About Linda M. Au:
Linda M. Au shares her home in western Pennsylvania with two guinea pigs and her eternally patient husband, Wayne Parker. She and Wayne share six grown children between them. Plus, the flotsam and jetsam that come with a blended family.
Linda’s been a proofreader and typesetter for more than twenty years. With HEAD IN THE SAND and FORK IN THE ROAD she climbs over the proverbial publishing desk to give voice to all the stupid things that happen to her. Many of the pieces in HEAD IN THE SAND have won awards in various humor contests.
FORK IN THE ROAD is in print because stupid stuff kept happening, and she kept writing it all down.
Linda’s fiction is now becoming available as well. THE SCARLET LETTER OPENER, a cozy mystery, is her first published novel, with many more novels in different fictional worlds to follow.
When she’s not writing, Linda is a writing coach for Write At Home, the author liaison for the Beaver County BookFest in Pennsylvania, vice president of the board of education and publication for the Reformed Presbyterian Church, and a board member for the St. Davids Christian Writers’ Association. You know… more stuff she doesn’t really get paid for.
You can read Linda’s stray thoughts on writing and publishing at her website, listed below, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Or, you know, not. No pressure.
What inspires you to write?
I’m not sure I’d call it inspiration. It’s more like perspiration. And a sort of compulsion to work through everything going on in my life through writing. So, if it’s not books, it’s at least a computer journal entry, or an email to a friend, or… well, you get the idea. Even to-do lists feel like real writing on a bad day.
When I get partway into a book project, what spurs me on is taking a breather to work on the cover with a designer. Then once I have the cover done, I feel compelled to move forward and keep writing and editing the book. (After all, now I’ve just spent hard-earned cash on the project!)
Sometimes that muse is a little too elusive.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’ve got the bits and pieces (very large pieces, in most cases) of ten novels now. About half of those are actually written all the way through (in first draft form, at least). The rest are in a state of confusion or frustration, percolating in a [figurative] drawer somewhere until I can work through a sticky plot point or add a few more interesting characters to bolster the boring ones I currently see on the [figurative] page.
But, all but one of those novels has started at midnight on November 1 of any given year between 2004 and now. You see, I am at heart a terrible procrastinator. And, the only thing that has nudged me out of that slump has been National Novel Writing Month, which starts each year precisely at midnight on November 1 and ends with a whimper at midnight at the end of November 30.
At the end of every November, I have at least 50,000 words written on that year’s new novel project. Half the time I keep writing and finish the novel. The other half of the time — well, that’s where the [figurative] drawer comes in.
Right now, my writing process looks like this:
• Get up to feed hubby breakfast at 6 a.m.
• Wave to hubby as he leaves at 6:45 a.m.
• Head back to bed at 6:46 a.m.
• Sleep until it adds up to something close to 7-8 hours of sleep.
• Get up again, this time to feed myself breakfast and coffee.
• Catch up on DVRed TV shows from previous night, as needed.
• Head up to home office and go through bajillion emails from companies I have unsubscribed from thirteen times already.
• Answer the 2-3 valid work emails.
• Go back downstairs to grab veggies for guinea pigs, Bob and Frid, who have been wheeking at me from across the office ever since I got upstairs. Realize that I have just reinforced the wrong habit of coming upstairs without the veggies by doing it yet again today.
• Look at clock. Panic that it is nearly noon already.
• Shower. Dress.
• Sit back at desk. Go through the half-bajillion new emails from other companies from whom I was sure I had unsubscribed back in 2010.
• Continue with paid freelance work for other writers: typesetting, proofreading, copy editing . . .
• Tell self I should take time to do my own writing once in a while.
• Stare longingly across the office at the writing desk I set up two years ago — you know, the one I dust faithfully every week.
• Sit at writing desk boldly. Feel invigorated and empowered.
• Open diary program and tell it all about my day, which sounds suspiciously like the last entry in the diary program.
• Give myself a self-imposed deadline for finishing first draft of novel.
• Talk myself out of self-imposed deadline because it’s not like I’m going to fire myself or anything.
• From the office window near the writing desk, glimpse mail carrier coming up the sidewalk.
• Squeal in delight that the mail is here, scaring Bob and Frid, and run downstairs to get the mail.
• While I’m down here, do a load of laundry, start dinner, and mow the grass.
• Weep uncontrollably at my own mortality.
And this is precisely why more novels aren’t ready yet.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I write the characters out. That is, I find out who they are by putting them into a situation/scene and letting them have their way with me. Sometimes they say things I never expected, and often they head off in their own direction and leave me far, far behind. This is why I’ll never be a heavy plotter as I write. Nobody cooperates.
What advice would you give other writers?
Stick-tuitiveness. Diligence. Guarding your writing time jealously. Get a good support group of writers, either online or in person.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’ve been doing prepress work (proofreading, typesetting) for many years, so I’ve got the skills to produce my own books (except for the covers). So, since I also didn’t want to go through the protracted process of traditional publishing, I figured I’d hire out for the covers and use my own skills for my own books. I love it!
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think things are changing so fast that I’m unsure where things will eventually settle. All I know is that it’s exciting to try to keep up with the trends, and that they’ll always benefit readers. That can only be a good thing in the long run.
What do you use?: Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Humor, Cozy mystery, Women’s fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.