Linda McMann is a 60-something retired pharmacist who spent most
of her working life in pharmacy management at a large Portland hospital
where she wrote many newsletters, evaluations, and memos. Her move to
creative writing started with a retirement goal of writing a short story
for each of her eight grandchildren. After multiple on-line writing
courses, conferences, and seminars, she now posts short stories, poems,
bits about daily living in Warren, Oregon, and chapters from her current
work in progress on her writing blog http://Parrot-Writes.blogspot.com. Please stop by for a visit and leave a comment.
She is currently marketing her second novel, Counterfeit Chemistry,
a contemporary romantic suspense story about a young divorced woman who
uncovers a counterfeit drug operation in her small town, and when she
tries to identify and expose the people involved, finds her life and her
son’s life in danger. Her WOW entry winner is the prologue to this
novel. She is three-quarters of the way through its sequel, When We’re High, about a family dealing with meth addiction and its connection to identity theft.
When she’s not writing she can be found working with her husband in
their small vineyard, taking care of the gardens around their two-acre
lot, traveling to Northwest car shows in her husband’s latest hot rod
project, or enjoying the company of her eight grandchildren.
She thanks the organizers of the WOW contest and agent Stacy Testa for choosing her story as an award winner this quarter.
WOW: Congratulations on placing in the top ten in our Winter 2015 Flash Fiction competition! What inspired you to enter the contest?
Linda: I was introduced to
the WOW blog and writing contests by another writer friend and have been
a devoted follower ever since. I've submitted multiple contest entries
over the past several years and I appreciate getting helpful feedback
for a few dollars more. My entry for the Fall 2013 contest ("Hank's
Reveal") made it to the honorable mention list, so I've kept submitting
stories. I'm excited to have placed in the top ten this time. Next goal:
in the top three!
WOW: Keep submitting! Can you tell us what encouraged the idea behind your story, “Counterfeit Chemistry,” which is also the prologue to your novel?
Linda: I combined two pieces
of advice I've received about writing in this novel: write what you
know and write what you like to read. I'm a retired pharmacist who
enjoys reading romantic suspense novels (Nora Roberts, Linda Howard,
I'm concerned about the rise of counterfeit drugs being sold to the
public. I was inspired to write this novel to show the dangers of
purchasing drugs off unknown internet sites. The counterfeit drug
industry is a $40 Billion international criminal enterprise and growing.
I've found no other novel with this story line and am hoping the people
who read this novel will wonder if this could happen to them and be
more diligent about their medication purchases.
WOW: We’d love to know
more about your writing routines. Could you tell us when and where you
usually write? Do you have favorite tools or habits that get you going?
Linda: I share a home office
with my husband and find mornings are my best time to write. I'm also
learning to use Scrivener (writing software for novelists) which seems
to help me stay organized. I enjoy participating in NaNoWriMo; it's the
perfect motivator to get me back in the seat, writing daily, after a
busy summertime of off-and-on writing. The goal of 50,000 words in a
month requires me to set daily goals and this carries on after the month
is over. I've started three novels and finished/revised two of them
during NaNo, and will be at it again this November finishing the last
quarter of my third novel.
WOW: You mention that
you’ve taken multiple online courses as part of your writing education.
What were the main benefits of the classes you took, and how did they
help your writing?
Linda: I've taken nine
online writing courses through our local community college. The content
of the courses has been extremely helpful and the relationships built
through the classes have provided a great network of like-minded writing
friends who help with critique and commiseration. The first class,
"Beginning Writers Workshop" was a perfect starting point and instilled
the enthusiasm and excitement I still feel as I write today. Other
courses have been specific to romance writing, mystery writing,
children's writing, and descriptive writing, editing, and publishing.
Another person who has been extremely valuable to me is Larry Brooks, author of Story Engineering, Story Physics, and www.storyfix.com.
I've attended several of his workshops and follow his principles of
story structure, which help with the evolution of the story. He's shown
me how to identify the concept, theme, premise and to find the core
story which guides me as I write.
WOW: You've inspired us
to keep up our writing education! Thanks so much for chatting with us
today, Linda! Before you go, can you share your favorite writing tip or
advice with our readers?
