The second week of Author Spotlights starts today. The first week was awesome! It only gets better from here. We have a great showcase of amazingly talented writers for you. It’s true! But I'm biased because I respect and admire my fellow authors with sincere zeal. Putting yourself out there to be judged and critiqued isn’t easy. These individuals know and understand firsthand what I’m referring to. Supporting each other is essential in this industry. I am proud that I am connected to these creative spirits.
As writers, we have to know, study, and better our craft to be taken seriously. I take that to heart and apply it daily in my writing. Practice makes perfect, and perfection definitely doesn’t come over night. When you know better, you do better! Having and maintaining a healthy work ethic goes hand in hand with success in the writing industry. And you most certainly need to have a thick layer or two, of tough skin.
I met my next Spotlight Author, Mrs. Linda Hurst, at the Louisiana Book Festival in 2014. Since then, we became Facebook friends, and I’ve attended the South West Louisiana Book Festival that she coordinates in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Her pleasant demeanor is refreshing. And, her love for horses is evident in her writing. Let's give her a big Kickin’ It With KeKe welcome!!
Author Linda Hurst
My life has been an exciting one. I have done many things, from winning the Betty Crocker Homemaking Award in high school to being a Southern Gospel recording artist in my hometown and a musician on a television show for one season. I was born Linda Kay Whittington in Norfolk, Virginia, the daughter of a seamstress and a Realtor. Neither of my parents were educated formally, but both valued education. They were truly wise people and loved reading. Although when he read aloud, my father stumbled over many of the words, he was always reading his Bible. My mother read our local newspaper from cover-to-cover daily and we shared every book I ever brought home from school. Because of her, I was reading before I started school. I had one older adopted brother, Jim. He was my friend and protector, and I loved him fiercely. I called him “Buddy.” We were a very close family. As a ten-year-old, I typed my dad’s real estate contracts. Although he couldn’t write, my dad was a self-made man and a great salesman. (I was privileged to teach him cursive handwriting when my youngest son was in fourth grade. My dad was 79-years old.) My mother’s talents lay in her sewing skills. She made everything I wore. We loved to go shopping together where she would examine the latest styles and come home and make them for me. I had more clothes than any girl in my high school class! I attribute my work ethic and my creativity to my parents, who were not only great teachers, but great examples.
In 1969, I met my future husband, Don Hurst, while handing out Good News for Modern Man Bibles in the student center of my university, Old Dominion, where I was an education major, and Don majored in electronics engineering. Don grew up on a small island in the Chesapeake Bay, the son of a family of watermen. His brother still lives on the island in the old home place. We married in 1971. We have two sons, Chris and Geoff. In 1980 we moved to Dallas, Texas, a move that changed our lives. During this time I home schooled my boys and finished my doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction, Elementary Education/Reading at Texas A&M University-Commerce. My boys spent their school days doing their work in the college classes I taught as a graduate assistant. Believe me, that raised a few eyebrows! During this time, I wrote and published an elementary curriculum designed for home school children. My boys and I spent a lot of time together, traveling from state conference to state conference sharing my curriculum. It was the adventure of a lifetime!
My sons have been the delight of my life. Both grew up to love reading and one has recently completed writing his first novel. I like to think I played a small part in their becoming literate adults. After my boys went off to college, I returned to teaching, first as a reading specialist in a public school and then as a college professor teaching graduate and undergraduate courses in Methods of Teaching Language Arts, Reading, and Social Studies. I have since retired twice, first in Texas, and most recently in Louisiana. In between teaching jobs, I returned to the family business (real estate) until the market fell. This event led me to pursue a college teaching position in Louisiana. As much as we loved Texas, we have never regretted moving to southwest Louisiana and living the small town life. Retirement has given me the time and opportunity to continue serious writing. Now, instead of having to fit writing into a tight time-schedule, filled with work obligations, I am able to write, reflect, and relax. Life is more precious every day. My mind is crammed full of projects I want to complete. Now the only question is how many I can fit into my retirement schedule? Time will tell if you’ll pardon the cliché!
KC: I agree, Mrs. Linda. Your life has definitely been an exciting one. Awesome to say the least.
KC: So tell us, how long you have been writing?
LH: I started writing back in elementary school just for fun, but I wrote my first short story for a high school contest when I was sixteen. I recently found that story in some old memorabilia and enjoyed a good laugh. It was a corny, albeit, well-written tale.
KC: What genre do you write or prefer writing?
LH: I prefer to write stories for children. I would love to write mysteries for adults, but I’m not sure I have the skills needed to be successful with that genre. I will probably try my hand at a cozy mystery in the near future.
KC: Mysteries are one of my favorite genres.
