Monday, September 15, 2008

Interview with Michelle Sutton

I first met Michelle Sutton in person when I picked her up at a mall. Okay, so there’s more to the story and to be honest, we’d seen each other before, but not had as much time to talk as we did that day when we left Metro Center and drove to our CWOW (Christian Writers of the West) meeting. It was a chance to really hear what was going on in her life, and I can tell you, there was a lot. But that’s normal for Michelle, whose new YA novel, It’s Not About Me, is now available. So, I thought you might like to get a taste of what this busy gal is like. Please welcome, Michelle Sutton!

AB: Hey, Michelle! Glad you could drop by. First, let me ask you the normal stuff—how long have you been writing? How did you get started?

MS: I’ve been writing five years and got started by just sitting down and doing it.

AB: How many stories had you completed before you got “the call”?

MS: Publishable stories? 9. Total number? 11.

AB: How did you end up settling on your genre YA?

MS: I love to write drama and romance so YA fits the profile. My book is a YA romance.

AB: You use the word “edgy” in describing your work. How would you define edgy in the context of Christian fiction? Where do we as Christian writers draw the line?

MS: I define it within the context of Christian fiction as daring to tell the truth about human hearts and our natural rebellion against God. Put simply, my characters think bad thoughts and make bad choices despite often being “saved”, and they always learn from that because God redeems every situation. For example, in one scene I have Tony telling everyone at Teen Challenge about how he found the Lord and the difference He made in his life, then he finds out his brother was seeing his girlfriend behind his back and he kicks his butt in front of the same people he just told about his new faith. That is real life.

AB: How did you get connected up with your publisher? What do you see as the strengths of going with a young house?

MS: I hooked up with my publisher back in 2004 at the Denver conference. She was my roommate and was impressed with the stories I told her I’d written. She said some day when she opened a publishing house of her own, she’d buy my stuff. Who’d a thought it would really happen? I sure didn’t. The strength of going with a young house is I have the chance to spark success for the company. I want to be the Tracie Peterson or Lori Wick of Sheaf House, contributing a large part to its success. Plus, I had input into the cover and my voice wasn’t “taken out” in the editing process. The story is fully “me”.

AB: Besides your new release It’s Not About Me, you’ve been wearing several hats in the writing world. Please tell us more about your other writing ventures.

MS: I can’t remember them all. Hehehe. I started out reviewing books as an influencer, then that grew exponentially, leading into me starting several social sites which are highly trafficked. Then I was asked to be Editor in Chief of an online magazine. And yes, it’s a paying position.

AB: What is a normal writing day like for you?

MS: Get up at five thirty, read my email, eat breakfast and drink coffee, then hop in the shower and race to drive my son to the bus stop. I call writer friends as I drive to work, then try to read or do writing stuff at lunch time and on breaks, then I go home. At night I eat and dive into email again before working on the magazine columns. Then if there is time left (usually there is NOT) I do some editing or writing. When I go to bed I read for awhile before I fall asleep. I play catch-up on the weekends and Wednesdays (my day off) between appointments.

AB: Where do you see your writing career in five years?

MS: I’ll either be a rich magazine mogul, or I’ll have many more books published (my preference), however, I suspect I’ll still have to work a government job for the insurance benefits. I hope to be published in more than one publishing house, too. I doubt I’ll be reviewing as many books as I am now.

AB: What was the one best thing you did to help yourself on this journey?

MS: Read several good books about how to write fiction and listened to my mentors when they gave me advice.

AB: What was your biggest writing mistake that you’d like to keep others from making?

MS: Don’t listen to too many people when they give you opinions or it’ll make your head swim and discourage you. Pick a few good critiquers and stick with them.

AB: Who are your favorite authors? What about them is the most appealing?

MS: Anyone who writes edgy stuff. Francine Rivers, Julie Lessman, Deanne Gist, etc.

AB: Julie is one of my crit partners and a dear friend—I agree that she is terrific! One of the most important questions I must ask: White, milk, or dark?

MS: Dark first, followed by milk and last is white.

AB: Where can readers get copies of It’s Not About Me?

