The Second Half – an Interview with Linda Lange
by MAJK INK
INTERVIEW FOR MAJK INK
Linda Lange—Incomplete Passes: Reflections on Life, Love, and Football
Welcome back Readers, Friends, and Packers Fans. Today we will be continuing our interview with the talented and straight forward Linda Lange, author of Incomplete Passes: Reflections on Life, Love, and Football. Aside from being an accomplished author, Linda is also a hero to a number of homeless animals, something we will chat a bit about in today’s interview. But let’s start at the beginning.
I understand at one time you intended to be a journalist, now you’re a novelist. Do you ever wonder how that happened?
Well, so far I’m a memoirist … I guess that falls somewhere in the middle. I do have an idea for a novel that I hope to start writing next year. The thing that killed my career in journalism was a telephone phobia. I don’t mind talking on the phone if someone calls me, but I absolutely hate to make phone calls. It started when I was in my early teens. I used to call a friend who sounded a lot like her mother. Sometimes her mom would answer the phone, and we’d chat a while before I realized I was talking to Jean and not Jarrie. I developed a fear of talking to people I couldn’t see. It wasn’t a problem when I was writing for the high school newspaper, because all of my news sources were contained within that building; I’d just go down the hall and talk to them. But when I got to college (I took a couple of courses in Northwestern’s prestigious Medill School of Journalism), I realized how much time a reporter spends on the phone and started looking for another line of work.
I know more than a few people who’d love a job that puts them on the phone all day. Me, on the other hand, I prefer to avoid my phone as much as possible so I have to agree with that move.
With your journalistic training, and experience as a copywriter; was it hard writing in a way that coveys emotion, and energy?
I actually surprised myself, not so much with Incomplete Passes, but earlier with the play Third and Long. I wasn’t sure I could stretch. But some of the stuff that kept coming into my head was over the top. I felt so much angst about getting older that I was venting in colorful terms. The journalistic training came in handy, though, in writing Incomplete Passes. Since I was
writing about real people, I had to consult an attorney. She made me apprehensive about the potential consequences if someone objected to something I wrote. I had to be careful to phrase things the right way, to make it clear what was fact and what was opinion.
That right there has to be one of the most common reasons writers choose fiction over non-fiction. I have to admit I admire anyone willing to take that risk.
This was your first novel, so were you nervous about how it would be received?
Still am, every time I face a new reader. I’m always relieved when they report that they enjoyed it, got their money’s worth. I didn’t know what to expect as far as book sales. I thought it would be easier than it actually is, that I’d just get the thing on the Internet and the sales would come.
I understand. I think that’s one notion every author in this era of Internet books sales shares at one time or another. I have to say though the book seems to work really well with its audience.
Was the decision to self-publish difficult?
At first I had no intention of self-publishing. I submitted queries to a number of small publishers, and there was some interest. But the pattern would be that I’d send the manuscript and they’d keep it for months. The first two ultimately declined to publish it. In the meantime, I was afraid to work on it because I didn’t know what direction they’d want to go if they took it. At that rate everyone in the book was going to be dead before it came out. While I was waiting to hear from the publishers, I found out about companies that help people through the self-publishing process (for a fee, of course). I checked out several and chose iUniverse.
Every self-published writer I talk to bemoans the work that goes in to marketing. Is there a part of the marketing that you find enjoyable? What part do you find the most difficult?
I had read that marketing a book was harder than writing one, and it’s true. Most of my spare time is spent in front of the computer trying to connect with readers and reviewers, and there are so many sites and options that I haven’t tried yet. You know the famous Tenniel illustration for Alice in Wonderland, where tiny Alice is swimming in the pool of tears? That’s how I picture myself in regard to social media. But I enjoy communicating people via the Internet, whether it’s Facebook, LinkedIn, Triberr, or Twitter. I’ve made a number of new friends that way. Most difficult for me, of course, is using the telephone. I probably have missed out on some opportunities because I sent an e-mail or letter and didn’t follow up by phone.
Possibly but I’d bet it’s less than you think. More and more people seem to lean toward email because of it allows us to read and respond at our convenience.
Congratulations on Incomplete Passes being named a Finalist in the Memoirs category of the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. How did you handle it when the winner was announced? The whole thing took me by surprise. I had entered the contest in February, and I knew the winners would be announced at the end of May. I had a grueling day on May 9. My cat, Millard (he’s the one in my author picture) had a cancerous tumor on his leg, and that was the day we had to amputate the leg. I also had a long day scheduled at the animal shelter where I volunteer. I went in very early and did some of the meds—it’s a no-kill shelter, and my job is to medicate the sick cats. I went home and took Millard over to the vet’s at 7:30, and then I returned to the shelter and was busy until evening. When I finally got home I checked e-mail and there was the message from Next Generation saying that I was a finalist. I was too emotionally drained to think anything but, “Oh, that’s nice.” The announcement of the winner was part of the same e-mail, so there was no suspense. There were two winners in my category (Memoirs—Other). One was from a university press, and the other was about travel and adventure in Africa, quite a dramatic subject, so I thought I had done well to rank as high as I did with my self-published book about girls in Wisconsin.
