Author Spotlight

 

I had the opportunity to chat with talented author.  So, without further delay letís hear fromÖ

Linda Winfree

Did you always know you would be a writer?  When did you begin to really go after writing as a career?
I actually didnít always know Iíd end up writing. I do remember making up elaborate stories even when I was little, and I dabbled with writing all through high school. It wasnít until after I returned to college to finish my degree in education after the birth of my first child that I really took writing seriously, and even then, it was another eight years before I started pursuing publication in earnest.

Wow! A high school English teacher?  I am impressed!  How do you find a balance between family, teaching, and writing?
You mean thereís supposed to be balance? (Just kidding.) For the most part, I leave writing and my graduate work to the hours after my kids go to bed. I do spend some time on those on weekend mornings as well. Iíve been teaching for eleven years so I have developed a system that works for me in terms of planning and grading which allows me to streamline my time there. And I gave up television (well, except for Ghost Hunters. I mean, plumbers who chase hauntings? Who can resist?).

Tell us what makes Linda tick.
Oh, wow. Hard question. Iím achievement-oriented and self-competitive, even as a teacher and coach and especially as a writer. My kids keep me grounded. And there are those darn movies I get in my head that insist on being turned into books . . .

When writing do you need absolute quiet in an office-like setting or can you write anywhere?  Do you have a writing schedule that you follow?
We live in a small house and I gave up on absolute quiet a long time ago. I do have an office, which I love, but I can work through most noise (kids, dogs, husband watching The Mummy or Sweet Home Alabama for the umpteen-millionth time.

From 9:30 to 11:30, Iím in the office. Teaching duties get first priority, followed by grad school assignments, then writing. If Iím working on deadline, then I set a goal for the evening (edit 30 pages, etc.) and I donít go to bed until itís finished. If Iím not working on something for my publisher, then I have to write 1000 words a day. Iíve learned not to get off-track or I lose sleep!

Tell us some of your favoritesÖfoods, movies, music, authors, books, colors, and any others you want to share?
Favorite foods? French fries. Dark chocolate. My momís thirteen-layer chocolate cake.

Movies. Hmmm. I gave them up, although I make exceptions if it involves Matthew McConnuaghey, John Travolta, Will Smith or Nicolas Cage. I loved I am Legend, until the end. Wild Hogs was hilarious.

Authors & Books: All-time favorite? F. Scott Fitzgerald. I teach The Great Gatsby every year and each time I find something new to fall in love with. Iím a total Stephen King fangirl, and Iím on a personal crusade to make sure everyone I know reads Tayari Jonesís Leaving Atlanta. Other favorites include Maya Banks, Amie Stuart, Lucy Monroe, Monica Jackson, Ally Blue . . .

Colors: Green and blue. If you look at my closet, you see a lot of black. And white. I love great tailored white shirts with everything.

Did I mention I love Ghost Hunters?

You write romantic suspense. Is there another genre you would like to try?
I also have dabbled with straight contemporary suspense. Iíve played with a young adult idea, but I donít seem to have the voice for it. Iím in awe of historical and paranormal authors, but Iíd rather read them than try to write in those genres.

I love horror and I adore the Southern Gothic period. If I could find a way to combine that with romance . . . yum!

How do you promote your work?
Iím still learning how to do this effectively. I spend a lot of time on the Samhain Cafť loop. Iíve had great writer acquaintances like Lucy Monroe, Kate Rothwell (aka Summer Devon) and the WriteMinded gals let me guest blog. Iíve dabbled with contests (including a Bunny Hunt!). I made book cards (business cards with my email addy, web site and a list of my books) that I hand out whenever I get an opportunity. Oh, and postcards for my print releases.

Several of your stories are connected, do you enjoy writing books that are part of a series?  As a reader, I know that I love books that are connected.
I love it. (And Iím glad to hear you do as well!) I actually never set out to write a series. I wrote Tick and Caitlinís book (Hold On to Me) first and when I wrote What Mattered Most, I made the heroine Caitlinís cousin. At that point, I figured I was done. Until I wrote Truth and Consequences and Tick showed up in chapter one.

