Prior to this year, Linda Sealy Knowles had never published any writing beyond a recipe for a cook book. Now the mother of two and grandmother of three has added novelist to her long list of accomplished titles.
In August, Knowles' novel "Journey to Heaven Knows Where" was printed by iUniverse, a marketing and editing company for self-publishing authors. With very little marketing to date, the book's reception has already surprised Knowles.
"The only advertisement that I have had is on Facebook, and my word, it has taken off like crazy," Knowles told The Log.
The novel is the story of a young woman, Rae Rogers, who along with her 3-year-old sister, Hope Summer, is on the run from their abusive stepfather in 1890s Texas. After fleeing, Rae and Hope meet a handsome cattle rancher named Jesse. Love blossoms between Rae and Jesse, as the girls try to escape a past that won't let them go.
The inspiration for the story came from Knowles' life. She began writing the book with no story outline or plans. As she began to write, what came out carried similarities to Knowles' first experience leaving home, though she never ran away.
"When I left home in 1964, my little sister was three years old and her name was Hope Summer," Knowles said. "I just starting writing that I had run away, didn't have any money, no nothing and I took my little sister with me for her protection."
Knowles also took inspiration from her family's home in Alabama, but said she had to take her characters west for the story.
"I couldn't use Alabama, because I needed cowboys and wide-open spaces. So I chose Texas," Knowles said.
The current Niceville and former Destin resident's foray into serious writing started late in 2012. To mark the 10-year anniversary of her husband's death, in October 2002, Knowles wrote a piece about the day he died. She sent copies to her daughter and a few close friends. After reading it, Knowles' daughter encouraged her to get serious about her writing.
“She said, 'Momma, just start writing for God's sake,' " Knowles said.
Knowles hopes to hold a book signing soon to promote the book, but has not officially scheduled the event at press time.
"Journey to Heaven Knows Where" is available in hardcover and paperback at most online book dealers, including BooksaMillion.com, BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon.com. The book is also available for e-readers from Barnes and Noble (nook) and Amazon (Kindle).