Leslie Lynch, Golden Heart finalist!

Lynch30We’re going to wrap up our interviews of Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® Contemporary Single Title 2013 finalists with Leslie Lynch, author of Hijacked. This is the premier contest (worldwide) for unpublished manuscripts in the romance genre.

Tell us about your manuscript, Hijacked, that just finalled in RWA’s Golden Heart contest!

Pilot Lannis Parker’s carefully constructed, sterile life is upended when her small plane is hijacked before dawn on a wintry Louisville morning. Her captor does more than force her to fly him to the Appalachian wilderness, though. He resurrects memories she’s tried to bury, memories of a brutal attack she’d survived four years earlier, an attack she didn’t report and tries to pretend didn’t happen. During a week in the wilderness, she learns her hijacker is fair and honorable, compassionate and insightful—strange attributes for a criminal. And when he discovers her secret, he vows to be the friend she desperately needs but refuses to accept.

Undercover DEA agent Ben Martin is determined to offer restitution for the harm he caused his unwilling pilot in his last-ditch bid for survival, for the wounds he inadvertently ripped open. In spite of her prickly defenses, or maybe because of them, she captures his heart, even as he witnesses her misguided efforts to cope with the aftermath of a rape years ago. He must walk a tightrope of trusting Lannis to navigate her own path to healing while holding her accountable for her occasional less-than-stellar choices that run uncomfortably counter to his life’s work.

Will she come to terms with her past?  And will he be part of her future?

Tell us how you feel about the Golden Heart experience!

Still smiling, three months after the phone call! Excited, and a little nervous as Atlanta will be a very different experience than past conferences for me. Surreal is a good word, too. I stepped out of my comfort zone and dove into the blogosphere with the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood and the Firebirds – which turned out to be loads of fun! I’m glad I did. I’m also glad it occurred to me to interview my fellow Contemporary Single Title finalists. This has been a blast, and I’m so glad everyone was willing to try our grand experiment! I think we’ll be a very close group once we get to the award ceremony, and I know we are all rooting for each others’ successes.

Where do you get the ideas for your stories? And/or for this story, in particular?

I am a pilot. One of my favorite jobs was flying traffic reporters over Louisville, Kentucky. Arriving at the airport at zero-dark-thirty and prepping the plane before anyone else was on the field spawned the seed of the story. This was back before cell-phones, and there was plenty of opportunity for miscommunication. Like all writers, my imagination got going one morning (what if…?), and the story took off. Beyond that, my life experiences and the newspaper are great fodder. Truth really is stranger than fiction.

What has your writing journey been like?

Long. I’ve been a writer all my life. My first rejection was from The New Yorker magazine when I was sixteen or seventeen years old. I went to college not sure of what I wanted to major in until I was accepted into a creative writing class. When my mom called a few weeks into the class, I told her (with great excitement) I was going to be a writer. There was dead silence on the phone, and she finally said, “Why don’t you become a secretary or hairdresser instead?” To her credit, she was looking toward an ability to support myself, but she could not have chosen two careers for which I have less aptitude.

I let the idea of writing go (one must be practical!) and became a nurse. Nursing provided funding so I could learn to fly, which was the second thing I always wanted to be, and served well to help support our family over the years. Fast forward to ten or twelve years ago, when the idea for Hijacked came to me. I bought a used laptop, taught myself how to use it, and I wrote. Until it was done. Then I learned about RWA, joined, and began revising. Everything you can possibly do wrong, I had done. Uncounted revisions later, I had given up on Hijacked and moved on to new manuscripts. I joined a critique group a couple of years ago, and that is the single biggest factor in my development as a writer. On a whim, I ran the first fifty pages of Hijacked through them, entered it – and here we are.

As an aside, I stumbled into writing for my Archdiocesan newspaper a few years ago (circulation 70,000 households weekly), and have been blessed to interview some extraordinary yet ordinary people. This experience has also taught me to work on a deadline and with an editor, pretty handy training for what I hope is to come! Plus, I get paid, which is an affirmation all its own. I also blog monthly for the Catholic Writers Guild, usually on the subject of advice for new authors.

What’s your ideal writing environment?

I can write anywhere – and I have. Noise doesn’t bother me, but music sometimes does. My favorite place to write would be outside, with water in some form nearby.

Can I say here that like so many other women, I’ve also managed to squeeze in writing between more important activities like helping to care for my parents before their deaths, and helping various family members when they’ve had need? So when I say I have written anywhere, I am not exaggerating. I know I am not alone!

How can fans (and agents and editors!) reach you?

You’re here, so you’ve found my website, www.leslielynch.com I’m on facebook at Leslie Lynch Writes, and Twitter @Leslie_Lynch_ I’m on Pinterest and LinkedIn, but they are secondary at this point.

