Interview with Lisa Smith

Author of The Ground Kisser

The Ground Kisser


Where are you from originally and where do you reside now?

I was born in North Alabama and still live within twenty miles of where I grew up. Cotton fields, rockets, and sweet tea abound, y’all.

If you currently reside somewhere besides where you were born, what’s the story that lead from there to here?

I still live in the same county where I graduated high school, married, and raised our son. The Tennessee River probably pumps through my veins, and the red clay will ever be part of me.

What made you decide to write and publish your first book?

I rehabilitated a hummingbird that I named Oscar and people loved to hear stories of him. When they encouraged me to write a book about our adventures, Oscar the Extraordinary Hummingbird, my first book, was born.

How would you describe your books to first time readers?

The most frequent comment I hear about my writing is that it is inspirational. Someone called me the Parable Teacher because I often use simple things and events to illustrate deep truths. So, my books are easy to read, yet foster strength and wisdom.

Who do you feel is most likely to connect with the topics you write about?

I get notes from people who have been through a hard time to let me know a book has given them courage, insight, or perspective on getting through those hard times. My most recent book is the memoir of one of the Vietnamese boat people who now lives in the USA.

Her life story, The Ground Kisser, is especially encouraging to Vietnam veterans. Her perspective on living in the USA compared to life in Vietnam under Communism reveals the truth about Socialism and freedom. The perseverance, sacrifice, and courage of this one family also reinforces the common bond of a loving family, no matter their country of origin.

What unexpected or surprising thing did you learn during the process of writing and publishing?

Writing is not just about writing. Whether self-published or traditionally published, authors are expected to market our own books. I am not naturally extroverted enough to self-promote, so marketing my books is an area I will always have to make time and effort to do. I had get past feeling like I was bragging about myself, and realize that telling people about the books is the only way they will know if they want to read them or not.

If you could, what advice would you give to your past self before embarking on this journey?

Keep writing, keep learning, and cultivate author friends. I am very thankful for people who took the time to invest in me as a writer and helped me grow, but the process never ends. Writer conferences are great places to meet other writers and to learn from those who have been successful in their writing careers.

Continuing in critique groups, and keeping up with current writing and marketing trends is essential to honing the craft. You will need those writer friends to encourage and direct you and you will be able to encourage and direct them as you navigate the same obstacle course.

How many people would you ideally like to reach with your books?

The number of people who need to hear my stories. It isn’t about my book sale numbers. It is about lives touched.

What has been the biggest challenge and frustration during the process to date?

Realizing that publishers see books as a money-making venture and not just telling a good story. To have a major publisher interested in your work, writers must have a huge platform–think Oprah Winfrey or a former president. The rest of us must write on a topic that interests tens of thousands of people before they will take us.

What’s your biggest strengths when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?

a) Writing. People often tell me they feel like they were in the story, experiencing it along with the character. Those are the kind of stories I like to read, so I count it a great compliment to hear that someone felt that way when reading my stories.
b) Publishing. I have used a vanity press, have self-published, and had a traditional publisher. Each of those options need thorough editing and strong writing. I have learned to take my time, rewrite, hone, and listen to editors.
c) Marketing. I love to speak to groups where I can interact with potential readers and other authors. I have learned I must set aside time for marketing, spend a little money on advertising, and spend time on the social media where my readers are.

What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?

a) Writing. Making time for writing every single day. There are days when only a few words come together in a coherent sentence, and days when chapters flow easily.
b) Publishing. Giving control of my baby to someone else. My jaws clench and teeth grind, then I resign myself to the idea that if my story is to reach readers, I might need to listen to the advice of the experts.
c) Marketing. Being consistent and persistent. I gravitate toward writing much more than marketing, so I have to plan times and avenues for marketing.

When do you think you will write your next book?

I have a couple of books brewing now! One, a biblical fiction, I hope to have ready in the spring of 2020. An anthology of devotions with my critique group also is scheduled to release about that time. A third is in the planning phase, with outlines and topics on sticky notes.

Are you self published or did you use a hybrid publisher, or a traditional publisher?

I have used all three, starting with a hybrid, then self published, now have a traditional publisher.


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