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of over forty-five novels with Tyndale, Barbour, Steeple Hill and Summerside
Press. Two-time Christy winner, RITA winner, she’s also a multi-winner of the
Inspirational Readers Choice award, and the ACFW Carol award. A seasoned
women’s events speaker, she’s a popular writing teacher at conferences around
the nation and the author of the book, Conversations with a Writing Coach. She
is also the founder of www.MyBookTherapy.com, a craft and
coaching community for novelists.
keep it all together?
together? Ack! What does that look like, really? If it means I’m supposed to be
OUT of my pajamas before noon, have pre-thought-out crockpot meals on the
table, laundry that is not rotting in the washer and a made bed…well…you’ll
have to catch me between novels, or MBT projects. Because I’m sort of an
all in, huddled under what my children call my “thought” blanket. I claim no
responsibility for my words to the outside world while under this shroud. And
when I’m working on MBT, I’m all in, helping writers craft amazing stories.
(probably too all in, because working with me can sometimes be like
getting a blast from a fire-hose, but I’m working on that.) Here’s what I think: You gotta do what you
love, be passionate about that, and if you have to, hire a cleaning lady (and
let your hubby cook)!
Oh, how I love them. They’re a crazy, love big and live life outloud family who
*might* be a little like my family. They live in the north woods of Minnesota,
run a resort and try to figure out faith while living life (that often goes
wrong). They make mistakes, but they love each other through them. Right now, I
just finished book #5, The Wonder of You, and am working on plotting book #6,
the final book. It’s a little touch of Lake Wobegon—all the men are
good-looking, all the women heroic.
overtones of small town Cheers, where everyone knows your name. Which means
that when you get into trouble, the entire town knows about it! The series
follows each one of the adult children through their trials and triumphs of
falling in love and finding their way in the world. (And oh, I feel sorry for
Ingrid, their mother!) The next book hits the shelves in February 2015—Always
on My Mind, a story about Casper, brother #2, who just can’t get the wrong girl
off his mind…
branding, that it’s not just your tag line, but the commonality readers will
find in all your works. I loved that, because it carries a writer into farther
fields. Can you elaborate for our readers?
novelist, your brand is YOU. Or at least, your voice, your stories, your truths
that you put on the page. When someone picks up your novel, they are relying on
you to fulfil the promise you made in every other book they’ve read by you (and
for first time readers, you are cementing that promise in their minds). It’s
more than just place, or characters, it’s the FEELING you leave in your
reader’s mind. Just like John Grisham leaves a different feeling than Nora
Roberts –but both keep the promises (justice. Romance.)
feelings you want to leave for your reader. I came up with words—Family.
Romance. Fun. Connectedness
have some element of these pieces. This is my brand—when you pick up a Susan
May Warren novel, you’ll get a story about family, a strong romance, a lot of
fun story elements and a sense of connectedness to each other, the world, and
even God. So, if you’re a reader, ask yourself—how do your favorite authors
make you feel as you put the book down. Does that feeling make you want to pass
the book along, and go back for more? (Probably!) If you’re a writer, ask
yourself the same question, and then figure out what feeling would make someone
pass YOUR book along.
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facts about you from your publisher, that I know our readers will love. Will
you tell us more about these? Especially the football letter and the skydiving!
mechanical bull, to skydiving, to surfing and parasailing, to recently enduring
one of the coldest-ever Minnesota winters just to get the details correct for
her upcoming Christiansen Family novel, Always on My Mind. But her
proudest achievement is the varsity letter she earned . . . in
skills on the field, but OFF the field as the manager for our state-winning
team. But, since I was the manager that year, I got a letter also, which is SO
fun when I mention to my sons that BOTH their parents were on state-winning
football teams (my hubby’s team won state also), and earned letters in
football. So, they have a double football legacy.
have to do something crazy. I am afraid of heights, but this was different,
almost like flying. Absolutely breathtaking. I highly recommend the experience!
Deadliest Catch boats…I’m thinking I need some hands-on research…
comment for Susie and be entered in a drawing for a basketful of Susan May
Warren’s The Christiansen
of Evergreen Resort and see where faith and family meet real life in Take a
Chance on Me, It Had to Be You, When I Fall in Love, and Evergreen.
