Sunday, June 27, 2010

Linda Windsor's HEALER

Micro-review follows: HEALER is a terrific story that takes the reader into a poorly illuminated and endlessly interesting period of the past. And no, I do not call them the "Dark Ages" anymore. These were the centuries when a small band of committed Christians copied the Gospels out by candlelight and daylight, to make sure we would have the wondrous Word we enjoy so freely today.

Linda graciously consented to answer a few questions: here they are, so enjoy!

1.) Tell us about your book HEALER. What led you to this particular historical era and setting?

HEALER is a book of my heart that has been percolating in my mind for over ten years, morphing from a former sexy historical into a moving inspirational saga set in Arthurian Scotland. My Celtic Irish series, "Fires of Gleannmara" kicked off my interest in Dark Age history and early Christianity in the British Isles. Many of you know how MAIRE, RIONA and DEIRDRE’s research helped me to reach my daughter after she’d been stalked and assaulted in college, turned against God and to Wicca-white witchcraft. We as Christians could learn a lot from how our first through third century forefathers tamed barbarian Europe when Rome’s might could not. It was that approach that I used when speaking to my daughter, using history and tradition to reach her when she’d not listen to Scripture. It was a process that took five or so years, but then so did the early Christian witness take time to take root and grow.

HEALER is book one of the Brides of Alba trilogy, Alba being an early name for Scotland. And this is Arthurian Scotland—and King Arthur, for that matter—as never seen before. The series focuses on three brothers, their respective brides, and how love and faith grow to enable them to survive those trying times of the Saxon invasion and the church's desperate measures to ensure the survival of Christianity. These measures include matchmaking men and women from the Davidic bloodline passed on by royal Irish and the apostolic bloodlines established in Britain by the first century family and followers of Christ.

The historic Arthur in HEALER, one of at least two arthurs (a title) and definitely the last one, is a product of such matchmaking. So is the merlin (another title) Merlin Emrys, who in this case is a documented Celtic Christian bishop and druidic scientist. In fact most of the Arthurian figures were bred and raised by the Grail Church to become warriors, kings and queens of Britain to ensure the Grail Church's survival. Brenna and Ronan's conflict is a result of that matchmaking gone wrong.

Forced to live most of her twenty years in hiding from both her own clan and the clan who murdered her family, Brenna of Gowrys wonders how she can possibly fulfill her mother’s prophecy that their family's seed will divide the enemy O’Byrne’s house and bring about a peace beyond his wicked ken. Brenna’s clan remnant would have her lead them to certain death against the stronger O’Byrnes. But Brenna is a healer, not a warrior. Nor is she the shape-changing wolf-woman of the hills she’s rumored to be by the superstitious clans; although she does have a gift with wild animals, including her pet wolf Faol.

So when Brenna witnesses the ambush and attempted murder of a warrior during the annual O’Byrne hunt to find the wolf-woman, she does what she’s called to do. She brings him into her mountain hideaway to heal him, even if he could be her enemy. All she knows is that he is not just wounded in body, but in spirit; that he’d been there as a frightened child when her family had been slain; and that she has seen a future with him. But is her faith strong enough to follow the vision, no matter where it leads?

2. What's your favorite part of the story?

I can’t say I have a favorite part, but I do have a favorite theme that ties in to teaching Christians a bit about Dark Age “magic” or proto-science versus and dark magic. Unfortunately some reviewers are already calling my heroine a witch. And in truth, I expected some controversy, even though I have Scripturally backed up the concepts and provided resources.

Brenna had been taught the proto-science of nature magic, which was knowledge of herbal remedies and of the electro-magnetic neurological circuits in our bodies used in in today’s chiropractic and acupuncture. The existence and efficacy of these is accepted even in the western world, although we’ve yet to find a way to quantify them.

To the common mind this was magic. Even someone who was charismatic and spoke with eloquent persuasion was considered practicing magic. In fact, our learned professionals of today (doctors, lawyers, teachers, judges, etc.) would have been dubbed magicians. She also invoked the power of the Holy Spirit as the apostles did, but gave all credit of healing to God. And she made it clear to others that healing from using herbs and nature magic was not usually a permanent cure. Only healing by the Holy Spirit was complete.

