Monday, September 5, 2011

❤author: Lynda M. Martin Interview and Giveaway!

❤ Today, as part of a NURTURE Virtual BOOK Tourz™ blog tour, I will be hosting author, Lynda M. Martin with an interview and giveaway. Welcome to ¡Miraculous!, Lynda! Will you please share a short bio with us?

I was born in Scotland, started school in England, then immigrated to Alberta, Canada with my family at the age of six. I grew up close to the town of Medicine Hat, Alberta, went to university in Montreal, Quebec, lived in Manitoba for several years, and returned to Alberta. Along the way, I married an American and began a cross-border life that culminated in my now living on the Gulf Coast of Florida -- a life we share with two mastiff dogs.

I have two daughters, all grown up, and four grandchildren, whom I don’t see as much as I would like, but love with all my heart

I hold a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, a career that paid the bills and years of courses relating to childhood development and child protection, a career that satisfied my heart. Oh -- and also a number of courses in writing, which is a passion that fulfills my soul.

I’m a private person and have used an avatar for all my publishing, both on the internet and print, as well as the cover of my novel. Recently, I became a little daring and started sharing my real image (age having wreaked enough change; recognition, which might have compromised some connections from the past is unlikely.)

❤ Tell us about debut release, This Bird Flew Away.

I will use the words of my wonderful editor, New York Times bestselling author, Kathryn Lynn Davis:
This is a tender, wrenching, funny, brilliantly written novel about so many kinds of courage, so many layers of beauty and strength, and the bonds of family (however unique they may be) that help us survive even the worst life makes us suffer.

❤ What inspired you to write this book?

This particular story came to me following a discussion I had with some friends over the unrealistic portrayals of victims of abuse portrayed in the media. I think it was an episode of “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” that set me off, so twisted and dramatic. I pontificated on my issues with the vision that survivors were “ruined,” psychotic and suicidal. This is not true to my experience with real-life survivors at all.

I decided to write a story and a character that more truly represented survivors and their journey to healing, something optimistic. I have always been amazed at the ability of children to go on being children no matter what misery surrounds them. That’s why I call this novel a celebration of one girl’s triumph.

There's always more intrigue in the What if...s and the truths we can't acknowledge superficially. How did you get your book published? Tell us your call story.

I quickly gave up on the idea of acquiring an agent and going the traditional route after receiving an interesting collection of rejection letters. My favorite came in three minutes after the query was sent and said, “After careful consideration, we’ve decided this work is not for us…” One agent asked for the manuscript and sat on it for a year before responding to the query on the rudest of terms.

As a newcomer to this country, I was loathe to self-publish, and began to query the boutique publishers. With five queries, I had four offers to publish and chose the one that let me have a free hand in the book’s final design, including cover art. (Do you like the image on the cover?)

Certainly, going with an independent publisher means more work in the promotion and marketing, but on the other hand, traditional publishing houses do not give you much time to prove your work in the marketplace. This way, This Bird Flew Away can take the time to build readership.

Would I go the same route again? I haven’t decided.

The cover image seems relevant to the book! How much of your actual life would you say gets written into your fictional stories?

Quite a bit. Bria, the main character, is an amalgam of many girls I’ve known in the past, including characteristics of my own daughters, foster daughters, cases I’ve worked on, and yes, with a good dollop of my own tumultuous youth.

Many of the other characters are loosely based on people from real life, though none are exact.

The clinical treatment described is based on reality, as is the psychologist, Mrs. Friesen. In my years of involvement with troubled girls, it’s been my great privilege to work with some wonderful professionals.

Bria’s subsequent behavior, including her fixation on her guardian, Jack, is quite typical of young female survivors of abuse and exploitation, much to the consternation of the men in their lives.

So yes, my actual life experiences play a big role in this book. A necessity, as I strove to make it as realistic as possible. 

❤ How would you describe your writing style and tone?

The first word that comes to mind is intimate. My characters tend to share all. I think that’s why I so enjoy the first person voice -- so chatty, so open. What editors sometimes call the restriction of the first person (no getting inside another character’s mind) seems more of an opportunity for character development to me. The whole world and the people in it are seen only through the narrator’s perception.

This Bird Flew Away has two first-person narrators, Bria and Mary (her foster mother), as though you were sitting at a table and these two women took turns telling you the story. Jack, the third major character is seen only through their eyes, so we can never be sure that what we are told about him is the entire truth. We must judge him for ourselves.

This story had to be told in such an intimate manner for it to work.

❤ Interesting... Give aspiring writers a piece of advice you wish you had known before getting published.

Be aware that in most cases, you will be entirely on your own when it comes to marketing and promotion. Unless you’ve written what is judged to be the next bestseller, the resources given to you are likely to be minimal. If, like me, you’re no marketing genius, make sure you have the resources to get the assistance you will need. Keep your expectations reasonable.

But more importantly, write to please yourself, from the heart, and leave the thought of markets, sales, fame (most unlikely) and financial rewards aside.

That's down-to-earth and realistic. Who are some books or authors you idolize?

If I had to point to one novel as being representative of great skill, I would choose To Kill a Mockingbird. Harper Lee has crafted what I’d consider the perfect novel, tight writing -- not one superfluous word, -- superb character development, an understated tone, major themes, the intertwining of two plots into one without a single seam showing, excellent pacing and above all, masterful setting and atmosphere.

❤ What’s a question you always want to be asked in interviews? How would you answer it?

What do I consider a writing success? Finishing the book. Writing until you’re happy with the end project. Now, you’re a success. Anything else is icing on the cake.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple, an independent woman at a time such women are rare, who appears to be welcome everywhere she goes and is possessed of an excellent mind.

❤ What’s the most interesting comment you have ever received about your books?
"Different people will draw different things from this story, but one thing is sure; no one will leave untouched." – Morton Rand, Fiction Factory

What's next for you?

The sequel to This Bird Flew Away, with a working title, Fly High; Fly Blind, is in draft form and currently in the hands of some selected readers for their input prior to final revision and edit. I have not yet decided how and when this book will be published.

I am currently working out the skeleton for a new novel, entirely removed from these characters and subject matter, one based on life’s later problems. For the past while, I’ve been working with the elderly, helping them stay in their own homes and providing companionship and care. Listening to their stories, helping them overcome their problems and just getting to know these people has given enough grist for several novels.

I also write articles for various sites and organizations, but hold a personal publishing page on Hubpages, where I share my thoughts and views on all kinds of subjects. This has become a favorite place of mine, where I am free to publish as I wish. To my great surprise, it has developed a large readership and led to a number of other opportunities.

 Where can you be found on the web?

❤ Thank you for being here today, Lynda! It was a pleasure getting to know you and This Bird Flew Away better :)

 Thanks to Lynda's tour publicist, NURTURE Virtual BOOK Tourz™, one lucky reader will win their very own print copy of This Bird Flew Away. To enter the giveaway, leave a meaningful comment or question on this interview post for Lynda. 

Giveaway runs through October 6th, 2011 at 11.59 pm (your time) and is open internationally.
Meaningful comment means something other than "Hi, please enter me in this giveaway." Your comment or question should be thoughtful and relevant.
Please leave your email in your comment so I know who to contact as the winner.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated :)
Good luck!