Meet Debut Novelist Lorna Seilstad

Debut novelist Lorna Seilstad loves to find unique setting, facts, or careers to use in her stories. She’s done just that in her debut novel, which is set in the heyday of Lake Manawa, near Omaha, Nebraska. Making Waves, an inspirational historical romance “with a generous dash of humor,” is the first in a three-book series from Revell and is currently available.

Lorna has lived in Council Bluffs, Iowa her entire life. Her family consists of her 6’6″ husband “with a heart just as big,” and three children, ages 18, 16, and 11. Their oldest left for college this fall, which has been a big change for them all. They don’t have any pets—unless you count the bats they sometimes get in their 1920’s Craftsman home. They’ve had 14 or 15 at various times. Her husband practices bat relocation with the aid of his trusty tennis racket.

Before the birth of their first child, Lorna, who has a B.S. in Education from Lubbock Christian University, Lubbock, Texas, taught high school English and journalism. At that time, she decided she wanted to stay home and raise their son, so, she began to provide daycare for teachers’ children, which she did until last year. She says, “I think I’ve potty trained over 20 kids.” Lorna also does graphic design and wedding coordinating.

When she’s not spending time with her family, coordinating weddings, or writing, Lorna enjoys baking, flower arranging, and reading! She’s a 4-H Leader, teaches Bible classes to youth and women, and works with her husband in youth ministry. Her office is in the basement and gets so cold in the winter she has to wear gloves with the fingertips cut off in order to write. To help her warm up, she loves to drink Ghiradelli’s double chocolate hot cocoa.

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I asked Lorna what virtual treat she’d like to share with you. Here’s her reply . . .

For over ten years, I’ve had a little cookie business at Christmas. One year, I sold 140 dozen cookies! One of my customers’ favorites is a cookie called Snookies. It’s a soft oatmeal cookie wrapped around a mini Snickers candy bar.

I’ve got a heaping platter of warm-from-the-oven Snookies for you, so grab some. In honor of Lorna, there’s some piping hot Ghiradelli’s double chocolate cocoa as well. Enjoy your sweets as you learn more about Lorna as her journey to publication. And if those cookies are something you’d like to make, you’ll find the recipe at the bottom of the post. :-)

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Lorna Embarks on Her Journey

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When did you decide you wanted to write? Did you start right away, or did the dream remain on hold a while?

I had an awesome teacher in elementary school for English in 4th, 5th, and 6th grade. She had us do a creative writing story every Friday. I fell in love with writing stories then. As I continued through school, I became involved in journalism.

When I stopped teaching and began to do daycare, I began to feel compelled to write again. I needed a way to express my creativity. I remembered loving to write fiction. That’s when I discovered fan fiction.

In case you’re not familiar with fan fiction, in essence, you borrow the characters and write an original story based on the show, book, or movie. Many of us have been doing it in our heads for years. I started with Scarecrow and Mrs. King and ended up finding a group to writing Sue Thomas F.B.Eye stories on a wonderfully supportive site with thousands of members. It gave me a great place to find my voice and put into practice what I was learning about writing.

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•When did you shift from writing fan fiction to creating original romance novels, and what prompted the change?

One day, I was reading my hubby’s Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader and a historical story caught my eye. I went to the computer and started typing an original story. Shortly after I began it, on the same fan fiction site, the owner decided to make a separate group for writers who wanted to pursue publication in 2007. I joined four others in the group and we called ourselves The Scribblers. I also became a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

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Lorna’s Bright Spots

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•Your time on the Contest Circuit was cut short by a sale, but you racked up one final before you were disqualified from entering contests for unpublished romance writers. What did that placement mean to you, and what did you learn from the experience?

You would have thought I’d won Publishers Clearing House! It was for that first manuscript which sprung from the Bathroom Reader article. Just by preparing my entry for the contest, I learned so much. I think it took me two weeks to write my first synopsis.

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•Two short days before you had a book contract, you received The Agent Call. How did that come about, and what was your response?

In 2008, I had a meeting at my first ACFW conference with Revell’s senior acquisitions editor Andrea Doering. When I went to present to her, I forgot my whole pitch. Every word. So I simply introduced myself and handed her my one sheet. She read it and asked if I’d brought any sample chapters. I sat silently while she read two chapters of my manuscript. She then sat back, complimented me on my fresh voice, and asked me for a full manuscript. I almost fell out of my chair!

