Today is one of the happiest days I’ve ever written for this blog. One of the dearest, funniest, and most talented authors I know, Lisa Olech, is visiting me and we’re discussing her recent RITA AWARD NOMINATION. Can I just tell you how cool it is that I know, personally, a RITA NOMINEE?!! Fan girl moment here, folks, so bear with me. Lisa and I are NHRWA chaptermates and she was the very first person I met when I joined the chapter in 2014. At that time she’d just heard that her very first book was going to be published and even though I didn’t know her well at the time, her joy was infectious and palpable. I knew she was going to sore in the publishing world….and I was right!
When I heard Lisa was a 2018 nominee I simply had to have her on my blog to tell us about the book, her thoughts on being nominated, and her journey to publication. So sit back and relax and enjoy this little tete-a-tete.
1.What year did you first get published in the romance genre?
My first book, PICTURE ME NAKED was published in November, 2013. Somehow, I knew this book would be my “foot in the door” so to speak. It was the start of my Stoddard School of Art series and was published with The Wild Rose Press. There are two more books in that series, and I’m seriously contemplating a fourth!
2.What was that process like, i.e. how long had you been trying to get a story into print?
Years!! I’ve been writing novel length works for more than a dozen years, and had been seeking publication and agent representation for about seven. I happened to enter and win the RWA-ETC Southern Heat Contest in 2012, and one of the final judges was Rhonda Penders of The Wild Rose Press. She asked for a rewrite to make the book a bit more steamy, and I signed with them soon after. I signed on with my agent the very next day.
- What was your first book about? Give us a little taste.
Picture Me Naked is about a portrait artist and her nude model. He’s an outrageous, free-spirit who’s more comfortable out of his clothes than in. She is a rather uptight, self conscious artist who learns to love herself, as she comes to love him and see herself through his eyes.
- How many books have you had published to date?
I have eight books currently. Three in my art school series, and another five with Kensington, Lyrical. This series is historical rather than contemporary, and is set during the Golden Age of Piracy. Love my pirates!
5.What do you remember about the call from the RWA board member telling you you were a RITA NOMINEE? What did you feel? Do? Say?
Of course, I knew the calls were being made that morning, and I was trying very hard to be positive and at the same time not get my hopes up. This was the fourth time I’d entered, and I knew the disappointment that happened when the minutes ticked by and the phone didn’t ring. But this time, I filled my morning to overflowing so I would be too busy to watch the clock. Maybe I’d get so busy I’d forget and the day would pass… I was at work at my “day job.” And as luck would have it, I was being shadowed by a lovely young woman, named Heidi, who was learning the new software we recently implemented.
Then my cell phone rang. It was earlier than I expected. I was sure it couldn’t be RWA, but my hands shook as I tried six times to swipe the screen and answer the call. The woman on the other end said, “Hi, Lisa? This is Donna Alward. I’m calling from the RWA. Congratulations.” I think my brain shut off at that point. I know somehow I leaped over poor Heidi like she was track-and-field hurdle, and rushed into the hallway where the only words I could keep repeating were, “Oh, my God!” and “Are you sure?” I even forgot Donna’s name and had to ask, “Who are you again?” By this time I was shaking and crying and my boss was out of her office cheering!
- For what book and RITA category have you been nominated?
I’m nominated in the Short Historical category for WITHIN A CAPTAIN’S SOUL.
- Tell us a little about the book. (How about a lot?)
WITHIN A CAPTAIN’S SOUL is the fifth and last book of my Captains of the Scarlet Night Series. If I could pick a favorite, I believe this would be the one (thus far!). It has been a special book for me from the beginning which makes this Rita nomination even more amazing. For one, it almost didn’t happen. I tried to kill my hero off in an earlier book!
I mean a pirates life is a hard one, and as they are known to say, there are only a few ways off a ship. Feet first with cannon balls lashed to your ankles is one of them! But this character, William “Bump” Quinn was first introduced in book two when he came aboard the Scarlet Night as a child. A Jamaican street urchin. A deaf Jamaican street urchin. Not being able to hear he was always where he shouldn’t be when something fell or got swinging, and his first few days, he got knocked around a bit…hence the nickname “Bump.” Bump was clever, however, and soon learned the ways of life aboard ship and grew into a fine sailor, and a fierce pirate. Tall, strapping…gorgeous…
Well, as I said, I tried to kill him off, but the uproar this caused with my critique partners and plotting group was overwhelmingly “NO! You can’t kill Bump!” They had come to love him as I had. So, I saved him from my savage pen, and he became the obvious hero of the last book and final act.
Being deaf, William used a form of sign language, but being non-verbal, all his communication needed to be physical—sign, body language, touch. Writing his book was quite a test for me as a writer. I need to thank the wonderful people from the deaf community who helped me make William “Bump” Quinn one of those characters an author (and hopefully, a reader) will never forget.
Let’s not overlook my heroine, Jin Jun. Jun’s character was based on the real-life female pirate, Ching Shih. Ching Shih was one of the most ferocious and successful pirates of all time. She was a pirate queen.