Is there anything you’d like to add?

Thank you, fellow CST finalists, for making this a fun eight weeks! I wish each one of you the very best in your publishing careers!

For those of you who have followed this series, we hope to have a group blog on Thursday, July 25, with brief comments about our impressions of the RWA National Conference in Atlanta. By then we’ll know which of us won the Golden Heart, and we can celebrate that, too!

Meanwhile, has your life’s journey gone how you planned? What detours have you taken, and have they provided silver (or even golden!) linings to the clouds?

This entry was posted in Creative Process, Creativity, Golden Heart, gratitude, Leslie Lynch, Romance Writers of America, Uncategorized, Writing and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Leslie Lynch, Golden Heart finalist!

  1. Diane Cooper says:

    Can’t wait to hear about the results and you can get this baby published so I can curl up and have a good reading time. Good Luck!!

  2. Jackie Floyd says:

    Your book sounds fascinating and I hope it finds a publishing home soon. You’re so right about the circuitous route a life takes, despite the best laid plans…Especially after the writing bug bites and claims your attention.
    Thank you for hosting our series of interviews. This has been a fabulous plus from this year’s golden heart experience!
    See you next month,
    Jacqueline Floyd

    • Leslie Lynch says:

      Hi, Jacqueline! Thanks for your good wishes – and I’m sending them right back atcha! 🙂 I’ve got great faith in your work. Looking forward to seeing you again in Atlanta & meet the rest of our group.

      The detours our lives take provide all sorts of material for our stories. Provided they don’t kill us!!!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Leslie Lynch says:

    I’m jumping back in to say that my books all have themes along the lines of forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation, and restorative justice – along with issues like rape, criminal justice, and domestic abuse. My goal is to bring the stories to life in a way that draws a reader in and never preaches. I don’t like to read ‘agenda’ books, but I do like to read books where bad things happen, people cope poorly, and eventually find their way to healing. Those are the stories I like to tell. 🙂

  4. piperhuguley says:

    Such a great series, Leslie. I’ll miss it. So enjoyable and well done!

  5. Sonali Dev says:

    Hi Leslie,
    Your book sounds fantastic. Dark and angsty, my favorite kind of romance ever. Thanks so much for thinking of this and helping us get to know each other.
    You are so right, I can see that we are going to be a close group.
    Can’t wait to see you,

  6. Leslie, I’m glad you chose to interview yourself as well as the rest of us! It would have felt incomplete otherwise. I love that you’ve used your intimate knowledge of flying in your book. I’m sure it adds a richness and texture that nobody else could bring to the material. (The story sounds awesome, too.) I’m also impressed that you kept on revising your first book until it shone enough to garner a nomination. My first screenplay is hiding under the bed. Cowering, more like.

    See you soon!

    • Leslie Lynch says:

      Thanks, Talia! Sometimes it’s hard to know when to give up on a manuscript…or keep slogging away.

      Regarding the flying: I had to cut lots out. Finding the balance between enough technical detail versus entertaining reading was a tightrope, but the process of creating that balance was a fantastic learning opportunity.

      Thanks for stopping by! See you in Atlanta. 🙂

  7. Thanks for sharing your story, Leslie! And good for you for not giving up on your manuscript. My writing journey has been a winding road with roller-coaster elements (such as being a GH finalist!), but maybe that’s just the way it has to be. Now I realize that if I’d achieved success with the first manuscript I submitted (which should never have left the house), I would have missed out on all the great craft lessons I’ve learned on the way.

    Can’t wait to meet you in Atlanta — and can’t wait to read the Contemporary Single Title report on July 25!

    • Leslie Lynch says:

      Hi, Bonnie! Yes, think about how much we learned with our first attempts! Yet taking all the classes in the world can’t replace the act of actually WRITING the book.

      So glad we all hung in there – and can’t wait to meet you in Atlanta!

  8. So sorry to be arriving late to your blog, Leslie. Your novel sounds great! Emotion + adventure = perfection!
    And I agree — belonging to a critique group is incredibly worthwhile. I’ve grown so much from being involved with critique groups and made lasting friendships too.
    Thank you for interviewing the Golden Heart CST finalists. I’ve enjoyed reading about everyone and getting to know you all better. Now I really, really can’t wait to meet you all in Atlanta 🙂

  9. Leslie Lynch says:

    Looking forward to meeting you, too, Jacqui! My critique partners are such close friends. I’ve done several blogs on critique and critique partners, and I am very blessed to have such a good group as my template!

    See you in a couple of weeks! (Gulp!)

