I’m excited to introduce you to Dr. Linda J. Solie, a woman of amazing resilience, persistence and faith.
Where did you grow up? My dad was a pastor of a church and later a V.A. hospital chaplain, so we moved around a fair amount. When I was a preschooler, my family lived in Chicago and Boulder Junction, WI. My elementary school years were spent in Salem, OR, and I attended junior and senior high school in Simi Valley, CA. During my freshman year of college in Chicago, my father was transferred to the V.A. Medical Center in Minneapolis, so my parents moved to the Twin Cities.
What are some memories you have of where you grew up? During the summers in Salem, I spent several weeks picking strawberries, along with most of the other children in the area. I started picking after 3rd grade and we were in the fields for about nine hours each day! School buses came to pick up most of the neighborhood children in the mornings when it was still dark, to drive us to the fields. It was just what everyone did then, but now people are amazed that such young children worked so hard during the summers in Oregon! (After strawberry season ended, we picked beans…and yes, I did have a happy childhood, despite those weeks in the fields!)
What brought you to Minnesota? I was an English major in college and completed two “education sequences,” training to become both an elementary school teacher and a high school English teacher. I student taught for the second time the fall after graduation and then I applied for teaching jobs all over Chicago, but such a position was hard to find beginning the Monday after Thanksgiving!
I moved here for a long-term substitute job (a woman was going on maternity leave for one quarter) at Jefferson High School in Bloomington, which I interviewed for over the phone. My college roommate’s mother was the principal’s secretary, and she told her boss about me. I moved to the Twin Cities two days after that phone interview, and started at Jefferson within the week. After the new mother returned to Jefferson I continued substituting there for all subjects, including archery, auto mechanics, and welding! I subbed nearly every day for the rest of that year, and liked the Twin Cities so much I decided to stay here.
What do you love about living in Minnesota? I love the seasons, the lakes, the natural beauty, and all that the Twin Cities offer. By March I’m usually ready for spring, however!
That’s not something most kids dream of becoming! Tell us about your writing journey. I’m a psychologist who has been practicing for nearly thirty years, providing counseling to individuals and families. Writing my book, Take Charge of Your Emotions, naturally evolved from the counseling sessions.
Looking first at my career journey, the year after substituting at Jefferson High School I taught English at Kellogg High School in Roseville, only to be laid off nine months later due to declining enrollment. I scheduled commercials the following year at KSTP, and then began a graduate program in Counseling Psychology at the University of Minnesota, earning a PhD. in 1987. My first job out of school was at North Memorial Medical Center, where I worked as a staff psychologist, half in child and adolescent psychology, and half in adult psychology. After three years at the hospital, our entire psychology department of seventeen was cut! I began a solo private practice after that, where I’ve remained for the past 23 years.
During these years of counseling I developed very practical skills to help people independently find relief from emotional pain, and I ended up traveling around the country, teaching them at retreats, churches, etc. After awhile I began receiving feedback from people that I should write a book presenting the information I was sharing. Additionally, people from other states contacted me, wanting to learn the Seven Step approach that I teach my clients and in lectures. I wanted these techniques to be available to people all over. Further, some people can’t afford counseling, and I wished to provide them with an inexpensive book that would teach them the skills I was developing.
What was the publishing process like for you? I wrote the outline for the book, which I originally called Empowered, during the fall of 2005. With the exception of a two year break shortly thereafter, I’ve been working on it since then. During the summer of 2009, while working on the manuscript at my parents’ cottage in Wisconsin, my Uncle Lee stopped by and asked where I hoped to submit the book for publication. A seminary professor friend had recommended a major Christian publisher to me, so that publisher was my goal.
I told that to Uncle Lee, who returned to the cottage the next day with the news that he had just called his best friend from 3rd grade in Barron, WI. He asked his friend if he was correct in thinking that this friend had an association with the very publisher I desired. Uncle Lee’s friend then informed him that indeed, he was currently chair of their board, a position he had held for the past 30 years! This friend agreed to introduce my proposal to the appropriate person at that publishing house. The proposal made it through a couple levels there, but in October 2009, they declined the manuscript, stating they weren’t going with first-time authors.
Wow! It really is a small world. But what a bummer when it didn’t make the final cut. What happened then? A year later my parents sold their cottage in Wisconsin to a man who happened to work in sales for an academic publishing house in Iowa. This man asked to see my proposal and was interested, but when I learned they would charge around $100 per copy for the book, I wanted to withdraw it from their consideration. A February 2011 dinner with a new couple attending my church from Ann Arbor, MI, Jim and Priscilla, convinced me to do just that.
Jim and Priscilla saw in our church newsletter that my birthday was the day before Jim’s, and they invited me to their home for dinner to celebrate. As it turns out, Jim was the founder of Logos Bookstores and Spring Arbor Distributors, a Christian book distributor. Jim took a real interest in my book, and recommended I submit the proposal to the Writer’s Edge in Wheaton, IL. (Jim has followed the manuscript through each step in the process since and has been a great help to me.)
