Touching lives with words
Linda Greseth of Alexandria has always dreamed of becoming a published author. That dream recently became reality, but not quite in the way she expected it to.
Instead of writing a book, she wrote a song.
"I've always had an interest in writing, but didn't really get serious about it until the past few years," she said. "I used to read things other people had written and think, 'I could write that.' "
Her life was busy, with a job as a financial aid specialist at Alexandria Technical and Community College, and three grown children and nine grandchildren to spend time with.
But about four years ago, her retired husband, Orlyn, told her she should write a Christmas song. So she did.
"I had never thought about writing lyrics," she said. "I really enjoyed it. There's a quick satisfaction with something you can write in one weekend versus the time it takes to research and write a book."
She titled the song Snow Angels. It tells the story of making snow angels to serve as Christmas cards to loved ones in heaven.
"I tried to think of something about Christmas that hasn't been written about a hundred times," Greseth explained. "I thought of snow angels and it grew from there."
She started making contacts, hoping to find an up-and-coming artist to record Snow Angels. Her search connected her with Kayla Hawkins of Wisconsin, who is attending college and pursuing a music career in Nashville.
"Her dad is her manager," Greseth said. "He contacted me and said Kayla loved the lyrics and wanted to record it."
Greseth added that because Kayla lost her mother at a young age, she connected to the song personally.
The artist's father/manager coordinated a composer and arranged for the musicians, and Kayla recorded the song during her break from college last Christmas. He also hired a design company in Wisconsin to design the CD cover.
"This was all just meant to be," Greseth said. "It's incredible how it all came together."
She noted that the Internet is what made it all possible.
"Technology has completely changed this industry," she explained. "I've never met any of these people. All of this has been done via e-mail and phone."
The lyricist admits that having your lyrics professionally recorded and put on the market involves a lot more than just writing the words.
"Once the fun part was done, we had to look at copyrights, contracts, royalties and all of the legal issues," she said. "It seems so simple, but it's not. But again, the Internet was an invaluable tool in learning about all of this."
Snow Angels was entered into a Christian songwriting promotion contest. Fifteen songs were chosen from hundreds of entries to be compiled onto a CD to be sent to radio stations in the U.S and internationally. Snow Angels is one of those songs.
The lyrics also won semi-finalist honors in the International Song of the Year Contest.
"That inspired me to do more," Greseth said. "I did some research and learned about the process, and I kept writing as I'd get ideas. Soon I had a folder full of lyrics, which are basically poems. I have a couple dozen that are basically done, but I have oodles and oodles of ideas. Ideas come from everywhere."
Greseth did a lot of her own researching and learning along the way, but now works with a publisher who has done work in getting songs placed with major artists as well as in television and film.
"It's hard as an unknown writer to get anything to a singer; even publishers don't want to work with someone unknown," she explained. "I feel very fortunate to have gotten my foot in the door. There is a real protocol you have to go through in this industry."
Greseth also now works with a co-writer. Together, they have three songs nearly ready to record.
While the writer still dreams of writing books, for now, she'll continue focusing on her new passion - lyrics.
"I have some ideas for children's books I'd like to write someday, but I'll keep focusing on this for now," she said. "The exciting part of writing lyrics is that when you add a melody along with the words and put a story line into a song, you can see the story in your mind. That touches people's lives, and that's very rewarding. Words are just so powerful."