I list my research sources (great book called From Magic to Science, for one) showing that this nature magic was proto-science of the day and I contrast the use of that knowledge by my devout Christian heroine (who is also accused of been too good) by showing how that same knowledge can be misused for evil. Like arsenic. It’s used to kill cancer cells to save lives. It’s also used to murder people. And lastly, I differentiate between nature magic/proto science with dark magic, which involves the aid of spirits or demons. Readers, and my skeptical hero, will see a desperate battle against this type of magic with the triumphal power of the Holy Spirit.

Like I said. Controversial. Food for thought, but wholly intended to glorify how wonderfully made we are and what wonderful gifts we have at hand in creation, all from the Creator God and all to His glory, not that of the practitioner.

3.) What was the hardest part to write?

Differentiating between the two types of magic and showing that much medieval magic was no magic at all, but knowledge of God’s creation—His gift to us to use for good. Making it clear through Brenna’s profession that only God’s healing was complete. She didn’t heal like Jesus did, as one reviewer complained, and she never claimed to. That would be blasphemy to her.

I also gave Brenna the gift of visions, fully Scriptural based. They come at God’s will, not hers, and they prompt her to act against reason and on faith. She becomes dismayed when people, on hearing of this, come to her seeking their fortunes and turns them away, saying God gives her only what He sees fit, not what she asks for or even seeks, for that matter. She tells them their future is in God’s hands, not in her visions.

I prayed through and through this book because of broaching these topics. In it, God used Brenna’s willing heart to work His will, against all earthly odds. And she glorified Him for it.

4.) What's one of the oddest or most interesting things someone has ever said about you?

I fear that is to come, if readers don’t understand what I’ve tried to clarify. On a lighter note, my birthday is marked on the calendar of great historical moments as the day the Liberty Bell cracked. Now I don’t believe in omens, but hey…

5.) Can you tell us a little about the ups and downs on your journey to publication?

How about AFTER publication? It’s been like riding a carousel from my first book in 1999—HI HONEY I’M HOME—to HEALER. I joke that I will someday do a keynote speech title I Failed My Way To Success. Because I’ve been so wordy here, readers might want check out on July 19th, where I tell the whole sordid ride from rescuing my first manuscript from the garbage, mistakes I made, and how God always took me from one failure or closed door, to a better place…every time. I hope it doesn’t overload her web space. Oh, and it’s has humor as well. The Liberty Bell isn’t the only thing a little cracked.

6.) What writing challenge do you find hardest, and how did you overcome it?

Writing with chemical depression is my best asset and worst enemy. Feelings give me a special insight into life and faith’s conflicts, lending power and inspiration to my stories. But they also discourage me when I am in that dark place. I stall and can’t think how to move on. And I have learned that every time I wait on the Lord, stick to Him like glue, rest, and read the Psalms. Misery loves company, especially company that always reminds me that no matter how low I go, God has never let me or the psalmist down. So while feelings can be great, they can not be trusted and they are temporal. God can be trusted to be there, even when it feels like one’s praying to the ceiling and He is eternal. God and my sense of humor (the cracked psyche) is my salvation in life and writing. He’s plotting the second half of THIEF right now and making me rest after a three-week headache/sinusitis/bronchitis bout. I’m a month behind my schedule, but He won’t let me move ahead until I’m well and ready for whatever is going to happen. All I know is that what I had plotted will not work now. And I have to wait on His time.

Great advice for anyone involved in projects, not just writers...

7.) What advice would you have for a new fiction writer?

I’ve failed my way to twenty-nine books. Get used to rejection and accept that the work wasn’t ready yet according to God’s time. I’ve had the same books rejected one year, published the next without a word changed. God’s timing. My books that grew dusty under the bed and in the attic have always had their day. Every one I’ve ever written has been published. I may have had to revise them or completely rewrite them, but the ideas were good. My craft and timing? Not so much.

