Gail's Book Nook

Monday, July 22, 2013

Looking Out the Window: Lisa Lickel Talks about Her Latest Book, Gives Away a Copy and Shares a Recipe

It’s my great pleasure to welcome Lisa Lickel today. To enter to win a copy of The Newspaper Code leave a comment and e-mail address.

Hi Lisa, first, tell us a little about yourself.
Thanks for having me here, Gail. Always fun to visit! I grew up in a family of teachers and readers, so it was a big shock to learn that not everyone liked school or…gasp…books. How can that be? Although I’ve always been an avid reader, writing never occurred to me until I started working with our local historical society to put together an anniversary book. A friend taught me about press releases, and I wrote some articles for the newspaper. Then I took an online course from the Christian Writers Guild and started selling articles before I finished. I moved on to novels from there. I’m still learning, still growing.

You're writing some terrific books. Tell us about your latest.
The Newspaper Code is the third book in the cozy mystery Buried Treasure series. It takes place only a few weeks after The Map Quilt concludes, so readers get to see how Judy and Hart are handling being parents after the baby’s tumultuous birth. Judy and Ardyth discover the body of an elderly woman who’d been working with the newspaper editor, Olivia, on the story of some missing funds from the Civil War-era. Since Robertsville is struggling financially, that money would come in handy. Could the old newspaper in the lining of the map quilt have the answers to what happened?

What inspired you to write this particular book?
Since working on some stories a few years ago about lack of funding in local communities, I decided to join that thought with my love of history. What would it mean to discover money had been hidden away years ago during a time of crisis? What if that money had never been found…until now? The school building in my dad’s home town really was condemned for a time, causing young families to move out. How can communities grow if they can’t attract and keep people? And what does it mean to those whose livelihoods are threatened – those are the ideas behind The Newspaper Code.

In three words describe your style of writing.
Contemplative, Character-driven, Curious

What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
It’s supposed to be a part time job for me, but ends up being more than full. Sometimes I can spend a couple of hours right away on my own work, but because I also am currently writing for our local newspaper, I have to take those assignments when they come, and my bread-and-butter comes from working with other writers. It’s often feast or famine with work, so I do what I can while still running the household, trying to keep up with the dust bunnies and keeping us fed. I write wherever I feel like it, which is great – either with the laptop, notebook, or main computer in our living room.

Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?
I stopped trying. Works better that way. Get to the end of a sentence, go throw laundry in or take something out of the freezer. Hubby knows when I go “huh?” that he may actually be talking to one of my characters. He stopped trying to make sense of me long ago.

Are you a plotter or a pantzer?
I used to say plotter all the way, but since working on this current novel, strange things have been happening that are completely outside the purview of my (hastily) plotted synopsis. Granted, there was a lot of wiggle room, but the stakes are higher with the appearance of people I hadn’t met before. Poor Jeb LaPorte is no longer the baddest dude in Buena Vista. I hope he doesn’t come after me.

What are you working on right now?
Well, with your help and encouragement, Gail, I’m working on a manuscript that I started four years ago. It’s grown and matured in theme, so I suppose I wasn’t really ready to write it back then, even though I pitched the idea to a few publishers. Each of them had some good advice, and newspaper headlines this year have filled in those gullies of wishy-washiness of packing peanut-ideas I had before. There’s nothing like writing with your own personal cheerleader.

LOL. I can’t wait to see that book in print. When it comes out, you’ll have lots of cheerleaders. If you could interview any character in one of your books which one would it be? What shocking thing might that character say? Why?
In light of a recent review of Mark in Meander Scar, I guess I’d give him a chance to defend himself. I know—never waste time being upset by them, but really, this reader didn’t take the time to get to know Mark. He’s not a Plan B-type of guy. He gets what he goes after. It never occurred to him that God wouldn’t be on the same page, and so…to answer why his faith would go down the drain so quickly: “Self-doubt is cruel enough, but when there’s even the slightest change that God isn’t real, it was enough to make me doubt everything. It didn’t last long, but I’d never even considered the concept before and with all the pressure, I plead insanity, if only for a couple of days.”

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Everybody, anybody can and should write. But deliberate over your goals, audience, whether you want to make it a business or a hobby. My son, who loves and excels at anything to do with the outdoors had rare insight when we thought he should consider a career in Wildlife Management. He said if he made the thing he loved most into work, then he wouldn’t enjoy it anymore. Very true. By making writing a business, you’ll be forced to work at it. Remember that when you think about what you love about writing.

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?
I’m a pretty fair secretary, still. And/or I’d probably be creating desktop publishing material either on the job or for local printers, as I’d been doing.

Nourish the Body with character Judy Winter’s Recipe

Judy and the Chicken Casserole
Right from the first book in the series, The Last Bequest, Judy Winters only thinks she can cook. Everyone who knows her loves her anyway. In The Newspaper Code, Judy, now married to her neighbor, Hart Wingate, makes a casserole with curry that doesn’t quite turn out like Hart planned.
Here’s a recipe from The Last Bequest, when Judy attempted to make a casserole for Hart, whom she’d accidentally fallen on. She’d always heard that salt was bad for you, and she had never heard of savory, and couldn’t find paprika or pepper in Louise’s kitchen. Besides, they were such small amounts, what difference did it make?

If Judy followed the recipe, she would have made this:

1 large chicken breast, cooked and cubed
2 T. diced onion
1 large carrot, peeled and sliced
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1 can of green beans, any style
1 can 98% fat free cream of chicken soup
1 1/2 tsp each: salt, parsley
½ tsp savory
½ tsp. course ground black pepper
Sprinkle top with paprika
Mix in a 1 ½ quart casserole dish. Bake in 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, or until potatoes are tender. Serves 5

That sounds delicious. Thank you.

