Saturday, October 31, 2009

Author Interview: Daniela Norris

Today's interview is with Daniela Norris, author of "A Reason to Go On", a short story in the Never Hit by Lightning anthology. Visit her on the web at

Jennifer Walker: Tell me about the story you have in Never Hit by Lightning. What is it about, and what inspired it?

Daniela Norris:
A Reason to Go On is one of my earlier stories, written about five years ago. At the time, my writing was leaning towards darker tales, and this one is about a young man whose job as a high-earning banker caused him to focus on the wrong things in life. It drove him to a mental institution, where he was able to escape all demands and expectations for a whole year. But as soon as he leaves the institution, he meets someone who gives him a new perspective on life – and on death. It explores such themes as what keeps us going, what drives us on and what switches us off.

Jennifer Walker: Did you have any misgivings about submitting your work? How did you get over them?

Daniela Norris:
I love submitting work to new markets and to competitions. Deadlines are important to me as a writer, because they oblige me to focus on a story, finish it, polish it and send it off. Without deadlines, I would be lingering within my tales for years and never sending them out. In fact, A Reason to Go On is one such story – it was hard to part with, and never felt quite finished – until recently.

Jennifer Walker: How did you learn about this anthology, and what made you submit?

Daniela Norris:
I’ve submitted a different story to an anthology in the UK. It was accepted, but then the production of the anthology was canceled. That’s when Tucker Lieberman and Andrew Tivey, the editors of Never Hit by Lightning, invited submissions from all those whose work was previously accepted for the original anthology. I submitted three stories, and A Reason to Go On was selected.

Jennifer Walker: Tell me about other writing projects you have--past, present and future.

Daniela Norris:
I’ve written dozens of short stories. Some of them have been published in magazines and anthologies; some were shortlisted or won prizes in competitions. Others are still doing the rounds. The most recent success is a short story titled Gathering Storm, now shortlisted for the Bridgeport Prize in the UK.

I love writing short stories, but have recently turned to longer works and I have two books coming out in 2010 – Patient Zero, a political thriller, due out in January 2010 from Mosaic Press, and Crossing Qalandiya, co-authored with my dear friend Shireen Anabtawi, due out from Reportage Press in the UK in March 2010.

Jennifer Walker: What is your educational background and writing experience?

Daniela Norris:
I have trained as a political scientist, and am a former diplomat and adviser to one of the Permanent Missions to the United Nations in Geneva. I left my day-job two years ago, in order to write full time – and to spend more time with my two young boys. However, current affairs remain my passion, and inspire much of my writing – both fiction and non-fiction.

Jennifer Walker: What do you do for a living?

Daniela Norris:
I read and write – fiction, non-fiction and book reviews. I do book reviews on WRS, Swiss radio in English, for The Short Review website and some other writing related gigs. It is the best job ever – but it does pay less than most jobs, at least for time being.

Jennifer Walker: To what do you attribute your success as a writer so far?

Daniela Norris:
I think it is important to realize that writing is a life-long process, and perseverance is the most important attribute that a debut-writer should posses. Your writing can improve with time and dedication – but if you give up upon the first – or even twentieth – rejection, you will never see your work in print. If you are passionate about your writing and willing to work hard at it, you will succeed.

Jennifer Walker: Tell me about your family. Are they supportive of your writing?

Daniela Norris: Yes, they are. I am very lucky to have a husband who carries the main financial burden while I work on becoming a widely published author… and a son who at the age of six already writes his own stories. He hasn’t sold any yet, but he will.

Jennifer Walker: What is your favorite genre of book to read?

Daniela Norris:
I read everything – but tend to enjoy non-fiction and current affairs related fiction more than general fiction or romance. I always have a big pile of books on my bedside table, and I know I am behind on my reading when it becomes dangerously wobbly. I read six books a month on average, and wish I had time to read more.

Jennifer Walker: Tell me one thing about yourself that you think most people don't know.

