Friday, March 23, 2018

Nature: Is It a Centrifugal Force?


Isn't this an intriguing title for a book?
Just wait till you read it!

Hi everybody. Welcome to my kitchen table. Pull up a chair and meet my friend. 
Lisa J. Lickel, is visiting with me down here in Texas. She came all the way from Wisconsin. She says she's glad to be in warmer weather—at least for a few days.

Lisa is multi-talented. She's not only a writer, but an editor. She's edited several of my books, and I loved working with her. I know you'll like her books too, but first, let's get acquainted.

Lisa, let's start at the beginning. Where were you born, your early life, and how did you meet your husband?

Thanks, Gay, and the warm weather is nice. I was born in a small city on the west shore of Lake Michigan south of Green Bay, Wisconsin where my parents had their first public school teaching jobs. We soon moved down the coast to Racine, where I grew up. I met my husband in college through Intervarsity Christian Fellowship in Stevens Point, at the UW, where we prayed for John Denver. 

My goodness! You've always been in what I call "The Cold Country." I've never lived north of Oklahoma. We had snow and ice there, but nothing like what I see you have on the TV. Were you praying for John Denver to write more songs?  

 No, not songs. In the 1970s John Denver professed to follow one of those faith-based offshoots that was a little quirky, so we prayed that he would find and follow the truth of Christ alone as Savior.

 I hope he did, and I love his music. Do you wear tons of long-johns?  How about heating bills? What do you use? Gas? Electric? Do you have a fireplace? If so, does hubby chop wood?

 Hubby is chopping another tree to prepare wood for the heating season of 2020 as we speak. He and his chainsaw have a pretty tight relationship. We are on an electrical co-op, so our electricity bills are offset by a huge solar array the co-op runs. We may do some more alternative power in the future for ourselves, but right now, the co-op does a good job for our electrical needs. We also are part of a co-op and run our water heater and back-up house furnace on liquid propane. We have a powerful, beautiful wood stove that, so far, kept both upper and lower levels of our new house surprisingly warm, even in those -20-degree days. I prefer to keep the house a little cooler anyway, but didn’t need to put on long-johns this winter, but I did back in our old drafty house.
 Do you have kiddos?

We have two grown boys (one of whom graduated from Stevens Point and the other went on to get his M-Div and is now area director for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship from---yes, Stevens Point!), and four and a half grandchildren, two grandkitties and lots of grandchickens.

What do you do with animals in the winter months?

When we have our own chickens and raise a pig or calf, we’ll keep them in pens. They’re pretty hardy animals, and out of the wind, don’t really need special treatment, just fresh water that’s not ice, and feed.

What is your favorite season way up there in Wisconsin?

Oh, that's easy. Fall. I love the transitions. 

Fall is my fav too, but I must travel to see colors change. Here in the Houston area, we go from green to brown. If you could, what would you change about your state?

I love Wisconsin, and I’d like to make sure the changing government policies go back to thinking long term about environmental preservation issues and supporting and enriching our progressive public educational system.

That sounds like a lofty plan. Changing anything in government is difficult. What is your favorite thing about your Wisconsin?

The wonderful progressive and diverse, enlightening culture. Sure, we’ve had challenges as any other state in the Union, but from the richness of the Voyageurs to the Welsh miners who gave us our nickname of the Badger State, to the wonderful shorelines, forests, hills and farms to manufacturing to the culture of the earliest residents of many tribes, the stand against the runaway slave act, I don’t think I could my finger on any one thing that’s my favorite. Maybe the spectacular sunsets we see almost every night from our deck.

I'd love to visit and see those sunsets. I think you've posted them on Facebook. Have you lived elsewhere?

No. Born and bred in Wisconsin!

That’s amazing. I wonder how many of my readers have always lived in the state they were born.  I’ve lived in two. I lived that one year in Oklahoma, but the rest of the time, I've been in the heart of Texas. Okay, friends, in the comments, tell us how many states you’ve lived in.  How many of you have lived in more than two? Lisa, any writers in the family?

My dad tells lots of stories, and once co-wrote a textbook for Civics (one of those subjects that’s now about as passé as Latin and didn’t get published), as well as some articles, but that’s about it.

I prefer to write and read fiction. How about you? Do you spend most of your time in the fictions genre?

I do read mostly fiction for pleasure, though the book club I belong to makes sure I get an even balance. I just finished Black Man in a White Coat by Dr. Damon Tweedy—excellent. And I’m reading theological books now about the new-to-us faith my husband and I are thinking of joining—Quaker.

