About Lynn Crandall:
Lynn Crandall lives in the Midwest and writes in the company of her two cats. She has been a reader and a writer all her life. Her background is in journalism, but whether writing a magazine or newspaper story or creating a romance, she loves the power stories hold to transport, inspire, and uplift. In her romances, she focuses on vulnerable, embraceable characters who don’t back down. She hopes that whether reading her romantic suspense novels or paranormal romances, readers discover, over and over, stories of ordinary people who face life challenges and are transformed by extraordinary love.
What inspires you to write?
I write because I love words and phrases. I love making connections with words to intangible elements in life, such as how ordinary people are so extraordinary, how beliefs can take over our choices and run our lives until we see them for what they are. I’m inspired to bring new ideas of living to life through a story. Sometimes, my story and my characters compel me to write. I belief what E.B White said in a 1969 article in Paris Review: “A writer must reflect and interpret his society, his world; he must also provide inspiration and guidance and challenge.”
That’s a long way to say that I’m inspired to write from a deep place inside me that I’ve always had that is curious about life and longs to express. I’m inspired by average people and how they continue to live with enthusiasm and hope, despite challenges and problems.
Tell us about your writing process.
Whatever I’m writing, I begin with brainstorming a word, an idea, a character. I may ponder possibilities in my mind for days and weeks and make notes on random pieces of paper. During this phase, my eyes glaze while friends and family are talking to me. I’m thinking about my story development all the time.
Then I use clustering, a technique that kind of suppresses the logical side of the brain and taps into the creative side. It works very well for me in exploring varying aspects of a thought and how things connect. It’s an excellent tool and blends well with my pantser brain.
As a pantser, I learn more about elements of story and character as I write. It’s nerve wracking! It’s also fun and very organic for me. However, after brainstorming I do plenty of research, which fuels my story. I do Internet research, but it’s important to me to do one-on-one interviews with people who have some expertise or actual experience I want to tap into. Interviews and spending time with these sources provide invaluable insights and helps me write with authenticity.
I also do character charts and include everything I can think of that fleshes out an interesting, engaging, and strong character worth reading about. I’m very visual, so I find images of people who fit my characters’ physical descriptions and I make a file, my story or series Bible, in which everything I know about the characters is listed, including connections to other people, such as their parents and secondary characters. I may not use all that information but having it in my head is important. I also use a whiteboard and printed images that I hang in my writing space so I can refer to them easily. Of course, sometimes I simply stare at them. Ideas please! Then I probably get up and get more coffee.
I don’t make an outline, but I do imagine possible scenes and place a sentence or so about them into a section. Ex: Hero demonstrates his strength. My sections go on a page with headings of Beginning, Middle, End. The sentence, Hero demonstrates his strength, would go under the Beginning heading, for instance. It’s a loose structure that I refer to as I’m writing and it’s very helpful.
When I get stuck and I can’t pull any more hair out without going bald, I get myself into nature. I talk a hike or, weather permitting, I ride my bike. I don’t try to think, but the change of scenery and getting more relaxed tends to open up new thoughts. I usually carry a small pad of paper and pencil with me, so I can make quick notes I hope I can read when I get back to my laptop.
I always begin writing a story with what I imagine is a good lede. As a former journalist, I learned that if I could craft a good lede that gave information and was interesting, it was an active, alive thing. The rest of the story could flow from that beginning. I feel the organic truth of that in fiction, as well. I write an opening, then continue writing until the end. I don’t try to edit the story as I go, I just want to get through it to the end. Then I begin again, this time editing and checking for plausibility and holes.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I wish I could talk to my characters. Maybe they would tell me what to write. Writing is my passion, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
In real life, it is easy for me to pick up from my environment what people are feeling, what their visceral responses are to stimulation, etc. When writing, I use that ability to inform my portrayals of characters. One small example of that kind of interaction with characters is from my early brainstorming about the hero in Secrets, Casey Mitchell. Casey was introduced as a secondary character in a previous book, Always and Forever Love. When I began pondering his character in his own story a thought popped into my head: What if Casey were a shifter? I got very excited about his characterization and how he would live as a were-lynx among humans. If I did talk with my characters, I would say, “Thank you, Casey, for that suggestion!”
What advice would you give other writers?
It sounds cliched to call what I do a writing journey, but that it is a journey for me is so true. I love writing. I always have. I used to create stories to tell to my younger sister when we were kids and were supposed to be going to sleep. I was “entertaining” my sister. But the pleasure for me came in the creation. My brain has always thought in stories. When I began writing for a living it seemed natural. I got to do something I loved.
With writing, I have never gone to work dreading the time or feeling drudgery. But that is not to say it’s been easy. I have learned so many things about myself and watched myself grow through the years. I’ve learned so much about life and living it. I’m a sensitive person, so critical reviews at first were unbearable. I learned not to give away inner authority. Instead of bemoaning the review I wished was a five-star, I learned to frame it differently. I wrote the book, I like it, my editor liked it. That’s my truth.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve had to face in writing is my self-doubt. I have written about it frequently. My advice to writers is to believe in yourself. Do whatever you have to do to get to a place inside where you can do that. And write. Despite inner voices or others’ voices around you, write. Write through the emotional conflicts you have, write through your despair or depression, write through your joy. Just write and you’ll improve as well as produce a product you love. For me, the process of writing is gratifying. I suggest writers enjoy the process and work hard to produce a good product because in the present moment, it is enough to keep you going.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My first book, Silver Wings, was published by Kensington. I had queried a few traditional publishers and Kensington was the one who wanted the book. Later, when I heard about Crimson Romance, I learned that the publisher was associated with F & W Media, a well-established publishing company. I liked that aspect. And I liked that Crimson was new and open to different types of stories within the romance genre. My experience with Crimson has been productive for me and I have enjoyed the character of the relationships with various editors in the company. They’re the best. I like the backing of a publisher.
I have only recently considered self-publishing, but I’m not convinced it’s for me…yet.
I know a number of successful self-published writers. They are successful because they write a good story and they produce frequently. I feel that any writer should embrace the possibility of self-publishing, then decide if it would work for their purposes.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Wow! If only I had a crystal ball! As a reader, I like to read both print and ebooks. I do have a slight preference for print because I enjoy the aesthetic pleasure of holding a book. But I certainly love the instant gratification of the purchase of ebook. I don’t have any crystal ball or data to back up my opinion, but I think there is room and interest enough for both in the future. As I writer, I like the accessibility of being published in both formats.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Romantic suspense and paranormal romance
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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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.
HiDee Ekstrom says
I always find it interesting to learn how authors find their creative space. Thanks for sharing yours, Lynn!