Lynda J. Cox joins us today to talk about overcoming the blank page, discovering her characters, and what she credits to opening the door to her life as a romance writer.
And wait ’til you hear a romantic real-life story that happened between Lynda and her husband!
Her latest book, West of Forgotten, [Right] is available now!
I was one of those kids who was reading anything and everything I could get my hands on by first grade. One of the perks of having a grandmother who taught first graders to read as her chosen profession. I could read before I started kindergarten. I’m always reading. I even read the back of cereal boxes.
Yep. Two out of three isn’t too bad. I have several collies that I show across this great country and the horse I have has definitely entered his twilight years.
What inspired you to start writing?
I wrote my first romance when I was sixteen. (I still have that handwritten “masterpiece” and cringe every time I read it.) During my first marriage (there’s a reason he’s an ex), writing was my lifeline to sanity. It wasn’t until well into my second marriage and a night I threw yet another romance novel across the room and announced that I could write that stuff and my husband challenged me to put my keyboard where my mouth was that I seriously thought about writing for publication. My first published book was written while I was in the midst of writing my master’s creative thesis.
Other than writing, what are some of your passions in life?
I am incredibly passionate about my collies. I cannot imagine a life without them. When I got my first collie, I knew then I wanted to show that dog in AKC conformation shows. That was more than 35 years ago. For someone who is incredibly shy, those first few years were extraordinarily painful. But, that shyness was a strength there. I could truly fade into the woodwork and let the dogs shine.
I also love to travel, mainly to Wyoming. No matter how many times I’ve been there, I’m always discovering something new about that beautiful state.
“I had to force myself to stop worrying and just write.”
What was your debut novel, and how has your writing process changed since your debut?
My first published novel was a western historical romance, published through The Wild Rose Press. As I said, I was deep in writing my master’s creative thesis when I wrote *The Devil’s Own Desperado*. That book was published in 2012.
After it was published, I struggled to write the second book. I was so worried I would be a “one hit wonder” that the words just wouldn’t come. I had to force myself to stop worrying and just write. And, that second book, even though I now have four published, is my heart book. I learned from *Smolder on a Slow Burn* to just let the words come, stop worrying, and get that first rough draft written. I truly have learned more about myself and my writing process with each book I’ve written and I’d like to think I’ve become a better writer with each book.
What is your favorite part of the writing/publishing process and why?
It’s the discovery of the characters–what makes them tick, what makes them who they are–that excites me the most. And being able to share the people who live in my head with readers and share that emotional journey with my readers keeps me at the keyboard. In my last romance, I tackled a very ugly subject and did an interesting dance with writing that romance to stay within the parameters of my publisher. But, writing that book was cathartic–as I wrote in the author’s note at the end. It took me decades to be able to write that last book and until I actually wrote it, I had had no intention to ever pull that curtain back.
What is your most challenging part of the writing/publishing process and what do you do to make it easier?
There’s no delegating this. The hardest part is sitting down at the keyboard and starting that process all over again. That blank screen with its blinking cursor–that’s the stuff of my nightmares. I just make myself do it. Even if I end up trashing the first 10K to 15K, I’m at least getting a handle on the new characters.
What does a typical day look like for you? How do you find balance?
My typical day starts about midnight. I suffer from insomnia and often prescription meds do not touch it. I will write all night. I have done that many times. When my kids lived at home, it made it rough to be up all night, unable to sleep, writing, and then trying to sleep while they were at school. The balance I found was accepting that was a limitation I had and I’ve become accustomed to getting three to four hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. I’ve had this since I was a teen.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
My writing career before I published my first book didn’t even take off until I started to work on my master’s degree. One of the classes I took for the concentration in creative writing required the students to submit a short story written during the semester to a literary magazine or journal. I credit those three short stories I published to opening the door to my life as a romance writer.
As a published author, I never expected to do all the self-promo I have to do. I was hoping for one of the big five to offer me a contract. However, I am so very happy where I’m at. I love being with The Wild Rose Press.
What do you love about writing romance?
I love sharing the emotional journey of the two main characters. I’m a hopeless romantic, so that happily ever after is the best part of writing romance.
“My heart was crushed.”