What I love about writing a series of connected books is getting to explore how peopleís lives intersect, especially in small Southern towns. What Iíve found is that the smallest character detail in a secondary character will make me want to explore what happens in his/her life...and the next thing I know, Iím writing yet another Hearts of the South book.

Do you enjoy hearing from your readers and what is the best way to contact you?
Oh, I love it! Even when they donít like something. Even better when they do. Email is great. My author addy is linda_winfree@yahoo.com.

What do you find to be the most difficult aspect of writing?
Page 1. I hate page 1, because I know that I have another 299 or so to go. Luckily, with the new book, Iím on page 6, so Iím beyond that horrible ďOh, my God, I have one sentence written!Ē point.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?  What was the best piece of advice you received when you were first starting out?
The best advice I can give is JDI. My high school students will tell you that means ďJust Do It.Ē I tell them that lots of people say ďI want to write a bookĒ but only a few really accomplish it. The difference is that the ones who write a book...just do it. The first draft is not going to be perfect. But you keep on doing it and the practice makes you better. Heck, my first book (and my second!) is saved on a disk somewhere and will never see the light of day. Lots of people talk themselves out of things they could do, when if theyíd just put one foot in front of the other...theyíd come out on the other side with something really big and cool to show for it.

The best advice I ever received as a fledgling writer? ďCut it.Ē Oh, and what narrow POV was. I had a finished manuscript and a writer Iíd met online offered to read it. Did I mention it was over five hundred pages long and the prologue was forty-three pages? Three heroes, three heroines, more drama than Passions on steroids. It was sad. Oh, and it was written in omniscient point of view. She was very kind with her ďcut the fluffĒ and ďcontrol your POVĒ advice. Iíve appreciated it ever since.

How would high school students describe you?
Well, my nickname is the Evil English Overlord. Does that tell you anything?

Actually, Iíve had them describe me as working harder than anyone they know. Depending on what day it is, I hear how Iím great, fun, fair, caring, gracious . . . tough, demanding, strict. I guess it all equals out. ;-)

Is your family your biggest support group?  Do they read your work?
My husband is great about answering my law enforcement questions and even acting out scenarios so I can get a feel for how the movements would work. I never really talked about writing with my parents and siblings, then when I sold, they were thrilled. My mom is my biggest cheerleader and has this hilarious habit of toting around a copy of my latest print release...so she can hand sell them to people. My sisters have my print releases, but Iím not sure if theyíve read them. My niece has read everything Iíve soldósheís a big reader.

If you could bring one of your characters or any character to life, who would it be and why?
One of my characters. Um, Tick Calvert. Because heís my favoriteóheís been around the longest with me. Although Iím pretty sure he wouldnít come without Caitlin. (Although Cookie would be fun to bring to life and hang out with . . .).

Any character? Umm, thatís hard. Rosie from The Jetsons so she could clean my house . . .

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?  Any current or upcoming releases?
My most current ebook release is Anything But Mine, which was a Recommended Read here at Joyfully reviewed (that meant a lot, too Ė I was worried about the reception this book would get!). Next up is Memories of Us, due out in June 2008. I love this bookómy hero Tom has gray areas and his interactions with the heroine Celia are so sexy. Plus, heís very guarded and it was fun watching him fall in love.

And in September, A Formal Feeling Ė Book Six in the Hearts of the South series, releases. This is Cookieís book and I cannot wait! I love, love, love this story.

During 2008, my print releases will include Truth and Consequences (April), His Ordinary Life (July) and Hold On to Me (October).

If youíd like to see blurbs or excerpts (or gaze upon the sexy yum that is my cover for Memories of UsóThanks, Anne Cain, cover goddess!), please visit my author page at Samhain: http://www.samhainpublishing.com/authors/linda-winfree.

And thanks to Joyfully Reviewed for having me! This has been so much fun. J

 

     

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