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Sunday, 12 September 2010

Linda Swift, Author, Interviewed

At ten, Linda Swift wrote her first poems and a play. She wrote her first romance novel at sixteen. Then life happened. She married, had a son and daughter, went to college and began a teaching career. . . in that order.
Resuming her poetry writing, she attended the Jesse Stuart Creative Writing Workshop and, for the first time, met other serious authors. This led to writing short stories and articles, and being published.
Her dream, however, was to write books. She wrote a second novel, and a third, and ... finally succeeded in getting a book published. And another one. Unfortunately, her publisher closed the line she wrote for when her third book was due to be released. She is now beginning a new career writing E-books and is excited to be a part of the electronic publishing industry.
Besides writing, she enjoys reading, ballroom dancing, traveling, visiting Gulf beaches, and keeping in touch with friends far and near. A nomad all of her life, she’s had homes in many places from California to New York to England, sharing her life with her husband, a great musician, golfer, power plant consultant, and in-house computer tech.

She now divides her time between homes in Kentucky and Florida, stopping en route in Tennessee to visit her children. The only member of her family who doesn’t sing or play an instrument, she likes to think she makes music with words.

Tell us about Humanly Speaking in a few sentences.

My current book, soon to be released, is titled HUMANLY SPEAKING, subtitle Conversations With God. It is a volume of prose poems about some of the flawed Biblical characters such as Jezebel, Judas, and Cain. It also questions some of the events in the lives of the more perfect people.

What qualities do you need to be a successful writer?

Lunatic persistence. Talent and luck also help.
 
What is your working method?

I create characters and have a general idea where they are going with the story but when I get them speaking, the story is theirs and they sometimes take it in another direction. And if I go along, it always turns out better.

What is the single biggest mistake made by beginners to writing?

A lack of patience to take the steps necessary to be published. Most of us have to pay our dues with hard work, rejections, and the motivation to continue toward our goal.

How did you come to write this particular book?

I spent two weeks totally alone, with only my husband knowing where and how I was. I ate, slept, read, and let my mind wander and this prose poem of 32 characters, a short story, and two non-fiction stories were the result of my isolation.

If you have a favourite character in your poem, why that particular one?

I've always been fond of Moses. He was asked to take on a job he didn't want but he did it anyway. And one of the saddest stories I've ever read in the Bible was God refusing to allow Moses to go over to the Promised Land.

How can people buy your books?

This book will be available at Willow Moon Publishing very soon. http://willowmoonpublishing.com/
I have four other books currently available, a haiku collection, and three short stories also contracted with Willow Moon and three novels to be released in 2011 with three additional publishers.  The other links are at the end.

To what extent are grammar and spelling important to a writer?

Very important in my opinion. If an editor reads glaring mistakes in a manuscript, it would surely cause them to wonder how competent the writer is or how much they care about their work.

How much revision of your MS do you do before you send it off?

Usually not very much. I tend to revise in my head as I write but I do try to edit it carefully before sending.

To what extent do you think genre is useful in the publishing world?

I suppose it helps readers more than authors. I write in several genres including contemporary and historical fiction, poetry, non-fiction and some of my work crosses over.

What are your writing habits?

I'm not a morning person so I engage in "creative procrastination" until about noon, reading and writing email, editing, anything except  "real writing." Then if I don't have other commitments, I write until I have to stop to allow the story catch up with me. Sometimes that is quite late.

How do you know where to begin any given story?

I'm guilty of meandering into a story, letting it start too slowly. But this is the type of book I like to read. Editors have been known to have me chop off the first chapter or two and insert the important parts into another chapter in the story.

What sort of displacement activities keep you from actually writing?

My husband has done consulting work for power plants all over the US, England, China and India. When I've accompanied him it has taken most of my time getting settled, coping with a new environment. But when I've stayed behind, I've had to assume the chores he does, so that takes the extra time I'd have. Thankfully, we now just "move" between homes in Kentucky and Florida twice a year. This is much easier except for keeping the Post Office informed of where we are!

Do you have support, either from family and friends or a writing group?

I no longer have a writers' support group so I depend on my new friends online for information and support. And I simply couldn't handle all the tasks involved in being an e-book author without my husband's technical expertise. My adult children are very supportive and my son-in-law has created four videos for me.

Is presentation of the MS as important as most agents and publishers suggest?