Isn’t it amazing to see how God places the right people in our path at the right time? Did you submit it to Writer’s Edge? I did. I submitted the proposal and “Reviewer #9” responded enthusiastically, stating his/her intent to write a reviewer note by the description of my book in the Writer’s Edge June 2011 bulletin (which would be sent out to over 70 Christian publishers in the U.S.), highly recommending the book for publication. I was thrilled by this and thought I’d receive a number of inquiries. That was not the case, however. Only one publisher contacted me (I had heard of this publisher, but I don’t believe it is a big publishing house). The proposal made it through several levels of review at that house too, but then I was told that my writing style would need to change in order for them to publish my book. While many people resonate with the style they were looking for, it wasn’t me, so we parted ways.
Talk about a roller coaster ride for you! Good for you for not giving up. What happened next? I kept writing. I serve on a national board for my church, and during a break at our August 2011 board meeting, unbeknown to me, one of our board members approached our chair on my behalf. Our chair had recently been named CEO of a major Christian publisher, and at the end of the break he came up to me and invited me to send him my proposal, which he promised to deliver to the appropriate people. Reviewers there were very complimentary, but they also stated that they weren’t going with unknowns.
ACK! Next my friend, June, from Santa Barbara, CA, offered her help. June was chair of the board at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania, and she invited me to speak at this school. When planning our trip to Lithuania, June asked about my book progress, I told her of my rejections, and she told me of her friend who worked as an editor for yet a third major Christian publisher! June proceeded to speak with this friend on my behalf, who then introduced my proposal to that company. On November 18, 2011 that publisher responded stating that the proposal was “too secular for a Christian publisher, and too Christian for a secular publisher.” I wasn’t sure where to turn at that point, but kept writing.
I love your determination and persistence! I’m not sure I could have hung in there through all this. So then what happened? Finally, on December 1, 2011 I learned about a possible contact at Bethany House Publishers while having dinner at a Management Advisory Committee meeting for Covenant Village of Golden Valley. A fellow committee member asked about my book journey. I had almost completed the manuscript at that point, and I told her how, as I kept writing these past years, doors were opening and closing regarding the book’s publication. She told me that her son-in-law had a brother who worked in sales at Bethany and offered to try to make the contact for me, which I gratefully accepted.
I love what Bethany has done with the book at every level. Everyone I’ve encountered there has been wonderful to work with and incredibly respectful. They have not taken over the book or changed my style in any way. They’ve only improved on what I had. I thank God, who I believe orchestrated this entire adventure.
With all those amazing “coincidences,” I’m sure He was orchestrating it! So what is a lesson you’ve learned during that journey? Has anything surprised you? Everything has surprised me! A major lesson I’ve learned is trust in God. I could not foresee how any of this process was going to unfold or ultimately turn out. Something that has helped me tremendously on this winding road is that my identity and worth have never been in this book—rather, they are in Christ. Hence, despite the rejections, they were never crushing or even upsetting. I never thought that the book had to be published. I just kept trudging along for years, cloistering myself to write, despite my extroverted personality and love for spending time with people, without any sense of how or if this work would be published. (I’m single, so I wasn’t taking away from time with a family when isolating myself to write.)
That’s such an important thing for all of us to keep in mind. Our identity is in Christ, not in our accomplishments (or lack thereof). Someone once expressed concern that after such a huge time investment, it would be devastating for me if I never found a publisher. Key to my willingness and peace with risking so much time on this project was having an “eternal perspective.” I honestly thought that it wouldn’t matter if nothing came from the book and if all of that time was “wasted,” because I have all of eternity ahead of me—it would be no great loss! Besides, I was growing new brain cells as I worked so hard on the book, so the effort wasn’t wasted!
Love that perspective! Tell us about your current work. The message of Take Charge of Your Emotions is that whatever their emotional makeup, people can become better equipped, and can improve their mental health. In Take Charge, I demonstrate how to do this by capitalizing on three types of relationships: 1) the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, 2) a relationship with God, and 3) relationships with people.
The book is divided into four parts. Part I presents the “Seven Steps to Changing Feelings and Behavior,” a cognitive/behavioral tool that enables people to identify problem thinking that creates painful moods and undesirable conduct, and then turn it around. Part II explores how Jesus Christ provides a solid foundation for emotional health, guidance on avoiding hazards, and hope in the face of “hopeless” situations. Strategies for building a satisfying relationship with oneself and with friends are presented in Part III. The book closes showing how to use all of these relationships to overcome depression, anxiety, and anger, and to ultimately find joy. Take Charge of Your Emotions is full of practical skills people can independently practice, and is relevant to those who are challenged with severe depression or anxiety, with frequent temper flares, or merely with the occasional unwelcome mood.
It sounds really interesting, Linda. I’m looking forward to reading it! After that wild ride, do you have any future plans or goals around writing? Not at this point!
What is something you’d like to experience in Minnesota that you haven’t yet? I’d like to visit Itasca State Park and see the source of the Mississippi River.
What’s something most people don’t know about you? Maybe I shouldn’t write this on a Minnesota blog, but I’m a huge Green Bay Packer fan—I write the Packer schedule on my calendar as soon as it comes out, and never schedule anything or answer the phone during Packer games! I’m even purchasing the Direct TV NFL Package this week so I can watch the games this fall from the comfort of my own home, rather than crowding in those Packer bars!
We like people of all “faiths” around here! Go, Packers! (unless they’re playing the Vikings) Thanks so much for being here, Linda, and sharing your amazing journey.