I’d have to agree with that. Quite a good job for a first novel from a new author.
In our discussions you mentioned that you volunteer at an animal shelter and have an idea for a novel set in an animal shelter. Can we squeeze some information out of you on what you envision for that book?
I see it as a sort of mosaic of events and experiences, following a year in the lives of people who work in an animal shelter. I don’t want to do a collection of tear-jerker stories about rescued animals—that has already been done. I want to focus on the people as well as the animals. Many of our volunteers are there because they get along a lot better with cats or dogs than they do with humans, so our encounters sometimes resemble soap opera. So I hope to tell a dramatic story about people, but comment on the homeless-animal problem at the same time. With luck, I can educate as well as entertain. I can see skipping from one story to another—maybe one person’s story is told through their journal, another one through straight narrative, another one mostly through e-mails. The calendar—“kitten season” for example—will be the organizing factor that holds them together. I plan to start writing in January.
This sounds like it’s going to offer a nice variety of perspective. I’ll be looking forward to it.
Most people don’t really understand the actual size and scope of the homeless-animal problem. They think they’ll drop off their unwanted dog or cat and the little guy will have a great new home in a week. Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers about this?
For years I took the messages off the shelter voice mail and routed them to the volunteers who handled placements, adoptions, etc. So often I would hear, “I don’t want to take him to a ‘kill shelter.’” And then the callers are surprised when none of the no-kill shelters have room for their animal. It’s just common sense. We take in an animal. If he doesn’t get adopted, and he doesn’t get sick and die, he stays at the shelter, maybe for years. He doesn’t leave us and open up a place for another animal. And it’s not that easy to get him adopted. Think about it—why are the so-called “kill shelters” euthanizing so many animals? Because there are far more animals than anyone wants. People should be spaying and neutering their pets instead of allowing them to breed. And people seem so anxious to hand their unwanted animals over to the shelter—to let it be our problem instead of theirs—when many of them could be making modifications that would allow them to keep their pets. Often I would hear, “Our lifestyle has changed and we don’t have as much time for him as we used to.” Sending him to a shelter that has hundreds of animals in residence is going to get him MORE attention? There’s no guarantee that he’s going to move on into a better home.
That’s definitely a problem where I live. In a college town kids think it’s great to get a dog or cat but in a year when they change apartments or worse when they graduate the dog or cat comes right back to the shelter.
The animals that make it back to the shelter are the lucky ones. Too many kids just put them out and leave them. Sometimes we get them later, and they’re not in good shape.
It’s sad but true. Awareness is the best tool. When we adopted each of our rescues we reminded our children that getting a pet is like adopting a baby, you are now responsible for a little life. Even if, as is the case in our house that little life grown to be the size of a small pony.
Getting back to your writing before we close, do you plan to continue writing novels past your second book?
I intend to keep writing, but it took me four years to write my first book, and I’m 65 years old now, so we’ll have to see.
We’ll hope you have many, many years that you can keep writing happily.
Now we discussed this yesterday but I want to go over it once more today before we close the interview. Where can a reader buy your book?
Incomplete Passes is available on Amazon.com, bn.com (Barnes & Noble), Indie Bound, and other on-line retailers. It also can be ordered through my website, www.incompletepasses.com. Autographed copies can be purchased through AuthorsDen.com. Or a reader can ask his or her local bookstore to order it, if they don’t already have it in stock.
Last but certainly not least what social media networks do you use that readers and Packers fans can get in touch with you?
I’m on Twitter and Facebook:
I also have a blog at http://lindalange.authorsxpress.com. I try to blog weekly, and some of my posts expand on the story of Incomplete Passes.
Thanks for having me, and I would love to hear from your readers.
Thank you for joining us again today here at MAJK INK. We wish you much success and look forward to chatting with you again very soon.
Linda Lange grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the Sixties when Vince Lombardi coached the Packers. She recalls those times in the pages of her memoir, “Incomplete Passes: Reflections on Life, love, and Football.” Linda has worked in broadcast stations and as a promotional copywriter for U.S. News & World Report magazine. Her first book, “Incomplete Passes,” was named a finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Linda now lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband, Scott, and their two cats. They have a son who is not named after “Mr. Anonymous” in “Incomplete Passes.”