WOW: Welcome, Elizabeth! I've missed you since we originally met with your tour for your novel, The Fourth Wall. We are thankful to have you back. How was The House on Linden Way born?
Elizabeth: I’ve missed you too, Crystal! I am so happy to be back with Women on Writing for The House on Linden Way blog tour.
Here’s the story of Linden Way: In the summer of 2017 I was stuck for hours at a Toyota dealership waiting for a car repair, and I began scribbling ideas for a short story. My debut novel had been published three years before, my last one had been written two years before, and I kept trying, and failing, to write another. I’d decided to focus on short stories. That was fine; I liked writing short stories, and anyway I had a great idea for one. It was about a woman who revisits her childhood home and loses her young daughter inside. She tries to look for her but keeps getting pulled into memories. It would be like a haunted house story, but infused with elements of nostalgia and melancholy instead of straight-up horror.
Long story short (heh), the story became a book. Not only that, it became the book of my heart. I pursued traditional publishing for a while, but Linden Way was too short, it wasn’t in first person, no one knew how to sell it, and on and on. I eventually decided to publish it myself, and here we are!
WOW: What an inspiring journey, and I just love it when a short story begs to become a book! Your book's premise is fascinating and I honestly had so many emotions while reading it - I felt like I was experiencing these events! (you are SO talented) - Are there bits of personal truth written into The House on Linden Way? Where did your characters come from and how did you develop them so incredibly intimately?
Elizabeth: There are bits of personal truths written into most of my fiction. What’s true in Linden Way is my enduring enchantment with my childhood home, which really is on a street called Linden Way in my hometown of Cheyenne, Wyoming. The house retains a mystical quality to me because when I was thirteen I had to leave it, something I have no memory of. When I was twenty I left Cheyenne altogether, and I’ve only returned once, when my daughter was three years old. Like the first chapter in the book, I visited my childhood home and asked the owners to take a picture of my daughter and I in front of the house. Unlike the book, I did not go inside. Everything from there on is fiction.
The character of Joey is based on my brother. We were very close growing up. He really did, as a teenager, have black curly hair and an electric guitar. I think Joey’s a more accomplished player than my brother ever was though, haha.
I wanted to write a story about nostalgia that focused on the strongest bonds I’ve known—the bond between mother and child, and the bond between brother and sister. I developed Amber by giving her strong relationships and forcing her to face loss and difficult choices.
WOW: That photo scene is so vivid, and the familial bonds are compelling! Your book is a page turner. Now that you've let us in on some of your secrets, what is your writing routine and how does journaling plays a part in it?
Elizabeth: My writing routine changes year to year. While writing Linden Way five years ago, I wrote in fits and starts, bursts of creativity followed by fallow periods that could last for months. I don’t recommend this. I had too much time on my hands back then; my children were both in school and I worked very little, mostly on weekends, so that I could always be there to take them to school, pick them up, and be present on their vacations and holidays. Having entire days at home in which to write made writing harder.
In 2019 I began working part-time during the weekdays, which left me a specific ninety-minute period in the morning for writing, and that’s when I began writing daily. In one year, I drafted three books. Now I work full-time as a classroom teacher, and I have even less time to write, but I’ve come to realize that five hours a week is all I need for drafting.
As for journaling, I got in the habit of journaling through every project when writing my book of short stories, What Was Never There, in 2015. It started as just a quick summary in the email I would send to myself with the day’s work attached. Now I work either longhand or in Google Docs and don’t need to email myself copies, but I always have a separate doc of the journal for that project. The journaling takes mere minutes and is so helpful because I’m able to look back at what I accomplished on any given day and what I struggled with. What’s really fun is looking back after a year or several and having the entire journey of that project preserved.
I really got this idea from reading John Steinbeck’s journal of writing The Grapes of Wrath
. It’s incredible. He journaled every day he wrote and we now have a historical account of his process writing this great American classic. He struggled mightily with imposter’s syndrome, he had days of elation and total despair, and it’s just so relatable and inspiring. It’s also a good reminder that while writing can feel magical, it is not magic—it is simply consistent, hard work.
WOW: That's so interesting that the less time you had to write, the more productive you became! I believe this is true for many writers. I'm going to check out Steinbeck's method, and you're so right about it being consistent, hard work. What about your writing space? What is absolutely necessary to inspire you?
