To me, the saddest thing in the world is for someone to be all alone and/or far from home at Christmas. The holiday is supposed to be celebrated with others. When I sat down to think about what I could write, I saw this cowboy drifter, beaten down and riding through huge snow drifts. He's wearing a thin coat and freezing and can't find shelter for himself, his horse, and dog. That's where The Christmas Stranger started and Hank Destry was born. He has no hope, alone, cold, desperate. I just took that and let the story unfold.
Could you give me a short synopsis of the story for my readers?
Alone, in a blizzard, no shelter in sight, Hank Destry pushes in all his chips and comes up losing. Half-frozen, he falls from the saddle. He never figures on pretty Sidalee King riding by and digging him from under the snow. Her job in the mercantile is all she has but the drifter's plight touches her. Everyone needs someone to spend Christmas with. Could he be Miss Mamie's lost son? And what are the rocks Miss Mamie gives as payment for kindnesses? Mystery and love abound this Christmas season as two lonely people receive an unexpected gift.
What made you decide to do a Christmas themed book?
My editor, the fabulous Mary Altman, approached me about putting together this Christmas anthology last year and I gladly said yes. I love writing Christmas stories but rarely get the chance. Christmas is such a magical time for me. Miracles happen, faith is renewed, and hearts fill with glad tidings. I love the sights, sounds, smells--everything. So she did all the work and assembled the Sourcebooks authors. I'm very happy with the end result. I think all of these stories are exceptional.
What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?
Decorating the tree has to come first on my list. There's something about getting out all the ornaments that I've collected over the years. I have a memory attached to each one. On Christmas morning, I light a candle in memory of loved ones who've passed then I make sausage and cheese balls and have them with my coffee. After that, I go to my daughters' houses and open gifts. While the kiddos go off to play, we cook dinner. There's always lots of laughter involved and we recount some favorite memories of Christmases past. We don't plan that, but it always happens.
I'll be promoting the third book release and conclusion of my popular Men of Legend series - To Marry a Texas Outlaw, which just released this month. I'm hard at work on a brand new series called Texas Outlaw Legends. It's about a group of outlaws who are tired of running and want to have families and raise a crop of kids. They decide to build a town but first, they have to find wives. They turn to a sort of underground mail order bride service. It's a fun series to write. What's more unlikely than outlaws and mail-order brides?
Any special awards or achievements you’d like to mention?
I won the National Reader's Choice Award in 2002 for my second only book. Then in 2011, I became a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author - a dream come true. This past April I was on the cover of a western online magazine called Saddlebag Dispatches and they did a feature on me. That was thrilling.
Over the years, I've finaled and/or placed in the Holt, Bookseller's Best, and other writing contests too numerous to mention.
What’s the best writing tip you’ve learned or been given that you’d like to share?
Early on before I was even published, a successful author told me something that I'll never forget. Don't worry what someone else is writing or how high they're climbing. Keep my focus on my own work and career path. Other authors will always write better than me and I'll always write better than someone else. There's no room for jealousy in this business. We each just have to do the very best we can and let everything else go. This has served me well. Jealousy can eat you alive and I've watched it destroy so many writers.
What do you know now about writing and publishing you wish you had learned sooner?
I wish I'd known better how to navigate the publishing world sooner. I published my first three books without an agent and I didn't go a very good job representing myself. If you publish traditionally, an agent is critical or you may flounder like I did and maybe get taken advantage of. And now with ebooks, film, audio, foreign rights and everything added to my contracts, there is no way I can understand all that. I don't have time or energy to even try. I'm so grateful for the Talbot/Fortune Agency.
If you are serious about a making a career writing books, give it your all. If you go the Indie route and put them out yourself, please, please, please get good editors. I've tried to read so many ebooks and ended up stopping after just a chapter or two because they are poorly edited. There are typos galore, the story wanders, and the characters are weak. Any of this kills a good story. We are (or should be) professionals and should treat writing in a professional way or else give it up.
That’s all for today’s interview. If you would like to learn more about Linda’s books, here are some ways to get you there.
Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/lindabrodayauthor
On Twitter: http://twitter.com/lbroday
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Linda-Broday/e/B001JRXWB2Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1204489.Linda_Broday