We’re just a couple of wild ‘n’ crazy Catholics here, participating in 7 Quick Takes Friday, hosted by your friend and mine, Jennifer at Conversion Diary. Go on over and jump on the link-ridden bandwagon!
Today I am excited to host Leslie Lynch, whose first novel, Hijacked, dropped last weekend.
You don’t know Leslie? Allow me to introduce her!
Leslie lives near Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband and her adult children’s cats. While not engaged in wrestling the beautiful and prolific greenery of her yard into submission, she flies as a volunteer for the Civil Air Patrol, loves the exuberant creativity and color of quilting and pottery…and, of course, writes. Her first love is fiction. She has completed two award-winning, book length manuscripts along with occasional nonfiction articles. She is a dedicated member of Romance Writers of America and has served as President of her local chapter, Louisville Romance Writers.
Here are my thoughts on her recently released Hijacked:
From the very first chapter, I was hooked on Hijacked! I don’t think I’ve ever read a stronger first chapter–one that grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. Throughout, the characters Lannis and Ben are complex: endearing yet never saccharine. The plot veers from heart-pounding action into tender introspection without missing a beat. In Hijacked, Leslie Lynch shows us how two very imperfect people brought together under perhaps some of the least romantic circumstances one could imagine could in fact find themselves while finding love in each other. I’m greatly looking forward to reading more from Leslie Lynch! Read Hijacked, and you will be, too!
So Leslie wrote a heart-pounder, is in the middle of promoting it, and still she had the time to stop by and visit us Tomato Pie fans? What a sweetheart! At least, I think so, and after this interview, you’ll probably think so, too. Let’s chat with Leslie.
Tell us about your most recent work. How did the idea come to you? How long did it take you from start to publication?
Hi, Erin! I’m delighted to be here, and am excited to be interviewed on your blog for the first time as a published author! (Deep breath! That’s a pretty heady feeling!) Thank you so much for inviting me. Hijacked, my first novel, just launched. I am embarrassed to say how long I’ve been working on it. This has been my “learning” manuscript, and has been through so many revisions that I lost track years ago. Okay, that sort of gave it away, so I’ll own up to the fact that I began writing this story in 1998 or so. Of course, the first draft was so terrible craft-wise (insert technical stuff that authors need to know in order to make your reading experience seamless and engaging) that I immediately embarked on a quest to fix the numerous and glaring errors. Along the way, I taught myself/learned other useful skills, from how to use a computer to how to format a book for publishing.
The idea for Hijacked came to me one morning as I was pre-flighting a Cessna for a seven a.m. departure for a traffic reporting flight. (My other passion is flying, and I am a pilot.) For being in the midst of the city of Louisville, Kentucky, the general aviation airport is deserted at that time of day. Being blessed—or cursed!—with an overactive imagination, the thought of being hijacked took root, then wouldn’t let go. The characters sprang into my mind pretty much fully formed, but as I wrote, I discovered they had secrets. And then things got interesting.
I was wondering if you had flying experience, after reading your book. Thanks for giving us an example of how our real-life experiences can bring us inspiration. Okay, next question. Idea, research, editing, design…What was your favorite part of working on this project? What was your least favorite?
I love the writing process. I try to write stuff that doesn’t require a lot of research, because I find it boring and time-consuming if I’m doing it online or in books. Now talking to people is a different story, so I draw a lot on what I’ve seen or experienced, and ask questions of anyone who might be able to shed light on the subject at hand. I’m a little shy about contacting people out of the blue—“Hey, I’m writing a book about… Would you be willing to answer some questions?”—but I don’t have any trouble asking that of people with whom I’ve established a relationship.
My least favorite part is marketing. I’m an introvert and I do not like to toot my own horn.
Honey, can I relate or what?
Back to you, Leslie.
Being the center of attention is intensely uncomfortable. Then I realized two things: Readers are interested in the product—the book. It’s much easier to talk about my book than it is to talk about me. The second, more important, at least for my sanity, is this: Marketing is about creating relationships. Now that I can do! It’s even fun! My life is immeasurably enriched by getting to know so many wonderful people whose paths I would never have crossed otherwise.
