Today for my Monday interview I wanted to introduce everyone to an aspiring author I have had the privilege to beta read for…Lisa Teller! Lisa and I got together months ago for me to read a YA book she had been working on, Wildwood Days, which is a romance set in the world of skateboarding. I was extremely impressed with her writing ability and hope to one day soon see her name on the cover of a book!
So, let’s give a warm welcome to Lisa…come in come in…let’s sit and talk a bit!
Let’s start with an easy one shall we? How long have you been writing?
I’ve written since childhood and enjoy writing poetry, short stories and children’s books as well as full- length novels. My poetry is accessible on the web, and some of my poetry is amongst the top 100 best poems on the web. One poem in particular “The Final Act” is extremely well-known. The poem, a short story written in verse was first published at www.netpoets.com. It was eventually picked up and published in the number one best seller, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Tough Stuff.
OOOOH I love those Chicken Soup books…when I was younger I think I read every one that was published at that point!
When did you start seriously pursuing publication?
That is an excellent question, but I have to laugh. I began seriously seeking publication of a novel after the release of “Twilight” and all the hype surrounding Stephanie Meyer. Here, is why: I’ve always loved to write but to make it a career required a degree. At least, that’s what I’d thought. I came from a modest upbringing where importance on education was minimal. To be honest, I quit school at sixteen to pursue a career in Cosmetology, but that’s another story. Although Stephanie Meyer’s has a Bachelors degree in English I connected with her. My motivation came from the fact she was just a regular housewife like me; a woman who wrote novels while juggling errands, caring for her children, cooking and cleaning the house. Something clicked; inspiring me. I dusted off an old manuscript and began feverishly revising and editing. Until that moment, I thought publishing a book to be an impossible dream.
Ha, well I must say, I think a LOT of people felt that way. I mean if she can do it…so can you right!? RIGHT!
Up to this point how many manuscripts have you written?
I’ve completed several short stories and children’s books. In addition, I’ve written the following Novels:
“Veil of Secrecy”- 85,000 words historical fiction set in Ireland during the 1970’s.
“Wildwood Days”- 81,000 words Young Adult contemporary set in New Jersey.
“New York Nights”- The Sequel to Wildwood Days is currently under development. I’ve completed the first 42,000 words.
“The Walk-In”- A young adult paranormal is in progress at www.textnovel.com/story/TheWalk-In/5399 .
I imagine and conjure up new novels on a daily basis.
Well I think Wildwood Days was AMAZING…and I’ve started reading The Walk In as well.
What are you working on currently?
I am currently working on my latest novel “The Walk-In.” I began writing the manuscript for a writing competition over at Textnovel.com. The genre is a young adult paranormal. I’m writing the story in the spirit of Thorne Smith’s (1926) numinous novel “Topper.” The tale begins when popular cheerleader Jackie Mark’s has a fatal collision with Lizzie Gordon, the creepy Goth girl from her third period English class. Discovering her guardian angel has made a dreadful mistake, Jackie learns her soul must depart from the afterlife. But with no physical body to dwell in, she makes an extraordinary decision. In a bizarre twist of fate, Jackie comes back from the hereafter as Lizzie Gordon, the school outcast. Further complicating matters, Jackie has no recollection of the change and Lizzie returns as a mischievous angel making Jackie’s new life anything but heavenly.
I will be posting an excerpt of The Walk In below for everyone to read…It really is a unique story!
Do you have representation right now?
Currently I do not have an agent, but I’m actively seeking the representation of a literary guru. Only those with patience, enthusiasm and a keen sense of humor need apply.
What has been your biggest struggle with the process?
My trouble comes from a lack of formal schooling. Any knowledge I’ve acquired in writing has been hands on and by the seat of my pants that goes for the querying process, as well. With no formal training or education, I’m armed only with a GED, my imagination, and the self help section at Barnes and Noble. However, I do have a terrific mentor. My belief is people come successively into our lives for a reason, a purpose. Six years-ago, I met Marea. We crossed paths when my child needed a tutor. I later called her for help editing “Veil of Secrecy.” She’s has had a tremendous impact on my writing. She believes in my ability to write and has been a constant source of inspiration and encouragement.
