Guest: Lizbeth Selvig

The Riders are thrilled to not only have Lizbeth Selvig riding in the convertible with us today, but she’s brought along a puppy and…a sexy rock star!  Yay, for hunky guy covers!  So here’s Lizbeth…

THE FOUR WEIRD THINGS I PUT IN EVERY BOOK

I want to thank Michele and all the convertible drivers at RWTTD for inviting me here today. I love this blog, and all the writers are my author-heroines. Plus, as I prepare this post, it’s record-breaking heat in Minnesota – abs

olutely perfect for putting that top way down!

After I finished my fourth manuscript and had started on the fifth, I realized something a little funky. Although each story was unique and separate from the others, there were some common threads I hadn’t intended to weave between them. For example, every book had a horse in it somewhere.  Since I’ve had horses in my life since I can remember, and I raised an equine veterinarian, this isn’t too surprising.
What was surprising were the three other elements the books had in common. I spent a lot of time pop-analyzing myself to figure out why I’d put them there, and I thought I’d share what I discovered. Check out the four things I put in every book!

HORSES: As I said, I’ve loved horses my entire life. I got my first real horse after college, and that horse was with me for twenty-nine years, turned me into a decent rider and helped raise two kids. Sep was a huge part of my life. I also learned a lot about horses and consider myself a semi-expert on them (with help from my previously mentioned daughter the vet).  They say write what you know, so I guess I do. “The Rancher and the Rock Star” has horses as a focal point, and so does the next book I’m working on. On the other hand, a series still in the works only mentions them in passing – but they’re there.  I may not always need to have a horse in my book—but for now, they give me confidence. Like comfort food!

AN ELDERLY PERSON:  I generally have some sort of experienced, wise older person in my stories. It wasn’t really too hard to figure out why. I come from a family that, while not particularly large, does spend a lot of time together. I’ve been surrounded by wise older adults all my life, and I learned early on to appreciate what they have to teach me. I still learn from my amazing mother and father!  My struggling heroes and heroines always seem to need guidance. In “The Rancher and the Rock Star,” that comes from Abby’s neighbors Ed and Sylvia. I hope I can always showcase the idea that we need to value our elders. So often we forget.

A BEATLES REFERENCE:  I’m old enough to be a real Beatles fan (but a young real fan, honest).  I can’t imagine music without them and can’t imagine any character of mine not knowing and appreciating the Beatles. The references are obscure (except for the story I actually set in Liverpool) so you might have to look for an album cover on a wall or a figurine on a shelf, but it’ll be there. (If anyone has read “Rancher” and can remember the Beatles reference there, comment below and I’ll have a special prize. J)  I think I put these in my stories because it reminds me to write what I love. This I can see carrying through for as long as I’m fortunate enough to write books. I would even put the Beatles in a futuristic novel—I’m that obsessed!

A BRITISH ACCENT:  I’m sure this final thread is tied to the Beatles obsession. I used to practice my Liverpudlian ad nauseum back in the day. Nowadays this carries over to some character, somewhere in each book. In TRATRS, Gray’s ex-wife Ariel is the Brit.  A bit-player Brit, but definitely accented! In one book it was a reporter, in another the main character, in another just a voice on the radio. There really isn’t any good reason to include this. It’s an indulgence. If horses are the comfort food in my books, Britspeak is my dark chocolate, making the story fatter and more delicious.

So there you have them. My four story elements. They are not nearly as important as good writing, good structure, and good plotting. But it was truly fun to discover that I have writer quirks. I’ve embraced them because they make me feel just weird enough to pull off a career in story-telling. That takes more chutzpah than I really have, so now you know my crutches!

How about you? If you’re a writer—do you have writer quirks? If you’re a reader, do you notice quirky things about your favorite authors?  I’d love to have you share them with me.  I have a free copy of “The Rancher and the Rock Star” for one commenter today. And, as I said, I have a special prize for the first person who comes up with the Beatles reference from the book. (If no-one remembers, I’ll post the answer at the end of the day.)

