Golden Heart Spotlight – Lisa Connelly

A writer and attorney living in upstate New York, Lisa Connelly is the author of a fitness book, “Lean & Firm” (Perigee), as well as numerous newspaper articles, book reviews, newsletters and other publications.  She holds a BA in English from the State University of New York at Albany and a JD from New England Law School.  Currently, she works for the New York State court system and lives on five rural acres with her husband Billy and their dog Bella.  her manuscript – THE SINNERS – is a finalist in the Romantic Elements category of the Golden Heart® contest and was also a finalist in the VFRW’s Sheila contest.

A little about Lisa’s GH finaling manuscript:

Lilianne Oulette’s future is all mapped out – finish college, marry the rich and handsome Claude Defoe, and live a luxurious life in his French chateau. So maybe it’s Claude’s plan, not hers, but she’s okay with it – until she runs into Jack McCabe. As teenagers, Jack pulled Lilianne from the fiery car wreck that killed her parents. Six years later he’s the sexy singer in the red hot band, The Sinners. Their attraction is instant and undeniable, and Lilianne realizes that her future is about to change.  The problem is, Claude liked the old plan, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get Lilianne back with the program, even if he has to destroy Jack and break her heart to do it. 

I asked Lisa to answer a few questions so we could get to know her better before we dive into her post. Here’s what she had to say:

1.  How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing fiction for about five years.  My GH finaling manuscript is the second I’ve completed, the first being a historical that I learned a lot from, and still haven’t quite given up on.

2.  Did you always want to be an author or is this something you fell into later in life?
I can’t say I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but I’ve always recognized that it’s my fate, in part because almost every teacher I’ve ever had – from Mrs. Wolf in kindergarten through Professor Sorenson in law school – has expected it of me.  So did my Mom and Dad.  Of course, faced with so much confidence, encouragement and positive reinforcement, what could I do but thumb my nose at all of them and spend many years trying on lots of other careers.  Despite my best efforts, though, each of those other paths inexorably led me into writing – corporate newsletters, newspaper articles, and eventually a fitness book (Lean & Firm, Perigee).  In desperation, I fled to the law, only to gravitate toward the most writing-intensive aspect of the profession – working in the courts, which primarily involves writing bench memoranda and drafting judicial opinions.  So finally I said, what the heck, and started writing romance.

3.  What do you do in your “other” life? (Day job, family, etc.)
I’m a lawyer by day, privileged to work with a dedicated, outstanding judge and brilliant colleagues.  I’m also on the faculty at Albany Law School, where I teach Appellate Practice.  I’m married to a great guy who’s a fantastic guitarist in a totally rockin’ band called Slick Fitty.  He also happens to be an editor by day, which is really handy.  We travel a lot, especially to visit my brother and his family, who conveniently live in Paris!  And when we’re home, we’re foster parents (along with our dog Bella) to a succession of deserving dogs through Homeward Bound Dog Rescue.

4.   Who are your favorite authors?
For romance, I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Judith McNaught, Lisa Kleypas and Diana Gabaldon, to name just a few.  For historical, I’m a huge Patrick O’Brian fan, Dorothy Dunnett too.  And I love fantasy – Robert Jordan, JRR Tolkein, Terry Brooks.  Poetry – Edna St. Vincent Millay, Maya Angelou, Banjo Paterson, Samuel Coleridge.  Oh gosh, so many more.  So many books, so little time!

5.   Do you have an agent?
No agent yet.  In the first flush of exhilaration over the GH, I sent out a handful of queries.  But when I came back down to earth, I realized that I need to do some serious revising before I do any serious querying, so that’s what I’m working on right now.  I hope to finish that up in the next month and start querying again.

6.   Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years, I see myself right where I am at this moment, sitting in my recliner typing on my laptop . . . but with a handful of my own books on the shelf, a kick-ass agent who’s always in my corner, a brilliant editor who adores my work, an enthusiastic publisher hounding me for more bestsellers, and a community of writer friends who will support me through the ups and downs and allow me to do the same for them.

(I love the fact Lisa sees herself in her recliner typing away five years from now. I’m currently camped out on the couch with my laptop, typing away too!)

Okay, so now that you know a little bit about Lisa, here she is in her own words.

Welcome, Lisa!


