Thank you for having me here. I’m a Wisconsin writer, a history buff too and live in a cool old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. My husband and I have two grown sons who are married. I belong to the Wisconsin Writers Association and edit the literary magazine, so I get to meet lots of great authors and aspiring authors. I enjoy reading, travel and watching movies when I have time.
When did you first discover that you loved writing?
I’ve never minded writing; however, learning the mechanics of proper, effective, and appropriate writing was something a bit frightening. It never occurred to me to sit down and try to write an entire novel until I was nearly finished with the Christian Writers Guild Apprentice Course. After I started targeted writing, I haven’t been able to stop.
Why do you write the type of books that you do?
My first attempts at novels were the product of the coursework and my imagination. Very soon afterword I learned that to sell, a writer must be somewhat mercenary: that is, go where the market is. There was a new opportunity opening in writing cozy, or lighter side, mysteries that I took advantage of, and soon sold my first book. Since that was a mystery, I continued to write them, but I also wanted to explore deeper characters and situations so I wrote a few novels that aren’t “genre,” like mystery or strictly romance.
What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it?
I have the same obstacle that every other writer has: how to reach the optimum amount of readers. There are few who make the elite pinnacle; the point at which they no longer have to court publishers, but can basically sell any idea. It’s still a stumbling block to me, but I’m working to overcome it by continuing to practice my craft, learn and grow as a writer, and work at making connections within the industry.
Has writing changed your life in any way?
I stay home to work now. I still don’t have any kind of regular schedule which is both good and bad because I enjoy volunteering and need to be available for my family. Writing which, to me, is my business that includes professional editing, mentoring and the hugely time-swallowing marketing, has forced me out of my small world of eating, sleeping and being local, into the international world of clients in Korea, Africa, and Asia, as well as all around the United States and Canada. That’s exciting, to see what’s going on around the globe.
What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?
I claim Hebrews 10:23 because it’s a testament that, while grace is a free gift, I am also responsible for holding onto the faith I profess. I’m not always good at it.
Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?
You could probably ask me this every month and I’d have a different answer. The last book I felt this way about was from a debut author from Alaska, Eowyn Ivey, who wrote The Snow Child, based on a Russian fairy tale. The nuances of language, layers of character, even punctuation, told the story so eloquently. As you say, truly spectacular.
What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?
Lately? I’m still sticking to my attempt a few years ago to undergo major surgery with only a spinal so I could experience the procedure. The surgeon said yes, then they fooled me in the operating room and put me out anyway. But she told me about it later.
Please tell us about the featured book.
We’re looking at the first two books of the Buried Treasure mystery series today, The Last Bequest and the sequel, The Map Quilt. These are lighter mysteries with a running thread of romance. Since the series had initially required romance, I had to be somewhat creative inventing a new romance for each of the following books, while still using the same main character as a principal sleuth. Judy, a teacher, inherits the farm when her great aunt passes away mysteriously. She meets the boy next door, Hart, falls in love; they work at figuring out who murdered poor Aunt Louise, and by the second book, are married and expecting a child. I introduce Hart, the husband, who gets to tell some of the story as it’s his boss who’s killed, and his invention that’s stolen. The romance then, falls to his widowed mother and the chief of police, and he’s not too happy about the whole thing, but needs to work with the chief in order to solve the murder and get his missing property back. The books also feature great cats, Carranza, in the first book, who plays a significant role to help discern who is trustworthy. Carranza’s son, Pancho Villa, picks up his role in the second book, when Carranza goes missing. The third installment, The Newspaper Code, is at the publisher. No release date has been established yet.
Can you please give us the first page?
Page one of The Last Bequest:
Judy Winters made divots in the lawn with her church shoes, the ones with the high heels she saved to wear once a week. She stopped her frenetic crisscross pacing under the clothesline to look at her trail. Hah! She could dethatch the entire yard if she kept walking. She needed a few minutes away from everyone in the house. Just a few minutes to grieve alone. And to think about poison.
Hand at her brow to shield the sun’s harsh light, Judy surveyed her late aunt’s farm. The half-acre surrounding the house sure could use work. What had Aunt Louise Jamison done these past two years to allow her once lovely yard to decline into crabgrass and thistles? Birds might enjoy the seeds, but no one could say she’d let the place go. Only a recent lawn-mowing kept the dandelions from taking over. Judy brushed a tear off her cheek, wondered inanely who had mowed since Louise’s death.
Louise reported feeling not up to par a week ago, and July had offered to come for a visit.
“Nothing to worry about.” Aunt Louise and assured. “Better that I rest, and I don’t want you catching whatever bug I’ve come down with, Judy dear.
And then the shocking phone call came from her aunt’s solicitor, Gene Reynolds. “Sorry to inform you, Miss Winters, but your aunt, Louise Jamison, has died.”
Before Judy could catch a breath, Reynolds continued in his monotone, “Looks like an apparent case of poisoning, according to initial reports.”
What was the saying? That Louise bought the farm Judy shook her head. What a horrible way to occupy her thoughts with her closest living relative freshly buried.
She continued to meander in the yard. Walking might keep her from wailing in grief in front of all these people. Louise had been all the family Judy had ever really known.
Gene Reynolds approached Judy as many of the guests were leaving. “Miss Winters, again our condolences.” He took her hand into his pudgy moist one. Judy steeled herself not to shudder. “I have the legal paperwork regarding Louise’s estate to go over with you, at your convenience.”
Reynolds’s pupils flickered just enough for her notice. He has something to gain. Sometimes Judy’s ability to decode body language came in handy. She’d picked up the trait in one of her continuing education courses and never seemed to be able to shake it.
Page one of The Map Quilt:
The Map Quilt starts with a prologue, but I’ll give you Chapter One.
Judy Wingate awoke with a start. Shaking her head, she realized she had been dreaming. Foggy images rolled through her mind of pioneer women doing…something. Hmm, teaching that Wisconsin history unit to her elementary school students, combined with her pregnancy, made for the most colorful nocturnal dramas. She eased the covers back, groaning with the discomfort of a full bladder. An internal kick made her grimace and rub her huge belly.
“Ugh! Two forty-five in the morning. I can’t believe I gotta get up again.” She set her feet on the floorboards, trying to rise delicately so as not to rouse her husband, Hart.
Judy headed downstairs with her eyes half-closed, holding onto the rail with both hands. The stealthy pet housecat, Pancho Villa, stopped her up short. “Pancho—outta the way—coming through,” Judy muttered as she danced around him. “We have got to get that second floor bathroom done.”
Yawning, Judy blinked and hoped she could fall asleep again easily. She could not afford to be groggy in front of her fifth grade students, who were already squirrelly this close to the end of the school year. She rubbed her arms and went to run a glass of water from the tap while she looked out the window. Something did not feel right. She frowned and rubbed at the kicks from Hart’s little soccer player, practicing on her ribs. She went through the mud room to the outside door and breathed deeply while she watched the waning moon near the horizon.
Where can readers learn more information about you?
You can access my social networking and schedule from my web site, www.lisalickel.com.
Thank you! I am delighted to be here, and thank you again for a fun interview.
Lisa has generously offered to giveaway an eBook copy of The Last Bequest and a print copy of The Map Quilt! Just leave a comment with your email address to be entered in the giveaway. Print giveaway is available to U.S. residents only. Be sure to check the sidebar (under Winner Announcement) after the giveaway is over to see if you've won. The winner must contact me by going to my "Contact Me" page and sending me an email.
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Giveaway ends on Saturday, March 9, 2013 at midnight (Eastern time). Winner will be chosen through Random.org.