The luxury of staying home when the weather turns nasty, of working in PJs and bare feet, and the fact that daydreaming is not only permissible but encouraged, are a few of the reasons middle school teacher Lynnette Austin gave up the classroom to write full-time. Lynnette grew up in Pennsylvania’s Alleghany Mountains, moved to Upstate New York, then to the Rockies in Wyoming. Presently she and her husband divide their time between Southwest Florida’s beaches and Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. A finalist in RWA's Golden Heart Contest, PASIC's Book of Your Heart Contest, and Georgia Romance Writers' Maggie Contest, she’s published five books as Lynnette Hallberg. She’s currently writing as Lynnette Austin. Having grown up in a small town, that’s where her heart takes her—to those quirky small towns where everybody knows everybody...and all their business, for better or worse.
First off, can you tell us a bit about you?
I love to stand by the Gulf of Mexico when a storm is brewing and watch the waves crash ashore. I love, love, love chocolate frozen custard, a bargain, anything by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and sitting in a Starbucks reading and enjoying a skinny peppermint mocha. I grew up in Pennsylvania, accepted my first teaching job in New York, moved to wonderful Wyoming, then to sunny Florida. Now, I spend my days writing and split my time between the beaches of Florida and the mountains of northern Georgia. I tend to think of myself as a homebody, but I guess I must have a little vagabond in me because I feel at home and happy almost anywhere.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes. I don’t remember ever not writing. I have all these characters running around in my head and the only way to keep them quiet is to write their stories. =)
I absolutely love books and the smell of them. To walk into a bookstore is a little piece of heaven. When I was young, my dad built shelves around our entire attic to hold my books. My mom, no matter how tight money was, never asked me to cut my Scholastic book order. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and I’ve always created stories in my mind. Once I started writing them down, I was addicted. I’m never happier than when I’m fully immersed in one of my books. Hopefully, I can create a little magic for others.
What kind of writer are you? Pantser or Plotter?
I’m a plotter who likes to take detours. Scenes come to me out-of-order when I’m planning a new book. I write them all down. Then I try to whip them into some sort of logical plot which I set out on a white board, breaking the scenes into chapters. I even keep notebooks for each book, divided into sections. But if something unplanned or unsuspected pops up, I take advantage of it. I don’t dismiss a plot point or a character simply because it’s not on my white board. I sit down and refigure the story with this new twist. After all, aren’t so many of life’s best moments the unplanned ones?
Where do your ideas come from?
Long, hot showers. LOL I know, it sounds silly, but this is where a lot of my ideas happen. My critique partners used to roll their eyes when I came out of the bathroom after a shower with an entire new chapter written. I think there’s something about running water. I took a walk along the lake at Vogel State Park in northern Georgia and came away with an entire story plot—now a published book. It’s a good thing!
A la Twitter style, describe your book (or series) in 140 characters or less.
Magnolia Brides. 3 strong women—determined to make Misty Bottoms, GA, a dream wedding destination. Finding love along the way? Even better.
What are some of your favorite kinds of stories to read?
Give me a great romance and a tub full of bubbles, and I’m a very happy woman. Nora Roberts and Susan Elizabeth Phillips both create wonderful characters and stories full of emotion. But I also enjoy Lee Child and James Lee Burke, Diane Mott Davidson and Michael Connelly.
Do you have a favorite book and if so what is it?
I’d have to say South of Broad by Pat Conroy. What a writer! What a book! It’s so rich in ambience and has such emotional depth. Conroy creates characters and moments you absolutely can’t forget—and don’t want to.
What are the scenes that are the hardest for you to write? Why?
This would have to be the first sex scene between my hero and heroine—in every book. It never seems to get any easier. I think that’s because it’s so important. That first time they give themselves to each other changes everything. Once they make that commitment, nothing can ever again be the same. At the base of it, a romance to me is a relationship story. Sex really does tip that relationship into a different dimension.
If you could have dinner with any three authors, who would you choose and why?
First and foremost, Nora Roberts because she is an absolute phenomenon. I wish I could crawl into her head during one day of writing and watch her process as it unfolds. I’d love to sit with Lee Child and discuss his writing and his determination when he decided to publish that first book. He made a plan and stuck to it—and succeeded quite nicely! J My third choice would be Susan Elizabeth Phillips. She has such a wealth of knowledge about writing and often talks about protecting the work and not allowing other things to interfere with writing time. All three would make for great dinner companions.
Last question, are you working on anything right now?
Thank you for asking! I am. The Best Laid Wedding Plans is the first in my new Magnolia Brides series. The second, Every Bride Has Her Day, will be out in May, 2016. New York City Detective Sam DeLuca has charged into more than his share of dark alleys, but none threaten his peace of mind more than small-town Misty Bottoms’ feisty florist, Cricket O’Malley. Sparks fly in this story of city meets country. The third book in the series, tentatively titled Picture Perfect Wedding, releases September, 2016. Single mom Tansy Calhoun Forbes is returning home to Misty Bottoms in Georgia’s Low Country to start a new life and a new business, baking wedding cakes for Magnolia House’s brides and grooms. The only fly in the ointment? Beck Elliot, her former fiancé and the only man she’s ever loved, the man she betrayed.
After that? I’m hoping to stay in Misty Bottoms with stories about the Wylder brothers who are moving to town to expand their vintage car and motorcycles restoration business.
What song best describes you or your relationship with your special someone? What song did you dance to your first time—either at your wedding or on a date?
SOME DREAMS ARE WORTH WHATEVER IT TAKESJenni Beth Beaumont left her broken heart behind when she took her dream job in Savannah. But after her brother's death, Jenni Beth returns home to help mend her parents' hearts as well as restore their beautiful but crumbling antebellum mansion. New dreams take shape as Jenni Beth sets to work replacing floors and fixing pipes to convert the family homestead into the perfect wedding destination. However, some folks in their small Southern town are determined to see her fail.Cole Bryson was once the love of Jenni Beth's life, but the charming architectural salvager has plans of his own for the Beaumont family home. As the two butt heads, old turmoil is brought to the surface and Cole and Jenni Beth will have to work through some painful memories and tough realities before they can set their pasts aside and have a second chance at their own happily ever after.
Check out what's up for grabs.
Up For Grabs:
- 1 Wedding Garter
- 5 Print copies of The Best Laid Wedding Plans
- What song best describes you or your relationship with your special someone? What song did you dance to your first time—either at your wedding or on a date?
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