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 happy to have author Christina Sinisi. Not only do we share first crushes (she not only named one of mine, she named both!), my daughter just got a degree in psychology, and since Christina is a psychology professor, I just want to sit down and listen to her talk about teaching such a fascinating science. Christina is giving away a copy of her book Christmas Confusion! Read on to see how you can enter to win!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. First, thank you so much for hosting me! I’m a psychology professor, wife of 34 years, and mother of two 20-something children. Oh, and I have the best cat in the world in Chessie Mae, no use arguing. I’ve been writing since I was in third grade, published some poems and short stories earlier in life, and just published my first novella last year, The Christmas Confusion.
Tell us about your current release. Reeling from the upheaval of a failed marriage, Annie Hanahan is desperate for a new start—and when she inherits a cottage on Ocracoke Island, she may finally get it. Without a second thought, she packs up and leaves everything behind: her first name, her job, and her ex-husband. But when she arrives in the Outer Banks, she finds the island—and her promised refuge—ravaged by Hurricane Dorian. As a contractor who has given so much of his time to helping Ocracoke recover, it surprises no one when Trey Kingsley offers to help the beautiful newcomer, but something is holding her back. Life keeps throwing them together, though, or perhaps God’s hand is giving them a nudge. Will a little bit of divine intervention be enough for a Merry Christmas on Ocracoke?
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)? I skipped a few questions to get to this one because I recently saw another writer post this question to a writer’s group. My answer was that I simply didn’t think about it—until that first book was published. Up until then, I was just so excited to share my stories. Then, when I realized people were actually reading it, I was seized with the fear of what happens if it’s terrible. The first person to talk to me about my book after it was published was a student in one of my graduate classes. And she gushed. She loved it, and all was well. If an agent or a publisher invests in you, it’s good. If your critique partner gives you the go ahead, it’s good. If God puts the passion in your heart, that’s good enough. It’s more than enough.
Who was your first Screen/Musical Crush? I had to include a fun answer. I had two early crushes at the same time—Shaun Cassidy and Rick Springfield. Shaun Cassidy had a song about “Stacy” and Rick Springfield had a song titled, “Kristina.” Close enough (my full name is Christina Stacy). They were writing about me. It was meant to be, right?
What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? Sit your bottom in the chair and write. Anything–even if it’s a single sentence or a paragraph—just write. Often, that short amount leads to a little more and so on. Even if it’s terrible, write. You can edit something bad; you can’t do anything with nothing. I also story board before I write and visualize scenes before I start. I go for walks. There’s so much you can do, but the most important thing is to put that bottom in the chair.
What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? I’ve always written—whether it’s poetry or short story, research articles or lectures, or novels. My favorite to write is the novel. I love being able to develop the characters and story.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? I started off writing by the seat of my pants, but realized that this led to my wandering down rabbit holes where I got stuck. Since then, I have taken many workshops about plotting. I now create a storyboard based on Alexandra Sokoloff’s screenplay method before I write. I can’t say I stick to it exactly, but it’s there when I need it. I highly recommend it.
Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book? Yes. I don’t think there’s a choice on this one. One of the novels I have sitting on my digital shelf is over a thousand pages. I’m pretty sure that’s not going anywhere. If you’re looking to publish a novella, it’s around 40,000 words. If you’re hoping to publish a full-length novel, it’s somewhere around 90,000 – 100,000 words. Publishers aren’t so willing to budge on this, for good reason—most readers don’t want to tackle War and Peace for pleasure reading.
Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you started this story? Absolutely yes. I was on Ocracoke Island. My family and I visited for the first time this past year and the place absolutely captured my imagination and a bit of my heart. The mountains of debris after hurricane Dorian, the stunning landscape of the sand dunes on either side of the road, only getting there by ferry, and the island’s history of being Blackbeard the Pirate’s hideaway—the island was a story waiting to happen.
Here is where you can find Christina online:
Christina is giving away a copy of her book The Christmas Confusion to a reader! See below how to enter to win: