How did you get started writing?
I planned to study law. However, my freshman year in college, I became friends with a number of Northwestern University journalism students. One, Bob McVea, encouraged me to consider journalism. I switched majors and have never regretted it. Most of my career has been spent in public relations and advertising. I have written literally hundreds of feature articles for business, trade and travel magazines…completed “Help” guides as a technical writer…ghosted speeches…penned video scripts. It’s been fun. But writing for myself instead of clients is a lot more fun. I’m writing the kind of books I love to read—mystery/suspense with varying degrees of humor and romance.
What do you like best about writing?
When I start a novel, I always have an end point in mind. Invariably my characters hijack my planned plot and take me places I never expected to go. Writing fiction offers a tremendous sense of freedom. I’m my own boss (except, of course, for my pesky heroines and heroes).
Tell us about your published works? My Marley Clark Mystery Series features a 52-year-old retired military intelligence officer who works part-time as a security guard on Dear Island, a fictional Lowcountry island near Beaufort, SC. Marley, a widow, is smart, fit, sexy, and believes humor is an essential ingredient in enjoying life. I’ve published two Marley books: DEAR KILLER and NO WAKE ZONE. The third mystery in the series, WITH NEIGHBORS LIKE THESE, will be released in 2014. I also write stand-alone thriller/suspense novels. FINAL ACCOUNTING is a romantic suspense novel set in Atlanta and Jamaica.
How did you know when you were ready to publish?
Though I’ve always made my living as a writer, I knew I had a lot to learn about writing fiction. I took courses, entered contests, joined writing organizations (including SCWW), attended conferences, and, most importantly, hooked up with some excellent critique partners. When my manuscripts started making contest finals, I began to query agents and publishers. While I’ve had two agents, my contracts with small traditional publishers resulted from direct contact with acquiring editors.
How did you decide which publishing route to pursue—traditional versus self-publishing? I initially sought a traditional publisher because I wanted: (1) a professional editor, (2) a professional cover artist, (3) broader distribution, (4) promotional help, and (5) the “legitimacy” of having my work vetted by a publisher. MUCH has changed since I first started writing fiction. Today self-published authors can easily hire experienced editing professionals and cover artists and use social media to promote their work. The stigma once attached to self-publishing has largely been erased by entrepreneurial authors who have published excellent novels and have done so at a profit. Nonetheless, traditional publishers still can offer broader distribution and be a tremendous help with discoverability. Going forward, I believe many authors (me, too) will make the self-publishing versus traditional publishing decision on an individual project basis—going the indie route for some titles and traditional for series with mass-market potential.
What is your all-time favorite book and why? I’m not sure I can answer that. For pure enjoyment, my favorite author is Susan Isaacs. I loved her novel, LONG TIME NO SEE. A favorite book for the sheer beauty of the language is Pat Conroy’s PRINCE OF TIDES. For belly laughs, it’s hard to beat the early Stephanie Plum novels. And Susan Grafton’s alphabet mystery series hooked me on writing mysteries featuring a heroine.
What is the best writing advice you ever got? But your behind in the chair and, if you’re working at home, don’t let yourself get up to do any of those household chores you can use as excuses (cleaning, cooking, etc.) until you meet your goal for the day. Dusty furniture is the sign of a dedicated writer.
What do you do for fun, besides writing?
Read (naturally). Swim, play tennis, kayak, hike/walk, experiment with recipes. Enjoy time with my husband, family, friends.
What are you currently working on? I just finished working with talented narrator K.C. Cowan on an audiobook edition of DEAR KILLER. It should be available for sale before the end of November. What a fun project. Loved hearing my characters speak. I’m also working on my third Marley Clark mystery, and I’ve started noodling around on a humorous cozy mystery series. My husband laughed out loud when I told him the concept, which I need to develop before I say more. I have two finished manuscripts that I’m currently shopping. One, a suspense set in the 1930s, is my favorite book, but the time period isn’t an automatic fit into publisher lists.
For more information, visit Linda Lovely’s website: www.lindalovely.com