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?


Ann Ellison said...

Wonderful interview and the book sounds like a good one. My favorite cheese is pepperjack.

Lisa Lickel said...

Hi, Ann, thanks for stopping in! My husband came home with a pound of pepperjack tonight!! how long will that last? Hmmm...

Renee Blare said...

Cheese? I need to tell my son! He loves cheese. :)

Lisa Lickel said...

Cheese is good. Thanks for stopping in Renee.