Interview with Lisa Plumley

At what age did you begin writing?
Do Crayola-scrawled books count? I think I began writing almost as soon as I discovered reading! In grade school, a friend and I entered a "Young Authors and Illustrators" contest with our coauthored book—and won first prize. In junior high, I began a series of Nancy Drew-style mysteries starring (naturally enough) a teenaged sleuth who had a lot in common with me—except she had her own horse and I had...a Schwinn. In high school, I tried my hand at poetry and won a statewide contest—which only encouraged me to write angst-ridden poetry about prom dates and pimples. I've always been fascinated with the written word. And Oreos. But there weren't any Oreo-eating contests. More's the pity.
Did you always have a sense you would be a published author some day?
Given all the above, you'd think so, wouldn't you? But I guess I'm a little slow on the uptake, because it didn't occur to me to seriously try my hand at writing (as a career) until after I'd married and had two children. At that point I was a stay-at-home mom with toddlers for company. It's possible I started writing just to experience conversations that went beyond Barney and Legos—even if they were imaginary! I certainly dreamed of becoming a published author and seeing my books in bookstores. I feel tremendously lucky now that that dream has come true for me.
Which writer is your greatest inspiration?
Do I have to choose just one? That's like perusing a fabulous dessert menu and trying to say no to the chocolate soufflé cake. Or the crème brûlée. Or the apple pie à la mode. I can't do it! Every time I read a new book, I'm inspired. I particularly enjoy discovering brand-new authors—there's always room for a fresh voice in any genre, and it's inspiring to see other writers achieving their dreams. In more specific terms, right now I'm finding special inspiration in books by Sophie Kinsella, Kasey Michaels, Rachel Gibson, Stephanie Bond, Vicki Lewis Thompson, and Elizabeth Bevarly. And Jamie Oliver, the "Naked Chef." Hey, a girl's got to eat.
What was your very first publication, including all literary works?
My first publication was a short contemporary romance called Surrender, about an uptight accountant who gets dumped by her boyfriend and decides to turn herself into a man magnet to win him back. She hires a hunky carpenter to renovate her house and pose as her boyfriend—but her plans get turned upside down when the hunk launches his own plan to woo her for himself. It was a hoot! Much to my delight and amazement, Kensington Books published the book in July 1997. Since then, I've gone on to publish fourteen more books, but that first time was very special...kind of like falling in love. Only with fewer Michael Bolton songs.
How do you overcome procrastination and writer’s block?
When writer's block strikes, I take a three-pronged approach. First, I wail and gnash my teeth. Second, I cheer myself up with a little shoe shopping. (That's always a mood lifter. My feet never change sizes unexpectedly—which is more than I can say for my derriere.) Third, I sneak up on the problem by playing Doctor Mario on the N64 until my thumbs are begging for a change of venue—at which point sitting at the PC starts to sound like a nice change of pace.

Not really! I struggle with procrastination like everyone else. For me, the trick is to pretend I'm only going to work for ten or fifteen minutes. Once I've gotten started, finishing doesn't feel quite so daunting. As far as writer's block goes...I don't believe in it. The way I see it, feeling blocked is merely a signal that something needs re-working, either in my current project or in my life. At this point, I've developed a sort of sixth-sense that tells me when I've gone off-track with a particular manuscript. That's my signal to go back, reread, rethink, and try again.
What is the greatest challenge or obstacle you’ve experienced thus far?
Aside from squeezing into single-digit-size jeans? (See Oreo-eating contests, above.) I'd say my greatest challenges are definitely internal. I struggle with keeping discouragement at bay, with wanting to write better, faster, and funnier, and with accepting my own limits. As rewarding as writing is, it can also be frustrating at times. At one point early in my career, I quit. I unplugged my PC, packed up my research books, and told my family I was too discouraged to go on. To prove I meant it, I spent an entire day wallowing in daytime TV. The next morning, my agent called with news of a two-book contract offer! I gleefully accepted, and those books eventually became my first single-title contemporary romantic comedies. Since that point I've limited my days off to strict emergencies (shoe sales, must-see movie matinees, and lunch with friends), so as not to tempt fate.
