Today, I'm introducing you to debut author, Lynette Eason. I've known Lynetter through American Christian Fiction Writers for a long time, and I'm pleased to tell you about her. I've read Lethal Deception, and it's a wonderful book. No wonder, she's also sold another Love Inspired Suspense. If you want to read my review of the book, go to www.lenanelsondooley.com and check out the January 2008 newsletter.
Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I try not to put a whole lot of myself into my characters because I’m afraid it might make them come across lacking in individual personalities. Occasionally, I’ll put something in there that is me, but for the most part, my characters come totally from my imagination. In fact I have a series I’m working on that if it gets published, a lot of people who know me are going to wonder how much of it is autobiographical and I’m here to say…none!
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Oh boy. I’m such a NOT quirky person in real life, it’s hard to define anything I’ve ever done as quirky. Maybe standing in line, in the rain, snow and sleet, for four hours in New York to see David Letterman, then being told the show was full thirty people from the front. I was freezing and am not even a big fan of Dave, so does that qualify as quirky? Or just plain stupid?? What can I say, I was on my honeymoon and my new husband thought it would be the thing to do while we were in New York…blech. I much preferred meeting Mujibur in his warm, cozy store next to the studio.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I’ve always loved the printed word. Growing up, I inhaled books, one after the other. My poor parents probably spent more money on books than they should have. However, when I was a Junior or Senior in High School, I remember writing a paper on Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. My English teacher wrote on the top of the paper A+++, then used it as an example for the rest of the class on how to write an English paper. I was a little embarrassed, yet thrilled at the same time. That had a major impact on me and showed me that maybe I had a gift for the written word. But I never really did anything else with writing except make A’s on all my English papers all the way through college. Then about ten years ago, I had a story running around in my head. I finally decided to put it down on paper. It was horribly written, broke every writing rule writing fiction has, but I had the story down. It was finished. Wow, I felt like I had accomplished something huge. At that point, I decided this was what I wanted to do. I prayed about it, daily asked God for guidance, struggled with learning the craft, absorbing each and every tidbit about writing fiction and what it takes to get to publication and then, voila, in February, Krista called to say Steeple Hill wanted to buy Lethal Deception. I figured up to that point, I had always been a writer to some degree or another. But now I could call myself an author…It still makes my heart pound.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love everything except Science Fiction and Horror. Obviously, my favorite is suspense. Right now, I’m reading Tim Downs, Plague Maker. Fascinating stuff. Anything to do with forensics, FBI, police investigations, etc. I love that kind of thing. I also have recently gotten into Chick Lit. One of my favorite series is the Claire series by Tracey Bateman. I could relate to the woman even though I’m not a divorcee. And Allie Pleiter’s Queen Esther and the 2nd Graders of Doom. I laughed hysterically and thought, “that’s so me!” A truly wonderful story. Robert Whitlow is a favorite. I love a good lawyer story. I loved Dee Henderson’s military series. Every once in while, I’ll be in the mood for a tear jerker, so I’ll go get a Karen Kingsbury book. I read everything Deb Raney puts out, too. But, I would have to say my all time favorite author is Brandilyn Collins. Well, what can I say? I write Suspense… :-)
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Who says I keep it? Mmmm waaaa hahahaha. No seriously, sometimes I feel like I am crazy, but the best thing I can do is find someone to watch my children, ages 8 and 6, grab up my laptop, my Bible and my debit card and head to Panera for some down time. Some of my best conversations with God happen at the Panera on the east side of town over a bowl of Black Bean Soup. And my husband is the best in the world. When I say I need time, he does his best to arrange it for me. And if I can’t do Panera, I go get a massage—if there’s enough money in the change jar. Just finding “me-time” is the best prescription for sanity keeping in my opinion. And I have to say, I have the best parents and in-laws, too. Nine times out of ten when I ask them if they can keep the kids for me, they say, “yes.” I think I’ve been told, “No,” once when one of them was in the hospital or something. I decided that was a good enough excuse. Ha. My in-laws live about two miles up the road from me, so dropping the kids off is no problem at all. I have to say, I have it pretty good in that respect.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes I watch the credits roll at the end of a movie to see if there are any good ones listed. And depending on the ethnicity of the character, I may do a search online for that kind of name. For example, in Lethal Deception, I have a lot of characters from Brazil, so I did a search looking for Brazilian names. I’m also working on a proposal for a six book series and it’s about an Italian family. So, I did an online search for Italian names and got about as many as I could choose from. And sometimes, I just brainstorm cool sounding first and last names.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
That’s easy. My beautiful children. :-) Next would be publication.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’d be my father-in-law’s black lab, Moses because he’s spoiled rotten. We joke that he’s the favored child in the family.
