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.
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.
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.