Author interview ~ Lisa Carter

As
a frequent speaker and vocalist at women’s ministry events, Lisa Carter shares
her own journey of faith regarding the sufficiency of the cross and His grace
in her life. Aloha Rose, a
contemporary romance in the Quilts of
Love
series, released this month. Her debut romantic suspense novel, Carolina
Reckoning
released in August. She is a member of ACFW, RWA, and Sisters in
Crime. She and her husband have two daughters and make their home in North
Carolina. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys traveling to romantic locales,
quilting, and researching her next exotic adventure. Visit Lisa’s website and for behind-the-scenes
photos, visit the Aloha
Rose board on Pinterest
Lisa, what sparked the story of Aloha Rose?

Long
ago, a college friend shared her struggles regarding her adoption with me. Her
unanswered questions—despite a loving, adoptive home—about the most fundamental
of identity issues such as who she was, where she came from, why she’d been
given up for adoption, and what all this meant for the person she’d become. A
void lingered inside her that she yearned to fill.
Years later, she related how she’d located her birth father
in Hawaii and how a wonderful, new chapter in her life opened. Through a
difficult personal journey, she and her family had come full circle.
Two days after my reunion with my college friend, my agent
and Abingdon Press asked for a book proposal involving romance tied to “every
quilt has a story” for the Quilts of Love
series. Reflecting on my friend’s story, the seed of Aloha Rose was born. Hawaiian quilts are very different than other
traditional quilts. And just like my friend’s emotional journey, Laney Carrigan
in Aloha Rose and the Lokelani quilt come full circle, too.
What would you do differently if you were starting your
publishing career today?
I feel that my entire career has
been in God’s hands. He led; He opened doors; He closed other doors.
Maybe I’d learn to be better at
Twitter? Maybe not.
Share a bit of your journey to publication.
In 2009, God laid a story upon my
heart and a compulsion to write it down that wouldn’t go away. I’d written for
myself, as a freelancer, and for church organizations most of my life. But
during this season in my life, God literally compelled me that now was the time
to get serious about my secret dream of writing down the stories swirling in my
head and that these stories were to be used for His glory. I wrote the story
that became my debut, Carolina Reckoning,
and God led me to a person who suggested a writing conference.
I attended the conference and God
led a multi-published romantic suspense author to take a mentoring interest in
me. I attended several more conferences and God was always faithful in leading
me one step further along the road to publication. I wrote three other
manuscripts; I listened; I studied; I learned more about the craft of writing
and the publishing industry. In 2011, I received the call from Abingdon Press
regarding my Aloha Rose proposal. But
Carolina Reckoning actually became my
first published novel, releasing in August 2013. It has been a whirlwind of
fun, hard work, and ministry ever since.
Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy
nook?
I move around a lot during the
day. I start out—(this time of year) underneath a cozy, flannel quilt I made—on
the couch beside the gas logs. When the power on my Mac goes, I shuffle
upstairs to re-plug and recharge at my desk in my office. Later, I may shift to
a loveseat in the sitting area of my office. By the time my children arrive
home from school, after a daily school debriefing, I return to the downstairs
sofa to do last minute, end of day stuff while dinner preparations are in
process.
What would you do if you didn’t write?
I taught school the majority of
the time I wrote my current and upcoming releases. Now as a full-time writer,
if I wasn’t writing I’d be reading and having lunch with friends. And
volunteering more at church and school. And possibly—although this is
debatable—actually preparing better, more nutritious meals.
What issue makes you struggle as an author? How do you
handle it?
Marketing is a necessity for an
author in this age of publishing in the 21st century. But marketing
and promotion eat up a significant amount of writing time. I’m still working to
balance the marketing versus writing versus real-life responsibilities of being
a wife and mother. Some days are better than others. Some days are more
successful than others.
How do I handle it? I pray a lot.
And depend on God a lot. The days I try to do it on my own are usually the
failure, I’ve-let-everybody-down days.
What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer?
Read in your genre. A lot.
