East Ridge resident Linda Sankpill believes itis the perfect time in her life to give back to others. Despite only living at East Ridge for a year, she recently was elected to chair the East Ridge Town Council and is serving a one-year term which began in January.
The Town Council is comprised of elected resident-volunteers and the council bridges the gap between the administration and residents.
Volunteering is a new role for Sankpill who has had two diverse careers as a financial planner and as a romance writer.
She was a certified financial planner for more than 20 years, managing a brokerage firm with 12 brokers in Texas. She was educated on the benefits of a continuing care retirement community (now called life plan communities) during her career, having helped many of her clients with their retirement decisions.
Sankpill and her husband planned that when they reached their own stage of retirement, they would move to Florida so he could enjoy fishing.
Their move detoured when she moved to California to care for her mother who had a stroke. Despite her mother’s limited concentration, she enjoyed the stories Linda would weave to keep her entertained.
“Before she died, my mother reminded me that I had this talent,” Sankpill explained. “She inspired me to try writing.”
Sankpill first pursued nonfiction but found it didn’t fit her. When a freelance editor gave her advice and told her to try writing what she liked to read, she began to pursue mysteries.
“I thought about romance writing,” she said.
Using her business analytical skills, she quickly absorbed the romance book industry, learning that 50 percent of all books sold were of the romance genre and the industry needed writers. She bought and read books, took classes on how to write and started attending conferences.
Three years later, she pitched a book idea to a publisher who told her to send a copy. What typically could have taken 11-12 months was completed in five weeks. This launched her writing career. She was contracted to write as many as five books a year and the publishers found she had a good grasp of what audiences like and could handle criticism.
“Writers need to have discipline,” she said. “It’s a solitary pursuit and takes writing and researching. My approach was to try to write something every day.”
To romance readers, she is known as Linda Conrad. She and her husband derived the pseudonym from his family name which was Conrad when neither Sankpill nor her maiden name would fit the persona she wanted. Despite no longer writing, she has a website and an enthusiastic fan club with members as far away as Argentina.
Her husband was her sounding board and was the first reader of her books. His advice helped guide the male dialog she would use. She feels her heart went out of writing when he passed away.
Sankpill, who lived in the Keys, heard about East Ridge from a friend who had moved to the life plan community. Having to be evacuated during hurricanes was especially challenging when she was under contract to complete her books. She would have to pack up her reference material and keep writing despite the storms.
After visiting East Ridge with a friend, she knew it was where she wanted to live. Also, the community wasn’t far from her sister so it wasn’t a difficult decision to give up her house. She moved to East Ridge with her Bijon, Kiki.
Will East Ridge be the setting for a new book? For now, she has turned her attention to volunteering which offers her new challenges and gratification.
For more information, call 305-256-3564 for a personal tour or visit www.EastRidgeAtCutlerBay.com.