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.
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.
Lorna Embarks on Her Journey
•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.
•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.
Lorna’s Bright Spots
•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.
•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.
•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.
Lorna’s Sources of Inspiration
•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.
Partners on Lorna’s Journey
•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.
Lorna’s Debut Novel
•Please tell us about Making Waves.
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.
Reactions and Reviews
•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.
•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.
Lorna’s Journey Continues
•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.
•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.
Let’s Learn a Little More About Lorna . . .
•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.
•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.
•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.
•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.
•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.
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.
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.
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
And now for the promised recipe . . .
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
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.