Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Lisa Lickel and UnderStory

Today, we welcome Lisa Lickel! Come, pull up a comfy chair, and meet Lisa! At the end of the post, please leave a comment about what your favorite kind of cheese is and you'll be entered into the drawing for Lisa's book!

Here's Lisa's bio:   
Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer and editor who lives with her husband in the rolling hills of western Wisconsin. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes inspiring fiction. Her novels include the Buried Treasure mystery series, award-winning romance, a series of historical early reader books, First Children of Farmington, and two novellas. She also writes short stories, feature articles, and radio theater. She is a member of the Chicago Writer’s Association. Lisa loves to encourage new authors through mentoring, speaking, and leading workshops and is an avid book reviewer and blogger, and a freelance editor. She is married to a high school biology teacher, and they have two sons and daughters in law, grandchildren and a grand-kitty. Find more at

Joi: Why did you start writing? How did you start writing?
Lisa: I’ve always enjoyed writing but I never thought about writing professionally. After working with my local historical society and writing articles, I was gainfully employed in 2001 when I took Jerry Jenkins’ Writer’s Guild course online. I did pretty well, netting some early magazine article sales, a good standing in the first Operation: First Novel contest, eventually signed with an agent and first contracts in 2007. I tried various critique groups, had some good and not-so-good experiences, but kept chugging along.

Joi: How did you select your genre?
Lisa: I like to tie a bit of history into everything I write, and often tend to delve into odd medical problems, or at least research unique or rare conditions. I wanted to show how prejudice looks from differing viewpoints, and when dangerous situations cropped up for my people in the story, my agent read some early drafts and called the book romantic suspense.
Joi: I could never do that! I'm a hypochondriac!

Joi: What is your writing day like?
Lisa: Every day is flexible for me. I’ve moved into editing and mentoring, so that’s my primary work. Sometimes I can schedule chunks of time for my own works, but I tend to block out the rest of the world and not be very good with time management when I’m writing for myself, so that gets tricky. We get up early, I have specific devotional time, work for a while, exercise, do errands and volunteer jobs, work for a while…put out client fires, read, make dinner…work for a while…

Joi:How do you organize your writing? (outlines/note cards/post-its)
Lisa: I do some outlining based on a one-two page synopsis that’s always flexible. I create a page for my characters to note their features and problems and past and goals, and do a similar thing with setting. Sometimes I write short scenes or dialog that have to go somewhere or not on another page. In my main document I usually have sentence or two chapter goals to work on, knowing I need to put in certain information by this point, going from here to there with so-and-so finding out that. It’s easier if I can just keep going and going once I have the research and plot sorted out.

Joi: What's the most surprising thing a character has “told you”?
Lisa: In UnderStory, the main male character is Cameron Taylor, a bi-racial light-skinned man whose full sister is darker-skinned black. Georgia has always had a chip on her shoulder because she felt out of place. Her response as a child was to treat her brother as a pariah of sorts, but later to steer him toward living and being proud of being black when she thought he was crossing the line toward whiteness. It was an eye-opening look at a family’s view of racial pride and prejudice, so to speak, within itself.

Joi:Do you have a list of characters that you're saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters.
Lisa: I no longer do entire worksheets on my characters (see my website for downloadable pages), but I do use the questions on my sheets to develop basic features and characteristics for individuals as they appear. I don’t really create people for work I’m actively performing, but as a people-watcher, I always have some traits tucked away in the back of my mind.

Joi: What does your work space/office look like?
Lisa: I tried the office thing, but gave it up to my husband and an ancient computer with a particular game he likes to do for downtime. Now I write on a laptop usually in our living room or kitchen. Sometimes the front porch or outside when it’s nice.

Joi: What is your go-to snack when writing?
Lisa: Pretzels and cheese cubes—I live in Wisconsin, you know.

Joi: If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why?
Lisa: Only one…seriously…well, I’d like to say that depends on who I’m talking to. If you’re asking me what’s the best fiction I’ve read, even though some amazing work has crossed my ereader lately, I still stick with Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. The writing is absolutely profound with the ability to transport the reader back to a childhood you forget isn’t yours, and discover that imagination makes anything possible, and most importantly, we should never lose that sense of wonder no matter how old we grow. I re-read it a lot.

Joi: If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why?
Lisa: Writing for Dummies by Randy Ingermanson, Peter Economy (I’m never sure if that’s a made-up name), because it’s packed with easy-to-understand, relatable and practical advice on all aspects of writing well. They use examples, too, which always helps me. I’m not really a huge fan of the how-to books cuz everyone has an opinion, but if you don’t want to cart around the whole Writer’s Digest series of writing topics, then that’s a really good craft book.

Lisa: I’m grateful for the opportunity to write and be published, for the readers who come to Diamond Mine to learn about great new books and learn about other authors who want to share. Thank you, Joi, and everyone here.


When nobody loves you, you have nothing to lose.

 Lily Masters is not getting involved with any fake job scheme covering a sex trafficking operation supposedly cooked up by her stepbrother, prison guard Art Townsend. Hoping to get help at a friend’s place deep in the woods of northern Wisconsin before a blizzard, Lily loses her way. At first, she doesn’t realize how fortunate she is to be found by Cam Taylor, a poetry-spouting former lit professor. Cam has his own reasons to hide while writing a biography of his Civil Rights activist grandparents and accidentally stirs up a cold case murder involving a potential Supreme Court judge. When trouble follows, either of them is the likely target.

Beneath every story is layer upon layer of trust and lies. Who can they believe when things go from surreal to devastating?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Laura V. Hilton is Back!

