Though she’s lived in Southern zip codes more than half her life, Romantic Suspense Golden Heart finalist Linda Lovely never untangled from her Iowa roots. Give her a pork tenderloin sandwich any day, but hold the grits and sweet tea, please. Her strong-willed, working mom taught her to stand up for herself and to laugh often. She tries to do both. She’s stubborn—hence her dogged determination to see one of her romantic suspense manuscripts published–and she’s lucky to have a husband (Tom) who loves to read as much as she does, believes in her, and thinks she’s good company.
While this is Linda’s first year to enter the Golden Heart competition, she’s participated in the RWA contest circuit since 2007. Her five manuscripts (four complete, one work in progress) have finaled 16 times and won three contests. Learn more about Linda by visiting her website.
And now a little about Linda’s Golden Heart finaling book–COUNTERFEIT:
One night, Nexi Ketts beds a handsome cop and wakes when the imposter tries to kill her. She jams a screwdriver in his gut and flees naked, causing a fender bender and making it damn hard for Detective Barry Gerton to think clearly. A decade earlier, when she was a lonely, overweight teen, she changed her name to escape the shadow of her infamous parents. As a joke, she chose an anagram for “sex kitten.” Now, all grown up, she’s a sexy forensic accountant, who makes a living catching corporate cheats—partial atonement for dear old dad’s embezzling ways. A second attempt on Nexi’s life makes it clear she’s on someone’s hit list. Who’s trying to kill her and why? The search for answers leads to Jamaica, where a heart-stopping game of hide-and-seek takes Nexi and Barry from Kingston’s barrios to the wild Cockpit region and a harrowing showdown in Dragon’s Throat cave.
Before we dive into Linda’s blog post, here are some questions I asked Linda to answer so we could all get to know her a little better:
1) How long have you been writing?
An alumna of Northwestern University’s journalism program, I’ve always made my living as a writer. The writing has been the any-project-for-a-buck variety—speeches, ad copy, brochures, newsletters, web sites, trade and travel magazine articles, Help documentation, radio and TV spots, etc. I first decided to try my hand at fiction a decade ago.
2) Did you always want to be an author or is this something you fell into later in life?
I’ve been an avid reader of romantic suspense, mysteries and thrillers since my college days. However, I never considered writing a book until I was hired to pen an “as told to” book. That project was shelved when my clients settled a lawsuit and agreed not to publish. That exercise gave me the confidence to believe I could write a book that would keep readers turning pages.
3) What do you do in your “other” life? (Day job, family, etc.)
I continue to tackle writing projects for long-term clients. I also handle communications for Advocates for Quality Development, Inc., a nonprofit that fosters responsible development in Upstate South Carolina. I live on a lake and love to swim and kayak. I also play tennis and garden, and I’m helping my husband finish our basement.
4) Who are your favorite authors?
My list is VERY long and eclectic, so I’ll limit myself to romantic suspense: J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts, Allison Brennan, Roxanne St. Claire, Suzanne Brockmann, Cindy Gerard, and Elisabeth Naughton, who hooked me with the first line in STOLEN HEAT—“All things considered, she looked pretty good for a six-year-old corpse.”
5) Do you have an agent?
No. I’m hoping to land an agent who loves romantic suspense, adventure and mystery and believes I have the talent for a successful, long-term career.
6) Where do you see yourself in five years?
Writing romantic suspense and mystery/adventure stories with strong romantic elements—even if I’m still unpublished. It’s hard to explain to folks who aren’t addicted how much fun it is to have colorful characters take up residence in your head and tell you their stories. Those characters never stop talking and love to suggest plot twists while you’re in the shower and nowhere near a piece of paper. I hope I continue to improve my craft and my ability to entertain readers (and myself).
(Oh, man, Linda…I so get those nosey characters in the shower!)
Okay, now on to Linda’s awesome post. I hope you enjoy!!
Critique Partners—Respect, Trust and Laughter
I can’t imagine writing in a vacuum. Many writers say they are loners by nature and shy. Not me. Yes, I can plant my butt in front of the computer and write in lovely solitude for hours on end. But, eventually, I need people—specifically critique partners I respect and trust—to read my stories, share reactions, suggest improvements, kick me in the behind if I start whining and make me laugh. And I learn even more craft secrets by reading their manuscripts, congratulating them on what works and trying to puzzle out why some things fall flat—even when the language is exquisite. (All my critique partners are superb storytellers.)
I’ve been critiquing with Maya Reynolds, the author of two erotic romances (BAD GIRL and BAD BOY) for years. Though we’ve never met in person, I cherish our friendship. We connected as members of an online critique group that grew out of a Sisters in Crime loop. The other members fell away, but Maya and I stuck it out. While we now write in different genres, we continue to critique. I can’t speak for Maya, but I’m always delighted to see one of her emails in my in basket. Among other things, she’s broadened my horizons—pulling me with her into erotic romance and paranormal. That exposure has freed me to take more chances in my own work. She isn’t afraid to call me on wordiness, question my character’s motives or point out holes in my plot. But she does so with kindness. We don’t always agree, but I know that if I ignore her advice I’d better have a darn good reason for rejecting it. I respect her, trust her judgment. She’s made me a better writer, a better storyteller, and a happier person. She makes me laugh. Critiquing, when it’s done right, is more than pointing out comma splices and overuse of adverbs.
While Maya is one of my long-term critique partners, Robin Weaver, a fellow Golden Heart and Daphne finalist, is one of my newest. Like Maya, she’s a treasure who writes in multiple genres and has a distinctive voice. We met through RWA’s online Kiss of Death chapter. As an added bonus, I get to be Robin’s roommate at the RWA National convention in July.
Of course, not all of my critique experiences have been this rewarding. You have to “get” each other’s work in order to offer constructive criticism. My advice to writers considering a critiquing relationship is to try a 10- or 20-page exchange with no commitment to read and comment on more. Then, if you don’t click, you can say goodbye without hurt feelings. If you do connect, you’ll never regret the time it takes to share your comments.
What do you want in a critique partner?