# Please introduce yourself and your book(s)!
My name is Linda Harris Sittig, and I write about Strong Women. I have three novels: Cut From Strong Cloth, Last Curtain Call, and Counting Crows. They are a series entitled “Threads of Courage” (published by Freedom Forge Press) and recount three generations of the Canavan Family from Ireland to Philadelphia to western Maryland to New York City. My newest book will be released in the summer of 2021, entitled B-52 Down! The Night the Bombs Fell From the Sky. This book is narrative nonfiction and tells the story of the ill-fated B-52 bomber that crashed in western Maryland, January 1964, with a five-man crew and two nuclear bombs on board.
# What is/are the real-life story(ies) behind your book(s)?
The story of how I became a writer of strong women goes back to a visit to a Philadelphia cemetery. Researching my mother’s family, I found a grave of a woman buried with only her husband’s name for identification. Her husband was my great-grandfather, James Nolan, and she turned out to be Ellen Canavan Nolan, his first wife. No one in our family even knew she had existed. I started researching her life and found that she was responsible for my great-grandfather becoming a wealthy man during the Civil War when he created a unique blended fabric for Union soldiers’ uniforms. But she never received any credit for his success. I decided to remedy that and wrote my first novel, Cut From Strong Cloth.
# What inspires/inspired your creativity?
Captivated by Ellen Canavan’s life, I decided to search for other Strong Women from the past. That led to my blog, www.strongwomeninhistory.com, which is now in its 9th year with over 1200 followers from 64 countries. I blog once a month and share stories of amazing women whom history overlooked. These women, with their courage and perseverance, continue to inspire me to write.
# How do you deal with creative block?
When I have some writing difficulties or even creative block issues, I get up, leave the house, and take a walk. I find that being out in nature, away from distractions, often helps to clear my mind, and more than once, one of my characters starts talking to me, and the block dissipates.
# What are the biggest mistakes you can make in a book?
In my early days as a novelist, I made many mistakes. The important thing is that I learned how to fix them. Now I know that my main character needs to overcome a significant challenge with obstacles consistently thrown in her way. My characters must have real-life flaws and express their emotions through thoughts and actions. Finally, she needs to rescue herself, and the book needs to have a satisfying ending.
# Do you have tips on choosing titles and covers?
Choosing titles is hard! Each time, the best title finally came after I had finished the entire story. I am fortunate with the covers because my book designer at Freedom Forge Press does that for me.
# How do bad reviews and negative feedback affect you and how do you deal with them?
I try to look at negative feedback with an open mind and consider the source. Sometimes negative feedback can help you grow as a writer.
# How has your creation process improved over time?
I started my first book in 2012 and quickly realized I needed help. I chose to work with a writing coach, David Hazard of Ascent, and we worked together for two years to get the book polished and ready to submit for publication. Honestly, without David, Cut From Strong Cloth would never have garnered all the 5-Star reviews on Amazon and Good Reads.
# What were the best, worst and most surprising things you encountered during the entire process of completing your book(s)?
The most surprising facet of being a novelist is how the story evolves because of the characters. In my first book, I had started the story from the point of view of my great-grandfather. About 40 pages in, I woke in the middle of the night with Ellen’s voice in my head saying, “This isn’t his story. It’s my story!” I tossed the 40 pages and started over.
# Do you tend towards personal satisfaction or aim to serve your readers? Do you balance the two and how?
One of the first writing programs I attended was with Gerry LaFemina in Frostburg, Maryland. He said, “Even if this book never gets published, your goal should be to write the best story possible.” So, I do—for both myself and the readers.
Thank you for this opportunity of allowing me to share what I consider to be one of my life’s greatest joys – writing.