Sunday, January 12, 2014

Ten Years A Writer

Ten years ago this week, I sat at a computer and stared at the blank screen, wondering where to begin. I had a title—And The Truth Will Set You Free. I had a character—Kate Reynolds. Kate because I’ve always like the name and Reynolds because it’s an old family name on my paternal grandmother’s side of the family.

I sat and stared because I wondered what story lay within this title and this character. And, then, I began to write:


“Every journey begins with one step...”

Kate read the words beneath a calendar picture of footprints on a path that ran alongside a narrow river and disappeared into a pristine wood. The trees glowed in varying shades of orange, yellow and red, and a covered bridge spanning a creek was visible in the distance. Even though it was March, Kate had, for some reason, kept this picture from October hanging on the wall behind her desk. She took a minute every morning, with the cup of Starbucks she picked up on her way into the State Office Building, and reflected upon the picture and the words beneath it. She envisioned herself stepping onto this path and into the footprints. Where would they take her? What journey awaited her step?

~ * ~
I had no idea at the time how writing these words would impact my life, would open a door in my own soul and allow the passion I’d so long held hostage to escape. I had no idea I was taking that first step into what has been an amazing ten year journey.

All I knew when I began to write And The Truth Will Set You Free is that I wanted to see if I could write a book. I didn’t know there were actual rules for writing. I was pretty much clueless about the parameters for various genres. I just knew I had this story I wanted to tell. Kate’s story. In a way, my story. During the writing of this first book, I often found myself laughing out loud, weeping, feeling frustrated and unsure. I thought I was writing the story Kate was telling me about her journey. Two years after the first writing while I was buried in edits—my first experience working with a real editor—I came to realize that my story and Kate’s story were irrevocably intertwined. Kate’s journey was my dream. And she graciously allowed me to ride along and take notes.

I ventured into this world of writing and graduated from writer to author completely clueless. I thank God for the generous writers and publishers (Wings ePress, Champagne Books, Turquoise Morning Press) and editors who were kind enough to turn me and point me in the right direction time and time again. I was stunned when this first book published in 2007 finaled for an EPIC eBook Award in 2008 in Mainstream Fiction. I knew the joy and energy I felt through following my passion for writing. I think you know something is right when it gives back far more than it demands. This is what writing does for me. I could no more stop writing than I could stop breathing.

I sometimes think I waited far too long to set off on this amazing, demanding, rewarding venture as a writer. But I’m also a believer that things happen in their own time or when the time is right. I’m not announcing my age when I began writing, let’s just say I came into the profession well-seasoned.

With twenty books written, seventeen of those already published and a file of ‘to-be-written’ ideas that, if printed on paper would stack from floor to ceiling, I can only say I think I’m onto something here. I love writing women’s fiction because I think we women can be so simple and at once so deeply complicated. I love the way women will stand up for one another and call each other out in the name of truth. I love the honesty in women’s fiction. But I’m also a romantic at heart and why fight it? I tried to blame my romance author critique partners, but I have to admit that writing romance is just so darned much fun. This past year I even delved into the paranormal realm, a place I never thought I’d go. But with a likable ghost (think Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle), it wasn’t nearly as scary as I anticipated. Who knows where I’ll go next? I do love a challenge.

I was recently asked what I would say to my younger self. Without giving it much thought at all, the following words came to mind: Trust yourself more, worry less about what others think, and do not let fear hold you back.

I could look back with regret and wish I’d known this many years earlier, or I can embrace these words now and live in them, every single moment. A friend gave me a cross-stitched wall hanging that says: The past cannot be changed; the future is whatever you want it to be. I intend for my future to be grounded in trusting myself, letting the opinions of others bear no weight, and running headlong into and through the fears that hold me back. My image for this is of a ‘well-seasoned’ woman flying along on a bicycle with hands raised, head back, laughing. Hang on with me, ‘cause it’s going to be a wild ride!

Now, the fun part. To thank all of my readers and faithful followers and those of you who took the time to read this post and offer a comment, I'll be drawing a name to give away a signed copy of any of my print books (or an ebook, if preferred). It's easy, just post a comment, then click here EMAIL and send me an email with 'I commented' in the subject line. I'll announce a winner on Sunday, January 19. (The email just lets me know how to contact you.)



Kat Hall said...

Congrats on your 10th anniversary of writing. I love to read your stories. You are an awesome story teller.

Carol said...

Congratulations for being courageous enough to set your thoughts to paper and for being a wonderful friend willing to help any author that asks for help. Best of luck with each and every fantastic storyline you come up with.

Ellen said...

This was heartfelt and passionately written. So proud of you, friend. Best, best, best in the future!

joyce said...


Congrats on your writing success. It is inspiring and wonderful to write a book. Thanks from a fellow CB author.

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Congratulations on a productive and "delighting" ten years.

The ghost of Nathan fallon is haunting me already.

Unknown said...

Happy anniversary, Linda! The world needs great women's fiction and I hope you'll continue to write great stories for many, many more years to come.

Nikki said...

Whatever doubts you started out with, you've grown into a wonderful writer, Linda. Keep exploring new worlds. Congratulations on all you've achieved.

Jude Johnson said...

Well done, Linda, and congratulations on your anniversary. I agree, we come to things when we're meant to appreciate them. I, too, only started writing ten years ago; perhaps we simply needed a good well of life experiences to draw from repeatedly. ;)
Happy Anniversary and Keep 'Em Coming!


Author JM Kelley said...

Congratulations on such an amazing milestone!

Allison said...

Congrats! Funny how writers all seem to do a lot of things the same. In my first book my heroine also had a family name. But when I started, I got to stare at a blank piece of paper and a bunch of typewriter keys.

May you have a whole bunch more years of many more books!

Unknown said...

Love your books and more love for Binky blog!!! Thanks.

Unknown said...

I'm so thankful you pursed your dream and gifted us with such wonderful stories! I'm looking forward to your next book! Congrats!

linda_rettstatt said...

A drum roll please. And the winner is.......JOYCE.
Congratulations! You win your choice of any ebook or trade paperback of mine. I'll email you so you can let me know your preference of book and format.

Thanks everyone for stopping by and for your wonderful comments.