Author/Editor Interview {Lisa Mangum}

In keeping with my new year resolutions, this week I’ve been studying agents. I’m asking lots of questions. Researching profiles. Following Tweets. And writing queries, all in preparation for finding the PERFECT agent for my books. I’ll keep you all posted. So far has been an awesome resource. You can search for agents according to genre and make a list. There are links right there to research about specific agents too. It’s kind of fun to get to know these professionals in the industry and what they’re looking for.


With this in mind, I wanted to post today’s interview with Author and Editor Lisa Mangum. This lady has so many talents. She is a great teacher, a wonderful writer, a Disney addict, and has helped to perfect some of the books you love to read. Let’s get to know her better:

One of my faves!

One of my faves!

CH: As a writer/editor, is it difficult to turn off your critical brain in order to be creative in your writing?

LM: Yes. At least it was in the beginning. I had been editing for so long that when I added writing to my list of things-to-do it took some time for me to learn how to switch between the two skill sets. A couple of things helped me make the transition:

(1) I don’t write at work, and I don’t work at home. I am very careful to make sure that my work stays in my office. That way, when I get home, my physical surroundings help remind me that I am in a safe place to be creative and that I don’t have to listen to my “editor brain” until later.

(2) I write in Times New Roman, but I edit in Verdana. I was surprised at how much of an effect switching the font on my computer had on both my editing and my writing. I waited until I had finished my first draft of The Hourglass Door and then asked myself, “What would I think about this manuscript if it wasn’t mine?” And so I did what I always do when I’m preparing to edit: I switched the font. And suddenly it was like my editor brain woke up and said, “Oh, well, then I’d change this and this and move that there.” It was amazing and helpful and has become my standard practice.

CH: What are your favorite parts of being an editor?

LM: I love the developmental editing part of the process. I love working with an author and talking about the big picture stuff in the book. Seeing a manuscript transform into something more polished and shiny never gets old.

CH: You were just at the Superstars Conference. Can you share the top 3 things you learned there? 

LM: Can I just say how much I adored the Superstars Writing Seminar? It was my first time attending, and I was completely blown away by the caliber of writers and instructors there. I learned so much, and I can’t wait to go back next year.

(1) “Your manuscript doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to be finished.”—Kevin J. Anderson

I love this because it reminds me that my first draft can be ragged around the edges. I just need to finish it and then I can perfect it. For someone who is often paralyzed by the burden of feeling like my writing needs to be perfect the first time around, this is a good reminder.

(2) “You don’t have to be fast, you have to be focused.”—Peter Wacks

A great quote that reminds me that—for me—it’s better to be focused than just throwing words down on paper. Granted sometimes I do that, but I make better use of my time when I’m focused on knowing what happens next.

(3) “If you don’t believe in writer’s block, it won’t believe in you.”—Mark Leslie Lefebvre

Ah, writer’s block, my old nemesis. This was a great quote for me to remember because I, like most writers, I think, often hit up against that wall of writer’s block. But if I can remember that it’s more of an illusion than a barrier, I’m more likely to push past it (and faster) and continue writing—which is the most important part of being a writer.

CH: You teach a killer pitch class. Where do we go wrong the most and what should we do about it?

LM: Most people don’t focus on the core problem of the story with their pitch. They dance around the heart of the story, or they clutter it up with unnecessary (but often cool) details. When you are crafting your pitch, think about four things: tell me who your hero is, tell me what his goal is, tell me at least one obstacle he will face, and tell me what the consequence of failure is. If I can walk away from your pitch knowing those four things, you’ve done a good job.

 CH: You work for Deseret Book. Can you tell us what you’re looking for from writers in the upcoming year? At times there are open calls for certain types of books. Are there any coming up that we should get writing for?

LM: I like to say that the submission door is always open at Deseret Book and Shadow Mountain. We’re always looking for the “next big thing” but that could be any book in almost any genre. I will say that we have some strong middle grade and YA titles on the schedule right now, so if you are working on something in those genres, it’ll have to be spectacular to catch our attention.

Also, there’s no one best time to submit your work. Finish it, polish it, and then send it in.

CH: What are you writing now, and what is your process for writing? 

LM: I’m working on a romance novella for an anthology as well as a full-length romance novel. I have a fairy tale story in the back of my head, a contemporary YA novel about sisters, and an urban fantasy. (Decisions, decisions!)

As far as my process goes: I outline obsessively and draft once. I like to know the scope of the story from the beginning and now how I’m going to get from start to finish. I like to leave room to play if the story takes me in an unexpected direction, but I like structure more. I write a little every day and then lots at night and on the weekends.

CH: Give us your top three tips for aspiring writers.


(1) Give yourself permission to write something stupid. Sometimes the best way through writer’s block is to just not stop writing, and that may yield some less-than-perfect prose. That’s okay. Keep going. You’ll find your groove again. And then you can throw out the stupid bits tomorrow. No one will ever know.

(2) Do the work. Writing is hard. It is time-consuming and aggravating and glorious and fulfilling. But you can’t get there unless you actually write something down. Don’t just think about it all the time. Get the words out of your head and onto the paper.

(3) Remember to keep your balance. It’s important to know when to say yes to something, and when to say no. We all only have some much time in a day. Use your time wisely and well, and chances are you’ll feel the benefits in your writing.

 CH: We’ve seen a trend of vampires, then angels, followed by trolls and zombies. What do you think is next on the horizon for YA or other books?

LM: I think contemporary YA is on the rise. Stand-alone, character-driven stories feel like they are gaining popularity. Of course, a well-written, compelling story will never go out of style.

CH: We know you love Disneyland – can you share a little known Disney secret, or a great place to visit in the park that is often overlooked, or a great place to get deals on their tickets? (We’re trying to take our family this year for the first time!)

LM: I do love Disneyland! One Disney secret that I learned is about the Disneyland Railroad train ride. When you are going past the Grand Canyon section, the backdrop is a mural painted on a single canvas, and when it was done, it was blessed by a Hopi priest.

One Disney tradition that my husband and I do on every visit is to leave a compliment card at City Hall about a cast member who did a great job that day. We feel that it’s one way to give a little magic back to a place that is already so magical.

CH: Here at ADDICTED we like to know your addictions. Tell us what you can’t live without.

LM: Books and chocolate are probably givens, right? I will admit that lately I’ve become addicted to Dr. Who. (That David Tennatt . . . my, oh, my!)


1 Comment

  1. Cindy
    Mar 30, 2014

    How fun!!! So awesome you got to interview her!

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