As I sit here at my desk unable to sleep because in a few hours I’ll be hosting a memorial for my mother, many things go through my mind about life in general and all the things each of us goes through from childhood through high school and young love, marriage, our own children, then grandchildren and the inevitable experience of caring for our own parents as they once had to care for us. THE LION KING’S “Circle of Life” song is so fitting, for we are all part of that circle. My favorite picture of my mom and dad is when they were first married. My mom was only seventeen, and she’s looking at my dad as though he walked on water … such adoration in her eyes. Now they are together again … and young again.
I look at all the little things I saved that were my mom’s and wonder how many of my own little treasures my sons and grandsons will want to keep after I’m gone. It then struck me that I am so lucky to be able to leave behind something that will never really go away, at least not for many years after I’m gone, and that’s my books. By leaving behind some of my stories for others to read, I am leaving behind a piece of Rosanne Bittner that lives on, because in most of my stories I am the heroine. Most of the time my heroines behave as I would have behaved in those times, or at least the way I think I would have behaved. I always try to imagine myself in the various situations my heroines find themselves in, and try to make it personal. What would I say? What would I do? I like to think that I am a survivor. I’ve been through a lot in my own life, and I think that as we age it becomes so much easier to identify with our heroines, especially if we write about women who marry and have children. In many cases with my stories, I follow that woman as she grows older, and I know from personal experience how it feels to be young and in love – how it feels to be a mother – a daughter – a sister – a wife – a grandmother.
All the experiences we have in our own lives can be used in our stories to give that personal “inside” touch to the hero/heroine and their experiences and points of view. Naturally I’ve never been through every single thing that happens to my heroines, but I can certainly use my imagination and envision what it must be like to travel for 2000 miles in a covered wagon, to live with the elements, to be a woman alone in an untamed land, the loneliness of living in the middle of nowhere without other women to talk to, to have a baby with no doctor’s help, to love a man who is often difficult to love or understand.
My own husband has always been a strong, take-no-prisoners type of man. I suppose that’s why my heroes are much the same. And we farmed for several years, so I know what it’s like to work out in a field all day, to get my hands dirty, to have a backache from a lot of bending over or lifting, working outside in the hot sun. I’ve been through major surgeries, family problems, years of chronic migraines, helping run a farm, pulling brush, doing “fix-up” work on the house, problems with children, taking care of aging parents … all the life experiences that help us be better writers and that help me identify with my heroines.
Now here I am with no parents, which makes me the “elder” of my side of the family. Well, I certainly don’t feel it. My husband and I just celebrated our 47th anniversary, and I feel about 45, so how did that happen? Most people think I look far younger than my age, and due to God’s blessing I feel far younger and have no aches or pains, no health problems of any kind. I am active and still writing as well as helping run a family business. I like to go out in the woods and practice shooting my 30/30 Winchester repeating rifle, and I work out on a weight bench.
Yet in a few hours I will watch as they bury my mother’s ashes, and I’ll think of Abbie in my Savage Destiny books – all the things she went through as I followed her life from sixteen through a grandmother and finally her death … when she hears Zeke calling her and she walks into the light and is reunited with the love of her life, just as my mom is now with my dad and all those she loved who went before her. That is our hope, that there is something wonderful “out there” waiting for us, for the spirit never dies.
If you read my Savage Destiny books, you’ll see how I feel about young love, the tragedy and triumph of life and love, motherhood, survival, loyalty, passion, bravery. It’s all there in my books, not just the Savage Destiny series, but in most of my other stories. And so I know that once I, too, am gone, my spirit lives on … not just in the hearts of my sons and grandsons … but also in all the heroines in my books, because in essence, they are me.
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Publishers Weekly Review
"This Western historical is chock-full of danger, with families set on a vendetta, the threat of Emma’s stepfather, and the daily demands of Mitch’s job, but Emma is no wilting lily, proving she is a match for Mitch in every way."
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