Lisa Mondello published her first novel in 1998 and continued on, selling 4 books in her Texas Hearts series to Avalon Books. Lisa’s ninth published novel, an Inspiration Suspense called Her Only Protector, will be published August 2008 by Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. For 3 years, Lisa worked in elementary education working in grades one and two writing classes and discovered that even at that early age, she could identify who was a pantser, a puzzler, plotter or a linear writer. She has developed a workshop called Understanding Your Writing Profile that helps writers get organized so they can write more efficiently. She is currently completing her next manuscript for Steeple Hill and along with her novel writing works as a freelance writer.
What is your earliest memory of your love for writing?
I was in the fifth grade, and it was during summer vacation. Everyone else was outside, and I was on my back porch handwriting my first novel. It was 53 pages long and of course it was a young adult romance.
Why do you think this love of writing manifested itself in you?
I don’t know, and I don’t question it. It just is, very much like a fingerprint. Like any other passions that we have in life, the writing bug hit me early and never let go.
From your website, I learned that you published your first novel in 1998. I’ve heard from a lot of writers that the first thing published is often NOT the first thing written. How many stories were written before your first novel was published?
I’d written two full length manuscripts before I published All I Want for Christmas is You. Both were very different from each other. The first one was supposed to be a Harlequin Romance, and it ended up with a dead body and being full of suspense. I guess it’s not a shocker that I write suspense now because it naturally comes out in my writing. In fact, my first attempts at writing when I was very young were all suspense’s. My second book was an over the top romantic comedy. I still love writing comedy, but I prefer romantic suspense.
How difficult was your journey to publication?
Easier that some. I have writers in my RWA chapter who’ve been writing for 15 years and haven’t published yet. Once I got serious about writing, it only took me 3 manuscripts and 2 1/2 years to get a contract. The biggest difficulty for me is one that all writer’s face and that is life. My kids were young when I started, they’re teenagers now and both ages present difficulties in different ways. Some authors are going to school and have full time jobs in addition to their writing and that can also get in the way of writing. But the thing is, writer’s write and even with distractions of life, you find time to do it. When I worked in special education for 3 years, I’d write during my lunch break. The cafeteria was right next door to the classroom and teachers always asked me how I could concentrate and get work done. It was easy. I learned to tune the kids out during that 1/2 hour I was off the clock and just write because I knew that was the only time during the day I had to do it.
Your ninth novel, HER ONLY PROTECTOR, will be released this August by Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. If you had 50 words to make readers buy the book, what would you write?
Her Baby Niece Had Been Kidnapped! A perilous journey to South America is the only way to retrieve the child. With her missing brother’s daughter back in her arms, Sonny Montgomery finally feels safe. Until a handsome, cold-eyed bounty hunter stops her moments before boarding a plane to the U.S.
Gil Waite is after Sonny’s brother. All he cares about is “finding the fugitive” and collecting his money. Sonny won’t betray her family. Yet she has no choice but to go with Gil. A man whose rugged exterior hides the heart of a hero.
Process: From thought to completion, how long did it take you to write HER ONLY PROTECTOR?
There was a gap in between writing the proposal and selling it to Steeple Hill. In all it took about a month to write the proposal and about 2 months to finish the book.
Did you utilize critique groups or friends to develop your story?
It always helps to have someone else read the story to pick up on things that I miss. I get too close to the project that sometimes the obvious is overlooked.
What’s your favorite thing about HER ONLY PROTECTOR?
I love Sonny. She has gumption and she steps outside of her shell to discover an inner strength.
Why do you choose to write inspirational fiction?
I like writing inspirational fiction because while I know readers read my books to get closer to their faith, I write them for the same reason.
How difficult is it for you to integrate the suspense genre into your inspirational stories?
Suspense comes naturally for me. My first manuscript, written 17 years ago, was supposed to be a Harlequin Romance type book. Dead bodies ended up in it and the heroine was running for her life. I love suspense so it’s not difficult for me to put it in my stories.
Now that your novel is set for release, promotion arises. What have you done and what do you plan to do – as author – to help promote HER ONLY PROTECTOR?
I plan on doing some booksignings and continuing with my blog with other Love Inspired Suspense authors at www.ladiesofsuspense.blogspot.com. I love hearing from readers so I always like to get emails and mail and I love writing back. I’ve developed a few friendships with some readers who contacted me at Cradle of Secrets was published.
What are three adjectives that best describe HER ONLY PROTECTOR?
Edgy, fast, and romantic.
What are three adjectives that best describe YOU?
Oh, now that’s a hard one. Shy, creative, caring. I care about people and adore children.
How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?
Hmm, I’m always writing. I spend time with my family, read, listen to music, and shop.
Lisa Mondello: The Soundtrack! What three tracks would make it onto a soundtrack of your life, and why?
Too hard! Your Song, about my husband. Live Like You Were Dying because I do like to try new things. I hate having fears and so I purposely put myself in positions to try to conquer them. I don’t know that I’d go sky diving or get on the back of a bull, but I’m open to trying new things. Perhaps Love because that’s how I think of my family and friends. Love is the most powerful emotion there is and the strength of love and prayer can see you through anything.
Word Association. What comes to mind when you see the following words:
HER ONLY PROTECTOR: Suspenseful
LISA MONDELLO: Me
What advice would you offer aspiring-to-be-published authors?
Keep writing and enjoy the process. There are so many odds against you and so many things that can depress you in the writing business. But the thing that will keep you going is your enjoyment of storytelling and the desire to have your story told.