Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Writing Unmasked: Author Interview with Linda Steinberg
I hesitate to say the date, but I started writing my first novel in 1991 when I was living in Nigeria. My husband worked for an oil company and I had the days to myself. I started writing down some daydreams in the form of a novel which turned into 600 single spaced pages. Naturally, that book is now under the bed, never to see the light of day.
How long did it take you to write your first book? How many rewrites did you do?
My second book was a sequel to the first, about the same character forty years later. (It was a normal number of pages) I wrote that rough draft by the seat of my pants. Only after I’d finished it, did I figure out what the plot was. That necessitated a massive rewrite. Then I did a minor rewrite or two to tweak, and lastly, a final polish. It took me about a year.
Are you active in any writing groups?
I joined Romance Writers of America when I returned to the States, the West Houston chapter. I mentioned to someone there that I was writing a romance novel featuring an older woman. I was so green at the time I didn’t know that only women in their twenties and early thirties were supposed to be romance heroines. This person told me that Kensington was starting a new line called To Love Again, about second chance romances. I sent mine in and they published it.
I am still a member of RWA, now in the Dallas Area Romance Authors chapter, and I’m a member of a group of talented ladies called Plotting Princesses. I also have a critique group. I’ve been working with the same two critique partners for fourteen years, and I’m not sure I could write a book without them now.
As mentioned above, I sold the first ‘real’ book I wrote. But it was a long dry spell after that. I sold my first book without an agent but when that line folded, I did try to get an agent and I’ve had three. All of them loved my work and were certain they knew exactly what publisher would grab it up in an instant, but that never happened.
The books I write always seem to have some controversial element that traditional publishers couldn’t fit in a market niche. So I pretty much did throw in the towel as far as trying to get published again. But I kept on writing because, hey, if I’m not writing, I’m not breathing. It’s part of my essence.
What made you decide to indie-publish?
Yes. When many of my author friends started indie publishing, I decided this was the ideal marketplace for books that don’t fit into a narrow, definable category. I do eBooks and print on demand.
Do you do small print runs as well?
Honestly, there doesn’t seem to be as much demand for print books. I print them because I like to have a book I can hold in my hand and give to friends and family who don’t own e readers.
All your writing is listed as contemporary romance with one romantic suspense. What made you which switch subgenres?
I write mostly contemporary romance and women’s fiction. (The next book I plan to put out is Women’s fiction). I didn’t set out to write a suspense book. The plot and characters of The French Deception just came to me, and so I had to write it.
I am planning to continue with a series of international romantic suspense books. So far all I have is the titles. The London Liaison and The Venice Vendetta for examples. I have traveled a lot and I hope to mesh my two favorite hobbies, writing and travel.
Do you have a daily word count goal or set hours to write?
The time can vary according to how long the novel, how much pre-plotting I’ve done, and what else is going on in my life at the time. I wrote the first draft of a novella in a month while I was out in the country in Arkansas with no Internet and sporadic phone service. I don’t have a set writing time or word count goal. The ABC method of writing (Apply Butt to Chair) doesn’t work for me. I get frustrated staring at an empty screen. If the words aren’t coming, I get up and do the laundry or take a nap. Usually the next scene comes to me while I’m resting or doing something else and then I can’t wait to get back to it. When I’m in the zone, my fingers fly over the keys and I don’t even notice how many words or pages I’ve written.
How many times do you rewrite a chapter or do a full edit?
I have two wonderful critique partners who I send my work to, usually chapter by chapter. I’ll revise the chapter according to their notes and keep going. When I have a full draft, I send it to a beta reader who has not read any of it before, and after a few days to let my head rest, I also reread it myself. So, I do chapter edits, then a full edit for content, and usually another edit to tweak and polish.
How much does social media play in your promotion of your books?
I try to keep up with Facebook, and I blog occasionally. In Indie publishing, it’s all about discoverability. I love to write, hate doing the marketing.
What has been your most successful promotions for book sales?
My most successful promotion was being included in a boxed set with six other authors, including a USA today best seller. We put it out initially for 99 cents and we are donating all proceeds to veterans’ charities. We make no money from this book (Fast Men, Slow Kisses) but we’ve sold thousands of copies, and hopefully, people who read our work and like it will go out and buy our other books. So far this has been working. I’ve been selling as many books in a week as I sold in my whole first year of Indie publishing.
What do you know now about writing, that you wished you had known sooner?
You can either write a fast first draft, and spend a lot of time doing a major rewrite, or you can put more time into the prewriting process, and spend less time on the back end.
What is the best advice you’ve learned you’d like to pass along?
The most important thing you have as a writer is your voice. Pay attention to all well-meant critiques, but don’t try so hard to please everyone that you lose what is unique about your writing. In the end, it’s Your Book, and you want to be proud of your name on the cover.
Are there any other points about writing that you would like to add?
Writing is a business, but for most of us it’s also a joy. It can be difficult to grow the business without losing the joy. Decide what your particular goals are and balance accordingly.
I am working on a series of short novels, featuring four young women who meet every Tuesday for lunch and the one night stands which lead to their Happily ever Afters. The blurb for the series is, They’re Single. Twenty-something. Living in L.A. And not nearly as edgy as they’d like to think.
That's all for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Linda and her writing, here's the links to do that...