#1 NYT bestselling author Linda Lael Miller
The Good, the Bad and the Not-So-Great

My beloved mama made another trip to the Emergency Room today; that’s the Bad and the Not-So-Great.  The Good is, she’s back at home.  I’ll be checking in on her first thing tomorrow morning, before the weekly Weight Watchers meeting.  (The Bad.)  I had a routine appointment with my doctor this morning, so I know my weight has gone up.  Drat!  On the other hand, there’s something very empowering about knowing where you are and what you need to do to get to a better place—if that’s in the Big Guy’s plan, that is.  

This morning, I listened to a TED talk, one of my favorite things to do, and I found a real nugget of information: Invest in the process, not the outcome.  The desired outcome, the goal, is only valuable insofar as it helps one to set a direction.  

How many of us really do that, as a matter of course?  Just do our best, I mean, and let things shake out?  Not this cowgirl, I’m sad to say.  I look at the goal, the end result, and if it doesn’t happen just the way I envisioned it, I (not always but too often) believe I’m a failure.  And yet, truthfully, the thing I love most about writing is…writing!  Royalty checks, bestseller lists and good reviews are all very well, don’t get me wrong.  But I agree with the TED speaker: we have only limited control over our actions and absolutely none over the way things turn out.  Now, I’m asking myself why I fret over things that I can’t control.  It’s the process I really love–creating characters, coming up with a setting, making up a whole world as I go along.  For me and, I think, for most writers, that’s where the rubber meets the road.  Seems like a good idea to focus my energies and talents on the stories themselves, not the prizes I may or may not win.  This is another of those things I thought I already knew–and didn’t.  ( PLUG INTO YOUR HARD-WIRED HAPPINESS, Srikumar Rao.  Look on Audible.com’s ‘channels’ for TED talks and you’ll find it.)

I found another jewel in Marianne Williamson’s book, TEARS TO TRIUMPH, previously mentioned, a prayer: Make my mind an open channel for right thinking.  I love that so much!  Since I hit a wrong key, you’re probably going to get a mixed-up version if you subscribe.  Check out www.lindalaelmiller.com for the corrected one.

In closing, another question.  What inspires you?


Hello, Again!

First things first: today a new contest begins, right here on the blog.  2 winners will be chosen at random, from those who post a comment.  Each will receive an autographed copy of ONCE A RANCHER, after being notified by Super Jen.  Winners will be announced one week from today–watch this space!

Books, books, books!  I’ve been writing them, reading them, listening to them.  I can’t seem to get enough words–in fact, I’m surprised I don’t eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  That would surely help me in my ongoing Weight Watchers adventure.  :)  

What I’ve been writing: my long dreamed of Civil War novel, NORTH OF EDEN and the initial proposal for a new series, which I call The Painted Canyon trilogy, set outside (and sometimes in) the fictional town of Painted Canyon, Montana.  The title, which could change, is THE WAGER, and the story centers around Cord Hollister, a talented horse trainer, and the student he didn’t really want to teach, Shallie Fletcher.  I adore both these characters; I’ve loved spending time in their hearts and brains, in their story world.  Even though I have not begun to write their story, and won’t until the first draft of NORTH OF EDEN is finished, they are so real to me that I wouldn’t be surprised to meet them in the supermarket or at the post office.  That is the magic of writing, as well as reading; one gets to live a different life–travel sandy deserts with Lawrence of Arabia, move from one Little House to another with Laura Ingalls Wilder, pass between the standing stones with Claire, and wind up in another period of history, solve mysteries with Hercule Poirot or Kinsey Millhone or Alex Cross–well, you get the idea.  Reading and writing are two sides of the same coin, really–both are grand adventures.  

What I’m reading AND listening to, alternating by chapters: THE VIEW FROM THE CHEAP SEATS, by Neil Gaimon.  I confess, I loved THE GRAVEYARD BOOK.  This, my friend, is an imaginative writer, and I do love a good ghost story.  CHEAP SEATS is a compilation of speeches and articles, and a very valuable peek into the mind of a truly original and ground-breaking author.  I’ve been a writer for a long, long time, and a reader even longer, and I never, ever read a book, good, bad or indifferent, without learning something.

Recent listens: TEARS TO TRIUMPH, by Marianne Williamson.  This wise woman never disappoints me, and the prayers she composes are SO beautiful that I copy them into journals or onto index cards (I go through a LOT of index cards) and find great inspiration in them.  LAST CHANCE MUSTANG, by Mitchell Bornstein.  I love horses, and this book only made me love them more; what magnificent creatures they are!  In this nonfiction offering, Bernstein writes about his experiences training a mustang stallion called Sampson, an intelligent and terribly abused creature who’d survived (barely) the varieties of the Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse program.  Believe me, folks, the BLM’s approach needs a great deal of improvement.  Animal lovers everywhere need to know what happens to so many of these wild, once-free, flesh-and-blood icons of the American west, and, more importantly, to speak up.   ME BEFORE YOU, by Jojo Moyes.  This is a moving and fascinating story, even though I often wanted to take the heroine by the shoulders and shake some sense into her.  Finally, I’ll mention BLACK RABBIT HALL, by Eve Chase, an English author, like Moyes.  This is a classic gothic–I used to read tons of those, back in the 70s, when they were in their heyday–and although parts of it are disturbing, I simply had to know what happened next, and next, and next….

So, there you have it.  My reading/writing schedule, which has kept me darned busy for the last little while.  

What are you reading? 

The term “keep your ear to the ground” comes from literally putting an ear to the ground to listen for hoof beats.