Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance. This week, I am so pleased to introduce you to Alexis A. Goring. I love her vision of her work and her goals for the future. I also love that I’ve met someone else who read the Sweet Valley High books as a youth. I read the original four books and just fell in love with them and the dynamics of the characters. I hope you enjoy this interview as much as I did.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a writer at heart and journalist by profession. I love romantic comedy movies especially those that air on the Hallmark Channel. My dream is to write stories that not only make it to the big screen but air on the Hallmark Channel, including Christmas stories that will be featured on Lifetime’s holiday special “Fa La La La Lifetime” television movie schedule.
I enjoy music! My favorite Christian and Gospel artists are CeCe Winans, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Natalie Grant, Francesca Battistelli, Meredith Andrews, Sandi Patti, Jaci Velasquez, Britt Nicole, The Katinas, Amy Grant and so many more! Barbra Streisand, Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey and Jordin Sparks are among my favorite secular music artists.
Shopping is one of my favorite pastimes. I love to treat myself to a hot stone and sea salt mani-pedi at my favorite day spas. Photography and food are my second and third passions (after writing which is my first). The creative arts are my love. I hope to be a creative professional forever.
Tell us about your current release.
My first and so far only book was released in September 2013. It’s an inspirational romance novella called Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories. All of my characters are hoping for a dream in their heart to come true. Not every dream involves a significant other. Three stories compose my novella in this order: “Love Unexpected,” “The Best Gift,” “Peace and Love.” Chandra in “Love Unexpected” is hoping for someone to prove wrong her belief that she’ll be single forever but she’s not actively looking for that special someone. Joshua in “The Best Gift” is hoping to be reunited with his dream girl who broke up with him when he proposed. Kristine in “Peace and Love” is hoping to find her birth mom before she (Kristine) marries her college sweetheart. My main characters meet roadblocks on the journey to their dreams but I will tell you that all of my stories have happy—though unpredictable—endings!
What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction?
Minority authors writing about minority issues. Many stories are not being told. We need more people whose stories are not being told to step up and share stories from their life experience in a way that’s real, refreshing, educational, inspiring and needed.
Who was your first Screen/Musical Crush?
Kevin Richardson of the Backstreet Boys (music group) before he got married.
Have you always wanted to write a book?
Yes! I wrote my first “book” when I was age 9. “Sisters” was the title and it was about ten pages long. Inspiration hit after playing a storytelling game with my grandpa and brother. So I dedicated that whole summer to sitting at the family computer in my parents’ house, typing out the story I’d spoken aloud at my grandparent’s house. After typing the story, I printed it out page-by-page and illustrated the opposite (blank) page for the entire “book” then I stapled it together like real book and created a “cover.” When my mom’s best friend from college visited that summer, I read the story to her and so began my journey to become a professional writer.
My original dream was to write books that turned into movies. Now as a grown-up with a degree in Print Journalism, it still is my dream but only now I know that I need to start learning how to write scripts for movies and television. Releasing my first book in Sept. 2013 was a childhood dream come true and so was having a book signing at Barnes & Noble which so far has happened twice. God is good!
Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? (Book series, maybe?)
I loved reading Sweet Valley High. I started with the Sweet Valley Twins book series which covered the middle school life of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield (fictional identical twin stars of the story series) and followed the twins throughout their high school adventures in Sweet Valley High. After that, I was a freshman in college and I read about two or three of the twins’ college series Sweet Valley University but by then, I lost interest. However those stories did influence my own creative writing in a wonderful way!
I assume when you start a book, you pretty much have the plot laid out. Do you ever change your mind later on in the book, and go in a different direction?
I’m not a big plotter. I enjoy starting with a blank Microsoft Word document and typing the story as it comes to me, often in the way I’d like to see it play out on a movie screen or as a television show.
However, I do begin every story with a summary and there are times when how I originally envisioned a story to be did not pan out the way I thought as I get to know my characters and their motivations.
A classic example of this is with my fictional short story (not yet published) called Memories where Kaydance, a wedding photographer who owns a portrait studio called Memories falls in “love” with a famous broadcast journalist (Robert) from seeing him on television and admiring his work. What she doesn’t know is that Robert (the journalist) is in love with his girlfriend of five years who is a professional model. Kaydance gets the opportunity of a lifetime to meet and work with the famous journalist. She’s elated and takes it. So my original plan was that through working together, Kaydance and Robert would fall in love and Robert would have to choose between his longtime girlfriend and his new love interest. I cannot say more about the plot or summary without giving away the story but I can say that this story surprised me as the author because the climax and ending were not what I expected or planned. But it is what was best for my characters and true to the flow of the story.
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher?
Initially, I wanted to be traditionally published and I sought after an agent, book deal and writing contract—the whole nine yards. But then I was told by a publishing representative that traditional publishers are looking for three things in authors they want to sign: 1) Celebrities (2) New York Times bestselling authors (3) People with a blog following over 1,000.
Since I did not meet any of those three criteria at the time (2011), I took the representative’s advice to take the self-publishing route and my experience was blessed by God. I chose Crossbooks which is an imprint of B&H Publishing Group and they guided me through the entire publication process. I loved that with self-publishing I was able to hire a cover designer of my choice (Brenda McClearen of McClearen Design Studios). Brenda worked with her creative team to imagine and produce a beautiful cover for my first book. I loved being able to keep the rights to my work and enjoyed everything about the self-publishing process with one exception which was the price of publishing my book. I think the only drawback to self-publishing is that you have to pay your way through the production process. But the benefits of traditional publishing are that from my understanding, they cover all costs for you and you get an advance that can be thousands of dollars.
Since then, I’ve seen the rise of self-publishing and indie publishing and how success stories outside of traditional publishing are very possible. A classic example of an indie author who made it big is USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Donovan whose indie book project, The Breathing Series, is now being made into a movie. So I’ve decided to keep praying about my future book publication route and will be open to where God leads.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
My advice for aspiring writers is to continue seeking direction from God and follow His lead. If God wants you to make a living by your pen or these days should we say keyboard? He will make it happen. But in the meanwhile, use your free time to train and perfect your writing skills. Take classes on creative writing. Pursue your Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Practice discipline in writing daily, even when you don’t feel like it. If you love magazines and newspapers, you may want to pursue a degree in Print Journalism which not only will teach you how to deliver an effective written message but will open the doors for you to work at a publishing house too.
No matter what, keep pressing through difficulty and trust God in the process because again, if this is His will for your life, it will work out for your good. Read Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11 for inspiration and encouragement.
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