MS: CBD, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble online and can go into any Barnes and Noble store and order a copy. However, right now just about every place is out of stock. I hope to do a book signing in Phoenix in October the weekend of the CWOW (October 4th) meeting and will be selling books there.

AB: How can readers learn more about you and your writing?

MS: Subscribe to my edgy inspirational author blogspot blog or check my website

AB: It was good catching up with you. Thanks for dropping by Michelle!

Abundant blessings!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

And the winner is

Of course Trish had more entries into the pot than any one else. But to be fair, I wrote each name on a piece of paper--Trish had four due to sending three others via her link. I put the papers into a plastic cup (for those of you who need the visual, the cup was red) and shook them up well. Honest. And then I drew out the winning name. Thank you everyone for stopping by.
Abundant blessings!

Monday, September 01, 2008

I'm Sorry and I Have Gifts!

Thought I’d better pop in here again and beg some forgiveness. It’s been a while and, in spite of my good intentions, I still have trouble getting to this regularly.

A few things have happened since I last posted. My grandmother celebrated her 102nd birthday—yes, you read that correctly. GrammaDear is 102 years old and going strong. She’s still in charge of dishes and plays a mean hand of Kings in the Corner though we finally found a jigsaw puzzle that gave us both fits. Phil and I spent a week with her this summer and enjoyed it thoroughly.

Then we came home to become grandparents. I know, I’m too young for that (at least that’s what I think you’re saying, right?) but what a sweet bundle of joy our new granddaughter is! She looks so much like her mother at that age, though a bit longer like her aunt. I think she’s going to be a tall one.

And then school started again. I taught at Academy the week before, sharing some projects I’ve developed for my gifted students with other teachers. It was my first time doing that and I had a good time--plan to do it again next year. Plus, getting my classroom ready, I decided to paint a couple walls. Okay, I didn’t just paint—I painted the world. I now have a giant world map on my wall. After finishing I realized I had left out a rather important body of water, so there was a contest to see who could figure out what was missing. The winner would get to paint the missing body of water into the map. Two of my fourth graders began coming after school everyday to try and figure it out--picture two boys staring hard at this wall. Finally, on Friday, they succeeded. D came in with a tiny map and pointed out the area but he couldn’t name it. J remembered having seen maps in the back of dictionaries (his favorite thing to read) and looked it up. Lake Victoria was added to the map in a very nice cooperative method—perhaps a tad more south than it should be and probably several miles larger than in real life, but it’s now on the map. Looks good.

Been doing some reading this summer, too. Two books I want to recommend to you. The first is actually Carol Cox’s third installment of her A Fair to Remember series titled A Bride So Fair". Carol and I went to the same high school (not at the same time, though it’s not an age thing—honest!Go Panthers!) and she is still a fellow Arizonian and a well published author. Her series reintroduces the Chicago World's Fair and all the wonder it generated to new audiences. A perfect match for an ol' history buff like me. I enjoyed the first two books of her series, but the third I think is my favorite--romance, excitement, intrigue--what's not to like? I am giving away a free copy just in case you want to check this out for yourself. Leave a comment and your name will go into a drawing to be held on Sunday, September 7.

The other book I want to recommend is The Shack. I’ve never read a book like it. And , next to the Bible, I’ve never read a book with bigger impact on my faith thoughts. I know there are people out there who will disagree with my fanfare, even to the point of crying heresy. However, the book was never meant to be considered doctrine. It is a fictional story that makes one think. And cry, and laugh some, and then cry some more. But most of all it makes one think. In my life the thinking is moving my relationship with my Abba closer, deeper. In a very real way it has brought a new level of peace to my heart.

So, I am making this contest a two book deal. Someone who leaves a comment will receive both A Bride So Fair and The Shack. The chance to enter will close at midnight Saturday night (September 6th). Oh, and just to make it interesting, if you tell someone about this contest, have them leave a comment and say you told them about it. That way your name will go into the drawing again—recommend 10 people, you get 10 extra opportunities to win.

Now can you forgive me for being lax about blogging? Please?

Abundant blessings, all!