Wednesday, January 02, 2013
Today's Mystery Author Guest: Liz Lipperman
As promised yesterday, fellow mystery author Liz Lipperman is visiting my blog today. To read her bio and see her photo, please page down to yesterday's post. Also, Liz is running a contest for a free autographed copy of Murder for the Halibut and will choose the winner from among those who leave a comment!
The photo above is the cover for Liz's January 1st release, Murder for the Halibut, the third book in her Clueless Cook mystery series. In the book, a sports writing job would have been the perfect catch for Jordan McAllister, but in Ranchero, Texas, all she could reel in was the food column. Though she may not know her way around a kitchen, she has no trouble finding herself in a kettle of fish.
Tempted by the offer of a free Caribbean cruise, Jordan accepts a spot as a judge in a week-long big-time cooking competition aboard the Carnation Queen. She just better hope no one finds out that her famous palate is far from refined. But there are bigger fish to fry when arrogant chef Stefano Mancini falls face first into his signature halibut dish during the first event. While evidence suggests that the handsome Italian chef’s death was an accident, Jordan thinks otherwise. But she’ll have to keep her wits about her—and the sea sickness pills handy—if she’s going to solve this one.
Sounds like a fun mystery to me! Below are Liz's answers to my interview questions. Please leave a comment for her, and if you have a question of your own for her, ask it!
1. Who or what inspired you to start writing and when did you start?
First of all, thanks, Beth, for having me on your blog today. Now to the questions. I always knew things came out better when I wrote them. I even used to write letters to my high school sweetheart (now hubby) when we’d fight. My career choice was nursing, however, and it wasn’t until I decided to go back to get a Professional Arts degree and took Creative Writing as an elective that I began to think seriously about writing. On the final exam my instructor wrote, “You ought to think about a career in fiction writing.” That did it for me.
2. What tools and process do you use to “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I start with names and usually spend a whole day researching for the perfect ones. I love to pick ones that have cool nicknames. Then I write detailed character profiles on every character in the story, and I go from there. Sometimes, I even decide which actress/actor will play them in the movie version!!
3. How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I am a card-carrying plotter. To those who don’t write, this means I have to have it all mapped out before I even write a word as supposed to some of my pantser friends who just sit down at the computer and write. I start with a catchy title and then do profiles on all my characters as well as plot points for the entire book before I ever write one word.
4. In the age-old question of character versus plot, which one do you think is most important in a murder mystery and which one do you emphasize in your writing? Why?
We all know that mysteries involve action and plot. However, I don’t write police procedurals where the action has to be so detail-oriented. Plus, I thought I was a romance writer for a lot of years and learned how to write great characters (at least I hope I did!) So, to answer your question—mysteries that have both are what I write and love to read. I call them Romantic Mysteries, and I love it when a reader tells me she loves my characters. It just truly makes my day.
5. What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
As I mentioned, for a lot of years I chased the romance genre with a stack of rejections to prove it. The very first book I ever wrote was about a nurse who was kidnapped and smuggled into Colombia where she eventually takes up arms with her captors to fight off the Cali Cartel. Can you see why it was rejected by the romance editors?? When I finally found an agent who said she loved the story, I was elated. Of course, she couldn’t sell it, either. It wasn’t until that agent left the agency and I was passed down to my present agent (whom I absolutely adore) that I discovered I was a mystery writer. After reading the story, she looked me in the eye and said, “You know you’re not a romance writer, right?” You could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather. That’s when I penned my first mystery (a romantic suspense now available on Amazon.) And BTW, that first story about Colombia will go up as a romantic suspense in March.
6. What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I am retired from my day job, so I have no reason not to write every day. However, I find every excuse in the world not to. When I’m on deadline, I have absolutely no dust bunnies anywhere!! I have to be in the mood and sometimes, it just isn’t happening. Plus, I edit everything a million times before I send each chapter to my critique partner. Consequently, I am a pathetically slow writer, but the good news is that when I write “The End,” there are usually very few edits. To answer this question, when I am on deadline, I try to write 25 pages a week. I usually don’t and end up in panic mode before the deadline. I call myself a crisis junkie and like to think I do my best work then.
7. What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
You are only NOT a writer when you quit doing it. No matter how many roadblocks you’re running into, keep at it. When I finally sold to Berkley, I signed a three book deal on a proposal. That meant I had three NEW books to write with four already completed ones on my desk. Those are the ones selling now!!
8. Now here’s a zinger. Tell us something about yourself that you have not revealed in another interview yet. Something as simple as your favorite TV show or food will do.
My mother had four boys and then said she prayed too hard for a girl and got five in a row. I am next to the baby and my younger sister and I have always been close both in age and size. My older brothers always sent similar Christmas presents to us, and being the devil that I was, I used to unwrap them and choose the one I wanted before wrapping them both up again. My children pay for the sins of their mother since I only put numbers on all the presents to this day because I was so naughty. One year I lost my cheat sheet. That was a fiasco!
9. What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I am now writing the second book in my A Dead Sister Talking series for Midnight Ink. This one will release next year. Currently, I am getting my first Romantic Mystery, Mortal Deception, written as Lizbeth Lipperman, ready to come out in print. This month, Murder for the Halibut, the third cozy in the Clueless Cook series from Berkley came out, and as I mentioned, in March the Colombia story, Shattered Dreams, will release. Then in May, Heard It Through the Grapevine, the first of the series from Midnight Ink debuts, and in October, my fourth cozy titled Chicken Caccia-Killer releases. Sheesh! I’m tired already.
10. Is there anything else you would like to tell my blog readers?
Readers can go to my website and read excerpts from all my books as well as to connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. There’s also a link to email me, and I would encourage people to do that. I love talking about my books.
And I have a question for you readers. What do you like best—the character driven books or the ones with a lot of action? One lucky commenter will received an autographed copy of Murder for the Halibut.
Thanks, Liz! Now, who has a comment or question for her? Good luck in the contest!