Today I'm excited to introduce a wonderful historical fiction author, Lisa Buie-Collard, author of Evangeline's Miracle. I really enjoyed reading this book and you can too--Lisa will be giving away a free copy to one lucky person who leaves a comment! Welcome, Lisa!
Tell us a little about your background and something interesting about yourself.
I'm a mother, wife, sister, and daughter, have waited tables, been a dental assistant, teacher, journalist, gardener and architectural administrative assistant. I’ve traveled in Europe, New Zealand, and the US. I speak French and English fluently with a little Spanish on the side. I grew up in Florida, married, (my husband was raised in France), lived four years in Georgia before we moved to Texas for eighteen years. It was there that my wonderful son and daughter were born. For the moment my husband and I once again find ourselves in Georgia. I’ve been writing more or less full time for almost fourteen years. I write almost every day. I market online almost every day. I try and do at least one ‘book signing/reading a month. I do take off from time to time, but realize if I’m not out there selling Evangeline, no one else is doing it for me. The trials of being self employed!
Evangeline has some of me in her, but most of my inspiration for her came from my mother, grandmother and great grandmother. Miracle came from a vision I had of her husband, Janko. He’s the one who showed himself to me at a piano concert and started this whole thing. I truly felt connected to this story from the moment I saw him. I felt I was a computer who received a large download from I don’t know where. This story was gifted to me. Maybe my grandmother approved and helped from beyond; maybe someone else’s grandmother lived this or a similar story and helped. Wherever it came from, I am thankful I was the recipient.
What is one of your favorite books and why?
One of the many of my favorite books is Anne McCaffrey’s book of short stories “Get Off the Unicorn,” particularly the story “Finder’s Keeper.” The way the story is written (from the viewpoint of a young boy with a special gift and how to keep that gift from ruining his life instead of benefiting it), is a perfect example of how I would like to write. I am nowhere near Ms. McCaffrey’s level, but her work inspires me always to try and write better. She is one of the few authors I will read over and over again.
Why did you decide to write this book?
At first it was that the story came to me during a piano concert and I loved the tidbit I received so much I wanted to write it all. During the process I realized it was so much more than just two love stories gone wrong. It was about finding ones roots, discovering the value of family, the meaning of unconditional love, the meaning of a parent’s love for their children. It was about tragedy and how that changes a person and/or family, how loss can affect more than just the one it happens to. My own grandmother and great grandmother had similar issues; loss, abandonment, abuse. These issues changed how my mother was raised and how she raised us. I felt I wasn’t the only one out there who had this kind of story in my family’s history. I thought there were folks out there who could identify with Evangeline and her discoveries.
What was your experience like with self-publishing?
Hard! I want the novel to be the best it can be. I’ve learned SO much about what it means to deliver a quality product. The second run is about to be printed and it will be much better than the first because I know now what to do and what not to do. I would caution folks to do the three “R’s”: Research Research Research on publishing companies before you lay down your dollar.
How have you marketed your book?
Marketing is a necessary evil! I market and publicize mostly through contact sales and online social marketing. It takes more of my time than actual writing which is very difficult since the writing part of my job is what I enjoy most. Book signing/readings can be helpful and I love meeting folks and answering questions live (Also helps recharge my batteries! I spend so much time alone that being amongst my readers or prospective readers helps fill the ‘lonely’ void). I would advise setting up a truly professional table and practice reading out loud for hours before reading in front of others. Also blogs and blog hop giveaways are wonderful tools as well as fun ways to connect with your readers.
What advice would you give to other authors?
First: for those looking at Indy publishing: When you believe in your story, your abilities and your-self, invest in your dream. Write not only the best story you can but hire a professional editor. And pay to have the inside and outside of your novel formatted properly. There are SO many “Self Published” books out there that aren’t up to snuff. Maybe the story is good but getting past the bad writing, multiple typos, and structure that limps is too difficult to ask from anyone who doesn’t know you! If you are serious about writing and gaining a readership beyond your friends and family, if you want to possibly be picked up by a ‘traditional’ publishing house, be professional and invest. SP titles have an uphill climb because there are so many out there that are NOT professional. Pay to have the ebook formatted properly as well.
