Friday, November 29, 2013

Lisa Lickel: On Writing For Children

Everyone's Story welcomes this holiday week author Lisa Lickel. Lisa is one of those multi-published and multi-talented authors, publishing in both adult and children's fiction as well as non-fiction and radio theater. A true treasure, as well as an especially lovely and generous woman. She discusses her new venture into self-publishing for the children's market and answers to a few interview questions. Please check out her book giveaway below. Both Lisa and I look forward to hearing from you.

Book Giveaway:
Lisa is offering one copy to one randomly chosen commenter a PDF copy of her chidlren's book GREEN LEAF, THE POTOWATOMI BOY. The winner will be announced here on Friday, December 6th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

Green Leaf’s cousins are all older than he and don’t like to play fair. He longs for a friend his own age he can play with, explore and fish with. When he meets a Luxembourger boy, Henri, Green Leaf is sure they could become friends, but Henri’s words are strange to Green Leaf. How can they play and explore together? 

Green Leaf’s mother says, “Friends learn to speak one another’s words.” But will Green Leaf learn to say his friend’s words well enough to save Henri when he falls into danger?

Determined Not To Surrender A Dream by Lisa Lickel

Ten years in the making, The First Children of Farmington series of early reader books has finally reached booksellers.

I spent two years researching and writing this series. Several years after I worked with other community historians to collect and record our early pioneer history, I realized that we had quite a diverse ethnicity to Farmington, Wisconsin. Although these stories are based on real people and real events, they are representative of issues and struggles and joys families face every day everywhere.

The Potawatomi Boy is a character with a running thread through all the books. When I first started out with the project I was taking classes from the Christian Writers Guild. I set out to put together a series of picture books and connected with a couple of different artists. I wrote the text, but learned over several years that it’s harder to get the attention of a publisher for children’s books than it is for adult books. I’d never considered self-publishing, but through connections with my current illustrator and publishing partner, Brenda Hendricks, and others at the John 316 Marketing Network, learned a lot about not only self-publishing options, but how to publish well.

The second book in the series, The German, is now available, as well, about a curious young girl who becomes lost while searching for the family cow, and the third book, The Saxon Boy, about a young boy who must learn to accept a stepfather, may be out by Christmas. I was quite surprised and pleased to have won a prestigious Jade Ring award for the Saxon Boy from the Wisconsin Writers Association. The other three stories, The Yankee Boy, The Irish Girl and The French Girl, are planned for release in 2014.

The books include references, glossaries, and special illustrations and a picture search. They are suitable for early to middle grades, ages 7-9 or so.

Questions For Lisa:
What is it about writing for a children's readership inspires you to create a story?

In this particular case, these stories are borne of my love for history, of story, of wanting to preserve the past and not forget about the events that influenced our choices and lifestyle today. I really hate heaing “history is boring,” so if I can share a story about the past that’s exciting, but also about real children who played and got lost and scared, and made friends, and picked flowers, just like kids today, I think it will make a positive impression. Hopefully kids will want to explore the lives of their grandparents too.

Do your messages change from story to story?

A little. Each story has a theme word/phrase. In The Potawatomi Boy, it’s adaptation; in The German Girl, it morphed from obedience more into paying attention. The children in the stories are similar in ages, and each faces a situation that’s not unlike today. The Saxon Boy must learn to live with a stepfather; The Yankee Boy fights for his friend to attend school. The Irish Girl wants a grandfather like her friends; The French Girl gets caught up in peer pressure.

What has self-publishing taught you about writing in general?

I always knew that writers must be very, very careful about the final product we put out. I think that my publishing experience in general, from writing for Writer’s Digest to my first book with Barbour Publishing, where I didn’t know I even had to worry about errors getting into the final product, to my horror at realizing other publishers didn’t have that same dedication to perfection, prepared me for my first attempts at self-publishing. Most writers I know can’t read other books without a critical eye. I’ve tried to train my critical eye to watch for errors, but I also know mine can’t be the only eye on the last edit before uploading for publication. It’s still a scary operation, and I prefer to work with publishers.

As an author, what strengths do you gain in writing for various readership markets?

