Author Linda Kay Silva talks about her latest book, Across Time. She also talks about the writing and publishing process, stressing the importance of query letters.
Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about your book, and what inspired you to write such a story?
My book, Across Time, is about Jessie Ferguson, a 17-year -old who hears a cry for help from one of her past lives. Cate is a Druid priestess who has had a vision that revealed two catastrophes; one is the massacre of her people on an island, and the other is the death of her beloved. In an effort to save both, Cate’s soul has slipped through a seam in time in order to find anyone in the future who might have enough information to help save the Druids from complete annihilation at the hands of the bloodthirsty Romans. Where her soul lands is in Jessie’s 21st-century world; a young girl who knows no history, believes in little, and cares for nothing; until now. Hearing Cate’s call, Jessie pulls herself together enough to send her own soul across time to help Cate and the Druids escape complete destruction. In travelling to the first century, Jessie learns of the role she must play in her own and this knowledge changes the course of her wayward life forever.
Across Time is the first of a series. The second book takes Jessie back to Elizabethan England, and the third to Ancient Egypt.
How would you describe your creative process while writing this novel? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline? How long did it take you to write it?
When I wrote my first series, I didn’t outline, and that was a huge mistake. I have learned that you need some sort of skeleton outline so that you can weave in threads that can be unraveled at a later date. So now, I outline. My process is odd, but I think every writer has their own process. First, I can feel the story start inside me. I know it’s there. I can feel it. I can feel the character wondering, thinking, planning, and scheming. I ignore it at this point. It must ferment. Then, when I feel as if it is just about ready, I talk it out…usually in the car so people think I am singing and not talking to myself. (which I do more than most people). Once I have the whole story ready, I write it out in scenes. I prefer scenes to chapters because I want to keep the reader reading. After it’s ready, I load up my fountain pen, grab my paper and clipboard, and start.
Did I say fountain pen? I did. I prefer the physical process of writing. I love it, actually. There’s more emotion, more connection to each word when it’s written by hand. I love the feel of the heavy pen in my hand. I know…how weird. But I can take this with me everywhere. I can write anywhere with pen and paper. Once it is finished, I leave it alone for a week, and then comes the task of transcribing it into the computer. The computer process takes longer that the actually writing of it, but I enjoy that process as well. I love polishing, adding, deleting, making a piece shine. I’ll go back and rewrite two or three more times once it’s done.
After that, I have a copy of it printed at Lulu. I do this for my readers, who then scour through it looking for typos, continuity issues, etc. Lulu has been a godsend because they no longer have to lug around a manuscript box, and I can print a couple out for next to nothing. After that… I fix those errors, write my queries, and away it goes!
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What seems to work for unleashing your creativity?
You know, I haven’t. I can’t imagine being stumped. That would probably really drive me insane. As for what I do to unleash my creativity? I take walks with my dog, Lucy. When a story really starts to come together, but the ending has me baffled, I get a massage. I’ve worked out several endings laying face down on a massage table.
How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?
Do your homework. Don’t send out mass mailings, but choose the houses that are a fit for your work. Polish your query until it’s perfect. Not nearly perfect, but perfect. Queries are so important. What I learned was that the rejections are often a rejection of the query, not the writing or the story itself. I used to tell too much about the story. I thought they wanted a summary of it. Not really. There’s so much more to it, and there are plenty of places to go online for information about how to write a good query. Good queries are hard, but they’re what get your foot in the door.
What type of book promotion seems to work the best for you?
Because I teach and am used to speaking in front of crowds, I’ve been pretty successful with traditional book signings as long as they’re publicized well. I tell a good story. I am not a wallflower, and have had some great life experiences to share, which I do. My students tell me they don’t want to miss my classes because they never know what I’m going to say or do. That’s me in a cracked nutshell.
What is your favorite book of all time? Why?
Six of One, by Rita Mae Brown. I seldom read books twice but I’ve read that one three or four times. Why? I love the characters. I think the plot is brilliant. I like to laugh and cry and ponder, and that book gave me all three.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
You betcha. All of my books are available there. I also have two blogs that are updated almost daily: Livejournal and Blogspot These blogs are 99% about writing… from personal anecdotes to little lessons.
Do you have another novel in the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects.
I am currently working in two series. The one that is being published by Spinsters/Bella Books is the Across Time series that takes Jessie to a swordfight with Sir Francis Drake, to Nefertiti’s underground Egypt, to the burning of Joan of Arc, and to the one I am currently working on, to the killing fields of Viet Nam. Across Time give me the entire world history palette to work with and she gets to see and do so much. It’s big fun.
The second series I’m working on is an urban fantasy/paranormal one featuring Echo Branson, an empathy, who uses her empathic powers to find the truth as an investigative reporter. Echo has become my favorite character now, and I love writing about the Louisiana bayou and all of the characters down there. I am currently on the fourth of that series and will be looking for a publisher for it as well.
It has been a pleasure… to those of you who are writers, I’d like to say, arm yourself with knowledge. Learn the business. There is so much more to it than just the writing. It’s a profession, so act like a professional. I found this great affirmation in the airport the other day… It said, “One good wish changes nothing. One good decision changes everything.” Good luck to you!