Second: Don’t give up. Only you can make it happen. Sounds trite but the truth is, if you don’t invest sweat equity in your idea/story no one else will do it for you, not a big publisher, not a little one.
Third: Make use of blogs, especially “blog hops”. That’s what they’re there for. Go online and research (there’s that word again) reader blogs. Readers are your friends and hopefully customers!
Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.
The music left no room for other thought. It was easy to lose myself in it, a blessing. Until a shimmering vision appeared upon the stage with Mr. Feltsman. I gasped. Who would dare interrupt a piano concert in such a way? I glanced at Christian. His attention to the pianist was complete. He paid no heed to the woman who stood just to one side and a little behind Mr. Feltsman. Her golden dress reminded me of another time, perhaps the time of the music, which was of the late 1800s, or an even earlier time. How this could be part of the concert? It made no sense.
The woman did nothing but stand behind the pianist, her eyes downcast, her hands folded together in front of her voluminous iridescent gown; her sad face serene, as if, she too, were lost in the music and its magic. I watched her unwavering form throughout the entire piece until soft lighting upon the stage caught and sparkled upon a single tear resting on her smooth cheek.
Tears pricked my own eyes and I blinked against the unaccustomed sharpness. Pity welled within me. This woman was a wonderful actress, for that's what she had to be. She portrayed someone bereft of hope, yet hoping still. In her sad countenance shown all the misery of love unrequited, the ravages of demanding of oneself the impossible, the triumph of never giving up, no matter all was lost.
Such quiet yet fierce passion I had never seen, much less experienced. I couldn’t breathe by the time Mr. Feltsman played the last note before intermission. Jolted from my reverie, the woman disappeared as Mr. Feltsman’s fingers left the keyboard. Gone. She did not walk off. She did not leave with the pianist. She had quite literally disappeared by the time he raised to his feet.
I wasn’t sure if I could watch the second half of the concert. Why was I so upset about this? When I rejoined Christian, talking with a friend, he searched my face for an instant, handed me a glass of water and welcomed me with his usual grace into the conversation. I felt as if I watched myself from a video camera high up in a corner somewhere. I smiled, spoke pleasant nothings, drank my water, and told myself over and over and over to breathe. I shivered as the lights dimmed, announcing the second half of the program. I set my empty glass on a white napkin-covered tray, told myself to pull it together while Christian guided me back into the auditorium. His large hand warm on the small of my back made me feel better.
But as we sat down my head swam in dizzy patterns, my palms began to sweat. I didn't want to see the ghostly lady again or feel her desperate anguish. Her emotion, so silent, so intense, had fed upon me and I, irrationally, feared if it did so again it would leave me nothing but a corpse. “Christian, can we go?” I couldn’t believe I said it out loud.
“Now Evie? In the middle?” Christian looked at me like I’d lost my mind. He was right, of course. This was beyond silly.
“No, of course not.”
The bright lights dimmed, illuminating the stage with soft light. Vladimir Feltsman returned, repeated his bow, the seating and the wait, his fingers poised for an instant. I closed my eyes, determined to just listen. The music enthralled me and I drank it in as though it could slake my unease. I relaxed for the first time since I’d seen the stricken lady, and smiled. She was nothing but a fanciful apparition caused by the rich tones and passion of the piano.
I dared not open my eyes. But against my will, I did. She was there. Spellbound now, caught in the trap of her quiet pain I couldn't drag my eyes away. I was no longer afraid, couldn't be, in front of her sorrow. A deep pity welled within me for her. What was her story? Who was she? Where did she come from and why could no one else see her?
When the last note sounded through the auditorium I waited for the pianist to stand, for the woman to disappear. I stared at her knowing it would happen in an instant. Holding my breath as Vladimir Feltsman rose from his seat, the ghostly woman suddenly opened her eyes, stared into mine and revealed the hell of the damned as she whispered in my head, demanding, “Come to me, Evangeline. Come to me!”
Where can readers find you and your book?
Information about me and/or Evangeline’s Miracle can be found online at these sites:
Thanks, Lisa! It's wonderful being able to get to know the person behind the story! And don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Evangeline's Miracle!