How was your 2023? Full of surprises–some unwelcome? Challenges? Disappointments? I suppose we’ve all had our share of those. Too often we get stuck looking at the negative when there is always something(s) to be grateful for. I know if I gave it some serious thought and started to list my blessings, there would be pages of them. Everything from family to health to friends and especially, God’s love. So my challenge to myself in 2024 is to remember to count my blessings. Like I read somewhere: Gratitude helps us see what there is instead of what there isn’t.
Among the many things I’m grateful for is my writing. It is my safe place. A place where I pretend I have some control. My office is quiet (mostly). Yes, there are days when it’s a struggle to find words, to find motivation, and simply to get my characters behaving the way I think they should.
2023 has seen the release of 9 Mail Order Brides stories. They’ve been fun to write (and, to be honest, sometimes frustrating.) The last in the series releases Jan. 9, 2024.
I have begun a new series. Watch for news and information on that.
To you, I wish a blessed, happy, gratitude-filled 2024.
We had a busy summer here but then what summer isn’t busy here? Here are a few highlights of how I spent my summer.
We are developing an acreage next door complete with house, outbuildings, etc. It’s a LOT of work. Dare I believe the end is in sight?
The garden was bountiful. Something I am always grateful for despite the work involved.
We had visitors and attended a couple reunions. That’s always enjoyable.
There was a Grade Nine graduation for two granddaughters who were lovely to behold.
A tornado touched down nearby, destroying several homes and leaving behind an unbelievable swath of destruction. Such powerful tornados are relatively rare here. Thankfully. Our community rallied around the disaster zone and with hundreds of volunteers cleaned up the debris in about a month. I am so proud to be part of such a supportive community.
We lost a few friends and relatives. It’s always hard to say a final goodbye.
Now fall is upon us. My favorite time of year. I’m hoping to get back into the writing grove. Montana Mail Order Brides series is still releasing and I’m happy to announced I am working on a new series. I’ll have more news about that in the new year.
I recently released my 100th book. Did I ever think I’d reach this milestone? Absolutely not. (I’m as surprised as you are. lol) I couldn’t have done it without the help of many people. Friends (you know who you are), editors, fellow writers (again, you know who you are), my readers–especially my readers, and so many others.
My kids put on a wonderful surprise celebration. (I was so honored). A meet-and-greet at our local library with so many surprise visits, tea at the Banff Springs Hotel (about as special as one can get), and a nice video tribute. You can see the video here 100th book release tribute- LINDA FORD AUTHOR – YouTube
What is this book you ask? It’s Mail-Order Bride Substitute which was a challenge to write because of things going on in my family at the time. I hope my hard work has created a good story to read.
Once upon a time there was a young girl who lived on the prairies—the flat prairies of which any number of jokes had evolved. ‘My dog ran away last week and I can still see him.’
She’d been to visit her grandparents which meant traveling through the mountains. One time it was on a train when she was five. She was terrified when she looked down from the train when it crossed a trestle and she could see nothing holding her up. Of course, that girl was me. Several trips were made through the mountains via car. They were both awe-inspiring and a little frightening. One road we took was switch backs and blind corners when you couldn’t see what was coming. It was only wide enough for one vehicle. If we met someone coming from the other direction—usually a big truck—my dad had to back up to the nearest wide spot that allowed the two vehicles to pass. Imagine! He backed up on a very curvy, narrow road. (I still get tense at the thought.) And yet, I love the mountains.
My first job out of highschool was working at a remote resort in the mountains. I spent my days off in Banff and thus began my life-long love affair with that town. To this day, I try and make an annual trip to Banff or at least to some area of the mountains.
So it shouldn’t come as any surprise that many of my books are set in the mountains, mostly in Alberta and Montana.
The Montana Mail Order Brides series is set in Montana, on a ranch that sits at the foot of the mountains.
The third title in the series is my 100th book. It will release Mar. 26th. How exciting is that?
The heroine is also an artist and finds many things in her new home that fuel her creativity.
I have a new series being released over the next few months: Montana Mail-Order Brides.
In the west there were lots of men but few women and most of the latter were married. Men in all walks of life wanted to build homes in the new land, but without a wife, their homes were lonely bachelor shacks. Some of these men wrote back home to friends and family seeking a young woman willing to move west and marry them. Those without friends and family to appeal to, advertised in eastern newspapers and would begin correspondence with a suitable candidate.
Women answering these ads weren’t finding spouses at home or were wanting to leave home for some reason such as strict parents, a scandal or simply wanting adventure.
Many of these marriages went well especially if each party had been honest in how they presented themselves. But of course, there were others that went badly.
Enterprising individuals or those with a concern for proper representation of each party became involved in arranging these marriages. At least one organization arranged to bring prospective wives via ship to California. Unfortunately, these plans often went awry.
In my upcoming series, you will meet the four Shannon brothers on their ranch in western Montana plus men who worked with them. You will laugh and cry at the situations these men found themselves in when the woman they brought west to marry didn’t turn out quite the way they expected.
You can begin the series with Montana Mail-Order Bride Mommy which release Jan. 4, 2023 and is available for preorder now.
Talking about books—and weren’t we? —makes me think how things have changed. I think of books going from scrolls that were read in the temple to books being hand copied by monks to the invention of the printing press and now? E-books, free books, libraries galore.
Can you imagine living when books weren’t unavailable? Even when there were books to be had, the pioneers were limited in what they could find which was usually a small collection shared amongst neighbors. Compare that to my childhood when I went to the pubic library and brought home a dozen books at a time.
As I said, it got me to thinking. So I researched more about books (information that is readily available, thanks to Google, etc.)
