Award-winning author Lyz Kelley is a lover of board games, gardening, and painting, a disaster in the kitchen, a compulsive neat freak, and tea snob. She loves writing about strong women who have endured challenges and the men who enrich their lives. Today is not only her birthday, she is also launching a new book in her Lonely Ridge Collection - and as our Author of the Day she tells us all about it.
Happy Birthday, Lyz! What a great birthday present.
Yes, launching a book on my birthday is my wish come true. I have so many people to thank from my beta readers to my editors to my readers. Thanks for such a wonderful birthday gift!!!
Many of your books have challenging topics. Why?
The easiest explanation is that I believe everyone can be honorable, brave and loved no matter the circumstances. Blindness, domestic violence, and abuse can create fear and insecurities, yet each situation can be overcome with a gentle, patient, and healing love. In my heart, love begins with respect and the willingness to listen to gain mutual understanding. Without those two components, a relationship filled with love is hard to build.
You say you write about honorable men and brave women, but your characters are so flawed.
Everyone can be a hero just by offering a smile, holding a door for another, or opening a medicine bottle for a person with arthritis. Heroes aren’t only those individuals who accomplish grand gestures. We may feel a smile is insignificant, but to the person on the receiving end, we might just have made that person’s day. Being a hero isn’t always about rescuing a child, or stopping a bank robbery, it can also be about the little things in life that bring joy.
I noticed this book has a different Elkridge label. How is this book different from the rest of the series?
Unmistaken is the first book in the Lonely Ridge Collection. Novels in this new collection are also set in the small town of Elkridge, Colorado. The series follows the characters that readers have come to love, but these books don’t have the murder mystery threads that were included in the Elkridge Series.
I love that this book includes so many of the Elkridge characters I’ve come to know. How do you keep track of them all?
Spreadsheets! I have this gigantic spreadsheet workbook with a map of the town and a database of all the characters from the books. There are more than 200 characters, including dogs and cats which I track. Plus, there are even more potential characters like schoolteachers, dentists, postmasters, and the like that I have as placeholders in case I need a future character. For example, there’s a sports store on my town map that I haven’t yet used, but I figured, what mountain town doesn’t have somewhere to buy fishing tackle?
If this is the first book in the Lonely Ridge Collection, does that mean there are more books coming?
Now that you mention it, yes, there are two more books swirling around in my head that need to be told. After that, I’m not sure in which direction I will head. It all depends on the readers and whether they want a break from Elkridge, or whether they are dying to know what happens to a certain character. I say that, but then there’s always the challenge of writing a story for a character like Rivers Black. In my head, he’s a loner and an introvert, who is content living alone. Plus, he’s somewhat abrupt and rude. While a good secondary character, who would want to put up with him? It would take a very special lady with a lot of tolerance—that’s for sure.
You always respond to my emails. How do you fit writing, Facebook, and all the other stuff you do into your schedule?
First of all, my readers are important. Every reader who takes the time to write to me has something to say, and I want to be the person who listens. Yes, I’m busy: My day typically starts around 6:30 a.m. and I usually wrap up around 6:30 or 7 p.m. However, if it wasn’t for my loyal tribe of readers, I’d have to get a job at some bank or corporation, and pretend all the creativity wasn’t being sucked out of me every day. I’m grateful that I can work hard, be courageous and confident in what I’m creating, and live with honesty and integrity. That is important to me, and I thank you and my readers for allowing me to live this fulfilling life.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Oh, dear. You want secrets. Here are some fun facts. In my teens, I was an athlete and an Olympic Committee representative for synchronized swimming. I retired from the sport when I turned nineteen. This early start of synchronizing my body and mind to work together formed the basis of my creative life. I love trying different things from hiking, knitting, painting, to traveling. I'm curious by nature and love to delve into things I know nothing about.
Animals play an important role in this book - are you an animal lover?
I love my furry family members. All of them are rescues and they bring such joy. Each one has a different personality. One of my rescues is very shy. I didn’t know his fear of people, because when I visited the shelter, he walked right up and said hello. He tolerates my husband and runs from everyone else. My other cat is a love-bug. If you sit it’s an indication free loving is available. Both of my fur-babies keep me company as I write.