New Post @ Almost an Author Writing Across Genres with Judy Christie

I managed to snag another interview with Judy Christie, co-author with Lisa Wingate of Before and After, the real life sequel to Before We Were Yours.

Click here to read the post @ Almost an Author, Writing Across Genres with Judy Christie.

Before and After released this week.

Judy talked about her new book on this blog a few weeks ago. You can read it here.

I posted an interview with Lisa about Before We Were Yours some time ago. You can read about it here.

Almost an Author Interview with Watty Winner Brian McBride

My newest blog post at Almost an Author is up. I interviewed Watty Award winner Brian McBride about using wattpad to build an audience. Click here to read.

In the first part of Brian’s interview, we talked more about his books and writing realistic Christian fiction. You can be find that post here.

Brian is already hard at work on another book. I’ll be watching to see what he comes up with next!

 

 

Author Interview: Judy Christie’s Upcoming Release~Before and After

GIVEAWAY ALERT There is currently a Goodreads  giveaway for this book.

About the book: Before and After: The Incredible Real-Life Stories of Orphans Who Survived the Tennessee Children’s Home Society” is a unique nonfiction sequel to Lisa Wingate’s No. 1 best-selling novel “Before We Were Yours” and tells the poignant true stories of victims of a notorious adoption scandal—some of whom learned the truth from Before We Were Yours and were reunited with birth family members as a result of its wide reach. 

Encouraged by their contact with Wingate and award-winning journalist Judy Christie, who documented the stories of fifteen adoptees and their families in this book, many Tann survivors set out to trace their roots and find their birth families. Often raised as only children, many have joyfully reunited with siblings in the final decades of their lives. In a poignant culmination of art meeting life, long-silent victims of the tragically corrupt system return to Memphis with Wingate and Christie to reclaim their stories at a Tennessee Children’s Home Society reunion . . . with extraordinary results. The book releases Oct. 22 from Ballantine, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

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Y’all, Before We Were Yours was such an amazing book. It’s one of those that sticks with you long after you read it and I had to interview Lisa Wingate about it when it was fresh. I was on my 2018 Best Reads list. I am eager to read more, and, naturally, this new book Before and After is one of my must reads.

If you still haven’t read Before We Were Yours, go get it! But first read this post. 😉

Judy Christie is a wonderful writer and a sweet soul. I’m so glad she agreed to talk with us about Before and After.

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Before We Were Yours is such a heart wrenching read, I feel like it should come with a box of tissues. What emotional words would you use to describe the follow up book?

Inspiring. Hopeful. Bittersweet. Life-affirming. “Before and After” shows the resilience of every-day people and their heroic efforts to find brothers and sisters and to keep Georgia Tann from owning their stories. 

What was the most satisfying thing about working on this project?

—Saving these stories means so much to me, and I am blessed to have gotten to be friends with these great families. And what a delight to write with longtime friend Lisa. We had a great time working together, both in the same room and by phone. Neither of us had tried this approach to a book before, and it was incredible. The project sometimes felt like it was coming together by magic.

You’ve written novels, nonfiction books, and are also a reporter. Do you feel that one of these jobs prepared you better to write this particular book? How did each of these jobs come into play?

-It blew me away to feel uniquely qualified to do this project. My journalism experience helped me research and interview, and my novel-writing experience helped me structure the stories. I was the editor of a newspaper in West Tennessee, am married to a Tennessee native and am very familiar with the state. I’m a southerner and love visiting with folks. It all came together.

What do you feel was the biggest thing you gained by tackling this project?

-Realizing that no matter how much we plan our careers, we don’t know when the perfect project will come along, and we have to be open to good ideas. A little over a year ago, I had no idea I’d be writing this book. Working with Lisa was not only fun but a great learning experience.

Can you tell us about any future books you are working on?

—Oh, yes! I’m working on a new novel, and I’m quite excited about it. I can’t wait to tell readers about it when it’s a little further along.

Thank you so much for visiting with us, Judy. I’m looking forward to reading your new book!

Author Judy Christie has had 18 books published, including three Southern small-town novel series. An award-winning newspaper reporter and editor for 25 years, she has had lunch at the White House with First Lady Nancy Reagan; met Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the moon; and ridden across a Southern city in a hot air balloon. She’s run marathons—26.2 miles–in Alaska and at Disney World, been chased by a monkey on a city street, fished for piranha on the Amazon and once got a black eye playing putt-putt at the beach. She’s always up for a good story and a good adventure, and no matter what she’s doing, she enjoys reading, writing and talking about books. Sign up for her e-newsletter and a free guide to telling family stories at www.judychristie.com. Follow her on Facebook @judychristieauthor.

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Guys, what’s next on your must read list? Go add this one to your Goodreads want-to-read shelf. There’s a giveaway that’s about to expire. Hurry and enter.

