It's time for another Limelight post. This week I'm interviewing Lisa Marie Latino, CEO of Long Shot Productions, and author of Ten Years Later.
Hi Lisa Marie, and welcome to my blog. Let’s start with you telling us about yourself …
Hi Hannah! Thank you for having me.
I’m CEO and executive producer of Long Shot Productions, a full- service media production company based in Fairfield, New Jersey. At Long Shot, we produce a variety of commercial, corporate, and entertainment videos that have taken us throughout the United States as well as Europe. In 2014, we co-launched HipNewJersey.com, an online lifestyle program featuring the latest trends around the Garden State.
Personally, I’ve appeared on a wide variety of local television, network cable, and radio shows, including TLC's "Cake Boss” and SNY's "Oh Yeah" and work in-season for the New York Giants Radio Network. I’ve also served as an adjunct broadcasting professor at Seton Hall University.
I graduated from Montclair State University in 2006 with a degree in broadcasting and speech communication and I currently live in New Jersey.
In 2016, I realized a life-long dream of mine and became a published author with the release of my debut novel, Ten Years Later.
Wow, that’s quite the resume! How did you find the time for writing as well?
It was hard to carve out “me” time to get the manuscript done, so I had to be sneaky about it. I would tell my business and personal contacts alike that I was “going away on business” and would rent hotel rooms for a few days at a time until I had the completed draft. I did this five or six times throughout the course of a year and a half. While it was a lot of work (and room service), I had a blast shutting myself off from the world and spending proper time with my characters.
What can you share about your debut novel, Ten Years Later?
Ten Years Later is about a girl that most people, especially millennials who are trying to find their niche in the “real world,” can relate to.
We first meet Carla D’Agostino while she’s in the throes of a major quarter-life crisis. She's stuck in a seemingly dead-end job, single, and still living with her overbearing parents. To add fuel to the fire, she realizes her ten-year high school reunion is fast approaching, and her frustration multiplies when she starts comparing herself to her “more successful” peers.
Determined to show up to the reunion a winner, she strives and schemes to achieve her heart’s desires— true love, a career as a sports radio talk show host, independence away from her family and more. Ten Years Later follows Carla throughout her year-long journey of “perfection” and we see the highs and lows of what that entails.
Sounds intriguing! Is it all fiction?
People think that Carla and I are the same person because we share a similar background, but I gave the character her own set of circumstances. If Carla was me and vice versa, it would be a whole different, weirder story!
What made you decide to self-publish rather than go the traditional route?
Don’t get me wrong; I TRIED going the traditional route. And for first-time authors that traditionally means getting rejected time and time again by agents, which happened about fifty times to me. That got pretty tiring, so I leaned on my entrepreneurial experience and decided to do this on my own. I enlisted a professional editor, cover artist and proof readers to perfect the final product, put together a plan of action, and as of October 4, 2016, opened for business!
What has your writing journey been like? Can you share the highs and lows, frustrations and jubilation?
Writing the book was the easy, fun, effortless part; the aftermath of the finished manuscript was nothing short of grueling. Deleting some parts per my editor’s suggestions was tough. Fine-tuning grammatical errors per my proof-readers’ sharp eyes was even tougher. But I relied on my passion for the story to get me through the mundane times, and it paid off.
When and how did you discover your passion for writing? What did you write first?
I’ve had a passion for it as long as I could remember. I have big imagination, and creative writing was one of my favorite subjects in school. I really developed my skill in college, when I vowed to write in my journal every day to capture the adventures I was embarking on. College was my first taste of the “real world” and I’ve had no shortage of inspiration ever since!
Can you tell us about how you write? Any particular methods or quirks you can share?
I feel very “brave” when I am writing. I feel that, because I write with abandon, the words come out more sharp-tongued and witty than they do in my verbal life. While I am far from shy, it’s more comfortable to be confrontational or fearless in writing than in “real life,” and my writing reflects that freedom.
What’s the most surprising thing you learned about yourself when you started writing creatively?
When I was younger, I always admired people who are naturally-gifted singers, ballplayers, or artists— admired, and envied. I often wondered what my natural God-given talent was. When I fell into creative writing, I realized the instincts and talent I was blessed with.
What are your Top-5 tips for aspiring writers?
1) Keep at it— never give up.
2) Read books in your genre to get a sense of what other readers are looking for.
3) Journal; your best inspiration will come from real life!
4) Don’t get dejected by rejected. In this day and age, it’s very easy to get your work out there without the help of a traditional publisher.
5) Make sure you are writing something you are passionate about. It should be FUN!
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I am an avid sports fan, so depending on the season I’m either watching football or baseball. I love all genres of music, and enjoy getting lost inside my favorite songs. I’m very lucky to say that my work is my passion in life, so writing scripts/producing/hosting/marketing/etc. is honestly just a paid hobby of mine.
And finally, where can we find out more about you, and your work?