Lyn Feola Rumage remembers the time a man she dated when she was in her 20s decided to take her to meet his family. “His mother greeted me with, ‘You know. We’re poor white trash,’” Lyn recalls, still mystified by the statement. “I never figured out why she said that except she didn’t think [her son and I] were meant for each other.”
The remark was the basis for Rumage’s first book, PWT, the chick-lit story of a nice girl who tries to reform a bad boy. When rejections from agents and publishers piled up, she chose the self-publishing route. The endeavor was a mild success, so she followed that 2009 undertaking in 2010 with Dizzy, a children’s book based on her childhood black spaniel-lab mix.
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“I have loved, loved, loved telling stories and making them up,” she says, surrounded by her three dogs in her Surfside Beach home.
Self-publishing, though, is a hobby, so Rumage’s day job is director of marketing and business development for Heartland Hospice in Myrtle Beach. “I’ve been with Heartland for five years helping people,” she says.
In 2011 she steered her hobby in a new direction. “I love mysteries from Nancy Drew to [current ones.] I decided to try it. I thought ‘I can do this.’” The result was Myrtle Beach Mayhem. “It came together pretty easy,” she says but admits to one difficulty.
“Proofreading without a shadow of a doubt.” She solved the dilemma by enlisting four friends to read for accuracy.
Sales were steady, so in 2014 she wrote Myrtle Beach Madness, and now in 2017 Missing in Myrtle Beach is available. Her fourth in the Myrtle Beach Mysteries series, Magic in Myrtle Beach, is in the works.
“It’s about how people meet online──the wonderful and the not so wonderful of it,” she says.
She does research as necessary but is careful about naming specific places and businesses. Some high-profile names mentioned are the SkyWheel, Surfside Beach pier, Joe White Avenue and some Grand Strand hotels. The biggest obstacle writing mysteries set in Myrtle Beach is balancing the beauty of the area and the people with crime, she says. “The people are wonderful, and there are fun things here, but bad stuff happens everywhere.”
Rumage’s fascination with Myrtle Beach stems from her family’s vacations along the Grand Strand. Those stopped when she was 10 and her father passed away. “I always wanted to live here,” she says.
“People here are very, very welcoming.” She and her husband, Rich, married in 2005 and moved to Surfside Beach in 2007.
A Ridgefield Park, N.J. native, Rumage, 51, explains she debated whether to major in journalism or veterinary science when she entered Michigan State University. Despite her love for animals, “Journalism was calling me more,” she says. Upon graduation she moved back to New Jersey and wrote for newspapers there and another in Savannah, Ga., but declining newspaper circulation, motivated her to seek other employment.
She was director of communications and public relations in New Jersey for RB Inc., a company that produces health, hygiene and home products. She switched to the New Jersey nonprofit, Children’s Aid and Family Service with the job of finding homes and foster families for those five to 23 years old. She and Rich, though, yearned for warm weather, so they quit their jobs, packed up and moved.
Rumage’s experience proved beneficial. St. Frances Animal Center in Georgetown hired her as director of development and communications.
“It was fun work,” she says. “I got to play with the puppies and kitties.”
In 2012 she accepted the position at Heartland Hospice. Rich had a job as a pharmacist but was offered a can’t-pass- up opportunity back in New Jersey, so in 2014, he accepted it. “We have a commuter marriage,” Rumage says. She is satisfied because she spends her evenings writing, and she has pets Rudi, 11, Fidget, 9, and Charlie, about 8 or so, for company.
She reveals a multitude of information during conversations, and her emails sustain interest. When asked why her name is spelled with one N, her email states, “Lyn is short for Marilyn, which my parents named me after my Aunt Marilyn, who was out shopping one day in NYC with my mother when I decided to enter the world two months early and my mom insisted my aunt drive her to the hospital in NJ where her doctor was. They felt her adventure in speeding across the George Washington Bridge, eventually with a police escort, made me her namesake. Of course, she disliked her name and everyone calls her Molly and I became Lyn.”
From childhood she learned the significance of volunteering and helping the needy. She has worked on about a dozen Habitat for Humanity homes and assists the American Heart Association in several ways. She tells how she has a soft heart for the homeless and hungry and will get food and bring it to those in need.
Swimming, especially in the ocean, and riding her bike, especially long distances, consume more time. She participated in the 150-mile multiple sclerosis bike-a- thon several times in New Jersey in honor of a close friend. Nowadays she aims for completing 50 miles.
Another passion is collecting memorabilia and stuffed figures of Ziggy, the syndicated comic strip character. She has about 2,300 items displayed on shelves in her office.
A habit she developed living in Myrtle Beach surprises her friends. “I’m a neat freak,” she says. “I don’t reuse towels and washcloths.” It doesn’t matter if it’s just to wipe her mouth after brushing her teeth. “I use a clean one every time.”
She might include that tidbit in a book, but either way the setting will center on Myrtle Beach. “I really want to write stories that are entertaining and highlight issues, something important,” she says. “I feel I have several more stories in me.” Besides, “I love [writing], and it makes me happy.”
To view or purchase any of her books, visit Rumage on Amazon.