Friday, November 15, 2013

Remembering Andrew and Interview with Liz Crowe

Happy Friday! Today I have a special guest that I know you're gonna love. She calls herself the Beer Wench, but she's also a bestselling author. And her new book, Good Faith, is out now.

But first, I wanted to take a moment to remember someone who touched the lives of writers around the blogoshpere:

If you don't know already, our blogger and writer friend, Nick Wilford lost his son a few days ago. Many of us collaborated for an anthology called Overcoming Adversity in honor of Andrew. Today, writers and bloggers around the world (and I mean literally around the world) are remembering Andrew by changing their profile pictures to red balloons, as well as releasing red balloons into the sky. If you do release a balloon, be sure to take a picture and email it to Kyra Lennon, who's making a collage to send to Nick and his family on this heartbreaking weekend.

Be sure to click on the picture above to get to Andrew's special Facebook page and show your support.

Now for the interview. I'm excited to have Liz Crowe here today!

1  Thanks for being here today, Liz!  Tell us a little about yourself, and why you call yourself the Beer Wench.

I am part owner of the Wolverine State Brewing Co. in Ann Arbor, a craft microbrewery specializing in lager beer (I’ll spare you the boring beer lecture but here is the Readers Digest condensed version: Lagers take longer. They are more expensive to make. But they are NOT “just like Bud.”). As I began my journey learning about craft beer and the industry I started a blog to chronicle it which became very popular. I’m sort of a smart ass, and have a naturally dirty mind, so combine that with half decent writing skills and beer and VOILA! Instant nickname.

2 * Your bestselling Realty series is unique. What prompted the idea?

I sold real estate for nearly 10 years before I U-turned into the beer biz. I had a lot of down time to sit around and stare at walls and empty rooms at Open Houses and ponder “what ifs.”  Those turned into a scene, which developed into 2 very strong characters (Jack & Sara) which then morphed into this major series where even side characters wanted their stories told. It’s a best seller in “urban fiction” and “family saga” on Amazon at various times. This final book is the end of it, in novel form, however, and is less sexually explicit than the first few books. (What? I hooked people with sex, my voice, and these characters and they found themselves enjoying stories about even a male, bi-sexual couple in Essence of Time and now…well, I end it. Period.) It is classified as “mainstream, NA” fiction with an over-18 warning for adult content (not just the sex which is toned down but other, equally mature topics).

3 *  Are you a plotter or pantster when it comes to writing? Any tried and true methods you stick to?

I am Liz. I am a pantser.
 And I now have a new project wherein a writing coach is making me plot.
It sort of burns.
But I’m doing it because the new project is a total departure from anything I’ve done before and I am aiming for the fences with it. Ergo, the giant whiteboard with scribbles and the little bald spot at my temple where I’m yanking hairs out in frustration. “It is all good for me.” (I keep saying that).
He (mentor) did say “Ok, go write Act 1. Then stop and send it to me.” Which was a relief along the lines of getting to pee after drinking a gallon of water…on a 5-hour car ride.

4*   A lot of my readers are also writers, what advice would you give in order to reach bestselling status?

Write. A lot.
Get edited. A lot.
Don’t take it personally. Take it professionally, change, grown and learn. The original Floor Time (which ended up in a 3 book format when it finally found a small publisher) went through a dozen versions or so and then STILL got more editing.
Your first draft is shit.
Don’t kid yourself.
You must get critiqued, edited and edited again for anything to be really worth reading and buying.
 Yes there are (big time) exceptions to this rule. They are flashes in the pan and total exceptions. Get edited and get over it.

5 *   I bartended and waited tables for many years during and after college. I know customers can be, shall we say … challenging, at times. Have any unruly customers or scenarios stuck out for you that you can share?

Other than people who come in and constantly tell me what I should do to run my business…Oh, and I have had to ban a couple of rowdies…now. I have a fellow female brewery owner here in Ann Arbor who gave me the best advice EVER:
“When someone starts the conversation regarding your business with the words ‘you know, you really ought to…’ you should stop listening, smile and nod and walk away.” The temptation to get up in people’s faces who have never:
1.       made a payroll
2.       counted cash flow over and over again to make payroll
3.       considered not going to work one day then remembering all the people who expect their paychecks
And still want to give me advice, especially when my business has done nothing BUT grow and expand and get national publicity (recently) is very great. But I just remember my fellow lady-brewery-owner’s advice, smile, nod and hand them a beer.  I will say a few of my bartenders have gotten VERY good at sliding between me and some of these people, shoving me behind them with a “Hey, um, ET (my name to them) can you go and … check the ladies room for toilet paper?” or something. God bless them.

