Waterbury Winter by Linda Stewart Henley is a must-read!

Choices is very happy to host Linda Stewart Henley while she’s on her Women on Writing WOW! virtual book tour. Her book, Waterbury Winter, a heart-warming novel about ordinary people reclaiming their dormant potential, celebrates the restorative value of art and the joy to be found in keeping promises.

And especially for Choices, Linda has also written about the advantages of hiring an editor to ready our books for publication. I agree. Editors have been so valuable when I was getting ready to publish my books as well.

Here’s Linda:


by Linda Stewart Henley

When my debut novel Estelle was accepted for publication my first reaction, not surprisingly, was one of exhilaration. I had written a novel that had caught someone’s attention, and I would become an author. Then reality set in. How could the publisher judge its worth from only the first fifty pages? Maybe it wasn’t good enough. Maybe I would embarrass myself by sending it out into the world.

I didn’t know what to do. I re-read the novel and decided it was okay in some parts but not in others. I wasn’t happy with the ending. I signed the contract anyway. I would have a year to revise the book before it was due to the publisher in final form.

As a new author, I knew little about the publishing process. I was lucky to meet a more experienced author who offered to meet with me to talk about what to expect. She not only read the book, she gave me encouragement and a blurb for the cover. “But,” she said, “you need an editor. That’s the step you must take to make your book shine.”

She recommended an editor she knew. I was horrified when I received my draft back from her. She had deep-cleaned my manuscript as though ridding a house full of spiders. She struck out passages and asked me questions about my characters’ motivations, emotional reactions, and arcs. Arcs? I had never heard that of term with regard to writing. She recommended books about the craft of writing. And I revised, and revised, and revised. I think I went through twelve revisions altogether. My editor stayed with me through the course, and as I rewrote passages, critiqued them. I stripped my book of writing flaws (use of passives, cliches, repeated words) and at last, after several months of work, I felt satisfied with it.

My author friend taught me a valuable lesson: that most writers reach a point where they need an editor’s help to sweep away sticky spider webs. New authors probably have many of those. My friend also modeled good literary citizenship—the gift of generous support and sharing–which, as I publish my second book, I now try to pay forward.

Book Summary:

Barnaby Brown has had enough of freezing winters, insurmountable debt, a dead-end job, and his solitary life as a young widower with no one but his beloved parrot Popsicle. He yearns to move to California and reawaken his long-lost early life as an artist. But new troubles come in threes. His ancient car crashes into a snowbank. Popsicle escapes through a window carelessly left open.

A New York gallery owner offers to represent Barnaby’s paintings—but is he on the up-and-up? All of it serves to shock Barnaby into confronting how low he has sunk, and he vows—again and again—to change. He has a few obstacles, starting with his heavy drinking and long-term neglect of his ancestral home. As he takes steps toward a better life, he re-discovers the value of old friendships and latent talents seen in new light, and finds the courage to consider a second chance at love. Rejoining the mainstream of life presents several startling mysteries he must unravel, with a few mortifying but enlightening stumbles.

Find out more about Waterbury Winter by visiting GoodReads or the author’s website. You can also purchase it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop.org.

About the Author:

Linda Stewart Henley is the author of Estelle: A Novel. Among other honors, it won Silver in the Independent Publisher Book Awards for Historical Fiction and was a finalist for The Eric Hoffer Book Awards as well as for the 2021 Nancy Pearl Award. She lives in Anacortes, Washington, with her husband. Waterbury Winter is her second novel.

Praise for Waterbury Winter:

“A reflective, witty, and fun story that elegantly crosses genres and addresses intriguing themes.”—Kirkus Reviews

“A heartfelt journey of two lost souls finding grace . . . and each other. Waterbury Winter is a must-read for anyone who believes in second chances and the power of kindness—or who wants to believe in them. This is one of those books that, when you have to put it down, you can’t wait to pick it up again.” — Donna Cameron, Nautilus Award–winning author of A Year of Living Kindly: Choices that Will Change Your Life and the World Around You

“… a page-turner. I found I could not put it down until I had reached the end. It makes you think about how you are handling your life and if you are stagnating because you are too afraid to take a chance. I enjoyed reading this book from the first page to the last and found the ending the best, due to the fact that I had started rooting early for the main characters.” — Readers Favorite, 5 stars

“A tour de force reminiscent of A Man Called Ove. Barnaby Brown’s interactions and experiences unfold in such a way as to endear him to the reader. He’s not perfect, but his imperfections are what reveal his gentle and generous spirit, and we root for him at every upturn and downturn. Waterbury Winter is a memorable masterpiece.” — Saralyn Richard, award-winning author of the Detective Parrott mystery series and A Murder of Principal

 “Linda Henley manages to combine drama, romance, humor, and even an art theft mystery in the highly entertaining Waterbury Winter. The novel introduces us to Barnaby Brown, an artist who is so down on his luck there’s no farther to slide. Through fast-paced writing and a series of remarkable plot twists, Henley constantly surprises the reader as Barnaby (accompanied by his faithful parrot, Popsicle) stumbles mightily in his efforts to redeem himself and become the man he wants to be. A many-layered novel, Waterbury Winter is, above all, a moving tribute to the healing power of art.” —Laurel Davis Huber, award-winning author of The Velveteen Daughter

  a heart-warming story of loss and love, challenge and resistance, and the power of creative expression. Henley’s masterful descriptions of character and place make these pages the perfect spot to hang out. Readers will make themselves at home, cheer for the protagonist, Barnaby, and be totally charmed by his opinionated parrot, Popsicle.” — Romalyn Tilghman, award-winning author of To the Stars Through Difficulties

Such wonderful reviews! Please get your copy and enjoy reading Waterbury Winter.


  1. Thank you for including me in your CHOICES blog, Madeline. I enjoyed writing the article. Made me realize all over again what a difference an editor makes. Good luck to you with your next book.

Speak Your Mind