Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Lisa Wingate - Welcome to Seekerville

Hello and welcome to Seekerville.

Sandra here with one of my favorite authors. I've been a Lisa Wingate fan ever since I read Texas Cooking. I'm thrilled to introduce you to an author who will entertain you with a great combination of inspiration and humor.

Lisa will be joining us so stop in during the day to answer any questions. She will be giving away a copy of her latest release NEVER SAY NEVER.

Let me introduce LISA WINGATE:

Q: Never Say Never is set in the fictional town of Daily, Texas. Are any of your characters based on personal experiences, living in Texas?
Though the names have been changed to protect reputations, and details have been altered to make everyone younger and better looking, many of the characters in Never Say Never were created from bits and pieces of real-life characters I’ve had the pleasure of meeting around town and in my travels. One of the most wonderful things about writing a story set close to home is that almost anything can serve as research. I find my characters at the gas station, the local movie theater, the feed store, football games on Friday night, and church potlucks on Sunday afternoon. Basically, no good joke goes unrecorded, and no one is safe. Writers are the people sitting at the ballpark with one eye on the game and one ear in the stands. You never know when the next great idea will land in your lap, or when the next potential character will stroll by on the way to the concession stand.
Some members of the Wingate family might also claim to recognize themselves among the citizens of Daily, Texas. I would offer the disclaimer that any resemblances are completely unintentional, but that would be a bald-faced lie. When you come from a family of great storytellers and colorful characters, there’s nothing to do but make use of what you’ve got.
Q: How did you develop the initial story idea/plot line for Never Say Never?
Some book ideas you search for, and some just blow in on the wind. During the past several years, we in Central Texas have been the recipients of massive influxes during hurricane evacuations. These exoduses of people, pets, and belongings are frightening, frustrating, challenging, and at times oddly wonderful. When so many are on the road seeking shelter, the worst, but also the best qualities of humanity come to the surface. We’ve enjoyed amazing moments of friendship, family reunions, and chances to share a food and space with strangers from other places. We’ve traded stories and recipes, laughter and tears.
One thing we’ve learned about hurricanes, living here, is that the paths are never predictable. Storms waver, hesitate, speed up, slow down, and sometimes change course unexpectedly. Evacuations can change and develop quickly. What better way for the three old girlfriends to break out of a rut, than for a trip to the coast to land them smack in the middle of a sudden and chaotic hurricane evacuation?
Having watched our little town mobilize to take in hurricane evacuees several times now, I’ve been reminded that sometimes the worst things that can happen bring out the best in people. Given the opportunity and faced with the need, regular people can rise to the occasion in amazing ways, as do the citizens of Daily in the book.
Q: When did you decide to become a writer? Are you a full time or part-time writer?
A very special first-grade teacher told me I would become a writer, and I believed her. It was always my dream to write books. In 1999, I wrote my first mainstream novel, Tending Roses. When the book was finished, I spent several months querying agents, received my share of rejections, found some interested agents, and signed with Lisa Hagan of Paraview. Lisa shopped Tending Roses to several of the big publishing houses, and again I received my share of rejections. Both Penguin Putnam and Warner Books showed interest. Within about eight or nine months, we inked a two-book deal with NAL/Penguin Putnam.
These days, I am a full time writer and have been since Tending Roses and Texas Cooking sold to Penguin. I now work for two publishers, NAL Penguin Group and Bethany House, writing a book each year for each house. Never Say Never is a February release from Bethany House, and Beyond Summer will be released by Penguin in July, 2010. Over the years, I’ve alternated between writing lighter stories of the small-town Texas, and mainstream relationship-based stories like Beyond Summer. I love both types of writing. For me, humor and the serious emotions coexist on the page just as they do in real life.