How do you, or have you, responded to negative criticism?
Responding to negative criticism is like giving yourself an impromptu haircut—a bang trim, perhaps. You think you're correcting a teeny-tiny problem. A few snips later, you suddenly look like a female George Clooney. Whoops. Now you have a big problem! As the saying goes...what other people think of me is none of my business. I don't respond to negative criticism. I occasionally pretend it doesn't exist...but "delusional thinking" is another question, right?
Do you feel an indefinable drive to write the majority of the time?
The only thing I feel driven to do is sleep late. (I have two school-age children, which means I haven't luxuriated in a satisfying, slothful sleep-in session for...oh, years. Give or take a decade.) As far as writing goes...yes. I'm driven to write. I love it! I've never found anything which fascinated me more, or challenged me more thoroughly. My brain is usually abuzz with characterization ideas, snippets of dialogue, and potential plot twists (along with grocery lists, shave-my-legs memoranda, and wonderings about why the dog suddenly smells so weird). At the same time, writing is now my full-time job, so I treat it with all the seriousness and dedication that implies. I show up at my computer every weekday morning and stay there until I've achieved my daily word count goal—no matter how strenuously my subconscious urges me to stop for a latte...or to fire up the TiVo to watch an episode of "Coupling" from BBC America.
Upon completion of each book are you left with a sense of satisfaction or fear, or both?
Yes. Also relief, elation, and an irresistible urge to do a happy dance around the living room. It's tremendously satisfying to finish a book. There's nothing like the joy of creating an entire world with nothing but your imagination and a pencil. Unfortunately, the minute I type "The End," my evil twin arrives and starts nitpicking. What if my mother-in-law freaks out when she reads that sizzling love scene? What if I haven't created my characters fully enough to make readers fall in love with them? What if I drive the copy-editor crazy by misspelling "non sequitur" over and over again? A part of me honestly believes that knowing the answers to these questions will allay my fears. The rest of me understands that those answers might as well be in a vault in Topeka—they're that inaccessible to me. I've come to accept the uncertainty that goes hand-in-hand with being a writer. A little bit. Okay, so I'm working on it.
Did you know in your heart and gut when you wrote your first best-seller, before its publication?
Achieving bestsellerdom is a function of luck and timing (sort of like experiencing a blind date during which no one sweats armpit stains into their best date outfit or drinks too much), coupled with talent. I believe in all my books. I really love them! I want them to meet nice readers, settle down, and find eternal bliss on a lovingly dusted bookshelf someplace (which rules out my own, unfortunately, since it's usually covered in fluff). My first official best-seller was Falling For April, a "battle of the sexes" romantic comedy in which a wealthy mogul gives up his wallet for a week in order to woo and win a quirky blue-collar gal. While writing it, I felt the same as I always do...alternately exhilarated and hopeful, with occasional bouts of sheer terror. I desperately want to write a satisfying story every time. The trick is, every reader experiences a book in her own unique, utterly subjective way—which means it's possible to succeed and fail simultaneously. Usually, I pretend amnesia on that point. Otherwise, my muse goes on strike altogether.
Do you become attached to your characters as if they were real people?
When I'm creating my characters or writing about them, they feel absolutely real to me. This creates problems in my day-to-day life among non-writers, since I'm prone to, say, pointing out how perfect a certain handbag would be for Marley from Perfect Together, or how much Jayne from Reconsidering Riley would go crazy for a fun new bubble bath. "Civilians" don't understand this. My wonderful husband does, and occasionally indulges me by doing the same thing himself. The other day, for instance, we had a lovely conversation about my various heroes and their love of sports. Any innocent bystander would have believed we were both close buddies of the men in question. This may be because helping me brainstorm has warped my hubby's mind—I'm not sure. I am grateful for the company, though.
