Monday, July 9, 2012

Lisa Nowak, Getting Sideways

AUTHOR: Lisa Nowak
BOOK TITLE: Getting Sideways
PUBLISHER: Webfoot Publishing

WHAT IS IT?: The first book in the series, Running Wide Open
HOW IS THE WINNER TO BE CHOSEN?:  A random drawing. Be sure to leave contact information
WHO WILL DELIVER THE PRIZE TO WINNER?:  Lisa will deliver to winning email address and send preferred format (Kindle or Nook).

Tell me a little about your book.
Getting shipped off to live with his uncle Race was the best thing that ever happened to fifteen-year-old Cody. Then a wreck at the speedway nearly ruined everything. Cody’s making every effort to get his life back on track, but there’s no escaping the nightmares that haunt him.

 A chance to build his own car seems like the perfect distraction until Cody realizes he’ll have to live up to Race’s legendary reputation as a driver. But that’s the least of his worries, considering he doesn’t have his dad’s permission. All he has to do is the impossible: keep his uncle in the dark until he can convince his dad racing’s safe.

 Yeah, sure. That’ll be easy.

What gave you the idea for this particular story?
As a former racer, I wanted to write about what it was like to build a race car, and since that activity takes place in the off-season, it was also an opportunity to share my love of Christmas. I chose Cody’s uncle,  Race, as the conduit for my own quirky passion for the holiday. It was sort of an opportunity for me to make fun of my obsession. I also wanted to explore the angst a teen would experience, disappointing the person he cares most about and the process he would go through, learning how to forgive himself.  In so many cases, it’s easier to forgive someone else than to let one’s self off the hook.

Is there anything in your story based upon a real life event? If so, tell me about it.
Not really, aside from some character traits. Cody’s prone to worrying and ruled by his emotions like I am. Race has my Christmas spirit and habit of playing a tape/CD in the car over and over because he’s too lazy to change it. Kasey is my driven, workaholic side. I do incorporate some local real-life stuff, though, like the rivalry between the UO Ducks and the OSU Beavers.

Why did you choose to write a story with a Christmas theme?
I wouldn’t classify Getting Sideways as a book with  a Christmas theme, though a large portion of the story does deal with Cody’s experience of his first ‘real’ Christmas. As a big fan of the holiday, I wanted to feature it to pay tribute to how it colors my own life.

Do you see special challenges to marketing a book with a seasonal theme?  If so, what are they?
Since Getting Sideways isn’t specifically a seasonal book, this really wasn’t an issue for me. However, I can see people with seasonal books having a very narrow but intense window of opportunity for marketing. I think you’d have to have all your ducks in a row to promote such a book.

How long before Christmas did you submit to your publisher?
Since I’m self-published, this wasn’t an issue. By complete coincidence, I finished my manuscript just in time to publish for the 2011 Christmas season. The way I marketed the book, however, the holiday didn’t really contribute to sales. This question gives me some ideas for selling the book during the next holiday season, though. That’s one of the keys to being an indie author. You always have to be ready to think outside the box.

How and why did you choose this publisher?
I chose self-publishing after spending five years trying to sell a contemporary boy book about racing to New York without luck. Though I eventually found two small presses who wanted the first book in the series, I decided it was in my best interest to publish on my own.

What about your book makes it special?
The characters. Time and again, I receive reviews complimenting me on how real my characters seem. People also like the universal truths I address, and the layers of plot and subplot I use to tell the story. I believe books can work on more than one level, and that when they do, it adds a richness that a makes the story resonate with the reader.

What does Christmas mean to you?
I’ll let a Christmas Eve excerpt of my book tell you that:

For a long time we stood wordless in the winter quiet, watching snow collect first on the lawn, then the tree branches, and finally the sidewalk. The peacefulness reminded me of the feeling I got from karate. Calming energy soothed away the last of my cynicism, and for a few minutes I felt that maybe things would be okay after all.

“I guess this is why you like Christmas so much, huh?” I asked Race, who’d stepped forward to lean on the railing at my other side.

“It’s part of it. But the biggest thing is the sense of—well, community, I guess. It’s the one time of year when people actually have a little faith in the idea of peace on earth.”

“Yeah, like that could happen,” I said.

Race sighed. “Maybe not, but for a few days every December, at least everyone’s wanting it.”

Beside me, Brooke let out a sigh of a completely different nature. “You’re a true romantic, Race. No wonder my sister fell in love with you.”

What is your favorite Christmas memory?
My senior year in high school, it snowed on Christmas Eve, a virtual impossibility on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. I’d decided to sew a Care Bear for my little sister’s gift—that dates me, doesn’t it? It was taking me forever (sewing is not one of my skills) so I was still up after midnight, working on the darned thing. We had the radio on, and Snoopy’s Christmas, one of my favorite Christmas songs, started playing. I just remember being so happy in that moment.  My sister was thrilled with her bear. It was totally worth the aggravation.

What was your favorite stocking stuffer?
Chocolate. Need I say more?

What was your favorite Christmas present?
I  suppose the one I’ve gotten the most use out of and that moved me the most was the laptop my husband and mother-in-law bought me several years ago after mine got stolen. But somehow I feel like I should answer this question in regard to my best childhood gift. The one that stands out the most is a stuffed turtle, almost as big as I was, that my mom sewed for me when I was six or seven.  I loved that thing. The  funniest gift I ever got came the year I was in 8th grade. We had a tradition of being allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve, and I chose this little tiny package. It turned out to be a nine-volt battery. My brother felt bad about that, since it was part of his gift. He talked my mom into letting me open the other part—a spaceship equipped with lights and sound effects. I was a total space geek back then, thanks to the original Star Wars movie.

Where can people learn more about you and your work?


  1. Hi Lisa, Great interview. I imagine that was a big disappointment opening a package to find a battery. But then you knew it had to go with something. Isn't it fun to go back to those old memories?

    I think self-publishing your book is very brave. I wouldn't know where to begin.

    Best of luck with your novels.

  2. We always opened one gift on Christmas Eve. I think it helped to shut us up so we would go to bed and wait for Santa's gifts in the a.m. In actuality it just added fuel to the excitement of Christmas. I like what you said about stories having layers to discover. I agree. Best wishes for success in writing!

  3. Thanks, Beverly and JQ. I think that Christmas Eve tradition is probably fairly common, but of course when I was a kid I thought we were the only ones who did it. :)

  4. I enjoyed the interview. GETTING SIDEWAYS sounds like a great book. Nice cover. Thank you for sharing an excerpt from the book.


  5. Thanks for weighing in, Susanne. This cover has a special place in my heart because that's my nephew on it. Doesn't he do a good job of looking miserable?

    Since I submitted my guest post to Penny, I've made Running Wide Open, the first book in the series, free with all distributors, so you can all go download a copy at no charge. (Here's the Amazon link - ) In light of that, I'm giving away a copy of Getting Sideways, instead. And the winner is ... Beverly! I'll get your contact info from Penny and send you the format of your choice, Kindle or Nook.

    Please don't hesitate to let your friends know that Running Wide Open is free. In this business, word of mouth advertising really makes a difference. :)

  6. The winner for this Christmas special is Beverly Stowe McClure. Congratulations, Bev!

  7. Yay! Lucky me. I just sent you an email, Lisa. Thank you. Thanks to Penny, too, for cooling us off with Christmas in July. :)