I sent it in late February and just two weeks later, she e-mailed me and said she was reading it. She later asked me if I could come up with two more ideas for a potential series. I knew she was taking the manuscript and the series ideas to the publications board that Friday.

My dear friend and mentor Judy Miller asked me who I most wanted as an agent. I told her Wendy Lawton and admitted to “cyber stalking” her. LOL. Judy contacted Wendy Lawton and asked her what I should do if Revell indicated they wanted it. Wendy offered to read the manuscript based on Judy’s recommendation. Wendy read it in flight, I believe, and contacted me after. We talked and she offered me representation even if Revell decided they were not interested. The whole experience was so surreal. My cheeks hurt from smiling.

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•And then on April 14, 2009 you found a message in your inbox that changed your life: an offer for a three-book contract from Revell. When did The Email come? Where were you, and what were you doing at the time? How did you react to the news? Shrieking, sobs, or sighs?

Because I knew Andrea Doering was taking the series idea to the pub board that day, I spent the day praying, jumping at every phone call, and hitting the send/receive button on my e-mail. (Andrea had asked me to keep her in my prayers for that day. Isn’t that amazing?)

The e-mail came that afternoon around two. I sat at my desk and cried. God had to work so many things together to make it happen, I just couldn’t believe it all. My hubby forgot his cell phone that day, so I couldn’t even call him. I called Judy though, and my hubby called me later that day when he got back to his office. We went out to celebrate that night.

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Lorna’s Sources of Inspiration

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•What sparked the idea for Making Waves? Did you begin with a name or place? Did scenes play in your mind? Or perhaps your characters began chatting?

My dad grew up at Lake Manawa after its heyday. In fact, my grandfather purchased one of the bath houses on the lake for $300 when the park closed and moved it to a lot. That became the house my dad grew up in.

My dad told me a little about the area, and once I began researching it, I knew I had to write a story about it. Who could resist a place with fancy pavilions, water toboggan slides, a diver who set herself on fire, and rich people who camped in tents?

When I started writing, I heard the characters more than I saw them. I’m an auditory learner, so I always hear them more. The idea for Marguerite came to me when I thought about my sister-in-law’s witty sense on of humor. I wondered what it would have been like to live at time when you still thought all those funny things, but had to keep them to yourself.

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Partners on Lorna’s Journey

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•Many of the writers I’ve talked with have been eager to tell me that although they spend much of their time alone with fingers flying over the keyboard, they have a cast of real life characters who have supported them in many ways. Who are the people on your team, and how do they uphold you?

I have been truly blessed with a great support system. My family is great about the time I’ve spent writing—first doing fan fiction and now my original work. Hubby says writing feeds my soul.

Since I first began writing, my church family has prayed for me and for God’s will in my life. Having that kind of prayer support is such a huge blessing!

My Scribbler friends online have all agreed to stay accountable to one another for writing consistently. We encourage each other, whine about writing synopses, and share our joys and woes.

Through ACFW, I found a wonderful critique group. My crit partners—Shannon Vannatter and Brenda Anderson—are the best!

And Judy Miller’s advice, friendship, and encouragement have meant the world to me. I can’t even begin to say what a blessing she’s been to me.

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Lorna’s Debut Novel

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•Please tell us about Making Waves.

Here’s the back cover copy . . .

Sun, summer, and a scrumptious sailing instructor. What more could a girl want?

When spunky Marguerite Westing discovers that her family will summer at Lake Manawa in 1895, she couldn’t be more thrilled. It is the perfect way to escape her agonizingly boring suitor, Roger Gordon. It’s also where she stumbles upon two new loves: sailing, and sailing instructor Trip Andrews.

But this summer of fun turns to turmoil as her father’s gambling problems threaten to ruin the family forever. Will free-spirited Marguerite marry Roger to save her father’s name and fortune? Or will she follow her heart–even if it means abandoning the family she loves?

Author Lorna Seilstad’s fresh and entertaining voice will whisk readers away to a breezy lakeside summer holiday. Full of sharp wit and blossoming romance, Making Waves is the first book in the Lake Manawa Summers series.