Daniela Norris:
I had done many different jobs before the age of thirty, and they all provide constant inspiration years after I gave them up. I worked as a waitress, translator, air-hostess, rode a big motorcycle across the country in an advertising campaign and was even in the army for just over two years. And I’ve always taken copious notes for future use, as I knew that at the end of all that, I will become a writer one day.

Thanks to Daniela for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Author Interview: Abigail Stevens

Today's interview is with Abigail Stevens, whose story "At the Hospital" appeared in the Anthology Never Hit by Lightning. Thanks to Abbey for stopping by!

Jennifer Walker: Tell me about the story you have in Never Hit by Lightning. What is it about, and what inspired it?

Abigail Stevens:
There was a writing exercise in the book What If that asked the writer to write in the voice of someone you don't like. At one time I worked in Boston at a hospital as an admin assistant and would go to the Children's Hospital cafeteria for their far superior food/menu. It was late afternoon one day and I was on a break. I was walking across the caf eating area. I was the only one walking toward the kitchen and I heard this kid say, "Heh, look at HER. She's so fat she looks like a duck!" I turned and looked this teenaged boy right in the eyes and gave the sternest 'f--- you' glare I could muster. He had his arm around some girl who giggled while he smirked. I was fuming angry and never forgot the incident. When I thought about him, I thought about him being alone --no girl-- and why he might be in the Children's Hospital cafeteria. In my story, "At the Hospital", he was angry at fat people because they seemed relatively healthy but making themselves fat while his brother was up in a hospital bed getting treated for leukemia.

Jennifer Walker: Did you have any misgivings about submitting your work? How did you get over them?

Abigail Stevens:
Tucker Lieberman, one of the editors of Never Hit By Lightening, is a good friend of mine. Even so, submitting your work is always nerve-wracking. But I emailed him a bunch of stories and "At the Hospital" fit the theme perfectly so there you go. I am delighted to be included. Next, I would like to submit my work to "The Sun Magazine". I have had a subscription with them since 2003. I am nervous about sending them off but I have nothing to lose. You just need to take a deep breath, print out your stories and submit them.

Jennifer Walker: How did you learn about this anthology, and what made you submit?

Abigail Stevens:
Again, Tucker Lieberman is a good friend who told me he was putting together a zine. I really appreciate his encouragement and the tiny editing he did on my story for clarification.

Jennifer Walker: Tell me about other writing projects you have--past, present and future.

Abigail Stevens:
I have a novella (78 pages) that I do not know what to do with. It's too long to be a short story and too short to be a novel. I've tried expanding it but a writer knows when their work is done. I have nothing to add or subtract from my novella. I need to search out writing contests that accept novellas I suppose. I even thought of turning it into a screenplay. We'll see...

Jennifer Walker: Tell me about your education and writing background.

Abigail Stevens:
I have a BFA in Writing from Emerson College. I have had essays and short stories published in local publications.

Jennifer Walker: What do you do for a living?

Abigail Stevens:
I was laid off a couple of years ago. I have been doing temporary administrative assistant jobs. I am currently unemployed and collectiong unemployment. I went on a job interview on Monday the 26th and have the opportunity at a temp job that starts mid-November. I am doing better than a lot of people and I'm grateful. My friends and family have been extremely supportive.

Jennifer Walker: To what do you attribute your success as a writer so far?

Abigail Stevens:
Both my parents are the smartest, funniest, coolest people I know. They are intellectuals. They are my greatest teachers. My father is an artist. My mother is a retired librarian.

Jennifer Walker: Tell me about your family. Are they supportive of your writing?

Abigail Stevens:
My parents had me when they were 41. You'll be able to figure out my age, but they are 80 now and have been married for 50 years. My parents like my writing and they will tell me when they don't. I appreciate their honesty.

Jennifer Walker: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go, and who would you take with you?

Abigail Stevens:
Honestly, I would love to visit my best friend in Seattle and just stay there for a month hanging out with her. That would be the best. I don't mind rain and I've been to Seattle four times. If I don't live there someday soon, I'll definitely retire there.

Jennifer Walker: Tell me one thing about yourself that you think most people don't know.

