Thursday, February 5, 2015

  • How long were you writing before your first publication?  
I wrote for almost ten years before I had my first novella published. 

  • How many manuscripts had you written by that time?
Homeschooling and a new adoption took up much of my time in that period, but I had managed to write three manuscripts. 

  • Have you published any of your early works since? Do you plan to?
I have not published any of my early works, and I don’t plan to. There was a very good reason that they were never picked up by any publisher! They were tools that taught me how to write.

  • What can you tell us about your writing schedule Are you a morning person? A night owl?
I am most definitely more of a morning person than a night owl. My husband and I like to be to bed by 9:30 or 10:00 at the latest. We’re both up by 5 or 5:30, him for work, me for a walk before I have to get my kids up for school. I like to write as soon as I get home from dropping off my daughter. If I can possibly get 2000 words written by noon, I’m feeling very much in the groove. That way, I can be done with my marketing by the time my girls and my husband get home in the afternoon. It leaves me able to enjoy time with my family.

  • When working on a manuscript, what do you do when you get stuck?
If I don’t have a deadline looming, I can leave it for a day or two and ponder it. I do my best thinking when I’m walking or cleaning or even trying to fall asleep at night. As I turn the problem over and over, a solution usually begins to appear, and I can get back to the writing.

If I have a deadline, I don’t have the luxury of stepping away from the manuscript for a time. In that case, I have to power through. There have been days where I’ve had to place my hands on the keyboard and force my fingers to move. I pray for the right words, and it’s amazing how God brings them to me.

  • Do you ever read your dialog aloud to see how it sounds? Have you ever performed an action you want one of your characters to carry out in order to help you visualize or describe it? Have you ever embarrassed yourself doing this?
I read the entire manuscript aloud right before I send it to the publisher. I like to get the flow of the story, the feel of the dialog, the tempo of the pacing. It’s a good way for me to pick out repeated words, poor grammar and misspellings. 

I do perform some of my characters’ actions in order to be able to describe them or in order to make sure that what I’m describing is physically possible! I don’t often embarrass myself, because I’m usually home alone when I write. That’s a good thing, because in addition to acting things out, I talk to myself. It’s how I think best and sometimes how I’m able to overcome writer’s block.

  • If you felt the Holy Spirit urging you to quit writing, would you do it?
If I felt that writing wasn’t what I was meant to do at that point in my life, yes, I would. If the Spirit gave me another task such as caring for my husband, children or parents that made it impossible to write, I would have to give it up. Right now, I believe I’m meant to keep writing. I’ve struggled with this decision in the past few months and wondered if writing was what I was supposed to keep doing. But the Lord keeps bringing me signs that he doesn’t want me to stop – two new writing opportunities, a new recognition of my writing, good reviews of my latest release. I can’t ignore those signs, either.

  • If you’re a plotter, have you ever tried pantsing it? If you’re a pantser, have you ever given plotting a try? Can you swing both ways, or are you a confirmed devotee of one of these methods? 
I’m a pantser, and I have tried plotting. It was a disaster. My characters were flat and lifeless, and the story grew complicated. When I focus on plot, my characters suffer. I much prefer to write a character-driven book where the plot flows from who the characters are. Pantsing works well for me. I’ve begun outlining the three major turning points for each of my books, and that has been a help in writing a synopsis and giving me a place to go when I get stuck with the story.

  • Does your best writing flow? Or are you most satisfied with the work that you’ve labored over, sweating and groaning?
My best writing will flow. When I’m in the zone and my fingers are flying over the keyboard, the story is strong and the characters are working well. When I labor with my words, the story is stiff and so are the characters. I had been having trouble getting going on my latest novel. One day, however, the words just came. I wrote a chapter in just a few hours. When my critique partner read it, she was able to pick out right away where in the story the words began to really come for me. It shows.

Thank you for taking the time to give us a glimpse into your writing life, Liz!

New York Times best-selling author Liz Tolsma is the author of Remember the Lilies, Daisies are Forever, Snow on the Tulips, and a contributing author of A Log Cabin Christmas. When not busy putting words to paper, Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children, all adopted internationally.

To keep up with Liz Tolsma, visit, become a fan on Facebook or follow her on Twitter.

Purchase her latest release, Remember the Lilies, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or


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