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Interview with Tara Ross and a Giveaway!

Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am so pleased to introduce you to young adult author Tara Ross. I love authors who dig deep and write about hard topics, and Tara has done that with her latest release. One of my favorite parts of this interview is when she says that she loves reading books that are just oozing with Jesus – yes! What a perfect way to say that! I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did. Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy of her latest release.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Hello! My name is Tara K. Ross and I am the author the contemporary young adult novel, Fade to White. I have almost always lived in the suburbs of Toronto, but was born way up North in a pin-point town called Kapuskasing. I work as a school speech-language pathologist and mentor with local youth programs and am blessed with a ridiculously supportive family that grants me time to create stories which tackle the interplay of faith and mental health. When I’m not reading and writing all things young adult, you can find me rock climbing the Ontario escarpment, planning our family’s next jungle trek (for some time next decade) or podcasting as cohost of The Hope Prose Podcast.

Tell us about your current release. My debut novel, Fade to White, just released this past May 2020 through IlluminateYA/LPC Books. It explores tough topics like anxiety, self-harm and suicide through the perspective of a 16-year-old girl named Thea. Here is the back cover summary:

Thea Fenton’s life looks picture-perfect, but inside, she is disintegrating. Wracked by anxiety no one seems to understand or care about, she resorts to self-harm to deflect the pain inside.

When a local teen commits suicide, Thea’s anxiety sky-rockets. Unexplainable things happen, leaving her feeling trapped within her own chaotic mind. The lines between reality and another world start to blur, and her previously mundane issues seem more daunting and insurmountable than ever.

Then she meets Khi, a mysterious new boy from the coffee shop who seems to know her better than she knows herself—and doesn’t think she’s crazy. His quiet confidence and unfounded familiarity draw her into an unconventional friendship.

Khi journeys with her through grief, fear, and confusion to arrive at compassion for the one person Thea never thought she could love.

Have you always wanted to write a book? Nope! I am one of those strange cats who actually didn’t think she would ever write anything beyond professional assessment reports. I have always loved reading, from across genres and age groups. I fell in love with children’s books through my day job and have always participated in book clubs as an adult, but it was never one of my new year’s resolutions or bucket list items. When I had my first tiny human and my previous hobbies and volunteer commitments became difficult to maintain, I craved a new creative outlet that would also serve God and fell in love with writing.

What made you take the plunge and finally do it? At first, I thought that I wanted to write picture books, as this was my first love. I was extremely blessed to meet with a well-known Canadian author, Kathy Stinson, who gave me some brilliant advice. She suggested I try MG or YA, as that was the population I was the most familiar with from my volunteer and day job. She also suggested that I write about topics that I was passionate about and to enter writing competitions to help receive valuable critiques. That was all I needed to start. I wrote the first three chapters of Fade to White and entered into a Canadian writing competition for first-time writers, and won within my category. With the help of one of the judges, I then went on to write the rest of the book.

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Absolutely. I began writing Fade to White first as a creative outlet and then second as a form of self-healing and way to explore my own mental health and faith journey. As the story morphed into an entirely fictional journey for Thea, I realized how many teens own stories I was actually pulling on to create this one book. I can remember telling my husband, that it would all be worth it if I managed to have one young person read it and realize they were not alone within their own mental health struggles.

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? I don’t know if it’s so much lacking in Christian Fiction as so much as young adult fiction in general. I would love to see stories that embrace a character’s faith as an integral part of their everyday life. Sometimes in Christian fiction, we get labeled as being clean, rather than faith-based. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading stories that avoid excessive language and sexual content as a personal preference, but I love stories that challenge me to think beyond myself to a worldview that is all-encompassing and so oozing with Jesus that even if His name is not directly referenced within a salvation prayer or confession scene, I know that He is there, impacting that character in ways that are transformational. I wish this type of transformation fiction could be found more frequently on regular old YA bookstore shelves.

How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher(or agent or audience if you self publish)? My writing is average, and I fully humble myself to this knowledge every time I send a draft to a critique partner or prepare the best version I can for my agent or editor. I am aware that I will always have room to improve and it is that realization that will prepare me to graciously accept feedback, to learn from award-winning novelists and to revise again and again and again. You will never improve in your craft if you are not bold enough to allow others into your process. And it is a process that can only improve with grace, grit and guts.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Finish that first draft. As painful as it may be to ignore all the other plot bunnies hopping through your mind, stick with one idea and work through all the story elements with that one concept. Writing a story from beginning to end is an education in itself, and even if it never makes it to publication, you will have figured out how to create believable three-dimensional characters, keep a plot moving forward, and discovered themes that you are passionate about sharing.

Here is where you can find Tara online:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tara.k.ross/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tara_k_ross

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18889509.Tara_K_Ross

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014749334644

Tara is giving away a copy of Fade to White to a reader! See below how to enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview with Beth Steury and a Giveaway!

Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am so pleased to bring you young adult author Beth Steury. Beth has a passion for teaching truth to teen readers, and I love seeing that come out in her interview. Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy of her book Before I Knew You!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a foundling. Emphasis on found. I’m a daughter.

I’m a wife, a mom, a gram.

I’m a cheerleader for saving sex for marriage. Waiting matters.

I’m a follower of Christ who’s seeking to know HIM better.

I’m a champion of adoption and adoption rights. A complex, complicated subject. 

I’m passionate about seeing GOD at work in the everyday “slices of life.”

I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe that life matters.

And I write about ALL of it!

Tell us about your current release. In the next month, book 2 in the Choices Matter YA realistic contemporary series will launch. Because I know you picks up hours after the actions ceases in the first Choices Matter book, before I knew you.

For high school juniors Preston and Maggie, life has become incredibly complicated. But the worst is over, according to Preston, who agrees to give Maggie time to reach that same conclusion. But is anything ever as simple as that? The short answer to that question is a no.

Be sure to read before I knew you first to get acquainted with Preston, Maggie, and the cast of characters who journey along with them as they navigate the choppy waters of saving sex for marriage and “renewed waiting.”

before I knew you

After a series of bad choices rocked his world, seventeen-year-old Preston charts a new course as far from his ladies’ man ways as he can get. He distances himself from the dating scene and avoids his party-loving friends—the things that once dominated his life. Then he meets Maggie, the new girl in town, the first day of their junior year. She’s beautiful on the inside and out, knows nothing of his past, and he can’t get her out of his mind.

When a disastrous first date leaves her skeptical about the guys at Madison High, Maggie slows down her pursuit of a guy to trust with her white-wedding-dress future. She wants a boyfriend, sure, but he’d have to be nothing like the jerk who forced her first kiss. Someone more like Preston, who’s been nothing but sweet and helpful, not to mention, easy on the eyes. But he is so out of her league.

Can Maggie afford to let her guard down around the charming Preston? Will Preston’s past jeopardize his chances with the one girl who could anchor his future?

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Absolutely, without a doubt!

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? That’s an easy question: reality. Realistic situations and scenarios, characters and relationships. Real life is messy and complicated. While some readers prefer that   Christian Fiction ignore life’s realities in favor of more pleasant, mild-mannered stories, many readers yearn for a more realistic approach that tackles the nitty-gritty of complicated lives from a Christian worldview.

I must say with applause and cheering that more authors are grappling with real-life issues and striving to reach out to a hurting world with realistic stories that shine GOD’s truth on our complicated world.

How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher (or agent or audience if you self publish)? Ooh, that’s a great question. That very scenario has swirled through my mind repeatedly over the _________ (can’t bear to see the number in print!) years it took me to bring this series to an audience. While it may sound cliché or even egotistical to say this, the realization came to me that this series isn’t mine. Preston and Maggie’s story is GOD’s story, one that He asked me to write down. With that realization came the understanding that it’s not a story that will resonate with everyone, and that’s okay.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Just WRITE. It doesn’t matter what you write, simply commit words and ideas to paper, or more likely your computer’s hard drive. Don’t worry about every word being exactly right. Don’t be too concerned with the beginning, middle, and end. In a finished work, those are important and worthwhile concerns, but too much worry about getting every word, sentence, and paragraph in the correct place, hinders the flow of ideas. Be thankful that in today’s technologically-advanced world, it’s incredibly easy to move passages around, add or delete as needed, and rearrange to your heart’s content.

I’m always intrigued by how writers get started…did you always have these books inside you and knew that you wanted to write them or did the idea just pop into your head one day and you decided to put pen to paper? The inspiration for this series came from a radio interview I heard many years ago. Following a presentation, a well-known youth speaker met outside in the parking lot with a young man from the audience. The young guy leaned on his truck and looked up at the speaker. “What happens when true love didn’t wait?” he asked. The speaker went on to say how that young man’s question changed how he approached the subject of teenagers and sex.

For days, that scenario played through my mind accompanied by the faces of the many teenagers I knew who also had stumbled into premarital sex. From there, the story of Preston and Maggie began to percolate in my mind.

Do you talk out plot lines with others, and if so, who? I am so fortunate to have a group of online critique partners who we’ve become close, dear friends. Their input has been truly priceless. Their friendships are priceless as well.

What is the farthest location you traveled to in order to research a book?

My next writing project will be the recording of my adoption/search journey, tentatively titled, A Doorstep Baby’s Search for Answers. My husband and I traveled to Kailua Kona, Hawaii, to meet my biological father and my half-sister. Think overwhelmingly emotional and wonderful all at the same time. Nearly every moment of the trip is forever creased into my memory.

Find Beth online:

https://bethsteury.com/

https://twitter.com/beth_steury

https://www.facebook.com/author.BethSteury/

https://www.instagram.com/bethsteury/

Beth is giving away an ebook or print copy (readers choice) of before I knew you to a lucky reader! See below how to enter to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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