Sunday, May 1, 2011

with Leigh Bale

Welcome to the Barn Door Book Loft, Leigh!
What started you on your writing journey?

I’ve been writing all my life. I guess you could say I was insane from a young age. :) Writing is such a masochistic profession. As early as the age of 7, I’d make up plays and force my little girlfriends to act in them. We’d dress up in old clothes and advertise the productions to all the neighbors. My poor mother had to provide popcorn and slushies she made in the freezer, which we’d sell for a nickel. Needless to say, we didn’t make much money for all our efforts. Some things never change. But writing is in my soul. A part of who I am.

What distracts you from writing the easiest?
My day job! If I knew my editor would love and buy every book I ever sent to her, I’d quit my full-time job and stay home and write, write, write. But I like to eat too much and I need a warm place to sleep. Health insurance is nice too. So off to work I go. I sit at my computer all day and then come home, put a load of laundry in to wash, fix something for dinner, and up to my computer I go to write all night. Hey! I told you I was a masochist from an early age.

I try to fit some exercise in there somewhere too. And I actively serve in my church congregation and weed my garden. And I’d drop any writing deadlines to spend time with my granddaughter. Next to my husband and parents, she’s my favorite person in the whole, wide world. I’m crazy about that kid!

What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Most authors are also voracious readers. Surprisingly, I never set out to write Inspirationals. I have a degree in history and love historicals. All kinds. Fiction and non-fiction. I love reading them, researching them, and writing them. Maybe one day I’ll sell one when I get time to actively pursue submitting one. If I ever get the chance to go back to Grad School, I would focus on Latin American Studies and specifically the Aztecs. I wrote my Senior Thesis on the prestige of Aztec women. What can I say? I’m enthralled by that fascinating culture.

Recently I read The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Based during medieval times, it was recently a mini-series on TV starring Donald Sutherland and Rufus Sewell. I really enjoyed that. I’ve got Mr. Follett’s sequel titled World Without End, but haven’t had time yet to really get reading on it. I’ve been busy judging a number of writing contests, so I’ve been reading other writer’s works.

Whenever I’m feeling lazy about writing my own next book, I try to read another author and it magically rejuvenates me. I guess you could say I get tired of reading my own writing all the time and need a change. Once I’m refreshed, I can write pages on end. I’m normally a very prolific writer, although I’m only producing two books per year right now. (If I weren’t working full-time, I’d write four or five books per year.)

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote?
I’d have to say Anne and Shelley, the two young daughters of the hero and heroine. These little girls are about eleven years old. Both have faced tragic loss in their lives. Both come from very different backgrounds; one is a Tom Boy country girl and the other is a prissy city girl. Yet they find common ground in their sameness and differences. I didn’t know when I started writing The Forest Ranger’s Promise that the girls would develop into the characters they did. Now I’m looking at them and wondering what kind of women they might become. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing their stories once they grow up. Books are so tidy. They end and wrap up all the loose ends. Yet in reality, life doesn’t stop there. It goes on and we face and conquer more challenges throughout our life. So I’d really like to see how these girls turn out and what they go on to do with their lives.

If you were a style of music, what style would you be?
Easy listening, most of the time. When I’m home cleaning house, I need something with a good, fast, rock beat. It gets my blood pumping while I’m scrubbing dirty sinks and bathtubs. :)

When I’m nervous or writing, I don’t listen to music. It jitters me even more. I like the quiet. I can concentrate easier. I’m probably ADHD and easily distracted. :)

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
The quirkiest thing I’ve ever done is to get hair extensions. I was a HUGE Tom Boy when I was a girl and never had pretty, long hair like other little girls. My hair is baby fine and needs a lot of styling to look good. So I always wanted long hair. Irritate that penchant by getting me together with my baby sister, and she talked me into getting hair extensions. Which I hated and had removed five days later. HAHAHA!