Abigail Stevens:
I have naturally curly hair that grows out, not down. When I was a kid, I would put a tan, turtle-neck jersey on my head (the turtle-neck would fit tightly like a headband) and walk around my room pretending I had long hair. Then I would stand on my bed and pretend I was Cher on "The Sonny and Cher" show. Yeah, I probably should have been born a gay man...

(Jennifer: LOL! Thanks again, Abbey!)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Book Review: Rimfire: The Barrel Racing Morgan Horse, by Ellen Feld

Rimfire: The Barrel Racing Morgan Horse, by Ellen Feld

Publisher: Willow Bend Publishing; First edition (September 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 097090021X
Rating (1 to 5 *): *****

Rimfire Book Review

Thanks to her good friend Chauncy, Heather has the privilege of owning and riding several beautiful and talented Morgan horses. After a family vacation to Oklahoma, she decides she must add a barrel racer to her collection. When she gets back home, she finds the perfect one for sale, Rimfire, but her parents won’t let her buy him unless she sells one of the horses she already has.

Unable to part with any of her precious horses, Heather turns to plan B and gets her friend Nicholas to buy Rimfire. He is gracious enough to share Rimfire with her, and the three of them have fun learning to barrel race together—that is, until a poor judgment call on Heather’s part threatens to ruin her friendship with Nicholas forever.

Ellen Feld’s series about Morgan horses continues in Rimfire, where she again tells a fun story filled with action, adventure, conflict and subtle life lessons…and of course, horses. Ms. Feld has a knack for creating realistic characters who have real-life desires and problems. The characters must work through their problems and find solutions, showing young readers that they can do the same thing—and make good things happen for themselves if they work hard enough at it.

Rimfire, like the other books in Feld’s Morgan Horse series (published by Willow Bend Publishing), is well written, entertaining, and a fun read. Each book is well researched, giving the reader a chance to learn about a new riding style—and get to know a new horse—with each story. Although they are written for middle schoolers, Rimfire and the other Morgan Horse books by Ellen Feld are great for horse lovers of all ages!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Guest blog with Tucker Lieberman

Building an Anthology around a Theme: The Making of "Never Hit By Lightning"
by Tucker Lieberman

A literary anthology should have a theme. The theme is its raison d'ĂȘtre. With a coherent subject matter, the project becomes more fulfilling to the authors and editors, and readers are given a reason to buy it.

When my co-editor and I solicited submissions for Never Hit By Lightning, we asked for work that addressed the "meaning of illness, death, loss and destruction in the modern era" or that was, in short, "morbid."

Stories and poems "from the dark side" may sound like a broad topic for an anthology. After all, if we perceive the world as a mixture of light and dark, the dark side is half of everything that happens to us. But since not everyone is comfortable writing about dark topics or having their work categorized as dark, soliciting this material resulted in a fair amount of self-selection. The collective unconscious of our contributors helped determine what would be included in the anthology, and what we received was just what we needed.

The anthology's poems are drawn from various perspectives: one defiant hospital patient, one grieving survivor, and dead soldiers whose number is so vast that they have become statistics. Some of the stories have supernatural elements and they are interesting to consider alone or in pairs. "Lightning" and "High Tide" are, as their titles suggest, elemental. "At the Hospital" and "The Man Who Invented Everything" portray gravely ill patients, one young and one old. "King of the Cocktails" presents alcohol as a creative medium while "A Reason to Go On" refers to alcohol as a symptom of self-destruction.

Readers may find further connections between the characters or the geography and wonder if this could be more than just coincidence. We might even fabricate interpretations of the relationships we perceive between these works although we know the authors did not actually collaborate. Isn't that how we make stories: a few observations linked by a pretend narrative? In this way, we can make stories about stories. Literature that is loosely interwoven, partly by chance and partly by design, can stimulate creativity and wonder. In this regard, the final shape and direction of our "dark" anthology is quite pleasing. We hope you enjoy it too.


(back to Jennifer...) As for the last, I know I did! Thank you so much to Tucker Lieberman and Andrew Tivey for stopping by over the past couple of days.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Editor Interview: Tucker Lieberman and Andrew Tivey

Today I interviewed Tucker Lieberman and Andrew Tivey, editors of the anthology Never Hit by Lightning. Come back tomorrow for a guest blog by Tucker!

