Monday, March 17, 2014

Lisa Lickel, The Last Detail

AUTHOR: Lisa Lickel
BOOK TITLE: The Last Detail           
GENRE: inspirational fiction           
PUBLISHER: The Prism Book Group
BUY LINK: Amazon
Barnes and Noble
All Romance ebooks:

Lisa will give away an electronic copy (choice of Nook, Kindle, pdf, html), in a drawing from those who comment. Be sure to leave your contact information!

Please tell us about yourself.
Thanks, Penny, for hosting me. I’m a Wisconsin born and bred author whose work sits pretty solidly in the Midwest. I’ve been writing professionally for about ten years, with articles in Writer’s Digest, radio theater, newspaper features, short stories and several novels published to date. My husband and I live in an old home, and recently welcomed our first grandchild.

Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I’m a full-time writer and editor, and seeing much more time moving on over to the editor side. It’s true that for most fiction writers, you can’t give up a daytime job. When I’m in write-for-myself mode, I try to clear my calendar so I can devote larger chunks of hours to putting fresh words on paper, going through self-edits and revisions, and then going back to my daytime hat while I put the manuscript through critiques and Beta readers. My hours are flexible, and I can write from the road, though, so that’s nice.

What are your thoughts about promotion?
I know a total of three people who like the promotion side—nah, make that four, and three of them are non-fiction writers—who like promoting their work. I’m always a bit in panic mode when a new book comes out, worried that people won’t like it, even though I sincerely do not believe or expect everyone will. Reading is such an intimate experience, and with only so many hours to go around, people take care with how they spend those hours. I just don’t want to disappoint anyone.

Did you learn anything from writing your book, and what was it?
I always learn something intriguing to me during the research of a novel, whether or not I can use it in the book. A manuscript I wrote several years ago was based on medical research and stem cell therapy. I learned a lot about California medial and death reporting laws—as in, how death is defined, the Alexian Brothers, how to transport weapons across the country, and cord blood. My agent hasn’t found a home for the novel yet; I suppose the core message of my novel, access to the best treatment and stem cell healing for even dire cases, will have been met and answered. Ah well.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
The publisher for The Last Detail is the Prism Book Group, Joan Alley, publisher.  I was doing some research on publishers for an anthology when a couple of hoped-for publishing opportunities fell through for Brave New Century, and was intrigued by Prism. The very nice and new acquisitions editor agreed to take on this project, and the book, with Paula Mowery, Kathy Rouser, and Teena Stewart, was published last fall. In the meantime, I submitted on my own after a contract offer from another publisher wasn’t what I was looking for. A different Prism acquisitions editor surprisingly offered me a contract almost immediately, which made me very happy.

What are your current projects?
Eleven years after writing a series of children’s historical picture book stories, and five years of trying to sell it, I finally reached a place where I was comfortable working with a partner to publish them ourselves. The First Children of Farmington is about a group of six ethnic settler families who came to live in my community in the mid-1850s or thereabout, and faced the same kinds of problems children of today: peer pressure, obedience, blended families, racism. Five Loaves and Two Small Fish, our micro-publishing company, as of this writing, have put out the first two books and are nearly ready to publish the third, which already won a state award for best in Fiction for Young People by the Wisconsin Writers Association.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
My website, , has all my links, and some other tidbits for readers and writers. I have an author Facebook page:

Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
I wanted to write about marriage—the way men and women perceive each other while they're getting to know each other; how we think we're doing God's will when he has other plans in mind; how even after we get what we want, it's hard, hard, hard work making marriage be the blessing it's meant to be. Sometimes we're so busy doing for God or following our own path, we forget to take time out for each other. My book is fiction, but besides providing a few hours of clean entertainment, I also hope that my readers find something solid to chew on, to ponder, and maybe discuss with their friends and book clubs.

The story takes place in eastern Illinois, a small fictional town near Starved Rock State Park. A medical missionary and avowed bachelor on home leave meets his match in a young woman who owns a business called The Last Detail and helps people with end-of-life issues. They meet, court through obstacles—occasionally kicking and screaming—but marry. Were they ready for marriage? How well did they know each other, and how much of themselves were they willing to give to the other?

What gave you the idea for this particular book?
Several years ago I met my friend Ruth halfway between our homes for a weekend catch-up and getaway—this happened to be at Peru-LaSalle, Illinois, and one of the parks we visited was Starved Rock State Park. It had such a neat history, as well as the gruesome story of a murder in the 1950s. A local author wrote about this murder, and for me, the idea morphed into what would happen when people die who have no family to clean up after them? The fictional business The Last Detail was born. The story takes place in this area, in a fictional community, of course, called Fox Falls, and uses Starved Rock State Park often as a setting.

