Wednesday, January 20, 2016

We can be heroes

This year's gotten off to a rough start in the arts world! It was horrible to lose both David Bowie and Alan Rickman so close together, then Glenn Frey... hopefully Heaven won't need any more for awhile. But sad as it is to lose them, the beauty of creating art is that we can enjoy the amazing work they left us as their legacies.

I'm grateful for the inspiration of these talented artists! Each heroes in their own right.

News and other nonsense

I don't think I mentioned before, at least not formally, that I finally received the rights back to my Native American historical novel, Follow The Stars Home.

The publisher, Eternal Press, had gone through some transitions. The old, non-responsive publisher is gone, long live the king. 

And I have my rights back, and have re-published the novel on Smashwords.

The story's very special to me, as it has local ties to Carlisle, Pa., and is based on the launch of the ill-fated Carlisle Indian Industrial School. It broke my heart to read some of the actual accounts of students who were forced to abandon their families and attend this boarding school. I began researching it before I'd planned to write about it, but when a story took shape in my head, I had to follow wherever it led.

If you'd like to read the opening chapters, I've posted them on Wattpad. I hope you enjoy Quiet Thunder and Black Bear's story!

Upcoming events

On Feb. 13, I'm joining local romance authors for a signing once again at Ashcombe's Greenhouse. It's always a fun event, and it's set in the nice, warm greenhouse where we're surrounded by plants and actual blooming flowers - such a lovely change from the polar vortex we've experienced of late. If you're in the area, I hope you'll come in from the cold and join us that afternoon.

And on April 2nd, I'm taking part in a local author event at the Hershey Public Library in Hershey, Pa. It's always the sweetest place on earth, but that day will be even sweeter!

Wands up!

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:

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Promises, and miles and miles

I generally don't set goals for New Year's. That seems a setup for failure, so instead, I simply try to do my best every day.

This year is no different, in practical terms, except that I want to do MORE. More of everything I didn't do in 2015. Somehow, I came off track last year, and was somewhat adrift. I was holding myself back for years, but now I want to break through the barriers I'd set up. Years ago, when my daughter was riding horses, there was one thoroughbred gelding named Scooter who was a bit high strung. One day, the trainer was laying out a riding course with string. Scooter walked up to it, snorted at it, and danced his hooves along the edge. But he wouldn't cross it. The trainer laughed, and said, "He's easy to contain."

Sometimes, we all are. We imagine we can't cross even the smallest bit of string. But there's always a way.

In 2015, my life had actually loosened its hold on me. As of August, the grandboys were finally all in preschool, kindergarten and first grade. I hunted for part-time jobs, but I had writing time, for the first time in about five years. It was amazing. It was great. It was... squandered.

Not this year.

I'm very close to finishing my 91k futuristic novel. That's going out to agents. I'm going to take my time finishing the novel I began for NaNoWriMo because it evolved into more than I'd imagined, and I want to get it right. And I'm going to expand on the steampunk novella I'd written last year, and get that subbed, too.

This year, I'm breaking out of that flimsy string boundary I'd constructed around myself. Wherever it takes me, I'm going to enjoy it because I'll be satisfied that I put forth my best effort.

I hope that in the coming year, you break loose of whatever barriers you might have, real or imagined.

Friday, January 1, 2016

What Neil said

May 2016 bring you everything you've wished for, and then some!