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Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Tie Down Your Timeline: Author Interview with Liz Tolsma

My interview today is with an author who has published over 20 books with some of them being novellas. Read on to discover what keeps her motivated to write her stories.

Looking over your individual books and novellas, you’ve covered genres from the Amish lifestyle to WWII and earlier times. What was the first genre you were published in?
My first published book was a novella in a collection led by the amazing Wanda Brunstetter. It was a romance. I'd been trying to get published for quite a while and had written several different books.

How did you go getting your first novella published?
I took my daughter to physical therapy one day, and while I was waiting, opened my computer to start a new book. There was an email from my agent that Barbour Publishing wanted stories for a Christmas collection based around log cabins. Oh, and the submissions were due the next week. I pulled up an old proposal. Spent our weekend camping revising that one and I couldn't believe it when it was chosen for the collection.

That truly is amazing. Not many writers would have log cabin story in their bag of manuscripts to pull from for a submission. How did you go about finding an agent?
I had read a book by a woman who I thought might live in my area. I emailed her to let her know how much I enjoyed the book and that I was a writer too. She suggested we meet at a conference we were both going to soon after that. We bumped into each other in the bathroom, and that's how I got my first agent! It's an overused phrase, but it was a God thing!

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The hardest part for me is the editing part. I don't plot, so my first draft is a pretty big disaster. I have a lot of work to do to get it right. Though I love editing other people's work, I'm not so keen on mine, just because it's such a mess LOL!

What does your editor remind you to do most often?

Timeline! Sometimes I mess that up pretty badly. I've finally started printing out calendars so I can keep track of events better. It's helping a lot.

We have all experienced rejection. How have you learned to write past it? Rejection, after you've been published, is especially hard. I was afraid I was a one-hit wonder and my career was over. I gave myself a day to feel bad and eat as much chocolate as I wanted. Then I turned it all over to the Lord.

His timing had been perfect for my first release. It would be perfect in the next one. I spent that time learning to be a better author and working on my marketing skills. In the end, now that I'm on the other side, I can see what a blessing it has been. It wasn't easy. There's something to be learned from each rejection and a way you can grow from it. Then you get to work and you do it.

What has surprised you the most in writing/publishing?
The amount of work that goes into marketing. I never thought I would spend as much time doing that as in actual writing. I never went to school for this, so everything I know, I've had to teach myself or learn from others in the industry.

What frustrated you the most?
The most frustrating thing is that some people see my career as a hobby and think that I'm always free to do anything at any time. It's true that I have flexibility, but I also have deadlines, so I have to work, just as I would if I had a 9-5 job.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?
I wish I would have learned more about marketing and being organized. And that writing would be a life-long learning process.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
Butt In Chair, Hands On Keyboard. Some days you just have to make yourself sit down and do the work, whether you want to or not. Sometimes, the work is going to be hard. You're going to have to think and undo and redo and try again. But nothing will happen if you don't get those words on the page.

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
I'm just so thankful that I get to work at a job that I absolutely love! It's been my dream since I was a little girl, and it's amazing that I get to live it. I am truly blessed.

What is the next book coming out?
My next book, The Refrain Within, releases on September 29th and is up for preorder.

Can you give me a short synopsis?
To save a life, would you betray everyone you love?

Hungary in 1944 is a dark place. The Nazis have invaded and turned the country upside down, their evil making its way into every life.

Clarinetist Eva Bognar is engaged to conductor and composer Patrik Kedves, and she’s happily planning her wedding. At first, she doesn’t think the war will affect her directly; everyone around her can be trusted to do the right thing. Then her Jewish best friend and sister-in-law Zofia goes missing--and instead of the Gestapo being to blame, a friend says it was Patrik who led Zofia away. Has he betrayed Eva and everything the family stands for?

When the rest of the family’s lives are directly threatened, Patrik’s secrets must come to light. The Bognars flee for the border in hopes of getting out of the country to the safety of Palestine. Eva must put her life and the lives of everyone she loves in the hands of the very man who betrayed her--and they may not all make it out of the war alive . . .

As someone who plays clarinet myself, this book was especially fun to write!

That sounds like an intriguing story. If you’d like to learn more about Liz’s books, here are some links to get you started.


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