Vocabulary is huge. I’m working with another author right now who’s in a contest for adult readership with limited vocabulary, so the final product must be graded at no more than fourth-grade reading level. Working with younger readers is a tremendous challenge. I’m not lying when I say that I doubt I’ll do any more writing for children. I found that staying within the vocabulary and readability of the age target of my books, that is, third to fourth grade, so much harder than writing for adults. But the same way, it also helped me devise a “voice” for my different adult characters. Some people, we know, simply speak or understand language in a whole different way from ourselves. By realizing and capitalizing on some of those nuances, we authors can create unique voices for our imaginary populations.

From December 1 through December 16, the John 3:16 Marketing Network is hosting a Christmas Book Launch and The Potawatomi Boy is a featured book. As part of the event, the Network is offering a $200 Amazon gift certificate to one lucky winner. For a chance to win, go to and enter the Rafflecopter toward the bottom of the page.

Will be .99 cents December 1-16

Lisa's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
See Lisa Lickel’s publishing accomplishment while holding onto her dreams. (Tweet This)

Author Lisa Lickel on #SelfPublishing in the children’s market. (Tweet This)

Lisa Lickel on Everyone’s Story, #BookGiveaway. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin writer who lives in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. A muti-published, best-selling and award-winning novelist, she also writes short stories and radio theater, is an avid book reviewer, blogger, a freelance editor, and magazine editor. 

Find Lisa on the Web:


  1. Really enjoyed reading about Lisa's journey in writing for children. pat at ptbradley dot com

    1. Hi there, Pat. I hope you enjoyed a pleasant Thanksgiving.

      So glad you enjoyed LIsa's blog segment. You may want to check back here over the weekend for her reply. I'm sure she'll appreciate it.

  2. Thank you, Elaine, for such a lovely introduction - very sweet. I was so glad to think about how this series came about, so thank you also for allowing me to talk about this here. Thank you for stopping in, Patricial

    1. It should be a fun week, Lisa. I'm pleased you're my guest.

  3. Seems like it would be hard to write for that age group. Congrats on all your accomplishments!

    1. Jennifer, thanks for visiting today. I think that any writer who devotes her or his heart to a particular audience, and sticks to the hard work despite the sweat and agony, will accomplish their desire. Lisa is proof of this dream coming true.

      I'm curious to see what she says. Do check up later.

      Hope to see you again.

    2. Thanks, Jennifer, and Elaine...I was just talking about this with my daughter in law today...I've moved into editing this past year, and that's been a challenge, like writing for children, that I never thought I could do. It's great to continue to learn and grow and stretch.

  4. Thank you for sharing Lisa's journey with us. I have found the same difficulty in publishing children's books, and have been considering self- publishing. I'm glad she addressed the need for careful editing. Too many half-cooked books have been thrown out there, and hurt the market. I love her enthusiasm for bringing history to life.

    1. Thanks, Jane. I applaud you for considering things carefully. This is such an odd business. I knew my stories were mostly a local niche, so I don't have a lot of expectations of going viral or even national, but I mostly don't want history to be lost. Best wishes with your projects, no matter what you decide.

    2. Welcome to Everyone's Story, Jane. May your writing be blessed. Stay encouraged and you will see your dreams come true.

      Hope to see you again.

  5. Hi Lisa, it was really interesting to read about how you developed and published your series for children. I'm always learning something new from you. You're truly an inspiration. :)

    Thanks, Elaine, for sharing Lisa's story on Everyone's Story this week.

    1. And thank you, Kathy, my friend, for your visit.

    2. I'm glad you stopped, Kathleen!

  6. What a lovely way to begin the holiday season--with the very talented Lisa Lickel. Heartfelt thanks, Lisa, for guest appearing this past week on Everyone's Story. It's been a fun week and you've received quite a lot of viewer hits. I hope this blesses you with further readers and fans.

    Also, thanks for the Giveaway book…

    And the winner of Lisa's children's book, GREEN LEAF, THE POTOWATOMI BOY, is Jennifer. Yea, Jennifer. Both Lisa and I will contact you in private emails.

    Wishing everyone a joyous holiday season.


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