Wow! I'd love to hear how you came to think Quaker, but I guess that's a topic for another day.  Have you had other jobs besides writing and editing?

 I've enjoyed a few after the kids started school—housecleaning, childcare, lots of different temp jobs, driver for an automobile dealer, temp refurbishing a major retail store, various secretarial positions, school lunch lady and temp school cook.

You sound like me, I've had multiple jobs too. Many of my experiences show up in my books. You? 
I can see that in your Sarah stories, I also it in your latest book, Mattie’s Choice! Yes, some of my experiences I’ve used, such as secretarial work and driving cars, lots of the journalism experiences can be found in side characters, and is Lily’s background in UnderStory.
If I visit, what sort of food would you feed me and what would you show me if I visited you in your city?

If you didn’t have any dietary restrictions, I’d feed you pasties, which are meat, potato and onion flaky crust individual pies, with barbecue sauce, apple something from our trees, and depending on what time of year you come, fresh berries or steamed carrots and beans from the garden, or my husband’s trout and morel mushrooms. I’d take you around to the various shops of our Amish neighbors, and if you came during Cesky Den, Czech Days, in the summer, we’d go to the party in nearby Hillsboro. We haven’t lived here year round until this year, so we’re exploring the “neighborhoods.” I’d probably show you the remaining round barns, which inspired the second book of my Buried Treasure mystery series.

You're making me hungry. I'd love to see the round barns. Let’s talk about writing. How did your characters come to mind for your book?

For Centrifugal Force, which is a second book in the Forces of Nature series, I saved an obituary from several years earlier when the first book, Meander Scar, released. The obituary described a man I knew was Maeve’s father, and although I wasn’t ready to write the book yet, I knew one day I’d come back to it. I enlisted my writing group for help a few years back when I was ready, and we brainstormed some story concepts.

I loved Centrifugal Force, and I know a lot of research went into the book. Do you enjoy research?

Adore it. I’m a historian by bent and like nothing else quite as much.

 How did you get the idea for Centrifugal Force (Forces of Nature)?

It’s a natural follow up for Meander Scar, which released from Black Lyon Publishers back in 2010.  In that book we never learned anything about Rachel’s little lapse in judgement (Maeve’s father), and I always knew this story would be about that issue. Gervas’s nationality added the spice.

In this intriguing book, Rachel had a love/hate relationship with Gervas. Do you believe there’s much difference in the two emotions? Do you think it is easy to slip from one to the other?

I once heard that love and hate are actually very similar; they are both fully passionate and you can’t really know one without the other. I am inclined to embrace that thought, and yes, do believe, and admittedly experience, those emotions. For example, if someone can’t break your heart, how much did you love in the first place? I believe some types of love are gentle and kind, but that’s different from sacrificial, vulnerable, romantic love.

You seem fascinated with medical issues. How did you come up with Katrine’s illness?

Again, research. I’m just trouble with medical databases. I wanted something serious, and something undergoing current studies, and something genetic. I wanted to explore some other aspects of the disease, but that would have convoluted the story even more, and there was already enough going on.

That's true, and I hope science finds cures for diseases soon. Rachel has a valuable gem she took from Gervas. Have you ever seen a ring similar to the one in your book?

I have, yes, in a museum in Athens, Greece. You can look at the book page on my website to find out more about the culture that created the lost jewelry and a link to pictures.

What is the one thing you want readers to take away from this book?

These stories in the Forces of Nature series explore family more than anything else. I hope readers will think about what makes a family, what keeps it together, as well as what tears it apart. Obligation shouldn’t hold sway over love, romance shouldn’t force choices, and faith should be the glue.

Amen! What are you working on now?

I have several projects going on, including producing a series of Bible adventure books for a talented man. I’ll be teaching a workshop for a conference in April and teaching at Bookcamp for a week in May (, so I’m getting ready for those. For my writing, I’m looking forward to the reboot of a mystery series, the Fancy Cat series, releasing later in the year or early next year, a third novella for Christmas with my running characters, Danny the accidental movie star and Shelly the film promoter, and the third book in Forces of Nature, Parhelion, which is the story of Maeve and features some truly intriguing research with genetics and adaptation to different environments I still don’t know how I’m going to pull off.

Thanks for visiting Lisa. Now let's eat lunch. I'll take you to my favorite Mexican food place and we'll talk more about our books. I wish all my readers could be at our book table!

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