Visit Lizbeth at her website: www.lizbethselvig.com

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54 Responses to Guest: Lizbeth Selvig

  1. Stonehawk says:

    the only quirk I’ve been doing to my stories I type for fun is adding stuff about cats I had in my life. this includes their behaviors such as one cat named parrot for standing on people’s shoulders that belonged to my landlord for the apartment I was renting that lived outside the house while i went to college. that’s what I’ve been mostly doing to my stories.

    • Liz Selvig says:

      Good morning, Stonehawk. Your story is so cool. That’s exactly the kind of thing I’m talking about. And I love the cat named Parrot! That fits right in with one of my animal characters in “The Rancher and the Rock Star.” Abby has a cat named Bird! So we have a little connection – yay! Thanks so much for coming by today. Keep adding those cats!

  2. kris says:

    I’ve noticed when a writer has an unusual favorite word that pops up in every book. It doesn’t happen that often, but I just found a new-to-me author that loved one particular word that was also particularly unusual.

    I have the book, but haven’t read it yet!

  3. Liz Selvig says:

    Hi Kris!
    That’s cool that you noticed. In your case, did the repetition bother you, or was it something unique that was fun to find? Writers are such quirky people! Thanks so much for stopping by. Whenever you get to read the book, I hope you enjoy it!

    • kris says:

      mostly it doesn’t bother me, but this particular new-to-me author used such an obscure, regional-type word and it was obvious that it didn’t really fit in. but the series was awesome, so it doesn’t really matter!!

      • lizbethselvig says:

        Hey Kris, this is great to know! I’m glad that a fave author and a story you fall in love with will trump an annoyance!

  4. Trina says:

    Hi Liz,
    Like Kris, I have noticed certain words or phrases repeated by my favorite authors. I love it when I see those little pieces of the author’s personality, it makes me feel like I know them!
    As a writer I can’t seem to write anything without some kind of supernatural being or element. I also can’t write anything serious. I keep trying to write a true horror story but my fingers sabotage me every time… Guess I’ll stick to silly.
    Loved Rancher!!!! And the horse element was a great fit in the plot.

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Hey Trina!
      I’m glad you listen to your fingers. You have a fabulous comic voice that isn’t over the top. Everyone needs to watch for “Flirting With Fangs” coming out this fall. I’m so glad you enjoyed “Rancher,” that’s my only goal is fun! See you this weekend.

  5. Cindy Gerard says:

    Hi Liz. So glad you see you in the vert. And I love that you have your 4 standard elements – sort of like security blankets :o) You’ve made me want to step back and analyze my little quirks. Hummm …. now I won’t be able to stop thinking about it, LOL. Good luck with The Rancher and The Rock Star. Has fun written all over it.

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Hi cindy!
      I’m thrilled to be here in the vert — it’s one of my favorite-est places to visit. I think you got it spot on — my security blanket! I didn’t make a conscious effort to include these things–so don’t analyze too much – lol. I’ll quit using them, I’m sure, as soon as they become unnatural. Thanks for the welcome — I hope TRATRS makes a lot of fun for everyone!

  6. Hi Liz

    It was fun to learn about a few of your quirks. We all have them, just some of them we like to hide just under the surface. I am a Beatles fan also, and remember the comment from Gray about not being exactly “Beatles” popular. I think many a young musican dreams about being “Beatles popular.” i am ready for the next book of yours.

    GeorgiaMarie

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Hi Georgia!
      See, another thing we have in common, besides our kids :-) Can’t miss with a good Beatles crush-friend! And, you got one of the answers exactly right! I’m putting you down for a special giveaway, which thrills me, because you’re one of my most faithful supporters! See you soon and thanks so much!

  7. Kathleen O says:

    Hi Liz, I have seen your book mentioned around blog sites I frequent and I am looking forward to reading it and we have a few things in common.
    I love any book that has horses. They are one of my fav animal species. Horses are so regal and strong. I love to watch them run.
    I love elderly people in a story. Especially if they have a keen sense of wit.. or if they are an old curmudgeon, but have a that soft centre that they hide…Even at a young age, my grandmother was one of my best friends. We did so many wonderful things together. We travelled and went shopping and to the movies.. We both liked a good time. I miss her sage advice today.
    I love the Beatles… In fact my oldest niece is a big fan too and I just found this Beatles’ trivia quiz book for her. Saw it on sale in the bookstore and picked up. Thought I would give it to her for Easter.
    As far as accents in a book if they are Irish or Scottish, well the more I like it.

