Bahlmann, Shirley 1958–

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Bahlmann, Shirley 1958–

PERSONAL: Born May 31, 1958, in Logan, UT; daughter of Dell B. and Ruth (Hansen) Anderson; married Robert Dirk Bahlmann (an engineer), June 1, 1978; children: Andrew Robert, Jeffrey Dell, Scott Dirk, Zackary John, Brian Abraham, Michael Hedarik. Ethnicity: "Caucasian." Education: Snow College, A.S., 1978. Religion: Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints (Mormon).

ADDRESSES: Home—P.O. Box 101, Ephraim, UT 84627. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Writer. Active in community organizations, including as a Cub Scout den mother, PTA room mother, School-to-Community Council chairperson for Reflections, and singer and saxophonist in My Sister and Me (musical duo with Rebecca McGarry).

WRITINGS:

Against All Odds: Amazing Pioneer Stories of Courage and Survival, Cedar Fort (Springville, UT), 2001.

Isn't That Odd? Strange and Unusual Pioneer Stories, Cedar Fort (Springville, UT), 2002.

Walker's Gold (novel), Aspen Books (Bountiful, UT), 2002.

Even Love Is Odd: True Old-fashioned Stories of Love and Romance, Aspen Books (Bountiful, UT), 2003.

Unseen Odds: Spiritual Happenings, Ghostly Tales, and Spooky Pranks from a Century or So Ago, Cedar Fort (Springville, UT), 2003.

(Author, with Suzanne Freeman) Led by the Hand of Christ, Spring Creek Books (Provo, UT), 2004.

Dark of Day (young-adult novel), Mapletree Publishing (Highlands Ranch, CO), 2005.

Fool's Gold (novel), LDStorymakers, Inc. (Provo, UT), 2005.

How Odd, Andapu Oyati: Friendships and Feuds between Pioneers and Native Americans, Cedar Fort (Springville, UT), 2005.

Haunted Dwellings of the West, Spring Creek Books (Provo, UT), 2005.

Also author of novel Elder Brother; and children's novel Krumsplot Rottenbaggy Pie. Work represented in anthologies, including Publishing Secrets and Writing Secrets, LDStorymakers (Provo, UT).

WORK IN PROGRESS: House of Bones (young-adult novel), Mapletree Publishing (Highlands Ranch, CO), 2006; Holy Cow! The Udderly Astonishing Power of Dairy in Your Diet; Frankenfamily: Getting the Nuturing You Need from Spare Parts; Raising Boys: Notes from the Trenches; Dead Man Running (novel); Measure of Love (novel); Bramblebush (novel); Storm Woman (young-adult novel); and Little Piggies (children's book).

SIDELIGHTS: Shirley Bahlmann told CA: "I write because it is as pressing a need to my soul as food is to my body. I first became interested in writing through reading. I can't remember a time when I didn't love to read. I used to hide in the closet, losing all track of time as I devoured entire books in one sitting. My elementary school teachers praised my creative writing, so I undertook writing an entire book at the age of ten. Even though my literary masterpiece was just twenty-five pages long, for a ten year old, that's a respectable piece of work!

"A poem of mine was published in a national high school anthology. I wrote all during the years of my marriage and mothering six sons, but didn't realize it until I looked back on the stacks and stacks of journals that I've filled up!

"Although I dreamed of being a published author for a long time, I thought it was beyond my abilities. When people told me I should get published, I'd shrug their comment off as a social nicety, or a family requirement. I thought published authors were so far removed from me that I could never be one of them. It wasn't until I was forty-one years old that I got past the fear, 'fell off the cliff,' so to speak, and decided that I was going to keep submitting manuscripts until I was published or die trying!

