Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Connie Almony {Writer Wednesday} & Giveaway

I am excited to have Connie on the blog with us today! She has graciously offered up a copy of her novella - with a choice of ebook or paperback (in the continental US) - for a GIVEAWAY! To enter for your chance to win, please respond with a comment for Connie or one thing you're looking forward to doing this summer!

The giveaway will be open to entries from today until Monday June 30. I will announce the winner on Tuesday July 1st!

A little bit about Connie...

Connie Almony is trained as a mental health therapist and likes to mix a little fun with the serious stuff of life. She was a 2012 semi-finalist in the Genesis Contest for Women’s Fiction and was awarded an Honorable Mention in the Winter 2012 WOW Flash Fiction Contest. Her newest release, At the Edge of a Dark Forest, is a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast about a war-vet, amputee struggling with PTSD.

You can find Connie on the web, writing book reviews for Jesus Freak Hideout, and hosting the following blogs: InfiniteCharacters.com and LivingtheBodyofChrist.Blogspot.com.

How to connect with Connie....

Twitter
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Goodreads



Author Interview | Connie Almony


You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I’ve always loved a good story, movies or books. I’ve written off and on since I was a kid, but never thought I could make it a career, so I didn’t pursue it until the last several years. However, all my life I’d find myself watching a movie wondering how an author would describe a scene in a book when she didn’t have the luxury of visuals. So, for fun, I’d write in my head throughout the viewing. It became sort of second nature.

...When my daughter was little, I’d watch Disney videos with her and ask her things like, “If you wrote that story, what kind of character would you make so-and-so?” OR “How do you wish that movie ended?” I think this developed a sense of storytelling in her which led her to write them from the moment she could sound out words. Then, one day I helped her brainstorm for a school project to write a Cinderella tale set in modern-day Greece. We came up with so many fun and exciting ideas, but she alone got to pick which ones went in and which got tossed. Though she wrote a wonderful story, I grieved the ideas that didn’t make the cut. It was at that moment I decided I couldn’t let her have all the fun and I needed to do this writing thing myself. I have never looked back.

...What keeps me writing? The sheer pleasure and oneness I feel in doing it. I KNOW this is what I’m supposed to do. Don’t get me wrong, it’s HARD work and I am sometimes wrung out at the end of the day, writing, critiquing, editing and polishing. But it’s like the feeling after a hard run—exhausted, but pumped!

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...I’d have to say hardest thing is marketing. For one, I’m not comfortable going around saying “Look at me,” or even “Look at my book.” However, I believe in my stories, my characters, and how they could potentially touch someone’s life. I know Jesus warns us not to hide our light under a bushel, so I force myself to do it. I’ve written about Jesus marketing Himself on InfiniteCharacters.com if you want to see how I reconcile it in my mind.

...I don’t know that I’d call any of it “easy,” but there are lots of things that are “fun.” One, would be developing a story and characters. The other is engaging with readers who have read it to see how it impacted them. It’s always wonderful to know your hard work has meaning!

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?


...Here’s the blurb:
Cole Harrison, an Iraq war veteran, wears his disfigurement like a barrier to those who might love him, shielding them from the ugliness inside. He agrees to try and potentially invest in, a prototype prosthetic with the goal of saving a hopeless man’s dreams.

Carly Rose contracts to live with Cole and train him to use his new limbs, only to discover the darkness that wars against the man he could become.

At the Edge of a Dark Forest is a modern-day retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Only it is not her love that will make him whole.
...This book began from an idea to do a series with my critique partners, based on Fairytales without the magic. I’ve always been intrigued with the story of Beauty and the Beast because of the element of loving someone for their insides and not their looks. However, as a counselor who’s worked with young women who’ve chosen projects, as boyfriends, rather than soul mates, I’m always concerned about encouraging the idea that it is a woman’s job to change a man with her love. So, in At the Edge of a Dark Forest, it’s not Carly’s love that makes him whole.

...We call this series “Fairwilde Reflections.” A new fairytale will be released each month by one of my critique partners. Check the schedule here.