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Hi Kathleen,
      Your comment was so much fun to read. It sounds like we do, indeed, have a lot in common. Your stories about your grandma made me miss mine — I had wonderful grandparents, and now my folks are wonderful grandparents in return. I think that’s why I have so much respect for the wisdom of my elders. Thanks for coming by — we need to keep in touch so we can chat Beatles and accents :-)

  8. Robin says:

    Fun post! Now we can analyze all that you write about and how we ourselves approach things. We certainly all have our quirks and idiosyncracies!

    • lizbethselvig says:

      LOL – just what I need, analysis of my work :-) But, you know better than just about anyone how idiosyncratic I am even in real life. And you like me anyhow :-) Thanks for all your support, sis!

  9. Tam Linsey says:

    Hi Liz! I already know your four things, of course, but I loved reading about them. You actually have two Beatles references in TRATRS – the one Georgia mentions, and at the end, Gray is wearing a Beatles t-shirt when he plays at the music festival. It’s a totally sexy description :)

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Yay Tam!!
      You get my prize too because you got both references :-) But, then, you deserve more than prizes because the book wouldn’t exist without you. I remember a Christmas Eve phone call with one a few years ago, where you gave me an awesome idea for the story I was struggling with–I miss your CP eyes. And you, too. Thanks for all the support from Day 1.

  10. michelehauf says:

    My one quirk is that I tend to have a lot of scenes in nightclubs. I can never think of clever names for the clubs so I started using colors. So I have Club Scarlet, Club Silver, Club Violet, etc. Easy! And then decorating the inside is a breeze too, because it’s all the same color. :-)

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Hi Michele,
      First of all, thank you so much for inviting me here today–this is awesome. I love all you ladies of the vert! I also love all the amazing details (like the color nightclubs) you put in your worlds. You’re my guide when I think about how to keep track of all my people and town details! Do you ever look to Crayola Crayon colors for names? I can just see Club Cadet Blue. :-P Thanks again! Hugs :-)

  11. Welcome back, Liz! I’m so excited about your “coming out party.”
    I threw that phrase in because I ran into an issue with it in my current line edit–kind of fits even though I wouldn’t call it a favorite phrase. The hero has just gotten out of prison. (Don’t worry–he’s a very good bad boy.) Ed. says I should change because these days “coming out” refers to going public about being gay, and nobody would think of anything else no matter what the context. She’s also concerned about “dated” references to movies and music. One of my touchstones–standard elements–is some reference to a song. I only use titles–have done forever–because lyrics are so touchy, but the title is often a line from the song. So we’re suddenly at odds over these touchstones and colloquialisms, and I think they’re important. Part of my vision, i guess.

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Hi Kathleen,
      I’m totally with you on the touchstones. I absolutely love coming across real details in stories, and I use song titles all the time. (My one for Rancher is “Love Potion No. 9). I know we run the risk of dating our contemporaries, but we also set them in time so they can be enjoyed later — so I encourage you to keep up the great work — you know i love your books :-) Thanks for having me here today. I seem to recall a certain Loft class that spurred me along the way!

  12. Boone Brux says:

    I’d be afraid spending too much time analyzing myself, but demons seem to be my weakness. Weird. Love your accents and can’t wait to read every book you write!

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Hey Boone!
      Don’t analyze, just let it happen, because you ROCK without any analysis at all! You have such a gift for humor and you are destined for book Rock Stardom yourself. You do it all naturally! Thanks for being here :-) Love ya!

  13. bellwriter says:

    Oh, Liz, you are the analytical one! Gosh, I’ll have to think about this as I’m running out the door. Just wanted to swing by and give a cyber HIGH FIVE to you, and DQ myself from the drawing, as I am the proud owner of THE RANCHER AND THE ROCK STAR. PS. Those abs can’t be real, can they? Have fun on your promo tour! I’ll come say hey!

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Hey Donnell, thank you sooo much for stopping by. It gives me the chance to tell you that I just started your book and it’s definitely a ‘can’t put it down’ read. Everyone should check out “The Past Came Hunting”! As for my cover guy — one can only hope. I never expected naked torso guy, so he’s kind of a bonus! I’ll look forward to seeing you whenever I can!!

