Ten Questions with Dana R. Lynn

Over the past few weeks, I have been lucky enough to chat with some really talented and friendly self-published authors who were all kind enough to share their wisdom with me and my readers. This week was the first opportunity I have had to interview an author who has been traditionally published.  I am delighted to have the chance to chat with Harlequin author Dana R. Lynn.

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AJ: Dana, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me.  I can’t wait to hear what you have to say, so let’s get started. 

You are the first author I have spoken with here who has been traditionally published. Tell me about that moment when you got “the call” – or I guess I should say “the email.”

DRL: It was an actual phone call. I had driven to my son’s boyscout resident camp to bring him some things he’d forgotten. I had just parked the car, and my phone rang. When I saw New York on the caller ID, I started shaking. Almost dropped the phone. Anyway, Elizabeth Mazer from Love Inspired Suspense was on the other line, and she said she wanted to buy my book! I was barely even coherent, I was so over the moon.

AJ: Wow! I think we’ve all dreamed of that moment, and you got to live it!

Now, your first book was published by Astraea Press, and your next one will be released by Harlequin for their Love Inspired Suspense imprint.  What made you decide to transition from small press to the Big Guys, and what are some differences you’ve noticed so far?

DRL: I have been reading the three Love Inspired Lines for years. My dream was to write for them. I know, however, that not everything I want to write is a good fit for them. That’s one of the major differences. But I don’t think I would go as far as to say that I have transitioned. I still want to work with both. In fact, one of my current WIP’s is another regency that I hope to someday submit to Astraea Press.

AJ: I know that you’ve competed in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write Contest. How did that experience help you to grow as a writer, and would you recommend it to others?

DRL: I knew nothing about the publishing world. I would definitely recommend it to others. For one thing, I was able to begin networking with other writers, which helped me to learn how to market myself. I also gained valuable support. The other benefit was that my work got before an editor much quicker than if I had submitted an unsolicited manuscript.

AJ: Your first book, An Inconvenient Courtship, is a Jane Austen fanfiction, correct?  Tell me a little bit about of the process of taking Austen’s characters and turning them into your own.  It must have been very intimidating.

DRL: I love, love, LOVE Jane Austen. And Pride and Prejudice is my ultimate fave. It was intimidating to write An Inconvenient Courtship. I was really afraid of not doing her characters justice. I spent lots of time “talking” to my characters.

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AJ: How have the “Jane-iacs” of the world reacted to your work?

DRL: Haha. Janiacs. You know, I think it has gone very well.  There are always people who don’t find a book to their liking, but most of the reviews have been positive.

AJ: Your newest book is coming out in April.  What can you tell me about it?

DRL: Presumed Guilty is about a young woman who was wrongly imprisoned for murder. When she gets out of prison, she becomes the target of the real killer. She has to rely on a police lieutenant to keep her safe and help prove her innocence.  It’s set in a fictional town in Pennsylvania.

AJ: Sounds intriquing. What is your next project after that?

DRL: I’m hoping to do several books in the same fictional town. In fact, I have already written the second and am working on the third. I also have started a contemporary inspirational romance series. I keep a list of projects ideas as I think of them.

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AJ: You also have a blog here on WordPress, and you often use it as a platform to promote other writers.  How do you select which authors to promote?

DRL: I enjoy promoting other authors. I sometimes send out posts on facebook that I have openings for clean or inspirational authors. Or sometimes I will read about a book, and I will approach the author and ask if I can host them. As long as their writing is clean or inspirational, I will consider them.

AJ: If you could have lunch with any “big time” author, who would you choose?  But you can’t say Jane Austen, because that would be too easy.

DRL: So many fabulous authors.  This is really a hard question for me because I can think of at least six or seven authors right now. But if I can only pick one, I guess I would have to say Mary Higgins Clark. I buy her book every spring without fail. Actually, I buy two. One for me and one for my mom. I have been reading her books since high school. In fact, I remember sitting up until the early hours of the morning reading because I couldn’t stop until the book was done.

AJ: I love Mary Higgins Clark, too! I haven’t read one of her books in a few years, though, so I have some catching up to do.

What was the last book you read?  Would you recommend it?

DRL: The last book I read was The Last Target by Christy Barritt. I would definitely recommend it. It had me on the edge of my seat.

AJ: Dana, thank you again for taking the time to talk to me.  Congratulations to you on signing with Harlequin, and I wish all kinds of success with you new book in April.  It was really a pleasure talking to you.