Jennifer Walker What inspired the anthology Never Hit by Lightning?

Tucker Lieberman
: Andrew and I were scheduled to have our work included in a literary anthology that unfortunately was canceled prior to publication. Along with several other contributors, we discussed the idea of self-publishing our own anthology. Andrew and I became the editors and others submitted their work.

Jennifer Walker: How did you choose the work that went into this book?

Tucker Lieberman
: Much of the selection was already done for us, given that the contributors were largely re-submitting work that had already been approved for another publication. Never Hit By Lightning just picked up where the other publication left off. The initial entries to Never Hit By Lightning tended to be a bit dark and brooding, so we declared that to be the theme of our anthology, and further entries were solicited on that basis.

Andrew Tivey: The only thing regarding the selection we needed to do was determine who out of the original contributors wanted to contribute to the new anthology we were organizing, which took some time with it being totally organized through email.

Jennifer Walker: Where did the contributors come from?

Tucker Lieberman
: The editors and contributors live in Europe and North America. Most are creative writing students or professors or have some background in writing. We found each other through the previous publication.

Jennifer Walker: Do you have any other anthologies planned, or have you done others in the past?

Tucker Lieberman
: This is my first anthology. I can imagine doing another one but I'll probably take a break for a while. It's quite labor intensive, and I have many other creative projects in my cauldron.

Andrew Tivey: I'm hopefully going to work on another anthology of sorts in the next few months with the Creative Writing Society I help run here at Portsmouth University, but since term has only just started it's still early days.

Jennifer Walker: Tell me a little about yourselves.

Tucker Lieberman
: By day, I'm a beta tester of financial software. As far as my creative work goes, I have degrees in journalism and philosophy and I enjoy writing thoughtful and investigative essays, as well as fiction and poetry. I'm a fact-checker for articles on and a co-organizer of a monthly spoken word event in Boston.

Andrew Tivey: As mentioned above, I help run the Creative Writing Society here at Portsmouth University in the UK, and have done for two years now (this being my third year). At the moment, I'm studying my third year in a degree in English Literature. My writing is more of a hobby at the moment, but getting into a more professional interest with it is one of my aims.

Jennifer Walker: You and your co-editor did not contribute to this book. Do you have your own writing projects you'd like to tell us about?

Tucker Lieberman
: Currently I'm working on a "choose your own adventure" serial story, Command Pashmina ( It's about a robot that's been programmed to determine whether God exists. It's called Command Pashmina because the reader has the opportunity to vote on how to command the robot's next move. It's written in 300-word flash segments. For me, part of the amusement is the drawn-out discovery of whether this proof for God will be at all credible, given that it is generated with an element of randomness.

Andrew Tivey
: I have a few projects all in their early stages, such as a collection of war poetry, the Creative Writing Society anthology, and possibly writing the story behind an iPhone/iPod Touch game my friend would be programming. Before this I've also been a script-writer/voice actor/editor for a machinima company, Chairleg Productions (, though at the moment with all our group at University our work has slowed down somewhat.

Jennifer Walker: What is your favorite genre of books to read?

Tucker Lieberman
: Philosophy, pop science and psychology, and arrestingly beautiful novels. I like to learn something that I can integrate into my work or else be transported.

Andrew Tivey: I suppose gothic literature, though that is in itself quite vague - more or less any kind of poetry and any literature with a poetic style to it I can enjoy.

Jennifer Walker: Do you have any guilty pleasures? Tell us about them.

Tucker Lieberman
: I bake way too many chocolate chip cookies.

Andrew Tivey
: I guess I play too many games? Though I do need something to do where I can just switch off.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Book Review: Never Hit by Lightning, Edited by Tucker Lieberman and Andrew Tivey

Never Hit by Lightning, Edited by Tucker Lieberman and Andrew Tivey

Paperback, 76 pages
Rating (1 to 5 *): *****


It’s not often that I review or even read anthologies, but I seem to always be pleasantly surprised when I do read one. Never Hit by Lightning, edited by Tucker Lieberman and Andrew Tivey, is yet another example of that phenomenon. Though small, it is filled with literary, thought-provoking pieces.