What is your favorite food?
It’s a toss-up between Panera’s Black Bean Soup and Strawberry Ice Cream with M&Ms. Cheesecake runs a close second.
Tell us a little about your journey to publication.
I told you a little about writing that first book. After many rejections on what I thought was the best book ever written, I ended up writing four complete novels, joined writers groups such as RWA, ACFW, and FHL, and attended several writing conferences. I kept sending out stuff and kept getting rejected. Fed up, I self-published a book in January of 2005 called Gift of Grace. That was fun, but it wasn’t my goal. Then I realized that in order to get published, I needed to write something geared for a specific line, follow the guidelines, and pray a lot. My prayer was for my writing to be a ministry where when someone reads my book, they see Jesus in the pages. In order for that to happen, I needed a Christian publishing house. Steeple Hill fit exactly what I wanted. I got rejected a couple of times for various reasons, then finally got the right story at the right time with the right editor.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Really the greatest problem is time. With two small children running around, demanding attention, it’s hard to sit and focus for any kind of lengthy time period unless it’s from about 11:00pm to 3:00am and I just can’t stay awake like that anymore. I also homeschool now. As far as overcoming it, I can’t say I really have. I just deal with it by asking my mother or mother-in-law to babysit, having my husband take the kids bowling, etc. And now they’re at the age where they can do a lot for themselves so that helps. Of course, they come first, writing second. But God seems to work it all out so I get exactly the time I need. It’s really amazing.
What advice would you give to others who are trying to get their first book published?
First of all, if it’s the first book you’ve ever written, it’s probably not the one that’s going to sell for you. I mistakenly thought I was a great writer after I finished my first attempt at Christian fiction. Turns out I had a lot to learn. Still do. Pray a lot. :-)
Seriously, don’t give up. Learn from the rejections and keep sending your stuff out there. While one project is in the mail, work on the next. Keep writing, and polishing. Join different groups that have writers that write the kind of material you write and ask questions. I can’t think of a single Christian author out there that wouldn’t love to tell you about their work. Read blogs on writing. Terry Whalin’s blog is great. Brandilyn Collins has wonderful archives devoted to the craft of writing fiction. Those are just two examples because my response is getting really long, but there are some WONDERFUL authors who post writing helps and advice all the time. Search for them and learn from them. And go to writer’s conferences. Yes, they’re expensive, but you have a year to save, or even two years. And while I know it sounds like a long time, it’s also during that time that you’re preparing for that big meeting with an editor or agent. And it goes FAST, I promise. Just don’t go unprepared. That’s just NOT pretty. And it can hurt your career, too, no matter how great a writer you are.
Lethal Deception started out as one chapter that I entered in a contest on eharlequin.com. The prize was $1,000 if your chapter won. I actually got the idea for this particular tale sitting in the DMV thinking what a jungle the place was. By the time my number was called, I had the entire first chapter down—with no intention of writing any further with it, just entering it into the contest to see what would happen. And now, after much editing, agonizing over it and heartfelt prayers, it will be out in February 2008. Oh, and it didn’t win the contest, although Julie Barrett from the Silhouette Intimate Moments line called to ask for the full! Shocked me to death. I told her thanks, but no thanks, I preferred not to write for that line. But it did get me to thinking that maybe I had the start of a great story. Apparently, Steeple Hill thought so, too, for which I’m so grateful.
Thank you, Lynette, for this view into your journey to publication.
Readers, you can check out Lynette on her web site www.lynetteeason.com . You'll want to know when each of her books come out. We will have her back when the second one releases.
Of course, you have a chance to win a free copy of her book if you leave a comment. Her book will be in stores all over the country next week. Pick one up.
If you don't want to miss the next interview with her, sign up for FeedBlitz under my profile.