Elizabeth: I’ve learned to write pretty much anywhere. Right now, I’m sitting in my car writing on a lap desk in the parking lot of my local library. The sky is stormy and gray; it’s seven in the morning on a Saturday, and I’m stealing this hour of time before anyone realizes they need me. By then I’ll be walking back through the front door, probably with donuts.
My preferred writing spot is in a coffee shop, where I draft by hand. All I need is a notebook and a pencil and some earbuds. When the world shut down in the spring of 2020 and I no longer had my coffee shop, I got used to writing at home again. I hung a sign on my bedroom door that said I was working from 8:15-9:45, the same time I would write at the coffee shop. Later that summer, I switched to my daughter’s room in the early mornings, where the house was quietest. I spread out a quilt on her floor, brought my pencil and notebook, and wrote bleary-eyed the first draft of my middle grade book, Halloween Eternal.
Now that I’m working full-time, I write in my car after dropping my son off at school and before going into work. I have about 45 minutes a few days a week, and then on weekends an hour or two. The key for me is not where I write but when, and using time blocks to maintain focus. I need a start time and, more importantly, an end time. Within that narrow structure I can always produce a few pages, and there’s a sense of urgency that was missing when I had all the time in the world.
WOW: I love that you can write anywhere and admire your dedication, Elizabeth! (I've been known to come up with fantastic ideas while waiting to pick up children from sporting events - so this speaks to me!) Who has been most influential in your writing career and what have you done to thank them?
Elizabeth: The person who has been a constant source of encouragement and inspiration to me is my friend Carrie Ann Lahain. We met in an online marketing class called Launch Your Email Newsletter back in 2014 when we were both promoting our debut novels. I read her book, she read mine, we admired each other’s work and became critique partners. Carrie inspires me not only because she’s an amazingly gifted writer, but because she is strong, brave, and consistent. She’s self-published all of her books and confidently writes across genres—historical fiction, horror, mystery, contemporary romance, fantasy, you name it.
About three years ago, Carrie and I started a weekly email exchange we call our accountability emails. Every Friday we send each other a quick summary of what we did (or didn’t do!) that week, and it keeps me on my toes. She was the first person to read Linden Way, and she’s read every draft for the last five years, so you can see how much I owe her! I thank her by letting her know time and again how much I appreciate her, and also that I’m her biggest fan.
WOW: Having an accountability partner and reader is so important, and I bet she's just as thankful for you, too. So tell us, what's next for you?
So I started writing a YA cozy mystery series three years ago, and I’m currently drafting the third book. I plan to write five in the series and begin publishing it next summer. The first book, Murder by Milkshake
, is available on Kindle Vella, Amazon’s serialized fiction platform, and has done pretty well on there. I have a post about that coming up! But it’s not the same as having a print and ebook available, and I’m looking forward to self-publishing those starting next July. I already have the cover for the first book, and it’s so gorgeous it’s hard not to share it right now!
I also have a middle grade horror and another novella, written in the same literary style as Linden Way, that need editing. My book of short stories, What Was Never There, is something I plan to self-publish soon as well. Finally, I hope to refocus soon on my shorter fiction and creative nonfiction and continue publishing those in literary magazines.
WOW: Wow, that's so exciting, Elizabeth! It sounds like serializing your work and self-publishing is really working out for you. I'm going to sneak in one last question. What's your advice when it comes to self-publishing vs traditional publishing now that you've experienced both?
Elizabeth: I’ve had great experiences with both! I personally prefer self-publishing though.
Self-publishing suits me because it takes away the feeling that my book has to sell a certain number of copies to justify the investment an agent and/or publisher put into it. I have ridiculously high standards for myself, which bodes well for my creative work but not so well when it comes to something as ambiguous and out of my control as book sales. I’d always feel like a failure; I’d always worry I was disappointing someone. I’d rather bear the costs of publishing and not have that pressure. The joy for me is in creating, not selling.
I’m not sure this works well as advice, because it really depends on why someone writes. As a creative pursuit? Or to sell books? Or to see your book on a bookshelf at Barnes & Noble? My advice is to ask yourself why you write, and then find the publishing path that best suits your needs. If your path is traditional publishing, know it’s a long hard road, but there’s a wonderfully supportive writing community out there, and dreams do come true.
WOW: Excellent advice! Thanks so much, Elizabeth, for taking time to chat with us today and for your generous answers. I can't wait to check out all your stops, and wish you the best of luck on your tour!
-- Blog Tour Calendar
September 19th @ The Muffin
Join us as we celebrate the launch of The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. Crystal interviews the author about her book and also gives away a copy to one lucky reader.
