Since I have been tied up in formatting two books due to be released in the next few weeks, time has been at an absolute premium. In addition, when I find free time, I’ve been pecking away (if you ever saw me type you would realize PECK is definitely the operative word!) at a new short story of my own. With the stories for the new Candy Collection Compilation, Harvest Treats, all featuring a YA storyline, I thought who better than to ask blog questions than my own new teenager.
McKenzie turned 13 on September 15th. She is an avid reader, and has a lot of interest in what it is that I do all day with regards to my writing and my work at Renaissance Romance Publishing.. For a change of pace, I decided to let her handle my next four blog posts. She decided on the questions and interviewed each of the four authors who contributed to Harvest Treats. I hope you enjoy the Q & A as much as I did. I knew she was bright, but her insightfulness was refreshing.
Today’s post features Lisa Bilbrey, author of The Journey Home from the compilation, as well as many other great stories. On to the interview:
McKenzie: How do you get your mindset to write a young adult theme?
Lisa: I don’t try to do anything differently, really. With every character I write, I try to put myself in their shoes and let them tell me their story. Sometimes that’s easy — other times, not so much. For me at least, the most important part is just to keep pushing forward.
McKenzie: How are you able to get a good plot without over-explaining?
Lisa: That is very hard and really the only way is with lots of work. I like to use outlines. With them, I can plot out the chapters so that I am not showing all my tricks at once. The most important advice I give writers is to draw their readers into their stories by making them feel like they are inside the book. You do that by keeping your characters real, their reactions to situations, and making sure that they have a solid foundation. It’s not easy, but amazing when you do it right.
McKenzie: How much time do you put into an average story?
Lisa: For my shorter stories — those around 25k — I spent a good 2-3 weeks working on them. With my longer novels, like Angel’s Heart: The Keeper, I spent around 6-8 weeks. I try not to focus on the time spent and just turn my attention to what my characters have to say.
McKenzie: When and why did you start writing?
Lisa: I started writing several years ago when I found myself lying awake for all hours of the night with these flashes running through my head. After about two weeks, I gave up and started writing my first story. From there, everything just blew up and now, I can’t go a day without writing.
McKenzie: Has there ever been a time when you couldn’t think of any ideas?
Lisa: Not really. I always have little scenes and flashes to work on, but I have had periods where I struggled to get the words right and found myself flopping from story to story. Probably why I have so many works in progress.
McKenzie: How hard is it to keep your writing from interfering with your personal life?
Lisa: As a Mom, it’s very hard. These kids actually think they need attention! Can you believe that? On a serious note, my kids and husband understand when I need to focus. I try to find the balance and sometimes I have days where I don’t get a single word written. It’s hard, but my family needs me and when all is said and done, they are my everything.
McKenzie: Do you tend to use your kids/friends’ names in your stories?
Lisa: I tend to use my kids names because, well, I love their names. But, I try to find the name that fits who my characters are going to be. Sometimes that is easy, and other times, I find myself scanning baby name lists trying to find something that feels right.
McKenzie: How do you stay committed to your writing?
Lisa: Writing is a part of me — who I am, and how I function. Without it, I don’t know what I would do every day. I mean, there’s cleaning, but, yeah, that is not going to happen. I put a lot of pressure on myself to meet my deadlines, to make each story the best it can be. Sometimes, that’s easy, and sometimes it feels like pulling teeth. I try to focus on getting the story out and hoping that someone out there will want to read it.
McKenzie: A couple questions about your publishing house, Renaissance Romance Publishing. What genres do you feature?
Lisa: Renaissance Romance offer stories from every genre — from supernatural romances to contemporary romances and everything in between. Mainly, we look for solid storylines that showcase strong relationships and growth within the characters. We want our readers to be able to relate to our characters, and see bits and pieces of themselves in each and every one of them. And if they can’t, then we hope that they get to live in a fantasy world that takes them away from the real world for a few hours.
McKenzie: Do you have a hard time finding new authors, or are they all over the place?
Lisa: We’ve been very lucky so far and found amazing authors — who have incredible talent. I’m a big believer that nearly anyone can tell a story, they just need help learning how to write it out.
Wow! Great questions! Much love and thanks to Lisa for indulging me, and to McKenzie for coming up with some excellent questions. Stay tuned tomorrow to hear from another Harvest Treats author.
Don’t forget, Harvest Treats will release on September 25th, and be available on Nook, Kindle, and Smashwords in assorted ebook formats, and on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in paperback.