Our PAN Spotlight for this month is Linda Jacobs/Christine Carroll
Q: How long have you been writing?
LINDA: When I was a kid, I’d hit a ball against the wall and tell myself stories. Later I taught myself to type (still don’t use the proper qwerty technique) and wrote novels on my Dad’s old Royal typewriter. I started learning to write for publication about fifteen years ago, got serious in 2000.
Q: How long did it take you reach publication?
LINDA: Once I got serious, about 4 years ago
Q: How many manuscripts do you have away under the bed/in storage/etc?
LINDA: One! I decided I loved all my stories too much to leave them behind, so I worked and rewrote and got them all published. Now I’m moving on to new ideas.
Q: Do you have a writing schedule, and if so, what is it?
LINDA: I wish! I like to work out in the morning, so I usually write in the afternoons or evenings. I’m good at editing while watching TV, but not at first draft work.
Q: Do you have a critique group and if so how many are in it?
LINDA: I had a great critique group out of the Rice University novel writing program. They still meet, but since I left Houston, I don’t get a regular schedule with them anymore. I do send them big chunks of work to go over and I read theirs via email.
Q: If this isn’t the only critique group you’ve been with, how many others were there before you found the one that worked?
LINDA: They were the only one, except when I studied with Rita Gallagher the other students did critque at Rita’s urging. Pat Rosen, Jes Trapp, and Susie Nickson come to mind.
Q: When developing a new story which comes first the plot, the title or the characters?
LINDA: I’m very plot and place driven. I’ve written about real events in my Yellowstone Series like the fires of 1988 (Summer of Fire, 2005, Medallion Press), the super volcano (Rain of Fire, 2006, Medallion Press) and things that happened in the park before 1900 (Lake of Fire, 2007, Medallion Press.) My contemporary single title romances started with the San Francisco Bay area and the Napa Valley. Once I have the place/events, I go next to who’s going to experience these things – like Sylvia Chatsworth, who’s in my new release, The Senator’s Daughter – she’s a bit of a bad girl, hounded by the paparazzi – will she make good with the love of Assistant District Attorney Lyle Thomas?
Q: How do you handle new story ideas that pop up when you’re in the middle of a wip?
LINDA: I’ve got a folder on my computer called”Story Ideas.” What’s in there varies from a single page of plot/place to a couple that have up to fifty pages of narrative and character sketches. They’re not in proposal form because I haven’t figured out where I’m going with them. So many stories, so little time.
Q: Have you ever lost your momentum in the middle of a project? If so, how did you handle it?
LINDA: I’ve usually got two books going at once so I might switch and work on the other, or if I get stuck on forward momentum, I’ll go back and read what comes before and polish it a little. Then things tend to move again.
Q: Finish this sentence: If I could write anything I wanted and knew it would sell it would be:
LINDA: A dream come true, because knowing what wouldsell would be quite a gift. Then I’d probably start having seminars in Vegas and charging a lot to teach people what sells… wait… no! You mean Robert McKee’s already doing that?
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received in your career?
LINDA: Don’t give up your day job. Until you can – my husband and I retired.
Q:What is the worst?
LINDA: Write what you know. It’s perfectly possible to not only research and interview people and write about their experiences like any good journalist, but to use our writer’s imaginations to create entire worlds that existed first in our minds and then on paper.
Q: What is your favorite part of the writing process?
LINDA: I write the whole book except for the final ten or so pages. Then I read and edit it all, knowing all the while in my head how the ending is going to look, like seeing it on a movie screen. Then I sit down and write it – when I finish the last page I’m always sobbing like Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone. Then I jump up, give a referee’s touchdown signal and shriek for joy, sort of like celebrating in the end zone.
Q: What is your least favorite?
LINDA: The sagging middle.
Q: Which came first—the editor or the agent?
LINDA: I’ve had two agents and they both came before a sale.
Q: How many contests did you enter before you sold? How many did you final in?
LINDA: I may have entered two or three contests – some of my books are a little mainstream for many romance contests – I got third place in one contest. For me, contests had nothing to do with making my first sale.
Q: How do you promote your books?
LINDA: I’ve got a website for both my writing names, Linda Jacobs and Christine Carroll – they’re linked. I advertise on Yellowstone travel sites online for those books and on romance sites for Christine. For the Yellowstone supervolcano book, I was on about twenty radio shows including one nationally syndicated in Canada and Air America nationwide. I wish I could say the radio shows boosted my sales but I never saw any change at Amazon or B&N on the days I was on. I do some signings when I travel – my favorite venue is of
course Yellowstone, where folks grab all three of my books and ask to have their pic taken with me.
Q: Free form—share your thoughts, tidbits, etc:
LINDA: My pet peeve is archetypal cocktail party brain surgeon who’s going to dash off a bestselling novel in six months – the one where you have to resist saying, “I’m thinking of taking six months and taking up brain surgery.” Wait, you mean you don’t have to resist saying it?
Thank you for your time and candor, Linda! Be sure to check out Linda’s latest, written as Christine Carroll: The Senator’s Daughter.