Bringing these two incredible characters together was a unique challenge, but made for an amazing story.
8.. Everyone says it’s wonderful to be nominated, and it is, but what do you think winning would do for you professionally? Personally? What has being nominated done for you? More sales? More name recognition?
Well, it’s only been a few days since the “fateful call.” So I can’t speak to the effects of that yet. And, honestly, I have no idea what happens from here. All I do know is I am honored and thrilled beyond words, and I plan to wrap myself in this feeling for quite a while.
9. What’s next for you career-wise?
Good question! I have several proposals in the works. Time will tell. I have two series that splinter off my pirate captains. I also have a series set during the 1900’s that I’m playing with. Or I may head back into a contemporary story. I’m one of those writers that needs to follow her heart. Who knows where it will lead!
10. Will you be attending RWA18?
You better believe it!!!
(Peggy here: and I will be, too, cheering her on with other NHRWA chapermates who love her and are so proud of her!)
A little about Lisa:
Lisa A. Olech is a multi-published, twin-genre author. Her quirky, artist contemporaries pair well with her historical, swash-buckling, cutlass swinging pirates—or at least they play well in her head. Of course one of these days she may cross streams and write about an artist with an eye patch, or a pirate with a flair for color.
Living in New Hampshire surrounded by lakes and “On Golden Pond” references, Lisa’s been writing for more than a dozen years and has been an RWA member since 2008.
You can reach her at all the social media hot spots and on her website www.lisaolech.com. Or you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EXCERPT from WITHIN A CAPTAIN’S SOUL
William Quinn hated the dark. His companion had taken the lantern when she left. He could still smell the spiced honey of her skin and the musk of their sex in the rumpled sheets. She’d been a tiger in bed. His flesh still burned where her nails had raked his back. He’d lost himself for an hour or two between her smooth dark thighs. He only wished he’d learned her name.
Will lay in the bed and closed his eyes to the darkness. It was easier to visualize the layout of the room from memory this way. The door was to starboard. A three-drawer chest sat a foot to port. His pants were another matter. Where had she tossed them? She’d been in a terrible hurry to put her mouth on him. When she’d stripped him and seen his engorged cock, a smile spread across her shining face as if she’d discovered some long lost treasure. After that, she was driven by a single-minded desire. She’d been a most eager partner.
He rose and found his pants along with the wide blood-red sash he wore about his waist. And one boot. All the while, his limited sense was still on high alert. In this darkness, it would be easy to hide and ambush him. It wasn’t as if he’d hear anyone approaching, but having lost his hearing at such a young age, over his lifetime, he’d honed his other senses to razor sharp. Will lifted his nose and gave another sniff. No, he was alone.
The heat along this stretch of the world limited his choice of clothing. Bare chested, he slipped into a tooled leather vest. He patted the breast pocket. His lusty partner wasn’t interested in his winnings from tonight’s poker tables. As the daughter of one of the local pepper merchants, money was not what she longed for. Madagascar pepper was considered black gold along this great treasure route. Her father was one of the wealthiest men in the city.
Will found his other boot, and sat on the edge of the bed to slip them on his feet. He sat there for a long moment. The hollow beating of his heart echoed in his chest. Even after hours of pleasure, the only thing sated was his body.
This girl, whoever she was, hadn’t been interested in his newfound wealth or even knowing who he was. She’d only been interested in lying with him. It was the same wherever he went these days. He’d become a novelty.
Sex with the silent man.
It wasn’t as if he could brag about his conquests. Tell tales of your night in his bed. He wouldn’t bore you with long stories, or shout demands. He was deaf and never learned the basic fundamentals of speech. For some reason that made women eager to spread their legs for him. At least for one meaningless night.
Making his way to the door, Will wasn’t surprised to find the public rooms below still doing a brisk business. Time held no meaning to these establishments. Glancing toward the back corner, the poker game still wore on. He was tempted to add to his already bulging purse. Tonight’s profits had come too easy, but then it had always been a talent of his to read faces. Call it a lucrative byproduct of being deaf. Whether bluffing at cards or dealing with his crew, he could spot a liar at fifty yards.
Will’s long legs carried him quickly through the dangerous dark streets. At more than six and a half feet tall, he made an imposing figure. The three-pistol baldric and side cutlass helped. As did his permanent scowl. He pulled a short knife from a leather sheath and carried it at his side. For two reasons. A handy weapon was never a bad idea, and the high polish on the blade gave him the perfect view of anyone trying to approach him from behind.
Will reached the docks without incident and was finally able to breathe easy when he dropped down upon the polished decks of the Scarlet Night. The gentle tip of the boards shifting beneath his feet, the smell of tarred rigging, and the sight of her three thick masts brought a smile to his face. He was home.
Peggy here: KIds, you gotta get these books. If you like swashbuckling, steamy, sexy heroes and heroines, stories that are chockful of intrigue, adventure, and romance, Lisa’s pirate books are right up your alley. If you like stories of talented, moody, and (again) sexy characters willing to sacrifice all for love, The Stoddard School of Art series is for you, too. Oh Hell! Any of Lisa’s books are for you!!