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Wednesday, 22 May 2013
Author interview with Lynette Willows (revisited)
Back in April 2013, I interviewed author Lynette Willows for my interview-only WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with romance novelist Lynette Willows. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Lynette. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Lynette: I started out quite modestly. I loved writing, have all my life. I started an interactive writing group on MSN groups (remember those?) and everyone loved the concept and joined up. We found a lot of aspiring writers on there, and many including myself, found our love of writing, including my now co-author Carley Bauer who I immediately connected with. By the time MSN groups shut down, many had gone to take their writing more seriously.
I was playing with the idea of freelancing, so I finally decided to take the plunge and took a few amateur gigs as a humour / satire columnist, writing a few articles for Canadian and American magazines, and did some investigative journalism. That last was exciting and fun. This was all done under a different name, by the way.
Then Carley contacted me two years ago and wanted to get back into interactive writing. Let’s face it, we were addicted. It was just the two of us, since most of the others had disappeared. After six months of feverish writing, we realized we had enough material written for three books, and we had started a fourth, just in volume alone. So, to make a long story short, we decided to clean it up and try for publication. She was braver than I was and she finally submitted to a publisher who loved it and picked us up, especially after she heard we had more material in the same series waiting in the wings. Every publisher likes to know authors have more than one story in them.
Our book, “No Gentleman Is He”, was digitally released on March 7, 2013, and the first in the Sons of Liberty series. We are shooting for late June for the release of Book 2 of the series, though it’s still untitled. We’re still arguing back and forth about that.
Morgen: Given your online experience, what do you think of eBooks?
Lynette: I think eBooks are a good way to find out if an author is going to resonate with readers. I personally think publishers are smart in this new procedure, to publish a new author digitally. Only when the writer proves they are good storytellers, then release them in print. Publishing is a business, and they and the authors are partners. It’s a good system. But ultimately, isn’t it every author’s dream to be in print? That’s what I’m working towards now. So far, “No Gentleman Is He” is the only book we have out. We are break-out authors, Carley and I. It’s hard to get recognized when no one knows your name, but it’s also challenging and a lot of fun.
I think the more choices people have for reading, whether it be digital or print, the better. Can you imagine if we only had one choice of salad dressing? How boring would that be? I think reading should be just as delicious, with just as many choices in reading formats. Besides, I recently heard that because of e-readers, children are now reading more, and I’m all for literacy for kids, no matter what format they choose to do it in. But I will confess for a special love of the printed word on paper. Call me old fashioned. I’m a tub and bed reader, and you simply can’t do it with comfort on an device, so I’ll stick to reading print books, at least for now. Too old to change, I guess.
Morgen: Have you self-published?
Lynette: I have never self-published, unless you count my some un-published articles on my blog that never sold, for whatever reason. Thankfully, there are precious few of them. No, we queried to a traditional digital publisher, Tirgearr Publishing, and they liked what they saw and offered us a contract.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your stories or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Lynette: It’s strange you would ask that. Someone actually asked me that not long ago, and I realized I have never thought of it. The main character, Colton Rolfe, is clearly pictured in my head, and I honestly never compared him to anyone well known in the film industry. They may have to go with an unknown. *smile*
Morgen: :) Which authors did you read when you were younger and did they shape you as a writer?
Lynette: I read strictly for enjoyment, but yes, I suppose they did influence me. Richard Adams and “Watership Down”, Harper Lee with “To Kill A Mockingbird”, George Orwell and his many books on alternate societies. Oh, there are so many, and my tastes were so varied. Believe it or not, I was about the only student in high school who didn’t groan when Shakespeare became required reading. I think I even discovered Austen around high school, too.
Morgen: I have to say, despite being English, I’m not a Shakespeare fan, although I did enjoy Macbeth at school but that’s probably my dark side coming out. I much prefer contemporary writing. Do you manage to write every day, and do you plot your stories or just get an idea and run with it?
Lynette: I write outlines, though brief. I like to have wiggle room in my storylines. My normal day is actually very organized, which I only learned recently. I used to be a chaotic writer with poor focus. It’s a leaned skill, focus, at least for me. I wake up about 7am every morning, and when I’ve had coffee (here’s where the focus comes from… caffeine), I sit and answer any emails that are urgent. Then I do the marketing for the book, help other authors if I can if there’s something on their Facebook relating to their books, and around about 10 am, I like to knuckle down with either the book or my blog. But when it comes 1 pm in the afternoon, all my attention is on the book, period. By supper, I’ll either settle for the evening in ordinary life, or if revisions or other work is unfinished, I’ll get back to it until about 9 pm…that’s my absolute cut off time.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or research?
