Today I’d like to introduce you to a new-to-me author, Bonnie Leon. I’m thrilled that she’s agreed to do an interview for us here on my blog. Keep reading to hear about her newest release, One Hundred Valleys.
Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today! I’m honored to have you here on my blog, and thrilled to get to know you.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
The years are sprinting by and I’m surprised to find that I’m already a senior citizen. My husband and I live in a small community in Southern Oregon where we’ve been for forty years. We have three grown children and seven grandchildren (some of them are already grown up). Our property is a small farm and at this stage off life it’s getting a bit difficult to keep up with. Still, we’re not yet ready to give up and move into town.
Some of my favorite things to do are to visit the ocean and put my feet in the sand while relishing the cry of seagulls and the briny smell of the ocean. And I’m counting the days until fishing season opens in the high mountain lakes. Greg and I will be out on the water with our poles in hand as soon as it warms up.
How did your writing journey begin?
In 1990 I was suddenly and inexplicably compelled to write. I filled legal pads with short stories, poems and personal experiences. I think it was a God thing. He knew what was coming.
In 1991 I attended a one day writing conference where one of the visiting authors expressed interest in my writing and encouraged me to continue. I was ecstatic as I drove home from the conference, my mind full of plans for my writing future. It was only three weeks later that I was in a terrible auto accident. A fully loaded log truck overturned on a corner and hit my van. Some of my injuries did not heal and I was left with chronic pain and disability.
In a moment I lost so much – my ability to work and to care for my family. I was forced to rely on my dear husband and children to do the everyday things of caring for our home. Months passed and I didn’t improve. I found myself in a deep valley and asked the Lord to please give me something to do that mattered. He threw open every door to a writing career. All I needed to do was step through each door. God did the rest.
In 1993 I attended a four day writing conference where I met authors who cared enough to mentor me. I learned a great deal at that conference and returned home and went to work on my first novel, The Journey of Eleven Moons. It took ten months to write the book, and I returned to the conference the following summer where I presented it to a requisitions editor who worked for Thomas Nelson Publishing. They loved the story and published it as the first in a series. That book also made the best sellers list. It was an incredible experience.
I’ve been writing ever since.
How many books have you had published, and what is your current writing project?
I’ve published twenty-two novels, which includes a memoir of a native woman who grew up in Alaska during the 1940’s and 50’s.
Valley of Promises, a historical romance, just released and have turned my attention to a contemporary romance that takes place in Northern California’s wine country. My mind is also busy thinking about the continuing story of my recent release. I don’t feel ready to leave my characters and their small community in Southern Oregon. I may write a sequel.
Tell me a little about your childhood, what is a memorable experience or favorite memory you can tell me about?
I was blessed to be born into a wonderful family. My parents loved one another and their five children. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but there was a lot of love going around.
I have many precious memories of our country life, but I guess my favorite bundle of memories is about a trek we made up the Alaskan Highway when I was just ten years old. My mother grew up in Alaska. She was native and had a large family who lived in the state. It was a 2400 mile journey north and once we got on the Alaskan Highway, 1200 miles of it was on a gravel road. Every day was filled new sights and adventures. I saw all kinds of wildlife and wilderness beauty. Even a ten-year-old was impressed with the Alaskan wilderness.
I experienced a little of the native life while in Alaska. My family and extended family traveled by dory across Cook Inlet and then up a river to my grandparents homestead. To this day there are no roads leading to the property. The trip across the inlet was exciting. At one point, we were surrounded by a pod of beluga whales. Like white ghosts they swam around and beneath our boat. On that trip a storm blew in, forcing us to seek shelter in a couple of seal hunter cabins. It was a lot of excitement for a ten-year-old.
I’d love to hear about how you and your husband met (if you’re married)
I met my husband when I was just seventeen years old. He was in the navy and his ship was in dry dock in Bremerton, Washington. My brother was serving on the same ship, and he brought Greg home to dinner one night. I was immediately smitten. He was a gorgeous man. We fell in love and two months later we were engaged. This was during the Viet Nam War so my new love was sent overseas for more than ten months. During those months we wrote letters and when he returned we were married. This summer we will celebrate forty-nine years as husband and wife.
Do you have any fun or unusual hobbies?
I’m a pretty “normal” woman. But there is something I enjoy that some would consider unusual.
I love my chickens. They are sweet, round critters. I love the way they talk to each other. I love to visit them and chat with them, often using their language. I don’t know what I’m actually saying of course but the hens seem to enjoy my company and always talk back.
Tell me about your dream vacation
My dream vacation would be spent in Scotland. My heritage, on my father’s side, is Scottish. I would love to stay in B & B on one of Scotland’s lochs where I can spend quite days taking in the beauty of the countryside and exploring the lake.
What is something you’ve learned in life that is a valuable lesson for all of us?
That’s such a difficult question, but having given it some thought I would have to say, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” God has everything in hand, and worrying and fretting or being angry about petty matters is not worth our energy. It’s a waste of time and the negative emotions will only make us unhappy. It is so much better to focus on the goodness and beauty in this world. If we do that we will find happiness.
And now, for this beauty of a book!
About the book
After the death of her mother, Emmalin Hammond discovers she is not the heiress she’d always assumed she’d be. The revelation exposes her fiancé’s true intentions when he withdraws his marriage proposal, leaving Emmalin heartbroken and humiliated. When she discovers the father she believed to be dead is still alive and living in the Oregon Territory she decides it is time to meet the man who has been hidden from her all of her life.
Accompanied by her Uncle Jonathon, she sets out for the Oregon Territory in search of answers and hoping for a renewed relationship with her father. When tragedy strikes, she confronts the terrifying challenge of completing her quest alone. Faced with few options, she entrusts her life to a mountain man named Jacob Landon who agrees to transport her to a small settlement in Southern Oregon called Deer Creek, a place also known as the Land of One Hundred Valleys.
Emmalin is not prepared for the hardships of life in the Oregon wilderness. Each day presents a new challenge. Newfound friends, including the reserved Jacob Landon, who unexpectedly stirs her heart, come alongside to help her adapt. Yet she feels out of place. Should she brave the arduous journey back to Philadelphia for the life she once knew or remain and hope for something better in the Oregon wilderness?
You can buy it here
About the author
Bonnie Leon is the author of twenty-two novels, including the recently released One Hundred Valleys, the popular Alaskan Skies and bestselling The Journey of Eleven Moons.
Bonnie’s books are being read internationally and she hears from readers in Australia, Europe, Poland, and even Africa. She enjoys speaking for women’s groups and mentoring up and coming authors.
Bonnie and her husband, Greg, live in Southern Oregon. They have three grown children and seven grandchildren.