#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller
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First, this week’s winners: Janet Hurt and Bonnie Kewitsch.  Each will receive an autographed book from yours truly.  There is also a new contest running; as usual, all you need to do is comment, and you’re entered.  Two winners will be chosen at random, notified, and announced on the blog.  

Some of you will recall my mentioning my goal of doing at least one new thing, large or small, for each month of the coming year.  I’ve set aside a special place in my bullet journal to record the results, and, so far anyway, I have one entry for January.  Last Tuesday evening, for the first time in my life, I made yogurt.  (No, yogurt isn’t Paleo and yes, I eat it anyway.  As we all know, yogurt is good for a person as long as they’re aren’t lactose intolerant, which, thankfully, I’m not.)  My batch turned out so well–fresh is delicious–that I immediately geared up to make the Greek variety, and that, too, was a success.

The weather here in Spokane has been very snowy and very cold, and I’ve been confined to the house since I don’t like driving on slick roads.  I haven’t minded this much, as I’m so into NORTH OF EDEN.  I’ve been writing contemporary novels for so long, I’d almost forgotten what a pleasure it is to set a story in an earlier time period.  The Civil War, of course, has been a special interest of mine for many years, so that’s even better.

This past week, I’ve listened to several books, including THE CORRECTIONS, by Jonathan Franzen.  There were others, but since my policy is never, ever to criticize another writer’s work, I won’t mention the titles.  :)

Well, it’s the end of a fairly long day and, frankly, I’m pooped.  See you tomorrow. 

Snow? What snow? (And other stuff)

Oh, THAT snow!  It’s everywhere I look, deep and glittering in today’s welcome gift of sunshine.  Born in Spokane and raised 120 miles north, in–well–Northport, you’d think I’d be used to the white stuff.  However, after living in Arizona for 8 years, and on the coast for 20, I’m still adjusting to the weather.  What the heck.  It’s only been 11 years since I moved back!

Heartfelt thanks to all of you who sent condolences regarding the loss of my bossy kitty, Button.  Your words help a lot, and I know many of you have been down this road yourselves.  For such a small critter, he sure left a big hole in all our lives, but, as with other dogs, cats and horses that have gone on, there are plenty of smiles mixed in with the tears.  I wouldn’t have missed my year with that little guy for anything, nor would I call him back if that were possible; he’s in a much better place, as good as he had it here on the Triple L.

I’ve been writing up a–ahem–storm, enjoying my time in 1863, with my beloved characters.  It’s strange how attached I get to these story people; it would be easy to forget they’re fictional.  :)  Since “North of Eden” takes place around the battle of Gettysburg, and I basically experience the events I’m writing about, it can be tough.  No getting around it–the Civil War was brutal and bloody and, after writing one particular battle scene, I actually had to go and lie down for a while, just to recover.  Why not skip the parts that upset me?  Because it wouldn’t be honest or authentic, nor would it be fair to the good people on both sides of the conflict who fought, suffered and died, even though many years have passed.

Modern-day Gettysburg is one of my favorite places to visit, and I find it to be a peaceful place, paradoxically.  I am, like most creative people, VERY sensitive to energy, and I can feel the spirit of a location, in an intuitive way.  Certain places, like the Tower of London, Antietam Creek in Maryland and Ground Zero in New York, bring up difficult emotions; I believe it can take centuries, if not longer, for the energies of very tragic events to disperse.  Does this mean I avoid them?  No, but I really need to be up on my prayers when I visit them.  Also, given my deep interest in American history, especially the Civil War, visiting battlefields is part of doing a good job when I sit down to write.

I’ve been listening to Michael Korda’s excellent biography of Robert E. Lee, “Clouds of Glory”, for many weeks now, marking off each chapter in a special section of my bullet journal, and now I’m near the end.  Next up in the big-fat-mega-biography playlist is “American Ulysses”, by Ronald C. White, the life of Ulysses S. Grant, who, like General Lee, is one of my favorite historical figures–along with #1, Jesus of Nazareth, #2, Abraham Lincoln, #3 George Washington–well, you get the idea.  :)  Although I enjoy these hefty tomes enormously, I also regard them as research, which means they get special treatment in the bullet journal, with a square for each chapter, to be filled in with colored marker when completed, I also listen to a LOT of other kinds of books, as some of you will have already noticed reading this blog.  I love the Great Courses, which are recorded lectures by authorities on a whole kit and caboodle of subjects, the current subject being, “Medical Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths”, featuring Yale professor, Steven Novella, as a sort of counterbalance to my fascination with alternative medicine.  :)  I think it’s important to read or listen to books or courses that will challenge my ideas and views.  Novels, memoirs, and philosophy are listed as well, mainly because it gives me a satisfying sense of accomplishment to look back on my reading/listening history.  Last night, I finished “How Will I Know You?”, a thriller by Jessica Treadway, and I enjoyed it very much.

Sometimes people ask me how I can get through so many books and still write, and the answer is, I’m probably pathological in this regard.  Most writers read widely, and they’d darned well better, if they don’t want the creative well to run dry.  Words in, words out.

Just sayin’.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             


“Keep your ear to the ground” referred to the practice of plainsmen listening to the ground to hear hoof beats. It became the westerner’s warning to stay alert.