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Reactions and Reviews

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Making Waves is in readers’ hands. It’s also in yours. What were your thoughts and feelings when you held your book for the first time?

Here’s a surprise. When I held my “new baby,” all shiny and smelling of fresh ink, I cried. Honestly, I don’t cry that often, but holding my dream in my hands was such a mind blowing thing. God had done “immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine.”

I wanted so badly to show it to my mother, but she passed away 13 years ago. I’d dedicated the book to her. I told myself she’d seen it long before I had.

When the book released, I had an awesome book launch at Lake Manawa. It was a magical day to share with my friends and family.

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•You’ve already received a number of glowing reviews. Which have meant the most to you, and why?

That’s a hard one. The Romantic Times Book Review with four and a half stars meant a lot because it was one of the first, and I was scared someone was going to say my “baby” was ugly. But I have also enjoyed so many of the others.

I love hearing when people couldn’t put the book down or when they are touched by its spiritual message. It’s fun to hear how much they like Marguerite and Trip and how much they dislike Roger.

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Lorna’s Journey Continues

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Making Waves is on the shelves. What can your readers look forward to next?

A Great Catch, the second in the 3-book series, releases in May. The one-sentence summary I submitted says, “If a never-grow-up baseball player strikes out with a spunky suffragette, Independence Day may take on a whole new meaning.”

A Great Catch features Emily from book 1 and is set five years later at the lake. Emily, who is a suffragist, struggles with two things—a lack of physical gracefulness and pushing God aside because of being busy. I hope both of her struggles will resonate with readers. Never feeling adequate often pushes us to do things that will win the approval of others.

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•I hear there’s an interesting story regarding the cover of A Great Catch. What would that be?

When I was writing the book, I found a photograph of a dress I wanted to have Emily, the main character, wear in one of the scenes. Revell took the photo and had the dress sewn for the model to wear for the cover photograph. It looks amazing.

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Let’s Learn a Little More About Lorna . . .

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•Did you have a nickname growing up?

My real name is Lorna, but so was my mother’s. Growing up, then, I was always called Lori. I answer to both names. My mom named me Lorna in case I became a doctor or an author because she thought it sounded more professional than Lori.

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•I’m addicted to Taco Bell. Do you have a similar addiction?

Absolutely. Oreos are undoubtedly the best store bought cookie in the world, and I’m an Oreo purest. I consider double stuffs an abomination.

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•Are you a cat person, a dog person, both, or neither?

Oh, I hate to admit this, but at the moment, I’d have to say “neither.” I do like dogs, and my daughters would love to have one, but at this time in my life, I don’t have the time to devote to one. We had a truly beautiful Norwegian Elkhound named Kelsey, but she died of breast cancer.

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•What’s the goofiest thing a friend has talked you into doing?

I don’t know if this was the goofiest, but this it has to come close. I went to a small Christian junior college in a small town. There wasn’t a lot to do, so we’d go “ghosting.” In other words, we went to abandoned houses and scared one another. One of our favorite haunts was a huge empty mansion, formerly an I.O.O.F. home (International Order of Oddfellows). This place was straight out of a horror movie with a tree-lined sidewalk over a block long leading to the massive front door.

On this particular night, one friend in our group insisted on walking around the whole mansion instead of just driving around it like we usually did. When we got up close, a group of people ran at us from the trees and grabbed us. Of course, we’d been set up. It was one of the best scares of my life.

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•If we peeked in your clothes closet, what would we learn about you?

You’d learn that I obviously iron very little given the stack of clothes on the ironing board. You might also discover that my closet is the dumping ground for all the kids “too small” clothes, and that I collect dolls. I have an antique doll collection at my dad’s house, but I have a few new bisque dolls on a shelf in my closet.

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Lorna’s Question for You

When you hold your “baby” in your hands for the first time, who do imagine you’ll want to show it to and why?

I’ve had a great time visiting with you, Keli! Thank you for having me.

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Lorna’s Drawing

Lorna has generously offered to give away an autographed copy of Making Waves.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment for Lorna by midnight November 23 (Pacific time) and enter your email address when prompted during the comment process. (You don’t have to leave it in the body of your comment this way.)

