Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Can you believe Summer is almost over?

I can't believe it. Today is July 31. Only one more month left before the kids go back to school, before the leaves start to fall and I can concentrate! That's right, I did say concentrate. On my writing. I love that during the summer I get to spend so much time with my kids and we do fun things and they go to camps(which is my only time to get any writing in during the three months of no school). But when then sun is shining its really hard to sit inside at a desk and write. I have a laptop and an alpha smart that can allow me to be moblie but I'd rather being out playing tennis with my son or gardening or taking hikes in the forest or swimming with daughter. Here in the Pacific Northwest summer is very precious because the rest of the year its raining. Usually, anyway. This has been a strange year. Last Feburary we had sunny days that rivaled any summer day. This summer we've had more rain than sun. Strange. But life is strange and yet God is always good. This is the sentiment I always remember as I'm writing my suspense books. I'm currently working on a book titled Double Jeorardy that will be out in summer 2008. As part of my research for this book I'm reading a book about the Witness Security Protection Program. Ideas for other stories keep clamoring for attention but I have to stay focused on the one I'm writing now where my herione is in the WitSec Program. I think it would be a hard life to live for someone of faith, always having to be careful not to let anyone know who you really are, yet trying to live a life that brings glory to God. My herione is just beginning to feel the push pull of wanting to tell the truth but also wanting to stay alive. The question will become does she trust God and His plan for her life? That's a question we all have to ask ourselves. A question I at times struggle with. But as the summer turns to fall and my deadlines loom closer and life starts spinning out of my control, I hope that I'll always be able to say yes, I trust God and His plan for my life. And I hope the same for you.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Twas the Night Before the Book was Due

Cara, thanks for tagging me. I'm going to address those questions next Monday (I love answering questions and really want to spend time on my responses). The reason for my delay? That dreaded guy time. Yup, I really don't have time to blog. I'm doing it anyway because I'm anal, and it would drive me nuts to miss a commitment. The reason I'm obsessing about time is 'It's the Night Before my Book is Due!" Yup, tomorrow my third Harlequin is leaving home. I still need to write the ending! (I've passed my goal of 300 pages and am turning the corner at 310 and know that up ahead 320 awaits me).

Today all my time will be devoted to Broken Lullaby.

First, I woke up on time this morning (think 6 a.m.) and polished 25 pages to give my critique group (Why is it I never finish my manuscript in time to get it ALL back from my critique group BEFORE it goes off to my editor).

Then, at 8:30, (after I dropped Mikey off at the babysitter) there was critique group (Pam, there's too much plot and not enough romance - I hate that they're right).

Next, at 11:00 I'm taking the edits from last night (After camping all weekend, I made time to meet my friend Stacy at 8:30 p.m. at Barnes and Noble where she handed back the complete manuscript, okay minus the ten pages that still need to be written, and gave me one last edit)
and I'll go through every page deleting overwriting, deleting unnecessary words, adding more romance, adding more of a faith element, and adding more interspection.

When that's done, I'm writing the final ten pages, and because I've edited (think deleted and tightened) I'll end at 300 pages, which was my goal, and I'll be happy. I'll also email the ending, those final ten pages, to Stacy who will read them and say overwriting, too many unnecessary words, good romance FINALLY, and you managed to tie up your faith element so it's believable.

My critique group (waving at Cathy, Libby, and Connie) will read the last 50 pages and then give me advice to use when I get the revisions.

Finally, I'll print the whole thing out and I'll read it one more time.

During this 24 hour span, my husband will be a single father. Mikey will eat McDonalds (my bad) and I'll rethink the possibilities of becoming the first Maytag Repair Woman. No deadlines there.

Tah tah, I'm off to edit!

Friday, July 27, 2007

On the road again...

I'm totally in love with the idea of the mobile office these days. As my kids grow older and get more involved in activities for school and recreation, I find myself constantly on the move. My neighbor, who lives across the street and has a bird's eye view of my driveway, actually counts the number of times I climb into my mini-van and drop off and pick up children.