Each of the stories and poems in Never Hit by Lightning is beautifully written.

There’s the title piece, Lightning, written by Kirsty Olliffe, which is about the narrator’s friendship with a boy who has been hit by lightning over and over—in fact, he seeks it and gains strength and vitality from it.

In King of the Cocktails, by Loree Westron, three brothers—particularly Rick—seek to carry on their dead father’s legacy as a master bartender. They struggle with the balance between duty and finding their own way.

High Tide, by Piotr Wesolowski, is the final journey of a sick old man to the sea he loves, piloted by his doting son. Taking place in Cuba, they skirt the law and various hardships to find simple joy.

At the Hospital, by Abigail W. Stevens, is the thoughts of a child whose brother is in the hospital—giving the reader some insight on the effect a sick child has on his siblings.

In The Man who Invented Everything: A Deathbed Confessional, by Mark Robinson, the narrator is chronicling the life of a dying patient. This patient claims to have invented everything, but the credit always went to someone else. However, maybe he is not entirely off his rocker.

A Reason to Go On, by Daniela I. Norris shows us how sometimes what we need more than someone helping us is to help someone else. By saving another, we save ourselves.

There are also three poems in the book: Hallowed Earth, by Gillian Pencavel, which is about the ravages of war. larynx, head, neck, stomach, bladder, kidney, oesophagus and pancreas, by Russell D. Thomas, is a seemingly nonsensical account of life working in a hospital—a place that is nonsensical itself. Finally, Death of a Friend, by Sue Harper, shows in just a few words what it is like to lose a friend.

Editors Tucker Lieberman and Andrew Tivey have assembled a beautiful, eclectic collection of work. Light some candles, pour yourself a glass of wine and snuggle up with your favorite quilt for an hour or two of thoughtful reading.

Check back tomorrow for an interview with the editors!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Guest blog with Jane Doiron

Today, Jane Doiron, author of Make-ahead Meals for Busy Moms, shares her thoughts on the process of getting her book published.

I have always had an interest in food, recipes, and cooking since I was a young girl. I started buying cooking magazines when I was a teenager. I still remember getting my first cookbook from my aunt and uncle before I was married. I loved trying new recipes back then and still do today! Over the years, I thought about writing my own cookbook, but heard so many stories about people being turned down by publishers unless they were a celebrity. In January of 2008, I did a little research on-line and soon discovered "self-publishing." I signed up with a self-publishing company on-line and started writing my manuscript. It took 15 months to write it as I had a full-time teaching job. Testing out recipes was the easy part. Once I submitted my manuscript in April of 2009, that's when things got to be stressful. When you self-publish, you are responsible to catch any typos, grammatical errors, font issues, format problems, etc. Consequently, it took about 15 rounds of editing the book and over 5 months to get published.

I was very fortunate to have my brother, Roger Rivard, take the photos of my food for the book cover. A book designer at the publishing company designed the book cover using Roger's photographs.

Now that my cookbook is published, I'm meeting so many wonderful people on the internet that are reviewing my cookbook, and I enjoy hearing from people who have tried my recipes. I really hope moms and dads find my cookbook useful. I know my dinner time is more relaxing since I started fixing "make-ahead meals." I have just started testing recipes for a second "make-ahead" cookbook. I hope to have it done in another year or so. Sign up for my newsletter at and you'll receive a new "make-ahead" recipe each month!

Jane Doiron

Monday, October 12, 2009

Author Interview: Jane Doiron

Today I had the opportunity to learn a little more about Jane Doiron, author of Make-ahead Meals for Busy Moms. Be sure to read my review of the book!

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your other writing projects, past present and future. Are you interested in writing anything besides cookbooks?

Jane Doiron:
Make-Ahead Meals for Busy Moms is my first cookbook. I am currently testing recipes for a second "Make-Ahead" cookbook. At the moment, I'm not interested in writing other types of books.

