Today I’d like to welcome Lesli Muir Lytle to Mysteries and Margaritas. Lesli can be found at Writers Block Buster Blog.
Mary: Before we start on all the writing/author stuff, please tell us a little about you as a person.
Lesli: I was an award-winning floral designer for over 20 years. I used to own a shop in Syracuse, Utah, called The Scottish Rose Floral and Home. It was decorated like a Scottish castle and was a ball to run. People sometimes called and asked to speak to the Scottish woman and I’d slip into my best version of Mrs. Doubtfire. I retired from flowers to write.
Mary: Oh that sounds like so much fun! Now tells us about your family? Do they support you as an author?
Lesli: My family is a big support, mostly supporting me as an author is the easiest support I’ve ever asked for—they don’t have to deliver anything! They’re about as anxious to see my books between covers as I am.
Mary: You have a wonderful family! Now tell us a bit about your journey, and what led you along your path to become a writer.
Lesli: I was a published poet at 11 years old when the school librarian called the Spokane newspaper and told them they had to publish my poem. Her name was Miss Doty. After that, career planning was easy. I was always going to be a writer. I wrote a fantasy while raising my five children and studied screenwriting for four years. Then in July of ’05 I found Diane Gabaldon and saw Phantom for the first time. I closed my shop doors in September, wrote my first Scottish Romance in December, and joined the RWA in January. I’ve been painfully happy ever since.
Mary: I understand you have just signed with an agent, how did that happen?
Lesli: Cori Deyoe of 3 Seas Literary, who remembered me fondly from our local conference and had always gotten my sense of humor, read two of my projects and made THE CALL. She still had the first submission when I queried her with the second, which I wouldn’t have done if we hadn’t already had a comfortable relationship. Since our conference, 18 months before, I’d never taken her off my wish list.
Mary: And more good news, you were offered a contract, share please?
Lesli: A local traditional publisher, Valor Publishing Group, has informed me they have all fallen in love with my time travel romance, GOING BACK FOR ROMEO, and would like to publish it. I also have a YA Angel/Amish romance headed out on submission with Cori, and a traditional Scottish Historical series getting all dressed up for the ball.
Mary: Lesli is a member of Utah RWA, in fact she is 2010 Conference Coordinator. And you were also the 2008 coordinator and 2008 URWA President, tell us how has this brought you opportunities?
Lesli: Because I was the chapter president and conference coordinator for Park City in ‘08 I took advantage of my position by bringing in the perfect agent and editor for me. The editor didn’t work out, but the agent did.
As part of the querying hoard, it’s really hard to get noticed, even with a killer idea and a descent query letter. Even the National RWA suggests that if you want quality interaction with an agent, the small conferences are your best bet. I’m just another bit of proof for that argument.
My advice is to volunteer your time and make the absolute most of it. Introducing myself as the President of the RWA, then whispering the “local chapter” part, got me some eye contact.
Mary: I can attest to the small conference as your best bet. That is how I found and connected with Christine Witthohn. Finally, you are one busy woman, how in the heck do you juggle it all?
Lesli: Mostly, I lean on the ‘I’m not completely stable, so do you really want to mess with me?’ excuse. I howl at the full moon and roll my eyes if I need some concentrated time on a script. I’m lucky. I have a room for an office, my youngest is 17, and my husband doesn’t mind playing Mr. Mom if there is a chance in a million he could retire a few years early. (I didn’t tell him that one in a million is being optimistic. I just planned to string him along until he’s 64, then break it to him gently.)
Mary: What is one piece of advice you’d like to give to newbies? Something you wish someone had told you when you first started writing?
Lesli: 2 things:
#1) Don’t get too attached to that brilliant first book. Write the second as soon as you can, and another one every time you learn something.
#2) Elbow your way to the front as graciously as you can. We have to fight to get in the door, and when you find an agent, you don’t have to fight alone. If I hadn’t landed Cori, my next step would have been to hog-tie someone and read to them. I may have ended up in a jail in Florida!
Thank you for joining us today Lesli, it’s been a fun interview.
Thanks Mary! It was my first!