  14. Alison Henderson says:

    Hi Liz! I loved your list of quirks. I find I always include at least one protagonist’s mother. It must be the mom in me, but I just love writing them. By now you must have figured out how much I loved The Rancher and The Rock Star. Can’t wait for the next one.

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Alison, I love your quirk! And your “moms” are wonderful in your beautiful, gentle books. We definitely have a mutual admiration society! Thank you with all my heart for all your support!

  15. The Rancher and the Rock Star looks like an awesome read! Thanks for sharing your elements. Now I don’t feel so wacky. I just noticed the other night that in every manuscript, at some point, the hero twirls the heroine under his arm. I was going to take it out this time, and then I thought…naaa. Leave it. My heros have always been twirlers.

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Hi Carey!
      I love it! Twirling is awesome — so much more creative than simply smiling, grinning or nodding – which is what I have to watch for. Don’t you think being twirled is a really romantic gesture? I agree, let your heroes be twirlers! Thanks so much for riding along today!

  16. Jae Awkins says:

    Liz – thanks for sharing more insite to writing!
    Quirks are what make us (and our writing) unique. Our ‘darlings’, just like us, are individuals that beg for attention – each in their own special way.
    A successful author is able to walk that fine line between endearing & bizzare, trademark or just an eye-rolling gimmick.

    You, my dear, are going places!
    Best of luck with The Rancher & The Rock Star, and all your future endeavors!
    —Jae Awkins: o)

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Awe, Jae, thanks so so much! You’re so right–it’s hard to know when you’re being natural and when you’re being contrived as a writer. Sometimes I get stuck thinking something is etiher too boringly real or too unbelievable :-) I’m so glad you’re enjoying TRATRS–and thanks for being right here with me for this crazy ride!

  17. Amy Hahn says:

    Loved the book, can’t remember the Beatles reference, but i insisted on reading “Rancher” truly for pleasure! I love that you acknowledge your writing quirks. I’m working on a series dealing the guys who are in a band and how they have connected to a group of women. My quirk is music and i get to talk about all the dorky songs from the eighties!

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Hi Amy!
      I’m convinced that music is something deep within all of us, and if you’re lucky you can bring it out and share it! I LOVE your band characters and I can’t wait to keep reading about their lives. Eighties music is a ton of fun to write about — I have a manuscript waiting for its turn where I have teenagers in the eighties. Some of that music was dorky indeed — but some of it was great! Thanks, Amy. Love ya!

  18. lizbethselvig says:

    Hey everyone,
    I’m running my dad to a doc’s appointment this afternoon, but I’ll be checking in and I’ll get to all the comments. Thanks so much for the support. This is a hoot!!

  19. Sophia Rose says:

    Oh now that is just funny! I only write for a hobby, but realized when you mentioned your four ‘story musts’ that I have them. Now I’ll know what to watch for when I read your books.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Hi sophia Rose — its so great that you came by today. Another new faithful friend and follower :-) I’m glad you’re discovering your “musts” — I hope you enjoy playing with them as much as I get a kick out of mine!

  20. loisgreiman says:

    Thanks for joining us, Lisbeth. So great to have you here.
    The pic of your horse is similar to one of the mares I had as a child…Lady Joe.
    Good cover, good concept. I wish you huge success with your Rock Star.

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Hi Lois,
      Thanks so much for stopping by. I know you’re as into Arabians (no, far moreso! you’re an expert!) and some day I’m coming to pet all your beautiful ponies! I miss my little guy a lot — DD has a gray Arab named Jedi and I’m thoroughly envious — I want him. For now, he’s my grand-Arab :-D Thanks for the good wishes. See you this weekend in Bloomington.

  21. Quirks? Umm…Let’s not discuss my quirks in polite company, espeacially the plastic ones!.As you know. I love TRATRS :) And, I love the little quirks you add to your story. They are what make it a true Lizbeth Selvig.novel. :)

    • lizbethselvig says:

      Yes, Maxine, we won’t discuss your quirks right now. We’ll save that for when your book comes out, and then people will know and LOVE your quirks. LOL. I always thank you for being a big part of Rancher’s life — but the thanks are so sincere. Huge hugs!!!

