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 excited to have Lori Alterbaumer as my guest. Her debut book sounds SO GOOD. If you love romantic suspense, you definitely want to check it out. I very much enjoyed seeing the glimpses of Lori’s heart for our God in her answers and hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did. Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy of her book!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Howdy from the Lone Star State! I’m Lori Altebaumer and admitting to others that telling lies is my passion seems a bit harsh. I’m a fiction writer seems so much more acceptable. I do write both fiction and non-fiction (which means I’m not always telling lies), although fiction is my first love (which might tell you about my propensity for telling lies). Of course, truth is truth no matter where you find it—even if it comes wrapped up in fiction.
I have a degree from Texas A&M University in Agricultural Development, and I love my country roots. It’s true that you can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl. And eventually, the girl moves back to the country. Those country roots are evident in my writing and my perspective on life. I’m a wandering soul with a home keeping heart, so I enjoy exploring new places with my husband—and always coming home to our place in the country. I look forward to traveling more soon, but until then I am visiting the homes of my adult children often where I can rummage through their refrigerators and food pantries while complaining there’s nothing good to eat there.
Tell us about your current release. My debut novel, A Firm Place to Stand, is a romantic suspense that released in January 2020. It’s a story of not only the power of forgiveness, but of the desperate need we have to both give and receive this forgiveness. This is the story of a young woman trying to disappear from her past, who comes to understand this need of forgiveness by looking from the outside into the lives of others. Set at a summer camp for girls in West Texas, Maribel has to contend with both the darker side of human nature as well as the brutal side of Mother Nature. But most deadly of all is the proof that she is being stalked, and disappearing in Turnaround, Texas, hasn’t made her as invisible as she hoped.
Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? No. I answer to God for everything I write. He alone has the final say and He alone is my source of affirmation. When I sit down to write, I am on a path of discovery with God. If I gave in to the pressure to write for worldly success, I am convinced I would lose the joy of writing. The process would lose its ability to be a path of discovery if I tried to direct my steps—my words—to meet the expectations of others.
What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? The answer to this question depends on the goal and purpose of a work of Christian Fiction. If I’m writing a novel meant to entertain without offending, I think the Christian Fiction market is pretty clear on what is acceptable. But if I’m writing a novel that I hope will inspire a transformation, bring healing, lead someone to the word of God, the expectations get a bit murkier. I believe what is often missing in some Christian Fiction is a more accurate portrayal of reality. We live in a broken and sinful world. The stories that can reflect that without sensationalizing or glorifying it are the ones with the most power to reach the lost. They have the most power to change lives. That is the kind of writing I aspire to. If my writing is to be a path of discovery with God, then I have to be honest about the world around me. I have to go where God goes, and that is often to the seedy side of town in search of a lost lamb.
How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? The answers to the questions above probably give you some clue as to the reason why I felt comfortable with self-publishing. The real answer is multi-faceted though. For starters, I lacked the platform numbers needed to find an agent. I’m sure I could have shopped around and found someone willing to take the chance, but at what cost of time when I already possessed the resources needed to move forward. Not being an overly tech savvy or social person, I knew it would be a long, uphill climb to reach those numbers. I also knew I would need to hire editors, cover designers, and formatters to tackle the parts I’m not proficient in. I wanted a quality book so readers to feel it was worth their time and money. Oddly enough, publishing my book has done more for my numbers than anything else I have tried, not to mention giving me a boldness to talk about it I didn’t have before. While having the credibility of a traditional publisher behind my book would be great, I don’t regret moving forward with publishing this book the way I saw it and making it available for others to read. I’ve been pleased with the reviews and comments I have received from readers, so it has been worth it for me.
Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? They definitely develop as I write. I start with an idea—most likely a scene—that has popped into my head, capturing my attention. It demands I find out more about these characters and what’s going on. The characters are often just like people I meet in real life who don’t tell me everything right at first. They are especially annoying when they withhold key information until I’m almost finished and suddenly they reveal something crucial to the plot that I didn’t know… “What do you mean he’s your step-brother and why couldn’t you tell me this twenty chapters ago?” With that being said, I am trying to blend some elements of planning into my process in order to avoid the massive amounts of rewriting I have to do by learning as I go.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers? The biggest thing I learned from finishing my first book was that you have to write a book to truly understand how to write a book. I had been reading books on craft for years, but until I actually sat down and did the work to make it all happen, I couldn’t get a good grasp on so many of the things I was reading and learning. Don’t wait until you know it all (you never will) to write the book. Write the book, study craft as much as you can, and engage with a group of brutally honest (not the same as mean) critique partners. And never give up.
Here is where you can find Lori online:
Lori is giving away an ebook copy of her newest release A Firm Place to Stand. See below how to enter to win: