Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Occult Thriller Author Lisa M. Lilly. She is the author of the The Awakening Series.
Mystery & Thrillers
Lisa M Lilly
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Lisa M. Lilly is the author of the short-story collection The Tower Formerly Known as Sears and Two Other Tales of Urban Horror--the title story of which was recently made into the short film Willis Tower.
Her work has appeared in various publications, including Parade of Phantoms, Strong Coffee, Hair Trigger, and ChickFlicks.
Lilly's debut novel, The Awakening, was the first of a four-book paranormal/occult thriller series. The first two installments are now available.
She currently resides in Chicago and serves as the vice president of the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists. She became involved with the organization after an intoxicated driver caused her parents' deaths in 2007.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
First things first. Do you have another book on the horizon? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
Right now I’m revising Book 3 of 4 in the Awakening series, working title The Conflagration. I’d love to release it by the end of the year, but I tend to have an optimistic relationship with time, so Spring 2016 is probably a better bet. The series is about a young woman, Tara Spencer, who goes up against a secret society of powerful men who believe she and her child will trigger Armageddon. In this installment, the line between friend and enemy blurs even further as Tara faces her worst fears about herself based on an ancient prophecy she uncovered in Book 2.
I’m also ghostwriting a memoir about a very successful lawyer who leaves her law practice to go live in Bali with her son. (No, it’s not me. I still live in Chicago. But summer is the best season here, and it finally seems to be starting. Maybe. I hope.)
You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?
I love Twitter. I’ve met some wonderful people there, including Shiromi Arserio, the producer/ narrator of the audiobook version of The Unbelievers, which will be released shortly. Shiromi and I connected when I tweeted to her about a blog post I wrote about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as she is a fan too. Then we started tweeting and emailing about writing and stories and our careers. I try to behave in social media as I do in real life. I do my best to consider how what I say might affect others and to connect with people I truly share interests with rather than looking primarily to sell books, though I do tweet occasionally about books and sales. It’s hard to keep up with everything, so for social media I concentrate on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. (Though I love Pinterest for wish fulfillment when it comes to decorating and travel sites).
You do some book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances. When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?
The best way to learn about where I’ll be is to join my email list at this
or visit The Awakening’s Facebook page:
I don’t have any events scheduled right now, but I’m working with a health and lifestyle coach to put together a joint workshop on how your innate creativity can help you manage stress. It’ll be a fun program, with activities. Maybe even finger painting.
You have converted The Awakening into an audio book. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience for you?
I have reached some new readers, or listeners, I should say, and so far they have liked the audio version, which makes me happy. I’m planning to focus more on audio marketing when Book 2 is released. Doing this also prompted me to start listening to audiobooks, with the result that sometimes I’m immersed in “reading” three books—one fiction, one non-fiction, and one audio, since I tend to listen to audio while I do things like clean. Which definitely makes cleaning more fun.
You have written a short story collection called The Tower Formerly Known as Sears and Two Other Tales of Urban Horror which was turned into a short film under the title WILLIS TOWER by James Ackerman. Can you tell us if it had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work?
I shied away from writing short stories until I attended a 5-day writing retreat with author Steve Barnes. He had us write a short story every night and turn it in the next day for critiquing. That cut off my tendency to turn everything into a novel. At the time, I felt cranky about it. I didn’t want to write anything short. But one of those stories became the first fiction I sold to a paying market. Now I enjoy writing short stories when I take breaks from longer projects. My latest is a horror story called Ninevah. It’s about a woman who must decide whether to stay or go when the company where she works is swallowed up by a conglomerate, and the consequences of her choice are more frightening that she ever could have imagined. I published Ninevah exclusively for my email list subscribers. Anyone who signs up gets a link to read the story free.
Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family, being a lawyer and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do you sort of play it by ear?
I’m one of those people who likes charts and graphs. So when I first draft, I set a goal of writing a certain number of words per day, five days per week, and each day I hit the word count and write it on my chart, and everything else shifts around that. But I’m more a rewriter than writer (which is why no one ever gets to see my first drafts). It’s harder to track progress on rewriting, so I split my time in 50-minute increments and set a timer. If I have a lot of law work or marketing to do for a day, I’ll aim for three 50-minute increments of rewriting my novel. If I have less to fit in, on a really good day, I might do six 50-minute sessions.
The timer really helps me. I tell myself that I’ll check email or return phone calls or deal with that weird error message on Outlook (any Outlook for Mac experts out there, please email me!) after the timer goes off. That frees my mind to concentrate on what I’m doing and not be distracted. It also helps me stop working, relax, and go do something fun without feeling like I’m slacking off.
What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?
I’ve offered The Awakening free on Kindle for limited time periods. That helped me get more Amazon reviews, plus more people added it to their Goodreads shelves. Once I’d released Book 2, The Unbelievers, its sales always jumped after free days for The Awakening. I’ve also done Goodreads giveaways of signed paperbacks. That prompted more people to add the books to their shelves. I’m also pretty sure that’s how one of my signed paperbacks ended up for sale on eBay. I haven’t decided if I should be pleased or upset about that. Maybe I’ll see how much it sold for, if it did, and then decide.
Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?
I created and edit a monthly e-newsletter with book and/or a movie reviews in the M.O.S.T. (mystery, occult, suspense, and thriller) genres, including a historical mystery recommendation by a friend who loves that genre and contributes a column. I include updates on what I’m doing and sometimes send a separate email about a new release or a book signing. Before I started M.O.S.T. I relied mainly on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads to find readers, as well as ads in publications like The Fussy Librarian and BookBub. Now I put email list sign ups out at book release parties and appearances, and I usually do a drawing of everyone who signs up for a free book (paperback or audio) or an Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card. Plus I have links on my blog, website, and in my ebooks.
You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed and sharing interesting information with others. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?
I’m so glad you enjoy the blog. For the first few years, I wrote on whatever interested me at the moment, usually relating to myths, women in the workplace, writing, small business, or characters I love. So I feel in some ways like mine is a blog in search of a theme. Lately I’ve been focusing more on books. I don’t want to write a book blog, as there are plenty of great ones out there already. But I am intrigued by how people react to books and why, what that says about our culture, and how reading helps us live our lives. To me, books are magic: a way to step into another person’s shoes, live in another time, experience people and places we could never reach in “real” life.
Finding time is always a challenge. It helps me at the end of each day to decide on 3 or 4 things relating to my writing career that I want to do the following day and which is most important. I start with that one in the morning. That way, if I don’t complete my list, I’ve made progress on whatever mattered most. And I try to keep in mind that it’s okay to not accomplish everything. My mom used to say, do you live to work or work to live? I love my work, so it’s big part of what makes life enjoyable for me. But my goals are to be happy overall and to try to contribute to the world in a way that makes it a little bit better. If I look back on a week and feel I’ve done that, it’s a good week.
What is your method of getting reviews for your novels? Do you seek professional reviews, use social media or do you rely on your reading audience to supply them?
Yes to all of the above, though I’ve only sought reviews from two professional sites, Kirkus and Reader’s Favorites, so I’d have quotes to include in the Editorial Review section on Amazon. As to social media, one book blogger tweeted me and suggested reviewing The Awakening, and I was thrilled, because based on his site, Strange Amusements, he fit right in with my target readers. I found a few reviewers through the World Literary Café website as well. Most of my reviews come from readers who post after I run a promotion and see a sales spike. Also, it never hurts to ask, so now and then I tweet or post on Facebook with a request. I’ll say something like “Loved The Awakening? Hated The Awakening? Why not write a review?” It’s a little risky, but I think people appreciate that I will not be upset if they don’t give the book 5 stars. It’d be nice if everyone loved my books as much as I do, but I’m happy when anyone takes time to post. It means the book spoke to them, one way or another.
Author's Book List
- The Awakening Series Book 2
Tara Spencer is the new mother of a baby girl—one who, by all accounts, should not exist.
And though her worries go far beyond diapers and feeding times, she finds herself settling comfortably into the community of Willow Springs, away from the prying eyes of The Brotherhood religious order and former-flame-turned-betrayer Cyril Woods.
But when her daughter goes missing and her best friend is violently attacked, Tara’s newfound sense of security comes to a screeching halt. She realizes that nowhere will be safe until she solves the mystery of her virgin pregnancy once and for all.
While DNA testing seems to lead to more questions than answers, Tara struggles to separate friend from foe—until a series of shocking discoveries finally sheds light on the greater meaning behind her unusual situation.
In the stunning second installment of The Awakening series, societal roles are tested and religious norms questioned—in a thrilling paranormal page-turner combining elements of Rosemary’s Baby and The Da Vinci Code.
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- The Awakening Series Book 1
Tara Spencer's mysterious pregnancy causes her family and fiancé to turn against her and sidetracks her plans for medical school. Only a stranger, Cyril Woods, believes her claim that she's still a virgin. The religious order that Cyril belongs to thinks Tara's child may be a new messiah. But when prenatal testing raises troubling questions, the order becomes Tara's enemy, convinced she will trigger the first stage of the Apocalypse. Tara fights for her life, seeking a safe place to give birth, and the answer to whether she and her child are meant to save the world or destroy it.
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Barnes and Noble
The Tower Formerly Known as Sears and Two Other Tales of Urban Horror
A recruiting event at an amusement park turns deadly when the attractions develop minds -- and purposes -- of their own. Wining and dining a client at a trendy downtown Chicago restaurant becomes a battle against monsters. And a new chairman must not only prove himself to the disgruntled attorneys he manages but face a skyscraper bent on his destruction.
The title story, THE TOWER FORMERLY KNOWN AS SEARS, was made into a short film under the title WILLIS TOWER by James Ackerman.
Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble
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