Lotis Melisande Key has lived a life of wide travel and curious variety. She’s raised horses in the Australian outback, skied the Alps, run tours through a tropical jungle, bought & sold antiquities. She’s been a restaurateur, a breeder of show cats, a third world church planter. She’s worked in an orphanage, and runs a ministry that puts children through school.
After a professional theater début at the age of twelve, Lotis subsequently starred in over seventy five feature films for the Asian market. She’s also hosted numerous television and radio shows. Upon settling in the United States, she signed with Chicago, New York, and Minneapolis based talent agencies, expanding into American on-camera and voice over narration, industrial videos, trade shows, professional theater, television, and radio commercials.
Retiring from secular work, she founded MESSENGERS, a Christian theater arts group based at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. As artistic director, she toured the company throughout the US, Canada, and Asia.
Vice-president of the Minnesota Christian Writers Guild, Lotis is a passionate storyteller. Her work focuses on the mystery of God, and His incomprehensible love for the unattractive, wayward parts, of His otherwise perfect, creation.
Visit Lotis Key online and learn more about her books at www.Lotiskey.com.
Below, Lotis shares her journey to publication:
How many complete novels have you written so far? Two. The Song of the Tree is a story of terrible loss, and the bitterness that drives us away from our Tree of Life. It fits in the "Crossover fiction" category. Book number two, A Thing Devoted, is the journal of an adopted ten-year-old, whose Christian parents are divorcing.
Are they both published? Both have been e-published and are available at several online retailers (Amazon etc), all listed on my website, www.lotiskey.com
First thing you ever had published: In the U.S., it was a forward (it actually became the last chapter), to a devotional for the US military, called Boots on the Ground, by Jim Visel.
In a paragraph or two, describe what the road to novel/book publication was like for you. I realized fairly quickly, that the natural road for me was e-publishing. Some eighteen years ago, looking for income for ministry, I considered opening an antique store. I prayed about it, and a casual friend suggested an online store instead, on an unknown place called ebay. Traditional dealers tried to talk me out of it, the consensus being, “no one will buy an item they haven’t touched, and handled, first.” Plus, at that time, very few people owned a PC. I opened that first store anyway. It was the first of four, and today, practically the whole world buys online, and I sell across the globe.
So, with my books … I took a look at publishing, and bookstore, stats. Although I love a print book, I remember that I also once loved long playing records, too. I use an MP3 now. Knowing very little about book publishing, I invested my time in writing, and hired the best people I could find for the rest of it (editors, artists, formatters, designers, uploaders, showcase builders, etc.) I worked hard to make the money needed to pay them, but it’s always best to hire professionals. I don’t do my own plumbing either.
Do you have an agent? How did you acquire him/her? No. Approached one, and was flat out rejected. It was a good experience for me. As a professional, secular actor, I've been represented most of my life. Now, in this new venture, for the first time, I'm an adult totally relying on God alone for my supply. It's exciting. Plus, He gets all the glory.
Describe the first time you got "The Call" to be a writer. It was Sunday, I was listening to my pastor, John Piper, give the sermon. I’ve sat under his teaching for some twenty years, and his preaching is brilliant. Afterwards, exhilarated, I greeted the unknown lady sitting next to me, and in the course of conversation, she said, "I just love this guy ... can't understand a thing he says, but I sure love the way he says it." I was stunned.
I thought about it for weeks, and in prayer, came to understand, that not everyone is reached in the same way. Piper exploded my thought life, but this woman needed another approach. I thought, “She needs a story. A story she can find herself in. A story about someone like herself, going through something like she’s going through.”
Are you a fan of writing contests? Why or why not? Well, it's difficult for me, because my subject matter is out of the norm for Christian contests. I don’t write (not yet anyway) romance, cozy mysteries, historical, thrillers, or spec. Anyway, I did enter one (my only one), and the feedback was not good. One judge commented that I used words she didn’t know, and if she had to go to a dictionary to look something up, that was it --- she wasn’t interested anymore. I had a good laugh at that. I’m sure contests have helped many others get off the ground. I’m sure there are some great judges out there. It just didn’t work for me.
What are two pieces of advice you would give to writers who are desperately seeking publication? Pray. Then pray some more. And consider the following….As a Christian, what do you hope for? Writing a novel will take thousands of hours of time, cost more money than you think, and potentially exhaust you and irritate your family. Is the Lord calling you? He bought you. He owns your time, your money, and anything else you think is yours. Please Him by listening to Him.
Great advice, Lotis! Thank you for sharing your journey!