Christiansen dreading the upcoming holidays, but her husband, John, couldn’t be
more excited about this new season of life. He even has a surprise trip abroad
planned. He’s sure she’ll love it. What’s more romantic than Christmas in
Before he can stop her, however, Ingrid agrees
to spearhead a major church project. Then their faithful dog, Butterscotch,
needs emergency surgery, draining their savings. And then—because disasters
strike in threes—an unexpected guest arrives, dredging up old hurts.
As a beautiful blanket of snow transforms the
north woods into a winter wonderland, a deep chill settles over John and
Ingrid’s marriage. With the holidays fast approaching, their only hope of
keeping their love evergreen depends on turning the page on the past and
embracing a new chapter of their future.
Writing is the ultimate
learn-on-the-job career. It’s challenging. It’s demanding. It’s busy. It can be
unforgiving and maddening. It can also be unbelievably rewarding and filled
with moments of story and human connection that are nothing short of bliss. With
my twenty-third book, The Story Keeper,
hitting shelves, I can honestly say that my career has been filled with
surprises. That’s probably because I knew almost nothing about the business
when I started out. If I could, I’d go back and tell myself a few things:
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Write because you love it. I know everyone says that, but it’s
true. If you really want to have a long career, you must figure out how
to produce book, after book, while managing promotion, production edits,
multiple forms of communication, and life in general. Set a manageable daily
page quota or daily writing hours, and hold yourself to it. One of the
hardest things about writing is time management.
Finish your first manuscript and write another.
It’s almost impossible to sell on a partial in fiction if you’re
unpublished. Polish your manuscript and send it out, because as much as
we’d like them to, editors won’t come looking in your desk drawer. 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
will have eggs in another basket. Be tenacious, be a thick-skinned
as possible, keep writing while you wait for news.
Rejection stinks, but it happens. Rejection isn’t anything personal;
it’s just part of the business, and it’s to be expected. Your project
isn’t bad just because it gets rejected. It may not be that editor’s (or
agent’s) cup of tea, the house might not be buying right then, they may have
another author under contract whose work is similar to yours, and so on.
There are so many reasons a book can be rejected, and the real trick is to look
at the rejections as a tool and then move on. Don’t make sweeping changes
based on one opinion unless there’s an imminent sale involved.
Conversely, if you receive the same criticism from several editors (or agents),
consider pulling out the red pen and getting to work
You probably won’t hit the NYT immediately. In fact, few writers
ever reach this coveted level. Be careful how you measure success. Setting
lofty goals is a good thing… right up until you feel like a failure for not
achieving them. Myriad factors determine which books get the “perfect storm” of
great cover, great market timing, and heavy publisher promotion. Some of it is
just luck. Write the very best book you can. Do what you can to promote. Stop
obsessing. Write another book.
Find your creative tribe. On any given road, you’re never the
only traveler. Others walk in shoes like your own and shoes that are
different. Find them. Critique one another’s work, brainstorm together, give
creative criticism, take creative criticism, and learn from one another. Give
back more than you get.
Cheer for other people. One of the best promotional avenues
available to writers today, yesterday, and tomorrow remains cooperative
promotion. Find authors whose work is similar to yours. Cross-promote with one
another. Cheer one another’s successes, awards, and new releases. Your readers
will thank you for the tips and you’ll feel good about doing something positive
for someone else. You’ll also have that warm feeling when others do the same
be in the moment, don’t close your eyes even for an instant. You never
know when you’re going to turn a corner and find, right in the middle of an
ordinary day, the idea for a story. Wherever you go in life, there are
always nuggets of story along the trail. Sometimes you see them coming;
sometimes you stumble over them. Pause long enough to pick them up and
examine them. Your writer’s mind can take it from there. A nugget can
become an entire goldmine. That’s where the joy is, that’s when the magic
happens, and there is no magic like the magic of story.
Her books have held positions on many bestseller lists, both in the U.S. and
internationally. She is a seven-time ACFW Carol award nominee, a Christy Award nominee, an Oklahoma Book Award finalist, a Christianity Today Book Award nominee, an Inspy Award nominee, a two-time Carol Award winner, a LORIES Best Fiction Award winner, and a Utah Library Award winner. Recently, the group Americans for More Civility, a kindness watchdog organization, selected Lisa along with Bill Ford, Camille Cosby, and six others, as recipients of the National Civies Award, which celebrates public figures who work to promote greater kindness and civility in American life. Visit Lisa at her website: www.LisaWingate.com.