Monday, June 2, 2008

Meet Rita Nominee: Linda Goodnight




For the next few weeks, Monday's Craftie Lady will be posting interviews from the 2008 Rita nominees. For me, it's been a true joy getting to know the other seven ladies. We somewhat call ourselves the Rita Gang. So, here you go.

They say the writing world is small. Well, it is. The first name on the list for 2008 RITA for Inspirational Romance Fiction is Linda Goodnight. I was so tickled when I saw her name. See, I've known Linda physically (met at an RWA conference and on early loops) and figuratively (my critique partner of six years Libby Banks migrated from Oklahoma WHERE she also critiqued with Linda Goodnight). We both started our careers with Barbour, and we both contributed novellas to the anthology Lessons of the Heart.

HEEEEERE'S LINDA

INTERVIEW WITH RITA FINALIST, LINDA GOODNIGHT

Beginning her career as Golden Heart finalist in 1999, Linda Goodnight’s books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. Among her awards are the Booksellers’ Best, ACFW Book of the Year, and a Reviewers’ Choice Award from Romantic Times Magazine. A former teacher and nurse, she currently writes for both Harlequin Romance and Love Inspired. She and her husband live on a small farm/ranch in Oklahoma. She is delighted and honored to be a 2008 RITA finalist.

1. Describe your RITA phone call.

On ‘the call’ day, I was in town doing some business, partly in self-defense because I didn’t want to sit around all day wishing for a call that didn’t come. I had just pulled up to the stoplight when my cell phone rang.

I answered the phone, expecting my husband. Instead, I got Kelly St. John. She said she was calling for RWA and asked, “How are you today?” The realization struck that this was the call I had wished for. A zing of energy tightened the hair on my head. My skin prickled. It was the weirdest sensation-good, but weird. When I could talk, I replied, “I think I just got better.”

Kelley laughed and went on to tell me I was a finalist. About that time the light changed and I had to drive. To this day, I have no recollection of driving for the next few miles. I kept saying, “Oh, my gosh. Oh, my gosh. Is this real?” and other gushing idiocies. At one point, I think I asked if it was April Fool’s Day.

I’ve always heard people say they pinched themselves to see if they were awake. I actually did that, thinking I must be dreaming. I mean, really, me a RITA finalist? It had to be a dream.

When Kelley finally got rid of me, I drove the seven miles to my house, laughing and crying and praising the Lord. Nah, I wasn’t excited or anything.

2. Tell us about the RITA book and why you think it stood out it the crowd.

I honestly don’t know why A TOUCH OF GRACE stood out from so many other really fine entries. I only know what the book meant to me and how much I loved the characters, the setting, and the theme. The key verses for that book are Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25, which are also my life verses. Maybe my passion for orphans and the needy was projected to the readers. Whatever the reasons, I am grateful.

Here’s a little blurb:
Ian Carpenter is a street minister with a heart for broken people and a subconscious that’s trying to tell him something. Gretchen Barker, an investigative reporter with a dark and painful past, turns the spotlight on Ian’s ministry when her drug-addicted sister turns up dead on the front lawn of the mission. Ian thinks he has nothing to hide. But he does. And the revelations shake the very foundation of who he thinks is and what he believes.

3. How many books have you written? Over 25

4. Do you have a favorite?

I’ve heard authors say that picking a favorite book is like choosing a favorite child. Although all my kids were favorites, I do have books that stand out in my heart and mind - All three of THE BROTHERS’ BOND, for instance, including the RITA nominee and last year’s ACFW winner, A SEASON FOR GRACE. I truly love those books and thank God for giving me the opportunity to write them.

5. Describe your writing process.

The process changes with every book, but the core way I write doesn’t. I am basically a seat-of-the-pants writer with a little structure to keep me focused. Once I get an idea, I spend a lot of time fleshing out my characters, although I won’t really know them well until I get into the book. I also use a plotting circle that I devised using the “mythical hero’s journey” to lay out the big things that must occur. (An overview of the circle is on my website.) The rest comes organically as I write.

6. When did you decide to become a writer and why Christian fiction?

I’ve always loved the power and beauty of words, but it wasn’t until the mid-nineties, after a serious illness, that I began pursuing the big dream of publication. The desire was always there, I just didn’t think I could actually do it.

