Lin Brooks is a lifelong Southern girl who lives in Mobile, Alabama with her family. Lin is a lawyer, runner, mother, home improvement enthusiast and an avid reader with a bucket list that includes visiting Australia, running a marathon and trying every kind of margarita ever made.
Here's her latest release:
Where the Greener Grass Grows
by Lin Brooks
Sending the children off to college is never easy. For Lacey Marchand and Cara Myers, an empty nest is enough to drive them a little crazy -- but sometimes, a little crazy is just what the doctor ordered.
Now that their daughters have left for college, Lacey and Cara have too much time on their hands. With nothing else to do, Cara decides to help single-mom Lacey get a life. And what better way to get a life than a few blind dates?
Lacey, however, can't think of a worse way to spend her weekends. She has her own ideas for curing their empty nest problems -- Cara needs a new career. And a career just happens to be what Lacey understands best.
For Cara and Lacey, coping with the empty nest means reinventing their lives without losing their sanity. Where the Greener Grass Grows is the story of two mothers learning to live, to laugh and to let go.
Before treating us to an excerpt, Lin Reveals:
Who controls the story – you or your characters?
Definitely my characters. I generally have an idea of where the story is headed, but I don’t outline or organize. Once the characters take hold, they do what they do and the story follows them. Sometimes they go in directions I didn’t expect, and frequently they will do something that is just perfect for the story and I never saw it coming.
What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your books?
I want readers to see that women never stop growing. Children grow up and move away, relationships begin and end, and women continually reinvent themselves. It’s what we do. We adjust to our new reality, learn from our mistakes and move on. Women rely heavily on their relationships with each other, and those relationships sustain us when we go through changes, good or bad. That’s what the book is about. Relationships and reinvention.
What do you think are the main ingredients for a successful book?
Strong characters and a solid plot. Everything else can be fixed. I do a lot of work with other authors, and I’ve seen lots of stories that needed restructuring and polishing. That takes a lot of effort, but in the end, an author can come out with a good manuscript even if it takes seven or eight drafts to get there. Things like grammar and sentence structure are important and can mean the difference between a good manuscript and a bad one. Those things can be fixed with a good line edit. But you just about can’t fix a bad plot or a character that isn’t well thought out. A character needs depth, a history and motivation, just like a real person. Even if all of those things don’t go into the book (and they shouldn’t! There are few things quite as boring as reading a ten page diatribe about a fictional character’s pre-book history), you should be aware of them because they will shape everything your character does or thinks. As for the plot, even though it isn’t real, it should be realistic. Anything that makes a reader stop and think, “Hold on a second. That doesn’t work,” pulls him or her out of the story. You don’t want that. You want to keep them engaged. So you can’t cheat on the plot. Inventing unworkable solutions to get your character out of a tight spot (deus ex machina), forcing a character to do something totally out of character to force the plot go in a certain direction, and plot holes will leap out at your reader, which means you aren’t fixing your problem…you’re making it worse.
What do you most enjoy about writing romance?
I grew up on romance novels. My mom and my grandma used to pass them back and forth, and that was what there was to read whenever I went looking. There is something so escapist about them, and I’ve always loved that. When I stared writing, that was the natural place to start. I like being able to create worlds where things happen the way I want them to. It’s like being a good daydreamer, and then being able to take that and spin it into something real. I read a lot of books where the ending makes sense, but isn’t satisfying—the bad guy wins, the good guy dies, whatever. I don’t like putting down a book and wishing it had ended differently. Women’s fiction/romance books, generally speaking, make you feel good. That’s what I want.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What would be your tips to overcome it?
