Tag Archive | Lisa Lickel

Spatzle Speaks: Meow Matrimony (Book Review)

Lisa Lickel follows up Meow Mayhem, her first novel in the Fancy Cat Cozy Mystery series with Meow MatrimonyI love that this comes out on Valentine’s Day weekend!

Ivy Preston can’t seem to stay out of trouble in her new town of Apple Grove. Now that her fiance is the mayor, life has changed. Planning a wedding is a lot of work and when the wrong invitations arrive at her door, what would a good neighbor do but deliver them to the correct bride? Only when doing so Ivy discovers the bride-to-be is dead! Soon she and her former fiance, Stanley, become suspects and chaos ensues.

Her mother and Adam both believe in her innocence and then in addition to all that, one of her kittens falls ill. Ivy fears that if she can’t keep a kitten alive how would she ever be a good mother someday? With suspicion of murder hanging over her head could she ever be the wife of the mayor?

With Adam’s unfailing love, her mother’s support and the company of dear friends she’s made in her new home, is it possible she can be cleared of her crime in time for her wedding? But even more than that, can they find the real killer?

As I’ve said before, I love cats so this series has my undivided love and affection. With sweet romance and an intrepid heroine, this mystery will keep you guessing till the end just “who-done-it.” The mark of an excellent author. I give this book five bones because I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

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Spatzle Speaks: Meow Mayhem (Book Review)

Last month I did a review of Meow Mistletoe which is a Christmas novella and prequel to the A Fancy Cat Cozy Mystery series by fabulous author Lisa Lickel. Today I want to share with you her cozy mystery, book one in a three book series of Meow Mysteries: Meow Mayhem.

Ivy Preston has taken her tattered and abandoned self to the little town of Apple Grove after her fiance decided that he didn’t want to get married after all.  She buys a sweet little cottage that she shares with her Egyptian Mau cat, Memnet. All this because of another pedigreed Mau cat aficionado, Mayor Conklin, has invited her to help in his revitalization of this dying town.

She’d met Adam Thompson at the last Christmas gathering of the cat organization they are a part of but hadn’t suspected at first glance that he’d also be setting up his shop here in the new town with his own Mau, Isis. Having a string of trendy bookstore and coffee shops he brings his business to the town.

Ivy gets a strange message from the mayor and between her,  Adam, and her criminology professor mom, believe that there could be trouble afoot in this charming little town.  The trouble starts when grant money is disappearing, a dead body surfaces and the mayors missing Mau becomes the prime suspect.

What’s a young woman to do but try to figure it out and thankfully she has help on the journey. Ivy’s ho-hum life definitely takes on new adventure as she settles into her community. And the romance between Adam and Ivy is sweet… but there’s more love purring in town than just between them!

Now as a dog, I have to say I adore cats. I was as heartbroken as Ivy when Isis, the mayors Egyptian Mau, was missing! And then a little girl too? I adore little kids! I should have been written into this book. While I’m not a hunting dog I would have loved to play with those cats too.

Twists and turns keep the reader guessing in this sweet who-done-it by Lisa Lickel. I’m looking forward to the next book in the series, Meow Matrimony! So if you love cozy mysteries, and cats, you’ll love this book. Purrfect for the cold days we’re currently experiencing in Wisconsin. Just curl up with a warm drink, a cozy blanket, and this great novel and enjoy.

I give this book five bones because I’m a dog and I don’t have thumbs.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

Spatzle Speaks: Understory (Book Review)

51vvzd4ocslLisa Lickel has  written a multi-faceted story of love, history, intrigue, sex-trafficking, dysfunctional families, and racism. UnderStory takes place in about a week but is packed full of adventure and is almost impossible to adequately describe. It’s a book one needs to experience instead.

Lily suspects something is not right with the job her brother’s push for her to take a job. Fearing for her life and for the safety of her nephew, she escapes but soon ends up wandering through the north woods of Wisconsin in a blizzard.

Cam lives in his cabin with his dogs. He’s faced unjust accusations in the past and is now enjoying peace and quiet while writing a history of his parents. When he finds Lily buried in the snow in the understory of the forest, he does everything in his power to revive her.

That’s where the story starts but it is hard to know what else to describe because I don’t want to give away spoilers. I personally love any book that has dogs in it and Lickel has included two in this story. Unlikely love overcomes insurmountable odds as criminals abound as our hero and heroine discover the truth about all that is happening as well as the ugly secrets of their own pasts. Sometimes it takes an outsider to help see things in a different and better light and in spite of challenges love can grow.

This is different from anything else Lisa Lickel has written, and probably her best book to date. It is a story that will hang with you long after the final page. I give the book five bones, because I’m a dog. I don’t do stars.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that's how we roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

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Spatzle Speaks: Everything About You (Book Review)

EverythingAboutYou smallLisa Lickel tells wonderful stories and Everything About You is no exception. As part of the “Love is . . .” series by Prism Book Group this story illustrates the scripture “love is not proud.”

