Never Give Up: Interview with Lillie Ammann

Some of you might know Lillie Ammann who writes at “A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye”.  This is one of my favourite blog titles, because it captures Lillie’s character, skills and approach so well.  Although I tend to think of Lillie as first and foremost an editor (and the first person I’d turn to with an editing query) she’s also a published author.

Her most recent novel: Dream or Destiny has recently been published and Lillie is currently promoting it through a virtual book tour.  I’m delighted that today is the day Lillie is stopping over at Confident Writing.

Interview with Lillie Ammann on Getting Your Book Published

Lillie, thanks very much for taking some time out of your busy book tour to come and talk to us about Dream or Destiny.  I’ve got a few questions I’ve been itching to ask you about the writing and publishing process, so without further ado…

How does it feel to see Dream or Destiny out in print?

Lillie: Incredible! I wrote the manuscript about ten years ago and even had an agent for a couple of years. All I got from that was a number of rejections.

After the contract with the agent expired, I put the manuscript away for some time. Periodically I edited it again and tried to get it published.

So it’s a real thrill that it’s finally happened.

What did you find the most challenging aspect of writing (or publishing) the novel?

Lillie: The ups and downs of the long journey.

Getting an agent was exciting but didn’t produce any results. At one point, I sold the novel to a publisher then pulled the book after the publisher changed the focus of their business to erotica.

I would put the manuscript away and forget about it for years at a time, but it kept calling me … demanding to be published.

And what was the most enjoyable dimension for you?

Lillie: Every time I pulled the book out and edited it again, I got more excited about it.

After being away from it for months or years, it was like reading someone else’s story. And I was pleased each time to discover that I enjoyed reading it.

Lillie, I know you do a lot of work editing as well as writing your own material.  Did you cast your “editor’s eye” over Dream or Destiny, or pass the editor’s job on to someone else to do?

Lillie: I edited this manuscript after I finished the first draft then again several years later. In fact, I wrote about my experience editing for your Absorbing Writing group writing project, My Ideal Writing Weekend.

Six friends (two published authors and four of my blog readers) read the manuscript and gave me feedback, and I made revisions based on their suggestions. My editor at GASLight did several rounds of edits; I edited it twice; and my editor and I did a read-aloud edit together. GASLight also hired two outside editors who had not read the story to do the final two readings.

Amazingly, after all that, when I proofed the galley, I found a few errors, including an editorial comment that hadn’t been removed.

What final piece of advice would you give to any of my readers who are thinking about writing, or publishing, their own novel?

Lillie: Persevere!

A few years ago, a romance writer friend had her first novel published by a major romance publisher. She did a survey of all first-time authors published by the major romance publishers that year. On average, they had been writing for seven years and had seven completed manuscripts before they made their first sale.

I suspect most genres have similar statistics. It took five years for my first novel to be published and ten years for Dream or Destiny.

Never give up.

Thanks again Lillie for taking the time to share your insights into and experience of the publishing process.

Those were the questions that I’d been itching to ask.

You might have others: please feel free to ask away in the comment box.  Lillie will be around to answer questions - though sadly we haven’t (yet) worked out a way for her to sign copies of the book.

Here’s the blurb on Dream or Destiny:

Marilee Anderson dreams about a murder and wakes to find it really happened. She and David Nichols, the victim’s brother, become the prime suspects. Though they have their secrets and aren’t sure they can trust each other, Marilee and David team up to find the killer. Does Tess, “the crazy lady,” know anything about the murder or is she just delusional? Does the cheating couple on the victim’s floor have any information about the night of the crime? Why has the abusive father of the victim and her brother suddenly reappeared? What about Barbara’s ex-husband? Will Marilee and David find the killer? Or will they end up in jail—or dead?

Read an excerpt (pdf file)

“Lillie Ammann’s unique talent brings her characters to life in this tension filled suspense. From the first paragraph she’ll have your heart racing as Marilee’s nightmare takes over her life and changes it forever.” ~ Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, author of A Time to Dance

“Lillie Ammann has written more than a book about two people trying to solve a crime. She delves into the effects of grief and guilt, attraction and suspicion, compassion and evil. “ ~ Helen Ginger, Freelance editor, book consultant, writer, and speaker

What others are saying about the book

PS You can buy copies of Dream or Destiny at Amazon


    • November 6, 2008

    Hi Lillie and Joanna - Now I feel a real plonker.

