Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Writers Wednesday with Lyn Randal

Wednesday brings Harlequin Historical's new author, Lyn Randal, to The Pink Heart Society to tell us a little about life, friends, and the pursuit of publication.

About Lyn :: Lyn has two children, a son and a daughter, and has taught school for eighteen years -- first, English and now, Spanish. Linda loves to read and write and pursue quilting, gardening, singing and playing the violin in her spare time.In addition, she helps her preacher husband with the duties of two churches full on wonderful people.

Lyn's journey to THE CALL :: Recently, a critique partner of mine was in a large bookstore, looking over the writing craft books, when a stranger came to stand beside her. “Are you a writer?” he asked. She replied that she was, and he asked her to recommend a couple of good books for someone just beginning to write for publication. “You see,” he went on to explain. “I recently got laid off from my job and thought I might write a book to sell for some extra money, sorta to help out until I find another job.”

To her credit, my friend did not laugh, though she tried to gently explain that being published wasn’t all that easy and that it might take him at least a few months or, most likely, years.

To my credit, I didn’t laugh when she told me the story, either. Okay, I smiled. A little bit. Not because of the man’s ignorance, but because . . . well . . . I had started off almost as stupidly myself.

In the beginning, I naively thought that being published would be easy for me. I was an English teacher, after all. That ought to count for something, right? It might take me a year. Or two, at most.

Ooh, I was so wrong. Luckily for me, ignorance has an upside. By the time I’d stopped being clueless enough to realize this quest would be harder than I’d thought – much harder – I’d waded in chest deep. I’d told all my friends and family what I was trying to do. Their scrutiny and thinly-veiled skepticism made me determined to succeed. I had to. I just had to.

Altogether, it would be 4 ½ years before I’d get “the call” in May of 2006 for what was my third completed manuscript. My learning curve was long and arduous. I did a lot of things wrong in the beginning. I didn’t understand all the protocol of the business in those early days. My query letters were far too long (ten pages???) and it took a while to learn craft (A hook? What the heck is a hook?!).

But I also did a few things right and I’d recommend them to anybody who has a similarly tenacious streak or perhaps just a good measure of desperation. First, I read everything I could get my hands on about writing novels and selling them. There are so many good books out there that there’s really no excuse for remaining ignorant very long.

Next, I entered contests. This taught me to think and act more professionally. Like many novices, I had to get over being so emotionally tied to my work, and to stop thinking of it as just a little too precious. I developed thicker skin. I took some criticism and learned from it. Sometimes that criticism was justified. Sometimes, it wasn’t. But in either case, I learned that everybody has an opinion. In the end, the story was mine and mine alone, and I discovered how to be true to my own personal vision.

Third, I learned to focus on the journey. At first, my goal was publication and only publication, and I wanted it just as quickly as I could get it. But as the months turned into years and still there was no sale, I cycled through the usual self-doubt and despair. What kept me going in those times were the small blessings – the friends I’d made, the lessons I’d learned, the enjoyment of the researching, and the writing itself. There were lots of times I’d have to stop and focus on those things, to tell myself that even if I never sold a single word, my writing had enriched my life.

And finally, I kept the faith, hard as it sometimes was. Even in the down times, I tried to believe that writing was a craft and publication was a business, and that I could learn both aspects. It wasn’t a miracle or quirk of fate that some got published and others didn’t. It wasn’t that God was up in heaven rolling dice to decide who got the goodies and who didn’t. I kept believing that those who made it had simply learned the right combination of necessary skills, and that if I kept working at it, I could and would get there, too.

Getting that call last May was one of the highlights of my life. I was so pumped with adrenaline that I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep that night, or concentrate on my work for at least two days. And the magic continues even now, months later. In another few days I’ll walk into my nearest bookstore and see Warrior or Wife on the shelf with the other Harlequin Historicals for February, and I’ll probably get a little teary-eyed.

But more than anything, I hope my story can inspire some other struggling writer not to throw in the towel. Because I can tell you, no matter all the hard work and tears and disappointments, no matter the sacrifices great and small that had to be made along the way, a book is a wonderful thing to behold.

Thanks Lyn!!!

Lyn promises to get a website some day soon, but in the mean time, she is known to check in here at The Pink Heart Society.


  1. Lyn - How did you choose which time period to set your historical romances in?

  2. I was one of the lucky judges who saw one of Lyn's manuscripts in a contest. Before I'd read to the end of the first page, I picked up her entry and raced into the next room to tell my husband I'd found something special.

    I was a fan of Lyn's before she sold, and I'm thrilled I can read her stories in print now. Her writing is amazing, her stories are beautifully told--and she's a wonderful person. Yes, I truly found something special all those years ago!

  3. Well done Lyn! You're making me feel teary!
    Abby Green

  4. Congratulations Lyn! I really believe perseverance and determination wins in the end, and your Call Story is further proof of this. Thanks for sharing.

    Sue :-)

  5. I absolutely love reading call stories. It always gives me fresh hope and keeps me going.

  6. Lyn --

    I am so looking forward to this one when it comes out in the UK.

    Your call story is a lovely tale of determination.

  7. Lyn, a very inspiring call story. Even though my publication at Harlequin came easiy, all of us can stand to hear this, because staying published is just as hard as selling, sometimes, and everytime you try something new (I'm trying to break into a new line and write paranormal), you have to go through all that process all over again. So it's good to hear from others how to keep the faith when the going gets rough!



  8. Congrats, Lyn. I too love call stories, and sometimes seach out authors because their particular story was so inspiring. Sounds crazy, I know, but I've read some good stuff that way. I'll be looking for yours.

  9. Thanks for sharing your call story, Lyn. It gives me renewed hope that one day I might have a call story of my own!