Monday, 19 August 2013

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

...Lisa Acerbo

1. Tell me about your book, Apocalipstick, and where you got your inspiration for it?

I grew up reading novels by Judy Blume, Dean Koontz, and Stephen King, among others. While entirely different genres, these authors inspired me to want to read more and write fiction. These days I am drawn to the books my high school students read like Twilight and The Hunger Games. I love authors who can create vivid conflicts and life-like characters in relationships, romantic or otherwise. I enjoy reading romances with action and adventure, and I hoped to create a book with those elements.

2. Ninjas or Pirates?

If I had to choose between ninjas or pirates, I would say ninjas because they are strategic compared to quick acting pirates. Ninjas plan every action before they carry them out; whereas, a pirate simply shoots a gun or uses a sword to accomplish his/her goal. While writing Apocalipstick, I learned that you cannot truly cherish an accomplishment unless it is backed by dedication, planning, and a lot of hard work.

3. Do you have a writing process? If so describe it.

I often write in creative, disorganized blasts (much like my life) and do not really have a routine, but I am currently trying to change that. When working on Apocalipstick, my writing came in fits and spurts, mostly during the summer when I was off from teaching. The book took a long time to complete, and it went through some major revisions along the way. These days, I attempt to write for two hours each morning. Some mornings are much more productive than others.

4. What is usually your first thought in the morning?

Coffee, coffee, and more coffee. After a final cup of coffee, some coherent thoughts enter my mind and I attempt to write. I usually write in the morning because it is quiet once my family goes off to their real jobs and I am home alone with the cats during my summer break.

5. You’re given one million pounds/dollars/euros, what would you spend it on?

A home in the rural countryside. My daughter and I have a passion for horses. We currently own two, but our yard is much too small to house even one horse. I would love to have a home where I could walk out my backdoor and ride my horses. This activity serves as an escape from the stresses of my daily life. The horses keep me sane.

6. Are you mostly a clean or messy person?

I am a high school teacher and at the start of every school year, I tell my classes that this will be the year I finally get organized. It has never happened. I have piles. Piles of papers, piles of books, piles of stuff. I guess the short answer to the question is that I am a messy person. Thank goodness for my husband who is the opposite and keeps my piles somewhat in check.

7. If someone came up to you and wanted to tell you about an idea or a book they were writing, what would you do? Or what advice would you give?

Don’t give up. Writing takes time, dedication, and passion. Maybe a little crazy too. Most people who attempt to write books do not create a masterpiece the first time or gain immediate success. As I have learned from my years teaching and attempting to write something decent, a writer must set small goals and eventually he or she will reach the larger goal. For me, it was getting my book published. Once you reach one goal, you create others. You can’t stop. As a writer, your goals are endless.

8. Have you ever killed someone in a novel and regretted it later?

I killed off one of the characters in my book and had my daughter, who is nineteen, read the chapter to see what she thought about the character’s death. She had such a strong and unhappy reaction to the character’s death that I immediately regretted my choice. Ultimately, I kept the plot the same and the character died. This gave me a great idea for the second book and provided some interesting ideas for plot twists in the future. While I initially regretted killing the character, I think it was a good idea in for the future of the series.

9. Which do you find more embarrassing to write, violence or sex?

Romantic scenes are so much harder to write than the violent ones and my book has zombies in it so there is a lot of violence. I think sex is hard for me to write about because I grew up in a very traditional, very Catholic family. I went to Catholic school and sex was something you did not talk about. Ever.

10. What are books for?

Books have infinite uses. A reader can use books as an escape from reality or use them to help understand the world around them. People also find characters in books relatable. I wrote Apocalipstick, in hopes of relating to my readers. The characters fight daily battles, as we do, and must find ways to overcome these difficulties. While I have a goal in mind for my readers, the overall usage of the book is determined by the readers, not me as the author.

11. How do you overcome writers block?

I take a break. I do the things I love such as riding my horses, mountain biking, hiking, reading a book at Starbucks, or going out to one of my favourite restaurants with my family. Some of my best ideas come to me while I am walking through the woods in ninety-degree heat on a summer’s day. Once I’ve cleared my mind, I can sit back down at my computer and the words just seem to flow. I have learned that while writing, you must also make time for the other things you love.