Jennifer Walker: What inspired you to write Make-ahead Meals?

Jane Doiron:
As a second grade teacher, I feel exhausted when I get home from work and it's hard to find the energy or time to whip up a great dinner in a small amount of time. So I took my family's favorite recipes and turned them into make-ahead meals to make my life a little easier. I know that there are a lot of Moms that feel the same way at dinner time, so I thought this book would be a great resource for them.

Jennifer Walker: Where did the recipes come from for this book?

Jane Doiron:
I've been cooking for my family for over 20 years, so I have accumulated quite a few recipes. Some of the recipes in my cookbook have come from family and friends, and I have created some on my own.

Jennifer Walker: What is the testing process like for the recipes in your book?

Jane Doiron:
If I'm testing desserts, I share them with my coworkers, family, or friends and get their opinions on the recipe. When I test out new recipes at home with my family, I usually include the recipe in the book if all four of us like the recipe.

Jennifer Walker: Do you often employ your book's suggestions for advance preparation?

Jane Doiron:
Yes, I always prepare in advance if possible.

Jennifer Walker: How did you get your book published? How has the publishing process been for you?

Jane Doiron:
I searched on line for self-publishing companies because I felt that it was the only way my book could be published. I started writing my manuscript in January 2008. I submitted my manuscript to the publisher in April 2009. It was published in August 2009. The publishing process was very stressful and time consuming as there were many rounds of editing. When you self-publish, you are responsible to catch any format, font, or grammatical errors yourself.

Jennifer Walker: Is cooking a passion for you? How long has it been so?

Jane Doiron:
I have always loved cooking and entertaining. I'm a cookbook collector and cooking magazine junkie! I started cooking as a teenager. I have taken a few cooking classes over the years such as cake decorating, bread making, and Italian cooking.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your family. Do they like to cook? Do they support your writing?

Jane Doiron:
My husband and I have 2 boys ages 20 and 15. They're not very interested in cooking, but they have been very supportive in trying new recipes. I think they're more adventurous than some kids their age when it comes to trying new foods, as they have been exposed to my Italian, Mexican, Thai, and Chinese dishes over the years.

Jennifer Walker: What is your favorite type of cuisine?

Jane Doiron:
I LOVE anything Italian!

Jennifer Walker: What is your favorite type of book to read?

Jane Doiron:
I used to read a lot of historical romance books. Now, if I have any spare time, I like to read cooking magazines.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Book Review: Make-ahead Meals for Busy Moms, by Jane Doiron

Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
by Jane Doiron

Paperback: 232 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (August 17, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1432720864
Rating (1 to 5 *): *****

Book Review:

Chances are, you have been guilty of having pizza delivered after a long day instead of preparing a wholesome, home-cooked meal or taking grocery store chicken to a potluck at work because you just didn’t have time to prepare anything. If you are one of those insanely organized people who always has time for everything you need to do, you probably know at least one person who just can’t seem to find the time to cook every night.

Make-ahead Meals for Busy Moms, by Jane Doiron, offers a solution for those times when you know the kiddos will be clamoring for dinner the minute you walk in from a 12-hour work day. The book is filled with recipes that can be prepared partially or completely a day, or even weeks ahead of time. Unexpected guests drop by? Luckily, you have some tasty banana bread in the freezer for just such an occasion. Need an appetizer for your best friend’s potluck baby shower? No problem, guests will drool over the bacon tomato mini cups you prepared in advance.

Make-ahead Meals for Busy Moms provides detailed, easy-to-follow recipes for new twists on old favorites like chocolate chip cookies and lasagna as well as many new ideas like cranberry lemon bread and broiled honey mustard salmon. In addition, it gives instructions for what can be prepared in advance and how to finish the dish and serve it. Also included are instructions for freezing and storing many of the dishes—make one to enjoy now and freeze the other for another time.