    I was just saying to Stuart that Lillie hadn’t let us know if she was coming to stay with us on her book tour yet.

    I totally misunderstood the whole thing - I thought it was an actual live book tour, not a virtual one.

    Your advice is really encouraging Lillie. I’ve had a few attempts at writing a novel - often getting to the second or third draft and usually being sick and tired of the plot by then.

    I guess others are taking just as long - it’s all practise. And many who do get published the first time, spend several years writing their first book.

    Stuart is really looking forward to reading your novel after reading the book blurb, so I’ll be ordering a copy.

    • November 6, 2008

    I’m delighted to be here. I don’t have the fancy machine that allows an author to autograph a book virtually, but I will be happy to send an autographed bookplate to any reader who submits the request form on my Web site.

    I’m sorry for the confusion. Maybe if I sell enough books, I can take a real tour! I’d love to visit you.

    I e-mailed you several times about the virtual tour but apparently the messages didn’t get through for some reason.

    Many aspiring authors don’t realize how long it usually takes to get published. The first novel (sometimes the first half a dozen) is generally practice. It’s often said that writers must write a million words before they write anything publishable, and I read somewhere recently that it’s more like 3 or 4 million.

    Get back to work on a novel, either something you’ve started before or something entirely new. Let me know if you have any questions I can help you with.

    When you order the book for Stuart, be sure to get an autographed bookplate.

    Lillie Ammanns last blog post..Blog Book Tour: Review of Dream or Destiny at Unwriter

    • November 6, 2008


    Thanks for hosting this stop on Lillie’s virtual book tour and providing such a fascinating glimpse into the writing, editing, and publishing of her novel! Reading her responses to your intriguing questions is both an inspiration and a practical guide for aspiring authors everywhere!


  1. Cath, don’t feel silly, that was exactly what I thought when I first read about book tours online. I got very puzzled as to how the author was able to cross continents so quickly without suffering any jetlag!

    I thought it was lovely you’d be wondering how to accommodate Lillie.

    I’m full of admiration that you’ve got as far as starting to write the novel. My imagination stubbornly refuses to come up with characters or plot line. I’m leaving well alone until my muse wakes me up one morning and whispers the idea..

  2. Lillie, thanks again for popping over here and talking to us. I’m sorry I couldn’t get here myself before now.

    Thanks for sharing your advice so generously with others. The story of what you’ve done in your life and the number of things you’ve achieved by never giving up is a real source of inspiration to me.


    • November 6, 2008

    Glad you found the interview helpful. Joanna asked interesting questions.

    Lillie Ammanns last blog post..Blog Book Tour Stop at Confident Writing

  3. Jeanne, thanks. Actually this was the first time I’d done an interview, so I was hoping it worked okay as a post and prompted the kind of answers you’d all be most interested to hear.


    • November 6, 2008

    I’m delighted to be here. Thanks for inviting me.

    Lillie Ammanns last blog post..Blog Book Tour Stop at Confident Writing

    • November 6, 2008


    I believe your story offers real encouragement to other writers seeking to publish novels and other book-length works, and I appreciated the aspects of the writing and publishing process that Joanna elicited through her questions.


    You did a fine job with your first interview! I’ll also be posting my first interview when I host Lillie’s final stop on her blog book tour Friday, November 14th (her second tour stop at Writer’s Notes). I’ll be posting my review of the book and hosting a book giveaway on Monday, the 10th. Hope you’ll stop by!

    • November 6, 2008

    I’m excited to give two of my favorite bloggers a new experience, and I hope you both will do more interviews in the future!

    Lillie Ammanns last blog post..Blog Book Tour Stop at Confident Writing

    • November 6, 2008

    Thanks, Lillie! It’s always great to try something new! Who knows, I may just become addicted to interviewing other writers/bloggers at Writer’s Notes and start making a habit of it — and maybe Joanna will, too!

    • November 6, 2008

    I’m hosting a couple of blog book tours in the next few weeks. One I will write a review for, and the other is still pending but may be an interview. I hope I do as good a job as you and Joanna did.

    Lillie Ammanns last blog post..Blog Book Tour Stop at Confident Writing

    • November 6, 2008

    Great interview! I have a finished novel I haven’t been able to get published, either, but each time I re-read it, I love the story as much as ever … so this is very encouraging! Lots of luck, Lillie-I’m so excited for you!

