Interview & Giveaway with LynDee Walker – Author of Buried Leads
I’m so excited for Buried Leads and the continued adventures of Nichelle.
LynDee: It makes me smile to hear people say that! Thank you! And thanks for having me today. I’m excited to be here!
Buried Leads is your second novel. How was the writing process different than writing Front Page Fatality?
LynDee: It was far less manic! Front Page was the first novel I ever finished, and I did it at warp speed: the rough draft took me five weeks. And was horribly long and messy. I think I had just about every rookie mistake a new novelist could make in there, from crazy plot bunnies to the character-looking-in-the-mirror-describing-herself scene.
With Buried Leads, I had learned so much, both in years (literally. Years.) of revising Front Page, and then through working with my amazing editor, that the rough draft was much tighter. Plus, I didn’t abandon my whole life to write it. I think there’s a level of confidence that comes from having done something before. I wasn’t afraid the story would go away, because I had written one book, so I knew I could do it again. I paced it out and wrote the rough over about 3 months, and then spent a month getting feedback and revising before I turned it in.
I admit: not having to query it was a pretty cool difference the second time around.
What inspired Nichelle’s appreciation of fabulous shoes? And, do you share the same appreciation?
LynDee: I do! Can I run in them (or walk confidently in them, even)? Not so much. But footwear that could double as art has always been a weak spot for me. From day one, Nichelle has always had her fabulous, sometimes impractical shoes.
You have quite the cast of characters. Which if any, have a basis in real life?
LynDee: You know, I’ve lived with this crew for more than five years now, so they’re like living, breathing people to me. It’s hard for me to go back and pick apart where they came from in my head. Nichelle is a little like me, but she’s braver, and far sassier. I think the guys in Nichelle’s life do all share some traits with my hubby, but I’m not married to a Mafia boss. And Bob—while all the characters are fictional, Bob, and the relationship Nichelle has with him (and his love of his alma mater) bear a striking resemblance to my favorite boss.
What are your top 3 pieces of advice to a beginning novelist?
LynDee: 1. Don’t be afraid of honest criticism. If you want to be published, you MUST want to improve. Develop a thick skin and let people you trust shred your manuscript, because I promise you, a good editor will do just that. Even after they see something they like enough to buy your book. I had the privilege of having cocktails with one of my all-time-favorite mystery writers this spring, and his advice to me was simple: write a better book next time. All writers, no matter where they are in their career, should always look to move their craft to the next level with each project.
2. Learn about the business. Websites like Preditors and Editors should be required reading for anyone shopping a manuscript. Join groups. Talk to people in the industry. Figure out what you want (and what’s realistic) for you and your book before you send your first query.
3. When you get “the call,” take a moment to celebrate! That’s not an easy milestone to reach, and you should be proud of it. Then get to work. On revisions, certainly, but also on marketing. I didn’t have a website or online “author” presence before I sold Front Page, but everything was set up and ready to go by the launch date. Realistically, unless you have a huge contract, you’re going to be responsible for a lot of your own marketing no matter which house you sign with. Being prepared before the craziness of a launch makes it easier.
Tell us about your experience with your publisher, Henery Press?
LynDee: I LOVE my publisher. A small press is not right for every author (and all small presses are not created equal), but Henery has been a perfect fit for me and Nichelle. They are innovative and supportive. I am blessed with an editor who really gets my books, loves my writing, and (most importantly) pushes me to stretch and be better. She doesn’t pull any punches (which can make reading edit letters hard) but I know she always has the best interest of the book and my career at heart.
I have gorgeous covers, I get loads of marketing and advertising support, and I can talk to a person in charge of whatever I might need help with on the phone anytime. I get paperback ARCs, author copies, and all the other trimmings that might be expected with a much larger house, plus that personal touch that comes from a small house with a tight list.
I love my books and my readers, but I also have three young children at home, and am very happy to have found a great fit for my books with that adorable little chicken and the team behind him.
Do you ever have writer’s block? And what do you do to break through it?
LynDee: Absolutely. And, I write. Coming from an industry where I had no choice but to produce copy at the end of every day was a real asset here, I think. Journalism and fiction are two entirely different beasts, but I never had the luxury of not working because my muse was off having a pedicure, and that’s been a big help with all the fiction deadlines I’ve juggled this year.
When I open the laptop and the words aren’t there, I just write. There’s a wonderful quote from Stephen King: “Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel sh*t from a sitting position.” Sometimes I end up having to go back and rework those scenes, and sometimes I go back and read them and they’re not nearly as bad as they felt when I wrote them. But just writing always gets the story to the next place.
When you’re not writing, what are your favorite things to do?
LynDee: Play with my children, walk, read, and eat. In that order. My house is generally a testament to the fact that I’d rather take my kids outside than clean. I love books, I love food, and I love Virginia, so exploring different things on foot is a favorite passtime. Someday, when I have time, I’ll put the cabinet full of scrapbooking supplies in my study to use, too.
A couple of fun things:
1. Describe your favorite pair of shoes in real life.
LynDee: My favorite pair of Nichelle shoes are my actual Nichelle shoes, a gorgeous pair of crimson stilettos with bows on the toes that my hubby brought home as a surprise the day Front Page hit #1 in new humor on amazon.
My favorite shoes that I actually wear for more than an hour a year are my Mickey Mouse FitFlops, which I bought in a gift shop at EPCoT the last time we were at Disney World, and have just about worn out. They’re the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned, and they go with just about everything in the summer. I’m getting new ones in January.
2. Do you have any desk toys and what are they?
LynDee: I do! A star-shaped slinky and a stress ball, both of which I’ve had since college. I was a Scripps Howard national scholarship winner, and the foundation sent us little gifts every year. They’ve traveled with me from job to job for more years than I want to admit.
3. Which do you prefer – chocolate chip cookies or pound cake? Why?
LynDee: Cookies, definitely. I’m a chocolate addict. Plus, cookies have built-in portion-control. I could sit and eat a whole pound cake (a friend from my newsroom days used to bake everyone a fruit-flavored pound cake for Christmas every year, and they were amazing, so I speak from experience here), but two cookies will usually take care of my sweet tooth.
Giveaway: comment below for a chance to win an electronic copy of the first Headlines in High Heels mystery, Front Page Fatality. Tell me: what’s your favorite thing about Fall?
More about LynDee:
LynDee Walker grew up in the land of stifling heat and amazing food most people call Texas, and wanted to be Lois Lane from the time she could say the words “press conference.” An award-winning journalist, she traded cops and deadlines for burp cloths and onesies when her oldest child was born. Writing the Headlines in Heels mysteries gives her the best of both worlds. BURIED LEADS is her second Headlines in High Heels Mystery. Her debut, FRONT PAGE FATALITY, is an amazon new humor #1 bestseller. A Headlines in High Heels novella, DATELINE MEMPHIS, is part of the anthology HEARTACHE MOTEL, on sale December 10, 2013, and the third novel in the series will be available in April 2014.
LynDee adores her family, her readers, and enchiladas. She often works out tricky plot points while walking off the enchiladas. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she is working on her next novel. You can visit her online at http://www.lyndeewalker.com.