For years, she worked professionally as a corporate freelance writer and graphic designer. Not only can she Photoshop her way into a royal wedding, but she can write a PR piece that will make a cat in a tattered wolf costume sound like a Westminster Dog Show champion.
But when the struggle to keep her tongue out of her cheek gave her TMJ symptoms, she decided she’d had enough. It was time she joined the ranks of those intent on using humor to balance out the negatives in the universe. Now she is unleashing her comedic perspective on anyone willing to take the risk to read whatever she writes.
Having spent her formative years in small-town America, Lisa mastered the ability to amuse herself and others with tales about people we all wished lived next door (and some who really did). She’s bringing those stories to light in novels with funny characters experiencing sometimes inane circumstances and always finding happy endings (yes, she’s a sucker for them).
Almost living the American Dream, Lisa lives in south Jersey with her husband, two kids, and a dog. Alas, she has no picket fence.
What inspires you to write?
It’s the little things, as the saying goes.
My inspiration comes from things I experience, usually little things. I love to people watch and eavesdrop on conversations when I’m waiting in line or sitting in a public place. Often I’ll take note of a minor detail that stands out to me — the color of a jacket, the way two people casually hold hands — see or hear a snippet of a conversation and my mind will start asking questions about it. From those questions, characters appear and scenes develop.
My last book started because of a chance comment I overheard in a supermarket line. I was waiting my turn to check out. The person in line in front of me was a man dressed like a woman. He purchased one of those cellophane-wrapped bouquets of flowers that stores often have near the produce department. As he checked out, he mentioned to the cashier that he wished he could find a rose in the perfect shade of red. I couldn’t help but wonder what that color would look like. What would make it perfect? Did he furnish his house in that color or a complementary one? Did he have a cocktail dress of that color and longed for roses to match? Clearly my brain was off and running and very soon after, Mr. Wooley came to me and told me his story.
Tell us about your writing process.
I guess you could say I write an outline by the seat of my pants. And I’m old-school: I use notecards.
Scenes and characters come to me. As they do, I write them down using whatever writing instrument and whatever paper is available. Unfortunately, they seldom talk to me when I’m at my computer. After I gather enough “stuff” I sit down and put on notecards all the bits and pieces I get. Then I arrange the notecards on my dining room table to see where each would fit into a good narrative arc and to see what’s missing. I then create notecards to tell me what kind of information is missing and place them in the open spots. I number the cards, put them in order and that’s when I sit down at my desk to start pounding out the story.
I go card by card, typing away as fast as I can to let the story flow out of me. Once I get that very rough draft done, I start editing and revising. Then I edit and revise some more. After that I edit and revise. Oh and I edit and revise again at which point I edit and revise . . . you get the picture.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
They do talk to me but I don’t talk back. Whenever I try to talk to them, they clam up and disappear on me. And they’re very sneaky about the whole process. They don’t just outright appear and communicate with me. I have to be doing something semi-mindless (pulling weeds, taking a flat-iron to my hair, chopping vegetables, etc.) and let my brain wonder while I’m doing it. That’s when a character will come in or a scene will appear.
I have to be careful not to pay too much attention, though. If I look too closely, the characters go away. So I take Salinger’s advice — I think it’s in FRANNY AND ZOOEY when he warns (via a letter to Zooey from Buddy, I believe) against trying too hard to do something because when you do, you often fail. If I stay relaxed and semi-focused on something else, the characters come and go freely and the story flows beautifully.
What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t go it alone. Get thee a team of supporters and find people who can help you make whatever you are writing better. If you have someone read your work and they tell you they love it as is, thank them and go find someone willing to tell you what could be improved. Don’t ever stop being willing to improve your craft.
And that means, don’t let your ego prevent you from doing your best. No one likes to have their work critiqued by a reader who is less than thrilled with the manuscript. However, no one ever writes the perfect manuscript. Ever. You don’t have to listen and take to heart every comment a reader makes about your work, but do not dismiss the negatives because you don’t like or disagree with them. Take the time to think on the critiques as impersonally as you can and see if there is any merit in it. See if you can use the comment to make your work better.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
After I’d been published by a traditional house for a non-fiction book, I felt confident enough to try my dream of writing fiction. At first I queried agents and houses. I received much positive feedback on my writing ability but almost everyone told me the market for “funny fiction” was dwindling and too hard to sell. A few asked if I could write “darker” because they knew I had the writing chops and they could sell “dark” fiction.
I just can’t do “dark” without laughing so hard I can’t type. It’s not my nature. Besides, I don’t want to be known as a dark writer. I want to be known as a funny and uplifting writer. So I decided to self-publish. But, I have a tendency to over-research my decisions. And as I researched the best practices of self-publishing, I realized I wanted to create my own publishing house. So I did that. Now I have a small staff of people contracted to work with me. I’ve published my own books and those of a motivational speaker and I just signed on a thriller writer.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Eeeks! Tough question. Hmmmm . . . well, one of the side effects of the ebook revolution and the democratizing of publishing that it enabled is a burgeoning industry geared toward helping writers. There are now more book coaches, seemingly thousands of freelance copy and content editors, book formatters, book distributers, book cover designers, etc. than ever before. That industry will make self-published books achieve that quality goal set by the traditional houses and possibly even surpass it because it is not limited by bureaucratic policies that you often get in big corporations. In other words, I foresee self-publishing books and small-press books being perceived as “better” than traditional ones in the future.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: humorous fiction, mystery, suspence and women’s fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print, Audiobook
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.