Q: What advice do you have for unpublished authors? How can we maximize our chances of getting off an unpub island?
First, remember that everyone starts out on the island. To get off, you have to work hard at building a raft. Make it the best raft you’re capable of creating, then have confidence in it. I know it sounds elementary, but don’t attempt to set sail until the raft is finished. In other words, you must begin by finishing a novel. It’s almost impossible to sell a partial manuscript if you’re unpublished. Polish it and send it out, because as much as we’d like them to, editors won’t come looking in your desk drawer. In effect, this is when you take to the water and start rowing. Yes, this involves some risk. Don’t let storms (rejections) wash you up on the beach and keep you there. While you’re waiting for news, write another book. If the first one sells, you’ll be set for a two-book deal. If the first one doesn’t sell, you have eggs in another basket.
Don’t take a critique too seriously if you hear it from one editor/agent, unless there’s an imminent contract involved. Editors and agents, just like the rest of us, are individuals. What works for one may not work for another. If you receive the same comment from multiple sources, consider revising your manuscript before you send it elsewhere. Be tenacious, be as thick-skinned as possible, keep writing while you wait for news.
If there is a particular area of your writing that seems to be holding you back (action scenes, dialog, description, characterization, etc) devote extensive study to this area. Seek out conference sessions and online workshops devoted to the topic. Study other authors’ techniques in this area. Don’t just read and admire—dissect, break down, make notes, keep a scrapbook of examples and notes-to-self. Read these notes-to-self when you’re stuck/struggling/editing something that isn’t working.
Watch for overbalance of narrative in your writing. Nothing slows down the pace of a story like huge patches of narrative. Narrative produces pages with big, blocky paragraphs that read slowly, and that tend to “tell” rather than “show”. When possible, work story elements into dialog, action, reaction, and short thought sequences, rather than using narrative. For example, rather than describing the main street of your town, have your character walk down Main, greet a neighbor or two, and reflect on a few random childhood memories of people/places. Be careful that you don’t slide down the slippery slope of having characters engage in meaningless chatter designed only to dump information to the reader, but always seek opportunities to work details in naturally during character interactions. Remember that body language speaks volumes, too.
Lastly, never marry yourself to one project. Keep creating new material—that’s where the joy is, and if you keep the joy of this business, you keep the magic of it.
Q: Do you have a favorite writing snack?
Iced coffee—the foo-foo kind with flavorings, creamer, and whipped cream on top. We live far, far from a Starbucks, so a refrigerator with crushed ice and a hand blender is a magical thing!
Q: How can readers keep up with your work?
Never Say Never hits the shelves February 1, and then the next book out will be Beyond Summer in July 2010. From there, I have several more contract commitments, and am working on the two books for 2011. For more information, stop by my e-home away from home, www.Lisawingate.com. I’m also on Facebook and Youtube, of course. Isn’t everybody? By signing up for the newsletter on www.Lisawingate.com, you can enter a monthly drawing for a free autographed book and receive occasional notes about upcoming happenings, new books, speeches and appearances, and anything else that’s newsworthy in Daily, Texas or in the real world. I love sharing my cyber-porches with friends who also know the joy of living within a story, then sending it out into the world.
Happy reading and writing, everyone!
Thank you Lisa. Be sure and leave your email addie if you're interested in winning a copy of NEVER SAY NEVER. I'll throw in another chance to win by offering to buy another copy.

