Lisa Winkler, online at CyclingGrandma, and I have been blogging friends for about four years. She wrote a book, On the Trail of the Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America, which I read, discussed, and then reviewed on my blog, Streaming Thoughts.
When I heard that she had published another book, I asked Lisa if she would allow me to interview her for my new blog, Just Write, and I was thrilled that she agreed.
Hi Lisa, welcome to Just Write, a blog for writers, bloggers and photographers to have a place to share and have a cup of coffee together. Glad you could take a few minutes to sit down. I don’t think you do that often!
I’m so proud of you, Lisa. You just published your second book. That’s quite an accomplishment! In light of that let me ask my first question.
What is the ONE thing that you do; that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your successes as a blogger and author, so far?
Thanks, Marsha. It took courage to self-publish my first book, On the Trail of the Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America. I had invested a lot of time and passion into the book and thought I’d be able to get an agent, a publisher, etc. I self-published because I believed in the story but unless you self-promote to death, you don’t get much sales. It’s been a very slow process. But once I self-published my first book, I felt more comfortable doing the others.
I get that. I always feel better just finishing a project. Then it’s exciting to hear from people who read it. So, you had one book under your belt and felt encouraged to finish another. You probably had the idea for Amanda at Bat for a long time before you started writing it. I’m sure it took a while to develop.
What is one opportunity that you attribute to publishing your new book?
Once again, I knew I was going to self-publish Amanda at Bat. I’d submitted it many times over the years and it has been developed through a couple of writing workshops. I felt it was time for it to launch. I’m so grateful that my friend Stella Sormani agreed to illustrate it.
Submitting to publishers takes a lot of time, and is a completely different skill than writing the book. That task is daunting, coupled with the unsettling rejection letters that come to all authors at some time in their careers. Many of us are turning to self-publishing. I am no artist, either! Illustrations overwhelm me, and they are so important for children’s books. Stella did a great job, simple, but expressive. I haven’t been to any writing workshops, but I did take an online class on writing children’s picture books through the Australian Writers’ Centre with my blogging friend, Carol Sherritt.
What concerns or obstacles have you overcome in your writing career?
I’ve reached an age where I am going to write what I want to write! That said, I am sensitive to not using my children’s or grandchildren’s names as they’ve asked me not to write about them. It does limit my writing at times but that’s life!
Yeah, it’s nice to feel the freedom to write what you want to write. I hear what you are saying about writing about friends and family. People who have authors as friends may feel that they have to step on eggshells. It’s good that you are careful! Nobody wants to be exposed in a bad light.
Tell me about something that you are not good at.
Gee, just one thing? I am not good with technology. I can use my computer and I blog but I know I only use a fraction of the tools available to me on my phone. I know I could learn—but just don’t seem to have the interest or patience. I’m not good at book design and happy to allow a professional to do that.
Hahaha. I agree that is a loaded question! There are so many details to bringing a book together for publication.
How do you balance your time between your personal and career/blogging life?
I wish I could say I had the discipline to write every day. I don’t. Family, a bike ride, travel, errands and such all distract me.
Like having a bear visit you on your patio? That was quite a story! It sounds like you are comfortable with your choices, and that you keep your life in balance.
If your blog or writing career ended today, what would be the legacy that you hope you left behind?
Wow! What a question. I hope my blog and book readers have enjoyed my writing and have gotten something from it that may resonate. I’ve donated my books to libraries where I hope people might find them in the future!
That is a generous gesture, Lisa. It’s probably a good marketing tip for other self-published writers as well. I think some traditional publishing companies do that as well. I know mine did.
Tell me a bit about more Amanda at Bat. Why did you write it?
I wrote many children’s books when my kids were small. I received my Masters in Education with a focus in children’s literature and was inspired by all the wonderful literature I read. I suppose every parent thinks they have stories to tell. Children’s writing is very hard! You have to tell a story in as few words as possible. Amanda is really based on a real person, who like Amanda, is short, born in December, and whose last name is at the end of the alphabet. Her mother was annoyed when she played on a T-ball team that the batting order seemed unfair. I’ve been working on the story for many years. It was originally published in the last issue of a children’s on-line magazine and was a bit longer than it is now.
Are there any overall themes in the story?
It’s about fairness, solving your problems, and speaking up for yourself. I hope other children will see a bit of themselves in Amanda.
All kids worry a great deal about fairness, don’t they, Lisa? They are like the fairness police in a world that is not always fair. I can see where your book would be VERY helpful, especially for teachers to read just before kids go out on recess! Recess was the one place where my fourth graders had the most difficulties in school.
Lisa, this draws our interview to a close. I want to thank you again for being with me today. This was fun! I feel that I’ve gotten to know you a bit better, and I hope that those who read this interview will feel the same way, and will share your book as well as this article.
Lisa K. Winkler writes and blogs from New Jersey. She grew up on a poultry farm in Connecticut and worked as a newspaper reporter and magazine journalist. She’s now writing family histories as a personal historian. www.lisakwinkler.com Read more about Lisa here.
If you enjoyed this post, please forward it to your friends, especially teachers and parents or grandparents with young children. If you read Lisa’s book and write a review, please put a link to your blog in the comment section of this post, so others can find it.
Thanks again for joining us here at Just Write for a cup of coffee and another great interview with our guest author, Lisa Winkler.