On caregivers, faith, family, and writing…

Published in the Rains County Leader on August 25, 2022:

One of my favorite aspects of being a writer is the connections I make with people through my columns, my blogs, and my books. Many of the connections come electronically through email or social media, and some even come by snail mail. I’ve also met lots of people at book signings, meet-the-author events, and vendor fairs. In May of last year I wrote a column about some of these connections, but I thought I’d share a few more interesting encounters I’ve experienced

In the previous article I shared about the teacher who used my first novel to get two teenaged non-readers interested in the written word. Several years ago another teacher reached out to me, asking if I would answer a list of ten questions her 5th grade class had about being a writer. It’s interesting how, when you help someone, you sometimes end up helping yourself even more. Answering their questions was fun for me, and their questions were so relevant that I often use them as the basis for my presentation when I’m asked to speak about writing.

Some people, however, are more interested in my subjects than the writing itself. In 2017 I received an email from a lady named Becky who was a devoted Kitty fan. She was 80 years old at the time, and her husband was 82. They had recently lost their beloved cat, and reading about Kitty’s antics was a comfort to them. We continued to correspond occasionally for the next eighteen months, but my last email went unanswered. Maybe she lost interest in my columns when Kitty matured and provided less writing material.

I met Esther when she contacted me about being a guest on her weekly Internet Bible study. She was planning a session on how to recover from abuse and wanted me to talk about Tatia’s Tattoo, my novel about trafficking in a small Texas town. We met for coffee to discuss the interview and became friends. The online interview went well, and she has become a regular at the ladies’ Wednesday morning Bible study at Believers’ Baptist.

Anita and I met in 2020 when she bought a copy of Tatia’s Tattoo at a Jingle Mingle event at Emory City Centre. She messaged me the next week to say she wanted the second in the series, and she wanted to know if I would be working any other events in the near future. We made plans to see each other at Christmas around the Square the following week, but two days later, I tested positive for COVID. She sympathized and wished me well, and I didn’t hear from her for several weeks.

In January of 2021, I received another message from her asking about my recovery. Then she said she had bought the second book online and had shared both books with her parents. Now they wanted to read my two memoirs about caring for my parents. We arranged to meet the following week and transacted our business in the parking lot of the hospital where she works. The next time I heard from, or about her, was earlier this year when my cousin told me he had met one of my fans. He was recovering from a heart attack, and Anita was his physical therapist. I don’t know how my name came up, but unknown authors will accept recognition from any source. During our message exchanges, Anita expressed interest in the third book in the Tatia series. Since I am nearing the end of the first draft, I may be seeing her again in the near future.

As interesting as these connections are, the most unusual one to date began in November of last year when I received a call from the Rains County Leader office. The caller said they had received a letter addressed to me, and based on the return address, it looked like it was from a prison. I was surprised but intrigued, and I asked her to open it and read it to me. It was a very nice letter from a young man who described himself as a “huge fan” of my City Girl and Believers’ Baptist columns. I asked the Leader office to hold the letter for me until I could pick it up. After reading his letter for myself, I wrote him back, and we have exchanged letters occasionally since then.

Tom (not his real name) is, indeed, in prison and nearing the halfway point of a rather long sentence. He encountered my writing in the Leader which his mother has provided for him for longer than I’ve been a contributor. He is open about why he is there and makes no excuses for himself, but what he has allowed the Lord to do with his time of incarceration is amazing. Early on he found a book by Ruth Myers about Psalm 91 and claimed it as his own. Several years later, he began a personal walk with Jesus, and that seems to define his life.

Tom has become one of six elders in the Chapel Ministry in his facility. For some reason, he is in a unit where the average age is at least twelve years younger than he is, but he accepts that as an opportunity to offer guidance to the younger men. A few months ago the warden gave him and the other chaplains permission to visit one of the other blocks to share the Gospel. While there he encountered someone he knew in high school. He has been sharing his copies of the Leader with his friend who has become a City Girl follower – yet another connection.

In 1993 MGM released a movie called Six Degrees of Separation. The basic idea of the story is that all people are six or fewer social connections away from each other. It seems to me that one of the main purposes of communication is finding those connections and making those connections closer. Writers communicate through words that sometimes go far beyond the original purpose to make connections that were never imagined.



Kitty’s Story

Fallen Angel Salvage

Tatia’s Tattoo

Mom’s Long GoodbyeA Long and Winding Road

Comments on: "More Connections | by Linda Brendle" (2)

  1. Gloria Moore said:

    I’d like to hear more about prisoners that have read any of your books. Have you donated any to a prison? Definitely would be seeds planted.

    • “Tom” is the only prisoner I have been in touch with, and I don’t know if he has read any of my books. In his first letter he asked if my books were on Amazon and asked for a list of them but hasn’t mentioned them since. I have not donated any books to any prisons, but it would probably be a good idea.

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