Here's a brief summary of the book:
Priscilla White bears the painful knowledge that she'll never be able to be a mother. Having felt God's call to missionary work, she determines to remain single, put her pain behind her, and answer God's call.
Dr. Eli Ernest wants to start a medical clinic and mission in unsettled Oregon Country. He's not interested in taking a wife because of the dangers of life in the west and the fact that no white woman has ever attempted the overland crossing.
But then Priscilla and Eli both receive news from the mission board: No longer will they send unmarried men and women into the field. Left scrambling for options, the two realize the other might be the answer to their needs.
Priscilla and Eli agree to a partnership, a marriage in name only that will allow them to follow God's leading into the mission field. But as they journey west, this decision will be tested by the hardships of the trip and by the unexpected turnings of their hearts.
I always like to share what I learned from each book I read, and in this case, I learned a great deal about scenes. Jody didn't give us unnecessary details about the main characters' adventures along the Oregon Trail. She jumped ahead to the scenes that mattered, and quickly summarized what had taken place before that time. She did this with such style and made it look easy, but we all know it's not.
Before we dive in to Jody's interview, I'd like point out what many of you already know--that her blog is the go-to place for writing advice that's humble, personal, and practical.
And now some Q&A with award-winning author, Jody Hedlund:
Jody, what was the inspiration behind The Doctor's Lady?
This book is inspired by the true life story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to brave the dangers of overland trail and travel west. In 1836, she married Dr. Whitman, and then the next day left her childhood home and would never return for the purpose of starting a mission among the Nez Perce natives.
It was my hope in this story to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. It was called an "unheard-of-journey for females." Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what would later become known as the Oregon Trail.
What do you like most about writing and being a published author?
As a writer, I love telling stories. I especially like the feeling that comes as I near the end of the book when everything looks hopeless, the characters are in big trouble, and somehow I'm able to wrap up the book in a satisfying way. I call it the first-draft love affair! I fall absolutely and madly in love with the story and think it's the best thing I've ever written.
As a published author, I love hearing from readers. I'm always thrilled to get emails or hand-written notes from readers telling me how much my story touched them.
What do you like least?
I struggle the most during the editing phase of each of my books. The love affair that started during the first draft comes to an end. I fall out of love with my books. By the last edit--called the Galley Review--I finally reach a point where I loathe the book, think it's the worst thing I've ever written, and wish I could just throw it away. During the Galley stage, I'm fraught with insecurity and fear. My agent did a great job of talking me off the cliff during my fears with The Doctor's Lady. She encouraged and inspired me to keep going no matter what happens.
As a homeschooling mom of five children, how do you manage to find time to write?
It's definitely not easy. I feel like I have two very full time jobs! But like any other writer trying to balance dual careers or multiple responsibilities, I've had to look for ways to make it work. I've scaled-back on outside commitments and simplified home life as much as possible. I also stick to a very strict writing schedule when I'm in first draft mode. I block out writing time and don't let myself go to bed at night unless I get in my daily word count.
What advice do you have for anyone interested in writing and pursuing publication?
Write a couple of books first and unleash your creativity. Then start reading books that explain how to write. Study techniques, practice them, and keep writing. When you begin reaching a level in your writing where you think you're ready to start querying, get a critique partner to read your work, vamp up your online presence, and immerse yourself in the writing industry.
Jody, thanks so much for stopping by my blog and giving us a peek into your creative process!
Friends, one lucky commenter will receive a copy of The Doctor's Lady (US residents only). Please comment by midnight EST on Friday, October 14 for your chance to win this inspirational book.
Update: I've heard that Blogger isn't allowing some people to leave a comment. If this happens to you, and you'd like to be entered in the book giveaway, please email me at julie (at) juliemusil (dot) com and I'll enter you. So sorry!
Do you love historical fiction? What's your favorite historical novel, or your favorite historical figure? I'd love to hear your thoughts!
Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher's Bride. She received a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Her second book, The Doctor's Lady released in September 2011.