  10. Hi Leslie,
    I wanted to thank you for helping us get to know all the Single Title finalists over these past few weeks–what a great idea to interview them! I find your story fascinating–you bought a used laptop, taught YOURSELF how to use it and wrote your story. That just sounds like an incredible amount of determination to get your story told. Life works in mysterious ways! Your comment about squeezing writing in between all the other responsibilites we take on as women really struck home for me as well. I wish you great success in your writing career and look forward to chatting with you in Atlanta!

    • Leslie Lynch says:

      Hi, Miranda! It was a leap of faith on my part to initiate the interview series, but it has been great fun! I have also enjoyed getting to know my fellow finalists. All very interesting people and such unique stories that we all write!

      I feel like everything I have done is so ordinary, and sometimes it takes another person’s perspective to recognize that it might not be quite so ordinary. Thanks for letting me see through your eyes for a moment! Of course, I think everyone has a fascinating story.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Hi Leslie,

    Coming in very late, have been offline for the last few days, but I’m so glad I dropped over and read your story! You have such incredible determination and courage, you SOOOO deserve this! Looking forward to saying hello in Atlanta!

  12. Leslie Lynch says:

    Hi, Chris! Thank you for your kind words. 🙂 I think determination is a trait we ALL share!!! I can hardly wait to meet you, too! Someday I hope to read the REST of The Predator, your manuscript that finalled in the Romantic Suspense category of the 2013 Golden Heart!

  13. Don Mulcare says:

    Hi Leslie,

    You mix romance with action-adventure. Terry Pratchett blends it into his Sci-Fi,-fantasy-sort of Tolkienesque novels. There seem to be so many shades of romance. Does it have any limits as long as there’s a happy ending?

    How do you think Lannis Parker and Ben Martin feel about their appearing in “Hijacked?” Just think, they might have ended up in a Stephen King novel. They should be grateful that with you, there’s a happy ending in store.

    God Bless,


    • Leslie Lynch says:

      Hi, Don! There are no limits to romance, as long as there is either a happy ending or the promise of one. None. There are, however, some limits to what publishing houses think will sell. What I’ve discovered during this stretch of interviews is that readers tend to be far more adventurous than marketing teams – which I understand, but is too bad. Publishers have a lot at stake, and when they invest in a book and it doesn’t return, they lose. Meanwhile, writers churn out an amazing variety of stories with happy-ever-after endings, and romance continues to account for a full half of the book sales in this country.

      I hope Lannis and Ben are a LOT happier with being in Hijacked as opposed to a Steven King novel! King says in On Writing that he writes his nightmares. Personally, I don’t need any help with making my nightmares any more colorful or scary, so my guess is Lannis and Ben have enough to deal with in Hijacked! They’ve got their hands full without adding monsters of any kind into the mix!

      Thanks for stopping by! It’s always a pleasure to see you.


  14. Don Mulcare says:


    Thanks for sharing your story in this blog. Your testimony, trials and tribulations all encourage readers during in the early stage of writing. Wishing you a wonderful time in Atlanta with all your new friends and a happy ending to all.

    God Bless,


  15. Leslie Lynch says:

    Thank you, Don. 🙂

  16. Nan Dixon says:

    Oh Leslie!
    An extremely late comment! I was at the lake and getting on line didn’t seem to be a priority. Now I’m playing catch up!
    It has been so fun to get to know all the Single Title finalists. This has been a wonderful format. And your book sounds amazing. I am so honored to be among all these great writers!
    Thank you — and see you in Atlanta.

    • Leslie Lynch says:

      I’m looking forward to meeting you in person, Nan! It’s going to be so much fun for the eight of us. I know some of the other sub-genre groups did short interviews together on a blog here or there, but as far as I know, this was the only in-depth and focused attempt with such a lot of ‘air time’ for each individual. It paid off, in spades. 🙂

      Thanks for your kind words about my book, too. I am sooooo impressed with the variety of stories that finalled. What great fun!


  17. Nan Dixon says:

    Oh – and how about a small world thing — My daughter is now the Parish Youth and Young Adult Minister in Elizabethtown and her boyfriend lives in Louisville. We may have to meet when I go to visit her!

    • Leslie Lynch says:

      Cool! You had BETTER let me know when you’re in the area! Jacqueline Floyd lives not far from Louisville, and her daughter is in this area, too; we met halfway for lunch a few weeks ago. If the timing works, we could all three meet! Oberon Wonch is in the central Indiana area, too…

  18. Nan Dixon says:

    Oh that would be wonderful. I’m sure we will be coming through when it starts getting frigid in Minnesota! Don’t you love the way new friendships are made!!

Leave a Reply to Chris Taylor (@christaylorbook) Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.