As one reviewer put it: “The Art of Falling is a story of friendship and personal growth, and a helluva good read.”

Published in: on August 23, 2013 at 6:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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Writing ‘Raising Wrecker’, a Labor of Love

Summer Wood is my guest this week. Summer is the author of Raising Wrecker, a contemporary novel that won a WILLA Literary Award this year, and writes about how this book came about.

by Summer Wood

summerAs a reader and a writer, I love stories that challenge my ordinary perception. As a mother, on the other hand, I find I’m perfectly okay with the status quo.  I don’t need surprise or revelation in that job description. I like it when things go smoothly.  I don’t like to have my feathers ruffled.

Except, of course (Mothers? Can you confirm this for me?) – they never do go completely smoothly, do they?

Raising Wrecker came about because of an unexpected bump in my personal motherhood curve.  And even though my writing rarely follows the contours of my life, the experience of being a foster parent was so emotionally acute that I turned to fiction to see my way through to a clearer understanding.

We entered the experience innocently enough. We had trained to become emergency foster care parents, thinking that if a local kid needed someplace to stay briefly while the family was in trouble, we could harbor him or her for a weekend or so.  With our three sons and their friends, our place was overrun with kids, anyway.  The screen door kept slamming as one neighbor child or another came or went.  What was one more for a couple of days?

One, maybe; but the first call we got was for four small brothers who needed a family to stay with.  Their parents were both battling drug problems, in trouble with the law, and the authorities had removed the kids upon confirmation of neglect.  Sally, the social worker, said that if we couldn’t take these boys – aged 4, 3, 2, and not-quite-1 – they’d be split up and sent to different homes.

You want us to take them for the weekend?

Indefinitely, she said, and coughed politely into her hand.

We thought hard. We consulted our sons. And then we said yes, and for nearly two winter months, these small boys – who came to us with pneumonia, an amazing roster of aberrant behaviors, a black trash bag of shorts, t-shirts, and ill-fitting sneakers, and the most cherubic little faces – lived in our home and rapidly took up residence in our hearts.

It’s a long story, the saga of their journey back and forth, into and out of their parents’ custody. We became friends of the family, kind of informal kin to the boys. We were on hand to help when a fifth child was born with medical complications. We rooted for the parents, celebrated with them, wept with them, and when, at last, the whole house of cards came tumbling down, we felt our hearts break for them as their parental rights were terminated and the boys were adopted out to separate families.

wrecker1I didn’t write this novel in conscious response to having fostered those children.  As any novel will, it grew out of a rank stew of personal experience, literary experiment, political inquiry, and meandering imagination – with a good dose of love, whimsy, fear, humor, and warped psychological obsession thrown in.  This imaginary child, Wrecker, arrived in a public

playground one June afternoon in 1965, and I wanted to know what would happen to him.  I wanted to know his mother, and how she lost him, and who would come to love and raise him, and what kind of man he would turn out to be.

Writing his mothers into being – both the one who gave him his start, and the one into whose arms he fell – meant coming to terms with the power of parents. It meant coming up hard against the truth that no parent, not one of us, is perfect. It meant facing head-on the fact that the mistakes we make can have grave consequences. It meant learning forgiveness as a kind of survival strategy.

I’ve come to believe that it is a radical expression of love to parent any child.  And that there’s no right way to do it.  It can only be done by trial and error, and error, and error, and trying again. And, yes; there will be unexpected bumps. There will be ruffled feathers.

And writing Wrecker himself? Writing Wrecker into being was a way for me to believe again in the possibilities open to children. I needed to reconnect with the hope that led us to step forward and say:  yes.  With whatever we can offer, for as long as we can, we’ll welcome these children into our lives.

It was an honor to have the chance to know those boys and their parents.  And the best way I knew to pay back that honor was to bring this other boy, Wrecker, into the world, and let him muscle his way, with grace and love and a good share of noise, into his future.

Published in: on January 4, 2013 at 6:01 am  Comments (3)  
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