Saturday, May 2, 2009

Author of Note - Lisa Lickel

I’m happy to welcome Lisa Lickel to The Bookshelf.

Thank you, Delia. I’m delighted to be part of your corner of cyberspace.

We want to talk to you about your books, and I have a few just-for-fun questions, as well. But first, tell us about you. Who is Lisa Lickel, the gal next door?

I’m a history buff who lives in a way cool old house with a biology teacher husband. Our kids are grown up and still love us. I live for reading, writing, and computer stuff. I enjoy serving at church, teaching Sunday School, putting the newsletter together, and sometimes getting the guitar out (but I’m not very good at it). I get a kick out of meeting other writers in all stages of our careers. I have no sense of direction whatsoever. My hair is still really curly, although it’s getting awfully gray.

Hey, you sound a lot like a writer gal I met in my mirror! Your website tells me you write “web content, freelance articles for magazines, devotionals and occasionally the news.” You also have two published books. Tell us a little about them.

The first book, published this year in February, was for Barbour’s mystery book club line, which was announced in 2005 or thereabouts. It was my “foot in the door” book. (Um, I recommend not trying that at home.) The Gold Standard, which my daughter-in-law titled, is a cozy mystery – that means no graphic gore and a certain amount of humor, and in this case, 20-50% romance. It is part of a series (which needs a new publisher now that the mystery bookclub folded), based on characters elementary schoolteacher Judy, her boyfriend/husband farmer Hart, their septuagenarian friends, and a very opinionated crime-solving cat.

Healing Grace, which debuts later this month, is the story of a guilt-ridden woman who tries to run away from God after believing she failed everyone around her. She soon learns that God loves her too much to let her get away. Through that love comes healing, even though it’s painful and costly.

How long have you been writing? Was there an “aha” moment when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

My story is a little different than so many real authors. I’m still in the growing up phase of my life, and after years of being an office junkie, decided to take an internet-based writing course. That was about the turn of the century. J Maybe it was a mid-life crisis. But things went pretty well, and I started selling my work before I “graduated” in 2002. I listened to the rule of “don’t quit your day job” until I got my second book contract. Unfortunately, that was a long two years ago. But I still want to be a writer as I grow up.

The excerpts from your books makes me want to dash right out and find them both. Where do you find inspiration for your stories?

I’m tickled, and I hope not to disappoint you. Inspiration often comes from real life events around me, in the news, and so forth. For the mystery, a neighbor wanted to know if anyone could figure out whose initials were carved into the trunk of a tree that were obviously there long before he moved to the house. My family and I visited Alaska, where I heard other stories about gold-hunting adventures. For Grace, it was a “what if” thought: What might the gifts of the Holy Spirit look like today? How would they work? I’m fascinated by our oldish-order Amish neighbors, and other societies like the Amana Colony residents, and the Hutterites. Grace was part of such a community.

How much time do you spend writing?

You mean, typing on the keyboard, putting pen or pencil to paper or thinking in complete sentences and entire scenes? Sensation included? That would be every waking, and best of all, dreaming moment, Delia. My husband knows that “look” in my eye, even if I’m not in the physical act of writing.

Again, sounds so familiar. What’s your best piece of advice for new and aspiring writers?

Ooh – I just did this one! My son is an English teacher who called to ask advice for one of his students. Go get yourself a Writer’s Market Guide and then find a mentor, either on line or through a local writing group.

Both are excellent pieces of advice. Together, it’s a dynamite combo! Give us one writing tip that you personally find invaluable.

Listen to a lot of advice, then do what you think works best for yourself.

Now for that off-the-cuff stuff I mentioned. If you could ask any person, living or dead, a random question – what question would you ask of whom?

I would like to ask my great-grandfather where he came from in Europe and how he got here. We’re really stuck trying to trace one branch of the family.

What books are on your bedside table right now?

Becoming Jane Austen, Handle With Care, The Hole in Our Gospel, City of the Dead, The Shape of Mercy, A Bilingual Collection of Russian Short Stories, to name a few. And not including the two I just brought home from Goodwill this afternoon – like I needed more!

Hey, who said a person has to need books to have them? What word annoys you more than any other?

There are so many obnoxious “fad” words that come and go; one word in my opinion that’s becoming useless is “farther.”

What “super power” would you like to borrow for awhile?

Kindness – in all circumstances, inside and out. To me, that’s a super ability which I struggle with. I can be so judgmental.

Can’t we all! Share a grammatical pet peeve … go ahead, sound off.

Oooh – so many! Grammar-wise: the agreement issue of English’s lack of genderless pronouns, as in “someone,” paired without a “him” or “her” later in the sentence. And my all-time favorite punctuation issue: misuse of the apostrophe. Yes, my friends, that was me with the black magic marker in the Walmart in West Bend.

What color crayon best describes you on a good day? Bad day?

That “take me away” piney aroma, cool and shaded forest green on a good day; Puce on a bad day.

I’m not sure which sounds worse – puce or Magic Marker black! Thank you for hanging out at The Bookshelf for awhile, Lisa! Where can my readers find your books?

The Gold Standard is at Amazon, as well as Healing Grace in a few weeks. It'll also be at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Fictionwise, and You can ask your local bookstore to order it through Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Brodart, or Emery-Pratt distributors.You can also e-mail me through my website for more details.

Got get ‘em, folks! Thanks again, Lisa, and we hope you sell a million.

Thank you, Delia.

About Lisa J. Lickel: I’m a graduate of the Christian Writer’s Guild’s Apprentice Course, and the author of two novels and counting; also radio theater with FreeQuincy Radio Theater, newspaper and magazine feature articles and interviews, and devotionals.
I relish the company of other writers in writing and reading clubs and am a history groupie. Married to a high school biology teacher, I enjoy travel, my old house in Wisconsin, and quilting.

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