Write every day.
Attend the best conference once a
year you can afford.
Then what 3 things would recommend not doing?
Don’t listen to the lies of the
Enemy.
Don’t listen to the nay-sayers.
Don’t give up.
Some say a writer is born and others say anyone can learn.
What do you think?
I think a writer’s unique “voice”
is God-given. Discovering your voice is often a result of trial and error. I
think anyone can learn to write to a certain degree—otherwise there would be no
need for English teachers and high school graduation requirements.
But one of the most encouraging
things to me as a writer came from Elizabeth George—”You will be published if
you possess three qualities—talent, passion, and discipline.”
And the most important of these?
Not talent, or passion. But discipline—perseverance. The ability to keep on
keeping on. Writing one word after the other. Never quitting. Never giving up.
What’s the strangest or funniest experience you’ve had in
writing?
Olivia’s story in Beneath a Navajo Moon—releasing March
2014—came to me in a dream. The whole thing in its entirety.
But being a pantser writer—I know
the beginning and the end but the middle is quite murky—therefore, writing each
story by the seat of my pants is a huge adventure. I’m living moment-by-moment,
scene-by-scene with every character and sometimes they do the
funniest/strangest/most surprising things I did not foresee.
Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? How
do you feel about research?
I love research and do most of it
before I ever write the first word. I love the exhilarating time when I’m
crafting and creating the story. Those months of writing the first draft are
enormously thrilling and rewarding to me as I see a story, theme, and pretend
people’s lives come together. Editing makes it better. I view the first draft
being like a great slab of stone and it’s my job to chip away past the flaws to
reveal the story contained within. That’s what editing means to me.
Do you consider yourself a visual writer? If so, what
visuals do you use?
I am such a visual writer. I
cannot begin until I have “cast” my characters with real people faces. They
cannot live and move and have their being in my mind until I do this. I collect
visual settings for scenes, too. I love Scrivener and utilize the research and
character functions for this purpose.
What are your writing rituals?
After getting my children off to
school, I like to read over the last scene I wrote the day before to plunge
myself back into the novel moment. Then, I’ll go for a walk or bike ride,
allowing the stream of my unconscious to flow and work it’s magic on the
chapter or scene I know I need to write that day. I get into the shower and
literally and figuratively allow the stream to continue. By the time I’m ready
to sit down at the computer, I’ve actually visualized entire scenes and
segments of dialogue in my mind and the words “flow” onto the screen.
Do you work best under pressure or do you write at a
leisurely pace??
While teaching, I had to be very
disciplined to write in the 2 hour segments I would have after returning from
school myself and waiting for my children to get home. I’ve learned to “salt”
the creative mine while occupied with other tasks and then once seated at the
computer to be ready to go with the next scene.
Sure, I love leisurely writing
time. I’d written 6 complete novels before my first ever hit the shelf. I’m so
thankful for that breathing space between contract and publication. Because
now, its go, go, go with writing and marketing demands.
What are your thoughts on critique partners?
I participated in a critique group
with a wonderful foursome of lady writers I met at the Blue Ridge Mountain
Christian Writers Conference. For over a year we met once a month to critique
chapters, encourage and pray for each other. I write extremely fast once I get
going and my writing style benefits more from having one critique partner go
over my final, best edited version manuscript.
Any final thoughts?
I hope Aloha Rose
will make readers laugh. It may perhaps make you cry. But most of all, I pray Aloha Rose will warm your heart with the
greatest of loves, God’s love for you.
Aloha Rose
When Laney Carrigan sets out to find her birth family, her
only clue is the Hawaiian quilt in which she was found wrapped as an infant.
Centering her search on the Big Island and battling fears of rejection, Laney
begins a painstaking journey toward her true heritage. Kai Barnes, however, is
determined to protect the people he’s come to regard as family. He thinks Laney
is nothing more than a gold digger and blocks every move she makes toward her
Hawaiian family. As their conflict escalates, it puts at risk the one thing
that Kai and Laney both want most—a family.