September 22nd @ Deborah Adams
Today, The House on Linden Way is in the spotlight at Deborah Adams blog with a guest post written by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo titled: "Exploring our Deepest Fears Through Speculative Fiction."
September 23rd @ The Faerie Review
In today's spotlight at The Faerie Review is Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's latest book The House on Linden Way. Readers will be thrilled to learn more about this fabulous read!
September 26 @ What is That Book About
Elizabeth Maria Naranjo is in the spotlight at What is That Book About as readers learn more about Naranjo's thriller: The House on Linden Way! Don't miss this blog stop on Naranjo's WOW! Women on Writing book blog tour!
September 27th @ Writer, Writer, Pants on Fire with Mindy McGinnis
Elizabeth Maria Naranjo pens today's guest post at Mindy's blog. Learn more about Naranjo's latest book The House on Linden Way as well as today's topic: "Traditional vs Self Publishing and My Experience with Both" as Naranjo offers some insight into her stories!
September 30th @ The Faerie Review
Hear some of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's favorite October stories as she pens today's guest post at The Faerie Review. This is also your chance to learn more about her latest thriller: The House on Linden Way. Don't miss this opportunity!
October 1st @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion
Linda at Boots, Shoes and Fashion shares her thoughts after reading Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's latest book called The House on Linden Way. This is a thrilling read and we can't wait to hear what Linda thinks!
October 2nd @ Word Magic with Fiona Ingram
Fiona from Word Magic is hosting Elizabeth Maria Naranjo today. This is a great opportunity for readers to learn about Naranjo's latest book: The House on Linden Way as well as read her guest post titled: "The Lingering Ghosts of Our Childhood Homes." Readers will be thrilled to hear from Naranjo!
October 3rd @ One Writer's Journey
Sue Bradford Edwards offers her review of The House on Linden Way by fellow author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. Find out what Sue thinks and learn more about this thriller!
October 3rd @ World of My Imagination
Nicole Pyles of WOW! Women on Writing offers a thoughtful review of The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo - readers won't want to miss the opportunity to learn more about this thrilling book and it's talented author!
October 8th @ Boots, Shoes and Fashion
Linda interviews Elizabeth Maria Naranjo about her latest thriller, The House on Linden Way! This book blog tour is one readers won't want to miss - it's THRILLING!
October 10th @ Girl Zombie Authors
Chris at Girl Zombie Authors shares her review of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's The House on Linden Way
- will it be too thrilling for this fellow author? Find out TODAY and be thrilled! https://girlzombieauthors.blogspot.com/
October 10th @ Choices with Madeline Sharples
Today's post is titled: "Tips For Getting Unstuck While Writing Your Novel" and it's penned by none other than Elizabeth Maria Naranjo as she just released her latest thriller The House on Linden Way. Find out more today!
October 11th @ Author Anthony Avina
Author Anthony Avina puts fellow author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo in the spotlight today as readers learn more about The House on Linden Way - this is a book blog tour stop that will thrill and delight!
October 13th @ Knotty Needle Creative
Judy reviews The House on Linden Way for readers at Knotty Needle Creative. Find out more about this thriller and it's talented author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo!
October 16th @ Literary Quicksand
Jessica from Literary Quicksand reviews The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo - what will she think? Will fellow author Elizabeth be able to thrill Jessica? Stop by today to find out!
October 18th @ Author Anthony Avina
Author Anthony Avina reviews the work of fellow author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo and offers his thoughts about The House on Linden Way!
October 20th @ Reading is My Remedy
Chelsea from Reading is My Remedy offers her review of Elizabeth Maria Naranjo's The House on Linden Way for readers of her blog. This is a thriller and we can't wait to find out Chelsea's take on it!
October 23rd @ Literary Quicksand
Jessica from Literary Quicksand interviews Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. Learn more about this talented author and her latest thriller, The House on Linden Way!
October 25th @ Author Anthony Avina
Author Elizabeth Maria Naranjo pens today's guest post at fellow author Anthony Avina's blog with the title: "The Art of Brevity; Writing a Novella." Hear from Elizabeth and find out more about her latest thriller, The House on Linden Way.
October 27th @ The Frugalista Mom
The Frugalista Mom offers her review of The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo. Find out more and stop by today!
October 30th @ Wildwood Reads
Megan from Wildwood Reads offers her review of the thriller, The House on Linden Way by Elizabeth Maria Naranjo! Stop by and get in the mood for tomorrow!