Book Tour: Exceeding Expectations by Lisa April Smith

Exceeding Expectations Book Tour

Today, I have Lisa April Smith here with us for the Exceeding Expectations Online Book Tour. She has agreed to answer some revealing questions and tell us a little about her new book. Please help me welcome Lisa to The Book Vixen.

Lisa April Smith: Thank you for inviting me, Brianna.

Q: Let’s start with a fun question. Tell us 10 things about yourself that we might find interesting or surprising?

LAS: That is a fun question. Here goes:

  1. I make jewelry but refuse to sell it. I like what I make too much to part with it. (Occasionally, I give a piece to a very good friend.)
  2. I enjoy watching documentaries.
  3. I don’t need a time machine, black hole or a crack in the universe to step back in time. A visit to any museum, historic mansion, or dig site that has art or artifacts from the past will transport me. When I can’t get to one of the above, and I desperately need a break from the frantic Age of Instant Access, an antique store will do.
  4. I’m impossibly impatient. For example, besides the news, I record all TV programs I want to see so that I can condense a 60 minute episode into 30. (Which does not disturb my husband whose tastes differ from mine, and who does his viewing in another room. Having things in common in marriage is highly overrated.)
  5. I’m fascinated by all facets of crime, criminals and deviant behavior.
  6. I’m a volunteer tutor at an after school program for disadvantaged kids.
  7. I love watching lightning and listening to thunder but only when I’m safe and dry.
  8. I’m equally parts left and right brained, a condition I share with the late Olivia Goldsmith, author of First Wives Club. When I worked at IBM it troubled me not to be primarily left brained, like most of my geek colleagues. Goldsmith’s must-read primer for novelists, The Bestseller, assured me that the condition was ideal for writing fiction. The creative right side provides the original characters and plot, while the practical left side organizes, evaluates and bullies the right side into endless editing.
  9. I grow orchids in front of my house and cactus inside. Many varieties of cactus, with their asymmetrical shapes and twisted limbs, resemble modern sculpture.
  10. As a kid, I was so impressed that my mother could whistle through her fingers that I practiced and practiced until I could do it. My daughter is the 3rd generation of women in our family that accomplish this awesome feat. Sad to say, to date, her daughter shows no interest in maintaining the family tradition.

Q: A two-part question: What was your favorite book when you were a kid (10 or under) and what was your favorite between the ages of 11 and 15?

LAS: Favorite book as a kid was Smile Please, long out of print, written for adults, the true story of a girl growing up in late nineteenth century Charleston, the daughter of a divorced woman (scandalous then) who defies decorum and becomes a self-supporting photographer. I would have said Little Women, a fabulous book, but that was an obvious choice.

Favorite book as an adolescent: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Every girl should own and read it.

Q: If you found a magic lamp and were permitted to choose another career, what would you choose?

LAS: If that magic lantern could give me incomparable talent, I’d like to be George Gershwin’s successor. (No point in wasting a magic wish at anything but the top.) Being an incredibly talented painter would be my second choice. It’s second because, as much as I love art, with the exception of Picasso, it’s hard to find an artist that made a decent living and lived a long happy life.

Q: J.K. Rowling wrote her Harry Potter books on note pads. Woody Allen writes his scripts on an ancient typewriter. I would guess most authors today use computers. What about you?

LAS: I’m constantly editing. I rewrite every paragraph and most sentences. That’s so much easier with a computer. I’m a terrible typist and speller. Spellcheck was created for me. And the online thesaurus saves so much time. For research and checking historic details. Frankly, I don’t know what I’d do without a computer.

Q: Are you ever stymied by writer’s block? If so, how do you deal with it?

LAS: I am delighted to say that I’ve never experienced writer’s block. I think the reason for that is my concept of work. When I was at IBM I didn’t ask myself if I was in the mood to do something. I looked at the tasks at hand, prioritized them and got to it. If you’re in the process of writing a book, you have many varied ways to be productive. Editing. Plotting. Incorporating my latest epiphany. Creating a calendar so that I know how old characters are during the time frame of the story. I maintain a file that has the physical appearance, ethnicity and traits of every significant character. As soon as I begin working the words flow.

Q: What can you tell us about Exceeding Expectations, your new book?

LAS: I intended the book to be a page-turner suspense, primarily written for women, so naturally I included romance. The factual events that inspired it took place in Palm Beach, playground of the mega-rich, which triggered my imagination to incorporate additional lush settings, like an expansive estate in Virginia, an entire 5 story Manhattan townhouse, and of course Paris. But frankly, I adore the characters. There’s the irresistible rascal Jack Morgan – lackluster artist, gifted lover who prefers women older than himself, and utterly devoted father. His daughter Charlotte (Charlie), a self-deprecating 23 year old who is aware that she’s pampered, over-protected and unprepared to do anything besides marrying a member of her elite social class. Raul Francesco, the flirtatious young lawyer, Cuban expatriate, who enjoys teasing Charlie, when he’s not helping her deal with the fallout of her father’s devastating suicide. But I also provide the supporting characters unique and memorable personalities. I don’t want to ruin the surprises that I’ve worked to hard to include by identifying and describing them. Readers will discover them for themselves.

