An Interview with Linn Henderson

Please help me welcome Linn Henderson to my blog today.  Be sure and leave a comment to be entered into the book drawing.


How did you get started writing? 

I wrote my first piece when I was seven. It was a contest in Children’s Digest where you finish the story in so many words.  I didn’t win, but I was hooked.


What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I write across across SF, fantasy, horror, and romance.  I write what I am interested in and I have lots of interests.


Tell us about your current series. 

The Bee Lady’s Amulet is a time travel romance that takes place just before the eruption of Thera, or Santorini.  In this novel, Melinda, volunteering at a dig on Crete, walks through a doorway and finds herself face to face with a goddess who asks her to perform a small task.  She never says the task is to gather the people of Crete and save them from the eruption of the volcano, nor does she say she will fall in love with a magician she can never have.


What move best describes your life? 

Wow.  I never thought much about my life as a movie, except that it has been very melodramatic with ups and downs and set backs and victories.  I just keep plugging away at my dream and working to have as much of everything that I can.


What inspired your latest book? 

I love archaeology and ancient cultures.  Most anything Bronze Age or earlier in the Middle East.  One of the first books I read was an encyclopedia of Greek Myths.  I love Joseph Campbell’s work and have studied shaman mysticism practices from all around the world.


What is your favorite part of writing?

Mastering a new trick or seeing what I learned in a workshop show up in my writing. It means I am improving my craft.


What is your least favorite part of writing?

Eating the elephant, bite by bite.  But after each session I can see the progress I have made and know that I am doing what I enjoy.  It’s called BICFOK.  Butt in chair, fingers on keys.


What is your next project and when will it be released?

I am writing the next book in this series.  It features Ipoli, an African baka or shamaness, with a grandfather spirit, and several animal spirits who do her bidding, and Thomas, a seventeen year old young man American on vacation with his parents in Turkey. Thomas meets the same goddess Melinda met in the first book. The goddess tells him he is to learn as much as he can so he is ready when the time comes.  When he arrives into the past, he is immediately captured and sold into slavery aboard a ship that plies the wine dark Mediteranean waters.  He meets Ipoli and they fall in love, but events keep them being together.  She is captured by an evil magician and forced to do his bidding and he is trapped on an island, coerced into building a weapons several hundred years before they were invented.  They must come together before the volcano erupts, destroying Crete and killing thousands.


How much time do you spend promoting your books?

I don’t do a lot of promotion, except to put out the next, best book I can. What works best for you?  I don’t know how well it works, but I like guesting on other folks blogs, doing interviews, doing signings.  I enjoy the interaction with the readers, because it gets me out of the office.  Cats are great companions, but not so great on the meaningful conversation end.


How has your experience with self-publishing been?

Self publishing is an interesting business.  All writers must be business people.  Each writer is responsible for his or her own career.  Self publishing is in such flux, it forces me to be flexible and ready to turn on a dime, learn new technologies, and be prepared to commit to the long haul.  I am in the slow building, long tail crowd, and at some point, I will have reached critical mass and reap the benefits of those long hours at the keyboard.


Where do you get the ideas for your stories? 

Everywhere.  Things people say, TED lectures, mythology, archaeology, neuroscience, newspaper articles.  Where don’t I get them?


What advice do you have for other authors wanting to self-publish?

Write a book, make it the best book you can, get a critique group, get a beta reader, pay for professional editing, learn how to upload the book into different distribution points, tweak, tweak, tweak covers, blurbs, tags, and LEARN the BUSINESS by reading about the business, learning basic accounting, join a loop or group that can share their wisdom, and don’t give up.  You will fail if don’t write the book.  It is a numbers game and this is one of the few industries where you get paid to practice.


Do you have critique partners? 

I am blessed to have a fabulous critique group of award winning authors and working writers who are very supportive and candid.


What is your favorite dessert/food? 

How to narrow it down?  I love chocolate.  I love molten lava cakes, I love créme brule.  I love brownies.  But I love good food. I just wish I was a better cook.


How likely are people you meet to end up in your next book?

Sometimes.  I think definitely aspects of lots of people end up in the crucible that characters are formed in.


What is most difficult for you to write?  Characters, conflict or emotions? 

I am such a nice person. I have a hard time being mean to characters.  So the “Get ’em in a corner and thrown rocks at them” is hard.  I struggle with new ways to think about the conflict part of the structure all the time.


