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Interview with Lyn Cote

Please join me in welcoming Lyn Cote, author of over thirty-five published novels. She has also been a finalist for the RITA, finaled in the Carol Contest, and recently won a Carol Award. Her most current novel, Their Frontier Family, is the first book in her new “Wilderness Brides” series.

Your novels always include three elements: a strong heroine who is a passionate participant in her times, authentic historical detail, and a multicultural cast of characters. What inspired these features in your work?

I suppose my core beliefs and characteristics. I care very much about the underdog. I love history, have a Masters in it and I don't see our nation or history as monochromatic. We are a nation of diversity. I didn't set out to show this in my writing, but after writing many novels, I noticed that no matter whether I was writing a sweet romance for Love Inspired or a sweeping historical saga, these three elements came through consistently. (Note: When I write contemporary, I try to make every fact authentic there too--slight variation.)

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
Again, I don't need to work at putting spiritual elements in my stories. That comes naturally to me. Early in the 1990's a secular editor pointed out to me that I was writing for the inspirational market, and I didn't even realize that the Christian market had been reborn after dying out in the late 1980's (except for Janette Oke, of course, and a few others.)

I read that you used to be a teacher. What made you decide to pursue novel writing?
When I was a high school sophomore, we all took the Kuder Preference Test in order to find out what our interests and talents were. The test predicted that I would be a teacher and writer. :-) Not a bad take on me. I am a communicator whether in a classroom or at my laptop. Also, I gave up teaching to raise our children. That was important to me and my dh.

Was it a hard road to get to where you’re at today?
Of course! I suffered years of rejection in the dark ages before the Internet, before anything like Faith, Hope & Love or ACFW had come into being. I wonder if writers starting now ever realize how much information and new opportunities are available that were non-existent when I was trying to connect with editors and agents. That was when conferences were so important for networking and getting up to date info on the markets and players. And now there are so many self-publishing possibilities.

Speaking of where you’re at today, can you share with us about Their Frontier Family?
This is a story of the power of divine and human love and the need to accept God's forgiveness by faith and to forgive one's self, powerful messages. I also set it in my home state of Wisconsin and chose it because it's the birthplace of a very famous American. Here's a link to a blog post about this.

What prompted you to do this series?
My last series for Love Inspired Historical was the “Gabriel Sisters,” a series of three Quaker sisters who were trying to bind up the wounds of the nation after the Civil War. Perhaps you read Her Captain’s Heart and Her Patchwork Family, featuring the first two sisters. The final story, Her Healing Ways, centered on Dr. Mercy Gabriel who set out to practice medicine in Idaho. One of her patients was Sunny, a young pregnant prostitute. Sunny's character just wouldn't let me fail to tell her story. And then in my mind, I saw her in the Quaker meetinghouse and Noah Whitmore stood up and proposed to her. And I was off--typing as fast as I could.

You’ve been quite successful on your journey, Lyn. What do you consider the greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
I've had many high points--getting THE CALL, finding an agent who has become my partner, weathering many storms such as being orphaned by editor after editor. (I've had over 20 for 35 books--that tells the tale.) I think my highest points are receiving letters and emails from readers who have found hope and joy in my books. And finally winning a contest was good too. I said when I accepted my Carol in 2011, that I was used to being a bridesmaid, not the bride. :-)

What do you see as most significant to your publication?
If you mean what finally brought me to traditional publication, I would say perseverance and being ready when God opened the opportunity at Love Inspired.

I always tell authors to let me know if there’s a question they wish I would have asked. What is something (that I didn’t cover here) you would like others to know about you?
I'm especially proud of my blog (located on my homepage) where I host authors and readers who share their stories of strength or stories of strong women they have known or fictionalized. I have over 600 subscribers so I know that others are also enjoying these compelling stories.

Many writers dream of obtaining the success you’ve had. Do you have any parting advice for them?
Persevere and ask God what to do--often. I was good about the former and less apt with the latter. This slowed my career down. Let that be a lesson to us all!

Thanks for sharing with us, Lyn! It’s been a pleasure.

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