Although I did not start out in Christian fiction and still write sweet romance that is not specifically Christian, I love the thought of writing something that directly brings glory to God and has the opportunity to bless or encourage a reader in Jesus’ name. My reader mail lets me know that Christian writing, even when its major purpose is entertainment, is a ministry, and I take that very seriously.

7. Tell us about your next or upcoming projects.

My next book releases in early July! WINNING THE SINGLE MOM’S HEART is a sweet romance from Harlequin available for pre-order at www.amazon.com. This is book four in an adorable author-generated series called “The Wedding Planners”. We authors had so much fun writing the books we now have a Wedding Planners’ blog that features real wedding tips, proposal and wedding stories from your favorite authors, visits from wedding experts, great prizes, as well as info about the series. I hope you’ll check us out. http://harlequin-theweddingplanners.blogspot.com

I also having Christian fiction scheduled for September-A BRIDE BY CHRISTMAS, a Barbour historical anthology, and A TIME TO HEAL, a contemporary from Love Inspired.

8. Do you have any advice for unpublished writers?

Years ago I met an assistant editor at a conference in Oklahoma City. Fast forward several years and that assistant was now a senior editor who approved the purchase of my first book. As she handed the manuscript to my then and now editor, she said, “Linda is a lovely person. You’ll like working with her.” When my editor told me this I nearly fainted. I had met that woman one time as an unpublished writer and she remembered!

That incident taught me a valuable lesson. Be nice to everyone. The publishing world is small, and both editors and writers have long memories.

And to the usual “study the craft” truths, I’ll add one other thing: If your book is good enough, someone will pay you. Don’t pay them. I feel so bad for new writers who are duped by vanity presses.

Thanks for having me!

Visit Linda at: www.lindagoodnight.com and http://lindagoodnight.blogspot.com or zap her an email and Linda@lindagoodnight.com

7 comments:

Terri Reed said...

I just love Linda! I first met her back in 96' at the RWA national conference in Dallas. She, Brandilyn Collins and I all sat together during a workshop. All three red-heads and aspiring authors. It so great to think that we've all realized the dream that we shared way back then.
What Linda said about being nice to everyone, is so true. The publishing world is small and has a long memory.
Thank you Pam for interviewing Linda!

Debby Giusti said...

Linda, I hope you'll stop by and continue to "chat" with us! I'd like to know how you balance writing for different lines and publishers. It must take great scheduling and organization. If you care to comment, I'd love some insight along those lines!

Congrats to you and all those in the RITA GANG!!!

PamelaTracy said...

Linda,
This is so fun. It's like having a tea party for bestest friends. I, like Debby, would love to know how to balance writing for different lines. Do tell!

Linda Goodnight said...

Hi Terri! Hi Debby! Thanks for letting me hang out at your blog today. What a treat! Yep, Terri and go waaaay back, just like Pamela and I. Isn't it cool the way God brings people into your life?

Debby, I still have your writers' prayer hanging over my desk-a constant and ever-timely reminder.

As to how I juggle different lines and publishers--well, it really hasn't been that hard, to be honest. Until this week, things have just worked themselves out. But Friday I was offered a book in a continuity that I really wanted to write, but just couldn't fit it in because of deadlines for another line.

Harlequin and Steeple Hill have been wonderful about helping me balance things and letting me set my own pace and do my own thing. I couldn't do this without their cooperation. I just fit in other publishers whenever I have a chance-which isn't often.

I confess to being pretty organized about my time and writing, which helps, too. I have a calendar and a worksheet hanging over my desk with various deadlines, payments made and due, blogs coming up, and any and everything else that I might need to keep my head on straight. I check that calendar every day and plan accordingly.

I'm sure these are all things you guys already do. It really hasn't been that hard. If it was I couldn't do it!

Linda g

Debby Giusti said...

Congrats again on all your success, Linda! We're so glad you joined up on the Craftie Ladies blog today!

Joyce said...

Linda, I am new to this blog but I am very interested in reading your books. I enjoyed your interview.

Linda Goodnight said...

Hi Joyce,

Thank you for posting! I hope you try one of my books and let me know what you think.

Be blessed.
Linda g