Do everything you can to send out your best work and be ready to accept that God may have other ideas. Learn from your rejections if you can, even if it’s only to wait on God. Don’t stop writing. By the process itself, your work improves. I shudder to go back and read some of my first books. The stories were great, but I can’t believe how the craft itself has evolved into tighter, stronger work.
I’ve said this many times. Rejections are like footprints in the sand. If you don’t see any, you are not moving toward your dream.

8.) You’ve had many books published. Which was the “book of your heart” and why?

Before HEALER, I would have said MAIRE. MAIRE introduced me to the Dark Ages and early Christianity. That research helped me reach my daughter, plant the seeds of God’s glory and the idea to worship the Creator, not creation. God watered them until they filled the black void left by her pain and anger from her assault with the light of Christ.

The knowledge I gained of my own faith and of druidism—the root of most New Age philosophy (and old age), has filled me with a passion to inform others how to witness to their lost loved ones, especially those involved in New Age theories. I use history and science and build on what our beliefs have in common, just as the early Christians did. And I extend the grace to them to hear what they believe, without judging. In doing so, I pray they will see something of Christ in me, hear my historical and personal reasons for believing in Him. The rest is up to God. This has become my passion because of the heartbreak my daughter (and I) went through so many years ago. Most of those we are trying to reach have gone through similar heartache and been hurt horribly by an uninformed and judgmental church. Or they perceive their pain as such.

9.) Where can readers get in touch with you?

Please stop by my website at and check out HEALER and sign up for my contest to give away a signed copy. Email me at I’d love a book report on HEALER!
Also you must see the gorgeous book trailer David C. Cook did on You Tube at It’s my first book trailer and I am over the moon with it and the cover. It so captures the essence of HEALER. Plus, the heroine on the cover looks like my new daughter-in-law. I received the proof as I was on my way to my son’s wedding rehearsal and everyone was blown away by the resemblance.

Thanks, Linda, for the insight into HEALER and your own journey!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The End!

News hot off the press for all three of you -- I finished Book #2 in the "Seasons of Destiny" series! Well, at least I told the whole story. Isn't that what this blog pretends to be about?

Yeah, right.

Anyway, thanks to my superb crit partner who never lets a good turn of phrase go unpraised or a *clunk* go unpunished, I hit on a boffo ending (we think) and sat down and finished the book! I feel good.

However, its title is still a botheration. I originally called it SEASONS OF RECKONING, and changed the working title to APRIL'S PILGRIM because, at the end of the day, there really isn't very much reckoning going on in this book!

My Historical Writers yahoo loop is weighing in on the choice, and so far it's 3-0 in favor of RECKONING. I dunno what I'll do.

Anyone want to weigh in? I chose APRIL'S PILGRIM because it puns on a main character's name: Ebrel means "April" in Cornish. Also the point-of-view character does take a convoluted journey through various trials in the book--something like a pilgrimage. But now (perverse woman!) I find myself liking SEASONS OF RECKONING better.

How say you, minions?

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Home Stretch

I'm getting close to the end of book #2 in this series, tentatively titled SEASONS OF RECKONING. The working title, which I don't greatly care for, is a botheration, but I cannot seem to come up with anything I like better. Pah! My crit partner and I tossed ideas back and forth throughout our two-day writing retreat last weekend, and came up with some titles that were beyond ridiculous.

Anyway, I digress. One of my besetting sins is the tendency, when wrapping up a story, to speed-write through the thing. Of course, it feels rushed. I need to s l o w d o w n and "just tell the story" without worrying about how long it takes! Don't I? Oh, you bet I do.

That said, RECKONING is at about 81K words, winding up nicely. One current issue is that I'm concentrating on plot points and not including enough emotion. Bad romance writer! Bad!

The other issue is that this one is NOT pointing toward a Happily Ever After ending. Oh no, it is not. What to do!? I think this one will have a bittersweet ending...that's what the characters seem to be driving toward, having taken over the story a long, long time ago.

Thoughts? Is a non-HEA ending even permissible for a writer who's always cranked out Happies?