Today, we feature Linda Maria Frank in our Debut Author Q&A. I wholeheartedly agree when she says deadlines offer the much-needed push to get the job done.
Name of Book: The Madonna Ghost
Book genre: YA/Mystery
Date published: January 2010
What is your book about: Nancy Drew meets CSI! I have created a young female detective who, because of her aunt, an NYPD detective, gets herself embroiled in some interesting situation and tight spots. Annie and her aunt go to Fire Island for a vacation. Annie Tillery, my heroine, meets a boy, falls in love, and together they attempt to solve the mystery of a local ghost. Aunt Jill, who is working on a case, disappears. As Annie and Ty attempt to solve both mysteries, they uncover a very dangerous crime and almost get killed. I can’t reveal this as it gives away the surprise element at the end of the book.
What did you find was the most challenging part of the writing process? I have been a science teacher. I never took a creative writing course, but, as a result of teaching forensic science for many years, decided that I wanted to convert some of the cases I was creating for my students into a book. What did I know about writing a book? I decided to take a course at the Institute for Children’s Literature, and with a mentor teaching me the craft of novel writing, wrote the first two books in this series. The second one should be in print in a couple of weeks. It’s called Girl with Pencil, Drawing.
What motivates you to write? I love telling a good story. I wanted to create a wholesome fun teen role model for girls. I loved teaching forensic science, and this is another way to stay connected to the subject.
Did you experience writers’ block? There is always writers’ block for me somewhere along the line. Usually, it is because I cannot carve out enough continuous time to write. Making deadlines where I have to submit to a critical eye, whether it be the mentor, another published writer, or copy/proof reader, keeps me on track.
How long did it take you to write this book? One year.
Why YA? Children’s lit, which is what YA is considered, lives on. Best sellers come and go. Look at the longevity of Beatrix Potter, Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys. Kids who read gobble up books like potato chips. I also have spent my entire life working with teens and young adults.
Why did you decide to self-publish? When I finished writing the first two books, back in the 90s, my mentor told me I could sell them but it would take years and a lot of effort. I had just started two new jobs which were very labor intensive, and my mother died just as I was doing pitch and query letters for traditional publishers. I put the books aside. Two years ago, a friend of mine told me about her adventures with iUniverse, with whom she published her book. We agreed that we wanted instant gratification. I went to iUniverse, and they made it fairly easy to publish. Not to say, there are no glitches and frustrations there either. Now that I am published and that self-publishing is a growing trend in publishing, I think more about putting efforts into getting an agent than finding a traditional publisher.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about writing? 1. Most people think writing the book is the big hurdle. Writing the book is fun! Getting it published is doable in today’s self-publishing market. Marketing the book is the difficult part.
2. Most people believe that self-publishing is like the old Vanity Press. Not so! The good self-publishing companies make you adhere to industry standards and won’t print just any old thing. These companies also get you on Amazon, BandN, and all the catalogs and websites that provide books to stores, libraries and schools. They offer packages that included electronic versions of the book. They provide marketing materials and various venues to market your books, as well as tutorials on how to do it. They connect you with a website company if you don’t want to do your own. All of this is for a price, you understand, but their success is enhanced by anyone who is successful at promoting their books. That’s just good business.
What was your favorite aspect of writing this book? I was able to capture many things that happened in my life and make them live on through my words. I learned to sail and was part owner of a sail boat. I captured what it is like to sail in Madonna. I tried to capture what it is like to fall in love, the angst of dealing with an alcoholic relative, the beauty of the beach, my love for using logic and science to solve mysteries, and ghost stories. I created a heroine whom I would have liked to have been when I was sixteen. I put my DNA into my stories.
Wow! Oprah has famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? I think luck plays into being in the right place at the right time with the right person. But, if you don’t have a carefully prepared attractive package that you are willing to devote your life to, it ain’t gonna happen.