Linda: When I sit down to
write, I read the last two chapters to get me back into the time and
place of the story (and I try not to revise them.) If I'm having trouble
with dialogue, I read it out loud. It's amazing what you can pick up by
hearing it spoken. Probably the best advice is to find a teacher that
resonates with you (via books or lectures), read and learn as much as
you can from them, and then sit down and do it: write, write, write!
By Linda McMann
clenched her teeth to keep from crying out and waking James, but a moan escaped
her lips nonetheless. The pain was especially intense after her Epogen
injection yesterday. Leg cramps and nausea wracked her body. The doctor said
she needed the Epogen in addition to her chemotherapy, yet he brushed aside her
complaints of pain.
rolled over quietly and reached into the top drawer of the bedside table,
fingers searching for the smooth, round bottle promising relief. She clenched
the container and opened it slowly to diminish the rattle of the pills.
up carefully, she released the lid and eased two oblong tablets from the vial
into her hand. Popping them into her mouth, she grasped the glass at the back
of the table and washed the pills down with cool water.
recapping the bottle, the anxiety set in. James would be furious if he found
out she’d been buying these pills off the Internet from an unknown supplier. He
owned Martin’s Pharmacy and did everything by the book. But since her doctor
wouldn’t authorize enough Vicodin refills, she had no choice.
glanced over at James’ sleeping form and quietly returned the bottle to the
back of the drawer. She dreaded the trips to the clinic for the weekly
injections she received to boost her red blood cells and combat fatigue—the leg
cramps and the nausea laid her low for the next three days. Nothing helped. Her
legs felt like lead weights and each movement sent shooting pain to her back
and waves of nausea to her gut. At least she was saving money by purchasing the
drug through Martin’s Pharmacy, and taking it to her appointments.
iridescent numbers on the bedside clock glowed mockingly in the dark. In a few
hours she would drag herself out of bed, put on a smile, and try to be there
for her staff and customers.
her lead chef, suggested she call her daughter to come home and help with the
restaurant. But Beverly wouldn’t bother Jessie, who had enough to deal with on
her own. She’d handle it and try to maintain the façade of the strong capable
woman she’d always been.
the alarm brought her out of an uneasy sleep, Beverly stumbled into the
bathroom and turned on the shower. Letting the warm water wash over her, she
leaned a shoulder against the shower wall, struggling not to let her
frustration bring her to tears. But her resolve crumbled, and she hiccupped
back a sob as she watched the tears fuse with the water and flow down the
she did now took twice as long. She didn’t even have time to read the newspaper
that morning as she rushed to her car, bleary-eyed and already half-an-hour
late. If she had, she might have seen the story buried on page eight about a
young man from New York who experienced intense pain and seizures from his
weekly Epogen injections. The drug was found to be counterfeit and it nearly killed
The Annual Beach Trip week included the fourth of July this year. We enjoyed copious displays of fireworks in all sizes, shapes and noise levels. The enjoyment was dulled, however, when we saw the obscene amount of spent fireworks left on the beach the next morning. We also saw a large number of people with the same characteristics who left just as much garbage behind. The city of Long Beach, Washington has the right idea. They declare the day after the fourth as Beach Clean Up Day and all visitors are asked to help.
We lucked out on the weather for our week! All three families were able to escape the 90 to100 degree temps at home for high 60's to low 70's at the coast. Morning clouds gave way to sun throughout the week with some days windier than others.
Mornings started with our traditional 6:30AM walk to the coffee shop. We were joined every morning by most of the kids. They enjoyed hot chocolate, cookies, and the morning walk home on the beach. We watched the dory boats (and a kayak) take off and return, walked out to observe the tide pools (it was always low tide), climbed on the rocks, and collected shells. Bob the Bubble Man was a big hit!
Beach time included the sand dune hill climb, playing in the water, digging in the sand, making sand castles, flying kites, tossing the ring for the dogs, and enjoying the day.
Relaxing time for the adults - kicking back, chillin', and catching up.
A birthday party for four of the kids plus night time campfires with s'mores added more sugar to the super-charged bunch!
Sunsets were gorgeous!
A great time - we're already planning for next year!