Gritty Contemporary Christian YA: Interview with Author Brian McBride

 

Haunted by the last question their mother ever asked them, the Greyson brothers struggle to cope with their grief and adjust to life after tragedy.

Semi-popular sixteen-year-old Liam spends his nights performing as the lead singer of his high school indie alternative/rock band, Liam and the Landmarks. But something happened to Liam four years ago at his friend’s house – a secret Liam will take to his grave. But in small towns like Summit, Colorado, secrets always seem to find their way out.

Twenty-four-year-old Ezra thought that he could cure his grief when he left Summit behind for a prestigious art school in Chicago, but things only got worse. Now a college dropout working at a gas station mini mart, he turns to alcohol, prescription painkillers, and meaningless one-night stands. But Ezra can’t run forever – life always catches up with you.

With abrasively honest dual-perspective narratives, Every Bright and Broken Thing illustrates the unbreakable bond between brothers and the power in coming home.

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Bookstagrammer, blogger, and author Sunny Huck shared about Brian’s work on her Instagram and peaked my interest so I had to talk with him.

DJS: Your novels are contemporary and gritty. What drives you to write about the issues you do?

BMcB: Some of it is personal experience; a lot of the issues I write about are things that myself or others I know have faced. Depression, self-harm, mental illness, sexual abuse and assault, domestic violence, addiction, etc… 

But some of it is also that there’s a severe lack in the YA market – specifically the Christian YA market – of stories that deal with these things. I can’t name even five Christian YA Contemporary novels that could be comparable to, say, the stories John Green, Amber Smith, or Stephen Chbosky write. The Christian Fiction industry seems to think YA Fantasy novels are the only kind worth publishing. I disagree. I doubt I can fill this gap completely by myself, but maybe I can encourage other Christian authors of YA Contemporary to share their stories, too – THEN we’ll fill the gap!

DJS: What has been the most gratifying about writing realistic Christian fiction for young people?

BMcB: Hearing the stories of how my books have given people a new view of themselves, of the value of life, of faith and hope, and most importantly of Jesus. Hearing all those stories has been the highlight of this experience. 

DJS: Liam and Ezra go through some pretty harrowing times before they begin their healing journey in Every Bright and Broken Thing. Will you write any more of their story?

BMcB: I don’t have any new stories simmering for Liam and Ezra right now. But I have a short story or novella I may or may not be planning to carry on Lincoln’s story. But anything is possible. If a good idea comes, I won’t say no to revisiting my boys in Summit. 

DJS: Every Bright and Broken Thing is the story of two brothers dealing with loss and how they react. In a few sentences, what would you say to those who want to support families going through grief?

BMcB: Hold onto them and don’t let go. I remember a time when I was far away from the Lord and was getting into some bad stuff, but my parents refused to let go. Some parents will kind of back off and say, “oh, well they’re adults now. They have to make their own choices.” But my parents weren’t about to let me go. They held on for months and months. I literally would not be alive today if it weren’t for the fierce, fighting kind of love my parents have for me.

In Every Bright, we see Mr. Greyson grapple with his own suffering and even come to realize how he allowed his grief to cause him to not hold onto his sons like he should. Mr. Greyson had to determine once again that he was going to hold onto his boys. In that, we see a father who was broken become strong again.

So, if you know someone who is suffering, hold on and don’t let go. Sometimes that means telling them the hard truth. Sometimes that just means listening and letting them cry on your shoulder. Whatever the case, hold on and don’t let go.

Thank you so much for taking time to talk with us today, Brian. Keep writing. I expect great things to come from your work.

A winner of the 2016 Wattys Award, Brian published the award-winning Young Adult Contemporary debut, Love and the Sea and Everything in Between, in 2018.
Born and raised in Oregon, Brian moved to the San Francisco Bay Area at 16-years-old. He’s been writing since he was thirteen-years-old and has been reading for longer. Brian is pursuing a degree in Social Work, which he hopes to use to help rescue children and families. Perhaps he’ll work to better the US’s foster care system? Or maybe he’ll join an organization that fights human trafficking? A fourth generation pastor, he is deeply passionate about the Church and is also pursuing his Minister’s License. It was this passion that compelled him to launch the Pioneer Mvmt, a social-media-based faith movement. Among other things, he is also passionate about iced tea, animals, adoption, and the arts.

Interview with Hope Bolinger ~YA Author and Literary Agent

This week I was super excited to talk with literary agent and author Hope Bolinger about her recent release, Blaze. 

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From the Back Cover of Blaze

If you can’t stand the heat, don’t walk into the fire.

Danny knew his sophomore year would be stressful . . . but he didn’t expect his school to burn down on the first day. 