I often ask myself why I write when there are so many other things I love to do – read, paint, hang with friends, travel to foreign lands – that are soooo much easier.  No rejection involved, no angst, no hand-wringing about whether I’m good enough or hip enough or clever enough to get it done.  So seriously, why do I do it when it takes time away from all those simple pleasures, keeps me in seclusion for days, exacerbates my carpal tunnel. . . .

Because I’m addicted, that’s why.  You’ve heard of a runner’s high?  Well, I get a writer’s high.  It comes on me when the story’s running hot, flowing like lava, and I don’t know what’s gonna happen next until I hit the keys that spell it out.  Where is it coming from, so fast, so furious that my fingers can’t keep up and I break into shorthand just to get it down!  Am I channeling from another dimension, tapped into a cosmic plane?  I don’t know, but whatever else it is, it’s pure adrenaline, an out-of-body experience, a rocket ride to a place I’ve never been but somehow know like the back of my hand.

And then – wow –  I look up and five hours have flown, my bladder’s bursting, and I feel like I can accomplish anything, anything at all in the whole wide world.  How it works, why it happens, is a mystery I’ll never solve.  But it’s what brings me back to the keyboard every time, that incomparable writer’s high.

I’d love to hear what compels you to sacrifice time with family, friends, and your other interests to sit alone with your keyboard.  What makes you need to tell your stories? 

28 comments to “Golden Heart Spotlight – Lisa Connelly”

  1. Keli Gwyn
    May 18th, 2010 at 8:41 am · Link

    Congrats again on your GH final, Lisa! What a wonderful way to make your writing debut in cyberspace. I look forward to meeting you in person in Orlando.

    I noticed that your first story was a historical. It sounds like your GH manuscript is a contemporary. What led you to make the switch? Do you see more contemporaries in your future, or will you return to times past in upcoming stories?

  2. Sharon Lynn Fisher
    May 18th, 2010 at 8:59 am · Link

    I’m with you, Lisa! The writer’s high is a mystery, and feels so good I’m sure it’s not legal.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story, and best of luck to you in your agent quest!

  3. Jennifer Jakes
    May 18th, 2010 at 9:24 am · Link

    Wow! Lisa, you summed up what every writer feels when the words are coming faster than the fingers can type. It certainly is addicting 😉

    Thanks so much for your post!

  4. Cat Schield
    May 18th, 2010 at 9:27 am · Link

    Congratulations on your GH final Lisa. How wonderful that it was your second book. You must be really thrilled.

    I envy your ability to lose yourself in your stories These days I write in short bursts. Thirty minutes straight without interruptions sounds like heaven. But during those times when the characters take over, it can be pretty amazing. That’s what keeps me BICHOK.

    See you in Orlando!

  5. Kendra
    May 18th, 2010 at 10:03 am · Link

    Great post, Lisa! What a great way to get to know the other GH finalists.

  6. Heather Snow
    May 18th, 2010 at 11:01 am · Link

    Congrats, Lisa! It’s lovely to learn more about you 🙂

    As for me, I’m with Cherry Adair on this subject. She says “I love having WRITTEN”, not particularly the writing itself. This crazy writing process can be torture for my perfectionist personality, but there are moments, when you get down your thought in just the right way that you say “Ahhh…”

    I look forward to seeing more from you in the future!

  7. waltchercraig
    May 18th, 2010 at 11:14 am · Link

    hey lisa –
    i enjoyed reading the profile and was so happy to hear that your work has been recognized. while it’s never the thing that essentially motivates us to create, validation, in all it’s forms, is always welcome; the positive reinforcement ultimately serves to remind us that expressing ourselves creatively is resonant of being on the right path.
    peace & love, as always, to you and bill

  8. Anne Barton
    May 18th, 2010 at 11:34 am · Link

    Great interview, Elisabeth and Lisa!

    I love that feeling of being in the flow, too. Sometimes, afterward, I look at what I wrote and think, “Yikes, that wasn’t half as good as I thought it was at the time” . . . but at least they’re words on the page! 🙂

    Lisa, I devoured The Sinners, and I can say without a doubt that you’re good enough, clever enough, and hip enough to get it done. I’ve always known you were cool, but until I read your story, I didn’t know the half of it.

    Congrats on your GH final. I can’t wait to see you!