Because of my busy lifestyle (Remember, I have 4 teenagers and none of them drive yet.) I've had to learn how to write in short spurts of time. It's not uncommon for me to put in an hour of writing before the kids get up during the summer months. (Teenagers sleep very late.) And I usually give myself an hour mid-afternoon after they've had lunch but before my 16 year old boy comes into the room to tell me he's starving and there's nothing in the house to eat. (This always boggles my mind since my food bill is consistently over $250 a week.) My best time still seems to be when the kids are asleep. In between, I'm either tending to family stuff or I'm on the road carting the kids around. Cheerleading practice will be starting in a few weeks and I'll be back and forth to the school to drop off my daughter and then wait until the bus arrives after her games.

I used to regard this wait time as dead time for my writing. I couldn't be at the computer and I couldn't bring my desktop with me in the car. But in these days of laptops, Alphasmarts and PDAs, working on the road is far easier. Right now I'm in Florida on a family trip. The 3 hour flight down from New England was productive, thanks to my using my laptop on the plane. I'm not a white-knuckled flyer, but I do find I get a little bored just looking out the window if I don't have a good book to read. Having just returned from Dallas for the Romance Writer's of America conference, I have a suitcase full of good books. But this time I chose to write.

I wasn't sure if I was going to be able to really get into my story with so much going on in the plane. My girls were seated around me and the stewardess was moving up and down the aisle with complimentary sodas and coffee. (I decided to forego the drinks and save myself from the possible spillage on my laptop.) I was also surprised that I was able to drown out the noise of the plane and the chatter around me so that I could completely become engrossed in my story.

As you read this, I'm probably at DisneyWorld with my girls. I don't care how old I get, I still love Disney and the Magic Kingdom.

My next step is to get a good pocket digital recorder for those times I'm alone in the car and want to get some ideas down. I'm liking the mobile office a lot and it's a good thing. With 4 kids I'm on the road a lot!

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Books & Writing Tag

My friend Crystal Miller tagged me over at her blog. Sometimes I avoid tags, but this one is all about books and writing, so right up my alley. Here goes:

1. What's the one book or writing project you haven't yet written but still hope to?
I have to think about this one. So far, I've gotten to write everything I wanted to. Now I just need more time to write. I sat down and looked at the rest of the calendar for this year and got...um...urgent. Not quite panicked, but realized I have zilch down time. There's one story brewing in a corner of my mind about WWII. I'd love to tell that one, but probably won't have time until January to work up that proposal.

2. If you had one entire day in which to do nothing but read, what book would you start with?
My TBR pile is huge! It's ready to take over the floor along my bedside. Every time I read a book, it seems two take its place. The books are more prolific than rabbits! But if I had to choose -- which the question requires -- I'd grab either a short fun one to start with like Jdy Baer's Mirror, Mirror or Allie Pleiter's The Perfect Blend. Since either one of those will only take a couple hours and I have all day, then I'd move on to HeadGame by Tim Downs (he just won the Christy for suspense and he's good). After that, if I still had time, which with 24 hours to do nothing but read, I would -- I'd move on to either Snitch by Rene Gutteridge or Bygones by Kim Sawyer. Wooh! Glad I read fast! That would only leave about 20 books in my pile :-)

3. What was your first writing "instrument" (besides pen and paper)?
An old computer. You know, the kind with a dot matrix printer, and the holes along the edge of the paper you had to pull off. Whoever created the first computer has my immense thanks. Can't imagine life without them -- or the Internet -- or email.

4. What's your best guess as to how many books you read in a month?
10-15 easily -- and that's in month's like this when I'm writing like crazy. Months I'm not writing it's more like 25.

5. What's your most favorite writing "machine" you've ever owned?
My laptop with the wireless. I love this puppy. It gives me all kinds of mobility and freedom. But I've read about some that only weigh 3-5 pounds. Now that would be sweet!

6. Think historical fiction: what's your favorite time period in which to read? (And if you don't read historical fiction--shame on you.)
Umm. No contest. World War Two :-)

7. What's the one book you remember most clearly from your youth (childhood or teens)?
One? Only one? This is killing me! I read 30+ books a month as a young adult. I inhaled books from the start of first grade. And you only want one. Argh. It would have to be Ballet Shoes or Little Women. I think. I also loved Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Beldon, Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, Happy Hollisters, A Grandma's Attic series, Mandy series, you get the idea.

