1. How did you get started writing and how long after you started would you say it took to get published?
Ten years ago, my husband and I adopted our first child. At the time, I was a stay at home mom without a second car, so I decided to take advantage of my son’s long naptimes to fulfill a lifelong dream–to write a novel. I knew nothing about characterization, plots, and formatting manuscripts, but I had enough determination to keep at it even after the rejections started. Eventually, I started reading how-to books, attended writers’ conferences, and joined a crit group. About five years later, I sold my first novella, To Catch a Thief, to Barbour publishing.
2. From the heart of Africa. Tell us about that life.
Almost four years ago, my husband and I moved back to Africa with our three children. While writing has become a full-time job, I try hard to keep family and ministry as most important. Living here has become a part of me despite the frustrations it often brings. I’ve been blessed to travel extensively throughout southern Africa the past few years, teach Bible classes, lead a VBS, and train Sunday school teachers. I have a blog, In the Heart of Africa, that is a glimpse into life here, where I share the amazing culture, food, photos, and needs of this continent.
3. Do you have a life verse and what is it?
Not a life verse, per se, but many that help keep me on track. This year has been, and will continue to be, a year of great change for our family, so verses like II Corinthians 4:18, where Paul writes–“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”–really minister to me.
4. What are some of your favorite movies?
That’s hard, because finding time to write means cutting out TV and movies most of the time. I love a good romantic comedy, old classics with Cary Grant and Doris Day, and more recent adventures like Sahara and National Treasure.
Tara’s Gold is my fourth Heartsong and was a lot of fun to write. It’s set after the Civil War in Iowa, and is about a young woman determined to prove to the world that she’s worth more than her father’s money. When she finds mention of an unsolved gold heist in her aunt’s journal, Tara decides her claim to fame will be finding the missing gold. Not for personal gain, just for…value.
Aaron Jefferson is a government agent seeking the same illusive goals—the cache of gold, yes, but more importantly, a place of significance in his own illustrious family. When Tara and Aaron find their paths converging, however, each is determined to find the gold on their own. What follows is a humorous quest that ends in the realization that there’s more to life than earthly riches and fame.
6. Tell us about Massachusetts Brides. Can you share the publishing process of these stories?
My first three Heartsong Presents historicals, Michaela’s Choice, Rebecca’s Heart, and Adam’s Bride, follow the Johnson family’s search for healing, family, and love in the late 1800’s. After losing her husband and daughter in a fire, Michaela never planned to love again. She certainly didn’t imagine that her heart would be torn between two very different men. After avoiding the biggest mistake of her life, Rebecca takes a position as a seamstress where she meets Luke. Adam’s brother was killed by a Polish man, and he judges an entire people based on one man’s actions. When he falls for a Polish woman named Lidia, will his head or heart win out? (For more details on these books and where you can order them, you can check out my website at www.lisaharriswrites.com)
All three books were originally released through the Heartsong Presents book club, www.heartsongpresents.com then Barbour Publishing printed all the books in one repackaged novel as a trade paperback that’s sold in bookstores and through other outlets like Walmart.
7. Of your books, and you have sold twelve now, which is your favorite?
I don’t think I can answer that, because each book marks a special point in my career. From my first sale, to my first full-length novel, to my first contemporary that was actually a rewrite of one of my first attempts. Each book has been a blessing.
8. What are your future writing plans?
I have a broad range of interests when it comes to writing, but have a strong desire to write international suspense set in Africa. I’m passionate about the setting and sharing some of the difficult issues being faced here.
9. What tips do you have to share with the aspiring writers?
Keep trying. The writing journey is often long and lonely. Giving up is not an option. Also, join a crit group and a writer’s group like American Christian Fiction Writers. It will make the journey so much easier!
10. In addition to writing, you also have several young children? Can you share how you balance the writing life with ministry and family?
It’s not easy. We’re getting ready to move to Mozambique where I’ll have to home school, so time will be even more difficult to find. It’s important to me to keep family and ministry first. Writing second. This is a challenge, though, as it seems that the work of a mother and writer is never finished.
11. What does your typical day look like?
Busy. ☺ I get up early to make sure my kids are ready for school. When my husband’s in town, he takes them to school while I clean up the house, exercise and read my Bible. Then I jump into writing. When the kids get out of school in the early afternoon, I run into town to pick them up, shuffle them to tutoring, ballet and whatever is on the schedule, do grocery shopping if needed, then return home. Afternoons are spent with the kids doing homework and spending time with them. By the time they go to bed, I have time to catch up on emails, work on marketing, and do critiques for my friends.
12. Any marketing tips?
Be professional in everything you do. Blog regularly to build an audience, have a newsletter, a website, and learn all you can from others. I think it’s also important to mention that while marketing is essential, so is writing. Don’t skip your daily time.
13. Closing thoughts you’d like to share?
Thanks so much for having me! Be sure and visit my blog at http://myblogintheheartofafrica.blogspot.com. You can sign up for my newsletter there as well!
Thanks for joining us Lisa!
Be sure to leave a comment if you’d like to be eligible to win either Massachusetts Brides or Tara’s Gold.