Was your road to publication fraught with peril or a walk in the park?

I wrote lots of stories in the 80s and 90s and got tons of rejections.  I had promised myself that when my daughter graduated high school, I would commit to my dream of publication.  That was in 2000.  I sold my first short story in 1999 and started focusing on craft after that. So, no walk in the park, but my belief has always been that if you practice consistently (writing is one of the few jobs you can have where you get paid to practice!), submitted regularly, you will succeed.  And I proved it to myself with that first sale. Then I had to prove I was not a one story pony.  And I did that, too.  I aim for improvement every time I sit down at the keyboard.


Give us an elevator pitch for your book.

Ipoli refuses to marry the man her father promised her to in ancient Africa and sets off to find a new teacher and her fortune in Crete.  Thomas, on vacation in Turkey in the 1980s, meets a goddess who give his life direction.  He just didn’t think it would be in Bronze Age Crete as an oar slave on a merchant ship.  Ipoli and Thomas find they are tied together by a magical cord, the circumstances, and their hearts and they must find out why before the volcano, Thera, blows its top, destroying the Mediteranean and its civilization.


Tell us about your hero.  Give us one of his strengths and one of his weaknesses.

Thomas is a typical teenage gamer nerd.  He has lots of potential, but has no idea what he wants to do.  When he is thrown back into the ancient past, he learns who is he and what he is capable of, physically, mentally, and ethically.


Tell us about your heroine.  Give us one of her strengths and one of her weaknesses.

Ipoli is a baka, a shamaness in training. She comes from a small village in Africa and is innocent of the ways of the larger world.  That innocence brings her down.  Her strength is her believe in herself, her powers, and her ancestors.


What genres are you drawn to as a reader?

Science fiction and fantasy, paranormal.


Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you avoid reading that genre?

I am an incessant reader. Put it in front of me and I will read it.


Has your muse always known what genre you would write and be published in? 

The muse takes great pleasure in pushing me across a wide and varied genre landscape and I am happy to oblige her.


Tell us a little about yourself.

I always wanted to be chosen by the gods, silly me.  It’s just as well that I never have been, although I have had my share of weird events.  I am a factotum to a very eclectic entrepreneur and an award winning event planner.


Do you write under a pen name?   Why or why not?

I write under several pen names for branding purposes.  I want readers to associate that name with a certain type of book.


What are you currently working on?

Heart Path: Choices.  It is the story of a Tarot deck from 17th Century Venice, which will show the path to a woman’s heart’s desire.  The deck has been passed for generations down through a family from woman to woman.  Carrie Alexander’s grandmother gives her the deck to help her decide what she wants. What she knows is that she doesn’t want to work in her father’s new hospital. What she can’t figure out is how she should be using her nursing skills to help the most people.


What do you have planned for the future?

Lots of books.  I have responsbilities to some large events this summer, which will eat up a lot of writing time, but this fall, I will finish Heart Path: Choices, start the third in a time travel romance series by Linn Henderson, and see what happens after that.


How far do you plan ahead?

I have plans for the year, but understand that Murphy may usurp those plans.  My goal is always to roll with the punches and keep the butt in the chair and the fingers on the keys as much as I can.


Do you have any words of inspiration for aspiring authors?

Write, read writing books that work for you, take workshops, find a critique group or partner that pushes you forward, apply what you learn, and practice, practice, practice.  Most people who succeed do because the are relentless.  You just have to keep doing it. Malcolm Gladwell says you reach mastery after 10,000 hours.  It really is a numbers game.  Find the calculation that works for you and then push a little harder.


What did you want to be when you were a child?

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?  I wanted to be a writer always, but at one point I wanted to be the first woman president of the United States.  Now I am much smarter and concentrate on writing.


Do you or have you belonged to a writing organization? Yes.


Which one?

I belong to the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.


Have they helped you with your writing?

Immensely. The Colorado Gold Conference is a treasure chest of classes, networking opportunities, friends, and resources.

Did you have several manuscripts finished before you sold?

Tons of short stories are in the drawer.  But I keep sending them out. Once had been circulating for five years old before it sold.


If so, did you send them out yourself?  Yes, I send them out myself.  I think the “agented submissions only” is a form of gatekeeping.  Editors are not going to throw away good stories. They are in the business of buying good stories.  The worst they will do is send it back — with or without a note.


Why have you become a published author? 

