If you remember, I did a double week post last week with two week’s worth of new books so that I could have this special edition with an author interview post this week. This week I’m sharing an interview I was lucky to get with the author of the upcoming book Better Than the Movies, Lynn Painter.
In this rom-com about rom-coms, in the spirit of Kasie West and Jenn Bennett, a hopeless romantic teen attempts to secure a happily-ever-after moment with her forever crush, but finds herself reluctantly drawn to the boy next door.
Perpetual daydreamer Liz Buxbaum gave her heart to Michael a long time ago. But her cool, aloof forever crush never really saw her before he moved away. Now that he’s back in town, Liz will do whatever it takes to get on his radar—and maybe snag him as a prom date—even befriend Wes Bennet.
The annoyingly attractive next-door neighbor might seem like a prime candidate for romantic comedy fantasies, but Wes has only been a pain in Liz’s butt since they were kids. Pranks involving frogs and decapitated lawn gnomes do not a potential boyfriend make. Yet, somehow, Wes and Michael are hitting it off, which means Wes is Liz’s in.
But as Liz and Wes scheme to get Liz noticed by Michael so she can have her magical prom moment, she’s shocked to discover that she likes being around Wes. And as they continue to grow closer, she must reexamine everything she thought she knew about love—and rethink her own ideas of what Happily Ever After should look like.
I haven’t officially met you, but hello and thank you so much for the interview! ? Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions on my answers or need any additional information.
I warn you – I tend to ramble. So buckle-up!
- What does your writing process look like? Do you know the whole story when you start? Or do you just start writing and go with it (seat of the pants writing)? If you plan it out, how do you do that? Outline, notecards, post-it-notes, etc.?
My writing process varies depending on the book I’m working on, but basically I’m a hybrid plotter/pantser. If I come up with an idea I’m excited about, I just start writing. For me, that new-project excitement and love of character creation can usually take me to around page 75. At that point, I either know I don’t have enough to keep going and I decide to scrap that book idea, or I’m madly in love and ready to pseudo-outline.
I use HUGE post-it notes (11×11), and I’m not at all scientific about it. I’ve read the plotting books and they are amazing, but I basically just brainstorm the plot and use one post-it for each scene. I smack them all up on the wall beside my desk, and I rip each one down when I finish a scene.
I doubt my process would work for anyone but me – because it’s kind of a mess, like me – but it’s how I do and it has worked so far.
2. Do you edit as you go, or wait till you’re finished before you edit? How many times would you say you go over it yourself before having another set of eyes look it over?
I try to get a lot of my first draft on the page before I begin editing. But when you open a Word doc, it opens on page 1, which causes me to start reading. And once I start reading, it’s like that Give The Mouse A Cookie Book – I cannot stop editing. So basically I edit the first 50 pages way more than the rest of the manuscript.
And honestly – I cannot even guess how many times I go over a manuscript before having a second set of eyes take a gander. With some books, I’ll ask for eyeballs as soon as the draft is done. But on other, messier drafts, I hold it close until it’s less of a dumpster fire.
3. What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
I have a LOT of tips for aspiring writers, mostly because it took me a LONG time to get a book deal so I’ve seen a lot on the way. So here are my top three:
The first tip: Follow established agents and editors on Twitter. After that, follow more of them. Because the amount of information they freely share regarding what they’re looking for, what they don’t want to see, general market insights, etc., is almost shocking. They want to acquire good books, so they’re happy to equip writers with the tools they need to write marketable books.
The second tip: Make time for writing. MAKE TIME for writing. I spent years writing whenever I “had” time, and that made writing my hobby. Because once you get off work and feed your face and the faces of people who might need to be fed by you, there aren’t a lot of hours left. But once I began to set aside time – like, literally scheduled the day and time I would be writing and allowed no interruptions (Sat 1-3pm) – my production increased a thousand-fold. If I haven’t been clear, SCHEDULE TIME FOR WRITING.
The third tip: Think about what makes your story different from the others in your genre/category. Agents receive hundreds of queries every month from authors of good books that sound just like a million other good books.
For example, I imagine they read a plethora of historical romance queries that say something along the lines of: Girl A is having a London season and The Duke, though he doesn’t want to, finds her irresistible. That kind of sounds like an over-generalized version of a lot of what is out there, right?
So what makes your book step into the limelight? If The Duke was actually a government spy, that would be a little different, right? Or if Girl A was actually a scullery maid from the country who had forged documents and was pretending to be the cousin of an aristocratic family, that might set it a little apart.
My examples aren’t good – I don’t write historicals even though I love to read them – but you get my point, right? Make sure your story has something that makes it different.
4. I have to ask based on the story and the cover, what is your favorite rom-com?
Asking me to choose my favorite rom-com is like asking which of my children is my favorite. ? My top five would probably be:
- Crazy, Stupid Love
- 10 Things I Hate About You
- You’ve Got Mail
- Bridget Jones’ Diary
- When Harry Met Sally
- 2 Weeks Notice
- Pretty Woman
- Notting Hill
SEE?!!! I cannot choose. And this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg.
5. What are your favorite:
Books/authors/genres: Again, impossible. I read everything but especially love rom-coms and romance, both YA and adult. Rachel Lynn Solomon is an auto-buy author for me, as is Christina Lauren, Suzan Elizabeth Philips, Lisa Kleypas, Julia Quinn, Neal Schusterman (not romance but SO so good). Also, I pretty much idolize Roxane Gay and think she’s one of the greatest writers of our time, so I would DEFINITELY call her one of my favorites.
TV Shows: I have a full-time day job, kids, and, of course, writing, so I don’t watch a lot of scheduled TV. My all-time favorite comfort shows, though, the ones I watch over and over and over again, are Gilmore Girls, New Girl, The Office, and New Girl. ? I’m dyyyying for the next season of Handmaid’s Tale, even though I very-nearly get an ulcer watching it, and I just finished binge-watching YOU (late to the party).
Music: Finneas, T-Swift, Billie Eilish, Post Malone, Bridgerton soundtrack – yeah, I’m a pop girl.
Food/Writing snack: : I eat like a picky 2nd grader. Give me McDonalds, pizza and chicken nuggets any day; nothing squishy or weird-looking, plz. My writing snacks are pretty much handfuls of white cheddar popcorn and copious amounts of caffeinated beverages.
Thank you so much Lynn! Such fun answers! Your plotter/pantser sounds so much like me in a way! I just need to do more of the finishing! Like you I’m so ready for the next season of The Handmaid’s Tale as well! And it amuses me that I also tell people I eat like a picky child! I do not care for veggies and am so particular about the texture of the food I eat.
Thanks also to Simon Teen for letting me ask Lynn these questions!
And now I can’t wait until I have this one penciled into my blog schedule and I should be reading and posting my review on May 3rd, just in time for the publishing date of May 4th!
You can add this one to your Goodreads TBR (if you didn’t already have it) HERE.
If you’re ready to pre-order, here are some links for that: