Blog Archive

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Stay True to Your Writing: Author Interview with Urcelia Teixeira

Your first book was published in 2017 and you rapidly released 6 books in that series. Are you a speed writer? When did you actually start writing your books? 
I definitely don’t consider myself to be a speed writer. I started writing my first book, The Rhapta Key, during the month of August 2017—it took forty-five days. This seems to be the average time I take on any of my books. Because The Rhapta Key was the first book I had ever written, the writing came quickly and easily, mainly because I had no idea of the rules of writing. I just wrote. 

It is incidentally also my worst book for that exact reason. Since then, I made it my personal mission to learn as much as I could about my craft and the industry, which oddly reflects in each following book’s reviews. In my opinion, making sure you are always learning is a vital part of being a writer.

What drew you to writing suspense/thrillers?
I have a natural affinity towards anything mysterious and suspenseful. As a child I loved reading Nancy Drew books. Eventually that evolved into murder mysteries and eventually suspense fiction. These elements naturally made it into my writing. In my personal reading I want to be gripped from the first page, be left guessing all the way through while I hold my breath on the edge of my seat. This is what I aim to write as well.

What is your writing process?
As for my process, I am not a plotter. I’ve tried so many times but keep veering off my initial ‘scripts’, so I have made peace with being a serial pantser and have developed a process that I know yields maximum productivity for me. It took me five books to find my own style and it’s working well for me. I am and have always been extremely disciplined with my writing and treat it like a job more than a past-time passion. 

I plan my writing schedule to the day and stick to it, no matter what. What that means is that I break down how many hours I would need to finish a book, then schedule those hours into my planner. I don’t deviate off it. If I fall ill or something else interrupts my schedule, I add an extra hour or two to my day to catch up. 

 On average, I write four to five hours a day, usually in the mornings from a Monday to a Friday, and spend my afternoons going over the morning’s writing, answering emails, marketing, etc. I have three children and a busy household which requires the rest of my time and weekends. This is another vital part of my journey: balancing work and family.

Prior to finishing your Alex Hunt series, your bio says you had a spiritual awakening, and you now write with a purpose. Both your Alex Hunt and Adam Cross series are suspense/thrillers. What exactly changed in the storylines other than characters and setting? 
Even though I have been a devout Christian for nearly twenty years, I was, at the time of releasing The Rhapta Key, clueless on how to make my faith part of my writing journey. It is perhaps also important to mention at this point, that I never set out to be a writer. It was never my ambition in life. I wrote The Rhapta Key on a whim, a challenge to myself. It was merely something I wanted to scratch off my bucket list. I never in a million years thought I would sell even one copy. 

But when the book sold and I suddenly got several messages on Facebook asking for the next book in the series, I jumped at it and wrote The Gilded Treason. Suddenly I had readers who kept asking for more and I was ‘forced’ to create a series, to create a career. It hit me like a tidal wave and sucked me in and there was suddenly no stopping it. 

Deep down inside something didn’t quite resonate with me. I enjoyed writing the series but started experiencing a calling to do more with my writing. This was roughly around the time of writing The Dauphin Deception (book 4). I knew I had to switch genres, but this presented me with a dilemma. I now had thousands of readers who’d come to love my characters and begged me for more of Alex and Sam (Alex Hunt Adventure Thrillers) I couldn’t let them down. I needed to finish the series in some way without disappointing them. 

That’s when The Bari Bones came about. In part it was a test to see how my readers would react if I brought my faith into my books, but also a gradual veering towards my new genre. Much to my relief a lot of my readers responded well and so I turned it up a notch with The Caiaphas Code. This book delved deep into the origin of Christianity supported by historical facts and actual proof, all the while maintaining the archaeological adventure thriller flavor my readers have come to love. It sold extremely well, but it most definitely brought the series to a solid close. 

Where do you think your earlier series crossed over the lines of Christian reading? 
My new Adam Cross Christian Suspense series differs vastly in that it isn’t only written free from profanity, it also has a very definite biblical thread woven through the series. Therein lies the main difference between the two series. Alex Hunt was written by a Christian, but not for Christians. Whereas Adam Cross was written to encourage, inspire, uplift, and entertain existing believers in their journey as Christians.

Did you earlier readers embrace your new writing style or did they walk away?
I lost more than half my readers, and it hurt having to start over, but it was more important to me honor my purpose and my God and write from the heart rather than to write for profit.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? 
To answer this question I need to divide my answer in two parts. There is the part that involves the physical writing process, and the part that entails the business side of being a writer. I’ll start with the first part. The hardest part for me is to structure my brain. I oftentimes have so many story threads/ideas flooding my mind that I easily become sidetracked. 