That’s awesome you found someone to connect with that motivates you! I often think some aspiring authors feel this is a quick process when in truth it’s extremely slow. Without motivation I bet a lot of talented authors simply give up.
What advice would you give to other aspiring authors out there?
Rejection letters make satisfactory toilet paper, (hahaha) Just kidding! Seriously, this business is subjective to many people’s opinions and tastes. My advice is, believe in yourself and your writing. Never let anyone’s opinion be the bottom line. Never say Never! Nothing is impossible! Remove the word quit from your vocabulary! My advice to younger writers is, to stay in school. Get an education and follow your dreams, big or small.
Can you tell me about Textnovel.com?
Textnovel.com is a social network for authors and readers. The site allows its members to read and write serial fiction online, by email or with their cell phones. Cash prizes and publishing contracts are awarded to winners of the writing contests promoted on the site.
I think textnovel.com is a fantastic tool for writers. The site gives unknown authors a platform for their work while allowing them to create a fan base that has an online presence. In addition to the cash prizes and the potential publishing contract, the textnovel team acknowledges writers whose work merits recognition by awarding them Editors Choice. The award is determined by quality of writing and the potential to win the contest. I’m proud to announce “The Walk-In” received Editors Choice December 2010 only a couple weeks after entering the 2011 contest. The acknowledgment came at a time when I needed positive affirmation.
I would love for your readers to check out my novel in progress by following the link www.textnovel.com/story/TheWalk-In/5399 . Once there, they can read “The Walk-in” and leave comments if they choose. Textnovel.com requires email registration and phone number validation to vote. They do not send email or sell your email address or telephone number to advertisers. Information is collected to promote fair voting. Please, register and VOTE for my novel. SUBSCRIBE to become a fan and receive updates as I add chapters.
Join “The Walk-In” on face book by following link to the fan page and clicking (LIKE). http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Walk-In/149759358412866
Lisa’s blog can be viewed at www.storytellersblogspot.com . I’m working on posting regularly.
Now, if I only knew how to tweet!
Now, I told you I would help you tweet LOL…that’s where everyone is! So many authors, agents, publishers and readers to connect with over there!
Excerpt from “The Walk In” by Lisa Teller:
Chapter 1:- The Walk-In
On the morning of my untimely demise, I expected to be drawn up into a cloud surrounded by angels. I anticipated trumpets playing amazing grace and a vision of the pearly gates. But as it turns out the only thing I saw that morning was my body slumped over the steering wheel of my Ford Mustang. While my soul hovered overhead I struggled to make sense of it all. Eventually, I realized I wasn’t alone. Joining me was Lizzie Gordon the creepy Goth girl from my third period English class. As it turns out she was texting, ran the stop sign and hit me head on causing our fatal collision.
“Are we dead?” she asked.
That was the last thing I remembered before I found myself standing in a long line with a group of souls whose life had been cut way to short. I looked around for Lizzie but she wasn’t there. After waiting most of the morning my ALA (Afterlife Advisor) approched me. She looked pretty average. Her red hair piled neatly atop her head was pulled into a bun and her bifocals teetered on her nose.
“Name,” She asked abruptly.
“Jackie, Jackie Marks, but everyone calls me Jax.”
“Well, Jax my name is Madge. I’m your ALA,” she said pointing to her name tag. “I’m here to answer any questions you may have before you’re recycled.”
“Recycled? What am I a soda can?”
“We’re not in the soft drink business. We recycle souls.”
“Yes, it wasn’t your time to go therefore you’ll be recycled.”
“What exactly does that mean?” I asked taken aback.
“It means you’ll get to go back.”
“Phew!” So, I’m not dead, I’m just having a bad hair day and a near death experience?”
“Oh,You’re dead alright!”
“That sucks!” I said throwing myself back into the chair.
“ Don’t worry, I can fix the dead thing . . . . But the hair isn’t an option.”