I don't know. I think most would-be authors aren't good at "selling" their books in a five minute interview. I have always preferred submission by mail with a well-prepared cover letter. And now with the Internet, this is the accepted way. I had an agent for a number of years and I think agents are harder to obtain than editors. Again, an agent seems superfluous for Internet submissions.

How long does it normally take you to write a novel?

It varies and not according to the length or amount of research required. I wrote a 100K Civil War story (to be released July, 2011) in a few months, doing research as I wrote. I've been writing a 50K historical involving the Gun Powder Plot for three years and still have a couple of chapters to go. I've had many interruptions including stopping to write and edit other books.

What are your inspirations?

People, places, events. Any of these can inspire a story. And it sometimes takes a few years for it to form in my mind.

If there’s a single aspect to writing that really frustrates you, what is it?

Promoting my work. Promotion takes a lot of time, effort, and creative energy which I'd prefer to spend writing.

Do you think writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?

I think the desire to write has to be present and I suppose this requires talent. But unless a person hones that talent and works at writing he/she will never become all they could be.

What are you writing now?

I have a plot forming in my mind for a new historical, nothing on paper yet. An editor has requested that I write a sequel for a short story she is publishing and that's gotten me sidetracked. And of course, there's those two chapters I have to finish.

Is there any aspect of writing that you really enjoy?

I enjoy every aspect of it from the gem of an idea to the finished book. I even like doing edits. And it is so gratifying with an editor or a reader tells you they like what you've written.

Do you have a website or a blog that readers can visit?

I'd like to invite readers to visit me at http://www.lindaswift.net/ for excerpts from all of my books and more.

Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?

A room done in muted colors, surrounded with my favorite things, lots of bookshelves, and a beautiful view.

Where do you actually write?

In both places we live, I have a desk and writing materials in a guest bedroom. There isn't enough room for all the bookshelves I'd like and the view is okay but not spectacular. When we lived in a flat on Victoria Dock in Hull, England my workplace was a very small room but it overlooked the River Humber and I found that very inspiring.

Available Books by Linda Swift:
CIRCLE OF LOVE  contemporary ebook and print
LET NOTHING YOU DISMAY  contemporary holiday ebook and print
SINGLE STATUS  contemporary  ebook
THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS  contemporary holiday  ebook
HUMANLY SPEAKING  prose poetry  ebook and print
Coming Soon
GIVE IT ALL YOU'VE GOT vintage short story   Willow Moon Publishing
A TIME TO GIVE vintage short story   Willow Moon Publishing
Bergman, Rossillini, and Me  short story   Willow Moon Publishing
TO THOSE WHO WAIT mainstream  Whiskey Creek Press  February 2011
SUMMER LOVE  women's fiction   Desert Breeze Publishing   April 2011
THIS TIME FOREVER Civil War  historical   Champagne Books  July 2011

Some excerpted poems from HUMANLY SPEAKING just to give you an idea of what the book contains. There are thirty-two characters in the book.

I feel great sympathy for Eve, Lord,
A second-class citizen from the beginning,
having to bear the blame through every generation
for being banned from the Garden of Eden
(which must have been a veritable paradise).
But who could actually fault her
For listening to that snake in the grass
Who said forbidden fruit would make her wise?
Should she not be commended
For wanting to increase her knowledge?
And to her credit, she was quick to share
the wisdom fruit with Adam who was, for shame,
as quick to blame her when you caught them.
(And became so threatened by what they knew
you turned them out of Eden, their only home.)
I can just imagine Adam's querulous mood
when he was forced to work and sweat
to have enough food for his family
for those nine hundred, thirty years.
I don't imagine a single day went by
that Adam didn't tell his wife
how they had it made until she disobeyed you.
It seems to me that Eve deserves a better name
instead of all the blame, Lord.
* *
Noah was no doubt pleased to be chosen
the earth's most righteous man though it meant building
that ark in the middle of dry land.
It took effort to sort all those animals
by species and gender, lay in food supplies,
and convince his family to come aboard.
After forty days and nights of rain
cooped up with that motley crew
a saint would have been claustrophobic.
(Anyone who travels with children and pets
can sympathize; it must have been a zoo.)
Was he tempted to turn them all loose
in that hundred, fifty days of drying out
instead of going on a bender when it ended?
It was small wonder he had some hangover
when he finally pulled himself together,
but couldn't he have been nicer to his youngest
who was only trying to be a helpful son
when he reported Noah's nakedness?
(I think punishment should fit the crime.)
Still, he had patience for a man of six hundred
and I'm proud to be descended from him, Lord.

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