This is a special interview for me, as Patti is my critique partner extraordinaire. Patti Lacy is an all-round wonderful writing-technique teacher, not to mention a grammar guru. I attribute many of my writing improvements to her wielding red pen (actually, it comes in the form of endless comment bubbles running down the right side of my manuscript. Unraveling the dotted lines to reach the origin of the faulty prose is rarely easy. There are just so darn many comments…err, problems!) Would you believe that wordiness is commonly stated on my critiques? LOL
But I digress. This feature isn’t supposed to be about my ill writing and how Patti is a Godsend to me. Instead, let’s take a peek into the life of this fabulous new author, Patti Lacy, from Normal, Illinois. Patti writes Women’s Contemporary Fiction, and her debut novel, An Irishwoman’s Tale, published by Kregel, is available now.
Tell us, Patti, what are your hobbies?
Patti: Some of the “ings”: Jogging, reading, traveling.
With how you help so many of us, I was expecting mentoring writers to be included. Those sound much more fun, however. While you write, Patti, what is your preference, coffee or tea?
Patti: Ooh, I love black coffee AND unusual teas, like the curls of green jasmine that blossom like flowers when you pour water into your cup.
Okay, now see, it’s only the second question and I already hear your voice so clear in your written word. An Irishwoman’s Tale is written with such a vivid voice that draws you in, so do share, was there anything in particular you did to refine your writer’s voice?
Patti: It’s hard to get my elusive gray matter around the concept of voice. I just try to live in the character’s head. A lot of times, I “act out” what’s going on as I’m sitting there writing. I jerk my head, kick my leg, drop a book, to see how it makes me feel.
Have you received any bruised shins from doing that? LOL. Seriously, that’s great advice. I believe it was Deb Raney who suggested writers keep a mirror on their desk to visualize expressions. Feeling the consequence of actions goes right with that. The things we writers will do for the art.
You have a fabulous website where you pose a monthly contest, or sometimes I think “challenge” might be a better descriptor for it. Will you tell us about that, and why you offer it?
Patti: Every month, I pose a question to my readers based on a theme in my book or on Patti’s whim, such as, “What is your first memory?” Mary, the feisty protagonist in An Irishwoman’s Tale, demanded that I ask that one. Sure; why not? It’s a fun way to connect with folks!
What are your thoughts on Writer’s Conferences?
Patti: Intimate, hands-on conferences (like Green Lake Writers Conference) where writers work together, eat together, laugh and cry together, personify a bit of heaven on earth. However, many writers instead gravitate to larger conferences so they can rub shoulders and hopefully business cards with agents and publishers. In a perfect world, wouldn’t it be great to sample each type per year? Sigh… I do think the Write to Publish conference in Wheaton strikes a nice balance between the two styles.
Patti, I am blessed to have you as a critique partner, mentor, really, but there can only be so many Pearl Girls (the name of our critique group), is there anything in the works for you in the way of teaching writing for others to gain from your experience and knowledge?
Patti: At a recent civic event, God linked me with another Normal writer (no, we’re not generic, but we do live in Normal, Illinois!) After a lively coffee shop date, we decided to start a local club. We’ll share snippets of our writing, grammatical tips, and our current nightstand favorites. Fun, fun, fun! E-mail me next week, and I’ll let you know how the first meeting went!
Watching a writer grow is so fun. (It’s the old teacher in me!) Starting next week, I’m sharing Mary’s story with some libraries, have a couple of book signings arranged, including one very special get-together in Mary’s old home town. More information can be found at http://pattilacy.com/, event schedule.
When books capture my heart, I review them on my website. Sigh. So many books, so little time…
So tell us, what, or who, inspired you to take up fiction writing?
Patti: An acquaintance’s mesmerizing yet melancholy first memory captured my heart and wouldn’t let go until I got it onto a computer file. I should add it took ten years for me to work up the nerve to write it.
Is there something unique or special about how you write that you would like to tell us about?
Patti: I scan the newspapers, eavesdrop in bathrooms, capture daydreams to find images that grab hold of my soul and won’t let go. Those images are dumped into a computer file, and I started collecting all the pieces until they begin to fit together, like a puzzle.
How many novels did you have completed before your first sale?
Patti: Kregel, my wonderful publisher, bought my first novel, An Irishwoman’s Tale. I heard Dennis Hillman’s crazy about the Irish!
What inspired you to write An Irishwoman's Tale?
Patti: I love the idea of collecting women’s stories, and after visiting mystical Ireland, I fell in love with the rollicking, brilliant people. The folks at Kregel worked through things and decided to make it happen.
Kregel is a very wise publishing house!
What do you consider to be the most important aspect of honing the craft of fiction writing, and why?
Patti: Learning to show emotion in your work. If the reader can’t connect with your character and throws the book across the room, you’re in trouble.
Do you have any further direction or thoughts that you care to share with weary authors-in-training?
Patti: Just read, read, read. And write for that Audience of One. If I would take the latter piece of advice, there wouldn’t be a bad writing day!
Thank you so much, Patti, for sharing all this with us. You are a very special author indeed! For more information about Patti and her books, please visit her website, www.pattilacy.com.
Patti: Thank you, Pearl Girl! Hope to come back soon.
An Irishwoman’s Tale,
Women’s Contemporary Christian Fiction,
released August 31, 2008.
Amazon Purchasing Quick Link.
Back Cover Blurb: Mary Freeman's earliest memory has haunted her since childhood: An old oaken table, bitter faces drinking bitter tea, a heated discussion of what's to be done with the "little eejit"--her. Now she is far removed from this family that didn't want her, and separated from her native Ireland. Living in the United States heartland, Mary searches out fulfilling roles--entrepreneur, wife, Christian, mother, community servant--but her loneliness and torment remain as acute as ever.
A crisis in her youngest daughter's life--and the encouragement of Sally, a plucky Southern transplant--propels Mary back to the rocky cliffs of her home in County Clare, Ireland. Her harrowing journey unveils her tragic past, and forces her face-to-face with God.
BOOK GIVEAWAY: For a chance to win a copy of Patti Lacy's An Irishwoman's Tale, please leave a pertinent comment in this post with your augmented e-mail address by Wednesday, September 17, 2008, 9:00 p.m. Eastern time.
Congratulations to Mimi B. Your name was drawn for a copy of Patti Lacy's An Irishwoman's Tale.
Good luck to All!