Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My interview with WOW - Women on Writing 8/25/15


Meet Flash Fiction Runner Up, Linda McMann

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, Jude Deveraux.)

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!

Counterfeit Chemistry
By Linda McMann

Beverly 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.
She 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.
Sitting 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.
After 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.
Beverly 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.
The 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.
Sarah, 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.
When 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 drain.
Everything 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 him.  



  1. Congratulations, Linda!!! I loved reading your interview. You sound like an established author already. Keep living your dreams. It's obvious that you sure know how to do just that.

    Best wishes,

  2. Linda - I used to maintain a blog called 'youhavetobesomewhere' and I followed your blog - don't know if you remember me but I believe we have the same birthday and I think about you on October 4th. :) I just popped back in to check on you and Cheryl. I'm so happy to see you're writing still and growing with it as well!! I'm inspired to get back to writing and blogging. i'll stop back by to check on you all soon! Congratulations on your interview! I'll 'see' you soon. ~~Jana

    1. Hi Jana - Yes I remember you and wondered what you were up to now. Please stay in touch! I'd forgotten we have the same birthdays!