Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a Wisconsin writer who lives with my husband in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. I love collecting books and pewter dragons, and have them all over my house. I wrote mostly inspirational fiction, and have four books published so far, with the sequel to this mystery coming next April from MuseItUp Books. I also write newspaper features, short stories, magazine articles and radio theater. I edit a couple of magazines: Creative Wisconsin Magazine for Wisconsin Writers Association and OtherSheep, the Christian sci-fi/fantasy and other oddities, for Written-World Communications. I am an avid book reviewer, a freelance editor, an editor at Port Yonder Press, a writing mentor, a hostess at Clash of the Titles.com, and enjoy blogging at theBarnDoor.net and ReflectionsinHindsight.wordpress.com. You can connect with me on my web site: LisaLickel.com
Can you tell us a little bit about your mystery series?
This cozy mystery series, Buried Treasure, was first released with the Heartsong Presents: Mysteries from Barbour Publishing. The first book, The Gold Standard, introduces Judy Winters, an elementary school teacher, who sets out to solve the mystery surrounding her Aunt Louise’s murder back on the farm. She encounters Hart Wingate, a young man renting the adjoining farm who had helped Aunt Louise with farm chores. When Judy learns that her boyfriend, Graham, has been secretly visiting Louise, Judy takes the opportunity to move away from him for the summer and think over the situation.
Judy loves her teaching job, but is intrigued by her heritage in the farmstead and particularly the old house. She stays on the farm and renovates the house, but whether to sell or stay, she has yet to decide.
Midnight visitors, a job offer, and new friends, along with one special old one—Carranza, the opinionated cat—all figure into Judy’s dilemma.
Meanwhile, Judy learns that a former friend of Louise’s father, Bryce, lost a treasure of gold somewhere on the farm. As Judy and Hart look for clues to the cause of Louise’s death and Bryce’s missing treasure they develop a close friendship. Judy decides to break off her relationship with Graham, who doesn’t take the news very well.
As Judy explores the house, she finds and follows clues in Louise’s mother’s diary to unearth the buried treasure. But was it the treasure that might have been behind Louise’s murder?
When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I first started writing professionally in 2004. I was finishing an online writer’s course from the Christian Writer’s Guild, and entered their first novel contest, in which I made the top ten out of nearly 400 entries. I felt pretty good about that and kept on writing, first selling articles, and then signing an agent. The Gold Standard was the fourth novel I wrote, and I signed with an agent in 2006, and got the contract with Barbour shortly afterward. I wrote the draft for this book very quickly, in 2006 and signed the contract early in 2007.
Where do you get your ideas? Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Many of my ideas are “ripped from the headlines.” However, for The Gold Standard, I am a local historian and involved with history all over my community and helped start our historical society. One of my neighbors had a real-life mystery in his backyard. He lives in the former parsonage and in one of his trees, someone had carved initials with hearts around them. It looked like it happened long ago, and he wondered if it was possible to discover who wrote the initials. A few years later I was interviewing a woman who grew up across the road, and she looked at the picture of the initials and laughed: the son of the pastor at the time had a crush on her, and those were his and her maiden name initials. That always stayed in my mind, and so The Gold Standard has some mysterious initials in a tree that is part of the plot.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I read a lot, weed my flowers in the summer, travel when we can, visit my kids, mentor new writers and hang out with friends. Did I say I read a lot?
Do you have a new book coming out soon? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
The sequel to The Gold Standard is coming out next spring. It’s called The Map Quilt and picks up a few years after The Gold Standard. Judy and Hart are married and expecting their first baby. When Judy meets a mysterious stranger who wants their help finding lost gold on their property, and Hart’s boss is found murdered, they have a lot of problems to work out. There’s a great new cat, and Hart’s mom gets involved with the chief of police, much to Hart’s chagrin and worry. The Map Quilt refers to possible Underground Railroad connections, so it includes a little history as well.
Thanks for having me on your blog, Lisa, and best wishes with your future work.
The Gold Standard is currently available only in print, and may be re-released next spring along with The Map Quilt, in electronic form as well.
Purchase links: www.amazon.com