Q: Where do you get your inspiration?

LAS: My books are generally inspired by media coverage of events and people that I find intriguing. In 1998, Florida television and newspapers were reporting a story of a local Palm Beach socialite (ironically named Fagan) arrested for kidnapping his daughters eighteen years earlier, when they were 2 and 5 years old. The primary reason that it had taken eighteen years to find Fagan was that he had successfully reinvented himself. As William S. Martin, a handsome widower with two young daughters and no apparent means of support, Fagan had met and married a wealthy Palm Beach widow. After their divorce, another affluent woman agreed to wed and maintain his family’s plush lifestyle.

Neighbors, friends and the teachers at the girls’ tony private school all described him as “likeable,” “charming” and “devoted father.” Throughout his arrest and subsequent proceedings, his loyal third wife steadfastly stood by him, as did both daughters. Perhaps what most surprised people who followed the case was that the girls’ mother, a research scientist teaching at the University of Virginia, through the media and her attorney, repeatedly begged her daughters to meet with her and they refused. To my knowledge, that continues to this day.

As I was following the case I found myself thinking that there was an even juicier story behind this headline-grabber and set out to create one. I began with a few core facts. A man with an invented name and history, twice married to wealthy widows, living in Palm Beach, playground of the mega-rich and famous, and involved in a crime. Two adoring daughters unaware of their true identities. Over time my imagination happily supplied the rest. A townhouse off Fifth Avenue. A sprawling estate in Virginia. Romantic Paris in the years prior to WWII. A riveting past for Jack Morgan: skilled lover, lack-luster artist and irresistible rascal. A full-blown range of challenges and hard-wrought triumphs for his traumatized daughter Charlotte (Charlie).

Q: This is your chance to speak directly to readers who haven’t discovered your books. What would you like to say to them?

LAS: I give my readers the respect they deserve. I see them as intelligent discerning people. That’s why I avoid clich├ęs: phrases, characters and plots. My readers are going to be entertained, transported for a time from the ordinary and maybe even learn a thing or two. My goal is to give them their money’s worth.

Thanks for stopping by Lisa!


Author Lisa April Smith lives with her husband, He-who-wishes-to-remain-anonymous, in Eternal Playland, Florida, a delightful spot just off I-95. Ms. Smith describes Eternal Playland as "a little piece of level heaven with occasional dampness, where the bugs are plentiful but respectful, and even the smallest strip mall contains at least one pizza place and a nail salon."

Before discovering a passion for writing, Ms. Smith sold plumbing and heating, antiques, taught ballroom dancing, tutored, modeled, designed software and managed projects for IBM. She returned to college multiple times to study anthropology, sociology and computer science, in which she holds degrees, as well as psychology, archeology, literature, history and art. Combine those widely diverse interests with a love of travel and a gift for writing page-turners and it’s easy to understand one reviewer’s unbridled praise for Exceeding Expectations, “She (Ms. Smith) has a brilliance for conveying characters, and the intellectual capacity to place them in historical settings that sparkle with glamorous detail . . . that make it fun to read . . . ” But it takes much more than lush settings, an eye for detail and a love of history to write a page-turner. Read what another reviewer said about Exceeding Expectations: “Lisa April Smith . . . has woven an intriguingly rich tapestry of delightful well-developed characters into a perfectly balanced plot bursting with riveting mystery, crimes of the petty and the horrible sort, suspenseful twists, and romantic tension complete with love scenes that sizzle and pop.

Find the author online: website | twitter | facebook


Exceeding Expectations

It’s 1961 and Palm Beach socialite, irresistible rascal and devoted father Jack Morgan encounters genuine danger while staging his suicide to shield his beloved daughters from disgrace. Next, meet his daughter Charlotte (Charlie), an over-indulged 23 year-old struggling to cope with the traumatizing loss of her beloved father, her sister’s resulting mental breakdown and the discovery that she’s suddenly penniless. Fortunately Raul, an admiring young attorney, appears to offer assistance. As terrified as she is about daily survival, Charlie soon realizes that she has to learn what drove her father to kill himself. With Raul’s much needed ego-bolstering, the drive of necessity and unforeseen determination, Charlie finds a practical use for her annoyingly lean 5’ 11” frame. In time, this career finances her hard-wrought independence, her sister’s costly treatment and an emotional eye-opening journey to Paris.

Jumping back in time to romantic pre-WWII Paris, readers meet young Alan Fitzpatrick – aka Jack Morgan – lack-luster artist and expert lover and the bewitching girl who will become the mother of his children. Not even Charlie’s relentless detective work will uncover all Jack’s secrets, but in a fireworks of surprise endings, she discovers all that she needs to know and more: disturbing truths about her father, her own unique talent, crimes great and small and a diabolical villain.


Buy the book: Amazon | BN

Read the 1st chapter of Exceeding Expectations online.

About Brianna: Supermom by day, naughty reader by night. Addicted to chocolate, Twitter, her iPad, her Kindle, and 99¢ Kindle deals. You can follow Brianna on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram.

1 comment:

  1. Great interview! The book sounds really interesting, so I've entered it on my "To Read" list. BTW, I always wished I could whistle that way. I just can't. ~Carole McKee