Come to think of it, my sister has talked me into a LOT of crazy things. She’ll deny it, but she also talked me into buying a dog with her. We bought two cute little black Poodle mix puppies. She took one and I took the other. And when I got it home, my husband looked rather dubious because we weren’t supposed to have pets in the house we were renting. (Our little boy was only four years old at the time.) So, being an honest person, I spoke with my landlady about the dilemma. She came over to see the dog and said we could keep it if we paid her a $400 cleaning deposit. Now this kind of griped me because I am an extremely tidy, fastidious person. But what could I do? This was about twenty years ago and I could no way come up with $400. (The dog only cost me $35.) But my landlady wanted a dog and thought the little blackie was so cute. So she paid me $35 and took my dog! In almost thirty years of marriage, we’ve had three more dogs. The eldest lived to be almost nineteen years old. We don’t presently have any pets, but our children do. And with our busy lifestyle, that’s enough for now.

Are there things you put off doing because you dread them?
Of course! Hey, I’m human just like everyone else. I put off washing the car, washing the dirty laundry, washing the floor. I have a problem with washing stuff. Seriously, though. I’m highly disciplined and highly organized, but there are things I prefer doing. I think for this question, you’re probably asking specifically about what I put off in my writing though. I love research and revisions, but I absolutely *hate* the fresh writing of a new book; the filling up an empty page with a story. That is very hard for me. So I dread it because as I’m writing, I think, “Wow! This is junk. Why did I ever think I could write this book? My editor is going to hate this. She’s going to tell me I have to give my advance back.” Etc. But then, after I’ve written those dreaded pages and read back through them, I find they aren’t half bad. And I start revising them, which I enjoy because the hard, yucky work of fresh writing has already been done. Then I can add texture, augment dialogue, go deeper into point of view, add more to the sense of hearing, touch, smell, etc., and tweak to my heart’s content. But writing those first fresh pages just about kills me. I tend to put them off, but no matter what, I *have* to write at least one chapter per week if I’m on deadline, or else I won’t be able to finish the book in time for heavy revising before it’s due to my editor. And then my editor would really get upset at me. :)

What's your favorite meal with family and friends?
I love eating out! When I was a kid, I grew up in *very* small towns without restaurants and movie theaters. So even if we could have afforded to eat out, there was no place to do it. As a result, we always ate at home. It was very rare that we’d travel to a larger town where we could get something to eat. So that was a real treat for me. As a result, I now love eating out whenever I can. I love being with my husband, kids and their spouses and the grandkids and my parents at Red Lobster, Ichiban’s, or Claim Jumper’s. Good food, lots of laughter, and the best company possible.

I also enjoy cooking on Sundays after church. And I adore my crockpots. (I have four of them!) Any of my family is invited to Sunday dinner. I particularly love a wonderful, hearty soup that is easy to toss together and left to simmer in the crockpot all day. Palestine Soup is low in fat, very nutritious, and so easy to make. It’s great for busy, working mom’s too!:

Palestine Soup
¾ Cup whole wheat kernels 2 stalks celery, diced
¾ Cup lentils 1 green bell pepper, diced
1 lb. Ground beef 1 teaspoon chili powder
1 onion, chopped 1/3 teaspoon ground cumin
1 quart crushed tomatoes Salt to taste
2 grated or chopped carrots Pepper to taste

Rinse wheat to get any chafe or dust off of the kernels. Place in medium-sized pan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Cook at low boil for 30 minutes. Add rinsed lentils and add more water as needed. Continue to boil the wheat and lentils together for 30 more minutes (a total of 1 hour). This will soften the wheat and lentils so they cook well in the crockpot.

While the wheat and lentils is boiling, brown the hamburger and chopped onion and drain off fat. Add hamburger mixture to cooked wheat and lentils in the crockpot and mix in all the rest of the ingredients. Cook on high heat for 4 hours. Depending on the heat of your crockpot, you can leave the soup on high heat all day and enjoy when you get home from church or work that evening, or turn the heat down to low after 4 hours. Total cook time in the crockpot is about 6-8 hours, until wheat, lentils and vegetables are tender.

Enjoy with a crusty loaf of French bread!