    *  Has your bar experience seeped into your storytelling art? If yes, how so?

Well, I have 3 books set right in the brewing business (which is really more what my “bar experience” entails.) I worked the bar myself for about 4 months (literally, opening and closing every single day). Then, once I could afford it started hiring and just recently installed an amazing guy as Tap Room manager. So now I’ve backed away from it long enough I can look back and go “dear God that sucked. But I’m glad I did it.” It’s sort of like owning a car company but not being able to change the oil or a tire. It won’t fly. Nor will a bunch of excuses from my staff. I know their job. I know it sort of sucks at times. So I reward the ones who work extra hard at it. I have a great team!
My brewery books are:
Paradise Hops
Cheeky Blonde
Honey Red
Although there are elements of the business in the Stewart Realty series too as 2 of the character own either a brewery or a brewpub. All of my characters are small business owners of some sort. THAT has definitely seeped into my story telling!

7  *    What were your new adult years like personally? If you could sum it up in just a few words.

I was a preacher’s kid, a bookworm, in the band, danced ballet in a teensy town in Southeast Kentucky. Met them man I would eventually marry my first day of college, his senior year of college (Louisville) with a warning from my cousin (his roommate and fraternity brother) NOT to EVER date him.

But yeah, I was a preacher’s kid. That stuff about us is…mostly true.

8  *    If there was only one thing readers could garner from your stories, what would you want it be?

That I love to explore relationships…the “what happens after” when 2 people finally get their acts together to me is way more interesting than any contrived “happily every after.” I like to go into deep points of view on both sides, men and women (I’ve been told I channel the male POV better than some).  And I love intertwining storylines but with twists and humor, a la Robert Altman films. 

And there you have it, folks! Straight from the Beer Wench's mouth. ;)

Strong personalities—volatile marriages—stressful careers—conflicting goals—difficult children. 

Contemporary challenges facing close-knit families form the crucible that forges a new generation. 

Brandis, Gabriel, Blair and Lillian emerge from the entanglement of their parents’ longstanding emotional connections, but one’s star will burn brighter – and hotter – than the others. 

With a personality that consumes everyone and everything in its path, Brandis Gordon struggles to maintain control as he ricochets between wild success and miserable failure. His life proves how even the strongest relationships can be strangled by the ties that bind. 

Brandis and Gabe Frietag are as close as any brothers, bound by both loyalty and fierce rivalry. The strength of their ultimate alliance is tested time and again by Brandis’ choices. 

Companions from birth, Blair Frietag and Lillian Robinson share loner tendencies, but come to rely on each other through adolescence. As they mature, both are forced to confront their feelings for the men they knew as boys. 

Somewhere between the tangle of good memories and bad, independence and addiction, optimism and despair, the intertwined destinies of the new generation finally collide, leaving some stronger, others broken, but none unscathed. 

As a chronicle of three families navigating the minefields of teen years into the turbulence of young adulthood, Good Faith holds up a literary mirror to contemporary life with joys and temptations unflinchingly reflected. Its fresh, real-life voice portrays the sheer volatility of human nature, complete with the hopes, dreams, and unexpected setbacks of marriage, parenthood and “coming of age.”

Amazon best-selling author, beer blogger and beer marketing expert, mom of three, and soccer fan, Liz lives in the great Midwest, in a major college town.  She has decades of experience in sales and fund raising, plus an eight-year stint as a three-continent, ex-pat trailing spouse. While working as a successful Realtor, Liz made the leap into writing novels about the same time she agreed to take on marketing and sales for the Wolverine State Brewing Company.   

Most days find her sweating inventory and sales figures for the brewery, unless she’s writing, editing or sweating promotional efforts for her latest publications. 

Her early forays into the publishing world led to a groundbreaking fiction subgenre, “Romance for Real Life,” which has gained thousands of fans and followers interested less in the “HEA” and more in the “WHA” (“What Happens After?”).  More recently she is garnering even more fans across genres with her latest novels, which are more character-driven fiction, while remaining very much “real life.”