    -Debs last blog post..Celebrate!

    • November 7, 2008

    I enjoyed the interview Lillie. It is comforting to hear from other authors whose books have taken years to find a home. Those years were probably not especially fun for you, but it’s nice for other writers to hear that there’s hope, even though it may take years for hope to turn into reality.

    • November 7, 2008

    Good luck with your novel. If you still love the story, there’s hope. There are bound to be other people who love it also.

    During those years, I often said that I’m a better editor than writer and a better nonfiction writer than fiction writer. Now I’m getting excited about writing fiction again.

    Lillie Ammanns last blog post..Blog Book Tour Stop at Confident Writing

    • November 7, 2008

    Thanks for the kind words, Lillie. With your writing instincts, I’m sure you’ll do a fine job on both the review and the interview.

    You certainly are busy, aren’t you? It’s really great, though, that you’ll be showcasing the work of other writers at your blog once your own book tour ends.

    • November 7, 2008

    I’m looking forward to hosting other writers. What I learn from my own experience will help me as a tour host.

    Lillie Ammanns last blog post..Blog Book Tour Stop at Confident Writing

    • November 7, 2008

    I’m sure you’ll be an excellent host, Lillie!

  4. -Deb, I agree with Lillie - if you love it then there’s bound to be others who love it too :-)

    Helen, hello and thanks for taking the time to comment. It is interesting to learn from Lillie’s experience isn’t it?

    Lillie and Jeanne: I have been enjoying following your conversation :-)

    • November 7, 2008

    Glad to hear it, Joanna!

    • November 7, 2008

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Lillie. I enjoyed the interview and know the pain of rejection. I was fortunate to have started my writing career as a news reporter, and sold all my nonficiton books first time out. When I began writing fiction, I felt as though I had started my career anew. Although I’ve sold all my novels, my impatience to sell has nearly driven me up the wall. Patience and persistence is the subject of one of my latest blog article at:

  5. Jean, I’m so sorry your comment got caught in the Akismet link catcher - rescued now! That’s an interesting reflection on the different experience when you change genres and have to start anew. And patience is such a challenging virtue to practice isn’t it?

    Thanks for stopping by


    • November 8, 2008


    Thanks for this interview.

    As a writer, I’d always been aware that perseverence is an important personality trait.

    Hearing from a published writer exactly how much perserverence is needed is a great boost.


    David Masterss last blog post..Puss Puss the Wondercat’s Five Maxims for Playful Living

  6. David, I’m glad you found it useful. Pereverence can serve us in lots of ways - but I’m sure you know that :-)

    • November 9, 2008

    WoW, by seeing all the comments/opinions, we’re know that Lillie is a brilliant and natural born novelist here :)

    I’m glad to see you here, Lillie and thanks for the interview, Joanna…

    wilsons last blog post..The Hair Care Tips 4: The Speed of Hair Growth is Not Related With the Frequency of The Hair Cut!

    • November 9, 2008

    It’s interesting to learn how much more difficult it was for you to sell fiction than nonfiction. I enjoyed your blog post on persistence.

    I’m glad my story was encouraging. Somtimes writers see someone being published and think it was easy for them.

    Thanks for your support!

    Lillie Ammanns last blog post..International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

    • April 27, 2009

    Hi Joanna,
    Thanks for the excellent interview. It doesn’t sound like a first attempt to me. Great job!

    Hi Lillie,
    Thanks for your honest, encouraging and insight-filled responses. Whenever I read stories like yours, I get renewed energy to keep my ink wet and busy. Your story has the wind to keep me sailing despite obvious challenges. Perseverance is the word.

    How can get your book? I’m from Nigeria and I understand Amazon doesn’t ship to Nigeria.

    • April 27, 2009


    Joanna conducted the interview like a pro.

    I’m glad my words were encouraging. Perseverance is absolutely essential for writers. There’s a saying that a published writer is an unpublished writer who didn’t give up.

    You can get the book from my publisher GASLight Publishing or directly from me. Contact me on my Web site. We will have to find out what the postage is.

    The book is also available as an e-book so you don’t have to pay any shipping.

    Lillie Ammanns last blog post..Memoir and Family History: Part 5—Writing

  7. Charles, thank you so much for that feedback. I’m grateful to Lillie for jumping in so quickly and letting you know how you can get hold of the book.


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