Author interview with Lillie Ammann
Freelance writer and editor Lillie Ammann always dreamed of writing “someday.” A devastating stroke made her realize she didn’t know how many “somedays” she had. As soon as she was physically able, she started writing. In 1996, she sold the interior landscape company she had owned and operated for twenty years and started her new career as a freelance writer, editor, and self-publishing consultant. The romantic mystery Dream or Destiny is her second novel; the first, Stroke of Luck, features a heroine who has a stroke like the one Lillie experienced. She lives in San Antonio, Texas with Jack, her husband of more than four decades. She blogs about writing, publishing, books, authors, and more at A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye.
1. Tell us about your latest book.
Marilee Anderson dreams about a murder and wakes to find it really happened. She and David Nichols, the victim’s brother, become the prime suspects. Though they have their secrets and aren’t sure they can trust each other, Marilee and David team up to find the killer.
Does Tess, “the crazy lady,” know anything about the murder or is she just delusional? Does the cheating couple on the victim’s floor have any information about the night of the crime? Why has the abusive father of the victim and her brother suddenly reappeared? What about Barbara’s ex-husband? Will Marilee and David find the killer? Or will they end up in jail—or dead?
2. How did you get started as a writer?
The first time I thought about being a writer was in high school. Our English teacher assigned a short story. Not only did an A and kudos from the teacher, but also she read the story to all of her English classes. It was a humorous story, and I was thrilled when the students laughed where they were supposed to. But I never thought I could make a living as a writer, so I went on to other things. For more than twenty years, my writing consisted of business documents and an occasional article in a trade journal. Writing was always a dream for “someday.” After I had a devastating stroke, I decided I couldn’t put off my dream any longer. As soon as I had recovered enough, I started writing. I returned to running my business, but after I proved to everyone—especially myself—that I could still do it, I sold my interior landscaping company to a national firm and started my freelance career.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
I have my days and nights backwards. I’m usually at my desk from late afternoon into early morning, then I sleep most of the day. When I get to the office late in the day, I read my e-mail and blogs first. I know a lot of people prefer to start writing right away, but I like to be organized and have a clean slate when I start. Also, I often get quick turn-around assignments from business clients in e-mail. When I start to work, I focus on projects that are under deadline, which frequently are small projects that need to be completed by the next day. I also maintain Web sites and blogs for several clients and typically have small updates to do on some of them each day. Then I work on larger projects with longer deadlines. I usually have three or four client manuscripts in various stages of editing. My own creative writing is relegated to weekends and holidays because client work takes up my workdays.
4. Describe your desk/workspace.
My office is a portable building in the backyard, which is convenient yet sets my workspace apart from our home. The office is compact and just about everything is within reach. I don’t have much paper in the office. As much as possible, I keep all my files on my computer.
5. Favorite books (especially for writers)
My favorite books always seem to the ones I’m working on or reading at the time. For writers, I recommend Strunk & White’s Elements of Style and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. It looks like I prefer books about editing by two authors, but I think that’s a coincidence.
6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you
I’ve lived in only two homes in my entire life—the farmhouse where I grew up and the house I moved into with my husband when we married immediately after I finished college 42 years ago.
I’ve been listed in Who’s Who in America for many years and Who’s Who in the World for the last few years—proof that either those publications don’t screen the people they profile very well or I slipped through once and never got caught.
I’ve been accused of being a perfectionist and a control freak, for which I plead the fifth.
7. Favorite quote
Dream as if you’ll live forever; live as if you’ll die tomorrow. James Dean
8. Best and worst part of being a writer
Best part of my job: A reviewer or a reader loving a book I wrote or edited.
Worst part of my job: Having so much work for clients that I don’t get to spend much time on my own creative writing.
9. Advice for other writers
Stick to it. Persistence is the not-so-secret secret of success. If you give up, you will never achieve your dreams. If you keep working and learning, your chances of success are high.
10. Tell us a story about your writing experience.
When I was pitching my first novel, Stroke of Luck, I was still recovering from the stroke. I received numerous rejections from editors and agents indicating they weren’t interested in a romance novel with a handicapped heroine. At a writer’s conference, I had an appointment to pitch my book to an editor. The editor looked at me sitting on my motorized scooter and said, “No one wants to read a romance about a cripple.” I put the novel away in a virtual drawer for a long time until a writer friend told me about a publisher looking for books featuring disabled characters. Now there are a number of successful romance novels with handicapped main characters, but that wasn’t the case a few years ago.
Where can people buy your books and read your blog?
Readers can learn more about my books and me at my Web site. I blog at A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye. Dream or Destiny is available from the publisher, GASLight Publishing, and from Amazon.com.
Thank you for the opportunity to share with your readers, Wendy.