“If I’m dead, how do I go back?”
“That’s what I’m here for.Think of me as the real estate agent for your soul.”
“I’m not sure I follow. I thought when you die you go to either go up or down.”
“Technically your right, but every once in a while― as you can see,” she grinned, motioning to the line. “A guardian angel gets distracted and we have a slight mishap. Nobody’s perfect ya know ―except HIM,” she said pointing upwards.
“Basically you’re saying my guardian angel messed up and because of it I’m dead?”
“Pretty much. Now, it’s my job to find a body for your soul so you can complete your purpose.”
“Yes, everyone has a purpose.”
“Really, what’s yours?”
“Look, little miss sassafrass my purpose is to find you a life!”
“Will I still be me?”
Madge ignored me. “I have a few options for you,” she said, searching her computer. “You can return as a newborn, in which case you can choose to be boy or girl and I can have you back on earth in a few days. This would be the easiest transition.”
“What are my other options?”
“Your other option would be to enter the body of a person whose soul has already moved on.”
“I’m not sure I understand.”
“The soul that has completed its purpose has the option to move on.Their physical body may or may not survive. Sometimes the soul leaves the physical body vacant. Leaving it open for another to take over. This transition is the hardest because basically you become a walk in.”
“Yes, you walk into their life, their memories, their friends, and their family. This option is always the most difficult.”
“So, either way I’ll no longer be Jackie Marks?”
“No, you won’t. By all intent and purposes Jackie Marks is deceased.”
“Why is it so complicated to walk-in if you have all their memories?”
“Because hard as we try to purge your physical memories as Jackie Mark’s the soul still has connections to people places back on earth.”
“So, who will I actually be, me or them?”
“Physically you will become the person you enter, but you’ll still have your same likes and dislikes. Family and friends usually notice the personality change, but they chalk it up to the traumatic incident that happened prior to the transformation.”
“I’m not going back as a baby!” I said exasperated. “Childhood was way too tough. Those years were just plain awkward.”
“Okay, then we need to find a girl about your age.”
“I want to go back to my home town ―my high school.”
Madge looked at me over the top of her glasses. “That’s not procedure.”
“What do you mean?”
“It’s easier to send you to a new place. A surrounding where you’ll transition better.”
“Why wouldn’t I transition best around things I know?”
“Too much déjà vu,” Madge said wrinkling her nose and furrowing her brow.
“Déjà vu! It’s when things seem familiar like you’ve been there done that. Do you know what I mean?”
“I suppose, but . . .”
“To risky. You may remember you past life.”
“Sounds like you’ve done this before,” I said.
“Yes, I have and I swore I’d never do it again it’s just too uncertain. So, these are your choices,” she said, abruptly changing the subject. I sat quietly while Madge printed out my list of options.
1. Sixteen- year- old Jennie Johnson, Florida.
2. Seventeen-year-old Patty Olsen, California
3. Seventeen- year-old Lizzie Gordon, New York
“It appears there are two choices open to you,” Madge said handing me the list.
I studied it carefully before declaring, “I don’t want to go to Florida or California.”
“You have to agree to the placement otherwise I can’t send you back.”
“What happens if I don’t agree?”
“You wait here until something comes up on the list that appeals to you.”
“You said I had two choices but there are three listings. Why is the third one blacked out?”
“It means it’s not a match for you!” Madge said snatching the list from my grasp.
“Why?” I asked pressuring her and I could tell she was nervous.
“It’s just too perilous!”
“Why? Is it someone I know, someone in my home town?” It was in that moment I remembered Lizzie. “Hey, what happened to the girl who hit my car?” Madge was uncomfortable. She began shuffling papers around on her desk and fidgeting restlessly. “I saw her hovering over the accident scene like me . . . Why isn’t she here.” I said looking over my shoulder.
“I’m not allowed to discuss that with you,” she said.
“Why, what happened to her?”
“She’s fulfilled her purpose,” Madge said leaning across her desk.
“Did she die too?” I could see the apprehension in her face. She was definitely hiding something from me.