On November 24, I will hold the drawing and post the winner’s name here as well as in a comment and will contact her/him via email to get a mailing address. (I don’t share your information with anyone, other than sending your mailing address to my guest, and I don’t add your name to any mailing lists.)

Congratulations to Rebecca Booth, winner of Lorna’s debut novel.

Note: Offer void where prohibited.

Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.

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Learn More About Lorna

Visit her website ~ www.lornaseilstad.com

Visit her group blog ~ www.inkspirationalmessages.com

Friend Her on Facebook ~ Lorna Seilstad

Follow her on Twitter ~ lornaseilstad

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And now for the promised recipe . . .

……………Snookies

1 C. Butter-flavored Crisco

1 C. sugar

1 C. dark brown sugar

2 eggs 1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 C. flour

1 1/2 C. quick-cooking oats

1 pkg. miniature Snickers

Melted Semi-sweet chocolate to drizzle cookies

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1. Cream Crisco and sugars.

2. Add eggs and vanilla.

3. Add soda, salt, and flour.

4. Mix in oats.

5. Wrap each miniature Snickers bar with oatmeal cookie.

6. Place on GREASED cookie sheet and freeze for 5 to 10 min.

7. Bake 10 –12 min. at 350.

8. Cool then drizzle with melted chocolate.

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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35 Responses to Meet Debut Novelist Lorna Seilstad

  1. Keli Gwyn says:

    Welcome, Lorna! It’s great to have you as my guest and to have this opportunity to learn more about you and your journey to publication.

    Your book sounds great. I’ve seen some wonderful reviews and can’t wait to get my copy and enjoy your story.

    In answer to your question, when I sell a book and receive my first copy, I’ll show it to my incredibly supportive hubby first. And then I’ll show it to each of the awesome family members and friends who have been such a source of support to me. There are far too many to list because I’m blessed with many wonderful people in my life. =)

    • Keli, thank you so much for having me as a guest. I’m so honored to be on your blog.

      I’m with you on showing the your book to those who’ve supported you. There are so many friends and family members that helped and encouraged me, too, along the way that I felt like the book belonged to all of us.

  2. I love the light hearted and happy feeling I got when I read this post. Your journey has taken you from your world, to your dad’s world and back again.

    I think when we begin to write, the first thing we want to pen is something close to our hearts, which is usually our family.

    I have lost all but one of my immediate family and when I am writing, even stories that do not talk of them, they are there in the room with me.

    Imagining the day I might actually hold my words between the covers, I can only think of one person … my older brother. It is my wish that although he is getting on (I was one of those surprise late babies) and his health is failing, that he can be there and know I finally did it.

    I am sure this is only the first of many wonderful stories you will pen. Good wishes and the best writing to you, Lorna.

    • Ramblingfromtheleft, wow, I’ve never thought about how this book took me to my dad’s world, but you are so right! It’s been fun to share something special with him while I still can. His health isn’t the best, so that makes it even more meaningful.

      Your brother sounds like a special man.

  3. Julie Musil says:

    That book sounds amazing!

  4. LoRee Peery says:

    Lorna, I have a second cousin who lives on Piute Street near lake Manawa. Everything about your journey to publication was a pleasure to read. My mother has also passed, and she instilled in me the love of reading. So I would be thrilled for her to hold my book in her hand. But somehow, I think she knows.

    • LoRee! That is so cool! All the streets down there have Native American names now. My dad lived on Navajo. The house he grew up has been torn down, but I there is another long,narrow house that I think was another bath house turned home.

      You were blessed to have a mother who gave you the lifelong gift of enjoying reading. That’s something I pray I have passed on to my own kids.

  5. Rebecca Booth says:

    I would love to read a breezy lakeside summer holiday book, full of sharp wit and blossoming romance, even in the winter time. I would also love to review it on Library Thing, Good Reads, Shelfari, Powells, of course, Amazon and any site you recommend.

  6. Kav says:

    I’m grinning from ear to ear after reading all that! What would I do when I held my ‘baby’ for the first time? Faint dead away! LOL.

    Have a question about your snookie recipe. You have butter flavoured Crisco as an ingredient. Could you use real butter? Just wondering what the difference between the two is.

