Lizbeth Selvig is living her dream life in Webster, Minnesota (40 miles Southwest of Minneapolis) with her husband of 35 years, a hyperactive Border Collie, a huge yard but no riding lawn mower, and her very own office now that her children are grown and the bedrooms cleared of My Little Ponies and Magic The Gathering posters.
She doesn’t have to work outside the home at this point in her life but, somehow, she’s never bored and rarely spends a full day at home. A paying job, which would provide welcome discretionary cash for conferences and travel, would definitely take away from her free time (no sympathy expected).
Over the years, Liz has been able to travel with her family thanks to her husband’s job. His work as a computer systems analyst for Lockheed Martin has taken her to Germany two different times, for a year each time, to Toronto, Canada for a year, and to Anchorage, Alaska for three years. Each place is dear to her, especially Alaska, where she left a big chunk of her heart at the end of 2008. Now she loves to include experiences from these travels in her contemporary novels. She’s currently working on a three-book series set in various parts of Alaska.
Lizbeth’s manuscript SONGBIRD, finaled in the Golden Heart® Single Title Contemporary category:
There comes a time in every independent woman’s life when she just has to step aside and let a White Knight do his job.
Abby Stadtler might need a white knight, but she doesn’t want one, especially not a rock singer who’s missing a son and has paparazzi hot on his trail. Gray Covey might be a superstar to the world, but in reality, he’s a frantic father searching for his son.
When Gray’s search lands him at a deteriorating horse farm, where his boy has befriended Abby’s daughter, he enters chaos personified. He discovers one teen who hates him, one teen who adores him and a woman who flips his heart on its axis.
And now, here’s a little bit about Lizbeth…
1. How long have you been writing?
I’ve been making up stories ever since I was old enough to embellish on movies I went to see as a kid. My mother’s voice is clear in my memory: “Lizbeth Claire you don’t have to tell us every word and then some.” But I was positive the way I was telling the story and reciting the dialogue was far more fascinating than sitting in a dark theater watching it all happen. As far back as age five, I remember putting myself to sleep by creating stories in my head. By age eleven I was filling notebook paper with stories and writing myself to sleep rather than reading. There was also this round robin novel in junior high school that got quite long. (Some things never change.) All I remember of it now was that it starred a horse and a handsome, teenaged hero named Lincoln.
2. Did you always want to be an author, or is this something you fell into later in life?
I always knew I wanted to write. The thought of seeing my name on a book or being famous for writing a novel didn’t occur to me until late in high school. I wrote for my school newspaper and covered high school sports and school board meetings for our regional, weekly “Dakota County Tribune,” and that kind of gave me a taste for bylines. I went on to college and earned a journalism degree. It would have been nicer to get a fiction-writing degree, but the University of Minnesota didn’t offer that yet — back when we were still carving on stone tablets and our Internet consisted of a bunch of guys standing on the various dormitory roofs around campus sending smoke signals.
I worked for several weekly newspapers after graduation and wrote short stories of the Good Housekeeping, McCalls and Redbook variety. I submitted a few and got my first “great rejection”: a handwritten note that read, “Nice writing. Sorry.” After that, I knew I wanted my name on a short story, in a big magazine. I got married, had two children and kept writing—but I truly treated it as a hobby; something that was just an escape, even though I read Writer’s Digest and pored over Writer’s Market endlessly, starting to dream about actually writing a book. My first novel was a work in progress for fifteen years. I worked as a magazine editor (sadly, not for Good Housekeeping, but for two different farm publications—hilarious for a city girl). After a lifetime of loving to write stories, it’s embarrassing to say I didn’t take my fiction writing seriously until my kids were grown. Now, it’s the “job” I love!
3. What do you do in your “other” life? (Day job, family, etc.)
I’m the luckiest “kept” woman in the world at the moment. By that I mean no disrespect to myself, but mean it as a huge thank you to the most supportive hubby in the world. He’s been willing to sacrifice (i.e., go to work and mow the lawn and cook most of the time) so that I can live the dream life of a full-time writer. I’m not sure he isn’t expecting to retire on my Nora Roberts-like income after the first book sale, but I love him too much to smash the illusion yet. At any rate, I’m finally getting to write and I’m trying to make the most of that blessing.
In my non-writing life, I’m Mom to two grown children. My daughter is an equine vet and my son is a musician and production/recording engineer. I volunteer for a youth equestrian organization called United States Pony Club. I love to quilt and I love to scrapbook. We have a crazy Border Collie named Magic, and my husband, Jan, and I are avid hikers and love to camp.
4. Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors run the genre-gamut from science fiction to mainstream to romance. I have to be a little cliché and claim LaVyrle Spencer as my first “mentor.” I fell in love with her books as so many other readers and writers did. I still wish we had room and time in our busy reading lives for the slow, lyrical writing of that old style-romance. These days I read anything by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Susan Anderson, Susan Mallery and a former MFW chapter mate, Susan K. Law. I’m also really looking forward to the debut release, “Money Honey” (a shameless plug) by Susan Sey – another Minnesota author. Now ask me why I haven’t donned a pen name starting with Susan. I don’t know. But I believe it’s a requirement of some sort.