Lynette: *laughing* Oh my heavens, yes. I have a special love of research, especially if the facts are weird, obscure or almost non-existent. For instance, no one seems to know much about shampoo, or how anyone really washed their hair before there even was shampoo or soap. I noticed that most authors kind of skipped over those small details, either because they couldn’t find it, or didn’t know how to look for it. In fact, there is very little on the toilette (and toilet) habits of earlier man, and it recently became my mission to find out. The results are quite surprising, actually. Readers can find out on my blog, or better yet, in Book 2 when it’s released. But yes, I’m afraid I’m addicted to research, and often get carried away to the exclusion of everything else. It’s a flaw I’m trying to correct, but it’s hard. I’m also quite picky about editing, too. Most writers are cursed with perfection, I suspect, and nothing is ever going to be good enough. We just have to learn to finally let it go.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Lynette: For comfort level, third person. However, I am working on other projects, as yet unpublished, that use first person narrative. I admit, I have never tried second person, at least not so anyone can see it.
Morgen: I love it so would recommend it, although not for anything longer than a short story or chapter – it can become quite wearing on the writer and reader. What’s your least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Lynette: Marketing. I’m currently getting more comfortable with the process, but comfort doesn’t equate to enjoyment. But like any other job, there are going to aspects that are not as enjoyable as others, but they still have to be done. In fact, anything that takes me away from the process of writing, I tend to resent just a bit.
Morgen: It’s the most popular answer to the least favourite question, generally for that very reason. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Lynette: Oh my. That opens up possibilities, doesn’t it? Well, my first choice, I think, would be Mark Twain, or Samuel Clements, if you like. Witty man, and his sarcasm is a perfect match to mine. Considering my background is in humour writing and satire, wow, I can only imagine the repartee we would indulge in. *giggle* Also, Jane Austen, I think. Considering women writers were not exactly considered respectable, it would be interesting to see what she thought about how her books opened up the romance genre, and not only how accepted they are now and how suggestive they can be, but that they are the bestselling genre. I can only imagine the sacrifices she had to make in order to do what she loved, and I would be interested to know if it was worth it for her. And lastly, I’m still wrangling for a relaxed coffee time with a local author here in Canada that I admire, Janice MacDonald. She has written a series of highly successful mystery books, and I'm a huge fan of her work. *waving stalker-like to Janice* I love her voice in her books.
Morgen: Perhaps you could send her in my direction. I run five interviews a week on this blog and the same number of author spotlights on the mixed blog (there are other opportunities) so I’m always looking for authors to market… including Carley. :) Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Lynette: I still take the occasional assignment for freelancing, only because I still love the adrenaline rush of deadlines and research. I can’t seem to let it go. I’m also working solo on a drama Lit, with the vague flavour of “To Kill A Mockingbird”, and I do mean vague, and just finished and now editing a Christmas romance story set in 1914 western Canada, the outbreak of WW1.
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Lynette: First of all, yours. You have a ton of information on there, and while I only recently discovered your sites, I’m still going through all the wonderful information you have. Writer’s Digest has a lot of information, but I can only get into a few of their pages, since I’m a born miser refuse to pay for it. A few of my other authors on Tirgearr have wonderful blogs as well, and I have greedily availed myself of the information they carefully research. I think there are just too many to name, really. I would take up your whole site.
Morgen: :*) Thank you very much. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Lynette: Again, yours, because you cater to readers as well as writers, and let’s face it, all writers need readers, don’t we? And you have a huge following, so you must be greatly respected. World Literary Café, of course, and all their subsidiaries. There’s also Writer’s Gazette, Twitter of course, Facebook, Goodreads,… oh my goodness. Again, lots. And these are not in order of importance, either.
Morgen: Isn’t the internet wonderful. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Lynette: Book 2 of our Sons of Liberty series, due out (hopefully) this summer. That’s my priority. When I have time, my blog, marketing the book, other novels finished and unfinished, and a bit of freelance. This is in order of importance. I’m practicing my new skill of organization.
Morgen: I was a secretary for 20+ years so it certainly helps me. :) Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Lynette: Lynette Willows & Carley Bauer Facebook Fan page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lynette-Willows-Carley-Bauer/278323855613717
Tirgearr Publishing: http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com
Lynette Willows, Author blog: http://lynettewillows.blogspot.ca
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Lynette: There has been a whiff of controversy surrounding this novel of ours. First of all, Carley’s and my partnership. Not only did we opt for two separate authorships on this book instead of the usual process of combining our names as one pen name, but that she is a city loving American and I’m a redneck Canadian who avoids the city like the plague. We have a few people commenting about me being that “cheeky Canuck” writing about American history, and revealing a few facts that blow holes in previously recognized and accepted legends. If they think that’s bad, wait until they get a load of Book 2 in the series. It’s actually a miracle Carley and I are even friends, let alone co-authoring a book together, considering we are polar opposites in personalities. But for some reason, it just works.