KC: How did you know you wanted to become an author/writer?
LH: As a ten-year-old, I met my favorite author, Marguerite Henry, when my mother took me to Chincoteague to see the Pony Penning Ms. Henry’s book (Misty of Chincoteague) made famous. I read everything Ms. Henry wrote, including her biography, and realized I wanted to be just like her. I kept this desire as a secret until I was in high school. There I revealed it in confidence to a teacher, who proceeded to convince me that I needed to find another career interest. Because of this teacher’s advice, I gave up the idea of becoming a writer and didn’t think about it again until I was middle-aged. Then, a trip back east to visit Chincoteague with my family sparked that old desire. I returned home to Texas, joined my local SCBWI, and started writing. I haven’t stopped since that moment. I regret that I didn’t start earlier in life. Since that time, I have strongly advised my college students to be careful about what they say to their students. It can have a long-term negative effect. They may be discouraging someone who could be a Pulitzer Prize winner from ever attempting to put pen to paper.
KC: Wow! Some people can be a bit callous when you share your dream with them. I’ve been there.
KC: What inspires you to write?
LH: When I get a good story idea, I have a hard time doing anything else until that idea is down on paper (or in my computer!). I get ideas from lots of places, including the newspaper, Facebook, stories from friends, and my own personal experiences. I guess that is the advantage of having a well-developed imagination—it never quits!
KC: What message do you want readers to take away from your work?
LH: I hope they will be inspired to pursue their dreams, whatever they are, and to be persistent in whatever they tackle. To quote the great Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never, never give up!”
KC: How would you describe your writing style?
LH: I am a “seat-of-the-pants” writer for the most part. Occasionally, when writing novel-length stories, I try to follow a basic outline. My problems arise when I go off on tangents and then get lost. Sometimes I end up writing two or three books that are eventually condensed into one.
KC: Who are some of your favorite authors?
LH: It depends on the genre. Above, I told you about my favorite author, Marguerite Henry. She is followed by many others, including C.S. Lewis and E.B. White. When I go back to picture book authors, first on my list would be my mentor, Bill Martin, Jr. Also on that list are Margaret Wise Brown, Eri Carle, Michael Sampson, and Jane Yolen. As an adult, I love a good murder mystery. Mary Higgins Clark comes in first place in this list, followed by Diane Mott Davidson. Vince Flynn and Robert Ludlum are authors who have kept me sitting on the edge of my seat. I also enjoy great historical fiction, courtesy of my love for history. The list is too numerous to identify here, although Thomas B. Costain’s books were some of my favorites. As a romantic, I grew up reading Grace Livingston Hill novels. I try to collect as many hardbacks as I can find of her books. They are old fashioned, but sweet, and they always point the reader to God’s Word. My modern romance favorite is, of course, Nicholas Sparks. I love his stories because they are set in an area of North Carolina that I am very familiar with, since my family lived nearby. Recently, I have become acquainted with an author that may actually be a relative. I have read some of his work and wish I had met him when he was alive. His name is Harry Whittington. He wrote the novel, The Man From Uncle, that became the television series. I wish I had discovered him when my dad was alive too. It would have been interesting for them to meet.
KC: That is quite a list. More names to add to my authors to check out list. I also love Nicholas Sparks. The Notebook is on my list of all-time favorite stories.
KC: What are some of your favorite books?
LH: This is an answer that could be a doctoral dissertation.
LH: At the moment, I am rereading one of my favorite books, Harm’s Way, by James Bassett. This book was the basis for the John Wayne movie, “In Harm’s Way”, which is also my favorite movie. Because I often fall in love with the characters or stories in the books I read, I try to collect the ones I love. This has made me a hoarder of sorts. I attribute it to the fact that as a child who loved to read, we didn’t have many books. My public school didn’t even have a library! Books were such a treasure to me that I still have some of the ones my mother was able to purchase for me when I was little. Today, I have a storage building lined with bookcases where I keep my treasures. I guess this makes me an eccentric! Definitely weird!
KC: Well, I am happy to be a part of #teamweird. LOL!
KC: What is your formula when working on a new project? (Do you listen to music, use an outline, meditate, or simply start typing?)
LH: I usually “daydream” to work through my story. I sometimes use note cards to capture any “scenes” I want to include. Usually, I know how the story begins, some of the things that will happen in the middle, and hopefully, how it ends. In between, I let the story go where it wants to in my imagination. Hopefully, it will all work out. I am definitely ADHD—except when writing. Then, I focus on the story and get so caught up in it that I’m in another world!
KC: If you could collaborate with any of your peers, who would it be and why?
LH: Probably Jane Yolen, because she writes for so many different age groups masterfully.
KC: What advice would you give aspiring authors?
