We’re featuring another debut author on the blog today! These interview are so wonderful, because they give writers the chance to see what has worked for other authors throughout their publishing process.
Lisa Lewis Tyre, author of LAST IN A LONG LINE OF REBELS (Sept. 2015, Nancy Paulsen Books), grew up in a small town in Tennessee surrounded by her crazy family and neighbors. She learned early on that not every child had a pet skunk, a dad that ran a bar in the front yard, or a neighbor that was so large his house had to be torn down to get him out. What else could she do but write? Find her on her website or on Twitter.
What is the book’s genre/category? (For example, mainstream, literary, fantasy, YA…)
Contemporary middle grade with a touch of historical fiction.
Please describe what the story/book is about in one sentence.
In an effort to save her house, 12 year-old Lou Mayhew researches her family history and learns that during the Civil War, a shipment of gold was stolen and the chief suspect was her great, great, great grandfather. Whew.
Where do you write from?
I write from my couch, bed, lounge chair, and occasionally in a sitting position at my desk, from my home in North Atlanta.
Briefly, what led up to this book?
I wrote for corporate clients and entered a few short story contests. REBELS was my first attempt at a novel. I got the inspiration for the book when I was nine years old. I learned that my house was located just yards away from where Civil War soldiers camped and that in the 1950s some kids playing in the field even found several pieces of gold.
What was the time frame for writing this book?
I took my sweet time writing this book. I’d write a chapter or two, wonder who I was kidding, and put it back into my bedside table. If I count the time actually spent with bottom to chair, it probably took me two years. But I had the general outline almost ten years ago.
How did you find your agent (and who is your agent)?
I went to a writer’s conference and heard an author say that you have to treat writing like a job. I came home and set a querying goal of sending five per week. After about three weeks, I had several requests for fulls. Every time my phone would ring from a strange number, I’d answer, fingers crossed. One day, it was Susan Hawk from The Bent Agency with an offer of representation! After I hung up, I screamed, “I have an agent!” so loudly my husband thought I said, “I have cancer!” He was very relieved when I calmed down enough to say it more clearly. I adore Susan and couldn’t be happier.
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What were your 1-2 biggest learning experience(s) or surprise(s) throughout the publishing process?
There’s so much I didn’t know, and am still figuring out. I didn’t realize I’d have a team of people behind me. So much of writing is spent alone, but Susan and Nancy Paulsen, and the whole Penguin family, have been great in the way they support and market the book. The technical aspects of revising the manuscript and sending it back and forth was also new to me.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you break in?
I followed the rules when it came to querying. I did my research and submitted exactly what the agents asked for. I also trusted my editor when it came to revisions. Of course, it was Nancy Paulsen, so duh.
On that note, what would you have done differently if you could do it again?
I would have taken my writing seriously a lot sooner.
Did you have a platform in place?
I had a website/blog and was active on Facebook and Twitter.
On this topic, what are you doing the build a platform and gain readership?
I love connecting with book lovers through social media. In addition to my own website, I’m co-founder of www.MiddleGradeMafia.com, a multi-author website dedicated to promoting MG authors and books. I have an author page and am in several writing-related groups on Facebook. I participate as a Pitch Wars mentor, and I launched a writing contest this year called The Bertie for 11-13 year olds. I offer marketing consults at SCBWI events, and I’ll be heading to the Social Media Marketing World Conference this year for the 3rd time to learn even more ways to connect.
Pride and Prejudice, 2005 version.
Best piece(s) of writing advice we haven’t discussed?
Treat your writing like a real job and participate in a good critique group. Also, don’t give up. Seriously, do not!
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I’m a bridge addict. When I’m on deadline I can’t allow myself to play or I’d never get any writing done.
I have a contract with Nancy Paulsen Books for two more middle grade books.
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