A Visit with Author Lynn Cornell

Lynn Cornell-2I am so excited to welcome my friend and fellow member of my Word Weaver Aurora group to my blog today. He has been a faithful member and participant since our critique group formed. His insights have been so helpful. Now it’s my turn to pay it forward.

Lynn Cornell released his first novel last month. The Color of Redemption tackles racism from a different perspective. I so enjoyed reading the story of Katie Smith and her journey toward forgiveness.

Here is the back cover blurb.

Raising her family in the turbulent ‘60s in a segregated rural Alabama town, Katie Parker understood the ugliness of racism and Jim Crow all too well. Her farm, which she shared with her activist husband, became her oasis, her retreat. Here, she had control. Here, she could witness God’s handiwork in the beauty of the land. Here, she was at peace. But it was a peace soon to be shattered. After a devastating and horrible event, Katie moves with three of her four children to a relative’s house in a majority-white suburb of Los Angeles. Settling in, she was confident she had escaped the horrors of her hometown. But the memory of that horrible event, and the animosity and hatred it stirred in her, were not easily shaken. Though she escaped a segregated Southern town, racism and intolerance were not easily left behind. Oddly enough, it was her granddaughter’s addiction to drugs that led Katie on a path causing her to confront her fears and prejudices and face head-on the past that she thought she had left behind. Katie’s journey will introduce this generation to the ugly racism of the sixties and confront the racial realities that exist in the church today. The Color of Redemption will show readers how to break down these walls that separate Christians and deal with racial prejudice, not from a civil rights perspective, but a Christian world view dictated by the Bible.

 

I love that you wrote this in first person. Following the story from Katie’s perspective added so much depth. I haven’t read a story like this and so I want to start out by asking:  Why this book?

I have been a Christian since 1978. I’ve been a part of all black churches and all white churches (my presence at white churches excluded). I’ve found it troubling that the same racial feelings and opinions that exists in America exists in both churches. The Color of Redemption shows how Christians should view and resolve racial issues.

How did you research to get the clothing right? The setting? And dialect?

As a young boy, I spent summers in a small southern town and worked cotton fields to buy my school clothes. The color divide was marked by railroad tracks dividing the white side of town from the black side of town. I also lived in Los Angeles and found the racial divide marked not by railroad tracks, but by area of the city or suburb.

Who coached you on how a woman talks and thinks. You really nailed it.

That’s funny because I just picture in my mind how women I know would speak and react to situations. Of course, I get feedback from writer’s group, i.e. you, and I’ll ask my wife and daughter how something sounds.

I’ve heard you share your journey to publication. So, encourage my readers by answering these two important questions

 How long did it take you to get it published?

About ten years

What were some of the obstacles?

I think the biggest obstacle was learning how to write. I had written an entire first draft of COR and didn’t know what things like point of view or show and not tell were. Once I had taken the time to learn the craft of writing, the story came together and I was, with confidence, able to seek publishing.  I think some publishers were hesitant to tackle the issue of race. I had to have patience to find the publisher who was willing to publish my book.

We always end the journey in a better place than we began. Share some of the things you learned along the way?

The most significant thing I learned is Christians who view life through a racial prism fail to see the wonderful work of the cross. That’s the cure of racism.

What words of wisdom would you pass on to newbie writers?

I can’t say this enough, learn the craft of writing. Take the time to hone your skills. Then learn the publishing business, and yes, it is a business. With those two things, you’ll have confidence as a writer and in what you’ve written.

Lynn, tell us about your upcoming projects.

Currently I’m working on two novels, A Most Precious Pearl which tells the story of an immoral woman who discovers she is God’s pearl. In God’s Honor tells the story of an Iranian secret police woman who comes to faith in opposition to her strong Muslim tradition.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope everyone takes to heart your advice to learn the craft. And I hope my readers will take the time to purchase this thought-provoking, timely story.  Click here.