To have a book you need something to write on. Apparently the Chinese were the first to create a product by using a number of things including mulberries, hemp, bark and even fish to form a big pulp, that could be pressed and dried to form paper. Or maybe it was the Egyptians and the paper they made out of the papyrus plant.
Hand written texts were copied by monks and then someone realized they could carve every letter backwards on wood, use ink and stamp the words on paper.
Then Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press making possible mass production of printed material. Thank you, Mr. Gutenberg.
Now we have digital books. Print-on-demand. And an endless supply of reading material to select from. What an age we live in.
I read somewhere that books are one of the most important inventions of all time and I tend to agree. We have the Bible in our language and in our own homes. What a blessing. We learn about our world, we are uplifted and entertained through the power of the written word.
I grew up in a small town. I guess it`s something that sticks with you in so many ways—saying hello to people in the street, talking to the check out girl, helping someone across the street. One thing that has really stuck with me is the enjoyment of walking in town.
My small town may or may not have looked like this photo. 🙂
I now live a few miles from town and usually walk along our country road. It`s a great time to think through story problems and meditate, but I love walking along the sidewalks of town. I like the smells—lilacs, petunias, fresh cut grass, pine trees, poplars and barbecued steak. I enjoy the variety of flowers I see—petunias, daisies, roses, and many I don`t recognize—in a rainbow of colors. I enjoy seeing how people have individualized their yards—an elephant planter with his back full of pink flowers, a riot of flower-filled planters spilling down some steps, a peak-through trellis to a little outdoor room, a yard completely done in pink or white.
Then there are the little surprises—the log cabin serving as a garden shed/garage. The owners had it out on their farm and took it apart log by log and brought it to town with them. There`s the wagon wheel set in a high board fence through which I catch a tease of a lovely patio burgeoning with flowers. There`s the house with birds inside the window, or the one with the cat lounging on the back of the couch watching me pass.
Of course, there are a few things that jangle my nerves. One yard has plastic flowers `growing` in the flower beds. Ugh. Another house owner says she doesn`t have time for yard work. She`d sooner be golfing. So she`s turned it into a California-desertscape with a gravel lawn.
Besides the yards in town, I also have access to the Olds College botanical gardens and the wetlands project. I don’t get there nearly often enough to see the many changes throughout the seasons.
The sights and smells and sounds flood my senses and make me want to go home and write. So I get a two-fold benefit from the walk—brain stimulation and body exercise.
Question for my readers and friends: what do you find that sends you into creative mode and/or relaxes you?
I am so pleased to be able to offer a collection of stories in the series Timeless Love Stories.
THE SUN STILL SHINES is the first book I ever had published. It’s 25 years ago so I’m celebrating this anniversary by offering the book again in three formats–ebook, paperback and hardcover. The next in the series is WESTERN BRIDES–two novellas. One–THE BRIDE’S SONG–is the first novella I had published. It was released in a number of different collections. I am happy to have the rights back and am now able to offer it again along with a brand new novella–THE BRIDE’S JOY. Both of these stories feature heroines who have their preconceived ideas of love and security challenged.
The next book is the series is WHEN IT’S SPRINGTIME IN THE ROCKIES. This story emerged from the never-before-published archives buried deep within the files on my computer. I wrote it originally in the hopes of selling it based on the title which is also the title of a song. You can listen to the song on YouTube ‘When It’s Springtime In The Rockies’ The lyrics hint at the story.
The fourth book is PEACE IN THE VALLEY, another never-before-published book from my archives. I really enjoyed writing and yes, editing this book. It contains so many of my favorite themes–motherless children, a determined young woman, a stubborn-yet-likeable man, and a trip to the mountains. I might even consider this the story of my heart. I won’t tell you anything more about the story at this time but I hope you find it tugs at your heartstrings and fills you with peace.
I love historicals. I feel like I have more freedom to make up events than I do with contemporaries. And there is a wider breadth of dramatic events to choose from. For instance, what in our present world compares to the scope of adventure in a wagon trek westward, the challenges of living in a sod shanty, or the sheer grit of surviving endless dust storms? I greatly admire the hardy men and women who conquered such challenges.
I also feel a strong connection to the past through the lives of my parents and grandparents. My father was especially interested in history. Our road trips almost certainly would include stops at museums and other points of interest. My Dad`s recollection of the significant events beat any dry old plaque reciting the information.
I also got a taste of real pioneer life as a child. My father did road maintenance work in rural areas. My parents—brave souls—gathered up us children and took us along and we lived in a VERY primitive bunkhouse. There were absolutely no modern conveniences (you have to remember this was about 200 years ago. lol) We experienced firsthand some of the tasks our pioneer forefathers did.
Writing historical stories gives me a reason to poke through museums and archives, read old letters, and interview seniors. It gives me an excuse to go to pioneer parks, and other historical sites for more than the view or the entertainment. When I`m working on a story, I feel a real connection to the past.
Of course, not everyone agrees. I had one reader write me and briskly inform me that there was nothing romantic about the `good old days`. The hard work was numbing; the hardships devastating. Life simply wasn`t pleasant. Which brings me back to the admiration I feel for these people, their hardy spirits and their absolute stubborn joy because it always hits me when I read their stories that few of them are bitter or complaining. They are simply facing and accepting the challenges of their situation, striving to make things better and in the midst of it all, clinging to a sure faith. As many of these people say in their stories, God was their strength and their shield. In Him they found strength and hope. I`m convinced their lives have much to teach us.
The final story in the Buffalo Gals of Bonners Ferry series releases today. Click on any of the three covers to the right to find these books.