12. What are your current projects?

I am currently working on marketing Apocalipstick and writing a second book to the series. I have many ideas and I am excited to get them down on paper. Since it’s the summer, I have extra time to commit to my writing; however, that does not stop me from my teaching duties. I am reading books to prepare for my classes in the fall and I teach online for the University of Phoenix. In addition, I am close to finishing my EdD in Educational Leadership. Teaching, learning, and writing are a difficult balance, but they are all things I’m passionate about so I don’t view them as chores.

13. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I was working on my master’s degree many, many years ago and interned at a local newspaper. It was an incredible feeling to see my first article in print and my byline. Since then I have been improving my writing and have slowly decided that I can consider myself a legitimate writer. Even so, there are days when I produce horrible prose and doubt my abilities or try a new style and realize I have so much to learn. I am working on my EdD in educational leadership and the writing is academic and different from anything I have done before. It is like starting all over again.

14. If you couldn’t be an author, what career would you chose?

Technically, I am a full time high school teacher and adjunct faculty for the University of Phoenix. I write on the side. I enjoy working with students and helping them discover the joy of reading and writing. Realistically, many students struggle with reading and writing so if I can make it easier to write or fun to read, I have done my job well.

15. Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcovers?

I love the feel of a paperback book in my hands. I dog ear the pages, take notes in the margin. There is nothing like having a paperback novel at the beach or while relaxing and reading on the couch. I think ebooks are great, especially when travelling, and I download many of them, but I hope they never replace having an actual paperback book with you.

Life is bad after the apocalypse…the undead just made it worse.

Jenna should be having the time of her life at college. Instead, her one desire is survival. She lives in a world gone insane after a virus kills most of the population. Being alive after the apocalypse is bad, but when the undead return, hungry for humans, times turn darker. For Jenna and a small group of survivors, the goal is to reach the safe haven of the High Point Inn. At the inn, Jenna develops feelings for Caleb, who, while exotic and intoxicating, is not quite human. Will this new utopia last?

Jenna watched as a bullet from Caleb’s gun clipped through a stalker’s skull, spraying muck into the air. What was left of the head and the rest of the torso dropped to the ground. While the bullet had torn most of the head apart, the creature’s body continued to writhe, pulling itself toward Caleb with its shattered arms, leaving a trail of intestines on the carpet.

Another creature charged at Jenna. She could see green ooze dripping from its nostrils and black patches of mold devouring what was left of the skin on its face. She hoisted her blade and swung with all her might. The head of the creature flew off its decrepit shoulders and onto the carpet moments before its claw-like hands raked at Jenna’s camouflage jacket. The headless creature stood as if at attention and then the lifeless body pitched itself forward, taking Jenna down to the ground with it.

Jenna refused to scream, even while smothered under the corpse. Instead, she pushed it over to the left, her hands sinking through the shallow layer of skin. Shuddering, she could not get out from under the headless, lifeless remains fast enough. Kicking the figure away, she stood, not sure what would come at her next. 


About Lisa

Born and raised in Greenwich, Connecticut, Lisa Acerbo has lived in Trumbull, Connecticut since 2001. After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in English Education and receiving a Master’s degree in Environmental Education from Southern Connecticut State University, she worked in a variety of educational positions including outreach educator and grant coordinator for the Maritime Aquarium and SoundWaters in Connecticut and Wave Hill in Bronx, New York.  She went on to plan meetings for physicians and helped create continuing medical education at medical educational companies. Presently, Lisa works as a high school teacher and adjunct faculty for the University of Phoenix.

Lisa always loved to write and worked as an intern for the Connecticut Post when completing her degree at Southern Connecticut State University.  In addition to the Connecticut Post, her articles appeared in the Trumbull Patch and Hollywood Scriptwriter.  She occasionally dabbles in poetry and her poetry won first place in the Trumbull Arts Festival Literary Competition. Lisa’s first book, Apocalipstick, will be published by Eternal Press in August 2013.

Lisa lives with her husband, Frank, two daughters, Dominique and Jessica, plus three cats and two horses. 

Twitter: @apocalipstick_

1 comment:

  1. I envy you your teaching jobs! After being mostly home raising my 4 kids to college age, I've been subbing for 11 years, and it's pretty obvious that the fact that I have control over any kinds of classes and high school students makes me an ideal sub, but no interviews, despite my specialty in writing. If subbing paid enough for me NOT to have to work a second crappy retail job, I'd be okay, I guess.

    Funny you say that you find it easier to write violence, indeed your excerpt has a lot in it. I cringe whenever I have to write violence in my books, which are contemporary romance for adults (read: naughty bits). I find it easy and soothing to write elaborate sex scenes. I guess we're all different!