But there's one book, I'll never forget. I was in first grade. Small (tiny) Christian school. There was a book about the girl who told Namaan to got to Elijah to get cured of leprosy. Supposedly at a sixth grade level. Someone told me I couldn't read it because I was only in first grade. That's like showing a bull red. I must have read that book dozens of times before we moved. And I still remember it... though I couldn't tell you the title to save my life.

Okay, I tap the other Craftie Ladies of Suspense. How would you answer these questions?

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The Editing Process

I've been working on the final edits for my third Love Inspired Suspense, MIA: MISSING IN ATLANTA, which will be a March 2008 release. One of the nicest surprises after making my first sale was the realization that I now had a team of experts working with me. My editor, the marketing and art departments, the copy editor, and in fact the entire publishing house are all part of the group of professionals working to ensure every book I write is the best possible story.

I received the line item edits for MIA from my editor, Jessica Alvarez, about a week ago. Jessica has such a great eye for detail, and I can always trust her suggestions for improvement. I'm almost finished reviewing the manuscript, and I know it's a stronger story because of her involvement.

Before my first book sold, I thought of writing as a solitary process with little opportunity to get good feedback. Of course, I relied on my critique partners to tell me if I was on track. I also entered contests to learn what the judges thought of my work. But any other exposure to creative criticism was hard to come by, so I greatly appreciate the support I now receive from my editor and publishing house staff.

Whether published or unpublished, I think critique groups are a must for writers. If you aren't in a group now, talk to a few of your writing friends and see if they want to get together weekly or every other week. Exchange pages and offer suggestions for the stories you review. A fresh set of eyes reading a story can often identify problems the author never would have spotted.

Getting together with a group of writers is always fun. My critique partners are good friends and great reviewers. Often we'll brainstorm new story ideas, and by putting our minds together, we come up with some interesting plot twists . . . which reminds me, I need to get back to work and finish my edits.

Wishing you all the best!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Why Go to Conferences?

Last week, at this time, I was just returning from Dallas, Texas, after attending the Romance Writers of America's national conference. It was an awesome time. Picture yourself sitting among 2000 authors. The hum of voices rises to the ceiling. The clicking of laptop keys echoes in the background. The scratching of pens accompanies the above. It's a great time to be a writer. Not only do we have how-to books, online workshops, college classrooms, and friends that urge us along our path, but it's not that hard to find a weekend with a writing conference planned.

I've attended many.

As an unpubbed author, I remember being dreamy-eyed impressed with those who had somehow attained the magical status of published. I can remember sitting at tables with authors whose books graced my bookcases. I remember sitting in workshops where every word was gold and dutifully recorded in my notebooks.

As a seasoned unpubbed author, I remember being sharp-eyed, impressed with those who had not given up because the path was not easy. Being published is not 'really' a magical status, it's a hard-fought, hard-won status. I can remember sitting in hotel lobbies and realizing that networking is the best tool of all. I remember about this time I was more critical of the books that were to grace my bookcase. I was reading more like a writer than a reader and boy you'd better impress me. I remember picking and choosing workshops not because I liked the speaker, but because I needed the topic.

As a multi-published author, I am the droopy-eyed, overbooked, author who knows that I need to keep up with the market, know who the movers and shakers are, and listen. The magic disappeared when deadline realities appeared. It's a wonderful feeling. Oh, and a by product of having deadlines is... the books on my shelves are yelling for me - no begging! - for me to "Come read us. We miss you." The newest Harry Potter book, dutifully purchased the day 'after' it came out will be first. Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum is tapping her foot and scolding, "You're two behind!" and then there's the newest Heather Graham. The workshops aren't as much fun because craft is no longer the 'only' goal. Now it's understanding contracts, bookstore etiquette, and numbersnumbersnumbers.

You know what? I can hardly wait for San Francisco. I'll be even more dreamy-eyed, sharp-eyed, and droopy-eyed. Please sit down beside me and say, "Isn't this fun!"

I'll be sure to say YES!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Coming home from Dallas!

I mean that literally and figuratively here. It was such a blast to go to Dallas and meet all the Ladies of Suspense there as well as other Steeple Hill authors. I found myself glad that my blog wasn't due until Friday because it has taken me all this time to get home (after picking up 4 kids at my mother's house), unpacking, (Not just for me but for the 4 kids) and wade through all the emails in my in box.

