Friday, January 8, 2016

Lisa Lawmaster Hess spills the beans... and has a giveaway!

Hi, Lisa! Happy 2016! So glad to have you as my first Spilling the Beans guest for the new year, where we can learn a little bit about you, and your book.
Grab a cappuccino and let’s chat. Unless you have another favorite drink? I grabbed an iced chai tea latte from Starbucks on my way over, so I’m all set :-)

Yum, I’m a chai lover too. Fur or feathers, pet-wise? I prefer furry beasts, but I’m allergic, so no pets here.

Aw, sorry to hear it. How about pet peeves? One thing that really burns your biscuits? Mean people.

Ugh, yes. Tell us something about yourself that’s not in your bio. My first ever job (though it was actually a volunteer position) was as a page in the children’s room of the Haddonfield (NJ) Public Library when I was in eighth grade. I went on to work in three bookstores over the years: a used bookstore (also in Haddonfield), my college (Bucknell) bookstore, back when it was still on campus and the now-defunct Encore Books in York, PA. Bookstores and libraries are still some of my favorite places to be.

Another Jersey girl, yay! What do you like to do when you’re not writing? Teaching and writing take up so much of my time that reading just for the fun of it often gets squeezed out, so I love when I can make time to read a novel or non-fiction book just because I want to. And if I can do it on the beach, that’s even better.

I so agree! If you had to choose another profession besides writer, what would it be and why? I’d love to be an actress. I did shows in high school and at the community theatre level, but it’s hard to find time to do them these days. I think my theatre experience is actually at the root of my writing process: I always start with the characters when I write my books. There’s a great deal of similarity between creating a character for the stage and creating one for the page.

What fun, and it’s another way of telling stories. Are you a night owl or early bird? Night owl, absolutely.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? Oh, my. When I was younger, I wanted to be able to read minds, especially as it pertained to people’s opinions of me. Now I don’t think I really want to know — LOL! I think I’d have to go with magical healing powers. Restoring people to health, regardless of their ailment, would be a pretty good gig.

Reading minds would be tricky, lol. How would your muse describe you? Hard to pin down. And a procrastinator.

If you could live out any fantasy, what would you do? No idea. I had the opportunity to retire early a few years ago, and I took it. I am constantly aware of how blessed I am to be living a life I love. I write, I teach and I have a family who loves me. It might be fun to take the whole existence to a house at the beach and make sure my daughter graduates from college debt-free...but now I’m just being greedy.

No such thing as greed in fantasies. :) If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, fictional or real, who would it be and why? A friend who passed away three years ago. I miss her so much and have so much more I want to talk with her about.

So sorry to hear. What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Dressed up as Janet for a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

Beethoven, Beatles, Foo Fighters or Keith Urban (what type(s) of music makes you rock out)? It varies. I was a music minor in college, so I still have a soft spot for classical music, especially Mozart, and I love to listen to music from Broadway shows when no one else is around and I can sing along. I realized a teenage dream last year when we took my daughter to see Billy Joel in concert at Madison Square Garden — for her birthday, she got what I wanted when I was 17! Luckily, she had the good taste to appreciate it.

Very cool. I can’t live without my dose of music. Does music influence your writing? Do you have a music playlist for your book? For one of them, yes. Specific songs have actually snuck into the story — so much so that I might have to do some copyright research.

While creating your books, what was one of the most surprising things you learned? That my characters are actually in charge, and that readers can get invested in them almost as much as I do.

Ha, yes. But it’s usually a good thing when characters hijack a story. Where can readers find out more about you? I blog at The Porch Swing Chronicles ( and that functions as my website as well. I also write a blog about organization (Organizing By STYLE: where readers can find out way more than they ever wanted to know about the state of my house and office.

Please tell us a bit about your latest book. Thanks for asking! Chasing a Second Chance just came out last November. It’s the sequel to my first novel, Casting the First Stone, which opens with a custody battle, but quickly becomes the story of the three ladies: the mom, the stepmom and the preteen daughter caught in the middle. Between the end of the first book and the beginning of the second one, Charli (the daughter) turns thirteen. In Chasing a Second Chance, we hear from Charli, her mother, Marita (who got pregnant with Charli at 16) and Charli’s stepmother, Angel as they tackle all the fun surrounding Christmas in a home with a new living situation. It’s actually a much lighter read than it sounds like it would be — many readers tell me they’ve finished it in less than two days.

Congrats on the release! What inspired you to write it? When I was an elementary school counselor, I often worked with children of divorce. In fact, my small groups with these kiddos were some of my favorite groups to run. The kids were constantly surprised by the fact that they all shared so many of the same feelings, and they became wonderfully supportive of one another. Most of their parents did the best they could to make things work out for their kids, but that didn’t mean there was no drama! Writing stories surrounding this topic creates the potential to write about love, loss and resilience, and often, the development of unlikely alliances as well. What more could I want?

Sounds wonderful. And readers, you're in luck. Lisa has a giveaway for you!
I'll give away one Kindle copy of Chasing a Second Chance. Leave a comment along with your email address, and I'll announce a winner next Sunday, January 17.

Good luck, readeres! Thanks for spilling the beans today, Lisa! Thanks for having me!

Lisa Lawmaster Hess

Author of:


Debby said...

Great blog post. I really enjoyed reading the interview. Looking forward to reading the book.
debby236 at gmail dot com

Lisa Lawmaster Hess said...

Thanks, Debby! Cate asks fun questions :-)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Congrats to Lisa. Those elementary kids were lucky to have you. Too often grownups think the kids are handling it okay when really they're not.

Lisa Lawmaster Hess said...

Thanks, Susan. I was lucky to have them, too. They taught me a lot :-)

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