Wednesday, November 30, 2011
FEATURE AUTHOR: Lynn Hernas
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, Lynn has lived in exotic places such as Mexico, Burkina Faso and the Congo. When she’s not living elsewhere, she calls Davenport, Washington home. She has always had a passion for storytelling and writing. Her works include “Even Hippos Can Drown” and “Letters from Boot Camp” and two works in progress, “Spy*hopping” and “Forbidden Mountain.” Visit her website at http://www.lynnhernas.com/ and follow her on Twitter @LHernas.
How did you start out your writing career?
During my childhood I would write and create books of all kinds: story books, craft books, even photo books that became stories (before scrapbooking became popular). I have always dreamed of writing my own novel, but the task seemed too daunting. One day I stumbled across the NaNoWriMo website (National Novel Writing Month) whose opening line was, “Have you ever wanted to write a book but never got around to it? All you really need is a deadline.” You know what, they were right! I was hooked.
Writers across America (and even around the world) use the month of November to produce thousands of novels through the website, www.nanowrimo.org with a challenge to write 50,000 words before the end of the month. I planned out my storyline, did research and wrote an outline before November so that I could just sit down and bang out the novel on my computer. Once you’ve written 50,000 words, you’re much better prepared for your next encounter with “writer’s block.”
What did you learn while writing this book?
Writing is hard work, but finishing the project is exhilarating. During November I set a goal of writing 2000 words a day (to make the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words) so I had to apply myself and write each day. Even during Thanksgiving my family got the turkey in the oven, set the table, mopped the floor while I sat at my computer typing away. (They are a really nice family).
What did you hope to accomplish with this book?
At first I didn’t have any aspirations short of completing the book. Once I did finish it I wanted to assure myself that I wasn’t a “one hit wonder.” I’ve written four books so far (all rough drafts written in November). One is finished (“Hippos”), two are in editing and the latest one needs some major overhaul.
I hope that I have written an engaging story for the reader. My feedback so far has confirmed that I have. And that is motivating and gratifying.
Which character did you have the most fun writing about?
The Marine Lieutenant was my favorite character. There is an interesting story behind that Marine. My son is in the Marine Corps. One day I was discussing with my husband about the time we had to visit the American Embassy while living in Africa. Those fellows in uniform with weapons were intimidating at the time. My son piped up and said, “You didn’t need to be afraid of Marines, Mom.” Those armed men were Marines at the embassy? I had no idea.
So he dragged out the DVD of “The Bourne Identity” to illustrate to me what he thought everyone in the world knew except his poor old mom. That became the beginning of my education about the Armed Forces.
We had such conversations as:
“Son, what do you call those weapons that bad guys put on their shoulders to take out cars with?”
“You mean RPGs, Mom?”
“And that stands for …?”
“Rocket Propelled Grenades.”
“They propel grenades!?!”
I had much to learn.
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
Nowadays published authors have to promote themselves. The publishing houses don’t take care of all that promotion stuff for you the same way they did in the old days. Just as I was getting on board in the book business, book stores across America began shutting their doors in the face of a booming e-book business.
Self-publishing means promoting yourself as if you already were a published author, and circumvents all the hassle of seeking out agents and publishers. Publishing e-books is the wave of the future. That’s where I’m heading.
What aspect of writing do you love the best, and which do you hate the most?
I find the crafting of a plotline to be extremely gratifying and fun! I am not so fond of editing a novel that I have just labored over. I love learning to improve my writing. Some days I hate sitting down to work on a difficult scene so instead I clean my house, do laundry—anything but sit down at the computer. But when I finally do, I’m engrossed.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
I was cautious enough not to think my first book would be a best-seller right out of the box. So I did these three things: researched a great deal, attended writing conferences and read books on the subject. I strive to improve my writing skills constantly.
If there was one piece of advice I would give to aspiring writers it would be to attend writing conferences and be prepared to learn to improve your writing. If you go in with that attitude—rather than thinking that everything you write is already awesome, you’ll have a much better experience.
Can you give us one do and one don’t for those aspiring to be a writer?
Do prepare yourself for revision, revision, revision.
Don’t get discouraged. Rejections don’t mean you don’t have talent. It just means more revision. You can do it!
What one thing about writing do you wish other non-writers would understand?
When I meet new people and they find out I’m an author, they’re all flabbergasted as if in the presence of a celebrity. But hey, I’m really an ordinary person who just happens to write stories.
If you could be a character from any book you've read, who would you be?
My favorite character has always been Elizabeth Bennett from Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” She’s smart, sassy and self-confident. Those three things make an interesting character and attract fellows like Mr. Darcy!
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I work part-time as a bookkeeper for two businesses my husband and I own, and I am a substitute teacher. But my main passion outside of writing is directing musicals for our local Christian high school and our community theater group. I have directed 9 musicals so far, including such favorites as “Annie,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and most recently, “Annie Get Your Gun.”
What do you do to interact with your readers?
I really enjoy visiting Book Clubs who read my book. It’s fun to talk to individuals about my work. I have done presentations at schools, ladies clubs and bookstores. I have even taught a NaNoWriMo student writing class. I will travel to most anywhere in Washington State or do online discussions.
Our theme for this month is MEN IN LITERATURE. What male author are you reading?
Currently I am exploring the work of Randy Ingermanson who just released his novel, “Oxygen” as an e-book. He has great technique in writing which makes his work gripping, fascinating and hard to put down. If you ever have the chance to attend one of his workshops, I encourage you to do so.
Oprah always asks, What do you know for sure?
I know that God has my life firmly in His grip. My hope and faith is in my relationship with Jesus Christ. Everything else … well, I’m still learning.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
My next book, due out soon, is entitled, “Forbidden Mountain.” Here’s a short synopsis:
The story is set in present-day Turkey where Will’s family is spending two years on a medical mission with a humanitarian agency. As Will and his younger brother embark on a last-day-before-school outing to chase down the legend of the Ghost of Zōhak, the boys and their friends soon become lost on the Forbidden Mountain. Their ensuing adventures include discovering an ancient people group living on the mountain in secret, becoming their hostages, encounters with bears and earthquakes and a life-threatening ride down a mudslide! All this makes for a riveting novel for young adults.
How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)
Readers can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter (@LHernas), LinkedIn, my website http://www.lynnhernas.com/, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from them!
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