Doesn't this cover look flirty and fun??

And let's have some of Lisa's favorite coffee and creamers. We have piping hot for you folks in cold weather or you can join Lisa with iced coffee, flavor of your choice and whipped cream.

She didn't mention food (which is probably why she is sporting that great figure) but I found some Texas fare on Grandma's Texas Cookbook.

So help yourself to Lone Star Barbeque spareribs, Texas oven brisket, bean and cornbread casserole, tamales and salsa and for you folks who like sweet- Peach cobbler, pecan pudding and Texas no bake grapefruit cheesecake.

Thanks again for joining us Lisa.


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh.


Must catch my breath. Seriously.

I'll be back...

(Lisa Wingate's here... Sandra brought her... I'm all ver klempt...

And my hair's a mess. Hang on. Let me get fixed up.)


Ruth Logan Herne said...

Okay, better. I have my froo froo coffee, the cat's being a bother, and one dog is growling at the other and it's 4:30 a.m.

All's right in my world.

LISA!!!!! Love the curls, girlfriend!!! SWEET!

Sandra and Tina literally pushed you on me (well, your Texas Cooking books, dahling) years ago, and I've been an avid fan ever since. My favorite of the more serious books is Good Hope Road, but I love 'em all. Just love 'em.

Of the totally fun, light-hearted books...I think Lone Star Cafe, even though that's going back a piece, but I loved the nuances, the fun, the hero and heroine, Dad, the sisters, the coffee and the buttermilk pie.

And I just want to say I'd go tilting at windmills with any one of your heroes, LOL!!!

Thanks so much for being here, the coffee's great (I knew it would be) and I know our buds are so psyched to have you stopping in!!!!


So excited in WNY,


Sandra Leesmith said...

LIsa's coming

Lisa's coming

I can hardly wait.

I'm up too and it's 5 am here in Arizona.

And you're right Ruthy. Lisa's heroes are to die for.

Lisa brings her small town in Texas to life like you bring yours in Upstate New York in your debut novel Winter's End.

lynnrush said...

Great interview. Thanks for sharing.

It's a chilly morning in the desert here (**waving to you Sandra**). . . have a great day, everyone.

mariska said...

Wohooo...i'm so excited knowing a new author as great as LISA :)

love the cover..and bring along my cappucino : )

Tina Russo Radcliffe said...

Welcome to Seekerville, from a huge fan (moi)!!!

Shelby said...

I reeeeeeeeeeeely liked this interview. Concrete good tips that I actually need and can use.

Love the narrative advice. I'm not kidding. I really needed this - this morning.

She's my newest favorite author I've never heard of before.


Cara Lynn James said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Lisa! I'm so glad you can join us for conversation and Ruthy's breakfast delights. BTW, what did you bring this morning, Ruthy??? Right now I'm drinking a latte with whip cream. How decadent is that?

Sandra Leesmith said...

Waving back Lynn

Mariska and Shelby, you're going to love Lisa's books

Hi Tina and Cara, I got carried away with Texas food but its more for later in the day. I have sliced oranges off my tree cut up with walnuts and shredded coconut. And how about some of those small donuts covered with powdered sugar? But save room for the the bar-b-que because its all Texas good.

Kerri C at CK Farm said...

Hi Lisa!
What fun this morning!
I love how the story just blew in. Great interview!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Wonderful interview! I appreciate Lisa's advice for getting off the island...I'll be revisiting those words over and over.

Oh, and please enter me in the drawing!

forgravebooks at gmail dot com

Melanie Dickerson said...

Loved your interview, Lisa. Can't wait to get my hands on one of your books. I've heard how wonderful you are, and I'm ready to discover a new favorite author!

Great tips, too.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Melanie and Sarah,
Thanks for joining us today.
Lisa should be here soon.

KC Frantzen said...

Wonderful interview with good info! Thanks for taking the time with us.

I'm a TX transplant in TN so for those of y'all who don't know, when you say "TEXAS" proper protocol indicates one must put one's hand over the heart. :)


I've had some wassail and working on water right now. Trying HARD not to succomb to the hubby's cold. arg.

Question for Lisa - do you give suggestions or input for the covers? Agreed - this is flirty and fun!

Talk to y'all soon! Have a great day in Seekerville!

Would love to be entered: ksf895 at citlink dot net

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oh my gosh, if you read my profile (which obviously you DON'T) Lisa's name has been there forever.

Or a few years at least.

And would the Ruthinator EVER steer you wrong????

Uh, uh.

Like a fresh piece of buttermilk pie served on china, not styrofoam, Lisa's writing wraps you in home-grown goodness. Whether you're delighting in her current or old romances, OR her soul-tending women's fiction, her hope and warmth shine through the words, the scenes, shoot, even the page breaks.

Wonderful, wonderful. And I remember when Tina sent me my first Lisa Wingate book, I hopped online and said to Sandra, "Oh, Sandra THIS is who I wanna be when I grow up..."

