When you get a chance to meet the author behind the books, it’s a gift. And trust me when I say, it’s been a pure pleasure to get to know Lynnette Austin who’s experienced both a heartwarming and heartbreaking life’s journey. Weaving her love for HEA into all of her stories, she wants readers to know that despite what setbacks life throws you, you will overcome and yes, like Lynnette, find your own prince charming.
A winner of multiple awards for her prolific library of works and fellow chocolate lover, Lynnette is a former teacher and an ardent supporter of budding authors. So, it’s no wonder this gracious Georgian author took time from her writing schedule to introduce us to some of her characters, tell us more about her journey and to inspire writers everywhere.
You are an author, but what is your day job? I’m fortunate to be able to write full-time now. But for many, many years I taught…and I loved it, too. Working with our young people is so rewarding. Since I taught middle school language arts, it tied right into my love of writing. Every time I go into a bookstore, I check the shelves for books by my students. A lot of talent is out there just waiting to unfold!
Did you always want to be an author? I’ve loved to read, write, and make up stories in my head for as long as I can remember. My parents fostered this love of reading, and, for my tenth birthday, my dad gifted me with bookshelves he’d built to hold my ever-growing collection. That love of reading and storytelling has remained steadfast.
What is your most recent book and what inspired you to write it? My most recent books, Must Love Babies and I’ve Got You, Babe, are a spin-off from my Magnolia Brides series. I wanted three very masculine men, driven by forces beyond their control, to each find himself responsible for—and falling in love with—a baby—one that is not his biological child. Here’s the quick blurb I wrote as a frame before I started the stories.
The Wylder brothers—bachelors and loving it! Lullabies, diapers and night-time feedings, school musicals and little league games—not in their future! A trip to Misty Bottoms, Georgia, to attend a wedding at Magnolia House, turns the brothers’ lives upside-down. They decide the small town, situated between Atlanta and Savannah, is the perfect spot to expand their vintage car and motorcycle renovation business. After all, what could happen in such a sleepy, little town? What indeed? Within a year, all three of these bachelors find themselves cuddling little ones in the wee small hours of the morning.
How do you hope your book uplifts those who read it? We’ve all had times when we’ve just needed to step away from our own lives for a short bit. I hope my books provide that breathing time, that they make my readers laugh, cry and cheer for and with my characters. I’ve had more than one reader ask exactly where Maverick Junction is in Texas. They’ve wanted to visit the small town but couldn’t find it on the map. I absolutely love that my fictional community has become that real to them!
What are you most excited about this book? Release day is always a mixture of excitement and dread. What if the world doesn’t welcome my new baby? What if the reviews are harsh? Then those reviews start coming in and I know I shouldn’t read them but, well, it’s kind of like that wreck on the side of the road. I just can’t help myself! I have to look. I wince at the negative ones and rejoice at the good ones. The truth, though, is that by the time a book hits the shelves, I’m already knee-deep in another. My new project also takes place in Georgia, but I’ve moved farther north, into the incredible Blue Ridge Mountains…and I’m enjoying meeting my new characters and learning about their world.
How did writing a book help your career take off? Unless you’re extremely fortunate, chances are a writer’s first book isn’t going to be a New York Times Bestseller. That book, and possibly the next few, are great learning tools, though. A lot of people want to write, but it takes dedication to put butt in the chair and do it. My first real breakthrough came when my agent sold my Maverick Junction series to Grand Central Publishing, an arm of Hachette. Before that, I’d sold five books to small presses which, by the way, was a wonderful experience. I worked with some excellent editors there and learned so much about both the publishing business and writing professionally before moving to Grand Central and Sourcebooks. It’s been a fun ride.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to succeed in your industry? Do your homework. Attend writing conferences, listen to podcasts, take online workshops, and read. Then sit down and write. Remember, too, that writing is editing. Your first go-through will be a rough draft. After that, it’s your job to go in and add depth to both your characters and your story, to refine your word choice, to enhance your setting. When you think it’s the best you can possibly make it, put your story away for a couple of weeks, then go through it again. You’ll thank yourself for that. So will an editor. Above all, don’t give up. The Help by Kathryn Stockett was rejected by sixty agents, then went on to spend more than a hundred weeks on the NY Times Best Seller list. Believe in yourself and your work.
How do you handle setbacks and criticism? A writer needs to develop thick skin. There will, almost certainly, be rejections from editors, agents, and readers. When someone gives feedback, I listen carefully. Then I wade through it and decide, after I lick my wounds, what part of it will make my story better—while keeping it my story. It’s easy to erect a wall with the attitude that this is my work and it’s perfect as is. As a writer, though, I need to be willing to make adjustments. Editors can be our best allies.
How do you hold yourself accountable and achieve the goals that you set forth? I have a daily wordcount when I’m writing and keep a chart to show my progress. I like to say that pre-publication, you’re an aspiring author. Once you sell and are on deadline, you’re a perspiring author. Deadlines are a necessary evil, and they must be met. No ifs, ands, or buts. We often hear about a writer’s muse. In truth, a writer can’t wait for her muse to show up. When I sit down at my desk or at “my table” in the coffee shop, I write. I stop writing for the day mid-scene or at a point in my story where I know what happens next. That way, I can pick right up the following day.
What do you find most fulfilling in the career that you’ve chosen? I’m a storyteller. I get to create characters, towns, and lives. I daydream on paper and turn it into books that I truly hope readers will enjoy. What could be better?
What book uplifts you? When I need a little boost, I reread Nora Roberts’, written as J. D. Robb, Naked in Death. This incredible book, part futuristic suspense, part romance, part police procedural, set the stage for a series that has readers begging for more. The fifty-second book in this series releases in February 2021. Fifty-two and going strong! Amazing. Last fall, I did a book-signing with Nora at her husband’s bookstore, Turn the Page, in Boonsboro, Maryland, and checked off the number one item on my writing bucket list!!!
Anything else you’d like to share with your readers? When I write, I absolutely lose myself in the book’s world. That town, those people and their problems become real to me. I live and breathe them. For me, it’s magical. I sincerely hope that my readers experience this same transporting out of their lives and into the world of the book for the time they spend with it. My goal is that when a reader reaches the end of one of my books, she/he struggles with a book hangover—that inability to start a new one right away because they’re still hanging out in my world.
Check out Lynnette’s books, meet her characters and learn more about her journey via her lovely website.
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