Welcome to the Winners’ Circle where we celebrate the success of our ICL students. Today we are celebrating award-winning author Lisa Betz!
What is the name of your book? Who is the publisher?
Death and a Crocodile
Give us a short summary of your book.
When her father is murdered, Livia and her maidservant pound the ancient Roman pavements in search of the killer, with the help of a reluctant lawyer, a lovelorn merchant, and an unrepentant, sausage-snatching cat.
A fast-paced mystery set in first-century Rome, featuring a feisty amateur sleuth, a cast of eccentric
characters, and a glimpse of the early church.
Tell us a bit about your path to publishing, from idea to submission to published.
I wrote several “practice novels” and received feedback from a local writing group. I also got a paid critique on one of them from my writing mentor, Jeanette Windle. During that time, I signed with a literary agent I met while participating in a group writing blog called Almost an Author.
It was only after my writing mentor suggested I try writing a historical mystery that I came up with the idea behind Death and a Crocodile. I hadn’t thought about writing mystery, but it suits my analytical thinking style.
I submitted the finished manuscript in the ACFW Genesis contest and it was a finalist in the mystery category (2019). After that my agent secured a contract with CrossLink Publishing. The novel was released in February of 2021. The book has received several awards, including Golden Scroll Novel of the Year (2021).
How long have you been writing?
I have been writing off and on since taking my first Institute of Children’s Literature course back in the 90s. I’ve written over 100 drama sketches and one full-length melodrama. I turned my attention to writing novels ten years ago when my youngest went to college.
What’s your favorite genre to write and why?
Historical Fiction, because I’ve always loved reading it.
Please list the course or courses you’ve taken with us.
How has taking our courses helped your writing and/or career?
Your courses taught me the basics of how to write well and how to submit like a pro instead of an amateur. They also opened up the world of writing and allowed me to believe I had what it takes to become a successful writer.
Have any of your class assignments been published? If so, where and when?
One article from my first course was purchased years ago. During the time I was taking your courses, I had several articles published in Once Upon A Time magazine (which sadly is no longer in print).
Do you have a favorite writing tip you’d like to share?
Don’t get stuck trying to copy someone else’s writing system. Keep trying different methods of plotting and writing until you find what works best for your brain and your current life realities. Once you figure out your writing process, trust it and stick with it!
If you could travel back in time and give yourself one piece of writing advice, how far back would you go, and what would you tell yourself?
I would go back to when I was working on my first novel manuscript and tell myself that all the writing that doesn’t end up in the finished story is not wasted. All those scenes that eventually get cut helped me figure out and flesh out the story that needed to be told.
What’s the story behind winning Novel of the Year? What did it teach you?
When I entered my novel in the mystery category for the Golden Scroll contest, it never entered my head that the book might be considered for Novel of the Year. I was sitting at the awards banquet after learning I hadn’t placed in the mystery category, consoling myself for losing to bestselling authors. Then my name was called for Novel of the Year. I froze for a moment while my brain tried to wrap itself around the idea. Then I made my way to the podium on very unsteady legs. It was a huge honor to win that award.
Looking back, I see that I have been limiting myself by lacking faith in my abilities. I still feel like a newbie in the publishing world, and so I limited my expectations. My vision for where my career may lead has been enlarged as a result of this experience.
Please tell us the best or most valuable thing you learned from your experience with ICL and IFW.
I learned all the ins and outs of how to submit my work, such as the proper way to format a manuscript or how to write a query letter. I could have picked up writing techniques elsewhere, but your course guided me to begin my writing journey well equipped to succeed.
Will you be our ICL next published grad? Take our free writing assessment and be on your way to publishing success today!
Lisa E. Betz worked as an engineer, substitute teacher, and play director before becoming an award-winning mystery writer. She brings her analytical mind, quirky humor, and positive outlook to all she writes. She draws inspiration from thirty-five years of leading Bible studies to create entertaining mysteries set in the world of the early church. In addition to writing novels, Lisa blogs about living with authenticity and purpose.