Lisa Lucero credits several McPherson teachers for their encouragement to keep writing — a hobby that turned into a career and, now, her first novel.

A 1998 graduate of McPherson High School, Lucero now lives in Newton, Iowa. 

"I'm really glad I grew up in McPherson; it was a friendly community where everybody knew everyone," Lucero said.

Lucero pointed out another benefit of her childhood home's location along Kansas Ave was being able to walk to each school she attended.

It was in fourth grade that Lucero was first recognized for her writing skills.

"One of our assignments was to write a poem about a color and my color was white," Lucero said.

Impressed with her work, Lucero's teacher encouraged her to think about writing as a profession. That sentiment was repeated by her fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Johnson.

"She and another teacher noticed my writing ability and told me it was something I should consider," Lucero said.

Moving into middle school, Lucero wrote poems and began journaling.

"I noticed in my diary and in my journals ... it sort of read like a novel," Lucero said.

Lucero's first novel, "Waves Crashing," is a story she started writing as a junior in high school. In the beginning, the book's plot was pure romance.

"I was trying to figure out a genre that would be easy to start with," Lucero said.

Bored with the predictable arc of the story, Lucero added plot twists and action scenes — along with murders.

"Waves Crashing" follows oceanographer Corona Bowser who loses her lover, then finds herself swept off her feet by a mysterious stranger named Andrew Harkins. The alluring, handsome architect catches her eye, but what she doesn’t know may hurt her.

"I wanted to pick characters who had unusual backgrounds and I ended up writing about professions I didn't know about at the time and locations I'd never been to," Lucero said.

Those choices for her character's jobs required research — a task that was a challenge before the advent of the internet. Lucero ended up writing a letter to National Geographic Magazine to ask for information about oceanography.

Though she had the basis for a short story, it would be 20 years later before it was fleshed out into a full-length novel and published.

Lucero earned her bachelor's degree in communications at Fort Hays State University, majored in journalism at Hutchinson Community College and attended Grinnell College. She got her start as an obituary clerk at The Hutchinson News, then was a general assignment reporter at the McPherson Sentinel, a business reporter at the Garden City Telegram and a news reporter at the Jackson County Herald-Tribune. Lucero also was a freelance writer for the Emporia Gazette.

"I didn't have a whole lot of time to work on (the book)," Lucero said. "...I did apply some of my journalistic skills later on in the process, especially with my writing."

Unlike her journalistic work, Lucero could make up the details in her novel — a factor that appealed to her.

"I didn't have to be accurate, it just need to sound convincing," Lucero said. "I didn't have to worry about anybody calling me up."

Lucero admitted she did base some of characters in "Waves Crashing" off of people she knew, but she combined personality traits from multiple individuals to throw people off the scent.

Submitting the manuscript to several publishers, Lucero's book was rejected several times before finally being accepted. Each rejection came with good feedback, which she took to heart and used to hone her writing.

"For individuals who are aspiring writers, they should prepare themselves for failure," Lucero said. "Just because one publisher doesn't like your book doesn't mean another one won't. ...Get used to revising repeatedly, strive for perfection and never give up."

"Waves Crashing" is available as an ebook from Barnes & Noble and Amazon. It will be available in print later this year.

For more information about Lucero's writing, visit https://womanoftheworld7.wixsite.com/author.

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.