LL: Thank you for having me here today.
Who is Lisa Lickel?
Lisa is the daughter of a history teacher and a librarian who majored in history and Russian studies in college. She and her husband have two grown sons and lovely daughters-in-law. She lives in eastern Wisconsin and looks forward to the day when she and her husband retire to their farm in western Wisconsin. Lisa has been writing full time since 2005 and has numerous newspaper features, magazine articles, radio theater productions and three inspirational novels published so far. She's also the editor of Creative Wisconsin magazine, the artsy side of Wisconsin Regional Writers, and belongs to a couple of book clubs. For fun Lisa lives in the past with her historical societies, likes to quilt but says she hasn’t had time for it for a while, and travel.
SKC: We are anxious to hear about the project you’ve been working on this year, Lisa, what inspired you to write it, and when we will have the pleasure of seeing it, if it’s not yet out.
LL: The projects I’ve been working on this year are a trip back through time. I’ve taken the last two years off to market my novels that were released between February 2009 and February 2010. Although I started the third book in my cozy mystery series a year ago, I found that a little surgery and a lot of marketing have clashed against my desire to finish the book. Instead I’ve been editing and trying to market some of my earlier work. As of this past week, all of my earlier work, from the cozies to a romance to a literary piece to a paranormal series, are under consideration at various large and small publishers. I’m probably going to be really depressed this Christmas.
SKC: When did you know writing books would become the passion your heart and also your desire to help other writers?
LL: Attempting to write a whole book should have been a lot more daunting. I had taken the Christian Writer’s Guild apprentice course, and just as I was finishing, the first Operation: First Novel contest was announced. I decided to try it out and a couple of months later, voila, I had written 80,000 words in a somewhat coherent semblance. Amazing. When the manuscript reached the top ten of the 392 contestants, I was hooked on this writing craze thing. While I waited for the contest results, I wrote my second book (currently published as Healing Grace), and when I got my first agent contract and book contract about the same time two years later, I felt at home and at peace with the call to be a writer. For me, it’s natural that I help others. I struggle with hoping my advice works and worrying that I have no idea what I’m doing. Sitting down with Kathy Carton Willis of KCWC, the publicity firm, at a recent conference was a huge boost to my confidence.
SKC: And we all need that don't we. Besides that thought we all have to get our work published, what inspires you to keep going the most? Give us three things in the order of importance, if you will.
LL: Being published is a small step, really; it’s being read (by strangers lots of strangers), that’s the real goal of authors. My inspiration comes from: following the directives from the Lord in putting out thought-provoking and ever-growing in quality entertainment; being read by folks who reach out to tell me they appreciated my efforts; making my family proud of me.
SKC: Starting and ending a book is often the most difficult, for many writers. Describe how you begin and end your stories. If it’s easy, hard, seat-of-the-pants, or carefully thought out.
LL: For some weird reason often the end of the book comes first. For Healing Grace, the end of the story was tantamount. Although I started with a mystery of sorts (that subsequent critique partners nixed), the end of the story came all at once with perfect clarity one morning. I had to ask a friend if the particular way Grace and God worked things out was believable and on line with matters of faith before I could finish the rest of the story. On the other hand, both Meander Scar and a book I hope to see out next year had such difficult endings that I still wonder if I did the right thing. The same wonderful reader of Grace made all the difference in the world to Meander Scar when she said that we need more stories about how it’s not right for Christian men to leave their women. After that, the ending fell into place while the rest of the story had been together quite a while. On the whole, I prefer to plot out my stories to the end, develop a synopsis and work from there while being extremely flexible if my characters throw me for a loop.
SKC: What do you believe is the KEY to writing a good book?
WRITE FROM YOUR GUT
LL: Writing and reading books are different things. As I’ve published more books, I realize that writing a story from your gut and writing a story that will touch many readers don’t always walk hand in hand. Writing a book takes determination; writing a good book takes constant growth in craft. Writers must be able to participate in their education by being willing to listen to a lot of criticism both positive and negative, and act on it.
SKC: What do you do when you discover your daily writing time and time spent with other writers begins to interfere with your family time or quality time with God?
LL: That is an awesome question and a point I struggle with pretty much hourly. Because I work at home, there are lines I have to draw and cross constantly. Other writers simply go elsewhere when they have deadlines, like the coffee shop or library. I may have to do that someday, but right now I’m glad to be able to write for a while, then get up and go some housework. The other day I started right in on a project as soon as I woke up, mumbled good-bye to my husband and didn’t stop to brush my hair or get dressed until four o’clock. Those days aren’t my prouder moments because I realize too late that, while I pray constantly, I didn’t take even fifteen minutes to soak up some of the Word. The phone call thing is a whole ‘nother issue. With family and friends knowing I’m available, and part of the reason I’m home is to be available when I’m needed, I feel I have to answer calls right away in case of emergency. We don’t have some of the nice amenities like caller ID and even broadband where I live, so when the phone rings and I’m in the middle of a sentence, I start to quake.
SKC: Oh, that makes me laugh. You sound so much like me! Tell us, why do so many authors have a difficult time coming up with their proposals?
IT'S ALL ABOUT COMMITMENT
LL: Too true thought. For my purposes, I’ll define “proposal” as that requested material resulting from a positive “query.” A proposal is a commitment. Many, many of us have trouble committing in some form or other, whether it’s what to make for dinner, which outfit to let your kid wear to where to go on vacation or whom to query, trying to make ourselves look not just good but excellent can be a scary prospect. How to write about yourself and your work without sounding maniacal or sorry? And once you’ve written it, how can you honestly think someone will believe you? And if they believe you, can you really make all that stuff you said come true? Can you sell more than a thousand books?
Being an author is like most other professions that deal with people: if you’re simply allowed to do the parts you like best or are good at and not have to mess with the paper work or the other people on the food chain, life would be so much nicer.
SKC: What plans do you have in 2011 which is just around the corner?
LL: Woo-hoo! Scary and welcome. Any plans have to be amenable for me. At the moment I don’t have an agent so I’m the one in charge of attempting to levitate my career. I try at any given moment to have at least three projects or pieces of projects (AKA proposals) in the works, so that if something does work out, I have to be able to work on the project that has the most people counting on me. I will be teaching a course on the Nuts and Bolts of Submission for the ACFW course loop but I don’t know when (man, hope it isn’t January, but if it is, that’s okay), I’ll continue marketing my books, I have a short story in Harpstring Magazine, I’ll have editions of Creative Wisconsin to put out and more projects to edit for the small press companies I am fortunate to work with. I also keep up with the industry trends by providing reviews for publishers, review sites, publicity companies and individual authors, interview others, blog with a couple of group sites like FavoritePASTimes.blogspot and Reflectionsinhindsight.wordpress; hope to get my all Wisconsin blogsite fully functioning at WisconsinAuthorReview.blogspot and invite everyone, readers and writers alike, to come and have fun with us at Clash of the Titles, a fun new contest and information site at http://clashofthetitles.com. Our first contest is on October 18.
SKC: This blog, A Pen for Your Thoughts, is an opportunity for all of us to share our thoughts about any particular subject. What is one of your favorite subjects? It could be about your style of writing, about a believer’s walk, whatever. And if you have a book to offer one of our readers, what would you ask them about that subject to help me draw a name as the winner?
Okay. Check out the question above. And remember, when you reply, be sure to include your email address for me. We look forward to hearing from you. HOPE YOU WIN!
Congratulations to Marianne Evans of Royal Oak, MI. I know you're going to love the book!
To all the others who were so faithful to write in. KEEP TRYING. We continue to offer wonderful books, and one day YOUR NAME might be drawn!