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#1 New York Times bestselling author Linda Lael Miller is a long-time friend of Reader to Reader. The self-confessed barn goddess is the author of more than 100 novels, mostly romances set in the American West of today and yesterday but also mysteries, paranormals, time travels and medieval romances. As the second book in her Brides of Bliss County series is published in this month of sweethearts, Linda shares with us the inspiration for her novels and gives us insight into how she has earned the title, “First Lady of the West.”
Welcome to Reader to Reader, Linda!

The Marriage Charm by Linda Lael MillerThanks, Vickie. We go back a long time, don’t we? I remember when you started an online bookstore in the early '90s.  My readers still come to Reader To Reader to find not only my new books but earlier releases that are hard to find now.

And we still enjoy the connection with your readers through ReaderToReader.com and Reader To Reader on Facebook. Things have changed, and yet they haven’t, right? You’re still writing novels that charm the socks off your readers. Western romances set in small towns.Tell us how you’re able to make these places come to life.

I guess it’s because that’s how I grew up. I was born in Northport, Washington, which is about a hundred miles north of Spokane, where I live now. Northport is near the Columbia River, only eight miles south of British Columbia. In 2013 the population was still only 291. I was valedictorian of my high school class—there were fourteen seniors that year.

How did you spend your time as a kid?

I rode horses and played with my cousins. I remember picking wild asparagus by the railroad tracks. My dad was the town marshal. Everyone knew everyone else; the town itself was like a family.

Siblings?

I’m the oldest of three. My brother is the middle kid, and my sister, Sally, the baby. When I write my cowboy heroes, I know my dad is a part of each one. I grew up knowing nothing would stop him from getting the job done, whatever that might be.

I remember when my mom was in the hospital, giving birth to Sally. I was nine at the time and spending the night with a friend. Back home, in the middle of the night the house caught on fire—a wiring problem in the kitchen. My brother, who was seven at the time, woke up, smelled smoke and screamed. My dad rushed in, grabbed my brother and threw him out the window and jumped out after him. The house burned to the ground. But we grew up with a sense of security, of knowing we’d always be safe.

What did you do? Where did you go? 

The town circled the wagons. Within a day we had another place to live, furniture, food and clothes. If I’d been home, I’d probably have died in the fire. It’s hard to doubt God’s hand in things.

Lots of authors say they were voracious readers as kids. What about you?

Actually, I was a slow reader. I had trouble sitting still. I only recently learned I have ADD, which explains my restless spirit, but my mom, who devoured books, was determined to help me discover the joy of reading. One day when I was six she picked up some Nancy Drew books at the library, and I got hooked. That’s when I realized reading could be pleasurable. I loved this proactive girl, who wound up rescuing herself when she got in a fix. A bit later, when I was about ten, I decided I wanted to write books about women like her, and that’s what I do. The women in my books can go toe-to-toe with the men any day.

You have a smart mom!

You bet!  And she just turned 86. She’s still sharp as a tack. She loves to read and does crossword puzzles. That woman has an amazing vocabulary!

This month you have a new novel out, The Marriage Charm, the second book in your Brides of Bliss County series. Tell us a little bit about the story.

The book is set in Mustang Creek, Wyoming—a place I made up, but I can tell you, I wouldn’t mind living there! The hero is Spence Hogan, the town’s police chief. He wasn’t lucky enough to grow up as I did, with good parents—he’s had a tough life, but he’s overcome that unfortunate twist of fate and is respected in the community, but to date he’s been somewhat of a womanizer.

And the heroine?

She’s a jewelry designer—her name is Melody Nolan. When she was in college, she proposed to Spence, but he turned her down. Heck, she was just a kid then, in his eyes. They get thrown together when her good friend, Hadleigh Stevens, marries rancher Tripp Galloway (from The Marriage Pact). The two obviously still have the hots for each other. But Melody hasn’t forgotten that turndown. If Spence is interested, he’d better have marriage in mind this time, because she’s made a pact with her girlfriends. They’ve decided it’s time to get married, but not to just any guys, to the right ones for them.

Sounds like a fun story—readers, you can buy The Marriage Charm today, right here on Reader to Reader.

One more thing before I get back to my writing—I encourage all of you out there to visit LindaLaelMiller.com and read about the ten winners of my 2014 Scholarships for Women. Talk about overcoming what life has dished up for them! I picked them out of more than 1,600 who applied. This is the last year for my scholarship program. I’ve been doing this for about fifteen years now. I’d like to do something different. I’ll blog about it when I decide what that will be.

Thanks for sitting down with us today, Linda. The very best to you—and your sweet mom

Thank you, Vickie. It’s always a pleasure to visit with you!
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