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If you are an author or blogger who would like to be interviewed for “Ten Questions With –” please contact me at AuthorAJGoode@gmail.com.

Hey, Buttercup!

Well, the time has come for me to be honest about some things.  A few weeks ago, I announced that I had entered Harlequin’s annual So You Think You Can Write contest.   Those of you who follow my blog on a regular basis may have noticed that I have been conspicuously silent about my progress in the competition.

I washed out.  Bombed. Crashed and burned.  Didn’t even make the first cut.

It was, however, a great experience.  It forced me to really buckle down on this novel that has consumed so much of my life for so long.  It made me get excited about Her House Divided again when I had begun to lose faith in my own work, and it made me dig up enough courage to actually submit my first chapter to Harlequin’s Special Edition imprint.

Because of my participation in this contest, I have doubled the number of people I interact with on Twitter.  I have chatted with editors and published authors, and I have learned so much about writing and publishing that my brain is working on a serious overload right now.

I am okay with not making the Top 50.  After all, there were more than 650 entries. Pretty stiff competition, especially for my first try.

Then, a few days after the Top 50 were announced, there came another announcement:  Some of those finalists had been disqualified or unable to finish their manuscript in time.  A second round of names would be announced over the following days.

And all hell broke loose. All of a sudden, it seemed as though everyone I had been talking to on Twitter got “the magic email”.  Other writers left and right started posting things like “I made Top 50!” and “I’m in!”  And I was happy for them.  Really.

Okay, I was happy for most of them.

As one of the other competitors has dubbed it, I am suffering from Bridesmaid Syndrome.  I am happy for the other writers and I truly wish them all the best in the competition, but I’m also feeling a bit . . . well, not exactly jealous, but pretty darn close.  It’s not that I’m asking Why them?  It’s more a matter of my asking Why not me? 

Still, I could deal with my feelings on this.  Get up, shake it off, try to look at my work with a more critical eye, and focus on how much I have benefited from this experience.  Give me a few days and a heavy dose of Toblerone.  A week, at the most,  I’ll move on and bounce back as a better writer.

But. . .

With me, there’s always a “But”, and this is the part that’s probably going to get me in trouble.  It’s going to make me sound like I’ve got a bad case of Sour Grapes.

Writers were told from the outset that we would be expected to submit a completed manuscript if we made the Top 50,  Some were not prepared and spent those weeks scrambling to get it finished just in case.   I was still doing some major edits at that point myself.  After getting the Magic Email, some of those authors took to Twitter about the difficulties of finishing their work in time.

Mild annoyance began to kick in.  But hold on; it gets better

When the second round of contacts went out to replace the ones who dropped out, there were writers who bombarded us with constant updates. 30K words to go in two days!  Eeek!   And   No sleep, living on caffeine, gotta create another 20K by morning.

You know how that comes across to those of us who didn’t make it?  I am such a good writer that my rush-ass, slap-together, hurried writing is still better than your completed, polished, and prepared manuscript.

This is all a joke to me, and I still beat you.

I am sure these ladies don’t really feel that way.  I know they are all as thrilled and excited as I would be in their place.  But constantly whining about the difficulties of meeting this deadline is hurtful to those of us who never got the chance.  It’s like rubbing salt in our wounds.

It’s like the woman I know who lost over 100 pounds through weight loss surgery and now spends her every waking moment complaining to fat people about how hard life is now that she;s so skinny.  Wah, I’m cold because I have no body fat.  Boo-hoo, it hurts to get shots in my butt now because I have no body fat.

Honey, I think but don’t say, you still have plenty of body fat. It’s all between your ears.  Now eat a damn cheeseburger and quit your bitching.

Just like I’d like to announce to those sytycw finalists who can’t stop complaining:  if it’s such a hardship for you to finish your manuscript, then step down and make room for someone who who will appreciate it.

There are plenty of writers who would give anything to have the opportunity to submit a full manuscript for the next level of competition, but we weren’t good enough.  So forgive me if I sound like a Poor Sport, but I am sick and tired of hearing all of the whining about how difficult it is to handle being giving the chance that I didn’t get.

I’m supposed to feel sorry for someone who is unhappy about beating me?

No, I just don’t have that in me.  If that makes me a bad person, then so be it.  I’m a bad person.    But I just can’t dig down deep enough to find one ounce of sympathy for anyone who has the chutzpah to complain about how hard it is to win.

Suck it up, Buttercup.