Once-upon-a-time life kicked me off my writer’s path and led me to pursue a more practical profession. My childhood dream of becoming a journalist was silenced.
Years later, I became a single parent, not by choice but by necessity, and my most trustworthy partner became a ballpoint. The fiction in my head turned into words on yellow legal pad. I wrote anywhere, any time, on my dining room table, and on my lunch hour. No place was my sacred space. I wrote in my car during soccer practices, under an umbrella on rain drenched sidelines, in fast food restaurants and in chain hotels. I wrote during championship after championship in cities and states, from Jersey to Phoenix.
The quieted yearning to be a writer reawakened onto the pages of a novel. My first was self-published after five years of juggling work, kids and day-to-day. A flawed but beautiful story emerged onto paper and “Swan Boat Souvenir” enjoyed local acclaim and success.
I knew there was more to do, more to write and that the next book would be published traditionally, that the next manuscript would have the benefit of an editor and the advice of professionals. After months of writing, Belly of the Whale went from paper, to computer, to draft after draft and finally into the arms of Kunati Publishers.
My children are grown. My passion to write remains a constant. Each book I complete is dedicated to the magic of believing in my dream, to my son and to my daughters.
You can visit Linda’s website at www.lindamerlino.com.
Welcome to Beyond the Books, Linda. Can you tell us whether you are published for the first time or multi-published?
Belly of the Whale is my debut novel in mainstream publishing. In 2003 I self-published a novel. This gave me the inspiration needed to pursue another project, this one focused on mainstream publishers.
Can you give us the title(s) of your book(s)?
The self-published book is still available through Amazon; Swan Boat Souvenir is the story of twin souls. My debut novel: Belly of the Whale released April 1, 2008 by Kunati, Inc is about a young woman with breast cancer.
What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
Swan Boat Souvenir was published by First Books Library, currently renamed: Author house.
For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
Since I did not attempt to query or seek out professional help for Swan Boat I can only use my current experience with Belly of the Whale. It took about three months to find an agent and a publisher.
How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows?
No matter how thick skinned we say we are, rejection stings. When those letters or emails came my stomach would ache for a short time and then I’d resource more and tell myself, wrong way and moved on to another possibility.
When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
I will refer to my debut novel Belly of the Whale to answer these questions. Kunati, Inc is my publisher. The three men that make up this publishing house are geniuses. Formerly from Simon & Schuster Derek Armstrong and Kam Wai Yu invented the book trailer concept in the 80’s. James McKinnon is their editor and a brilliant one at that. I liked Kunati’s New Voice mission statement, they were not afraid to take a chance on first-time authors.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
When the email came, December 18, 2006, I stood on a chair and screamed at the top of my lungs. I’ve been celebrating ever since, every day. I wake up and say to myself, how blessed you are Linda, your dream has come true. Yes!!!
What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
Promotion has been a learning curve. Kunati is a strong resource for all its authors and they have hand-held us through the process. Internet marketing was the first step to promotion and continues to be huge.
If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
No, mainstream is the way to go; one can only go higher from here.
Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
Since Belly of the Whale just released I am still very focused on what needs to be done to promote and get the message out there. I have taken the leap from writer to author and have begun giving-back to other writers. I could not have succeeded without the support and encouragement of the writing community.
Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
Honestly I do not see the way to speed things up. I believe that there is a season for everything. My life was on course, not perhaps the way I might have planned it to be, but on course. I tell groups and writer’s workshops to do their researching, do their homework, don’t query until you have a completed clean manuscript don’t add anything that isn’t requested…if an agent wants only a query then send only a query. Stay true to yourself and your belief in your gift as a writer. It will happen, be patient, keep writing.
What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
My best so far has been to stand in front of a writing workshop class of 4rth and 5th graders and see their eyes go wide when I tell them I am a published author, that I wrote a book.
If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
I have been in another profession for decades…that profession served its purpose, I am a writer, and I am ready to be that exclusively.
Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
Beyond my steady job profession, I am also, a professional astrologer, this accomplishment blends well with my writing…it is time to be a writer, it is what I always dreamed I would be…
How do you see yourself in ten years?
In ten years, I see myself in a house not far from the water with a generous backyard, gardens of flowers, herbs and vegetables. There is a separate structure on the property, perhaps a barn with a loft where I write everyday…
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Writing is an act of faith…don’t give up or give in…never.
ATTENTION: This interview is being brought to you by Pump Up Your Book Promotion. As a special promotion for Linda Merlino’s novel, BELLY OF THE WHALE, Pump Up Your Book Promotion is giving away one FREE virtual book tour or $25 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky person who comments on her blog stops during her virtual book tour in June. Leave a comment below to have a chance to win one of these prizes! For more stops on Linda’s tour, visit www.virtualbooktours.wordpress.com.