I also love the old Robert Heinlein and Ursula K. LeGuin sci fi books. I’m starting to get into Lois McMaster Bujold. I also really liked the first three books by author Sara Gruen. Riding Lessons and Flying Changes are great for horse lovers. Her third, Water for Elephants is what I claim as my current Favorite Book.
5. Do you have an agent?
I had an agent for one year, in 2006. She marketed my first book and had no takers. We parted amicably and I’ve been slowly learning the ropes again. (Can also be read ‘gaining confidence back.) I’m actively querying since finaling in the Golden Heart®, and I’m hoping, hoping, hoping my fellow GHers’ Golden Magic pixie dust floats its way to my Dream Agent’s desk and makes her sneeze in astonishment while she’s reading my book.
6. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Making long-term goals is a talent I’ve had to learn. I made my first Five-year Goal List this past January during an online class. It was a wonderful exercise, actually quite uplifting. My list reads: In five years I will be: 1) awaiting my third single title release and first fantasy/sci fi release; 2) working actively with my agent to plan the future; 3) writing every day, finishing one romance and one fantasy OR inspirational a year; 4) putting out a quarterly newsletter; 5) still working out and running 5 & 8Ks even though I’ll be, as Wendy Darling says, “ever so much more than twenty.”
And now, in Lizbeth’s own words…
SEDUCED BY TECHNOLOGY
Until the advent of e-mail, I was always certain my epitaph would read:
Beloved wife and mother.
Crushed to death by an avalanche of paper.
For those too young to remember, everyone’s life used to be filled with paper. In the olden days, there was no such thing as an electronic submission. There were no computer files in which to store successive drafts of your novel. If you wanted to find an old friend, or learn that your writing buddy got thirteen pages written, you had to (gulp) pick up the phone or hand write a letter. On paper.
I used to think that if only I could get rid of the stacks of papers and notebooks and letters, my life would run like a Lamborghini. Oh, Deception, thy name is Technology.
Today, I don’t have to do research at the local library and make expensive copies of the information I need. I don’t need to retype a manuscript page because I spelled Mississsippi (with three s’s, did you notice?). I’m pretty sure there are no carbon paper factories anymore. I can Tweet; I can Instant Message. So what color is my Lamborghini, you ask?
Hah. Some days, despite the fact that many fewer trees are giving up their lives for my work, I feel like I’m stuck in a boring brown Edsel with sand in its gas tank.
E-mail? It may be fast, but when I was writing “real” letters, I never had twenty people at one time to respond to, and they never answered my answers in thirty seconds so I had to re-answer. (Or is that re-tweet? I’m easily confused.) Facebook? I was lucky if I knew what my friends were doing once a month. Yahoo! was something the guy on the Mountain Dew bottle hollered—it didn’t have anything to do with loops and messages and threads of discussion.
Don’t misunderstand. I can’t imagine trying to run this writing business without making writing friends in other states or without the encouragement from my colleagues on the loops I’ve joined. I’m so hooked on technology, that I spend the vast majority of my time using it. Far more time than I used to spend sorting my avalanche of papers.
Do you see the circle I’m drawing here? I haven’t learned to control my stacks of electronic paper any better than I controlled the physical ones. We’re counseled to put our butts in our chairs and write, because published books are granted to those who persevere. We are not told that she or he who dies after having written the most e-mail responses wins.
But, how to control the problem? I’m addicted to the sense of connection Facebook and e-mail gives me with my writing friends. I love meeting new writers, and learning from them, and imagining that they care what I have to say. It’s thrilling that an online class with the power to further my career is just a PayPal transaction away. Isn’t this volume of knowledge and community the best thing I can do for my writing? I feel so rejuvenated. Or. I do once I finally get my butt into that chair.
The truth is, playing with technology is oftentimes more fun—certainly easier—than writing. I know the rule-of-thumb is that you should spend no more than 30 percent of your time on “marketing” (i.e., all the technology I’ve been describing). I know in reality nobody waits on tenterhooks for my daily posts. I know my writing suffers when I “just have to get caught up on the correspondence first.” You know what? Sometimes, I miss all the paper. It was much easier to ignore.
And I fear I really have to learn to handle all this new “paperless paper work,” otherwise my epitaph will simply morph into something like this:
Beloved Wife and Mother
Deleted from this life by rogue electrons
So, what advice do you have for those of us who’ve been seduced by technology? What tricks, what discipline helps you keep your bum in the chair writing, not wasting time? Or…IS e-mailing, social networking and researching on the Internet a waste of time? How do you handle the online part of your job?
Happy writing, editing, submitting and celebrating to all my fellow GHers. Can’t wait to meet you face to face in Orlando.