Today we welcome multi-published author Laura Hilton! Please leave a comment after the interview to be entered in the giveaway drawing! The winner gets their choice of any of Laura’s books.
Nancy: Laura, welcome back to the Diamond Mine! It’s good to have this opportunity to catch up with you. You’ve written so many stories! I’d like to learn more about your writing life. Do you write every day or in marathon bursts? 

 Laura: I try to get 500 words written every day. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less, but I also have five children, homeschool, am a pastor’s wife, and am busy, busy, busy, so I don’t have time to spend all day writing. 

Nancy: You sure don’t! It’s amazing how much writing you’ve done! How do you get your story ideas?

Laura: God. This particular one I saw a photo on face book with an Amish man fighting a fire and I started researching and discovered that Amish do volunteer as firefighters and EMTs in their communities.

Nancy: I didn’t know that. That’s wonderful. Do you work from an outline, or craft it as you go?

Laura: I craft it as I go.  I don’t plot. I find it so impossible to plan out a story and then be able to write it.  When I was in elementary school, in fifth grade the teacher had us write an outline. She gave us a week to work on it.  I struggled, until the teacher commented that “next week, we’ll write a two or three page paper from the outline you wrote.”  I’m like “Oh!” So I went home that night, wrote the three page paper, then went back and wrote the outline.  I got 100% on the assignment(s), but I learned then, my brain doesn’t work in the typical outline first fashion. 
Nancy: Well, that makes me chuckle! I’m awful at outlines, too, and also craft as I go. When did you first know you were a writer? 

Laura: I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I could remember.  I kept it close to me for awhile, because I’d get the “that’s nice, dear.” And a pat on the head (which even is insulting to a child).  And when I did finally find the courage as a grown up, my brother in law looked at me and said “no one will ever publish it.”  Wow! That hurt.  I get great pleasure in sending my sister and brother-in-law a copy of each of my books. Is that wrong of me???

Nancy: I don’t think so. I’m sure you’re proud of your work, and maybe your actions will teach them to be more encouraging to family members. (I’m an optimist!) What do you want your readers to experience or learn from your stories? 

Laura: I leave the application the reader gets from it up to God. He knows how He wants the reader to respond.
Nancy: What a great answer, Laura! Have you ever experienced writer’s block, or had a lot of difficulty with a story?

Laura: Oh yes!  Some of the stories were sooo hard to write. The one that’s releasing in February 2017 (The Amish Wanderer) was one of those. The whole book dealt with spiritual warfare (somewhat) and I was battled.  It seems there’s a part of every book where I’m having the character come to grips with a spiritual truth and I go through great trauma in real life then.

Nancy: Wow! That’s really interesting, and something I haven’t heard before. You’ve piqued my curiosity. Tell us about your latest book: The Amish Firefighter

Can they overcome their past?
Abigail Stutzman’s life is about to change – whether she wants it to or not. Her mamm is getting remarried to a widower with a large family. Abigail is sent to live with her aenti and onkle in Jamesport because she and her new step-brother had dated and their parents anticipate problems. (Her step-brother is needed on the farm.) Abigail launches a full-scale plan to return home to her family—and Mark—when she finds herself in over her head…and heart. When Abigail and her new “wrong crowd” get into significant trouble, her punishment includes helping a collection of crazy old maids with housekeeping. In the midst of her atonement, Abigail uncovers family secrets that run deep, and realizes she’s not the only one with a pain-filled past. Abigail must decide if she’ll continue her messed-up legacy or embrace a new beginning with the man who’s stolen her heart.
Samuel Miller has trouble of his own. When Sam and his close friend Ezra Weiss are in a drug/alcohol-related car accident in Pennsylvania, Ezra is killed. Though Sam survives, he is deeply affected by the tragedy and vows to help other victims. Now a new Christian, Sam is a volunteer firefighter and a college student working to earn his EMT and paramedic license. But Sam has a past. When it comes time to confess his crimes, he finds that the truth may set him free—but it might also land him in some uncomfortably hot water. Will Sam and Abigail be able to find a future together?

Nancy: Sounds really interesting, Laura! What do you like best about your main characters in this story? 

Laura: They are so real!  Sammy is a bit rough around the edges, but he has a soft heart and will do anything to protect those he loves. He has to learn to face his mistakes to move past them.  Abigail was hurting from secrets that she never knew about but now flooded her world. I hurt for her.

Nancy: We authors do go through a range of emotions while working on our stories, don’t we?
Are you ever sad when finishing a story or a series, or do you feel relief and are glad to start your next novel? 

Laura: Yes both of them.  I’m sad to leave characters that have become friends and am anxious to make new friends in the next book.

Nancy: What are you working on now? 

Laura: I’m writing a book called The Christmas Challenge that I think might release in 2017 – maybe September, but I haven’t heard for sure on the release date of that yet.  It is due to the publisher Jan 2 – so I need to hurry!

Nancy: Well, I hope you enjoy the writing as much as your readers enjoy your stories! Thanks so much for the interview, Laura!

Here’s a little more about Laura, followed by her social and purchase links:
Laura V. Hilton is an award-winning, sought-after author with almost twenty Amish, contemporary, and historical romances. When she’s not writing, she reviews books for her blogs, and writes devotionals or blog posts for Seriously Write and Putting on the New. Laura and her pastor-husband have five children and a hyper dog named Skye and currently live in Arkansas. One son is in the U.S. Coast Guard. She is a pastor’s wife, and homeschools her two youngest children. When she’s not writing, Laura enjoys reading, and visiting lighthouses and waterfalls. Her favorite season is winter, her favorite holiday is Christmas.
twitter: @Laura_V_Hilton

Purchase her books:

 Interview by Nancy Bolton