And there’s another reason; our publisher took a real chance on us, considering we pushed the limits on what constitutes a romance novel. We took a great deal of trouble to make sure this book was well researched and exciting, with real action scenes that even appeal to the men in our readership. It has a well-developed story as well as well-rounded characters. In other words, it’s an intelligent book for sophisticated readers who are demanding more out of romance stories. Women, and readers in general, are far more sophisticated and well-read, and they are demanding stories with more meat. We attempted to give them just that. So far, according to the wonderful readers who reviewed us on Amazon, we seem to have hit the mark.
Morgen: Readers really can be honest in reviews so that’s great and a bit of controversy is still publicity. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Lynette: Yes. *holding up cup* Do you happen to have more coffee? I am a caffeine addict.
Morgen: <laughs> Gladly. I’m the same with tea.
Morgen: Thank you very much for joining me today.
Lynette: You’re more than welcome. I enjoyed it. You also make fantastic coffee. Thank you.
Morgen: Oh, really? I’m pleased because I don’t drink it, although I part of being a secretary was making lots of coffee. :)
I then invited Lynette to include an excerpt of her writing and this is from “No Gentleman Is He”…
The gathering dispersed in their arranged directions. Colt looked back at Cassandra, seeing longing in her eyes. If the British caught up with them, it was likely he would not see her again.
Against his better judgment, he pivoted toward her. She rose from the chair and walked slowly toward him.
"Be careful," she said. He could hear the quiver in her voice. "I...the British are so well trained and the militia is no comparison to them."
He touched her cheek and leaned in. "Are you saying you do not trust me to beat those pasty-skinned pansies?'
"You could take on the world," she managed a smile.
He looked into her eyes, his mouth moving to hers. Dammit it all to hell, if he was being sent onto a battlefield to die, he was taking her kiss with him. He tasted the sweetness of her mouth, the velvety softness of her lips and for a minute was lost in time. It was not until he heard a loud clearing of Jackson's voice that he let go of her. Without a word, he turned and walked through the door. He heard the faint sound of her voice but did not turn. If he looked at her once more, he may never leave.
Abigail settled with Cassandra in the parlor, pouring tea to settle her nerves. “Relax, my dear. The men will be all right.” As Cassandra sipped her tea, she could tell her aunt watched her carefully over the rim of her own cup.
Just then, they both heard the faint but unmistakable sounds of marching feet. Cassandra put her cup on the small table and rushed to the window, pushing the curtains aside and glancing out.
She gasped. Abigail joined her a moment later, her own gasp audible. At the end of the street, Cassandra made out a line of figures passing by, the streetlights glinting off swords and gun barrels.
“Well, well. It seems they have taken action sooner than we expected,” Abigail said quietly, her breath fogging the window.
Cassandra hurried to the coat hook in the hallway, took down her cloak and threw it over her shoulders.
Abigail followed, a frown creasing the delicate features of her face. “And just where do you think you are going, young lady?”
Cassandra was determined. “The men do not know. Things are happening faster than they expected. They need to be warned,” she answered as she opened the door.
Abigail pushed the door shut, almost catching Cassandra in the doorjamb. “Aunt Abigail!” she objected.
“You cannot race through the streets alone, my dear,” Abigail said. “You cannot leave this house, not with all those soldiers out there. You will be stopped.”
“Not if I continue with my guise of a Loyalist. It worked before. Aunt, the men need to be warned that they are in danger now!” Her pleading fell on deaf ears.
“Come,” Abigail touched her shoulder, urging her back into the parlor. “There is nothing you can do. Besides, you do not even know where they went.”
“I know they went to Lexington or Concord, based on what they discussed here…” Cassandra said, uncertainly. “I should be able to find them on the road…” Her voice faded, watching her aunt return to the parlor.
Picking up her cup with her back to Cassandra, she said, “Come and sit and finish your tea, my child. They will certainly hear the…” Cassandra did not hear anymore and she pulled the door closed behind her.
Cassandra quickly saddled Thunder and, with the help of a crate she used as a mounting block, settled in the saddle and rode out in search of the men.
