Up until this time, I haven't featured ebooks on my blog. With the changing face of publication, I had decided to change that as of January 2012. Then God happened. One of the women He had used me to help along in her publishing journey got this opportunity to be on the cutting edge of Tyndale's move to ebook publishing with their Digital First iniative. So I have to make an exception for her book.
Welcome, Lynne. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Every author brings a little bit of themselves to their characters. It can’t be helped. Drawing upon life experiences is a great starting point. But for my characters to leap from the page, their personalities have to be far bigger and their circumstances far more dire than anything I’ve experienced.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I have this unrealistic fear of careening over a bridge in a car. So from the moment my children learned to swim, I drilled into their heads that if our car ever went over a bridge, they were to save their momma. In fact, the original premise for Reinventing Leona originated out of that fear and the questions it caused me to ask myself. Did I really expect others to drop everything and rescue me in the event of a life tragedy? Did I have the spiritual chops to rely upon God and my own self-worth? Could I really start over on my own?
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
Some of my earliest memories are of me standing behind a microphone I’d made out of a stick stuck in the ground and telling stories to farm animals. From those humble beginnings, I dabbled in non-fiction writing and wrote curriculum for the women’s Bible classes I taught. But I didn’t know I could write fiction until the church needed skits for sermons or children’s events. From there I wrote a couple of full-length musicals. Then a writing friend, Lisa Harris, encouraged me to convert one of my plays into a novel. That learning curve took me two years to complete.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I’m an eclectic reader. I read everything from serious scholarly research books on the
Roman Empire to issue-driven fiction by Jodi Picoult to time travel by Diana Gabaldon. I haven’t traveled as much as I’d like so I’m drawn to foreign settings with rich characters in unusual circumstances in places I’d love to visit.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Write. Write. Write.
When I’m not writing, I love to walk at a beautiful State park not far from our home. It is the perfect place to soak in creation and to be reminded that God is in control. I love to spend time with my wonderful grown children, laugh with friends, and enjoy a bagel and a cup of coffee with my incredible husband.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
This may sound awful, but I troll the obits. It’s a great place to snag a unique first name or an interesting last name. Then I put them together based on the sounds they make.
However, the name Leona came from a sign I saw while driving to
. Harper came from the idea of the sweet music of a heavenly harp combined with the continual nagging a pastor’s wife is sometimes forced to do. So I guess I also factor in a little literary symbolism in the choice. Houston
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
My kids. Megan and Eric are two of the finest young adults you could ever meet.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Easy. A red bird. Eye-catching, yet free to soar above life’s troubles.
I love redbirds, too. What is your favorite food?
Tell us a little about your journey to publication.
Totally God-orchestrated. I started writing fiction in 2003. Spent two years crafting what I thought would be the next best thing to
’s biblical fiction. When that didn’t sell, I decided to write something funny (Leona Harper). When that didn’t sell, I took a stab at women’s fiction (still have several of those that didn’t sell on my computer). When it became clear that humor was a dead end for me, I switched to medical thrillers. No luck there either. And now I’m currently writing a visionary/time travel thing which will probably give my agent heartburn as well. Francine River
As for my first sale: A couple of months ago, my agent called and asked for a list of what I had completed. She needed something immediately for a Tyndale project and she needed it now. We sent Leona Harper on Monday. They asked for a full on Tuesday. And bought it by the end of the week. Crazy, huh? Totally God-orchestrated.
I’d like to point out that while I was waiting on God, I wasn’t sitting on my hands. I had my nose in the Word daily, bought writing craft books, attended every writing seminar I could afford, joined several writing crit groups, read like a wild woman, and wrote almost every day.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Working 8 years without reaching that publication goal can become a little discouraging. I’ve had to learn to celebrate the little things. Finishing a chapter on a self-imposed deadline. Finishing a complete manuscript on a self-imposed deadline. Acquiring an agent. Submitting respectable proposals. Having full manuscripts requested. Having those manuscripts go to committee. Eating a box a chocolate after each committee rejection…celebrating the little things is acknowledging that you are making progress, even if you still haven’t achieved your goal.
What advice would you give to others who are trying to get their first book published?
The same advice a seasoned multi-pubbed writer gave me years ago…the only people who don’t get published are the ones who give up.
Tell us about the featured book.
Pastor’s wife, Leona Harper, knows that living in the parsonage is not for sissies. But living anywhere else scares her spitless.
Reinvention is a theme that speaks to me because I’ve had to reinvent myself several times. Farm girl, college coed, pastor’s wife, mother, drama director, empty nester and now…God only knows. I’ve learned that life often takes turns we did not anticipate.
Spouses die. Careers go south. Children break our hearts. Beauty fades. Divorce shatters self-worth.
Will we fold, or pick up the pieces and start over?
I believe that God doesn’t waste any of our life lessons. Our past can give us tools to rebuild an even better future.
Please give us the first page of the book.
“Living in the parsonage is not for sissies.” Leona Harper’s husband planted a kiss on the top of her head. “You knew that when you married me, darlin’.” He tucked his Bible under one arm and offered her the other. “You can do this.”
Leona considered the man standing before her. J.D. Harper was as handsome as the day they met some thirty years ago, even with the silver streaks traipsing across his well-trained waves. Folks often mistook him to be a successful CEO of some major corporation rather than the pastor of a dying church in a small
“And if I don’t?”
“Maxine Davis wins.” He had her, and he knew it. “Is that what you want?”
Ignoring the righteous twinkle in his eye, she threaded her hand through the crook in his suit-clad arm. “I hate it when you preach at me, J.D.”
“If it weren’t for guilt trips, you wouldn’t go anywhere.”
“My point exactly.” Leona scooped up the Tupperware caddie that contained her famous chicken pot pie and set off to face yet another Sunday at
. Mt. Hope Community Church
I am reading the book on my Kindle right now. It's wonderful. How can the readers find you on the Internet?You’re invited to visit my blog, Stage Write, at www.lynnegentry.com
Thank you so much for sharing all of this with us. I rejoice with you on this first book contract.
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