  9. Lizbeth Selvig
    May 18th, 2010 at 11:41 am · Link

    Hi Lisa!
    I loved your interview and your post. I caught that you foster needy dogs and I think that’s so wonderful. We’re animal people and my daughter, an equine vet, runs a non-profit called Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project, which finds homes for horses no longer able to work on the track. All of us own rescued dogs and cats — so huge kudos to you, your hubby and Bella!

    I also love the premise of your book. I’m so hooked on rock singer stories–my GH finaling book has a rock star as the hero too. Can’t wait to see yours on a bookstore shelf.

    I’m another writer who loves the finished product almost more than the process–although the process is what I’m addicted to. I’m a (very short distance) runner and writing is just like preparing for my 5Ks. I dread getting out there but once I’m running, the journey is always different: sometimes I suck wind like an asthmatic, sometimes I have to walk on a big hill, other moments it’s effortless and neither hills nor weather can dampen the exhilaration. But no matter what the run was like, when I’m finished I can’t wait to do it again!

    Thanks for starting this GH series with such a great interview! Can’t wait to meet you in Orlando.

  10. Lisa Connelly
    May 18th, 2010 at 12:49 pm · Link

    Hi Keli,
    Congrats to you too on your GH final!

    In answer to your question about historicals vs contemporaries, I’d have to say there are more of both in my future, and some futuristic stories as well. Much more than the time period, what draws me into reading — and writing — a story is the characters. In The Sinners, I took the main characters from my historical and thought “what would Jack and Lilianne and Claude be doing if they lived in the 21st century instead of the 19th?” And I simply started writing. Next, I’m going to place them two centuries forward in time and see what they’re up to!

    Thanks for stopping by — can’t wait to meet you in Orlando!

  11. Lisa Connelly
    May 18th, 2010 at 12:55 pm · Link

    To everybody who likes “having written” as much as, or more than, the actual writing, I love that too. The afterglow is the greatest, and best appreciated with a glass of red wine or an ice cold margarita!

  12. Lisa Connelly
    May 18th, 2010 at 1:08 pm · Link

    Kudos to you and your family for doing such great work with needy animals. It’s a wonderful feeling, isn’t it? It’s tough getting attached to a foster and then having to let it go…but it’s also one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done.

    Congrats to you too on your GH final — rock stars rule! See you in Orlando!

  13. Shea Berkley
    May 18th, 2010 at 2:52 pm · Link

    Addicted is the perfect word to describe what we do and the need that has us torture ourselves creating the fiction we love so much. Thanks for giving us a peek inside your world.

  14. Gillian Layne
    May 18th, 2010 at 3:22 pm · Link

    Fun interview! I love to write because the characters don’t seem like characters, but real people who are demanding their story be told. 🙂

    Really looking forward to meeting you in Orlando.

    Elisabeth, these interviews are a great idea!

  15. Gabrielle
    May 18th, 2010 at 4:03 pm · Link

    Great interview, and congratulations on your final! I feel exactly like you when I’m in the midst of a writing frenzy: that I can accomplish anything. It’s such a high 🙂

  16. Lisa Connelly
    May 18th, 2010 at 8:07 pm · Link

    Hey Elisabeth, thanks again for having me! These interviews are a great idea. I’m looking forward to reading everyone else’s. See you in Orlando!

  17. Jane Sevier
    May 19th, 2010 at 6:12 am · Link

    Lisa, thank you for capturing so well the utter joy of writing in flow. There’s nothing else like it, and I focus on the memory of it when I face a scene or chapter I resist writing in that strange way that Stephen Pressfield talks about in The War of Art.

    Having written can be great, but isn’t it a thrill to read a passage that you know came from your keyboard or pen and think to yourself, “Wow! Who wrote that?” because, really, it’s that good?

    So cool to get to know more about you on our road to Orlando. I look forward to meeting you in person.

    Elizabeth, thank you for hosting the Golden Heart finalists.

  18. Keely Thrall
    May 19th, 2010 at 12:27 pm · Link

    Lisa – great post – I often wish I could clone myself – one of me would experience life in real time and the other would be, like you, sitting in a comfy chair with a laptop forgetting to take bathroom breaks. There really are so many things to do and see and be…and write about! Where does the time go?