    • Hi Kav! Don’t you dare faint! You might hurt yourself and your dog would have to give you mouth to mouth. :)

      You can used real butter, but the cookies will spread more and be more crisp. I used Butter Flavored Crisco in three cookie recipes and real butter in all my others. If you have another favorite oatmea cookie recipe with butter, that should work, too.

  7. Great interview, Lorna. You’re always teaching me something new.

    Who would I show my “baby” to first? My hubby, of course. He’s been my biggest cheerleader. He loves everything I write (even the bad stuff.):) After that I’d show my first readers who read those terrible first drafts & help me improve. And I’d show the best critique partners ever: Lorna Seilstad & Shannon Vannatter.

    • Brenda, your husband has been an wonderful supporter of your work. My hubby hasn’t read Making Waves. He’s read parts, but not all of it. However, he’s been my main cheerleader for years. And as your crit parter, I can’t wait to hold your new “baby” someday.

  8. Terri Tffany says:

    Well I about cried when I read how your got your first contract! That is amazing!! I mean really really amazing:) Congrats on the offer!! You give us all hope. Your story sounds wonderful and thanks for your sweet sense of humor too!

  9. Susan Mason says:

    Congrats, Lorna. I read an excerpt of your book on one of the blogs (can’t remember which one – I read so many) and it was so sweet and funny, I have your book on my wish list!

    Can’t wait to see the cover of the second book. You’ve piqued my curiosity about the dress!

    Best wishes with your writing for lots of sales!

    Cheers,
    Sue

  10. Hey Lorna,
    Been gone all day, so I’m late as usual. Great interview.
    When I held my baby, I wanted to show my hubby, so I met him for lunch. The second baby, I dedicated to my dad, so I showed him first.
    Don’t put me in the drawing. I already have a copy and read it from cover to cover, even though I read it before it was in book form.

  11. Shannon, I think you’ll have a lot of “babies” to show your husband in the coming years. And yes, you and Brenda have to read all the rough chapters and you didn’t even mention my annoying habit of dropping words in sentences.

  12. I hate to admit that I haven’t yet read Making Waves, but I stopped in the middle of reading this interview and put a copy into my Amazon.com wishlist. If I don’t win the drawing, I’ll move the book into my shopping cart before making my next Amazon order!

  13. Laura Frantz says:

    I’m a little late to the party but it’s wonderful to see Lorna here, there, or anywhere:) The interview was wonderful and I learned a few things about Lorna I didn’t know. Bless you both!

  14. Regina says:

    I’m even later than Laura! :) I have to say, Making Waves was a JOY to read, just as Lorna is a joy to KNOW! From one Scribbler to another – hugs, hugs, hugs.

  15. Carrie says:

    Great interview. Loved chatting with Lorna over dinner at ACFW. Is there a possible career in bat relocation? LOL! Great looking cookie recipe. May be the only new one I try this Christmas.

    • Hi Carrie! If my hubby ever needs a different job, I’ll suggest the bat relocation thing. Who knows? There’s a television show with men who take care of pests for a living. Good luck with the cookie recipe.

  16. Kim says:

    An Oreo purest, huh? Boy, you think you know somebody…

    This was a great interview, Lorna! And I will be reading Making Waves as soon as I can pry my copy from my mother’s hands.

    • Maybe you can win a different copy, Kim, and give that one to your mother.

      I am really wishing I had a bag of Oreos this week, but with my hubby in the hospital this week, I didn’t think it was safe.

  17. Lisa Burney Moehlenhoff says:

    Hey Lorna … can’t wait to read your book. Great story about the IOOF haunting. Sounds like something I would have enjoyed doing when I was in college. LOL

  18. I too have your book in my TBR pile and I can’t wait for some time for uninterrupted reading!!

    OMG that recipe is a killer. THANKS FOR SHARING.

    • Tina, I hope you enjoy the Snookies. I think the killer part is unwrapping all the candy bars and not eating any. I hope you get some uninterrupted reading time soon.

  19. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by to learn more about Lorna and her journey to publication.

    I’ve held the drawing, and the winner of the copy of Making Waves, which Lorna so generously offered to give away, is Rebecca Booth.

    Congratulations, Rebecca! I’ll be in touch.

Comments are closed.