To which Sandra lovingly replied, "I TOLD you to get her books over a year ago!!!! I didn't know I had to buy them for you!!!"


Since then it's been love at first sight. Tina's, Sandra's and mine.

Hey, has anyone got ANY idea what they put in that coffee Lisa serves at the Crossroads?

Just wondering if I have some in the cupboard.


Cheryl Wyatt said...


So great to have you here. Loved A Month of Summer and can't wait to read this book. I LOVE the cover.

Meeting you at ACFW and getting to know you was one of the high points of the conference for me. I very much enjoyed hearing you talk about how some of your stories came about and the precious real people behind them. I could have listened to you all day.

Can't wait to see what you do with Honey Helens...VBG! :-) Promise to have the pics to you soon.

Love and miss ya!


Patty Wysong said...

Loved the interview! It's always fun to see the author's personality shine through! =]

...gotta get back to building my raft. =]

patterly at gmail dot com

Sandra Leesmith said...

KC Thanks for the heads up. I have my hand over my heart now. Yay Texas.

Tina, you bought Ruthy her first Lisa book? What a sweetie

Ruthy, why is it you listen to Tina and not to me???

LOL probably because we're too much alike. and both like to be bossy.

Hi Cheryl and Patty, thanks for joining us.

And Cheryl, we're all dying to know what pics.

Crystal Laine Miller said...

I have to admit that Lisa is one of my favorite authors. I discovered her years ago.

It's encouraging to me that you've developed both your serious side and humorous side to writing.

Good interview! Thanks, Lisa and Seekerville Sandra!


Casey said...

What a fun looking book! Thanks for the chance to win. :)


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Crystal, Thanks for joining us here in Seekerville. Its always great to hear from you.

Casey, Thanks to you also.

Julie Lessman said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Lisa!! It's SO cool having a wow-em author whose wonderful books are parked on my shelf (uh, in addition to Seeker books, that is ...)

Love the blog, love the cover of the new book and love what you said here:

"Lastly, never marry yourself to one project."

I am fairly new author who is wrapping up my 2nd 3-book series about an Irish-Catholic family that are like blood to me, so I realize that your statement above really applies. I appreciate the kick in the butt (a far gentler one that Ruthy would deliver) to branch out. A little new blood in the veins doesn't hurt anyone, I guess ...

Thanks to you, Lisa, for being here today, and thanks to Sandra for making it possible.


Edna said...

Please enter me into the contest for Lisa Wingate's book.

I am a follow on google

I have your link on my blog http://edna-myfavoritethings.blogspot.com/


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hey Julie and Edna, Glad to see you here.

Time to set out that Texas bar-b-que.

Hope Lisa gets here soon before its all gone. smile

Renee said...

Wonderful interview. I especially like the dissecting books. I do that!

I have writing projects, some in the mainstream and some geared toward inspirational. I find it hard to keep faith out of the my mainstream so I don't even try. Do you keep faith in your mainstream? And if so, what kind of walls do you come up against in the publishing world?

Missy Tippens said...

Great interview, Sandra. And welcome, Lisa!! Thanks so much for all your great advice.

Myra Johnson said...

Lisa!!! Welcome to Seekerville! You had me hooked with Tending Roses because that's exactly the kind of book I want to write. Warm. Real. Honest. Heartwarming.

And the Texas connection--what fun! I was born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley, have family ties in the Texas Hill Country, and never thought I'd leave the great state. No offense to Oklahomans, but I prefer to think of my new digs as FAR North Texas!

Heather Bernard said...

Welcome Lisa,
Great interview and loving the food today!
How different is working with a mainstream from a christian publisher? I tend to write on the edgier side of christian fiction and am wondering what walls you have come up against in the mainstream?
Thanks Lisa and the book looks awesome!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Renee and Heather, Great questions. Lisa promised to be here so hang in there for the answers.

Hi Myra and Missy, Thanks for dropping by.

North Texas Myra???? You are too funny. I wouldn't mistake that gorgeous Texas accent no matter where you are. smile

Lisa Wingate said...

Hi Seekers!

