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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Using Personal Stories In Writing: A Guest Post by Linda Lael Miller & A "Big Sky Country" Excerpt

I'm sure you've wondered, as I sometimes do, when reading whether the author has used anything from their personal life, real events, in their writing. Have you ever thought about whether or not an author should use personal events? Romance author Linda Lael Miller offers up her opinion today.

Photo from author website

As the daughter of a town marshal, Linda has come home to the western lifestyle that gave birth to one of today’s most successful authors. She left Washington years ago and pursued her wanderlust, living in Arizona and London and traveling the world. Now the author of more than 100 novels, the “First Lady of the West” is glad to be back home, writing contemporary and historical stories that have earned her awards and placements on all the national bestsellers lists.

Linda traces the birth of her writing career to the day when a Northport teacher told her that the stories she was writing were good, that she just might have a future in writing. Later, when she decided to write novels, she endured her share of rejection before she sold FLETCHER’S WOMAN in 1983 to Pocket Books. Since then, Linda has successfully published historicals, contemporaries, paranormals, and thrillers before coming home, in a literal sense, and concentrating on novels with a Western flavor. For her devotion to her craft, the Romance Writers of America awarded her their prestigious Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007.

Linda’s 2011 contemporary Creed Cowboy trilogy—A CREED IN STONE CREEK, CREED’S HONOR and THE CREED LEGACY, released in March, June and July, respectively—each debuted in the number one position on the New York Times bestseller list.

First up is Linda's guest post, then a brief excerpt and book info at the end. Enjoy!

 Using personal stories in writing: do or don’t?

Yes, I use personal stories in writing, but they’re usually heavily disguised or simply a jumping-off point for working out the plot.  For example, my dad told me lots of stories about his youth, and many of them served to inspire story ideas—especially the ones about old-time ranchers and the rodeo circuit.  A particular favorite concerned one of his employers, a bachelor farmer whose hay crop was ruined by a sudden hard rain, with some hail mixed in for good measure.  This man was outside his cabin when Dad saw him from a wisely-chosen hiding place nearby, stark naked except for work boots and socks, shaking his fist at the heavens and challenging God to “come down and fight, you so-and-so.” Modified, this became the opening scene in my historical romance, “Memory’s Embrace”, in which the hero is arguing with God.  In Keith Corbin’s case, though, his anger was tied in with a deep spiritual belief, since he was a minister.  Another favorite came from my mother, who was raised in Choteau, Montana.  It seems there was an elderly bar-fly who rode his horse to town every day of his life and tied him up in front of the saloon.  The old man eventually died, but the horse came to town anyway, for days on end, and stood there patiently waiting.  I used that one, too, in “The Man from Stone Creek”.  Any writings about story-telling and its effect on my writing would be incomplete without the fabulous tales my honorary grandmother, Florence Wiley, told about her childhood outside of Coffeyville, Kansas.  She actually remembered hearing the shots the day the Dalton brothers tried to rob the bank in town.  Later, the dead outlaws were strapped to boards and displayed along main street, to show the wages of sin is death.  Fortunately, grandma’s parents were forward-thinking people for their time and didn’t take the kids in from the farm to see the grim exhibition, but plenty of others did.  On another occasion, a man rode up to the gate and stood talking with Grandma’s pa, who was working in the field.   The man slept in the family barn that night, and his name was Jesse James.



Practically everybody I knew said I ought to put you up for adoption, once I knew John had intended to marry someone else all along, but I just couldn’t do it. I guess it was selfish of me, but you were my boy and I wanted to see you grow up.”

“I know,” Slade said, as he stooped to kiss her forehead. He’d heard all of it before, after all, and while he understood Callie’s personal regrets, the fact of the matter was, he was glad she’d kept him. She’d sacrificed a lot, working long hours to build the business that had supported them both, though just barely sometimes, passing up more than one chance to get married, move away from Parable and finally enjoy a degree of respectability.

Instead, she’d stuck it out, right there in the old hometown, where she believed she had every right to be, as did her son, whether John Carmody, his high-society bride or the snootier locals had liked it or not.


Book Blurb (from author website):

The illegitimate son of a wealthy rancher, Sheriff Slade Barlow grew up in a trailer hitched to the Curly-Burly hair salon his mother runs. He was never acknowledged by his father…until now. Suddenly, Slade has inherited half of Whisper Creek Ranch, one of the most prosperous in Parable, Montana. That doesn’t sit well with his half brother, Hutch, who grew up with all the rights of a Carmody—including the affections of Joslyn Kirk, homecoming queen, rodeo queen, beauty queen, whom Slade has never forgotten.

But Joslyn is barely holding her head up these days as she works to pay back everyone her crooked stepfather cheated. With a town to protect, plus a rebellious teenage stepdaughter, Slade has his hands full. But someone has to convince Joslyn that she’s responsible only for her own actions—such as her effect on this lawman’s guarded heart.

By: Linda Lael Miller
Publisher: HQN Books
ISBN: 9780373776436
Length: 248 pages
Release Date: May 29, 2012
Website & Blog
Buying Links:   Amazon   Barnes & Noble  Harlequin


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