On the road, she passed the line of marching soldiers. She ignored the command to stop, barrelling by the officers in front and dodging one who reached out to grab the reins. She ducked into a side street. Unfamiliar with Beacon Hill, she knew Thunder could out-run British mounts and get her safely back on track. The sound of thundering hooves soon faded.
She rode recklessly through the dark, hoping her horse did not stumble over the ruts in the roads and throw her. Luckily the soldiers did not seem to consider a lone woman worth the effort to pursue. As she put distance between her and the soldiers, she suspected it was mere luck more than skill that kept her mounted.
When she came to the crossroads, she reined up abruptly, causing Thunder to rear and toss his head before coming to a stop. Mud rose up, splattering the hem of her dress but she paid no mind. She studied the signs, indecisive. Was it Lexington, or Concord? She searched her memory for which city was more urgent, based on the conversation the men held at Aunt Abigail’s. They said the leaders were vital, and that meant Lexington. She turned and started down the road to Lexington, but stopped abruptly yet again, circling Thunder. He snorted in frustration at the rough treatment.
Colton would be more concerned about the arms, she knew, while Jackson would be concerned about the men. She circled her horse again, trying to make up her mind.
The men were more important, and she knew she should warn Jackson first, since he was no doubt heading in that direction.
Cassandra kicked her horse, having made up her mind. She rode to the crossroads and turned toward Concord, trying to make up wasted time. Her concern for Colt overrode her duty.
As Colton, Warren and Hunter entered Concord, the hue and cry went out at each dwelling they passed. The men of the town gathered up arms and rode to the Concord Bridge. A far-off series of gunfire, like the distant approaching of thunder, made them uncertain what happened since there was no expectation of actual battle. While Colton and his companions gathered what powder and munitions they could load onto wagons, the Concord militia withdrew to a position on a hill across from the North Bridge. Some thought retreat was the better part of valour, despite some objections from more adventurous men. Ultimately, they all wanted to avoid casualties.
Colton and the others managed to save the majority of supplies, secreted in storage, by expeditiously loading them into commandeered wagons. Two men climbed up, whipped the horses and drove like madmen out of the town, hurriedly taking supply wagons to designated alternate locations. The two men barely made it out when Colton and the others heard a series of gunshots and shouting.
And a synopsis…
Young, adventurous and widowed in a new land, Cassandra Courtney Brooks found her dream of raising a superior breed of saddle horse slipping away with the death of her husband. Left with four horses, living in a tavern attic and her scant savings depleted, she resolved to see her vision to fruition by accepting the scandalous position of steward at Varina Farms. Cassandra is soon forced to question the wisdom of her decision when she finds herself enamored with the lusty and dangerous owner.
Born in the image of his dark-skinned ancestor, Pocahontas, it was rumored Colton Rolfe carried the savagery of his Indian heritage. Scorned by his father, Colt grew into a man of ill temperament who’s only true love was the wild equine beasts on his Virginian tobacco plantation. His desire to breed his horses with the superior Thoroughbreds of the newly widowed Cassandra Brooks led him to abandon societal rules.
Their story unfolds with Colt’s growing resentment toward the crown and his assistance to Sons of Liberty missions, complicated by the discovery that Cassandra’s father is a titled Englishman. Does he dare trust her?
A fiery passion grows between them through gunfire, treachery, and danger, culminating in a kidnapping. Cassandra realizes her own spirit of independence, love of the land, and the savage man who is so much a part of it. Will he ever trust her enough to love her as she longed to be loved?
“No Gentleman Is He” Sons of Liberty series is available at the following links:
Lynette Willows lives in rural Alberta, Canada. Her debut novel, “No Gentleman Is He”, the first in the Sons of Liberty series, is co-written with her partner in romance, Carley Bauer. They wanted to write a historical romance for readers who love good stories as well as great characterization in their books.
It has been said Lynette has a very interesting past. Not only was it unusual, but some would even say reckless. She lived on an Indian reserve in a teepee with her young son for three months in the winter, she chases storms, and worked as a social services aide on one of the most troubled and dangerous reserves in Canada, where she met great friends as well as made a few enemies.
She enjoys camping, movies, especially historical bio dramas, strange dogs, stranger cats, exclamation points, coffee mugs with stupid sayings, friends, (the crazier the better), family, (as long as they are crazier than she is), and has a huge collection of shiny, outrageous earrings. Yes, she is a magpie.
If you’re curious about her favourite reading material, it’s very eclectic and varied. She’s extremely picky about what she read, so check out my “to read” list on Goodreads. You can also follow her and Carley, the talented, patient, and illustrious co-author at their fan page on Facebook at “Lynette Willows & Carley Bauer”. She is also on Twitter under @LynetteWillows.
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