Does it surprise you where you take your characters?
I'm often surprised by the day-to-day twists and turns I discover while writing my books...but to be honest, the answer to this is no. I'm not a "woo-woo" writer. My characters don't run amuck, chatter uncontrollably in my head, or otherwise hijack my books. I'm the author, which means I'm the boss. Like a cartoonist who can whip out an eraser when things get crazy, I can always back up and delete-delete-delete. My goal is always that my characters surprise the reader—that's most important to me.
Are your characters a conglomeration of people you’ve known or do know, or are most of them freshly woven from your imagination, or both?
My characters are imaginary...much to the chagrin of friends and family who insist upon looking for themselves in my stories! Quite frankly, "real people" just aren't dynamic or vibrant enough to sustain good fiction. A novel should be larger than life, and that's what I strive for. I also strive to achieve thinner thighs, to beat my husband at Trivial Pursuit, and to floss regularly enough not to have to fib to my dentist. I think I'm doing best at the novel-writing thing.
Published 2013-08-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Let's Misbehave
By
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 105,410. Language: English. Published: December 1, 2014. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
With no skills besides scoring the perfect stilettos, maxing out her credit card, and partying till dawn, Marisol Winston is about to get a lesson in the real world—and in love... * named one of Booklist magazine's Top 10 Romances * awarded 4½ stars Top Pick! from Romantic Times magazine * selected as a finalist for the Booksellers Best Award in the single title/mainstream category
Reconsidering Riley
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 89,140. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2014. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
A contemporary romantic comedy where high heels meet hiking boots, self-help meets self-reliance...and old flames spark up nothing but trouble.
Falling For April
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 91,310. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2014. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
What happens when free spirit April Finnegan's interests collide with those of hunky, new-in-town department store tycoon Ryan Forrester? A kooky battle of the sexes, that's what! The winner is the last one standing--but soon April and Ryan are both falling for each other.
Making Over Mike
By
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 95,510. Language: English. Published: September 1, 2014. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Reality TV meets "Fashion Emergency" when an out-of-work short-order cook and temporary taxi driver wins a makeover at the hands of an ambitious career counselor-turned life coach. It's a macho makeover! But how far will he go...to become the man of her dreams?
Timeless (2-in-1 Novella Bundle)
By
Price: $2.49 USD. Words: 61,870. Language: English. Published: September 27, 2013. Category: Fiction » Romance » Time travel
Contains two original time-travel stories from USA Today best-selling author Lisa Plumley. In Chances Are, genealogist Haley Madison finds herself in 1890—and in the home of widowed mine owner Matt Chance. In Winter Song, career woman Jolie Alexander suddenly finds herself back in the Wild West with saloon owner Cole Morgan.
Mad About Max
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 96,510. Language: English. Published: September 2, 2013. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Lucy, the quirky owner of a charity shop that gives designer clothes to those less fortunate, meets her match in Max Nolan, the owner of a pampered pets boutique, when he tries to buy back his "lucky suit," which had been accidentally donated to her store. Original.
Just Jennifer
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 29,800. Language: English. Published: February 15, 2013. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Breezy California girl Jennifer Merryn has a knack for picking fun friends and butt-enhancing jeans, but she's got lousy radar when it comes to men. So why not let her friends choose her blind dates—thirty different prospects in thirty days. Armed with breath mints, lip gloss, and unlimited text-messaging minutes, Jennifer's ready for the dating frenzy to begin—or is she?
Recipes from Together for Christmas
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,340. Language: English. Published: February 12, 2013. Category: Nonfiction » Cooking, Food, Wine, Spirits » Baking
Official version featuring Kristen Miller's delicious recipes for pies-in-a-jar as served at the (fictional) Galaxy Diner in Kismet, Michigan. Also includes a bonus first-chapter excerpt from Together for Christmas and a complete Lisa Plumley book list.