The conferences was wonderful. Highlights include meeting the Love Inspired editors, Krista Stroever and Melissa Endlich as well as getting all dolled up for the Harlequin Party. The Love Inspired authors danced the night away. Rooming with Pam was a treat, too! She definitely gets my Most Determined award for sitting on a bus for a day just to get to Dallas and then spending another full day on a bus to get home. I'm so glad she did it though. Otherwise, we wouldn't have been able to have as much fun as we did together.

The literacy signing was fabulous and RWA raised over $50,000 to donate toward literacy. I didn't have a Love Inspired book to sign (I had two of my Avalon books) but you can be sure I'll be signing Cradle of Secrets and if the publisher allows, Her Only Protector, next year.

Now that I've had a chance to sleep and get everything back in order, I'll be working on finishing Her Only Protector. My deadline is still a few months away, but I'm having a great time writing it.

Until next time...many blessings, Lisa

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Finished Another Book...Kind of

Late Friday night/early Saturday morning, I finished the first draft of Sandhill Dreams! Woohoo!

Let me tell you, it is a great feeling to type in the last word and then the final period. I have lived with this story for about five weeks. About six of every seven nights I would sit down to write. The characters felt like friends the further into the book I got. Many times I didn't even have to think about what the characters would do. I just knew.

Now the fun part...going back and adding layers, catching typos, making sure I wrote what I actually think I wrote. And the big one...filling in gaps. You see I have instincts as I'm writing. My mind keeps going over what's been written even as I continue to move forward. I have two dear friends who have read the book as it's been written and they've confirmed my suspicions about what needs to be enhanced and clarified.

Here's hoping the collaborative effort makes it my best book yet! I think it's a good one!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Home Again

I loved attending the Romance Writers of America Conference in Dallas last week! The days were packed with great workshops and excellent speakers, but the most fun was seeing old friends and making new ones. With 2,000 writers attending the conference, there was always a new person to meet.

Did anyone else see Prudence, the pink pig from Iowa? The gals from the Iowa chapter were showing her the sights in Dallas, and I had the pleasure of meeting Pru during the Mystery and Suspense Writers tour on Tuesday. Pru dressed up that night for the buffet dinner by wearing a to-die-for pair of diamond studs in her cute little piggy ears. :)

Spending time with other Steeple Hill authors is always a treat, and this year I was able to meet our own Crafty Ladies Pamela and Lisa for the first time. They're great gals and so talented!Terri Reed--another of our Ladies of Suspense--is on the RWA Board and did so much to make the conference a success. It was great seeing her as well. The LofS made a point to get together often throughout the conference and again at the gala Harlequin party on Friday night when everyone looked so beautiful in their party attire!

Saturday started off with the 8:30 AM workshop I had the honor of presenting with Steeple Hill authors Janet Dean and Leigh Bale. Our Senior Editor Krista Stroever joined us for an informative look at a writer's FIRST YEAR ON THE JOB. We hope to present the program next year so if you missed us in '07, be sure to look for us in '08!

Later that day, I attended two workshops given by screenplay consultant Michael Hauge. The man is a genius! I learned so much that I hope to incorporate into my stories in the future.

The flight back to Atlanta on Sunday went smoothly. I sat with my dear friend and great critique partner Darlene Buchholz, and we brainstormed some new ideas for our stories. We also did a fill in the blank drill that Michael Hauge suggested. Apply the following sentence to your character and see what you come up with: I'd do anything to (include your character's goal here), but just don't ask me to (insert his or her greatest fear) because that's just not something I would ever do. Mr. Hauge's technique is a great way to come up with the obstacle that will most dramatically affect the character. At the end of his talk, he challenged all the writers to fill in the blanks for their own writing goals. His premise was there may be something holding us back. If we can identify our struggle, we can work to overcome the problem to achieve our dream. Try it and let me know if it works for you.

The conference was great, but I must admit that I was ready to come home on Sunday. Yes, I had a wonderful time and enjoyed every minute, but as Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, "There's no place like home." Let me know about your conference experience, and if you couldn't make it this year, start planning now to attend in 2008 when RWA heads to San Francisco!