“Until we find you a match you will be housed with the others . . .”
“Why are you being so evasive?” I shouted. “What happened to Lizzie?”
“I’m not allowed to say. I can only tell you she has moved on.”
“Is she the name that’s blacked out on your list? Did her soul move on and leave her body vacant? Is that why she’s not here?”
Madge was flustered, “Yes!” she blurted out.
“I want to go back as Lizzie Gordon!” I demanded. Upon saying those words Lizzie instantaneously appeared and was seated next to me. I took one look at her and began having second thoughts. How could I―Jackie Marks― high school cheerleader, homecoming queen and most popular girl at school go back as Lilly Munster? The thought was daunting to say the least.
“Jax, I’m so sorry,” Lizzie said. Madge just sat there shaking her head, realizing she was in the middle of an afterlife crisis
“How did I get here?” Lizzie asked annoyed. “It was so peaceful where I was. I want to go back.”
“Back where, to your life?” I asked.
“Get the pom-poms out of your ears! It was peaceful where I was. Why would I want to go back down there? That place was a living hell!”
“Trust me Lizzie Hell is much worse,” Madge said with undeniable knowledge.
“I happened to have liked my life.” I said.
“You would, you were pretty and popular.” Lizzie said rolling her eyes.
“Yes, I was, and you took all that away from me. What was so important that you ran the damned red light, Elvira?”
“I was texting my boyfriend. . . I already told you I’m sorry,” she said raising her voice.
Madge blew a whistle and began waving her arms for us to stop. “I told you both this was a bad idea. Now you can see I was right. So just agree you are not a good match!”
“I don’t understand,” I said. “How did Lizzie get here with me?”
“You summoned her!” Madge said chagrined.
“When you demanded to go back as her.”
“Why?” I asked confused.
“You can’t walk-in unless both souls are in agreement. So, when you stated your demand to become Lizzie Gordon― she appeared.”
“You want to go back as me?” Lizzie said aghast. “Not on your life!”
“I no longer have a life. You took mine from me.”
“Technically this was Celeste’s fault.” Madge said. “So don’t blame Lizzie.”
“Yes, your guardian angel she got distracted and well . . . she’s been reassigned.”
“I don’t care how I got here! I just want to go back to my life . . . or her life. It doesn’t matter I just want to get back!” I insisted.
“Well, it matters to me beauty queen,” Lizzie said. “We have nothing in common!”
“Why should that matter?” I asked.
“I don’t want some dumb cheerleader taking over my body!”
“Why? Are you afraid I may make you popular and for once you might actually fit in? The way I figure it Lizzie, you owe me!”
Lizzie sat glowering at me and then addressed Madge. “Let’s say I agree to this, is it permanent?”
“What do you mean? You’re not seriously entertaining this idea are you? You agreed to move on. Your purpose has been fulfilled. If you let Jax walk- in essentially she will take over your life.”
“Isn’t there a trial period or anything?” Lizzie asked.
“We don’t like to that,” Madge said.
“Why,” Lizzie asked with sarcasm in her tone.
“Because she may like the life she’s walked into and you could decide you don’t want her to keep it. Can you see how this could be a problem? You must both be in agreement.”
That was the last thing I remember hearing.
To read more please go to Textnovel.com and vote for The Walk In!
You have to create an account, but I did and no worries, I’ve never received spam of any kind from them 🙂
Lisa Teller is an aspiring author, best known for her poetry on the web. Her artistic short story “The Final Act” is currently in the number one best seller Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Tough Stuff. In addition to novel writing, she enjoys writing poetry, short stories, and children’s books. Her poetry can be viewed at www.netpoets.org. Lisa lives in upstate New York with her husband Ed and their three sons Patrick, Liam, and Ryan. She has a Yellow Labrador Retriever named Abbey, a hamster named Daisy and two cats Bono and Ozzy. Lisa is an avid reader. Some of her favorite books are Sookie Stackhouse Series, Twilight Series, Hush, Hush and Crescendo.