If you’re a FaithWriters member, chances are you’ve heard of Lisa Mikitarian, regular Challenge placer and runner-up in the 2009 Page Turner contest. Besides being a busy wife and mom, Lisa maintains a popular blog, started a cool organization, and has published her first book! Sit back and enjoy getting to know Lisa a little better.

LYNDA: What has your writing journey been like so far? When did you realize your love for writing and how has it progressed through the years? 

LISA:  Hi Lynda!  I was hoping not to bring “weird” into the interview, but if I’m going to answer your question honestly, there’s no escaping it. 

I loved writing stories until I was fourteen and found someone reading my journal and analyzing me through my words. That shut the creative part of me down for fifteen years.  Eventually though, I started a home-school newsletter and began writing for our local paper—sports stringing, advertorials, restaurant reviews.  If you ever need to sell a steak, I’m your girl. 

But fiction had been my real love, and I finally found my way back to it, maybe five years ago.  At about the time I found Faithwriters, I was also blessed to find a professor at our community college who knows fiction inside and out.  He propelled me at warp speed, helping me make up for some lost time.

LYNDA: You’ve entered dozens of entries in the FaithWriters Writing Challenge. Has the Challenge helped you grow as a writer?

LISA: Absolutely, yes.  Faithwriters allowed me to experiment with various genres, voices, topics, etc.  I learned from writers who were much more skilled than I was.  It was a nurturing and safe place to continue the process of becoming a writer, not to mention the best place in the whole world to make friends—that doesn’t feel like hyperbole to me.  I love my Faithwriter friends.

LYNDA: Your first book is coming out in August. Tell us about it.

LISA: Her Safari is a collection of short stories about women of various ages—ranging from five to eighty-four—and backgrounds.  These women are creative in problem solving and navigating conflict. No cookie-cutter answers here.  My characters are all flawed (as am I)—yet most are genuinely doing the best they’re able to in a fallen world.  The stories run the gamut from the humorous to the tragic, some having both.  Because that’s how life is sometimes.

LYNDA: What has the publishing experience been like for you? Share your story of how this book went from concept to published.

LISA: Before I ever thought about a book, I wrote the story “Her Safari” for a challenge. It was based on a friend’s experience and offered a profound look at longing and acceptance.  It occurred to me that the story had the strength to be the keystone for a collection focusing on women.  Fellow member, Verna Mitchell encouraged me to query DemmeHouse which had published some of my devotionals) about the possibility of a short-story collection.  No one was more surprised than I was when the answer came back positive.   

I spent a year and a half expanding and editing thirty-three stories.  They went through numerous rounds of formal editing—three with Jan Ackerson, one with Deb Porter.  I wanted them to be as good as I could possibly make them.  The publisher, in fact, commented on the quality of the editing, and made only a few minor changes.  I was also able to design my own book cover (with the help of an artist-friend) and create my own promotional video (also with the help of a friend).  Yes, it took a village for Lisa to publish a book, but my impression is that these days, the more the author brings to the table, the better.

It’s taken almost two years, but the book will formally be released at the end of August.  Anyone who preorders (before August 2) will receive the book two weeks early with free shipping and handling (PRE-ORDER HERE).  DemmeHouse Publishing has done an exceptional job with the details of Her Safari, making it a beautiful gift for women of all ages.

LYNDA: What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

LISA: I hope readers will see there’s so much more that binds us together than separates us.  God’s presence is gently woven into the pages, and I hope for any nonbelievers who read it, that they begin to get a sense of who He is. 

And a smile and a sigh.  If a reader turned the last page with a smile and a sigh, that would give me joy.

LYNDA: Where can readers purchase your book?

LISA: There is a link available on my website at http://www.lisamikitarian.com/

LYNDA: Time to brag about your family. Are they supportive of your writing?

LISA: God blessed me with an extraordinary husband in Sam, and with three children—Madeline, Spencer, and Katalina. Then there’s Dorian Gray, our retriever mix—the only family member not supportive of my writing.  He’d rather I pet him all day.

LYNDA: Tell us a little about your blog. What is its purpose and how did it get started?

LISA: It’s an offbeat advice blog called Connecting Now.  My publisher told me I had to have a blog, so I thought long and hard about something I could keep up and enjoy.  I didn’t feel under pressure to have all the right answers because one—it’s offbeat, and two—the Readers chime in. 

While at the Faithwriter’s conference last year, I asked my oldest, Madeline, if she would sub for me on the blog.  She did; everyone loved her, and when I returned, the masses demanded she stay—especially Timmy Boyle.  The rest is, as they say, history.  The blog is approaching its first birthday, and looking back, there’s no way I could have kept it up without her.

People write to us about all sorts of things—some utterly ridiculous (we love those), and some profoundly serious—we love those, too, though a few have been heartbreaking.   Often our Readers have better advice than we have—and we’re a-okay with that because the blog reflects our belief that no man is an island, that God created us in communion for a reason—to help one another out.

LYNDA: At last year’s FaithWriters conference, you announced a new organization you started called, No God Slurs. What’s that all about?

LISA: No God Slurs is about making the movie industry aware that the Lord’s name used in vain is swearing and is offensive to many Christians. Currently the MPAA rating system allows these “slurs” in their “G” rated movies, which by the MPAA’s own definition contains nothing in theme, LANGUAGE, nudity, sex, violence or other matters that, in the view of the Rating Board, would offend parents whose younger children view the motion picture.”

Our goal is to be heard through our pocketbooks by staying away from movies in the month of December made by film studios that allow God slurs into their “G” rated movies. Everyone is welcome to “like” No God Slurs on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/No-God-Slurs/132604400115829?ref=ts

There’s power in numbers.

LYNDA: So what’s next for you?

LISA: Maddie and I are currently editing our novel The Devil to Pay.  It’s set in a time where a DNA scan can tell parents about their child’s complete genetic make-up in utero.  That scan is referred to as the Projections.  The Projections include a four-gene combination which predicts the likelihood of a person accepting the Creator. 

The story opens with the main character discovering she’s pregnant and that her own Projections are a complete forgery bought by her parents.  The novel asks questions like:  Can we ever thwart the will of God?  How much knowledge about ourselves is too much?

I’d also like to put together one more collection of short stories from the male perspective called That’s What He said.  For some weird reason, I love writing from the male POV.

So, Lynda, I guess I began with weird and end with weird.  Seems fitting. 

And thanks, not just for the interview, but for all you do (which is substantial) to support writers.  We truly appreciate it.

LYNDA: Thanks, so much, Lisa, for taking the time to chat with me. I am really looking forward to reading (and reviewing) your book. I am a fan of your writing and know I’ll love it. Best wishes to you on all of your writing endeavors!

Check out Lisa’s FaithWriters profile

Visit her website, where you can link to Lisa and Madeline’s blog:

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