I’ve been blessed with awesome team partners. No author can do this on her own. Many writers have been incredibly generous in sharing their time and expertise on a wide variety of issues. Pam Berehulke, my editor and the owner of Bulletproof Editing, is wise, kind, and a taskmaster. I couldn’t ask for anyone better, and she has made the editing process a lot of fun. I found my cover artist, Marion Sipe of Dreamspring Design, by looking at freelance cover artists’ sites. Her work had a depth that appealed to me, and I haven’t regretted a moment of working with her. Rob Preece helped me with some sticky formatting issues and taught me a few tricks to make the next project go more smoothly.
Tell us about how this work came to reach us: did you go the self-publishing route or did you contract with a publisher? What was that like?
I’ve shopped Hijacked around to traditional publishers of all types for years. Admittedly, the first few years it wasn’t ready, plus it took me a long time to discover my voice (rather than copying writers/styles that I like). Responses have been very positive in terms of the strength of the writing, but publishers know their readers and have very specific guidelines for reaching their audiences. My books don’t fit the templates. When I realized I wasn’t willing to compromise (i.e., add sex scenes, cut my very gentle mentions of God, or remove any hint of Catholicism), I decided it was time to step up and get the work out there myself. There is no better time to be an author. After much prayer, I was “nudged” off the cliff by the Holy Spirit (once described by a good friend as wearing a hard hat and driving a bulldozer!). Many hours of toil later, Hijacked is available.
I love that description of the Holy Spirit! Thank your friend for me! What other things in your life do you juggle in order to keep at your writing? How’s that working out for you?
<sigh> I just juggle. Sometimes I get up early and write. I write in the spare minutes I can eke out during the day between my own responsibilities—and I will say right now that my house is in dire need of dusting and my paperwork in dire need of filing, and soon my garden will be in dire need of weeding, then harvesting. But providing care for grandkids and support for adult children as they strive to meet their goals takes precedence. Honestly, when I look at my life, I wonder, too, how in the world I ended up with three completed books! The other day I was overwhelmed and tempted to skip daily Mass (which I have taken to attending in order to keep calm and my priorities correct during this publishing journey), but the Holy Spirit delivered a clear thought to me: Make time for Me, and I will make time for what you need to do. Hey, if God created time in the first place, He can help me out on this itty bitty project (in the grand scheme of things), so I’m gonna take Him up on that and quit worrying. One step at a time…
Great insight there–an approach I try to take myself. As for setting, characters, plot, mood, tone… What would you describe as your greatest strength as a writer?
Picking the right words. In my critique group, each of us has a strength that the others lack. I’m the go-to person for “what word should I use to convey…?” I’m also good at picking out what is important in a paragraph or scene or a characterization and keeping everything focused so the end result is coherent.
Conversely, if you could change one thing about your writing style, what would it be and why?
I’d write faster!!! Because I’m slow. Maybe that should translate into: I should trust myself more. On the occasions (NaNoWriMo) when I’ve pushed myself and thought, “Oh, well, it’s drivel but I can revise later,” I’ve been stunned to find that the writing isn’t nearly that bad when I look back at it.
Lastly, where can we find your work, a. k. a. give you our hard earned cash?
Hijacked is available on Amazon in either print or ebook form. Look for Unholy Bonds in a few weeks, and following it, Opal’s Jubilee. Those two will be available on other formats as well, like Nook and iPad, etc., and Barnes & Noble (print).
Again, Erin, thank you for inviting me to be a guest on your blog today! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed being here!
And thank YOU for visiting us! I’m honored to have had the opportunity to be the first to review Hijacked, and I’m looking forward to reading more from you!
Good morning, Erin, and readers of Will Write for Tomato Pie! I am delighted to be a guest here today! Thank you, Erin, for the invitation. 🙂 I’ll pop in and out throughout the day in case anyone has a question for me; I’m gonna be in places without internet opportunity (like my car, driving) at various times. But I will check in when I’m able!
Erin, you made me laugh out loud when I scrolled down and saw the hamster ball! Yes! Introverts of the world, unite! Of course that would end up being a (very quiet) convention center full of hamster balls… 😉
Leslie, I appreciated the reminder that if I make more time for Him, He will provide the time I need. Congratulations on the release of Hijacked! Erin’s praise for its strong first chapter makes me eager to read this book.
Thanks, Cindy! I think you’ll like it!
Thank you for your kind words, Cynthia! I’m glad you stopped by, and glad you shared what touched you. That’s the important part: Keeping our priorities straight. After all, I don’t know God’s grand plan; I just know what I’m supposed to do to cooperate with Him today… Blessings!