After the death of her mother, Emmalin Hammond discovers she is not the heiress she’d always assumed she’d be. The revelation exposes her fiancé’s true intentions when he withdraws his marriage proposal, leaving Emmalin heartbroken and humiliated. When she discovers the father she believed to be dead is still alive and living in the Oregon Territory she decides it is time to meet the man who has been hidden from her all of her life.
Accompanied by her Uncle Jonathon, she sets out for the Oregon Territory in search of answers and hoping for a renewed relationship with her father. When tragedy strikes, she confronts the terrifying challenge of completing her quest alone. Faced with few options, she entrusts her life to a mountain man named Jacob Landon who agrees to transport her to a small settlement in Southern Oregon called Deer Creek, a place also known as the Land of One Hundred Valleys.
Emmalin is not prepared for the hardships of life in the Oregon wilderness. Each day presents a new challenge. Newfound friends, including the reserved Jacob Landon, who unexpectedly stirs her heart, come alongside to help her adapt. Yet she feels out of place. Should she brave the arduous journey back to Philadelphia for the life she once knew or remain and hope for something better in the Oregon wilderness?
- Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you (are you a plotter or a pantser?)?
I’m definitely NOT a pantser. My brain would get lost in a book if I did that.
I create detailed character outlines, a book synopsis, story arcs, and a story outline (a brief synopsis for each chapter) before I begin writing.
I need to know who my characters are, as much as that is possible at the beginning of a book. They become more fleshed out as I work through a story. I love creating characters!
The outline is like a road map. It guides me. If I were to set off on a road trip without a map I’d become lost. And that’s what would happen to me if I set off to write a novel without an outline. I’d be lost in no time. I don’t advocate that writers adhere strictly to their outlines, some rabbit trails take you places where you discover story treasures, but some can take you so far off the path that it isn’t easy to find your way back.
- What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing?
My first draft is the most difficult part of the process for me. I actually enjoy editing, which tells you a bit about how my mind works.
I use speed writes to release creativity. When I set out to write a chapter I take a few minutes to envision what will happen in the scene, then I plunge in and write without stopping. I don’t stop for misspelled words, stupid ideas, or clunky paragraphs. I just write. Afterward I do a quick clean up on the chapter and then let it rest, sometimes for a few weeks before returning to it when I do some of the fine tuning. While the chapter rests I move on to other chapters.
3. What would you say is the easiest aspect of writing?
Coming up with the story. I have all kinds of ideas in my head for future books. I love to imagine what will happen. I might play with a story idea for weeks, months and sometimes even years before the actual work begins.
4. Do you pen down revelations and ideas as you get them, right then
Oh yes. I have to. My brain is flighty and even if I get what I think is a fabulous idea, I will likely forget it. Revelations and revisions fly into my mind any old time so I keep a file on my phone. I no longer drive because I’m losing my vision, but I used to actually pull over when driving to get a new idea written down before I’d forget what it was.
5. Do you need to be in a specific place or room to write, or you can
just sit in the middle of a café full of people and write?
I cannot write in a room with distractions. I can’t even have music with lyrics playing, instrumentals only. I get distracted by the lyrics.
I have a back injury so I no longer work at my desk, which I miss. It was much easier because all the research materials needed would be close at hand. I now use a recliner with my lap top. Last year my husband had a new office built for me. It is beautiful and good for my spirit. I used soothing colors and décor. With spring upon us I can work with my windows open, and I love the sound of my wind chimes while I work.
8. Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Ideas come from a myriad of places. I try to keep in my mind open to the idea that stories can be found anywhere, as life happens. That way I won’t miss a great story. Some of my tales come from my family history. For instance, my first book The Journey of Eleven Moons emerged from something that happened to my grandmother when she was a young woman living in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. I’ve discovered stories in the pages of history books. And I wrote a contemporary story, To Dance With Dolphins, which came about because of my personal struggle with chronic pain and disability.
I think my mind loves stories because I see them in all sorts of places. I actually love that about me. I’ve been making up tales since I was a girl.
10. Do bits of yourself/friends show up in your characters?
Absolutely. In fact, so much of myself shows up in stories, not just the characters, that when I was about to sign a contract for my first book I hesitated. I wasn’t sure I wanted all of my inside stuff to be “out there” in the world where people could make judgments.
There have been characters in my books that have been a compilation of characteristics found in friends. But I don’t use any person fully because it might be too easy for someone to see themselves, which could have a bad outcome.
11. Anything else you'd like to share?
I’m not sure how many of your visitors are writers, but this is for those who write. I wish you well. I hope you find the joy in writing process. Please be true to yourself, and create stories you love. And as long as you love putting words to paper keep doing it.
Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-two novels, including the recently released One Hundred Valleys, the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.
Bonnie’s books are being read internationally and she hears from readers in Australia, Europe, Poland, and even Africa. She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and mentoring up and coming authors.
Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and seven grandchildren