For this guest post, suggested two topics and Lisa took the time out of her busy schedule to address them both. Enjoy!
I asked Lisa how she got her inspiration and ideas for the books she writes, this is here reply:
My stories are always a combination of fact and fiction. Many of the characters are based on friends, family and people I have met.
I never know where I will meet my next subject, in terms of storywriting. Several years ago, I received a reader email from Ed Stevens, a retired engineer, who offered to help with technical projects to spread word of the books via Internet. As we worked together, I learned that he had an amazing life history to share.
Those conversations with Ed became the genesis for Dandelion Summer, which an early reviewer called a cross between Water For Elephants, The Help, and Driving Miss Daisy (if you can imagine that combination). Dandelion Summer is the story of Norman, an aging widower who feels he has no reason left to live, and Epie, a young girl who needs someone to believe in her. When Norman's daughter hires Epiphany to cook for him in the afternoons, Norman resists, but over time, an unhappy coexistence leads to an unlikely friendship.
Norman's history mirrors that of Ed Stevens, who worked with the Howard Hughes team that designed America's first moon lander, Surveyor 1, during Kennedy's race to beat the Russians to the moon. What those men accomplished with 1960's electronics was truly a moment of American Camelot. In Dandelion Summer, Norman shares memories of that turbulent summer of sixty-six with Epiphany. Through Epiphany, Norman finds links to a family secret, mysterious memories of another life, and a young woman, a black housekeeper, who saved him.
I'm thrilled that both Publisher's Weekly and RT Bookreviews Magazine gave Dandelion Summer fantastic reviews, and the book has already garnered the interest of film production companies. I hope readers will enjoy getting to know Norman and Epiphany, learning a bit about Surveyor 1 and the crew that built her, and reliving that Camelot summer of 1966.
I also asked Lisa about her first experiences with publication and this was her reply:
I’ve wanted to be a writer for about as long as I can remember. A special first grade teacher, Mrs. Krackhardt, put that idea into my head when she wrote on my report card that she expected to see my name in a magazine one day. I didn’t get serious about freelance writing and selling until after I’d graduated from college, married, and started a family. I knew I wanted to write novels that meant something, that explore the human soul.
My first mainstream novel, Tending Roses, was inspired by my grandmother’s real-life stories, although the plot is fiction, and my family would like for me to tell you that the fictional family in the book is far more neurotic than my own. The book sold to NAL Penguin Group publishers, and sixteen books later, I’m still writing. I really can’t help it. I come from a long line of Irish storytellers and then have married into big southern family of natural storytellers. I remember Uncle Pug (did I mention that southern families are also rife nicknames no one can explain?) saying in passing once, "Some of my best adventures never really happened." That’s true for me. So many of my best adventures never really happened, except within the pages of a story.
This is Lisa's advice for new writers:
Much of the best writing comes from life. The trick is in sorting out which life experiences would be interesting to readers who don’t have a personal connection. I think new writers can benefit themselves by seeking out a few good readers and listen closely to their comments. There is so much benefit in contact with published and unpublished writers. Writers can find this by joining writers clubs and organizations, attending the meetings, communicating by email, reading online newsletters, asking questions of other authors in the newsletters, blogging with authors and readers, and so forth. Aside from that, it’s good to realize that the more you learn about rejection, critique, and revision before you sell a manuscript, the more equipped you will be to hit the ground running when you do sell a book. The rejections and revisions don’t stop after you sell—the rejections just become reviews, and the revisions become editorial letters, but the process is much the same.
Beyond the issue of community, there is the issue of finding a routine that works for you. You have to learn to work through difficulties. I don’t battle writer’s block nearly as much as I battle writer’s laziness. For so many of us, that is the issue. On any given day, there are a million other things that seem tempting—there’s email to answer, the house is dirty, something neat is happening in town, the kids think it would be fun to go swimming (so do I), I don’t want Dr. Phil to miss me when he comes on TV at 3:00. You name it, writing can be pushed aside for it. You have to find a way to battle that and finish a project. Having a complete project is essential for new writers. Rarely is a new writer able to sell a partial manuscript. The first step is to finish one, the second step is to send it out, and the third step is to start another. Writers have more than one story inside, and the more you put on paper, the more chances you will have to find a place in the market.
When you’re entering the market, you have to realize that rejections happen for many reasons. A rejection doesn’t necessarily mean the writing is bad or that writer doesn’t have a worthy story to tell. You have to keep trying, keep learning the craft and consider the possible reason for rejections. Don’t make alterations to your work based on one rejection, but if you receive the same critique from multiple people, take another look at your project and consider revising.
The publisher is offering one copy of Dandelion Summer to one winner from Debbie's Book Bag.
~ You must be a Google Friend Connect follower to participate.
~ US Addresses only (Publisher Request)
~ The deadline to enter this giveaway is Midnight EST July 29th.
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Great interview! I enjoyed your first experiences with publishing.
I love that Tending Roses, was inspired by Lisa's grandmother’s real-life stories. Great interview.
Dandelion Summer sounds fascinating and is now on my wish list.
I enjoyed reading this interview with Lisa and would love to win a copy of her book.
What a great interview. I like the premise of this book, it sounds great. Thanks!
Thanks for the giveaway. Your book sounds really good. Tore923@aol.com
I think it is very interesting that you were inspired by the life stories of someone who volunteered to help you. I feel sure that everyone has an interesting story from their life. It is a trick of getting it out though.
hi lisa...i loved reading about your inspiration for this fabulous story...thanks for the chance to read it :)
kmkuka at yahoo dot com
What an interesting guest post! I love learning about different authors and what inspires them to write what they do. And thanks so much for the giveaway:)
I like how the author bases her characters on people she has met.
lag110 at mchsi dot com
I love the sound of Dandelion Summer!
I would love to read this book.
lkish77123 at gmail dot com
I love Lisa's books. This one sounds good, and I'd like to read it. Thanks for having the giveaway.
Wow, your description of this book sounds awesome!!
I love that you are getting to do what you have wanted to do since first grade!
thanks for the contest!
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