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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Finding Hope in the Christmas Season: Author Interview with Kimberla Lawson Roby

You’ve just published your first Christmas novella, A Christmas Prayer. Tell my readers a little about the book.
A Christmas Prayer centers on Alicia Fletcher, who hasn’t had a merry Christmas since her mother passed away five years ago. Her mom loved everything Christmas and brought so much joy to the entire family during the holiday season, and it just hasn’t been the same for Alexis without her. At the same time, Alexis is engaged to a wonderful man named Chase Dupont, III, but unfortunately, her future mother-in-law, Geneva, is doing everything she can to end her son’s engagement.

What would you like readers to take away from reading this book?
I know all too well how it feels to be sad during the Christmas season (because of losing my own mom thirteen years ago), my hope is that A Christmas Prayer will help any of my readers who have lost loved ones. My prayer is that it will encourage others to enjoy the holidays as much as possible with family and friends.

Why a novella instead of a full length novel?
In terms of why I wrote this book as a novella versus a novel, what I love about novellas is the fact that they allow you to read an entire story in a very short amount of time, yet there is still a plot and message that hopefully readers can enjoy. To date, I’ve written five novellas, and I also think I will write another Christmas-themed book in the future.

What makes the Christmas holiday season special for you?
Although, I haven’t fully enjoyed the Christmas holiday season the way I did when my mom was alive, my husband and I have always spent Christmas Eve (from morning to evening) going out and delivering Christmas gifts to family members and friends. We then spend Christmas Day at my mother-in-law’s, which is always a happy and fun time for all of us.

You’ve now published 11 books in your Reverend Curtis Black Series. What made you chose a
pastor as your lead character?
After writing my first two novels, I decided that I wanted to continue writing about real-life social issues. So as I was preparing to write my third novel and wondering what topic I would focus on, my husband suggested I write about some of the problems that tend to go on in churches. I have been in church my entire life, so I have certainly seen and heard a lot over the years. But after writing the first book in the series, I learned pretty quickly from my readers that my Reverend Curtis Black character was alive and well throughout the country. Additionally, Reverend Curtis Black, his wife and children are what tie all the books together.

You published your first book in 1997. What mistakes can you now look back and see that you made that you learned from?
It’s harder for me now than it was 17 years ago, because with every single book I write, my fear is that readers won’t enjoy it as much as they did my last title. I’ve written 22 books, yet I still fear that the next one won’t be good enough. In terms of mistakes or do-overs, I would take more creative writing courses before writing my first book.

How do you write? Did you do an outline first? Did you do individual character development before doing the full plot?
When I’m preparing to write my next novel, I decide what social issue I want to center my story around, I mentally create the characters, and then I write a two or three page synopsis. After that, I write an outline for the first fifteen to twenty chapters, and I finally begin writing the actual chapters of the book. From there, the characters take on a full life of their own, and I never know how any story is going to end until I’m writing the last four to five chapters.

How much does social media play in your promotion of your books?
Social media plays a huge role in the promotion of my books, as it allows me to get the word out about my new releases on a much more regular basis. More important, it allows me to connect with and communicate with my readers in a more personal way, which I love.

What suggestions do you have for enhancing a writer’s social media platform?
I would suggest to all writers that they spend time daily on social media, communicating with their readers. Readers also love contest giveaways. As far as publicity, I travel on national tours for each book release, doing book signing and speaking engagement events, I do radio, TV, newspaper, blog and magazine interviews, I host contests for individual readers as well as an annual contest exclusively for book clubs. Building a relationship with readers, one reader at a time and one book club at a time has made all the difference in my writing career. My readers are my priority, and I try my best to let them know how grateful I am to them. I just couldn’t do what I without their love and support.

What do you know now about writing/publishing now that you wished you had known sooner?
Thankfully, from the very beginning, I studied and learned everything I could about the overall business of writing and publishing. Being rejected by literary agents and editors is the reason I ultimately self-published, and being forced to learn everything about the business has been a blessing for me.

What is the best advice you've been given about writing or that you've learned that you would like to pass along?
The best advice I’ve been given about writing came from the talented, Walter Mosley. He has always told me that I should write every single day, regardless of whatever else I have going on. He writes a minimum of three hours per day, no matter what. I’m still not there yet, but I want to be, and I hope other writers will do the same.

What other works do you have in the process?
I just finished writing my 22nd book, THE ULTIMATE BETRAYAL, which will be released June 9, 2015. Then, in January 2016, my 6th novella will be published.

That's it for today's interview. If you would like to learn more about Kimberla's books and upcoming events, here's some good starts...

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