To make matters worse (and they were about to get a lot worse), he — and his three best friends — receive an email in their inboxes from the principal of their rival, King’s Academy, offering full-rides to attend the town’s prestigious boarding school. Danny wants nothing to do with King’s Academy and says no. Of course his mother says yes. So off he goes to be bullied and picked on for not being part of the popular and rich “in crowd.” 

From day one at King’s, Danny encounters hazing, mocking insults from girls at the “popular and pretty” table, and cafeteria food that, for such a prestigious school, tastes as if it were purchased from a military surplus supply warehouse. If he survives, Danny will have to overcome his fears of failure, rejection, and loneliness—all while standing strong in his beliefs and walking into the fire.

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DJS: As I read your book, I often found myself chuckling at Danny’s wit. Was it difficult to write humor or did it come naturally? What experiences did you draw on to write humor into your story?

HB: I love humor. I actually started writing as a comedic playwright. If you know me at all, I crack jokes all the time, which does draw many eyerolls from my younger brother as is the tendency of most younger brothers. I think you just have to have a sense of humor to make it through this industry. Certain rejections are simply funny. It’s like publishers are just desperate to come up with a reason not to take on your book. I literally had a publisher say, “There’s nothing wrong with this book. It’s perfect. But we’re not going to publish it.” A lot of awful stuff happened right before I wrote Blaze, and I had two options: to wallow or to poke fun at the ridiculousness of it all. I think all those humorous situations just pent up and turned into Danny.

DJS: Blaze is set in a boarding school, King’s Academy.  What was it about the boarding school culture that drew you to write a story in this setting? 

HB: I wanted to create a modern-day Babylon, and in the original story of Daniel, they basically live in the King’s palace for their education. It just felt like a boarding school. I also wrote it in college, which is basically a boarding school for adults. I think I just had to release some frustrations about the lack of AC in our forty-five year old dorm when the campus kept building such nice things for all the visitors.

DJS: As a writer, it’s easy to become attached to our characters. Can you tell us about one of your characters who tugs on your heartstrings? If you could meet them face to face and tell them one thing, what would it be? 

HB: I love all four of the characters in Blaze. Rayah really tugs hard on my heartstrings because she went through something somewhat similar to me. Throughout the series, we witness the falling out of her parents and how the divorce affects her. Because she’s so shy and timid, she doesn’t often let on how much it affects her. If I could meet her, I’d tell her she’s far stronger, smarter, and more beautiful than she thinks.

DJS: Friendship is a theme in your novel. What advice about friendship do you have for your young readers?

HB: Friendship is so important. Keep your friends as close as possible, and be there for them during the tough times. Friends can help you through the most difficult times of life. If I didn’t have a body of wonderful friends surrounding me during my parents’ divorce, I don’t know what I would’ve done.

DJS: Great advice, Hope. We all need friends to lean on in tough times.

I enjoyed reading Blaze. Thank you so much for spending time with us. Wishing you the best of luck with your novel!

Guys, next month be sure to pop over to Almost an Author for more of my interview with Hope Bolinger when we talk about writing.

Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. and a recent graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 350 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer’s Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column “Hope’s Hacks,” tips and tricks to avoid writer’s block, reaches 6,000+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young’s blog. Her modern-day Daniel, Blaze,” (Illuminate YA) just released, and they contracted the sequel for 2020. Find out more about her here.

Facebook: @therosewoman Twitter: @hopebolinger

Instagram: @hopebolinger  Website: hopebolinger.com

 

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Finding Writing Support

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
~Thomas Mann

Writing can be a lonely occupation. Writing groups give encouragement, direction, and a place to commiserate when the inevitable rejection comes. For the past several years I’ve been limited to online support groups for writing, and those are wonderful, but there’s just something about meeting face to face with other writers.

I’ve been blessed to have access to a local group, NOLASTARS, in nearby Shreveport. They are affiliated with RWA, Romance Writers of America. While the focus is on romance, membership in NOLASTARS is open to serious writers in other genres. NOLASTARS is a well established group and has events throughout the year. It’s a wonderful group! RWA offers a long list of benefits accessible online to members.

I’ve found online friends and help as well. The amazing Sarah Tipton edited my YA I wrote for National Novel Writing Month, NANOWRIMO 2017. (Anyone else getting excited for NANOWRIMO 2018? Let’s do it!) Sarah was a godsend. I could not have managed without her. Her website is  www.sarahtiptonbooks.com.

Diana L. Sharples gave me an incredible amount of useful feedback on another of my books. She has also been an encouragement at the exact right moment.

Diana has a book coming out this month! She has been a busy bee with several releases this year and more to come soon. I am enjoying her book, Finding Hero. If you like YA Mysteries, you should check it out. It’s available for preorder here.

I found both of these wonderful online friends through Facebook. It’s good to have friends to help you along the journey.

Where do you find support for your creative pursuits?