Linda Rosen debuted her first novel right before the Coronavirus Pandemic started in March 2020.
She released her second in March of this year.
Over the past couple of years, this budding novelist has picked up lessons she’d like to share with fellow writers, and we’re happy she’s chosen our readers at Eat Like a Writer as her audience.
First, can you tell us a little about your books, so we have some background?
Thank you for the opportunity. I’d love to.
The novel is about a clandestine love affair in 1920s Brooklyn that leads to a family secret held for 84 years.
My protagonist, Carolyn Lee, is desperate for family. When she uncovers the shocking secret, she is determined, against all advice, to reveal it.
It has the potential to tear lives apart, or to bring her the closeness and comfort she longs for. It all depends on how she handles it.
My sophomore novel, Sisters of the Vine, came out this past March, also from Black Rose Writing.
It is set on a hillside vineyard in the Hudson Valley in the 1960s and ‘70s. The story is a mash up of Laura Dave’s Eight Hundred Grapes and the movie A League of Their Own.
It is the story of one woman’s determination to keep the land she loves and the sisterhood formed around her. And, yes, there’s wine!
You can read the first chapter of both books on my website.
What kind of writing experience did you have before deciding to write your first novel and how did that affect your process?
As a fitness professional, I wrote articles for our local newspaper, some online sites, and even a tennis magazine long before I even thought of penning a novel.
When that idea percolated, I started a blog marrying both my hats. It was called The Literary Leotard.
Eventually, I got more serious about novel writing and the blog took on more of the literary side, ultimately sitting on the sidelines and letting my creativity flow into a novel.
I am pretty proud of those posts and glad I started the blog when I did. That experience fed into my novel writing and now into my newsletter, Linda’s Tea Room.
What made you want to write a book in the first place? What was the spark that gave you the confidence to put pen to paper?
I’m not sure I’d call it confidence. Maybe guts is a better word.
I started writing short stories in a writer’s workshop and was enjoying that form, submitting to magazines and having a few pieces published.
Then one day, while on the beach in Hilton Head Island with my sister-in-law and another girlfriend, I heard a story that set my fingers flying on the keyboard.
My sister-in-law was packing up her mother’s home, getting it ready for sale, when she realized the painting hanging over the fireplace was more like a family member than a framed piece of art.
It had hung on the wall for years, yet no one in the family wanted to keep it. But, they didn’t want to put it in the estate sale, either.
Not knowing what to do with it, my sister-in-law decided to Google the artist and return the painting to her.
When I heard that, I looked at my girlfriend and said, “What a great idea for a story!” and The Disharmony of Silence was born.
What are some of the most helpful lessons you learned during your time writing and publishing your books?
One of the most helpful and useful lessons I learned, and one I keep close in my writer’s toolbox, is the idea of being a camera.
A teacher in one of the workshops I took suggested that when writing a scene, we become a camera.
Come in close, write what you see (i.e., the grime on the windowsill, the dust on the dresser, the portrait on the wall with a cameo pinned to the dress, etc.). Then, pull the camera back and write dialogue and narration, but keep pulling in and out.
The scene comes alive, especially when you use one or more of the five senses in each. Let the reader smell the heady scent of the grapes fermenting, hear the clink of silverware against the china plate, taste the sweetness as your character licks melted chocolate from her fingers. Without these, the writing is flat and who wants to read that?
Another very important lesson for all writers—especially new ones—is to become part of a community.
The writing community is an extremely giving, warm, friendly group. Be part of it and you’ll be a much happier writer.
And then there’s social media – a lesson I learned and am so glad I did.
Before my book published, I was hesitant to engage on Instagram and Twitter. Facebook was fine. I’d been doing that a little bit and, per strong recommendations from my publisher and the writing community, I made a separate author page.
Little did I know how involved I would get, and how beneficial it would be.
Today, social media is where authors meet other authors and where we meet our future readers. Engaging on those sites has brought me to readers and other writers who I never would have met otherwise. It is how I formed my wonderful community.
Social media is the way of the world now. Writers should find the social channels that they are comfortable with and engage. Have a good time. Be a good literary citizen. Promote others and, as in life, when you give of yourself, gifts come back to you. My gift is my writing community, the friends I’ve made.
Any other reasons why writing communities are important to you?
I am blessed to have been welcomed into the writing community and to have made friends with so many people from around the world. People I never would have met if I hadn’t joined groups like the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and the Women’s National Book Association.
Being a debut author, especially during a pandemic, I would have been lost without my writer friends.
They have opened doors for me I probably wouldn’t have even known to knock on if left on my own.
In addition to their support in promoting my books, I feel their support in every aspect of this journey. No one else understands what a writer goes through, the ups and dow