1. Hi Lynne Marshall, welcome to Amanda Writes. Please tell readers a little about yourself.
I’m a retired Registered Nurse with twenty-six years under my belt. I’ve been traditionally published with Harlequin as a category romance author for more than twelve years with twenty-eight books, counting the three coming out this year. More recently I’ve published with TULE a small independent publisher. I have also gone hybrid with self-publishing four backlist books that I’ve gotten the rights back on. I’m a Southern California native, have been married to a New Englander for a long time, and have two adult children of whom I am super proud. My daughter Emily is a Nurse Practitioner and my John-Philip is an intensive care paramedic on the flight team for Duke University Hospital in North Carolina. I’m also an adoring grandmother of two beautiful little girls from my daughter and son-in-law: Thea (just turned 4) and Cora (21 months). There’s nothing like being a grandma. Nothing. I’m also a woman of faith, a dog lover, a cat admirer, a meandering walker, a curious traveler, and an optimistic participant in this wild journey called life.
2. When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer and what inspired your first book?
I never realized I was a writer until I was fifty years old. I’d been a wife, mother, and RN for twenty-five years, and had been very happy with my life. Then one day this yearning hit me. Hard. I called it my late-life crisis when I secretly sat down to write my first book. Don’t worry, that book is safely tucked away and will never see the light of day, (*note my comments below under advice to aspiring authors about this*) but it taught me that I could start and, more importantly, finish a book if I put my mind to it. It took me five more years of honing my craft and several more books before I sold my first to Harlequin. My personal motto is: It’s never too late to start something new, and life it too short not to try.
3. Plotter or pantser?
For Harlequin I write long and thorough synopses, and I do my best to stick to the story as I’ve proposed it, but sometimes things need to change. I’ve also learned that I’ve become very good at revisions to the original plan as the story unfolds. So I guess you could say I am a plotter, but not an extreme one, there are still many elements of “seat of the pants” approach going on!
4. What is the title of your upcoming release and can you talk briefly about it?
My April release is SOLDIER, HANDYMAN, FAMILY for Harlequin Special Edition. It is the middle Delaney brother, Mark’s story. He is still dealing with some personal issues since being honorably discharged from the Army, and isn’t in a great place. Then he meets the lovely widow across the street, Laurel. Here’s the short blurb:
He’s all kinds of man. But is he a family man?
It’s good to be home! But civilian life isn’t easy for Mark Delaney. The former surf champ copes by carving California waves and working solo as the handyman for his family’s beachfront hotel. Until Laurel Prescott, pretty owner of the new B and B—and widowed mother of three—asks for his help. One small task leads to another and another, and suddenly Mark is knee-deep in kids, responsibility…and a love he never dreamed possible.
5. What book is on top of your TBR pile?
Top on my Kindle I just downloaded because of the Bookbub deal over the weekend and it is called DANCE WITH ME by Luanne Rice. But I have many to read before that, and next in line is: THALGOR’S WITCH by Nancy Holland. I have eclectic taste in reading – the first book I mentioned is Women’s Fiction, this one Paranormal.
6. How long does it take you to write the first draft of a story?
Generally 2-3 months, sometimes 4. My first draft is really re-worked as I go along, and when I’m done, it gets another time through, sometimes, two, then I turn it in. Then I get ready for the editorial revisions! Oh joy.
7. Have you ever been stuck with writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?
I don’t recommend sitting around and waiting for inspiration to strike before going to the computer and putting in your daily words. Here is a quote to explain why.
“Don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work” – Pearl S. Buck
We can’t wait for inspiration or we’d run the risk of never completing a book, right?
When I feel resistance to moving ahead with one of my stories, I’ve learned over the course of writing thirty or so books that something has been left undone in the prior scene. My brain instinctively knows it and flags it by holding me back. Until I’ve examined the chapter or scene, then stimulate my creativity by moving around to get the creative blood flowing, (I like to walk, do aerobics, or take a long shower) I can’t go forward. Sometimes this takes more than a day to accomplish. I don’t freak out. I know it is my process.
“You can’t think yourself out of a writing block; you have to write yourself out of a thinking block.” – John Rogers
I whole heartedly agree with this quote.
8. What are you currently working on?
I am working on the third book in the Charity, Montana series for Tule publishing. It’s working title is Healing Heart Acres.
9. Any advice for aspiring writers?
Oh, I have lots of advice! 😉
You’ve probably already joined a writer’s group. If not, do so, immediately. Joining a group comprised of like-minded people is life-changing. There is much to learn and mentorship is the key. Listen to the wise ones in your new tribe. Their experiences can save you time and heartache. There are organizations for every writing genre; do you know where your manuscript belongs? If not, figure it out, immediately.
Roll up your sleeves. Invest more time in the process. Write every day, even if only a few lines. Read every day. Plop down some money for writing classes. Follow through on what you glean from workshops and author lectures. Apply this new knowledge to your work in progress. Don’t be offended by honest critiques. Learn from them, apply whatever makes sense. Ignore the snarky comments. Be open to suggestions. Rewrite. Edit. Delete. Begin again. This is the process. It cannot be ignored.
Once you’ve finished your book, though you’ve officially written The End, it’s only the beginning of your journey. First, pat yourself on the back for pursuing your dream and completing your novel. Enjoy the sweet oblivion, the exhilarating notion that “if I write it, they will come.” Each stage of your journey is its own reward. Remember this when things get rocky. Now hold onto your hat, because the rest is going to be a crazy ride!
How do you get from here – new author with manuscript under arm – to there – published?
Life is filled with synchronicity. When you’re on the right path opportunities arise. A chance meeting with an editor at a writers’ conference may open a door in the future. Be aware. Be prepared. Maybe you’ve entered a contest or signed on for an agent or editor appointment and they’ve requested a partial or a full. Don’t panic. Follow through.
Polish and send in the requested material. A high percentage of writers don’t do this. Don’t be one of them. Revisions are inevitable. Do them. Rejection is part of the process. Get used to it. Don’t entertain defeat. Move on to the next opportunity and project. Don’t give up!
I have one more bit of advice, because things have changed since I first sold a book. Think very hard and seriously before self-publishing your first book. It could come back to haunt you and could cost future readers. Yes, we love our books, they’re our babies, but the first several are usually not so great. It takes time and words on the page to learn the craft. Putting up the first one could be a disaster. Stepping off soapbox now.
When I’m not writing I love to read, and take day trips and vacations with my husband. We love to explore cities we’ve never been to before. I also like to see movies and eat out–Japanese and Mexican restaurants are my favorites. For exercise I work out at Curves and take power walks. I find brisk walking helps stimulate my imagination, and I’ve often solved writing dilemmas or have come up with new ideas for books trudging up hills and marching across parks.
I’m thrilled to be a part of the romance and women’s fiction market. Of all the genres out there, romance rules the day. Perhaps it’s because in a world that oftentimes gives us little encouragement, romance stories always end with hope. As I’ve learned over the years, hope is the candle that guides us through the dark and lonely patches in life.
Visit Lynne Marshall’s website to learn more about her books @lynnemarshall.com