This becomes a problem if you need to maintain the mystery, suspense, and focus to drive your plot towards an outcome. If there is a murder to solve too many mysterious clues will result in sending the reader all over the place and you lose your suspense. So even though I don’t plot out my chapters and scenes, I do spend time beforehand deciding what exactly what the story is about, and what the biblical message is behind it. I keep myself on track with a gazillion post-it notes all over my walls!

The second part of this question is where the real challenge comes in for me. There are so many balls to juggle, so many hats to wear in the life of a self-published author that it becomes overwhelming. I do everything myself. The marketing, advertising, designing (not the covers just the media), admin, social media, accounting, everything. It is daunting but I am extremely blessed to have an amazing husband who has become my sounding board, my advisor, my website designer, and biggest supporter. When I feel overwhelmed and stressed out, he steps in with a good measure of logical thinking that refocuses my priorities and encourages me to push on.


What does your editor remind you to do most often?
Oh, hands down my tenses! When I am in my head feeling my way through a scene I tend to get caught up in the present tense so I easily muddle my present and past tenses. She is amazing though and very patient with me.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
My readers! I do not write for fame or fortune. They are a constant encouragement to me. So many of them have gone and continue to go through difficult circumstances, yet they choose to read my books. What a blessing! I have the most amazing group of readers who send me encouraging emails and pray for me daily. They are right there beside me as I push through my sciatica or most recent bout of shingles, cheering me on, supporting me when my books come out. As Christians we are already bound together in faith, and for that bond to extend to our mutual passion for books as well, is beyond encouraging.

We have all experienced rejection. Give me an example of how you learned to write past it.
Rejection comes in many forms in a writer’s life, and most often rears its ugly head by means of bad reviews or a book rejection if you’ve submitted your work to a publisher. Thankfully, I’ve only experienced bad reviews. That always hurts. But it is important to find the positive in those bad reviews. Don’t take it personally. Pick out a few, identify if there are any threads pointing to the same issues with your books, and correct it. 

In the beginning it nearly killed me to read those dreaded one-star reviews, especially if it came from someone really close to you. But you need to ignore the snarly tones and remind yourself of why you are doing what you are doing. I have a vision board—one on the wall in my office, and one in my planner. I also have scriptures all over my wall in front of my desk. When I feel rejection, however it comes, I remind myself of my WHY.

What has surprised  or 
frustrated you the most in writing/publishing? 
I never thought I would love writing as much as I do, and I certainly never thought I could do it. Even though it is still an uphill battle to get my books noticed, I have learned so much, and seeing how this newfound career has shaped me, remains truly astonishing to me. 

My biggest frustration has been the advertising side of the business, especially BookBub’s self ads. I just can’t get it to work for me. Also, finding time to read books other than self-help or craft books is incredibly frustrating to me. I have now carved out time on weekends to read fiction and only allow myself one self-help book per month.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?
I wish I had found my writing style much sooner. There is so much advice on what you should and shouldn’t write if you want to make it in this industry that I was too focused on writing what the industry decided would sell instead of writing what brought me joy. It is an extremely competitive industry that can single-handedly break you down if you aren’t careful, so it is vital you stay true to yourself.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
Do not compare your writing journey with anyone else’s. Your journey is your own. It is very easy to get affected and despondent when you see a Facebook post of an established author’s journey. I am naturally quite determined and I sometimes forget that I have only been at it for four years. Comparing myself to a ‘competitor' author who has been at it for ten or fifteen years (or who doesn’t have a busy family to tend to) is only setting me up for failure. It is a trap so many of us fall into and ‘comparitinitus’ is brutal and can leave you feeling insecure and inadequate. Don’t measure yourself against others.

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
Writing isn’t for the faint-hearted, but if you stay true to your passion, your purpose, or whatever you wish to call it, you can do it. Become determined in your writing, never stop learning, never stop aiming higher, and never stop believing.

What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
A brand new Christian Suspense Thriller series is underway with book one releasing very soon. I have not revealed anything to my readers yet, so my lips remain sealed at this stage. But what I can say is that there is lots of mystery, suspense and an explosive ending you didn’t see coming! I am thoroughly enjoying writing this book and am super excited to reveal my stunning cover! 

That's all for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Urcelia's writing, here are some links to get you started.
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Website: www.urcelia.com
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