Lisa Kovanda

How did you become a writer?

Some of my earliest childhood memories involve writing. My grandmother was a master storyteller. I remember sitting at her kitchen table and with her help, writing short stories complete with illustrations even before I could really write the words myself. Grandma covered cardboard with fabric scraps to make covers for them, and sewed the “books” together by hand. I had an entire bookshelf filled with my stories before I was out of grade school. I went into science and health care in college, but even then, I was a voracious reader, and loved to write. After my children were grown, I became interested in writing for publication.

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

Obviously, my grandmother, Elsie Kovanda Baucke, was the largest influence in my writing life. She loved stories of the pioneers, so I cut my teeth on Laura Ingalls Wilder, Willa Cather, John Neihardt, and Mari Sandoz. In my adult life, I credit Dr. Dan Holtz, a college Nebraska Literature professor for encouraging me to pursue creative writing. I have also been blessed to have UCLA screenwriting professor emeritus, Lew Hunter as a mentor. My influences are broad. Having an insatiable reading appetite is essential to being a well-rounded writer.

When and where do you write?

I've always been a night-owl, and I find I do my best writing from about 8 pm until 3 am. But, since that doesn't always work with my day-job schedule, I have learned to write anywhere and anytime. Especially if there is a deadline looming. I prefer to write with my laptop in my cushy recliner, with the footrest up.

What are you working on now?

I have a total of nine active projects on my development board, but the project on the top is a combined movie script/novel that deals with the last execution in the state of Nebraska, from the perspective of a seminary student who was in love with one of the victims. It's called “Walk Me Home,” and I'm in the revision stage on both the script and novel. Russ Kildare, the main character, has a powerful story, and I'm excited to share it with the rest of the world.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

I've suffered from “procrastination syndrome,” but never writer's block. I have an idea book filled with future story ideas, and nine projects with either completed drafts or at least outlines on my production board. Having a solid outline and fully-developed character sketches before I start writing a story helps me answer the “now what?” question easily when I'm writing the first draft.

What’s your advice to new writers?

Write, write, write! Balance that with plenty of diverse reading, a healthy dose of television and movies, especially if you are writing for screen, and get involved in writing groups to give you feedback.

I'm the president of the Nebraska Writers Guild, and a member of a fantastic feedback group called the Local Muse. Giving and receiving feedback is an essential part of my growth as a writer. There's also a level of accountability when procrastination syndrome threatens to creep in and stall what I'm working on.

Lisa was adopted and raised by a family in Nebraska City, Nebraska. She is the 2011-2015 President of the Nebraska Writers Guild, Municipal Liaison for the Nebraska: Lincoln, and Nebraska: Elsewhere regions for National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, an active member of the Nebraska Writers Workshop, Local Muse, and a charter member of the Nebraska Film Association.

Education: Peru State College, Biology/Chemistry, Peru, NE, 1990; Southeast Community College, LPN, Lincoln, NE, 1982; College of Saint Mary, Registered Nursing, Omaha, NE, 1989.

Training: Lew Hunter's Screenwriting Colony, Superior, Nebraska, Screenwriting, 2011. A two-week intensive program, conducted by UCLA Screenwriting professor emeritus, Lew Hunter, based on the UCLA screenwriting curriculum.

Awards: Omaha Film Festival, Best Feature Screenplay (Nominated), 2013. “Til Death Do Us Part” Slamdance Screenwriting Awards, Best Feature Script (Nominated), 2012. Top 25 Feature Script for “Til Death Do Us Part”; Oregon Film Festival , Best Oregon Screenplay (Nominated), 2012. Bronze, for “Til Death Do Us Part”: Austin Film Festival, Best Feature Screenplay (Nominated), 2013. Second Round selection for “Modified Flight Plan” (with Brian Thomas); Bess Streeter Aldrich Short Fiction, Best Short Story (Won), 2010. Won for “Curls of Gold,” part of “Tales From Table Rock.”

Her published works include “Reckless Abandon,” “The Hunt,” and “Cedar in Seattle,” all novellas, and “Modified Flight Plan,” with Brian Thomas.

Produced screen projects include, “Remission,” a feature currently in post-production with Midnight Frights Films, and “Last Breath,” also in post-production, a short film that is part of the upcoming “Shivers Down Your Spine,” series with Dead Lantern Pictures.