Oh, yes. Usually somewhere around the middle of a book! But there are other times, too. Sometimes it’s hard to get myself in the frame of mind I need to be in. When I’m writing a book that’s happy and upbeat, it’s hard to create that atmosphere when I’m not feeling that way. Sometimes, the writing will put me in the right frame of mind. Sometimes, the words just won’t come. And I’ve had that last for weeks at a time—I pull up the manuscript and….no inspiration. But it always passes. That’s the first thing to remember. If you let yourself stress over it, that only makes it worse. If you aren’t in the zone, that’s okay. Give yourself a break. Secondly, sometimes I can start writing and I know it’s utter garbage, but writing something is enough to get my brain engaged. Once the brain is engaged, the problem fixes itself. And then I can go back and clean up the awful stuff.
Anything special you require to keep the creative juices flowing?
Diet Coke. I know everyone says Coke Zero is better, but I’m old school. I can’t work without one sitting beside me.
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
I took a screenwriting class in college, and one of my professors gave me some good, basic advice that I’ve used ever since. He said, “write what you know.” And that’s so true, at least for me. Even when I’m writing on a subject that I’m not completely familiar with, my characters and their surroundings always have something in them that I can relate to. It makes me more comfortable as a writer, and it means that I can give more detail that will bring a scene to life. Plus, writing about things you don’t know involves a lot more research. I don’t mind doing that (I’m make a good living as a research nerd), you just have to understand, when you’re in unfamiliar territory, that’s part of the process. If you don’t do the homework, you will lose people that DO know something about your subject because they will see the mistakes.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I’m remodelling our house. My husband bought this house 17 years ago. He’s never updated it (he’s a guy. What can I say?). When we got married last year, he told me I could do anything with it that I wanted. So I started tearing out walls. Right now, I’m working on the bathroom. We only have one (ugh!) and it was this little closet with peeling paint and tile that had to have been put in there in the 70s. So I built a wall out in the hallway and knocked out the existing wall and the one to the hall closet, and now my bathroom is twice as big. Of course, it’s also in pieces now. But it’s progress!
What is your culinary speciality?
Italian food! My daughter studied abroad in Italy this summer, and I went over to visit for a couple of weeks. I took a cooking class while I was there, and I learned to make homemade pasta, killer Bolognese sauce, and the best tiramisu you’ve ever had in your life. I immediately came home and planted an herb garden, which was a leap of faith. I have a black thumb. But my plants grew beautifully, and now, when I make lasagne, I make my own noodles and use parsley and oregano from my own garden. Now I just need to figure out how to grow tomatoes.
Any exciting plans for the near future?
I’m planning my first marathon on New Year’s Day. I’m so excited! I love running. I’ve been doing races for the past few years, and worked my way up to a half marathon a year and a half ago. Then my daughter started running with me, and we’ve run two half marathons together. That was when she talked me into running a full. She found the “New Year’s Double” in Allen, Texas, and talked me into running a half marathon on New Year’s Eve and then a full on New Year’s Day. What a way to ring in the New Year. We’re both nuts. Very brave!
Now A Taste of Lin
Have you ever noticed how quiet a house can be after a teenager leaves it? It’s like all of those decibels that have been screaming through the air for the last eight years have come to a sudden halt. I can hear buzzing in my ears, it’s so quiet.
Three years ago, I realized it was almost time. When Abby started the tenth grade, I began telling myself it wouldn’t be much longer. Sometimes, I said this with more than a little relief. For instance, what single mother has never muttered under her breath, at least once, “just two more years and I can get in there and fumigate that room”? Of course you have. Admit it.
Well, at least now the room is clean. I had forgotten the child had a floor in there. The mp3 player is quiet and there’s no chattering on the telephone. I’m trying to remember the last time the house has been this quiet. A year ago, it would’ve been bliss.
Now it isn’t. Remember all of those things you tell yourself you’re going to do whenever the kids leave home? I forgot most of them when she left. The rest were finished within four hours. I’m bored. I know it’s pitiful, but I’m new at this. Ideas would be appreciated.
Posted by Lacey Gail at 14:52
Good luck with this release, Lin! Empty nest syndrome is something with which I imagine many of us can identify.
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