What kinds of things do you find romantic in real life? Can you share a story?
When I first met my partner, I owned a young horse. Just before partner and I married, I sold that horse because I wasn’t going to ask DH to help me pay to feed him. He’d just come out of a marriage where his ex showed horses and he was very bitter about all the money spent.
A week before our wedding, I saw an ad in our local paper that was advertising the horse I had sold as for sale again. The ridiculously low price meant that horse could end up in the back of a killer’s truck. I showed it to my soon to be husband and flat out said that to him. He agreed and told me to call the people who had bought and were now selling the horse. My heart was crushed when they said he had already been sold. I cried about it for days.
After our wedding, DH and I left his kids and my kids with a family relative and we went to “the big city” for an overnight trip for our honeymoon. On the way home, we had to pick the kids up at the family member’s house. This family member owned a boarding stable and the barn was on their property.
We stopped, but no one answered the door. DH suggested I go check the barn while he checked with another family member across the street. I walked out to the barn. The horse in the first stall stuck his head out when I walked in and there was a huge red ribbon tied to his halter. My horse was standing in that stall and everyone was hiding in another stall.
Yes, my horse had already been sold, because DH had seen the ad before I did and bought him. Everyone had been sworn to secrecy. DH bought my horse back as a wedding gift to me. I still have that horse, 28 years later.
Do you read your book reviews? If so, how do they affect your writing (if at all)?
Yes, I read them. No, they don’t. I have the reviews from InD’Tale printed out for my last three books and framed over my desk for those days when I doubt myself and my ability to write an emotionally fulfilling story.
“The same question is always asked–Are “those” scenes written from first-hand experience.”
What is the craziest, funniest, or most surprising thing that has happened to you since publishing your first book?
The craziest thing that still happens is when people I compete with at dog shows realize I’m a romance author. The same question is always asked–Are “those” scenes written from first-hand experience. Ummmm…NO! I just happen to have a great imagination. That part of my life is pure vanilla.
*West of Forgotten* [Left] is my latest release and I never intended to write it. However, I’ve had many readers tell me I needed to write the story of how Marshal Harrison Taylor and the love of his life, Rachel, met. Taylor and Rachel are recurring characters in my previous three books and the dynamic between them has always been interesting. Rachel comes with a lot of baggage. She’s a strong person, but trust for her doesn’t come easily. She’s been deeply hurt. Taylor comes with his own baggage, including a lot of guilt. This was a tough book to write, because of all that baggage.
Is there any other news you would like to share?
I’m working on a fifth book but as it’s not complete, I haven’t the foggiest idea on a release date. I’m attending a few book signings next year but the one I really want to plug is Wild Deadwood Reads. This is just an amazing reader/author event.
Also by Lynda J. Cox
Five Facts Just for Fun!
1. What’s your favorite ’90s jam?
90s music sucked! My favorite jam music is Def Leopard, Led Zeplin, the Stones, and Bob Seger. (Yes, I’m showing my age)
2. What was the last gift you gave someone?
I sent my latest book to a friend who is facing a lot of down time with chemo. I refused to let her pay for it.
3. What were you like as a kid?
I was the shy, socially inept kid with her nose always buried in a book.
4. What was the last thing you binge-watched & what did you think of it?
Quantum Leap and I’d forgotten how much I loved that show. Up next on my list of binge-watching is Deadwood.
My collies–I honestly cannot imagine my life without them.
Thank you so much for being here today, Lynda!
WEST OF FORGOTTEN
Banished from civilization to the Wyoming Territory, U.S. Marshal Harrison Taylor holds a deed to half the Lazy L. He isn’t sure why his beautiful new partner, Rachel Leonard, doesn’t trust him. He has to convince her he is nothing like the man who abused her and he must earn her trust before the escalating attacks at the Lazy L turn deadly.
For six years, Rachel has worked to repair a shattered life. Caring for her son and invalid father leaves little time to keep the Lazy L profitable. She doesn’t want a business partner simply because her father gambled away half of her beloved ranch, and most certainly doesn’t desire a husband. Unfortunately, she’s stuck with the former and can’t trust Harrison as the latter.
But unless she can learn to trust him, everything and everyone Rachel loves will be lost.