Do you outline before you write?  If not, what’s your initial process?
Oh, yes, though occasionally I’ll write out scenes to get the feel of what might be happening. My plotting is flexible, but I like to actually start from a synopsis and chapter goals. Since I usually have a word count goal (85-100,000 words), I break up chapter and scene goals so I have a destination. I prefer to work out the what if’s early so I can just write/research/write in big chunks. I keep scene and setting and character pages separate, but open documents, while I work in another document. I don’t always write in order, as an event or a scene or a secret comes to me, I go write it in the place where I think it belongs in the outline. Everything ebbs and flows, though. It’s a comfortable place for me.

What comes first: the plot or characters?
That’s difficult to say, because usually I picture someone doing something, or someone with angst about something, and build the story from there. Characters are crucial to me, so I suppose I do take the most care with them, let them tell the story and engage the reader. Perhaps that’s why I’d prefer to stay away from genre, as that’s built around formulaic plots.


What do you do when you’re not writing?
I like to watch movies and read. We like to travel, and since our family is scattered few hours away in several directions, we often go to visit. We also enjoy exploring the US, and when we retire, hope to do more of that.

What do you look for in a book when you sit down to read for fun?
I’m a very eclectic reader, but I have to say that belonging to a couple of book clubs has forced me to read things I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own. I both love and fear reading the work of other authors I’ve gotten to know; when I just browse the book store or library I usually look for fantasy or very early British historicals/time travel—stuff I wouldn’t dream of writing.

Brief synopsis/back cover blurb:
Here’s the paragraph from the back cover:

Hope, love, and loss meld two polar opposite personalities. How long can they keep passion for their ministry and each other after the wedding? Medical missionary and avowed bachelor Merit Campbell is wounded during a skirmish at his Mideast clinic and sent home to recover. Restlessness propels him to explore the happier moments of his childhood in Illinois where he meets Amalia Kennedy, owner of The Last Detail, who enjoys helping people prepare for their final years.
Merit ushers in new life; Amalia ushers it out. Love? Obviously. Marriage? Check. Dealing with the family closet? Step back…Amalia enjoys her predictable life in a quiet little Illinois town—until long-time intended, Hudson, finally proposes in a way that shows her boring and old are coming way too fast. When a mutual friend introduces Merit and Amalia, the spark of attraction makes Merit reconsider his bachelorhood. When he can’t return to the mission, he accepts a call as pastor to Amalia’s church. As the two grow closer they weather constant interruptions from ministry, business, and family, even at their wedding and beyond.
When tragedy strikes, they must learn to rely on each other in ways they couldn’t have prepared for. 


  1. What an interesting article! I really enjoyed reading this blog. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for stopping in, Carlene! And I enjoy your work as well.

  2. I read the book and loved it. As authors, it's a challenge to come up with new ideas and material. Lisa did a good job in The Last Detail.

    1. Thank you, Gay! I appreciate you, and love your books!

  3. Lisa's always has interesting info to share. I admire her & her work so much! Thanks for sharing again. :)

    1. Caroline, love you! Everyone, go get a copy of The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman!

  4. Always more to learn about Lisa! I really look forward to more 'First Children of Farmington' books to share with my grandsons. And you make me want to visit Starved Rock! Good job, Lisa and Penny.

    1. Thanks, Anita. You know I'm always up for a road trip.

  5. As always, it was great to read about what you are doing. I feel like I had some 'catching up' to do since you have some new projects on teh go. congrats on your latest book. Prism sounds like a good fit. (And your children;s books sound interesting too!)

  6. I've known Lisa a good deal of the ten years that she has been writing professionally and she still surprises and entertains me. This interview was fun because I learned some things about her that I didn't know. Oh, and I really liked the book!

    1. Hi, Jane, thanks for stopping in, tutu girl, and that's no baloney :)

  7. Hi Lisa. Your books sound intriguing. I'll have to get my hands on them!

    1. Thank you, Emma!, author of the wonderful Keeper of Reign series and Dead Dreams--still want to want know what's going on in that series.

  8. How interesting! I didn't realize your book is set in Illinois my home state. (So are mine.) God bless your launch of "The Last Detail." Love the cover.

    1. Thank you, Deborah. Always fun to think about our diverse country.