Sorry for not being here earlier. Safari has been giving me an Error 400 all morning, and wouldn't let me in. Oh, the horrors!

First of all, thanks, Sandra for inviting me, and thanks Seekers for all the great comments and warm welcomes from hither, yon, and even far north Texas (Oklahoma--where I grew up)! I love Seekerville. In reality, none of us get off the island alone. We all build our rafts from bits and pieces donated by the folks we meet along the way.

Here are some answers to questions in the comments:

--Covers: I have some input in terms of covers, but generally, my suggestions don't fly in the end, and the covers are a total surprise. The day the first .jeg of a new cover arrives, I hold my breath, waiting for the download. Back in the dial-up days, you could suffocate doing that!

--Crossroads coffee (from Lone Star Cafe) -- So many people have asked me what was in the Goodnight Sisters' magical coffee. I've asked the sisters, but they will not tell. They insist the only special ingredient is love, but they have a twinkle in their eyes when they say that. Characters can be so difficult that way ;o)

--Mainstream v Christian fiction (how difficult is it to put faith in the mainstream books and how is it different working for a Christian publisher?)

I could write a book on this one--seriously, no pun intended! These days, there's not as much division between mainstream and Christian fiction as there once was. When I wrote Tending Roses (2000--has it really been that long?), the dividing line was very clear. Tending Roses was a hard sell to mainstream publishers. Even though several editors liked the story, they didn't know where it belonged, exactly, because of the inspirational element. Now, there's much more mainstream fiction that's written from a God-centered world view.

In general, my content is much the same for the Christian publisher (Bethany House) and the mainstream publisher (Penguin). I try to create stories that a reader of Christian fiction could enjoy, but that also appeal to a reader who wouldn't typically pick up Christian fiction. One key to doing this in the mainstream is to talk about faith issues using very real world terminology.

I think that covers the questions so far, but (now that I'm in), I'll be checking the list for more. Thanks for having me!


Lisa Wingate said...

Oh, and Cheryl, meeting you was definitely one of the highlights of MY ACFW conference last year. I loved Soldier Daddy. The two little boys hooked me by the heartstrings!


Valerie said...

I am currently reading Word Gets Around and have about 100 pages left. I love this book and look forward to reading more by Lisa Wingate.


Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Lisa, Oohhh computers can be so frustrating. I haven't had the problems since switching to Apple so am surprised Safari was a problem. I guess I should be thankful. And definitely thankful you made it.

I love how you work the inspiration into your mainstreams. I think the best way to describe it is that it is integral to the characters and plot. Their faith is part of who they are so of course has to be in there. That is one of the main elements that hooked me into your books was the fact they were mainstream with faith elements. It had to be tough but you broke ground for us. Thanks.

Lisa Wingate said...

Valerie-- Thanks for the kind comments about Word Gets Around. I'm glad you're enjoying it!

A little more on the topic of mainstream v Christian fiction v edgy Christian fiction--I notice that the question has been asked several times.

I think Sandra is right that in mainstream, the faith element has to be integral to the plot and the personal histories of the characters. Rediscovering God's purpose for a life, or finding God's plan, taking a step back into church, forgiving oneself, etc then becomes part of the character arc. At some point, the character understands that this amazing series of events (the plot) isn't happening by accident. It's leading to something and being orchestrated by Someone (the Big Someone, of course).

The disadvantage of working in mainstream is that you get readers who are adverse to that conclusion. The advantage of working in mainstream is that you get readers who were adverse to that conclusion, and are willing to give it a little thought after they've made that journey with a character.

In terms of difficulties/ restrictions in working with mainstream publishers, there aren't as many as there once were. I think publishers these days recognize that there's a market for books without explicit content and with some food for the soul. Even mega-pubs like Penguin are now marketing into the Christian stores. Penguin does this through their "Penguin Praise" catalog. When I started in mainstream, this was not the case. Tending Roses was an oddity. Fortunately, it's still around 10 years and 13 reprints later, so it worked out. Now, there are many writers crossing over from both sides of the market. It's a whole new world out there!