LH: Read what you want to write. Read, read, and read some more. Then write. Write every day. And don’t forget to join a writing group. My writer friends have been invaluable in keeping me from giving up and throwing in the towel. I owe them a lot.
KC: What are you reading currently?
LH: I am always reading more than one thing at a time. Currently, I am reading the novel I mentioned previously, Harm’s Way, by James Bassett. I’m also reading Fat Tuesday Fricassee, by J.J. Cook (aka Jim and Joyce Levene).
KC: How can readers find you?
LH: I am on Facebook (Linda Kay Whittington Hurst) and all of my books are listed on Amazon.
KC: As an author, do you think using social media is a great source for gaining new readers/supporters?
KC: Tell us about your latest work?
LH: My latest book is a simple picture book about the wild horses of Corolla (one of my favorite subjects!).
KC: What’s next for you?
LH: I am working on two picture books: a children’s biography of one of my favorite authors and on a colorful, but thought-provoking book about wild horses who are in serious jeopardy. In between my own writing projects, I am coaching a novice writer, editing an educational book, and doing the graphic design on a friend’s picture book. It’s a busy world.
KC: That’s wonderful! It’s always nice to keep busy doing the thing you love.
KC: Do you believe networking is crucial to being successful in the writing industry? Why?
LH: Yes. Networking has helped me in many ways. I have been encouraged when I was down, and I have been inspired by the ideas and successes of others. My dad used to say that a coal that was removed from the hearth would die and go out, but if it remained with the other coals, it would glow red hot. I have found this to be true with writers. By networking, belonging to critique groups and being best buddies with my writer friends, I stay on fire as a writer. Without them, my embers would flicker and burn out. I’d be tempted to be just another couch potato. Why not?
KC: I can tell by the way you have spoken of him that your father was a sage man. I love the analogy.
KC: Where do you see yourself in five years?
LH: Sitting on the deck of my beach house, drinking in the waves and salt air, sipping sweet mint ice tea and writing my latest murder mystery on my new laptop. Everybody needs a dream. J
KC: Where do you want to be with your writing in five years?
LH: I would love to win the Newbery Medal.
KC: Tell us something that you live by daily, that we can carry with us that should inspire and motivate us to pursue our purpose?
LH: “Casting all your care upon Him for He cares for you.” I Pet. 5:7 and “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jer. 29:11. If God gave you the dream, do your part to pursue that dream with all your heart.
KC: Great words to live by. Being a Christian, I use scripture on a daily basis to make it through this crazy thing called life. It helps even when we don’t think it does.
KC: I like to incorporate fun and excitement into my blog interviews during the author spotlight segment. This gives readers insight as to who you are as a person. Fun facts are my way of doing so, plus, I get to learn something about you too.
KC: What is your favorite color?
KC: What is your favorite food?
KC: What is your favorite pastime?
KC: Football or basketball?
KC: Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
LH: Nolan Ryan! Or any of the Texas Rangers.
KC: Thanksgiving or Christmas?
LH: Both. I love to cook and decorate. How can I choose?
KC: Books or movies?
LH: Books are always better than movies. But I really enjoy reading the book and then watching the movie. I make a great armchair critic!
KC: Winter, spring, summer, or fall?
LH: When I was a child, and we really had three months off from school, summer was hands-down my favorite season. Living on the coast, summer meant swimming at the beach and fishing on the pier, bare feet, and lightning bugs. Family and picnics. It was the best! And then I grew up, and we moved to Dallas during the summer of 1980, with temperatures over 100 degrees even at night. I didn’t complain, but I began to rethink my list of favorites. Now that I live in Louisiana, with the heat and humidity that can be oppressive in summer, my favorite season is spring!
KC: If you were allowed only one thing with you during the day, what would be the thing you pick?
LH: My iPhone. I can read, write, communicate…play! J
KC: Breakfast or Lunch?
LH: Lunch! I hate eggs. Need I say more?
KC: If there is something I didn’t ask that you want readers to know about you, please include it at this time.
LH: I love horses, gardening, feeding the birds, cats, dogs and bunny rabbits, the last being a newly acquired appreciation. Grandchildren are like having hot fudge on your favorite Blue Bell ice cream. And music definitely soothes the savage beast. Sing to your children! (I also sing to my pets. My horse learned to quiet down and relax when I sang to her!)
KC: Please list your website so the audience can stay connected with you.
LH: My website is under construction. Since I am dreadful at website creation, it is unfinished. You can find me on Facebook!
KC: It has certainly been great having you with me today, Mrs. Linda. Thank you for Kickin’ It With KeKe. I pray peace, love, and continued success unto you.
Until next time, Be Inspired, Be Encouraged, & Be YOU!