Posted by Christy Hayes
Please welcome to Women Unplugged bestselling author Lisa Mondello! I first met Lisa online through a romance loop for independent authors. Lisa is one of the most forthright authors I have ever met, always willing to answer my questions or provide guidance. I hope you enjoy getting to know Lisa and be sure to say hi in the comment section.
CH: Can you tell me about your ideal reader?
LM: I’m not sure I have an ideal reader. I want people to be entertained by my stories. For the most part the response to my books has been fabulous. But every so often I miss the mark with a reader. And that’s okay too. I don’t like everything I read either. So I guess I don’t really have an ideal reader, except I’d love those readers who do enjoy my books to keep coming back to read my back list.
LM: I am a full time writer and have been for several years. Although I’ve written fiction for over 16 years professionally, my main job while I was trying to break in was freelance work, writing web copy and sales letters. It paid the bills. But I’m phasing a lot of that out so I can do more fiction and screenwriting.
CH: What do you do when you aren’t writing?
LM: Listening to music and watching movies. I’m a big movie buff and I love music of all kinds. In fact, my kids tell me to turn down the stereo all the time. What a twist, huh?
CH: Where do you get your ideas?
LM: From everywhere. I’m working on a story that started out after I read a 3 star review on a book and it turned into a story where a restaurant owner, who has major OCD about her kitchen tools, falls in love with the restaurant critic who had the nerve to give her restaurant a mere 3 star review. It’s a romantic comedy and I’m having fun with it.
CH: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
LM: Neither, I’m a puzzler. LOL! Aren’t you glad you asked me this question? In fact, I do a workshop on the 4 types of writing profiles for writers, linear, pantser, plotter and puzzler. I write completely out of order. It’s not uncommon for me to have an opening scene and an ending written before I even flesh out the story.
CH: Do you design your own covers or use a designer?
LM: I’ve done both. I like having someone else do my covers because sometimes I get tunnel vision. I like collaborating and getting someone else’s perspective.
CH: Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
LM: I write all over the place; contemporary romance, romantic comedy, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, young adult and inspirational. I hate limiting myself. But I do like working on series for the same reason readers like reading them. I like to revisit characters I’ve become fond of. And you always wonder how that secondary character you introduced is doing. <G>
LM: Well, I’ve never been chased by a Colombian drug lord so that is purely fiction. But the town featured in Cradle of Secrets was clearly modeled after the town I live in. I wrote a book, The More I See, about a cutting horse trainer who went blind and I’ve never been blind or been on a cutting horse. But that story was inspired by a friend who’d gone blind for a time and had a guide dog named Otis. I was so impressed by that dog that I had to write a story featuring him! I also worked with the past president of the National Cutting Horse Association on that book to make sure my research was right. My book Gypsy Hearts was inspired by my time managing a Boston rock band. And my Fate with a Helping Hand series is set in Massachusetts in places where I’ve lived and spent a great deal of time. Other than that, the stories are purely fiction. I don’t model characters after real life people, although I have used my husband’s stories from when he was a Marine in my books from time to time.
CH: How do you come up with titles?
LM: Sometimes they come before I even start the story and then I change them once I have a handle on where the story is going. Sometimes, specifically with my Harlequin books, I check out Romantic Times Magazine and see what titles are being used in order to help inspire me so I can give my editor suggestions. Publishers almost always change the title, so it’s good not to be wed to one in particular.
CH: Do you set writing goals for yourself? If so, are they daily, weekly or monthly?
LM: I do set goals…and I break them. I’m better with goals and deadlines other people give me. I know I can break my own deadlines because they’re not set in stone. Doing freelance for so long I’ve learned to be a back-to-the-wall writer where I can turn out pages fast if I have to.
CH: What do you do when you get stuck while writing a book?LM: Clean the house. There’s something about facing the toilet bowl that brings clarity. Seriously, I think no-mind work helps to free up the creative side of the brain and get the ideas flowing. Having said that, I have been inspired while doing housework and have left the toilet brush in the bowl when inspiration strikes. My family is used to half-done housework.
CH: Tell us about your upcoming book or new release.
LM: By the time this blog is released I will have released 3 of my 4 Texas Hearts Romance back list books as ebooks for Kindle, Nook, Sony, iTunes and Smashwords. This is a series I wrote for Avalon Books years ago and I’m thrilled to have these books released to a new audience. The books are Her Heart for the Asking, His Heart for the Trusting and The More I See. I will also be releasing a new Romantic Thriller in April w/a L.A. Mondello, called Material Witness. And then a young adult romance I wrote with my daughter will be released in May. That’s called No Strings Attached. So 2012 will see a lot of new book releases from me.
CH: If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
LM: A special education teacher. I’ve worked in special education as a paraprofessional aid, specifically with learning disabled and autistic children and I loved it. It was one of those jobs where I’d forget I was getting paid to do it. I’d thought about going back to school and getting my teaching degree at one time, but both writing and teaching are huge commitments and I tend to throw myself fully into what I do. One or the other would have suffered if I’d tried to do both. So I went with my first love and continued writing.
CH: What advice would you give to authors considering self-publishing?
a. Know what you want out of self-publishing. It helps to know if you’re doing it for the money, to create a buzz with your traditionally published work or if you’re trying to get exposure to attract an agent or publisher. Then you can plan a strategy.
b. Make a writing plan – how many books do you intend to self-publish, how often, what do you want to accomplish by self-publishing?
c. Make a marketing plan and make sure you network with lots of other self-published authors so you can learn the ropes. Once you self-publish, you’re wearing lots of hats and messing up your hair every time you change them.
d. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to spend a lot of money to get published. You don’t. There are a lot of free ways to get your books released and get exposure. Network and keep learning.
CH: Having done both, how does self-publishing differ from traditional publishing?
LM: There is definitely something to be said about writing the book and only thinking about the story. I like being traditionally published and don’t plan on abandoning that for self-publishing. However, having published my first book in 1998, I was fortunate enough to have a back list of books and have the rights to those stories reverted back to me. They were just sitting on my hard drive. So it seemed like a natural progression to try to do something with them to give my readers a chance to read stories that were published and went out of print before my current releases were published. So far it’s been working out well. But self-publishing is a lot of work and you need to be prepared and constantly think about promotion, something that is normally left up to the publishing houses.
Lisa Mondello is the best selling author of 13 published books. Her first published book, the award winning ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU, was recently reissued as an ebook and has had over 350,000 downloads worldwide. In addition to publishing her Fate with a Helping Hand series, which includes ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU, THE MARRIAGE CONTRACT and THE KNIGHT AND MAGGIE’S BABY, she is releasing her popular Texas Hearts series as ebooks in February 2012. Texas Hearts is HER HEART FOR THE ASKING, HIS HEART FOR THE TRUSTING and THE MORE I SEE. She currently writes for Harlequin Books and is collaborating with a film producer/screenwriter on a screenplay.
She loves to hear from readers. You can email her atLisaMondello@aol.com, find her on her blog talking about writing, movies and music at http://www.lisamondello.blogspot.com or chat on Twitter at @LisaMondello