Wishing you abundant blessings,


Thursday, July 12, 2007

The story or market?

I'm a Nebraskan at heart, and as I'm sitting here working on Sandhill Dreams -- set in, you guessed it, Nebraska -- I was doing some quick research on Nebraska authors to make sure their books were in print in 1943. As I did that I ran across this quote from Bess Streeter Aldrich. Some of you may have read her books including A Lantern in Her Hand (truly one of the great prairie stories). Anyway, the author notes at the beginning contained the following quote that I thought you might enjoy.

"A Lantern in Her Hand" was written to please no one but my own consciousness of the character of many of those pioneer mothers. It was written in the so-called "mad twenties" when most of the best-selling books were about sophistication, flaming youth, or far-flung countries. There was some youth in it, but not of the flaming type. There was no sophistication, for Abbie Deal was of the soil. There was not even diversity of scene, for Abbie was only a homemaker.

"Lantern" seemed destined to be lost in the wave of the popular type of the times. That it has made new friends each year since that day might be a bit of a lesson for young writers. Regardless of the popular literary trend of the times, write the thing which lies close to your heart." (quote found at http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks05/0500521h.html#e01)

One challenge for writers is whether to write for the market or the story. The thinking is what good is it to write a great book that noone will ever see. Why not focus on markets that I know editors are looking for? I never planned to write historical romance. Yet three of my first four books are in exactly that genre.

However, I have been able to marry my deep love for Nebraska and World War Two into these books. They have been a joy to research and write because I find them fascinating. I'm blessed to have editors who are as intrigued by the stories as I am. Hopefully, readers will love them, too.

I also write suspense. The book Love Inspired Suspense purchased is high intensity and set in Nebraska. I wrote the book thinking there would be a market, but knowing that it was a story I wanted to tell. It was the kind I love to read. I didn't know if it would find a home, but wrote it anyway with a couple ideas for houses that it might fit at. Fortunately for me, one of those houses agreed with me!

So Bess' quote resonated this evening as I read it. Especially in light of a conversation we had today at the Indiana Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. Should we write to the market or to the story? Like any self-respecting attorney, I think the answer is a mix of both.

So as I chase the dreams God placed in me to write, the challenge is not to chase the market so much I lose the story. Yes, I need to know the market. But even more I need to be obedient to tell the story God gives me. And just maybe I will write something timeless that is still read 80+ years later.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

I'm in Dallas for the National Romance Writers Conference. It's always a great week to reconnect with old friends and to meet new ones. I flew in from Atlanta on Monday, checked into the hotel and had a relaxing night. I spent Tuesday with over 100 members of the Mystery and Suspense Chapter of RWA, also known as the Kiss of Death Chapter! The officers put together a fantastic program each year with workshops and hands-on programs by experts in the crime field. This year Detective Michel Carroll from the Fort Worth Police Department walked us through a real Homicide investigation. Detective Manuel Reyes in the Cold Case Division filled us in on his speciality--robbery, crime scene search, burglary, homicide . . . okay, the guy's a expert in everything! I'm a medical technologist so I especially enjoyed hearing from Thomas Stimpson, the Director of the Forensic Division. In the afternoon, five search and rescue specialists gave us the "how to" on SAR. I filled a notebook with information that will probably show up in a book or two down the road. Really, it's a suspense writer's dream to be able to talk to the experts in all those fields. What amazes me is that they're always so happy to share the information and answer any questions the Kiss of Death gals and guys may have.

Tuesday evening the KOD chapter hosted a yummy buffet dinner, and we had the privilege of listening to Gayle Wilson speak. Gayle's one of my favorite people and a fantastic author. She's also the most gracious and welcoming person I know--a beautiful Southern Lady from Alabama and past president of RWA.

Today, I'm attending the Faith, Hope and Love Chapter's conference with talks from established inspirational authors, an editor/agent panel and luncheon with the presentation of the Touched By Love and Readers' Choice Awards. In the afternoon, we'll have our business meeting and worship service, which is always a special time as we lift up everyone at the conference. I always pray for my readers, so I'll be remembering you in my prayers this afternoon.

