Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in a 150-year-old Great Lakes ship captain’s house. She collects dragons and loves antiques. She and her husband have two grown sons and daughters in law. She features Wisconsin facts, books and writers on the growing blog, Wisconsin Author Review, and is stepping in as editor of WRWA’s Creative Wisconsin magazine this winter. A basket of her books and other Wisconsin goodies will be up for auction at the ACFW conference in Indianapolis in September. She’ll teach the Nuts and Bolts of Submission next year on line for ACFW.
How did you come to be a writer?
Thank you for having me here, Janet. Becoming a writer is an on-going process for me. I’m not one of those authors who’s been writing since I first could hold a crayon. It’s been a deliberate study, first with the Christian Writer’s Guild apprentice program, then with a lot of help and encouragement from my reading and writing friends.
How long have you been writing and when was your first book published?
My first articles sold before I finished the apprentice program. I did newspaper features and magazine articles and I wrote my first book for the Operation: First Novel Contest, I think in 2003 (which made the top ten), and was hooked. I did the usual submission process for a couple of years, then signed with an agent and got my first contract all at the same time at the end of 2005. There were some hiccups along the way, and my first book, a cozy mystery with Barbour, didn’t actually release until February 2009.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I read a lot, and we travel for recreation and to visit family. I’ve been in all 49 continental states. I putz a little with flowers, but I’m not really good at it, and wrestle my husband for the opportunity to hang out clothes and can vegetables in the summer. I’ve semi-graciously let him win the past couple of years. I’m involved with historical societies locally and state-wide and enjoy projects in research and preservation. I’m going to be recording my fourth radio play on Tuesday with the local group – the second in a silly soap opera series that I’m writing with the group’s founder. I do some activities with church. Sports: Packer season. Brewers.
Tell us how you come up with characters.
As I delve deeper into series, I find that I have become more deliberate. When I first began telling stories, completely developed characters introduced themselves. I had to interview them to unravel their backgrounds. Now, I have to expend more energy setting them up. I’m looking at an article I cut from the newspaper the other day, an obituary for a historian who has the basic characteristics I’m looking for in Maeve’s (from Meander Scar) father. I’ll dig deeper into his professional body of work and intend at this point to use that as the basis for his personality, but that could change as we go along.
What advice or tips do you have for writers who are just getting started?
If everyone could just go over to check out Cathy Bryant at http://wordvessel.blogspot.com you’ll see a whole career-building process as it’s going on. Cathy doesn’t just offer tips and share her story about her publishing journey, she’s the example of laying a proper foundation. Look at how many readers she attracted before her first book come out. Check out the networking structure she put in place. In this business, the scaffold is more important than the sign painter. You have to build a sturdy one that will hold up in any weather. Then, work on your story (the sign), so that it looks nice and attracts a lot of business from a wide audience (your readers). Get lots of opinions, but still listen to your instinct. A great example of listening to your instinct and doing what works best for you is Ellen C. Maze. She’s an author who went with her gut and did all the right things to make the book and fan base happen. You can find her on Goodreads. I encourage all of you to check out Goodreads.com.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
Wow, I wish I could have a typical day. I just don’t. A lot of what I’ve done this past year has been based on what comes up in the morning e-mail. I mentor writers, work with a couple of critique groups, and I’ve been working on craft instead of trying very hard to get more contracts. The economy tanking made fewer opportunities for everyone. I’ve made connections, networked, edited some of my older manuscripts as I learn more about writing and marketing. All that takes time.
Where do you write?
Tell us about your latest book.
Thanks for asking. I’ll start with the title, which I’m learning in the perfect clarity of hindsight probably wasn’t as cool as I thought. Too science geeky, although many of the serious readers catch my drift. Meander Scar is the story of a woman whose husband went missing. She decides to finally move on when a younger man from her past shows up. He’s a lawyer who offers to help put her husband’s estate to rest, while also quietly winning her heart. When she learns what happened to her husband, she has to decide whether or not to tell the truth.
What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of, writing-related or not?
I want to be cremated, but if anyone cared about an epitaph, perhaps it could read something like: Gone to play in the kingdom, free readings daily.
