1. Twenty-four years after she sold her first novel, Linda Lael Miller is having what anyone would call a stellar year.
2. The self-proclaimed barn goddess and author of novels set in the West of today and yesterday is celebrating exciting career milestones.
3. With 70-some books to her credit, Linda is watching her modern-day McKettrick Men trilogy soar to the top of all the national bestseller lists, and the Romance Writers of America have announced Linda as the recipient of their prestigious 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award. And the year is still young.
4. But what makes these successes all the more enjoyable is that Linda has come home, home to Spokane, Washington, home to writing the stories of her heart, stories set in the Western culture of her childhood, and home to living where she can pull on her boots and ride her beloved horses.
5. Inside, there’s the clatter of little paws, her dogs, Sadie and Bernice, and the elegant treading of two cats that Linda claims rule the roost.
6. The daughter of a town marshal, Linda grew up in Northport, WA, a community of 500 on the Columbia River, 120 miles north of her birthplace, Spokane. Her childhood remembrances include riding horses and playing cowgirl on her grandparents’ nearby farm. So rustic was her grandparents’ spread that in the early days it lacked the conveniences of electricity and running water.
7. As delightful as this childhood was, though, Linda longed to see the world. After graduating as valedictorian of her high school class, she left to pursue her dream. Because of the success of her author career, Linda was able to live part-time in London for several years, spend time in Italy and travel to such far-off destinations as Russia, Hong Kong and Israel. Now, Linda says, the wanderlust is (mostly) out of her blood, and she’s come full circle, back to the people and the places she knows and loves.
8. Before Linda begins her writing day, she takes her first cup of coffee while enjoying the scenic view of the wooded draw behind her new home. Inspired by the view, which occasionally includes a wandering moose, she focuses on her work-in-progress. It might be another contemporary Western romance, like McKettrick’s Luck, McKettrick’s Pride or McKettrick’s Heart, or it might be a new Western historical, such as July’s hardcover, A Wanted Man. It also might be a romantic thriller, such as Deadly Gamble, which launched another winning Linda Lael Miller series for her enthusiastic publisher, HQN Books.
9. Devoted to helping others pursue their dreams, Miller is excited about another endeavor. Each year she sponsors a round of competition for her Linda Lael Miller Scholarships for Women. The stipends, which she funds from her writing and speaking earnings, enable women 25 years and older to improve their lot in life through education. Unlike traditional scholarships, Linda’s may be used for childcare, transportation, or any other expense that stands between a woman’s dreams and their fulfillment.
10. It’s no wonder the protagonists in Miller’s novels are women her readers admire for their honor, courage, trustworthiness, valor and determination to succeed, despite overwhelming odds. “These timelessly admirable qualities make them excellent role models for young women,” Miller explains. “The male leads possess equally noble traits that today’s woman would be delighted to find in her life’s mate.”
11. And speaking of finding, Linda is excited about her association with The Humane Society of the United States, for whom she has become an advocate for the group’s Pets for Life program. Once someone finds a furry friend to bring into their home, Linda and The HSUS want to help them learn how to keep the critter for life.
12. Linda traces the birth of her writing career to the day when a Northport teacher told her that the stories she was writing were good, that she just might have a future in writing. Later, when she decided to write novels, she endured her share of rejection before she made her first sale in 1983.
13. Linda has come a long way since leaving her sheltered life in Northport at age 18 to experience the world. “But growing up in that time and place, in a family grounded in Western values, served me well,” she allows. “And I’m happy to be back home.”