Writer to sign books Friday

Author D.E.L. Connor is in Miles City for a signing of her most recently published book, “Spirit Warriors: The Scarring,” on Friday afternoon.

“Spirit Warriors: The Scarring” is the second book in Connor’s “Spirit Warriors” series that includes five books and a prequel. She also will have her first book in the series, “Spirit Warriors: The Concealing,” available for sale and signing from 1 to 4 p.m. Friday in Discovery Pond, 819 Main St.

Connor, a former Miles City resident, is the daughter of Philip and Beverly Leidholt of Miles City.

She was born in Belle Fourche, S.D., and moved to Miles City with her family when she was in the third grade, residing in the Yellowstone Valley. Connor attended Kircher School, Washington Middle School and graduated from Custer County District High School in 1980. She went on to attend college “many times,” receiving her bachelor’s, master’s and Ph.D. degrees in nursing.

Connor’s parents have since moved from their home in the valley to 20 miles from Miles City on Highway 59 South, and Connor is now a clinical instructor in the nursing department at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. She also works part time as a nurse practioner with dialysis patients.

However, Connor said she should have been a writer.

“My dream is to write full time,” she said. “I’ve been told it takes about five books with decent sales to start writing full time.” 

She writes under D.E.L. Connor, a pen name, which she says is a tribute to her parents. The D.E.L. stands for her given name, Della Elaine Leidholt, and also are the first three letters of her first name.

See “Writer,” page 5

“I’ve always liked to write,” said Connor. “I wrote the basis of the “Spirit Warriors” story for an English class when I was in undergraduate school in the early 1990s.” She added that she wrote the story long before Harry Potter and other similar books and was told the story was too dark and different to publish. 

“There was nothing out there like it,” she said, adding that her English professor told her to hang onto the story. Several years later, authors such as J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyers and others helped create a new “Young Adult” genre with their “dark” books.

“My first book was written in two weeks, and I spent about two years trying to get anyone to read it,” she said. “I collected rejection letters — I had so many. I even thought about self-publishing my first book [“Spirit Warriors: The Concealing”]. 

“Then I ran across a former nursing student of mine who liked to read and I gave her a copy,” Connor said. “She knew someone in the publishing business and sent it on to them. The publishing company (Booktrope) was in Seattle. They received the copy on a Thursday, and the next Tuesday I had a contract. You just never know ... I just wanted it [the book] to be published.”

Connor said the first book was published in November 2013, and she had already started writing book 2, which was published July 21 this year. Each of her books will be longer than the previous one.

“The second one was over six months in editing and was a labor of love,” she added. “My editor lives back East. It’s harder to write a second book — everything in the second book has to tie back to the first book, and there is more story to tell. I’m about halfway done with the third book, which will be titled “Spirit Warriors: The Burning.”

Connor said, “I have proofreaders who check the spelling and punctuation. I just write, I don’t edit.”

The books are set in Montana and are about friends, Emmeline Rima “Emme” Belrose, the story-teller and defender of the group whose spirit animal is the osprey, Eros; Charlie Hunt, a seer, medicine man, the group’s leader and Emme’s protector whose spirit animal is the grizzly bear, Hercules; Lilly Grayson, who is kind and loyal and whose spirit animal is the mustang, Arion; Betsy “Bets” Ross, a beauty and best friend of Lilly and Emme whose spirit animal is Electra, a mountain lion;  Lachlan Jackson “Jack” Arrington, who knows about and helps the spirit warriors but isn’t a part of them; and Oliver “Ollie” Graves, who provides the group with jokes and smiles and whose spirit animal is Zephyr, the coyote.

When writing her books, Connor said, “I have a one-page outline for the beginning of each book and an outline for the end, and all the rest is filling in the story. My editor didn’t like the way the second book ended, so what I had planned to be the end of that book will be the beginning of book three.”

“The most fun part of writing is the covers,” said Connor. “You’re assigned a cover artist. Mine lives in Norway. You tell the artist what you want and you work together to come up with a cover. It makes doing the hard work fun when you get to pick out the cover. However, the cover is already done for the third book.”

“The series will be finished by 2015,” she said, adding that she already knows how the series will end, but she’s not telling anyone.

Connor will be signing both of her books and visiting with people at Discovery Pond on Friday afternoon. 

“John [Scheuering] is keeping the books stocked and both will be available in the store on Friday,” she said, adding that she will also be handing out bookmarks, stickers and keychains.