Q&A with Margie Tomlin

Please help me welcome historical writer, Margie Tomlin.

Q Do you consider yourself shy/introverted?
A I'm shy to the bone.

Q In what ways does this or has this hindered you as a writer?
A I'm often relunctant to ask questions at writers workshops and conferences when I'm attending in person and not on the web. I just can't bring myself to participate in group criticizing. I freeze at the thought of having to read some of my work aloud.

Q In what ways does this or has this helped you as a writer?
A I think it's hurt me as a writer not being able to speak out in a group when I really want to. Again, I learn a lot by observation. I've seen some writers who constantly "toot their own horn" concerning their writing. I've witnessed this in some writers groups I used to attend. One writer was published and most of the rest of us were not. She dominated the group's time informing us how wonderful she was and how her writing was above the top-selling authors. It got sickening after a time and finally killed the group. I want to be proud of my writing but on the other side I don't want to drown other people with it.

Q Are you shy/introverted one-on-one or in crowds or both?
A I generally stick to myself in a group unless I go with a friend. It helps to have a support buddy so if you don't find someone to visit with then you can talk to a friend and not feel out of place.

Q What's your biggest fear/obstacle as a shy writer? Why? And tell me if you've tried to face this fear and what were the results.
A My worst fear is being a speaker at a writers conference and having to answer the audience's questions. If I was asked a question and didn't know the answer or didn't really understand the question, I', afraid I'd appear like a bug under a microscope. I'd come off looking like I was really stupid. (I might be?)

Q Tell me about a time recently that you stepped outside your comfort zone as a shy person, whether in your writing or personal life.
A I was at a writers conference and I'd made an appointment with the Avon editor to discuss my historical romance set during the Civil War. I made my presentation and when I finished she told me that Avon was not accepting historical manuscripts set in America. I felt like a dunce because I'd pitched my entire manuscript. The editor kept looking around while I was speaking, giving me the impression she was bored to tears. I kept expecting her to say she'd heard enough. For some reason I decided to finish my pitch. She was very gracious and told me it was a wonderful story and she wished Avon was buying American historical. She suggested I try for Harlequin Historicals. I was pleased with her suggestion and thought it was nice. Now, if she meant what she said is another story.

Now to the lighter side of being shy. I once attended a writers workshop in Little Rock, Arkansas. I remember one of the ladies was a published author and her lawyer husband managed her contracts. I was speaking to her about being afraid to approach editors. I said I didn't want to be a pest. Well, her husband spoke up and said, "Be a pest! You need to be a pest!" I thought that was cool and funny. I still can't follow his advice fully. I often think of how many times the editors are infringed upon, but then that's their chosen profession.

About Margie: I started writing when I was 14 years old with some short stories which sadly I didn't save. I didn't really decide to take my writing seriously until the mid 70s. I found an ad for a copy of Romance Writer's of America. I ordered one and from then on knew I wanted to write romance. I cranked up enough nerve to join RWA and I've been a member ever since. My husband bought me a portable typewriter, so I decided I needed to learn how to type. My first manuscript was a historical romance set in New Orleans in 1840. I joined two more writing groups and then really got busy. My next two manuscripts were comtemporaries, but I was reading mostly historicals. I realized that was what I wanted to write. Today, I have three finished western historicals and three contemporaries. I also have a half dozen unfinished manuscripts. I plan to go back and finish those books some day. Right now, I'm working on a historical romance set in the south (naturally, being a Texan) during the Civil War.

I've attended RWA national three times and plan to attend this year in Nashville. Mainly because my WIP is set in Nashville. Have I ever gotten to the point wherre I thought about giving up trying to be published? Sure, but for every time I quit writing, I go back. It's in my blood and if I'm not writing I'm thinking writing. Will I ever see my work in print? Who knows? If it happens, fine; if not, I can live with it as long as I can continue to write. Writers keep writing!


  1. Thanks, Margie, for being here.


  2. Margie--

    You were so shy you didn't tell me you were appearing here! That, or Yahoo is full of gremlins again. Great interview, both of you. It's not easy to put ourselves out there, and this a great step. I hope to see you in Nashville, Margie!

  3. Margie,
    Thanks for your insight. I too can't imagine ever reading my words in front of a critique group so I have no plans to join one - ever. You are definitely braver than I am when it comes to personally pitching to a publisher. To me, that seems almost worse than the critique group. Good luck to you and your WIP.