Where do you get ideas for stories?
My story ideas come mostly from the newspaper. However, being a local historian has its advantages and I hear a great many tales from the neighborhood. I used two of them in my first mystery.
How long does it normally take you to write a book?
Other writers might know normal, but that’s not me. When I’m ready to commit the story to hard drive, I prefer not to take more than six weeks, otherwise I get too mixed up with who did what. My schedule has been a little screwy the past year, so all bets are off. I’m still working on the third installment of the cozy mystery series that I began last fall. I’m not particularly happy about that.
Favorite scripture and/or quote:
Hebrews 10:23 – “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
Do you edit as you go or wait until completing the first draft? How many drafts do you normally do for each novel? Do you have a certain editing procedure that you follow?
The editing part is a little different for each manuscript. My general process is to edit as I go, have my writing critique partners offer advice, then have readers – sort of like pre-screening movies for audience reaction. Sometimes there’s another draft or two. Then if there’s a sale, the people who pay me money tell me how they want the story to go and their own quirks for hyphens and commas. That might mean another draft. I do my best to get it right before submission, but also not to get too excited or anal about it. If there’s no sale for a couple of years, I’ll put the manuscript away and maybe get back to it, and keep going on something else.
What would you like readers to take away from your book?
When I first started learning about the industry, I didn’t even realize there was a separate market for inspirational fiction and mainstream fiction. I had to choose a style of writing and my audience. And there lies the issue: do I want to preach to the choir or the street people? I want to entertain, but do it “clean.” I hope readers will have some real discussions, some intense thoughts about their own situations, but also not to feel like they’ve wasted their time reading my books.
What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?
Well, not to be indelicate, but my best worst month was when the book club I was writing for folded, my second agent dumped me, and I lost my web content writing job all at once. A few months later I sold Meander Scar.
How can readers get in contact with you? (email; website; blog; etc.)
I answer mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or from my website, which is http://lisalickel.com. I’m on Facebook.com/lisalickel with both personal and “like” pages, and Goodreads.com/lisalickel and Shoutlife.com/lisalickel. I’m part of a couple of great blog groups, which you can find from my website, and am slowly at work on all things Wisconsin at http://wisconsinauthorreview.blogspot.com/. Thank you so much for hosting me, Janet. It’s been fun!
I thank you for being here and letting us learn a bit more about you, Lisa! You are one busy lady!
If you would like a chance to win an electronic copy of "Meander Scar" just leave a comment with email address after the review (which follows) in the comment section.
My review of "Meander Scar":
Meander Scar is a story of abandonment, love, forgiveness, and God’s grace. I enjoyed this book very much. I think Lisa did an excellent job of developing the characters and luring readers into their lives.
Ann has been trying to get her missing husband declared dead for several years. Her mother-in-law, with her money and power, keep Ann from filing the necessary papers. Her son seems to blame her for his father’s disappearance. So their relationship is a bit on the unstable side. One night there is a knock on her front door and she finds Mark standing there. Mark and his family are former neighbors of hers. Mark’s younger brother, who died in an accident, was friends with Ann’s son, Richie. He has come “home” to practice law and to be close to Ann. It seems he has had feelings for her for many years. Ann likes the attention she gets from Mark but she is still legally married and worried about what other people will think. There is also the fact that she is almost old enough to be his mother.
The romance between Ann and Mark is the main story but there is also a secondary suspense story about what happened to Ann’s husband. I highly recommend this book! I’ll admit the age difference between the two main characters made me a little uncomfortable at first, but when I got into the story I couldn’t put it down. There is so much going on and Lisa has written this so beautifully. This is not your typical romance, and for that I was glad!
I was provided a PDF copy of “Meander Scar” in exchange for my honest review.
I honestly loved this book!!
If you would like an electronic copy of Lisa's book, "Meander Scar", please leave a comment and an email address (so I can contact you if you win!) in the comment section. I think you will be pleased if you are the winner of this awesome book! The winner will be announced on Sunday, August 22, 2010. Good luck and God bless!