Welcome to my weekly blog series – Author Interviews.
In this series I interview the authors that inspire and amaze me. I get them to tell me all about their literary journey, the obstacles they overcame when writing their books and their creative process.
Today I am super excited as author Linda Bradley has agreed to sit in my chair. She describes herself as an author and a believer of the phrase ‘sometimes you have to lose your way to find yourself.’ I love this phrase and I get the feeling Linda’s interview is going to be a bit special.
So, Linda – welcome to my Blonde Blog! Please take a seat..
Tell my readers about yourself and the book / books you have written.
I live in Michigan and write Women’s Fiction with a thread of romance. I have an Associates Degree in Interior Design and a Master’s Degree in Reading and Language Arts with undergraduate work in Elementary Education and Fine Arts. I wrote and illustrated a children’s book titled, The Hunter for my Master’s Degree. I’m a member of RWA, as well as the Greater Detroit Chapter of RWA.
When I began writing Maggie’s Way, I believed this book was going to be a stand-alone, but as I prepared to type “the end”, I realized Maggie Abernathy’s story wasn’t finished. Publishing the Montana Bound Series has been a dream come true. I love writing about the “true grit” that makes life unpredictable as well as the humor found in everyday living. The characters in my books are a cast of misfits waiting to steal your heart.
Oh my goodness! I love that line about your characters being ‘a cast of misfits waiting to steal your heart.’ I LOVE misfits and writing about misfits.
When did you write your first book?
I wrote and illustrated my first book in grade school. My elementary school had this contest called “Calbery”. The term “Calbery” was derived from the names of the Caldecott and Newberry Awards. Students wrote and illustrated their books each year. The winners received awards and the winning books were sent on to compete with other students from surrounding elementary schools. It was a big deal and I looked forward to making my book each year. I still have the ribbons and certificates in my writing box that’s followed me from place-to-place. That deep-seeded passion for writing shadowed me through life, got pushed to back burner, but surfaced later on when my boys were young. I wrote my first women’s fiction manuscript about ten years ago. Time flies when you’re having fun.
How long did it take to write your first book?
To be honest, I’m not sure how long it took to write that “first” full length manuscript. It’s still sitting in a binder on my shelf. Probably a year or so. Maggie’s Way is a different story, though. Maggie’s Way was my debut novel and I completed that manuscript in about three months.
What was your motivation to write your first book?
Cancer was my catalyst. Being published was on my life’s list of things to do, so I buckled down upon being diagnosed. I put all my other projects to the side and let new characters drive my stories. When I began writing Maggie Abernathy and Chloe McIntyre, I found my voice. Within a year’s time, I’d written first drafts for the three books in my Montana Bound Series.
What writing issues did you encounter along the way and how did you overcome them?
I’d written several manuscripts leading up to Maggie’s Way. I’d been lucky enough to have had critiques from agents and editors. The feedback was sometimes difficult to swallow, but in time I learned to stay true to what I wanted to write. I learned to focus on the nuggets that made sense to me. Many moons ago, an editor told me she thought I was a diamond in the rough. I’ve carried that with me and reminded myself that polishing my work and becoming a better writing takes time, hard work, and an open-mind.
Did you go through any bad writing patches during writing your book – what kept you going?
I’d gone through bad patches with previous manuscripts, so when I began writing the Montana Bound Series, I tried to approach the process a bit differently. I began making “character bibles” to help me organize chapter outlines and notes. I collected photographs of people and places to help me stay connected. I also read and completed the exercises in Alan Watt’s book, the 90-day novel while I was writing as a source of inspiration to complete the journey. When I reached 30,000 words, it was time for “NANOWRIMO” so I signed up and completed my debut novel.
Are you a plotter or do you just write / see what happens?
I know the beginning of my story and how it’s going to end. Sometimes, I’ll make a list of events that need to happen in the story, but more often than not, I see my characters’ actions in my head as I go, kind of like a movie. That action leads me from scene to scene.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
Connecting with readers, most definitely!
What is the worst thing about being a writer?
The characters that won’t leave my head until I entertain their story. It’s very difficult for me to turn off my brain, even if I’m exhausted.
I suffer with this too. Sigh!
Have you ever considered quitting writing, and if so how have you worked through this?
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I wish I had a typical writing day. I teach elementary school, so my writing day begins when I get home. Getting into the chair isn’t always possible, but when the creativity is flowing, you’ll find me at my keyboard, hammering away. When I get started on something, it’s hard to stop. Tuning out the dog, the television, and my phone when I’m in the zone is one of my super-powers.
Do you suffer from procrastination and if so how do you handle it?
I know procrastination well. Most often, I don’t handle it, I let it take over because I know my brain is processing the work in progress even if I’m not consciously thinking about it. Sometimes watching the Friends marathon or doing an art project is necessary. Procrastinating can be a productive tool in my book. I know what I’m capable of and I know that when it’s time to get going, I will. Setting goals and limits for myself also helps me stay on track.
Which is more important – plot or characters and why?
Characters. I think if you have strong characters, they’ll drive the plot.
What have been your 3 biggest learnings during your writing career?
One. Never give up. Two. Never give up. Three. Never give up.
LOVE these learnings!
How do you manage social media as a writer?
I try to get on Facebook and Twitter daily. I don’t always promote my books, but I want my followers and friends to know, I’m still there. I like to share posts and re-blog. Occasionally, I’ll set up a Facebook party or a giveaway.
Do you have any tips or advice for budding aspiring authors?
Follow your heart. Write what you like to read. Step outside the box even if it’s uncomfortable. Writing is a continuous process. It’s okay to fail and make mistakes. Learn to roll with the punches. Getting back up is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Believe.
Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so how do you overcome?
If anything, I have too many ideas milling around in my head. Teaching full-time doesn’t allow me to explore story lines when they blossom, so they tend to build up. And when they’re thick and bountiful, there’s nothing more frustrating than trying to organize my thoughts. Sometimes the days just aren’t long enough to get everything done that I want to accomplish. So, you know all those neat little piles of notes on my desk, please don’t rearrange them.
Do you ever think of the next book whilst writing?
All. The. Time.
What do you wear to write?
Jeans. Shorts. Pajama pants. T-shirts, fleece if it’s a chilly day and the hot flashes aren’t coming my way. Anything that’s comfy.
If readers want to get in touch how do they contact you?
Amazon Author Page
Wow Linda – fab interview!
I have taken a lot from this today:
- I love how you write about the ‘true grit’ that makes life unpredictable.
- I think your writing journey has been so inspirational.
- It must have been a magical literary moment for you when an editor referred to you as a ‘diamond in the rough!’ I do hope that’s the phrase my future editor uses when referring to me – sigh!
- I can relate to storylines ‘becoming thick and bountiful’ – great way of describing the creative build up.
- We all have piles of notes on our desks that must never be disturbed.
Linda – thank you – what a star!
If you are an author and want to sit in my red chair please get in touch.
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photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/79577679@N00/5448848999″>the chair in the attic</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>