Lisa Hess Interview
It's such a wonderful privilege to have fellow writer, Lisa Hess, here today. You'll enjoy reading a little about her writing career. Read on . . .
How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear "call?" Or have you just loved writing all your life?
- I was introduced to creative writing by my seventh grade English teacher, Miss Lee, and I’ve loved it ever since. I did stop writing poetry after one of my freshman (in college) English professors told me my poetry sounded like Hallmark cards.
What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?
- I am published in the non-fiction educational market; both books arose out of my experience as a school counselor. Acting Assertively was published in 1999 and Diverse Divorce came out in 2004.
- Most of my current projects, however, are contemporary Christian chick lit/mom lit, although I am working on another non-fiction book as well.
How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
- I only get writing days about twice a year when my critique group goes on retreat, and quite honestly, I find them exhausting. I’m so used to squeezing my writing into time blocks of minutes (like when my daughter is at a music lesson) or a couple of hours on a weekend morning that all of that sustained focus intimidates me.
- When the house is quiet, I try to create new material because I find it hard to concentrate when there is noise around me. I can edit/revise under more distracting circumstances, though - I’ll often take something I’m working on with me to work so I can chip away at it over lunch, for example.
- I sometimes write in longhand, but most often prefer my computer because I find it easier to get things down quickly when I’m typing. I usually work in my office, with frequent short breaks to do things like toss in a load of laundry, but I sometimes move my laptop to another part of the house when things are hectic. When things are too hectic, I take my laptop to Starbucks and get an iced chai for inspiration. I guess you could say my writing schedule is flexible!
What is the spiritual message in your latest book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?
- In my novels, I tend to write about finding a relationship with God after a life-changing event that is discouraging and doubt-inducing. I also include characters who are the strong Christian women I wish I was now, and hope someday to be. I like strong, believable contemporary characters – women you’d like to go out with for a cup of coffee, and I want my readers to come away feeling optimistic, but also less certain that things and people are as clear cut as they may seem.
You recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?
- I hope to someday answer this for my novels, but for now, the best way to buy the books I have in print is to go to my website http://www.l2hess.com/ which will take them to my publisher.
Where do you get ideas? Character names? Do you find your characters similar to you in any way?
- I think there is a little piece of me in all of my characters, but by the same token, none of them is exactly like me. I use a book of baby names as inspiration for character names, and as far as ideas….well, I think I often start with the question "what would happen if….?"
Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through? Who’s inspired you the most?
- I don’t ever feel like giving up, but I often think that I may never get my novels published. Maybe I’m a glutton for punishment, but fear of never being published isn’t enough to make me give up. I’m a Jersey girl and an optimist, so I just keep writing and trying to trust in God’s timing. My agent, Diana Flegal, tells me that God’s timing is always perfect, and I try to live by that, especially when His timing and my timing seem to be out of sync.
- My greatest source of inspiration is other writers, especially those in my critique group, and my family and friends who somehow manage to keep believing in me no matter how long this process takes.
Would you explain how you "chose" (or was chosen) a publisher? Do you just go "inny, minny, miny, moe?" Grin. Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?
- Because I’m a school counselor, I’m familiar with publishers who publish materials I would use, and they are my starting point for my educational non-fiction. I know the market because I’m a consumer of those products.
- As far as choosing a publisher for my fiction….well, I think one will have to choose me. I have my dream publishers – the ones who publish what I like to read – and I hope that one day I’ll be their dream author!
Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could?
- My family and I went on our first cruise this past summer. We traveled to the Caribbean with another family, and it was the best vacation ever! Not only were the islands beautiful, and the trip relaxing (and boy, were we spoiled!), but spending nine days in close quarters with my family with no real-world stresses was an amazing blessing. Add to that the fact that we traveled with friends, and I would book another trip tomorrow. Maybe I will if/when I get that big advance!
- Likes…chocolate!!, time to write, to sing, to do shows – I used to do a lot of theatre, but motherhood has slowed me down – time spent with family.
- Dislikes…green veggies except for lettuce and broccoli, nuts of any kind (except nutty people), people who are mean on purpose.
Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?
- I’d love to – thanks for asking! My website is www.L2Hess.com, and my blog,
- "The Porch Swing Chronicles" can be found at www.L2Hess.blogspot.com.
- I also contribute to The Susquehanna Writers blog at www.thesusquehannawriters.blogspot.com.
Thanks so much for giving me this opportunity to chat!
I've loved having you, Lisa. Thank you so much for stopping by!
Blessings to all!