ABOUT THE BOOK:
Trouble comes in threes, Grandma CeCe always said…
A baby. Just holding one sets Julia’s heart thumping. She’s wanted a child for so long. When she finally gets pregnant, she’s bursting to tell the world….until a checkup from the doctor confirms a miscarriage.
Julia’s world feels like it’s dissolving. This second tragedy following her father-in-law’s death, shakes her and her husband Greg. To support his mother, they uproot their lives and move to Greg’s childhood home. Under the bright Midwestern sky, Julia can feel a new world and new hope beginning.But trouble comes in threes, and soon a boy shows up at Julia’s new daycare whose blue eyes and freckled face look eerily like Greg’s. Despite her love for her husband, Julia finds her thoughts haunted by the boy’s face, and she can’t shake the feeling that her husband has a secret.
I sift through bubble wrap and tissue paper. I pull out a wooden box the color of chestnuts, two silver pocket watches, and a small painting of flowers and stones.
“Your dad’s?” I say.
Greg nods. “My mom asked if she could send these things. Nothing particularly sentimental, but I thought you’d like to do something with them for the house.”
“So thoughtful,” I say. “And I would love to have your dad’s things here.” There’s also a box within, marked Fragile in curvy handwriting. I open it and pull off more layers of bubble wrap. Inside is a bottle of cranberry wine, made by Greg’s father.
I hold the smooth, clear glass bottle filled with pale, rosy liquid. I touch the edge of the clean, modern label which Dale had designed a few years ago. The logo is a circle of twisted grape vines and leaves surrounding the name of the wine beneath the words Twisted Circle.
Greg’s eyes are sad as he touches one of the watches. He returned home from the funeral with some photos, an old signed football from the Green Bay Packers, Dale’s wedding band, and a few other items. They sit atop his dresser now. He hasn’t wanted to put them anywhere else.
“Hey,” I say. “Should we cancel date night and stay in?”
“We don’t have to.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:Amanda Linsmeier’s work has appeared on Brain, Child Magazine, WOW! Women on Writing, and Portage Magazine. She works part-time at her local library and brings home more books than she has time to read. Amanda lives in the countryside with her husband and children, two dogs, and half-wild cat. Ditch Flowers is her first novel.
Visit Amanda at her Website, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have been writing for a long time, and it’s been a part of my life for many years, but I didn’t realize I wanted to be a “writer” as a profession, until I was 23. I had been working as a waitress and a bank teller and it took a lot of soul-searching before I accepted that I needed to create, and not just as a hobby.
2. How long does it take you to write a book?
Ditch Flowers took several years from idea to publication. It took way longer than it should have, because I took long breaks in between writing. I have a nearly finished middle grade fairytale, which I think took about 6 months. But it’s a lot shorter, so that’s partly why I was able to finish sooner. My next work-in-progress is going much faster than Ditch Flowers, thank goodness. My first draft is complete after just a couple months.
3. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I really don’t have a set schedule for writing. As a busy mom I make time when I can get it, and I take whatever I can get. It might be five minutes, or two hours (rarely). My other job is at a library, and I only work part-time there. I set my own hours, so that’s a big perk. I would love to someday be able to wake up and walk down the hall into my home office and sit down with my coffee and write like it’s a “job”. But, right now, that’s just not possible.
4. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to write with background noise. Writers seem pretty set on yes noise or no noise, and I am in the yes camp. I like low music- I even make soundtracks for my novels- or movies, or coffee shop chatter. When it’s too quiet I overthink.
5. How do books get published?
Ah, with lots of time and attention to detail. Plus plenty of patience and caffeine.
6. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I recently wrote a blog post about this on my website. I’m always amazed how easily some ideas come about. Sometimes I’ve dreamt of ideas, sometimes it is people that inspire me. A lot of times it’s that simple question “what if?” that gets me going. As for information and research, the internet is key for much of that, but I also ask people in the real world questions, or simply crack open a book. I haven’t had to do a ton of research yet, but that time may be coming.
7. When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I believe I was 21. I read a book that I didn’t care for at all. It actually made me angry because I was so let-down. And I decided I would write a book for fun. I certainly wasn’t sure I’d be a writer yet, or planned to do anything with it. But I set out to write it, and I did.
8. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Besides spending time with my family, I enjoy reading favorite novels, watching movies and binge-watching TV series (I’m just getting into Downton Abbey now), baking French pastries, and shopping. I’m the queen of bargains, so thrift shopping is one of my passions.
9. What does your family think of your writing?
They are embarrassingly supportive. It really doesn’t come up all that much, though. In day to day life, I’m working on writing much more than it’s being talked about, if that makes sense. I think some other people in my life, as great as they are, don’t really think of me as a writer yet. I think a lot of writers get that. We don’t necessarily go off to work, or get a paycheck, and all that. It’s not a hobby for me, but I don’t know that everyone understands that.
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I learned a lot about myself. I am finally accepting that I write a certain way, and I have to kind of feel my way around a story before I know what happens. I also learned that you can’t force it. If you’re not feeling it, your writing will be stilted and dull. I don’t mean you have to always be “inspired” but if you don’t have a passion for the story it will show. I don’t waste time now writing things I think I should. I write what I need to write.
11. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have one published novel, Ditch Flowers. I have another novel in the revision stage. It’s a middle grade fairytale retelling, so completely different than Ditch Flowers, which is Women’s Fiction, and I love it in different ways. I am also almost done with the first draft of a third story- a paranormal Women’s Fiction, and I too love that in a different way. I couldn’t choose a favorite. I would say Ditch Flowers was the most difficult to write, though. I think part of that could be because I’ve learned so much since then.
12. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
I always feel kind of silly offering advice. I am still learning so much! I hope I will always continue to grow and get better each time I write something. The best advice I’ve applied to my own writing is the saying, “write the book you want to read” which I’ve mentioned previously a few times, and what I just said here about not forcing something you don’t care about. I stand by that completely. If you have to force yourself to get words down and stop thinking about the story and characters the second you’re done, if you dread getting things down, and just don’t CARE, then stop. Put it away. Write something that makes you feel. Write something that keeps you up at night and occupies your mind at least once in a while when you’re not actually writing it.
13. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Besides friends and family, I’ve gotten a couple messages from readers who I didn’t know. They were really lovely messages about how something I wrote touched them. Made my day to read them, and I always thank the reader for reaching out. I hope I’m never too busy to reply. I write because I have to write for me, but I also am always thinking about who is out there reading, and hoping they feel something for my stories.
14. Do you like to create books for adults?
I do. I also like writing for kids, although my MG fairytale is the only piece I’ve done for younger audiences. I’d like to do more of that. Everything else I write is for adults, so that’s obviously where I’m comfortable.
15. What do you think makes a good story?
First and foremost, I think it is characters. I’ve read novels with amazing plotlines and settings, but if I don’t care about the characters, and not just care, but like, then I quickly lose interest. I’m also a sucker for beautiful writing and description. I don’t mean overly flowery, but something poetic and surprising is a nice bonus.
16. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
My earliest memory of career-dreams was to be a childrens’ book illustrator, because I used to love drawing. Then I wanted to be a professional ballerina. I was a dancer for many years, but alas, never fulfilled that dream.
17. What Would you like my readers to know? That I’m glad I got to answer these questions- it was fun! Thanks for having me.