...I had to figure out how this man would be a beast, and how could he be transformed without magic. After having done a Military Ministries Series on my blog LivingtheBodyofChrist.blogspot.com a couple of years ago, I’ve been particularly moved by the many ways our veterans have sacrificed so we could be free. That’s how the idea of a war-vet, amputee with PTSD came to mind.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Oh, that’s a hard question. I love all my people :o). If I had to choose, I might say Joe Sakamoto. He’s the horse trainer on Cole’s estate, and what we writers call the “Yoda” character—the mentor of sorts. Still, his son, Sam, is calling for me to write a story about him soon. I feel a sequel coming on.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...As I mentioned above, it is not Carly’s love that changes the man. God uses us to reach His people, but sometimes we need to listen for when He calls us to step back and let Him do the work alone. Yes, Carly challenges him, as does Joe, Sam and even young Manny, but there is a time when all of these people need to stop talking so God’s voice can be heard. We need to trust that God knows what He’s doing.

Writing

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...My ideas come from any input I might get from the world. My first manuscript was inspired by my time as the resident director of a hard-partying, all-male, college dorm. I had to live in the building (at twenty-four years old) with hundreds of hormonal guys. My second was based on some commonalities I found with certain issues I dealt with as a counselor of young women. The one I’m working on now was originally inspired by a Mel Gibson movie called Ransom. I think that released around the time I started reading Christian Fiction, and I’d wondered how you could take some themes in the movie and Christianize them. Then, of course, I added a romance, and a few quirky characters (inspired by family members) and now it’s a very different story.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...My first intention was just to have fun with a story and give the reader the same opportunity. However, God often takes me on a journey as I go and I’m not always sure where it will end up. Given I did not grow up in a very Bible-believing, Christian-centric community, I often write about characters who have no clue who this Jesus guy really is. I love to watch each of them come to a new understanding of God through the walk He gave them and the people He placed around them. So, though my original intention is to entertain, if they become encouraged and inspired along the way, all the better. I also hope the reader will laugh. We all need a good laugh every now and then.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...If this is something you feel called to do, then do it! Write the words. Don’t worry about how bad you think it is. Get the words on the page. We live in the time of word processing for-goodness-sake! Your first draft is not your last. You can fix it!

...Sorry about all the exclamation points, but I get a little passionate about writing :o)!!!


You

What is one thing you like to do to relax when you aren’t writing?
...I’m a huge Christian music fan! In fact, I can’t write without a music muse. For At the Edge of a Dark Forest my muse was NEEDTOBREATHE. For my first manuscript it was Third Day. I also have a Tenth Avenue North manuscript and am working on a David Crowder Band manuscript right now. It’s funny how each of these sets the tone for the characters and the setting in a way nothing else does. Once I turn the music on, my mind wanders into the story and I can’t think of anything else.

...Oops! I just realized you asked what I did when I’m NOT writing. Probably thinking about my story.


Thinking of Fathers Day, is there a story you’d like to share with the readers about your father? 

...When my sisters and I were little, the whole family would drive to Plattsburg, New York to visit relatives—a ten-plus hour sojourn from our home. In the compact-car era, we would have to take two vehicles (Dodge Omnis, both)—mom driving one and dad the other. One time my mother was trying to pump gas into her car (a new phenomenon at the time) and some guy was chastising her because she was having difficulty learning how. My father came from his car to intervene. The guy told him to mind his own business while he dealt with “the lady.” My dad got a little heated and said, “That’s no lady. That’s my wife!” then proceeded to dress him down for being disrespectful to her. I was so proud of him for sticking up for my mom and educating the young man on what it means to show respect.

______________________
Connie, I just loved how you described your passion for writing - just knowing that it's something you have to do! Also, I thought it was really interesting that you mentioned encouraging the idea that women think it's their love that will change their significant other. What a great reminder that it's the Lord's love that must accomplish that! And wow...living in a guys dorm at 24 - sounds like a messy and smelly nightmare *hehe* ;) And, in true writer fashion, your answer about relaxing when not writing is similar to mine. You may not be writing, but you're thinking about it! Love it!

Well, thank you so much for taking the time to be a guest and for my readers, don't forget to comment below to Connie and/or about one thing you're looking forward to doing this summer!