My Best Friend's Baby
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 45,830. Language: English. Published: November 12, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
In this short contemporary romance from USA Today bestselling author Lisa Plumley, Chloe Carmichael winds up pregnant after a one-night-stand with her (formerly platonic) best friend, Nick Steadman.
The Honeymoon Hoax
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 44,540. Language: English. Published: November 12, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
In this short contemporary romance from USA Today bestselling author Lisa Plumley, Stacey Ames spends a deluxe Las Vegas getaway with her sexy ex-boyfriend, Dylan Davis...who's betting everything that he can win her back.
Surrender
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 52,240. Language: English. Published: November 12, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
In this short contemporary romance from USA Today best-selling author Lisa Plumley, Holly Aldridge whips up a sure-fire plan to win back her ex-boyfriend--but when she meets sexy part-time construction worker Sam McKenzie, Holly can't help having second thoughts about which man she really wants...
Once Upon A Christmas
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Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 137,360. Language: English. Published: November 12, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
This Christmas, chill out and cuddle up with three enchanting holiday short stories from USA Today best-selling author Lisa Plumley. Includes Mistletoe and Holly, Christmas Honeymoon, and A Baby For Christmas. "Funny, tender, and occasionally wacky, this trio of short romantic comedies gets the holidays off to a lively start." --Library Journal
Lisa Plumley "Perfect" series bundle
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Series: Perfect. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 194,470. Language: English. Published: June 4, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
Contains two original contemporary romances from USA Today best-selling author Lisa Plumley: Perfect Together and Perfect Switch.
Josie Day Is Coming Home
By
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 97,300. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
USA Today bestselling author Lisa Plumley does it again with another sparkling, sexy novel of crazy coincidences—and crazier love...
Perfect Switch
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Series: Perfect, Book 2. Price: $3.49 USD. Words: 97,940. Language: English. Published: May 25, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
USA Today bestselling author Lisa Plumley returns with another "perfect" novel--a sparkling romantic tale of laughter and love in Hollywood.
Perfect Together
By
Series: Perfect, Book 1. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 97,480. Language: English. Published: May 25, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
In this original contemporary romance, USA Today bestselling author Lisa Plumley turns reality TV upside down with a totally different take on prime-time love...
Her Best Man
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 60,610. Language: English. Published: May 25, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
In this short contemporary romance from USA Today bestselling author Lisa Plumley, heiress Macy Vandevier-March's innocent adventures in groom-napping go comically awry when she accidentally nabs the wrong man.
Man of the Year
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Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 38,910. Language: English. Published: May 25, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
In this short contemporary romance from USA Today bestselling author Lisa Plumley, playboy Brodie Richardson and regular-gal Paige Mulvaney get more than they bargain for when they embark on a pretend engagement.
Lawman
By
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 97,600. Language: English. Published: May 25, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Historical
In this original novel by USA Today bestselling author Lisa Plumley, Pinkerton agent Gabriel Winter is determined to track down an elusive stagecoach robber...until his suspect's daughter, feisty Megan Kearney, gets in his way.
Outlaw
By
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 93,330. Language: English. Published: May 25, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Historical
Mason Kincaid is on a mission to reclaim his young son and his good name from the men who stole both…and feisty book agent Miss Amelia O'Malley is along for the ride in this original novel from USA Today bestselling author Lisa Plumley.
Winter Song
By
Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 32,490. Language: English. Published: May 25, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Time travel
In this original novella by USA Today bestselling author Lisa Plumley, take-charge career woman Jolie Alexander suddenly finds herself back in the Wild West...and falling for rugged saloon keeper Cole Morgan.
Chances Are
By
Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 31,030. Language: English. Published: May 25, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Time travel
In this original novella by USA Today bestselling author Lisa Plumley, an antique perfume bottle hurtles genealogist Haley Madison back to 1890--and into the home of widowed mine owner Matt Chance.