Today’s special guest is Lisa Lawmaster Hess who has written a variety of articles and books, both nonfiction and fiction taken from her experiences as a counselor and teacher. Let’s see what this transplanted Jersey girl who now lives in Pennsylvania has to say about writing:
I’m a former elementary school counselor, now working as an adjunct professor at York College of Pennsylvania. I teach early childhood development, general psychology and a first year seminar.
I’ve been writing articles for magazines and online publications for twenty-three years. Most recently, my work has appeared in Faculty Focus and Teachers of Vision.
I’m also the author of two non-fiction books in the educational market, Acting Assertively and Diverse Divorce, as well as two novels, Casting the First Stone and Chasing a Second Chance. I’m a contributor to 50 Over 50: A Collection of Established and Emerging Women Writers, which came out last February, and The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion, due out next month.
What’s the best thing about writing a fiction book?
The characters. Maybe it’s because I spent years doing theatre, but I always begin with the cast of characters. I know what each one will and won’t do (although they’ve been known to talk me into things I didn’t expect them to be capable of), and that drives the plot. I’m always sad to say goodbye to my characters when I finish writing a book. That, and requests from readers, is what led me to write Chasing a Second Chance.
What inspired you on your writing journey?
Not a what, but a who—my middle school English teacher, Miss Lee. She introduced me to creative writing and taught me to love words. In addition, she taught me the importance of choosing just the right word to convey a message. It frustrates me tremendously when I’m trying to think of a word I want, and can only come up with the “almost right” one—and I have her to thank for that. 🙂
And, when I think of the way I write—character-driven—that also goes back as far as high school, and doing plays. Before stepping onstage, you need to know your character well enough to know what he or she will or won’t say and/or do—actors forget lines, curtains fall off of rods, and you have to know how to cover. That same character knowledge translates to the page. The writer needs to know why her character says or does everything that ends up on the page.
What was your journey to publication like?
My first books, Acting Assertively, and Diverse Divorce, grew out of classroom lessons that I taught as a counselor, and, in retrospect, came together pretty easily. Casting the First Stone, my first novel, didn’t come out until 2014, so, as you can see, there was a rather long dry spell. Part of it was life circumstances (working full time and raising my daughter) and part of it was learning how to write fiction, and finding someone interested in Christian fiction that was a bit edgy for the genre.
In the past year, I’ve added “contributor” to my resume. I landed a spot in 50 Over 50: A Collection of Established and Emerging Women Writers. Publishing is very unpredictable—we can only control the writing part. The rest is learning the industry and building connections.
Do you have any favorite books on craft?
Stephen King’s On Writing was the first book I ever read that gave me permission to let my characters lead the way. That’s the only way I know how to write.
Share with us the most meaningful truth you hope your readers glean from your writing.
That God has plans for all of us, and that those who travel paths that cause many Christians to shake their heads can still be good people. Going to church doesn’t make you a good person any more than buying designer clothes makes you well-dressed. We’re all flawed, and none of us has all the answers.
Where can we find you on the web?
The Porch Swing Chronicles: http://www.L2Hess.blogspot.com
Organizing By STYLE: http://www.orgbystyle.blogspot.com
STYLE Savvy at CatholicMom.com: http://catholicmom.com/?s=Lisa+Hess
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