Shelly needs a movie set miracle but when the original star is unavailable and the clock is ticking, can the rough-edged farmer be transformed into a movie star in five days? Good looks only go so far. Can he master the accent needed? Who knew Wisconsin could be so back-woods?

Danny just needs the cash to expand his farm. He’s eager to please the spunky gal who’s pushing him right and left till he barely knows which way is up.

When Shelly’s old flame who had betrayed her horribly shows up on set everything is about to combust. Shelly has to abandon her own pride and depend on Danny. Will she lose her job? She’s already on her way to losing her heart. I like Danny. But I’m a dog  from Wisconsin so he’s my home-boy since I come from the western side of the state where this tale is set.

Daily vlogs give insight into the character’s thoughts and feelings and while it’s a whirlwind romance the reader comes to feel strongly for Danny and Shelly with their individual struggles. Maybe a down-home country boy from Wisconsin can be the key to a movie maker’s heart. The ending is sweet and worth the read. I love Lisa’s creativity in creating the story.

Pride, trust, humility and accepting people for who they are sharply contrast against one another in this sweet romance novella. I give it five bones. I’m a dog. I don’t do stars.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that's how we roll.

Spatzle Baganz, book reviewer for the silygoos blog because that’s how we roll.

 

 

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Inquiring Minds Want to Know (Part 2 of 4)

This is the second installment of answering questions from Facebook.

How is your writing different from others? What is it similar to?

I’m not trying to write like anyone else no matter how much I admire other writer’s style.

I’m a bit more honest in my writing about sexual tension while keeping my stories clean. I think in our culture the reality of sexual promiscuity and the fall-out of that is very real so trying to encourage purity in the midst of a culture that doesn’t value that, is a core part of my character’s struggle. I love romance, but I don’t want to downplay the very real physical attraction and desire that can be part of a relationship. I push the envelope while keeping it clean. My characters struggle with the temptation of desire but not always acting on it because of a higher principle of seeking to honor God.

When you have spare time (just kidding) who do you enjoy reading? Who’s your favorite author? What type of books do you like to read other than your own?

Sometimes I go back to previous books I’ve loved and enjoyed. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton, My Stubborn Heart by Becky Wade, Healing Grace by Lisa Lickel, The O’Malley Series & Uncommon Heroes series by Dee Henderson. The Discarded Heroes Series by Ronie Kendig. And then there are always new books coming out by authors I contract that I have the privilege to read first.

I have so many authors I enjoy for a variety of reasons, so it rather depends on my mood at the time, the reason I need to escape.

Where do you get your ideas for characters? 

Tough question. They are not usually based on specific people although sometimes a composite although not intentionally. I’m not really sure I know where they come from except for my God-given imagination.

Do you already know what the ending of your book will be when you start it or does it develop as you write?

I write “happily-ever-after” endings so that’s all I know when I begin. My guy and gal will be together, married, and happy by the end of the book. Some books they marry earlier on but that doesn’t mean they’ve hit the “happy” part until the end. It’s all about the journey to that destination, that happy moment in time.

What is a typical day like for you?

I have no “typical day” except that it starts early with a cup of chai, and often time with God, then at my computer, checking social media, writing or editing. When the Hobbits are in school, I have to stop to get them out the door and pick them up later. Right now it’s summer so they get up when they want to and harass me for food when they are hungry even though they are old enough to get their own food.

If you could spend a day with a character from your favorite novel, who would it be, and what would you do?

I spend weeks at a time with my characters. A writer friend told me that my relationship with my characters is unusual because to me there are so real. They are! I enjoy being with them.

Now if you were asking about another author’s work? Ponyboy Curtis (The Outsiders), possibly Darcy Fitzwilliam (Pride and Prejudice) or Fanny (Mansfield Park). They would be fascinating to spend time with. I’m sure if I thought long enough I could come up with soooo many more!

Any other questions you have for me? Or do you have your own answer to any of the questions above? I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below!

Inquiring Minds Want to Know (Part 1 of 4)

I asked some of my Facebook friends to ask me questions . . . so the next few weeks, I’ll be answering!

Why romance fiction? How long have you had the passion to write?

I’ve always enjoyed sweet romances. In my late teens early twenties, I was enamored of Georgette Heyer and Marion Chesney’s Regency romances. Clean stories without the explicit sex. I guess you could say I’m a romantic at heart and I long for that. My characters get the love and romance I don’t.

What made you choose writing? What keeps you writing? What motivates you?

I believe God led me to writing by telling me in a dream to do write for National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org) in 2009. I think I had always been afraid to try and once I started the dam broke and I found out how much I love the process of writing a story. I haven’t stopped. Once the characters start forming in my mind and that first scene or general story concept and I start writing, I can’t stop until I’ve come to the end. It becomes like an obsession for me.

Which writers inspire you?