With stories set in the not-so-common worlds of breweries, on the soccer pitch, in successful real estate offices and many times in exotic locales like Istanbul, Turkey, her books are unique and told with a fresh voice. The Liz Crowe backlist has something for any reader seeking complex storylines with humor and complete casts of characters that will delight, frustrate, and linger in the imagination long after the book is finished.

If you are in the Ann Arbor area, be sure and stop into the Wolverine State Brewing Co. Tap Room—but don’t ask her for anything “like” a Bud Light, or risk serious injury.

Hope you enjoyed getting to know Liz. She's a fun lady for sure! 

The EPIC GIVEAWAY is still going on, so enter as many times as you like for more chances to win!

And Liz has interviewed me on her own blog today, so head over and see what I had to say about writing and blogging! I'd love to have you. :)

So how about you? Has your job or jobs ever inspired your stories? I know mine have. Let's hear it in the comments .... HAVE A FABULOUS WEEKEND!!


Libby said...

Pantsers amaze me. I am pantsing the last 3rd of my novel and it has me sweating. :)

Julie Flanders said...

Beer wench, I love it. Great to meet Liz and I really enjoyed this interview. Heading over to read yours now.
It's so touching to see all the red balloons today. This pic of Andrew nearly makes me cry.

E.J. Wesley said...

Clearly a woman after my own heart! Beer+writing FTW. Love Liz's sense of humor, too. :)

Lexa Cain said...

It sound like Liz leads a very unusual life, and I bet a lot of people wish they ran a brewery. I'm wishing her good luck with her most recent book!

It's lovely you included Andrew in this post. I'm sure all the support will make Nick feel better.

Liz said...

thanks for having me PK!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Sounds like an interesting life. Liz seems to have loads of energy.

Crystal Collier said...

LOL! Smile, nod and walk away. I think that's the best advice for so many situations in life, no matter where your expertise/efforts are at. I still have decent relationships with my inlaws based on that sound logic. ;)

~Sia McKye~ said...

Absolutely love the way you put together #4. Very true. You have to disengage your emotional attachment to your words so the story can be made better. Also right--there are flukes that don't have to edit but they're rare.

Enjoyed reading the interview.:-)

Sia McKye Over Coffee

nutschell said...

So sorry for Nick's loss.

Lovely to meet Liz in this interview! I enjoyed learning all about her writing journey. Love how she's invoked her bartending experiences into her books :)

JJ said...

I am very sad to hear about Andrew.

William Kendall said...

Splendid answers, Liz.

I'm very sorry for Andrew's family. Parents should never have to bury a child.

M. J. Joachim said...

Praying for Nick and his family. Enjoyed your interview today. Running a business is hard. Great advice about writing a lot.

Melissa Keir said...

My job of teaching has shown up in my most recent WIP. I haven't wanted to go there. It seems like the teacher role tends to be used a lot.

Norma Beishir said...

Enjoyed the interview. Liked Andrew's page. I can't even imagine the pain of losing a child....

Carol Riggs said...

Deep condolences for Andrew's family. Thanks for the interview, and hey, that's cool Liz danced ballet (love it). :) Pansters are definitely brave and creative souls!

Anonymous said...

Love the pastor's kid comment, and the sound of this book! Thanks for putting it on my radar . . . I'm a fellow pantser :-)

T C Mckee said...

Wonderful post with the Beer Wench. Love it! I also love the idea behind her series. Way cool.

Have I told you, your cover for BUTTERMAN just rocks? It's wonderful!!!

So sad to hear about Andrew. I can't imagine. Will keep his family in my prayers.

Jay Noel said...

That was a very interesting interview. First beer blogger you've had on here, I believe PK.

Best wishes to Liz and continued success!

Lots of red balloon and candles for Andrew. It's touching to see the blogging/writing community band together.

LD Masterson said...

It was beautiful the way people remembered Andrew.

I will never understand how pantsers can do that. I tried it once and got totally lost.

Robin said...

Super fun interview. I don't know anything about beer or bars and I still enjoyed reading this post.

Also, thank you for remembering Andrew.

Maalaimalar said...

Thanks for the information... I really love your blog posts... specially those on Local Tamil News

Nancy LaRonda Johnson said...

I'm sure Nick is very touched by the amazing support he's getting. I hope he and his family are blessed by it all.

The Beer Wench seems to be a very interesting person with unique writing ideas. How long ago was it when people started saying there're no new ideas? Everyday it's proved that uniqueness still exists... and I believe always will. Writer’s Mark

Gina Gao said...

This is a great interview! I really enjoyed this interview.