Any of you who have attended RWA know that Wednesday evening is the mega book signing for literacy with over 400 authors participating. The publishers donate the books and the proceeds benefit literacy. This will be my first time to sign at Nationals and I'm so excited!

I wrote for SOUTHERN LADY MAGAZINE for a number of years -- it's always been my favorite ladies' mag! This year, I'll be giving away ten one-year gift subscriptions to SOUTHERN LADY (each one is a $21 value) throughout the conference. If you're at Nationals, be sure to stop by my table at the book signing to enter the drawing for free subscriptions. Let me know if you're an Army wife and you'll receive a gift as well. In addition, I'll give subscriptions to those who enter my contest in the Goody Room.

Bright and early Saturday morning, I'm presenting a workshop with debut Steeple Hill authors Leigh Bale and Janet Dean. Steeple Hill senior editor Krista Stroever will join us as we discuss THE FIRST YEAR ON THE JOB: FROM "THE CALL" TO PUBLICATION. I feel so honored to be able to speak at the conference and I'm praying we get a good turnout despite the 8:30 AM time slot. If you're at the conference, I hope you'll be there to cheer us on!

I'll fill you in on more of the details next Wednesday. Be sure to stop by then and say hello!

Wishing you abundant blessings,


Monday, July 9, 2007


Tomorrow I leave for Dallas and the RWA conference. If you lined up all the participants in a row as per who wants to be there and who doesn't (maybe there are no doesn'ts?), I'd be in the middle.

See, six months ago when I decided to go, all I could think about was going to my first Harlequin party. Wow. The first RWA conference I attended was in Anaheim oh so many years ago. There were four of us sharing a room. Me, Tiffany, Laurie Campbell, and Sharon Swan. Friday night here came Harlequin's party. They sent busses to pick up their authors. Tiffany and I could see the busses from our hotel room's window. We stood there, the two of us, noses pressed to the glass, and watched as Laurie and Sharon boarded. It was Laurie's second party and Sharon's first. I made a goal right then and there. I would, someday, be going to that party.

I should have gone last year.

But here's why I'm in the middle.

I am afraid of flying! Terribly afraid. I carpooled to Anaheim (It's fairly close to Phoenix!) I've taken the train everywhere else (It takes four days by train to get to New York from Phoenix - same for Washington). During my train days, I didn't have a young son to care for. You should be shaking your head at my fear and the time I've spent avoiding the plane. But, it's my fear and it doesn't seem to want to go away.

Last year I purchased plane tickets, arranged a room, paid for conference, and didn't go.

I blamed the second reason why I'm in the middle about going to the conference. His name is Michael. Last year he was one. This year he is two. Everyday he learns something new. He's saying new words everyday. He's suddenly very possessive of me. How can I leave him for five days! Last year I didn't have a daytime babysitter for him. It was the truth, but the truth also was my husband understood about the Harlequin party and would have taken off work. Does this show you how afraid of flying I am.

I really, really, really, really want to meet the editor who purchased my first Harlequin. Her name is Krista Stroever.

Tomorrow I fly off to Dallas. God has taken care of all the details. He's arranged flying friends, the babysitter is in place, the husband is agreeable, he's given me an elder to talk to about my fears. God has even taken some of the worries away.

Pray for me as I fly.
Pray that I allow God to take all my worries away.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Raising kids can be such a rewarding experience. It can also be quite frustrating. I have been blessed with 4 children ages 13, 14, 15 and 16. No, I didn't plan it out that way. Who in their right mind would have 4 kids that close together? My blended family consists of my two daughters and my niece and nephew, who my husband and I have been raising for the last 6 years.

I used to think that it was hard to try to write when the kids were babies. I needed to keep my eye on them all the time and it was hard to immerse myself in my stories with one eye on the monitor and the other on the kids playing around my feet. (If I was lucky. My youngest daughter had a way of defying every barrier I put in place.)
When they were old enough to play in their room, I still had to watch them constantly. I recall the day I went running into the bedroom after hearing a loud bang only to find my youngest (the daredevil) and my niece (her partner in crime) decided to strap their school backpacks on their backs and jump off the top bunk like they were parachuting. I told them they were going to hurt themself if they jumped off the bed and not to do it. They very sweetly promised they wouldn't (picture 4 and 5 year old girls with big blue eyes looking up at me) and then I left them to play. A few minutes later as I'd managed to get back into the scene I was working on I heard another loud bang! I ran to the bedroom and found my parachuters on the floor. My daughter looked at me proudly and said, "We didn't jump off the bed momma. We jumped off the bureau." No wonder there is so much gray hair underneath my Loreal haircolor.