"I have more ideas for books than I have life to write them, and I get more ideas all the time. Sometimes I get a sudden inspiration for a title, with no idea what the book will be about. Sometimes I get a single occurrence in my head that intrigues me, and I wonder what could lead up to it or what events would possibly follow. Sometimes I'll see a person or object that arrests my imagination and demands to be developed into a character or plot. I write everything down so it can't escape, and file the ideas in plain manila folders. The ones that take root in my mind and grow into full-fledged books are eventually outlined on three-by-five cards, one card per chapter. Then I lay them out in order on the floor (the only place big enough to line up thirty or so cards!) and I move them around, trying events in different places until I'm happy with what I see. Then I stack the cards from first chapter to last, and type the story as fast as I can, not worrying about spelling, grammar, or punctuation.

"My main goal at this point is to get the story down. The chapters, by the way, never behave themselves. Sometimes one chapter will split itself into two or more chapters, and sometimes two or three chapters will combine themselves into one. I let the little buggars do whatever they want and deal with them on the re-write. The funny thing is, in almost every instance, the chapters put themselves in just the right combinations!

"Once my book is written down, I go through it again and clean it up. I like to stay flexible, so sometimes I rearrange events again. Once it's clean, I put it away for a minimum of six weeks, and get working on another book to take my mind off the manuscript. When the time is up, I come back to the story with fresh eyes. I work through it again, catching inconsistencies that weren't apparent the first time, clarifying and polishing until I feel I've got a pretty good book.

"Then I send it to my proofreaders, eight to ten of the most loving and brutal friends and family I have! The more they mark up the manuscript, the better I like it. Because they love me, they want my book to be the best, and when they mark everything they don't like, they're helping make the book even better. I have men and women readers, and people from different walks of life. The diversity is invaluable.

"Next I read through all the feedback and compile it onto one manuscript with a different color of ink for each person's comments. That way, wherever I see a rainbow, I know it needs fixing. Where I see one or two splashes of color, I can decide if I'd like to change it or not. Once I've gone through the proofreader copies, I let the suggestions percolate for a couple of days. Then, by the time I go back for my final re-write, my instincts have kicked in and I know what I'm going to change and what I'm not.

"I pray for guidance each morning before I write, and I write something every day except Sunday. Even if it's just a single page, it's progress! I carry paper with me everywhere so I can capture ideas before they slip away. A single image or idea can build itself into a book inside my head over the course of time, anywhere from a couple of months to a year or more. I have a wide range of interests, and I write whatever grabs my imagination and fires my enthusiasm.

"The most surprising thing I've discovered as a writer is how alive and vibrant it makes me feel. It's as if I've finally stumbled upon what I'm supposed to do with my life. It's incredibly rewarding. By nature, I'm impetuous, tending to take great huge bites of life. I've had to temper my enthusiasm, which urges me to write every book in my files all at once, and I've also had to curb my writing time so that it fits around my sons' schedules. My family is more important than writing. On the other hand, if I don't write anything at all, I get crabby, so we've struck a happy medium.

"I don't have a favorite book of mine. I feel that they're all good for different reasons, even though it's sometimes difficult for me to read my early writing. Because people tend to get better as they keep doing a certain thing, I have polished my writing skills even more since my earliest books. When I re-read them, I see things I'd like to change. Since I get better as I continue to write, I think it's safe to say that my favorite book is one I haven't written yet.

"I love the entire writing process, from idea to plotting to re-writing to submission to finished book! Once a book is done, however, I don't tend to pay much attention to it, because there are so many other stories begging to be told.

"I believe that my true pioneer stories infuse people of today with courage and faith (along with a generous helping of humor!) and help them get through whatever troubles they're facing in life. I have some nonfiction books coming up that I'm writing with the intent to help people feel better about their lives. I want my novels to entertain and uplift, to give readers a respite from the sameness of everyday living. When people close the novel, they feel invigorated and glad for the time they took to have an adventure!

"I have come to realize that, as everyone shares talents (whatever they may be, and there are many quiet talents that I envy!), the whole population benefits from the positive influence of people sharing what they enjoy and what they're 'good at.' If you move your feet, the Lord can guide your footsteps."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

ONLINE

Shirley Bahlmann Home Page, http://www.shirleybahlmann.com (November 5, 2004).

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Bahlmann, Shirley 1958–

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