Monday, August 29, 2016

Query that Resulted in a Contract--Linda Tillis and her debut novel

Buy the book HERE on Amazon!
I'm so happy to welcome a good writing friend, and debut author, Linda Tillis as my guest today! Her first book, A Heart Made for Love, was released this week in paperback and e-book. Isn't the cover gorgeous?

Linda, welcome to my blog today! Let's get started with some questions! 

First, since many of my blog readers are aspiring authors, would you share your query letter/email here, and tell us why you think it got a response? What made it successful?

I’m not really sure why the query worked, but I did use the “Query Bible” in the Sunshine State Romance Authors Library!
(Here's Linda's Query):

At ten years of age, Mae Hinton learned to cope with tragedy when her mama died in childbirth. Overnight, she found herself filling her mother’s shoes as caregiver for her two younger brothers and papa. At seventeen years, she was content with her peaceful life in Trenton, Florida, the year 1903.

That peace is destroyed when young Mae is faced with every woman's worst nightmare.

As she heals-physically and mentally-from the attack, she accepts that everything happens for a reason. Mae was blessed with the support of a loving family and friends and believes she has been tasked by her Lord to come to the aid of other women who have faced her nightmare, and of building a place of refuge where victims can heal, learn, and gain independence.

Mae never saw her attackers and has no way of knowing that one of them is very near, watching and waiting.  As she works to help other victims her patience is tested when she meets hypocritical religious folk, misguided do-gooders, and men who have higher regard for their livestock than for their women.

When her attacker surfaces again, and a mistaken identity murder rattles her nerve, will Mae's skill with a gun be her salvation or will vengeance truly belong to the Lord?  The love story of Mae Hinton and Edward Finch addresses the question of how couples deal with differences in their personal beliefs.

At 78,900 words, A Heart Made For Love is a women’s fiction/historical romance and deals with the ultimate test of a young woman’s faith, as well as the dark side of domestic abuse and mistreatment of women in by-gone times. 
A Heart Made For Love is my first completed novel. I have been published in The Florida Wildlife Magazine. I spent twenty years working in Crime Scene Investigation, which supports my knowledge of domestic violence. I am a PRO member of RWA as well as a member of the Sunshine State Romance Authors, Inc. 

Great query, Linda! I can see why you got the editor's attention! Okay, next question: What is THE most important thing writers can do for themselves to get an agent/publisher in today's market?

Write the best book you can, then never give up on it.

If you could have done anything differently with your writing career so far, what would it be?

I would have started sooner. I’ve been a reader all my life and thought, “Someday I’ll try to write one.” But it was not until my husband said, “You should write a book,” that I really believed I could.

Aw!! What a great husband you have!! Okay, who are your writing role models, and how have they influenced you?

I love Amanda Quick and her sharp humor, which is really funny because my first book is anything but humorous.

Okay, now what we've all been waiting for! Tell us about your debut book, A Heart Made For Love!
I had a co-worker read A HeartMade For Love for me and when she finished she said, “I would have loved to have had a brother like Samuel.”  I knew then that I had to write a book for him and I named it A Man With A Pure Heart. In this sequel he is grown, has completed training, and is a Deputy with the Leon County Sheriff’s Office in 1910.  Because he has “visits” from his deceased mother he is very adept at catching killers. When the local school teacher is found naked and beaten to death he vows to find the killer, not only because the man is an animal, but because Samuel falls in love with the teacher’s replacement, her sister.  The search for the killer is a race for time as Samuel’s mother advises “another is in danger”.   The first chapter is included at the end of A Heart Made For Love.

Last question: What's one fact about you that most people don't know?

I am deathly afraid of speaking to a crowd.  When I was twelve I memorized a poem for a program at school.  I knew that thing upside down and backwards and nearly drove my family crazy repeating it for practice.  The day of the recital I was the second on stage. Two lines into my poem they realized they had forgotten to turn on the footlights. They turned them on, I looked down, and when I looked back up the poem was gone.  I walked off stage to a back room and sat on the floor and cried.  A very handsome senior came and sat on the floor with me and held me while I blubbered all over his school sweater. For years I testified in court from misdemeanors to murders, and never got over the fear.

I know people will want to check you out online. Can you give us your website links and contact information?

My e-mail address is
My website is
My twitter  @Linda34434

BUY Link for A Heart Made for Love on Amazon HERE.

Blurb from A Heart Made for Love:

In rural Florida , 1903, Mae Hinton cares for her father and younger brothers, trying to fill her deceased mother's shoes. Her life is shattered and her faith tested when her innocence is stolen by roving miscreants. Left unconscious, unable to identify her attackers, she pledges to help other victimized women. She pursues an education and learns to deal with bigoted ministers, well-to-do hypocrites, and men with higher regard for their livestock than their women.

Edward Finch is nearly done with medical studies in England when he comes home for the holidays. Love flourishes, and Mae seems close to achieving her dreams of both true love and a haven for victims, once she can explain to him why she carries a pistol. Then her new-found happiness is upset by a murder as one of her attackers returns.

She may settle this herself...or she may find that vengeance truly belongs to God.


  1. Interesting interview, Linda and Dylan. I just started reading A Heart Made for Love last night, and I couldn't put it down. Powerful writing, and my heart went out to Mae. She was instantly likeable, and the relationship between her and her father is
    so touching. Can't wait to get back to it!

    1. Thank you Jennifer, I consider that high praise after reading your works.

  2. I agree, Jennifer! Thanks for stopping by! :)

    1. Dylan, thanks so much allowing me to visit with you and your fans. You are an inspiration to us all and congrats on that agent thing!!

    2. My pleasure, Linda! I'm so thrilled for your debut novel and feel privileged to have watched your journey to publication! :)

  3. Thank you for sharing Linda's query letter!