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
Yes, since I write Inspirationals, I always have faith elements in my stories. For some reason, I tend to write books that have a lot about the Atonement in them. As a Christian, the Savior is the foundation of my religious life and the Atonement is everything. Without the Atonement and the process of repentance, I would be lost. Nothing would matter because I’d be doomed. The Atonement and God’s forgiveness allows me to forgive myself and seek my Heavenly Father’s forgiveness. It also inspires me to forgive others. Because God will forgive whom he will and he requires me to forgive all men, I constantly remind myself to be as forgiving of others as I would want them to be of me. And since I’m a very naughty girl and say and do things I shouldn’t all of the time, I need lots of forgiveness. Just ask my kids. And my husband. And my sister. And my brother. And my parents. And on and on and on…. :)

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you.
I love Psalms 3 when David cries unto the Lord. Not only does it show humility, but I also find a little humor in it. When David says, “Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me. Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God,” I chuckle at that. I think of all the people in my life who might think, “Boy! There is no help for her.” And yet, David goes on to gain strength from God and not give up the good fight. I love that. It inspires me to never, ever give up on others or on myself. The whole passage is:

“Lord, how are they increased that trouble me!
Many are they that rise up against me.
Many there be which say of my soul,
There is no help for him in God.
But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me;
My glory, and the lifter up of mine head.
I cried unto the Lord with my voice,
And he heard me out of his holy hill.
I laid me down and slept;
I awaked; for the Lord sustained me.
I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people,
That have set themselves against me round about.
Arise, O Lord; save me, O my god;
For thou hast smitten all mine enemies upon the cheek bone.”

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
I have a new book titled The Forest Ranger’s Promise out from Harlequin Love Inspired in May 2011. This is the first in a new series centered on forest rangers. The second book titled The Forest Ranger’s Husband will be out in November 2011. And three more books will follow after that, though I don’t yet have the titles and release dates. These are inspirational stories about fictitious people dealing with very real situations. My father is a retired forest ranger and has served as my consultant on the books. Although I’ve also had to do a LOT of research for these books as Dad retired sixteen years ago. For example, I told him that there were no longer 13 “watch out” situations for wildfire fighting. He insisted there were, until I told him there were now 18 “watch out” situations. Times had changed. They also have much better fire shelters and other equipment, but the Pulaski (a hand tool that combines an ax and an adze into one head and aids firefighters in digging soil or chopping wood) is a classic tool all wildfire fighters still use. Dad was glad to hear some things hadn’t changed since he’d retired.

Although these books are filled with authentic forest ranger situations and lingo, they center on romantic and faith-based conflict. Very real problems we each deal with during our lives. The forest ranger theme is merely what my heroes and heroines do for a living. I hope my readers will enjoy this unique new series and send me an email or signup for my newsletter. They can contact me through my website at:

Buy at CBD

You can purchase The Forest Ranger's Promise from Christian Book Distributors.
Leigh is giving away a copy of The Forest Ranger's Promise. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment. You can enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post.


Jo said...

What a great and interesting interview. I also love the cover of your book. My daughter's name is Shelley. I am really wanting to read this book. Please enter me.


Jackie S. said...

This book has really caught my attention....I am so anxious to read it!! I have loved learning about Leigh, her family, writings, and want to be entered for this book! Thanks!!

Marianne said... thrilled that some of the contests include the Canadian side of the line! i would love to win this book. Thanks for the interview and chance, mitzi_wanham[at]yahoo[dot]com from Alberta

lgm52 said...

Sounds great .. would love to win it to read and share!

windycindy said...

This wonderful author is new to me!
I enjoy reading the Love Inspired
Many thanks, Cindi

Tracy Smith said...

I think this book sounds really good. I would love to read it.

countrysunset40 (at) aol dot com

Linda Kish said...

Sounds great. Count me in please.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Charity said...

Please enter me:) I am a big fan of the Love Inspired books and have found many wonderful ones. Thanks!


Leanne said...

I want to read this one!

leanniegehrke at hotmail dot com

ann said...

Sounds good would enjoy reading it.
Nice info about you.
enter me to win it

Anonymous said...

Loved the interview...and would love to have this book. Thanks so much for offering it@

apple blossom said...

Please include me in this giveaway. thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

karenk said...

thanks for sharing this recipe w/ us...and thanks for the chance to read this wonderful story :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Amy said...

Please enter me. I enjoy Leigh Bale's books. Thanks.


Amanda said...

Interesting, to say the least! I think I would have cried for days if my landlady bought my dog. :) And, hair extentions? Too cool!
Thank you for the opportunity to win :)

amanda38401 at gmail dot com

Charity U said...

Please enter me here too! :)

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