Jane Doiron seems to have thought of everything the busy mom (or dad!) needs to put a delicious meal on the table morning, noon or night—or to be a star at your next gathering.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Author Interview: Linda Weaver Clarke

Today, I had the opportunity to learn a little about Linda Weaver Clarke (, who teaches Family Legacy workshops as well as writing historical fiction.

Jennifer Walker: When did you first become interested in family history and historical fiction?

Linda Weaver Clarke:
I have always loved historical fiction because it’s entertaining and at the same time I learn something about history. I became interested in my family’s history when I began reading about them. My mother and grandparents had written their biographies and that was when I realized how intriguing their stories were.

Jennifer Walker: Describe your Family Legacy workshops for us. What should someone expect when they attend one?

Linda Weaver Clarke:
I teach people how to take their family history or their own autobiography and turn it into interesting stories. It’s important to teach our children their heritage. Each of us has a story from our ancestors to tell. If these stories are unwritten, then they’ll be lost forever. In my workshop, I encourage people to research the area their ancestors settled and the time period. First, find out everything you can about the area. If possible, go there and walk around, find out where your ancestors lived, went to school, and played. If you can’t go there in person, then do research and find pictures. To read samples of what you can do with your stories, visit my website at and read the “short stories” of my ancestors.

Jennifer Walker: How did your Family Legacy workshops begin? How did you grow it into what it is today?

Linda Weaver Clarke:
After my book was published, I decided to teach people how to write their stories. So I began teaching in my own area, and then gradually expanded further and further from home. Before I knew it, I had libraries from all over the U.S. signing up for my workshops. The libraries sponsor me and the class is usually free to the public. Libraries provide many ways of education for their communities as long as they have an active Friends Group to support them.

Jennifer Walker: What if someone is interested in preserving their family history but don't feel like they can write it themselves. Do you ever provide writing services for them?

Linda Weaver Clarke:
No, I encourage them to write it themselves. You see, these stories are dear to us and we need to put our own heart into it. After I began writing my ancestors’ stories, I became closer to them. I felt as if I really understood them and how they must have felt as I wrote their experiences down. It is a blessing to write your own stories. I’ve had many people tell me that they didn’t know if they could do it, and after my class was done they couldn’t wait to go home and begin writing. One woman from Boise, Idaho said to my daughter who assists me, “I felt as if I had handcuffs on my wrists and your mother has just unlocked them.” This statement really touched my heart.

Jennifer Walker: Tell us a little about some of your favorite writing projects, past and present, and what do you have planned for the future?

Linda Weaver Clarke:
Past, present, and future? Okay, as for the “past,” I have a historical fiction series called A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho. Each story has its own plot and can be read separately, but the main characters grow up. One of my secrets in writing this series is inserting real ancestral or family experiences into my novels. To me, their experiences have always intrigued me. It brings a story to life. In my family saga series, I have set my story in Paris, Idaho…the place that my ancestors settled in 1863.

My great grandmother, Sarah Eckersley Robinson, was my inspiration for David and the Bear Lake Monster. Sarah lost her hearing as a child but she never let her deafness stop her from developing her talents. I took a lot of her experiences from her biography and gave them to my heroine to bring some reality into my story. Sarah was known as one of the most graceful dancers in town. She was known for gliding across the floor with ease, with just a touch of her partner’s hand. Sarah had such agility and gracefulness while swimming, that people would actually throw coins in the water so they could watch her dive after them. Once an intruder hid in her bedroom under her bed, thinking he could take advantage of her since she was deaf. He must have thought she was an easy victim but was sadly mistaken. She swatted him out from under her bed with a broom, and all the way out of the house, and down the street for a couple blocks, whacking him as she ran. What a courageous woman!

As for the “present,” the last book in this series was just released. Elena, Woman of Courage. It’s about a “Happy-go-lucky Bachelor” who is completely fascinated with a woman doctor: Elena Yeates. Of course, women weren’t encouraged to go to college back then, let alone become a doctor, and this fascinates him to no end. With the 1920’s rise of women’s rights, this novel gives you an insight at the struggles women had to go through, while watching a young love blossom! To read an excerpt, visit my website at

As for the “future,” I’ve started a new mystery series. You can check it out on my website.