    Keely (who is shaking her head, wondering why science hasn’t conquered the 24 hours in a day thing. And just why *do* people need sleep???)

  19. Helen Sahin Connelly
    May 19th, 2010 at 3:20 pm · Link

    You’re talents are endless. Reading your description about the Flow State reminded me about a recent discussion with friends at a cafe here in Paris… where you really belong! So, I can’t resist posting the description because it seems like a mystery but, is it? To me, it seems like you’re just “following your bliss” like Joseph Campbell used to say.

    “Entering a state of flow

    Creativity is generally addictive for a very good reason — the sensation of being in a state of full concentration or hyper-concentration is both pleasant and productive. The author Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi devotes three works to this and related topics. He describes this state of “flow” as:

    Over and over again, as people describe how it feels when they thoroughly enjoy themselves, they mention eight distinct dimensions of experience. These same aspects are reported by Hindu yogis and Japanese teenagers who race motorcycles, by American surgeons and basketball players, by Australian sailors and Navajo shepherds, by champion figure skaters and by chess masters. These are the characteristic dimensions of the flow experience:

    1. Clear goals: an objective is distinctly defined; immediate feedback: one knows instantly how well one is doing.

    2. The opportunities for acting decisively are relatively high, and they are matched by one’s perceived ability to act. In other words, personal skills are well suited to given challenges.

    3. Action and awareness merge; one-pointedness of mind.

    4. Concentration on the task at hand; irrelevant stimuli disappear from consciousness, worries and concerns are temporarily suspended.

    5. A sense of potential control.

    6. Loss of self-consciousness, transcendence of ego boundaries, a sense of growth and of being part of some greater entity.

    7. Altered sense of time, which usually seems to pass faster.

    8. Experience becomes autotelic: If several of the previous conditions are present, what one does becomes autotelic, or worth doing for its own sake.
    The Evolving Self – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, 178-179″

    So, let’s toast to your flow… and bliss!!

  20. Helen Sahin Connelly
    May 19th, 2010 at 3:34 pm · Link


  21. Jane Sevier
    May 19th, 2010 at 3:53 pm · Link

    Oops! My apologies, Elisabeth, for spelling your name with a “z” in my earlier post. Too many hours at the computer fry eyes and brain.

    Thanks again for hosting the Golden Heart folks!

  22. Lisa Connelly
    May 19th, 2010 at 4:11 pm · Link

    That’s exactly what I meant to say! My version wasn’t quite so eloquent, but yeah, that’s it. Dead on. You Parisians are way smarter and cooler and better looking than the rest of us, what with all of your sitting around in cafes philosophizing and drinking espresso. You’re so right — I DO belong there!

    Thanks for dropping in — love you guys!

  23. Abigail Sharpe
    May 19th, 2010 at 5:21 pm · Link

    Lisa, fantastic summary of feelings on writing! Sometimes when I’m out with friends my mind is in Wyoming (I’m in Florida) or Paris.

    See you in July!!

  24. Jenn & Joe
    May 19th, 2010 at 5:26 pm · Link

    We are so excited about your new book. We wish you good luck, and creative thoughts!

  25. Lynda Bailey
    May 19th, 2010 at 7:37 pm · Link

    Hey Lisa~
    Kudos for being the first to blog with Elisabeth – and thanks Elisabeth for hosting some of us GH finalists! What do I give up to write? With supportive family and friends, you give up nothing. But you gain everything!

  26. Elisabeth Naughton
    May 19th, 2010 at 11:44 pm · Link

    Thanks so much for being my first spotlight, Lisa!

    As both a writer and a runner, I think you totally nailed the whole “writer’s high” comparison. There is nothing better than when you’re “in the zone”…any zone. I’m not always a fan of new writing (or running, for that matter) but I love the feeling when I’m done and realize how much I’ve actually accomplished.

    (Now, remind me of this on monday when I have to run nine miles for my half-marathon training. LOL)

  27. Colleen
    May 20th, 2010 at 7:52 pm · Link

    Congrats on being a finalist… thanks for introducing yourself to us! 😀

  28. Tiffany
    May 21st, 2010 at 6:20 pm · Link

    Lisa: You continue to serve as such an inspiration! Wishing you all the best of luck with your GH entry. Can’t wait for the rest of the world to see your talent!

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