Nourish the Soul with spiritual help
One of Lisa’s favorite Bible verses: Matthew 6:34: Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

About The Newspaper Code
 Judy Wingate’s NOT-BFF, Olivia Hargrove of the Robertsville Reporter, discovers a Civil War-era secret newspaper code that may lead to a seven million dollar windfall. Not long after Judy and Hart’s baby is born, Judy and Ardyth are embroiled in another murder. This time it’s 99-year-old Esme Espe, the queen of the Petunia Society, Robertsville’s Garden Club. Dead-heading petunias has become a serious undertaking in Robertsville. Esme’s gruesome murder by garden claw soon catches the attention of the Robertsville Reporter’s chief editor and nosy correspondent, Olivia Hargrove. Clueless Olivia decides to befriend Judy and burrows into her life. Judy still holds a grudge but in order to learn more about Olivia’s secret project with the dead Esme, Judy reluctantly agrees to spend time with Olivia who is in desperate need of advice…and a makeover. Circled letters of a Civil War era newspaper vex Olivia, and when she learns Esme found an historic discrepancy in the town treasury, she and Judy must solve the riddle in the newspaper and race for the treasure before the murderer gets to it first.
Judy’s best suspect is the new guy in town. But how can she tell Olivia her boyfriend might be a murderer?

Excerpt from The Newspaper Code
Judy tucked under one of the French braids she’d styled around Olivia’s face. “And I have a daughter now, so I better get back in the habit before she starts asking me. Okay, how’s that?”
Wow, who knew Olivia had a real face under all that. Heart-shaped, too.
“Um, okay. I guess.” Olivia gave a cursory glance at the mirror. She raised her chin and looked at Judy’s reflection. “How many boyfriends have you had?”
Ah, so she’s back to thinking about Adam Gordon. Let’s follow this tack. “I’m probably not the best person to ask about boyfriends,” Judy warned.
“Besides the one who was a murderer,” Olivia added.
Judy felt the tingle of anger. No matter how nice Olivia looked on the outside, tact was not part of her inner make up. She acted more like one of Judy’s students.
Don’t take it personally, she reminded herself.
But maybe I can turn this to my advantage. “Graham was my first adult boyfriend,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I didn’t know he couldn’t be trusted—I didn’t have any experience with boys. Men.”
“So, you’re saying I can’t trust my feelings about Adam Ray because I don’t know any better.”
Judy cleared her throat and finished the other braid before stepping back. “That’s pretty blunt. Why don’t we talk about the things you know for sure, not what you think or feel?”
Olivia nodded. “I can do that. Let’s see. We went to college together.” She frowned. “He was three years ahead of me. I guess I don’t even know for sure that he graduated, though I could look it up on line.”
“If he took a teaching job at a college, let’s assume he finished college and graduate school.”
“I had no idea what he was doing after college until he sent that letter inviting me to collaborate.”
“Those were his words? He wanted to collaborate?” Judy smothered a laugh. “I haven’t heard that one before.”
“You think it’s just a line?”
“I don’t know. I’m sorry, that wasn’t very nice of me. What else did the letter say?”
Olivia pulled the towel from around her neck and replaced the wire rims with the cat’s-eyes. “Here, you can read it for yourself.”

Bio: Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. She loves anything historical, collects books and dragons, and writes inspiring fiction. She is the editor-in-chief of Creative Wisconsin Magazine, a workshop leader, feature article writer, book reviewer, contest judge, and a freelance editor who loves to encourage new authors. Find her at


Gina said...

Great interview! I am looking froward to reading your book, Lisa, and wish you mega-sales :-) Can't wait to try that chicken, too. Best of luck to you.

Gail, you blog is just wonderful. Hugs and blessings :-)

Miss Mae said...

Oh, I love the premise for this plot! And I had to laugh when you said you go "huh?" that your hubby knows he's talking to one of your characters. LOL

The recipe sounds yummy. Best to you in your writing career. :)

Linda Weaver Clarke said...

This book sounds intriguing. You mentioned that you're character-driven. I love mysteries with well-developed characters. That makes all the difference in the world when reading a mystery. It helps a mystery not be so slow as the search is on. I'd love to be included in this giveaway.

Lisa Lickel said...

Thank you, Gina, Miss Mae and Linda...I appreciate you. Funny...but I woke up on Friday morning and was posting a review of somebody's book on Amazon and thought I'd cruise over to check my stats...and CODE is selling at #72 in the Mystery category. Coulda knocked me over with a feather! And our dear Gail is the one who made it happen.

Caroline said...

Oh, my this sounds like a great book, Lisa. Love, love, love mysteries. One of my fav genres! Hope that book keeps climbing to #1


Karla Akins said...

Very nice interview! Yummy recipe. Great reading -- what more could you want?

Wanda B. said...

Great interview and blog. I'm looking forward to reading your book. Thanks so much for the giveaway!

Wanda Barefoot

Lisa Lickel said...

Hi, Caroline! I'm always happy to meet another mystery lover. So thankful for you, Karla! Who's book The Pastor's Wife Wears Biker Boots is coming out soon. And Hello, Wanda! I'm glad you stopped by.

Lisa Lickel said...

Oh, Carole - goodness, it's YOU! I didn't get past your sign-on before I started typing. You are one of my heroes for your persistence and great blogs, too. Thank you, thank you, for taking the time to stop here.

Patty Wysong said...

I love how you juggle everything, Lisa. =] Effective!! =]

Congrats on being in the top 100!

Jackie said...

Congrats Lisa!

Great interview and I'd love to be entered in the drawing.



Catherine Castle said...

You had me at the "besides the one who was the murderer" comment. The book sounds very interesting.
Good luck with it.

Carrie said...

I'm always looking for a new author thanks for sharing so much about you