What fun to welcome back author Christa Allan!
A: My brother, who is also my only sibling, told me over fifteen years ago that he was gay. I barely talked to him for years. We eventually evolved into an awkward relationship and that remained until our father died. At that point, I knew, that with our parents gone, we were all we had. Things grew better, and he and Ricky have been part of our family ever since…and they’ve been together for those fifteen years.
I struggled learning how to be the sister of a gay brother. I knew I wasn’t the only Christian with a gay sibling, so I figured we straight people had to come out of our own closets. When Ricky was beat up in the French Quarter and the last thing he remembered was the sound of his head hitting the concrete, that was my inspiration.
Q: Do you plot out your story ahead of time, or do you think it up as you go?
A: Both? I really, really, really want to be a plotter. But my brain really, really, really refuses to cooperate. I start with an organic plot (I think that’s a more interesting way to say I start with a murky idea), pound the keys for a few chapters, and then call my plotty friends and scream, “Good grief, I don’t have a clue where to go next.” They’re probably going to start blocking my calls, but until then, I rely on the plot-efficient to bring order to my chaos.
Q: I'm the same way, Christa. Plotting sounds great to me, but I'm just not wired that way. Do you treat yourself to something special when a project is completed?
A: Yes. Sleep.
Q: After becoming a published author, what surprised you the most?
A: Oprah ended her show without inviting me, Ellen has yet to call, and I’m not on the cover of Writer’s Digest. The marketing aspect of publishing surprised me in terms of the time, energy, and possibly money it required.
Q: What do you think about writing contests? Have you participated in any? What’s the benefit to an unpublished writer?
A: Long ago and far away when I started this crazy writing gig, a few writer friends whose steps I was following in the publishing minefield, suggested I enter writing contests. I’d not yet even finished half a book, but they thought the experience and the feedback would be helpful. So I did. Those contests provided, for the most part, valuable feedback. Plus, they forced me to put my work out to strangers who, like agents and editors, didn’t know I was sweet, charming, and generous. They were responding to my writing, not me. An important distinction.
Eventually, I stopped entering because if I wanted to publish, more than the first three chapters or fifty pages needed to be written. Some people become professional contest entrants who have refined the art of submitting polished three chapters. Now, sometimes contests can put your work in front of agents and/or editors, and I think that’s valuable. But, if not, then at some point a writer has to decide where to put his/her energy.
I’ve entered ACFW’s contests, never placed, but still found an agent and a publisher. I say that to offer hope! Also, every year and even in contests outside of ACFW, I would receive scores in the 90s and some in freezing temperatures. Guess what? I receive the same in reviews! Sometimes unpublished writers question other unpublished writers as judges. My philosophy is if you’re only writing for published writers, then you need to be writing “how to” books, not fiction. Not all of your readers will be published, and you can’t follow your writing. As my students say, “it is what it is.”
If you disagree with a judge’s comments, no problem. I disagree with a number of the reviews I’ve had. That’s the collateral damage of being a writer. And, before I take up all of Jennifer’s blog time…if you don’t agree with a judge’s comments, don’t send thank you notes with subtext that suggests anything but thanks. Unless, of course, you plan to respond to every one of your negative reviews!
Q: What’s the one far out sci-fi technology you’d most like to see become a household item?
A: One of those nifty machines like on Star Trek where you just say what food item you want and it appears. If course, I would probably need an at-home liposuction machine to go with it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
A true Southern woman who knows that any cook worth her gumbo always starts with a roux and who never wears white after Labor Day, Christa Allan writes not-your-usual Christian fiction that’s unafraid to tackle the tough questions. Walking on Broken Glass, her debut novel, released in 2010. The Edge of Grace released in 2011 and received a starred review from Library Journal. Three more novels with Abingdon Press follow in 2013 and 2014. Love Finds You in New Orleans (Summerside Press) is set to release in 2012.
Christa is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and its Faith, Hope, and Love chapter. She also belongs to writing organizations in her community. Christa, a high school English teacher, and her veterinarian husband live in Abita Springs with their three neurotic cats. Christa is the mother of five and is totally smitten with her two grandgirls.
Thanks for hanging out with us today, Christa! And for all you readers, here's a special treat: The Edge of Grace is available for FREE on Kindle. But it won't last forever, so hurry on over there and download it while you can :+}
ABOUT THE BOOK - The Edge of Grace
An early morning call shatters Caryn Becker's world. Unable to cope with her brother’s news that he is gay, Caryn rejects him and disappears into her own turbulent life as a young widow and single mom. But when David is attacked and nearly killed, Caryn is forced to make hard choices about family, faith, and her own future; choices that take her to the very edge of grace.
WIN THE BOOK
If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of The Edge of Grace, just leave a comment on this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on Monday, August 22. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!