 Color of Redemption

Lynn’s Bio:

Lynn Cornell has been a Christian since 1978 and started writing in his forties, at the request of his wife. He’s currently working on three novels and two non-fictions books. Lynn has completed a children’s book, Obi’s Three Nails and four screenplays. His screenplay Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol received honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest competition.  The Color of Redemption was a semi-finalist in the Christian Writer’s Guild Operation First Novel contest. He is a member of Word Weavers.When not writing, he enjoys riding his bike. He’s been married to his wife, Beverly for twenty-three years and has five adult children and thirteen grandchildren. Visit him on Facebook.

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Great reward for those who consistently attend writer’s conferences

My award. I am so blessed.

My award. I am so blessed.

For those of you who have never attended or no longer attend writer’s conferences I challenge you to rethink that. After attending writer’s conferences for six years, I have finally reaped an awesome reward. I was chosen as the recipient of the Editor’s Choice Award at the 2014 Write-To-Publish Conference. This award is for perseverance and potential. It entitles me to professional editing of my novel and mentoring and the opportunity to have my novel presented to the publication board of Lighthouse Publications of the Carolinas. Whether they actually decide to publish my book is another story. But it’s a win-win because my manuscript will be ready to present to any other interested party.

The truth about attending conferences

Often beginner writers approach a conference expecting to get a contract with the first editor they pitch their story to. They lug around their manuscript hoping someone will take it home with them. Those stories of instant contracts are few and far between, and if you get down to the real nitty-gritty of details, you will find most of these authors have paid their dues. They have attended conference after conference as true students of the craft of writing. Taking home all the information gleaned from the pros to apply to their own manuscript and marketing strategies. Networking with other writers to be encouraged as well as encourage.

Rowena Kuo presented me with my award. She is one of the wonderful editors full of enouragement for writers that I meet at Write-to-Publish.

Rowena Kuo presented me with my award. She is one of the wonderful editors full of enouragement for writers that I meet at Write-to-Publish.

Writers encouraging writers

For me, my first conference was a learning experience. I flew to Colorado Springs for the Writing for the Soul conference. On the plane I sat next to a published author. I don’t recall her name, only the blessing she was to me. During the flight she took the time to instruct me how to pitch my story ideas and who might be a good fit. She encourage me to enjoy the conference and have fun meeting others. At the conference one devotional editor took the time to mark up my devotional to show how it would best fit her needs. She gave me tips on the right attitude to bring to the editors I would pitch my novel idea to. The editors and agents were encouraging. I went home ready to write my novel.

Guess what, folks, I returned the next year to the same conference pitched my story, got interest. Went home and sent off my novel and got all rejections. 😦

Learning from rejection

That is the nature of the beast. One publisher was brave enough to say the writing wasn’t to their standard. 😦 😦 To his credit he was absolutely correct. I knew nothing about POV and many other fiction craft techniques. So, I took another class and read more craft books and continued submitting articles and writing skits and doing whatever writerly thing God brought my way while rewriting my novel.

Arthor Cynthia Ruchti not only was such a wonderful encouragement on my writng journey but she autographed her novel for me.

Arthor Cynthia Ruchti not only was such a wonderful encouragement on my writng journey but she autographed her novel for me.

Benefits of attending even if you don’t get a writing contract

The next four years I attended Write-To-Publish conference. Each time I went home and sent off my manuscript to those who requested it. Each time it was rejected. But I picked up other smaller writing assignments that gave me more publishing credits. I started this blog and a Facebook page. The third year I received excellent edits with my reject manuscript. I persevered through family tragedies and lots of life interrupting my rewrites and still wrote articles and short stories. Some getting rejected, others published.

This last year I reaped the blessing of my perseverance with this award. That is six years from my first conferences. Don’t wait until you have the perfect manuscript to attend. Don’t skip the opportunity because you have nothing to hawk. Come because you need to grow your craft, you need to network with writers, agents and editors. The secret ingredients at all conferences is the knowledge you can take home and the life-long friends you make. Both can grow your writing career at a faster pace than those who don’t attend.

 How has perserverance at a writer’s conference benefitted you?