I really looked forward to being able to work when they got older. Now that they are fairly self-sufficient (they can use the microwave and I don't have to watch them climb stairs) I figured I'd have loads of time to be able to write.

Well, now that schools out, I'm finding it more difficult than ever. It's almost worse now that they're older. The oldest and the youngest take pleasure in verbal boxing matches on a daily basis, with me playing referee. The other two seem to need me desperately just to choose the color of nail polish or lip gloss they should wear, and the oldest is convinced I know nothing and takes every opportunity to tell me so as he asks me to cart him all over town. (He's 16 and everything that comes with 16.)

I'm seriously considering going back to my old habit of writing during the middle of the night, hence the reason this blog is being written at 1:00 AM! The house is finally quiet, my beagle has claimed a spot on my bed, my ragdoll cat is curled at my feet and every so often gives my big toe a love bite to let me know she's there.

Now if only I could stay awake without caffeine, I'd be able to get some writing done. But alas, my one vice is my cup of coffee and I'm finally able to enjoy it now that I don't have to pick up anyone or settle any arguments.

I'm working on chapter 4 of the follow up book to Cradle of Secrets, which will be out 11/07. The next book had a working title of Desperate Secrets but the title is now Her Only Protector and will be out next summer. I'm having loads of fun writing this book. Unlike Cradle of Secrets, which is set in a small ficticious New England town, Her Only Protector is set in South America and is full of international intrigue and adventure.

For the next few months, I'll be burning the midnight oil on this book while the kids sleep. I'll be blogging in the middle of the night and if you happen to see me on line, IM me. I could use some adult conversation.

Until next time, many blessings, Lisa

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Ack! I've Got a Contract

A couple weeks ago I sold my first suspense.

I am beyond excited. This is the first book I started when I decided to try my hand at writing. It's also the second book I completed. I still remember the rush of reaching the end and feeling so excited.

Originally, this was a 85,000 word book. The editor who looked at it decided it wasn't a good fit for her house -- and she was right. So I sat on the book for several months -- busy with other things.

In December I followed up with another editor who had expressed an interest in the book.

Frankly, I was embarrassed to contact her -- it had been over a year since her invitation to submit it. She said she'd want to see it -- but the complete manuscript. I thought she'd just want the proposal, and make a decision whether to read the rest after that. Nope. She wanted the whole bloated thing -- her line only accepted 65,ooo word manuscripts.

Over Christmas, my sister and I spent a couple afternoons rereading the book and figuring out how to rework the plotline to fit this house's guidelines. A couple chapters were easy kills. But that only cut 8,000 words. It was still bloated and not a great fit for some of their guidelines.
I spent the next four weeks chopping and trimming, and at the end of January mailed the book off with a prayer.

That same week I signed with an agent, and let her work with the editor. About six weeks later -- during which time I sold two more books on proposal -- I got an email from my agent that the editor liked the manuscript, but it still needed some work before they could accept it. Was I willing to revise it?

With that hint of encouragement I went back to work. Of course, during this time, I learned that the word count was shrinking to 60,000 words! Ack!!!! I had to add plot and twists, while cutting words. I took a deep breath and went back to work. I love the way it developed. I really thought we were getting close. The good news is we are -- and any day now I should receive the contract.

But the fun has begun. Within forty-eight hours of getting the call from my agent, I had to complete a cover art sheet questionnaire and create a list of alternate titles. The new title is Deadly Exposure, and I love it. I still have a lot of work in front of me as I rewrite the book -- again -- based on the revision letter I received from my editor. The best part is I know it will be stronger when I'm done.