Jennifer Walker: How did you first get published? Has the process become easier with experience? How?

Linda Weaver Clarke:
First, there’s a book called Writer’s Market. It’s full of publishers and it tells you exactly what each publisher expects. Remember, do exactly what is written for each publisher. If it says to send a query letter or a synopsis, only do that and nothing more or they’ll trash it. If it says to send the first three chapters, do it. Don’t send the whole manuscript. Publishers are sticklers and won’t give you the time of day if you don’t do as requested. The Writer’s Market will teach you how to write a query letter and a synopsis. It’s a very good book. If the publisher likes your work, then they’ll send you a contract to sign and you pretty much remain with that publisher unless you’re unhappy with them and want to move on. For me, I’m quite happy with my publisher. They assign me an excellent editor and I get to request what kind of book cover I want from the design department.

(Note from Jennifer: there is a lot of good resources on the website,, but I found the print copy of the book itself to be highly educational!)

Jennifer Walker: Tell us about your family. Are they supportive of your work? Do they have similar interests?

Linda Weaver Clarke:
My family is very supportive. My husband and I are now empty nesters but when I have to travel somewhere, I just ask one of my daughters if they would like to go with me. I don’t like going alone. Out of my six daughters, I’ve taken four with me on tour. I have two married daughters with children so they can’t come. My husband loves going with me, too, but he only gets three weeks off work in a year.

As for similar interests, I have one daughter who loves writing. She’s written several stories that are really good but she isn’t interested in becoming published. She writes them for her own enjoyment and then gives them to her sisters to read. She’s a graphics designer and is also attending college so she can get a degree in graphics design.

Jennifer Walker How much time, on average, do you spend on research before writing each piece?

Linda Weaver Clarke:
I love research. I usually do about a month’s worth before writing my story. Each book was fun to research but Elena, Woman of Courage was a blast to write because of all the fantastic words in that era. For example: It’s set in 1925. I found words that I didn’t even know such as: Cat’s pajamas! Ah, horsefeathers! Attaboy! Baloney! You slay me! When referring to a woman, they used doll, tomato, and bearcat. When a person was in love, he was goofy. If a person was a fool, he was a sap. And when a woman wasn’t in the mood for kissing, she would say, “The bank’s closed.” I was able to use all these words and much more in my book. The language was great!

In my research for David and the Bear Lake Monster: A Family Saga in Bear Lake, Idaho
, I found that people really believe in this legend. The mystery of the Bear Lake Monster has been an exciting part of Idaho history ever since the early pioneers. Some people claimed to have seen it and gave descriptions of it. The monster’s eyes were flaming red and its ears stuck out from the sides of its skinny head. Its body was long, resembling a gigantic alligator, and it could swim faster than a galloping horse. Of course, it only came out in the evening or at dusk. Throughout the years, no one has ever disproved the Bear Lake Monster. A bunch of scientists tried to discredit the monster and said it was a huge codfish that was shipped in from the East but could not prove this theory. Does the Bear Lake Monster exist? Whatever conclusion is drawn, the legend still lives on and brings a great deal of mystery and excitement to the community.

Jennifer Walker What is your favorite pastime--besides research and writing?

Linda Weaver Clarke:
I love camping in the mountains and breathing in the fresh air, the scent of pine trees, listening to the sounds of nature, hearing a stream of water bubbling over rocks. Just talking about it makes me want to leave this second, although I can do without the mosquitoes, but I usually take along enough “Skin-so-soft” oil to protect me. Of course, my husband doesn’t care for it because he thinks it smells like a woman so he has his own mosquito repellent.

Jennifer Walker: Where is your favorite place in the world besides home?

Linda Weaver Clarke:
Southern Idaho, where I grew up! I miss it and long to go back for a visit but my parent’s home isn’t there anymore. When my father passed away, it was sold. But my brother owns our grandparents’ home and all the farmland so when I do visit we stay with him. It’s a day’s drive from here so we try to stay for a few days before leaving. The land is so beautiful and green. I love it.

Thank you, Linda, for dropping by!