  22. What a fascinating post! I’ll bet your readers love you for slipping in these familiar touch points. I’ll be sure to watch for them! :)

    And I love your Avon cover. Wow. Very cool!

    • Liz Selvig says:

      Thank you, Roxanne. I hope readers will come to recognize my stories and voice just like they do all of yours here! And thanks for the compliment on the cover – Avon working its magic, I guess!

  23. Linda Brashears says:

    As far as “dating” yourself because of a song or a reference, I say go for it. I’m so tired of not being able to do something or say something because it will show how “old” we are. You can’t go to the store and buy a decent dress anymore if you are over the age of 21 because everything looks like a nightgown. So I say let’s date ourself and be faithful to the Beatles and I love Love Potion #9. My mama raised me on the 50/60’s music. The Rancher and the Rock Star sounds like a great book. I’m going to have to get it. Horses and hunky ranchers will always make a good book.

    • Liz Selvig says:

      Hear, hear, Linda, and an Amen Sister! And heaven forbid if you don’t have a Katrina Smirnoff body! So, let’s raise a toast to being ourselves and loving all that great music that came before the 80’s (which was good, but I was listening to Raffi during the Madonna years). Thanks for coming by, LInda. Hope you get time to try out the book :-)

  24. I love your quirks, Liz! I say in the next book, have Sir Paul McCartney on a horse and you’ll have all four in one swoop. (He’s 69, can you believe it??) Great “4 Things,” and thanks also for inspiring me to visit this blog, which is way too fun. Although no one’s riding with the top down yet here in Alaska. ;) Congratulations on all the great buzz around your wonderful book!!

    • Liz Selvig says:

      Jenny!
      If I can work Sir Paul into a book, you KNOW I will. He is 69 and should be way too old for me, but I’m so loyal. How can you not be to your own brother – hahaha. (Reference to a different post–I’ll repeat the story if anyone asks me.) I’m wondering if you guys will ever see Break-up and spring in AK — you’ve had just as nutty a winter as Minnesotans have–only in reverse. Thanks for coming today — this is a super fun group. Everyone needs to watch out for the buzz for you book next month — “The Fireman Who Loved Me” — it’s AWESOME!! XOXO

  25. debradixon says:

    Great blog, Liz. Quirks are qreat. It’s part of who we/you are as an author. It’s how we come to story. How our brains make connections.

    And, welcome to the ‘vert. It’s a little late but my comment from this morning didn’t post.

    • Liz Selvig says:

      Hi Debra,
      Thank you so much for the welcome. I love how you explained that — you hit the definition of Quirks perfectly — how we make connections. That feels exactly right!
      I’m looking forward to seeing you here in Minnesota next fall — our group is excited!!

  26. As usual, late to the party (you do not want to know about my day). Love your story, of course, and you probably know my one big quirk — all my heroines love classical music. How the heroes react is always part of their story arc. (All my contemporary heroines, I should say, since I have trouble working classical music into my fantasy novels.) Love how everyone is picking up on the greatness that is TRATRS — congratulations!

    • Liz Selvig says:

      Hey Partner!
      Well, there’d be no “greatness” (thank you for that) if it weren’t for you — you were all about the polishing phase of this book and it’s the better for it!! I love your music quirk — I love how your heroines listen to classical on their car stereos. What’s funny is, my new heroine likes classical; I forgot to tell you that — it’s not a big part of the book but maybe I was channeling you even back when I wrote this :-) Thanks, my friend!!

  27. DeNise says:

    Liz, fun comments–good buzz on your book, it’s great. My quirk is cats-didn’t intend it in the beginning but there seems to be one lurking about.

  28. laurieg72 says:

    I grew up with Beatles music. It’s amazing how much they have influenced our daily lives: from street names, to book titles, to comercials with their songs playing in the background, movies set to their music Across the Universe, copycat bands, the start of the whole long hair cut, the influence of middle eastern religion…..

    Authors quirks
    Diana Palmer- mercs and Texas Rangers
    Betty Neels- nurses and doctors in England and the Netherlands getting together
    Kathryn Shay – lots of firefighters and policemen heroes
    Rachel Gibson -hockey players

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