So watch for Deadly Exposure in June 2008 from Love Inspired Suspense. And pray that I can balance two deadlines that fall within two weeks of each other in August. Now I'm writing and revising under deadline.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


Hi Everyone,

I'm so happy to be part of the Craftie Ladies of Suspense! Pamela emailed me a few days ago and asked if I wanted to join the group. Of course, I was thrilled. I love the site and love chatting with other authors and readers. I know we're going to have so much fun in the days and months ahead. Thanks, Pam, for inviting me to be Wednesday's lady!

Well, it's the Fourth of July, and I'm wearing red, white and blue and waving our flag because I'm so proud to be an American! I was raised an Army Brat (that's a nice term for kids with a dad or mom in the military), married my hubby at Fort Knox, KY, and traveled the world as he served for 26 years on active duty and then as a civilian government employee. We have three "Brats" of our own and now our son is in the military. So not only am I an Army Brat, but I'm also an Army Wife and an Army Mom. As you can imagine, today my heart goes out to all the men and women who serve in the Armed Forces and especially to those deployed so far from home. My prayers are for them and for the families who wait for their return. If you have loved ones in harm's way, be sure to post a comment and let me know their names so I can add them to my prayer list.

Now about my writing . . . my debut novel, NOWHERE TO HIDE, was an April release from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. My second book, SCARED TO DEATH, will be out in August. I've been having a wonderful time meeting lots of readers and speaking at various writer and reader events. Since I'm an extrovert, I've really enjoyed that part of the writing life. My third book, MIA: MISSING IN ATLANTA, will be a March 2008 release from Steeple Hill. Right now, I'm working on two more story ideas to submit to my editor. Character names are always important. If you have a favorite name, let me know!

To celebrate the Fourth, I'll be marching in my town's parade this morning, then spending the rest of the day with my family. Hubby will grill steaks in the evening. We'll also have corn-on-the-cob, salad and baked potatoes with ice cream for dessert. Then we'll pile into our golf cart and head for a clear, grassy spot to watch the fireworks. What are your plans for the day?

If any of you are attending the National Romance Writers Conference in Dallas next week, visit my table at the book signing for literacy on Wednesday evening. I'll be giving away a free gift to every Army wife who says hello. In addition, I'll have drawings for one-year gift subscriptions for Southern Lady Magazine, my favorite ladies' publication. Yearly subscriptions cost $21 so be sure to submit your name for the drawing. By the way, I wrote for Southern Lady for a number of years, and the editor, Ande Fanning is the best!

I hope you have a fantastic Fourth of July! Be sure to visit the Craftie Ladies often so we can get to know one another. I'll be holding down the fort on Wednesdays!

Much love,


Monday, July 2, 2007

Lessons We Learn

My son is not afraid of water - at all. Right now we take a Toddler/Mommy (ages 1-3) swim class. It's the only one available for his age at our neighborhood pool. We took this class last summer too. Last summer, the lifeguard said to maybe try the level one class (ages 3-5). See, at age one my son could do all the toddler things: blow bubbles, put head under water, jump off the side of the pool, kick, etc. He can still do all those things. What he cannot do, as a two year old, is obey commands - consistently. Which is why we're in the toddler class again instead of level one.

My son's dilemma reminds me of a writer friend of mine.

She's good, really good. She can do all the things a pre-published writer should be able to do: manage pov, plot, brainstorm, develop characterization, understand conflict, etc. What she cannot manage to do is sell a book to a major publisher. Why? I wish I knew the answer. See, my friend has about decided to quit writing. I've tossed all the "On average, it takes ten years", "On average, it's your fifth manuscript", and "Stephen King had a room wallpapered in rejections", encouragements I know at her. She's still ready to quit.

My son is really too advanced for the Mommy/Toddler class. We could easily stay home or do something else - preschool maybe? But, see, he's a great swimmer, even if there's not a spot for his skill level. So, we go to the toddler class and there's a different teacher every time, and somehow we always manage to get a little better, get a little closer to level one. Maybe the only thing my son is learning is how to listen.

My friend is really too advanced to be considered a beginner. Yes, she could easily do something else - crocheting maybe? But, see, she's a great writer, even if she hasn't been published yet. So, in my opinion, she should stay in that chair in front of her computer and write a different book. It will, as usual, be better than her last, and she'll be a little closer to publication. Maybe the only thing my friend is learning is how to submit, submit, submit.

Here's the truth. My friend is a better writer than I am. I just submitted more.