That said, if you want your book to sell in Christian stores, the rules of Christian fiction still apply. You may be able to bend them a little, but there are still things that aren't done.

Audra Harders said...

Oh Lisa, welcome to Seekerville. Ruthy really does go on and on about you : ) I can see why!

Loved the cover of this book, so sassy : )

Good advice on the writing process. Keep those projects going! Don't redo one book a ba-billion times!

Thanks for the bbq, Sandra! I love grabbing lunch in Seekerville. Really helps the Weight Watcher program : )

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Again,

We've talked alot about your humor and the fun in your stories. So when I picked up A Month of Summer, I was so surprised and almost didn't read it because of the subject. I was dealing with the same issues myself and wanted escape not reminders of the challenge.

But Lisa, you did it so well and brought hope and joy in spite of the pain of the circumstances. Thanks for that.

Shannon Taylor Vannatter said...

I'm intrigued that Penguin publishes Christian books. I had no idea.

Anonymous said...

Loved this posting....love the cover of this fabulous book by Lisa.


Lisa Wingate said...

Shannon--Penguin and the houses within it do quite a bit of big nonfiction (TD Jakes, etc), so the Penguin Praise catalog is mostly non-fiction, but they also pick up any fiction within Peguin that can be be sold in the Christian market. This year, New American Library (Penguin) even has an Amish fiction author coming out, so the market keeps expanding. Good news!


Jackie Smith said...

I would love to read Lisa's book!
Please enter me. Thanks!!

Debby Giusti said...

Hi Lisa,
Thanks for being with us today. Loved your mention of never staying married to one writing idea. Were you directing that comment to me? Got me thinking and that's a good thing!

Hope you'll come back again. Can't wait to get your FEB release!

Pepper Basham said...

I know I'm late to the party (late night at work), but it's great to have Lisa here today. Welcome! Good night! Whatever fits for the moment. :-)
Thanks for the tips. GREAT tips.
I especially like the idea of not becoming 'married' to one thing. That's where my tad bit of ADHD comes in handy.
I can't wait to read your new book. Congrats.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Thank you all for joining us. I took off this evening for our local Desert Rose RWA meeting. So thanks Lisa for holding down the fort.

Good to hear from you Debby, Pepper, Jackie and Karen (anonymous)

Lisa and I will get together to draw names from all of you visitors who commented. We'll announce the winners in the weekend edition.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Lisa thanks again for gracing us with your humor and helpful advice. We look forward to your new release, Neer Say Never.

Best wishes. Sandra

Lisa Wingate said...

Sandra--thanks for the comments about A Month of Summer, and for having me. Over the years, I've sort of alternated between writing the lighter more humorous stuff with a little romance threaded in, and writing mainstream women's fiction dealing with more family issues. They're a little like my kids--one's more reserved and one is just a goofball, but they each have something unique to say, and I love them both!

I've really, really had a blast here today. Thanks Sandra, thanks Ruthy (AKA the Ruthinator), Crystal, Lynn, and everyone else. It's been fun seeing some of my Facebook friends on here and meeting new friends! Happy writing, everyone!

Lori (sugarandgrits) said...

Finally! I've been waiting for what seems like forever for Lisa's newest book to be released! :) YAY!

I really enjoyed the interview, and am now even more excited!

Thank you for this wonderful opportunity,
~ Lori

sugarandgrits at hotmail dot com

Cindy W. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cindy W. said...

Great interview! Thanks for all the great tips!

Wow...no Starbucks close by? I'd go crazy! Before I moved to Indiana, from California, nine years ago, I 'lived' at Starbucks..almost. Then I came here and we had to drive 2 1/2 hours to Indianapolis every couple of months so that I could get my Starbucks fix. I'm happy to say they finally opened one up a few miles away about 3 years ago and it is a very BUSY place.

I love the cover of "Never Say Never" and would love to be entered into your drawing to win a copy!

God Bless you!


robynl said...

you can't go wrong with a combination of inspiration and humor; this interests me in your books Lisa. Please enter me for the draw.