Because I never gave up.


Do you have any rejection stories to share?

This is my favorite and I never understood it until I took a workshop where we had to create an anthology out a couple of stories we had sent in prior to the workshop and work we created while we were there (we wrote A LOT!).  It was so hard to create a book  and stay inside the money, word, and pro/newbie constraints.  This is the rejection I received:  “I loved your story.  I held it out until the very end. Then I bought the other one.”  Until I edited an anthology for myself, I never understood the pain and honor this rejection entailed.  The choices editors make are hard, often heart-wrenching.  I am honored to have caused her so much difficulty in making choices. It means I was really good and the story was rejected not for quality, but theme or length, or goodness of fit.


Will you share some encouraging words for authors still struggling for that first contract?

Never give up. Keep getting better, learn how to get better, get helpful feedback.  Keep the butt in the chair and the fingers on the keys.


What’s next for you?

More of the same.



A bee flew by her face as she left the hall and turned into one of the cult rooms off the main sacral area.  She stepped inside it.  All that remained were the uprights of a doorway at the far end, leading to a sacred storage room, a kind of manifesting space for the divine.  The lights blinked.  Or rather, she must have. Or must be continuing to, since everything seemed to go on and off, like the sun was going on and off and shiny things were glinting and then it would bright daylight again and she was wondering if maybe she ought sit down when everything settled into a nice uniform gray and she was clearly in a great room, but it was much larger than the room she had been in, and there were rugs on the walls and a pleasant smoky odor, myrrh, she thought.

Before she could panic she became aware of a noise.  Shh Clack.  Shh Clack.  She looked down what appeared to be a great room, lit by burning brands.  At the far end, a woman sat at a great loom.

The woman looked up at her intently and Melinda blanched.  Not for the critical eye, no, that had no rancor, only simple appraisal.  It was just that for a moment Melinda could swear she saw stars, no, tiny galaxies pinwheeling in the woman’s eyes.  Then a torch popped and she wasn’t certain of anything.

“No edge, but some depth.  You’ll do.”

“Do for what?”

The woman went on weaving.  Melinda tried to get a hint of the pattern, but it was too large for the eye to capture, and the details, you could get lost in those.

“For a little side piece I’ve been wanting.”

“Blood?  Like my geneaology?  My lineage.  I know it well enough. Pearl?  I know that’s what my aunt Maggie’s name means in Greek.  So does that mean?  You know my aunt?”

The woman looked at her loom significantly.  Melinda looked a bit and looked away, uncomfortable with the pattern or … something.

“What’s a side piece?” she said to fill the space.

“A pocket.  I want a pocket.  And you are going to want to go home.  I’m certain of that.”

“Yes, I am going home.  Not, right away.  I’m taking a side trip first.”

The woman smiled hugely and Melinda had a sinking feeling that there was a very funny joke and she was the butt of it.  “Yes, you are.  But if you do something for me, you’ll be placed exactly where you need to be to get home.”

“Do what for you?”  Who was this woman and how was Melinda here having this conversation with her?

“I want you to get everyone to come together in a safe place, as many as you can.”

“Who, come together where?”

Had she just blinked?  It sure seemed that the light had just done something.  But when she looked all the torches were burning innocently in their brackets.

“You’ll know who when you get there.  They’ll know where to go.  You just tell them to get there and you will be exactly where you are supposed to be.”

“Where’s that and how do I know they’ll do the right thing if I don’t know what they know?”

“That’s okay, they know, so it will all work out.  Remember to unhook your ear and the words will make sense, but, remember there’s plenty more to it than just the words.  That goes for just about anything else too.”

“Like what?”  There was a weird smell in her nose, something spicy but burnt.

“Like living for starters and how you do it.  Makes all the difference and words won’t tell you enough of that.”

“So what do you do?”

Did the woman laugh?  Melinda blinked again, she saw the torch sputter either in slow motion or great clarity.

“The best you can, that’s all you can.  Now get along with you.”

Melinda wrinkled her nose, the myrrh was thick and the bee was back in her face.

She stepped away from the bee, turned to go back the way she’d come, and, when she looked back, the woman shrank, no slid backward, and Melinda was crossing through the doorway again, except that now there was something in the room and the suitcase hit it knocking it over with a crash, and then she realized the room was filled with light and people and they were all looking at her.  The bee buzzed off and she stood the suitcase up and looked around her.

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