I admire the wit and whimsy of writers like Jen Turano, Mary Conneley and Karen Witemeyer, Brooke Williams, Sandi Bricker and Jan Thomson. I love the characters that Dee Henderson, DiAnne Mills, Ronie Kendig paint in her writing. Combined with suspense it is amazing. Becky Wade, Melissa Tagg, Loree Lough, and Lisa Lickel . . . I wish I could write like all of them, but I’ve had to learn that I have my style and I need to be okay with that.

How is fiction writing a reflection of your Christianity?

I love to encourage others. Jesus told parables and there is power in telling stories that can show the process of sanctification which I hope my characters will go through. I also believe we need to grow emotionally as well as spiritually. I hope I encourage others to persevere in their own journeys, spiritually, emotionally and relationally. And hopefully the reader will see biblical truths in a new light based on the journey of the characters to motivate them to persevere through the trials that come their way.

Pothole road damageWhat inspired the idea for this story?

For Pesto & Potholes I actually started with the concept of the potholes based on something I learned in my undergraduate studies. The idea that healing—whether emotional or physical—can be a rocky journey out of the pit and not necessarily an upward smooth trajectory. I labeled it potholes, my prof was a little surprised but to me, it stuck.

For the entire Orchard Hill series, for which Pesto & Potholes is the first book, I wanted to explore one of the things I didn’t understand early in my faith journey was why the church was so important. Especially when so many young adults walk away. Beyond worship and teaching, I realized it was about the relationships. While I agree that the theology of origins and understanding how science supports Scripture is important, but I believe the disenfranchisement of younger adults is deeper than that.

Peter Scazzero wrote a book called Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and he posits that when we come to Christ we are born into a new family and need to learn the new rules. Not the “do’s and don’t’s” but how to relate to others in a way that honors God and His other image-bearers. Many times the way we’ve been raised has not been as healthy as the design God has for us in relationships. We are not mature if we only grow spiritually and not emotionally. So . . . I hope that my stories show the value and importance of the new “family” how valuable those relationships are for us to grow up in Christ as well as cope with the ups and downs of life.

More questions will be answered in the weeks to come. If you have some, please write them in the comments below!

The Rocky Journey to Publication

gazebo with titleI was thinking about the journey for my novel Pesto and Potholes. I wrote it on a whim and in under a month. The ninjas appeared because a friend on Facebook challenged me to put ninjas in. I took up the gauntlet and they provided a wonderful comic relief as well as a way to highlight my female protagonist’s character.

A few years ago I attended my first ever writer’s conference. I had the first chapter critiqued as well as my synopsis. Ann Tatlock was so gracious to me with her time and feedback.

As a result I pretty much rewrote the entire first chapter.

I met with an agent at that conference. My first ever pitch session. She prayed with me and was so encouraging. She liked my novel but didn’t want to take me on as a client and referred me to another agent at organization they both worked for because she thought it was more in line with what that agent preferred. Wrong. That agent thought my dialogue was stilted. Hmmm. That is so vague I’m still not sure what it means.

So I revised my novel, again, and sat on it and tried to work on some of my other projects. It probably would have sat there forever except my friend, Cherie Burbach kept telling me how much she loved the title and that I should pursue it. And a mentor, Lisa Lickel kept reminding me that an author can’t sit on a novel forever, waiting for it to be perfect. At some point it has to be submitted. Again.

It takes a village.

I finally obtained a literary agent, but she didn’t want contemporary romance. She’s working to sell my historicals.

I began working for a small press, Prism Book Group and helping other authors make their dreams come true. I submitted my story to another editor with our publishing house. Because I was her editor for her novels she didn’t feel comfortable editing mine. I get that. But my Editor-in-chief decided to take a look, because like me, she likes to make dreams come true. She loved the story.

Pesto 3D-Book-TemplateShe wanted to know if Antonio was real so she could perhaps introduce him to someone she knows. I wish!

There were many rounds of edits with my editor, Carolyn Boyles who made me laugh every time.. We reworked a book cover. There were copy edits, line edits, and proofreading. Ups and downs until voila! I have a novel thrust into the world.

Some liken writing a book to giving birth. A five year pregnancy? Ouch! And a novel is born. No need for it to learn to walk, only for me to encourage others to pick it up and read it and write a review and tell their friends about it.

My brother asked me last year what success would look like for my book.

The materialistic answer would be to sell a minimum of 5,000 copies. More if it’s a “best-seller.” And maybe the financial windfall that could accompany that.

But I want to impact hearts and change lives. Encourage those struggling in their faith.

I can’t measure that.

It’s really not much different than my hopes and prayers for my children as they grow. Sure I would love them to be financially secure and professionally successful. More than that I would hope they would honor God with their lives and He would be able to use them for His glory and purpose in this hurting world.

So as a child, Pesto and Potholes is already doing that and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  I’m grateful to the rejections that helped me get there. And that whatever I make on this book I don’t have to share with my agent…