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Interview with Christine Dillon 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 have Christine Dillon joining us again! I had the amazing opportunity to speak at the Omega Christian Writers Conference in Australia a couple of years ago, and doing so opened my network up to so many amazing Australian authors. Christine is a missionary who is the child of missionaries.  I love seeing service to Christ going back generations. Read on to see more about her writing process, her heart for her stories, and to see how you can win a copy of her book!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a missionary and the child of missionaries and have had the privilege of spending most of my life in Asia (Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines). This has meant that many Australians think I’m a foreigner but has reminded me that I’m a citizen of heaven first and will always be alien here.I have spent the last twenty years telling God’s story in southern Taiwan.

My writing journey started with poetry and non-fiction and now I’m working on book three in a contemporary Australian series.

I love reading (of course) but also hiking, kayaking, cycling and doing genealogy.

Tell us about your current release. Grace in the Shadows is book two of a Contemporary Christian fiction series which now looks like being six books. It is based mainly in Sydney, Australia with a brief excursion to Port Macquarie.

Physiotherapist Esther has survived cancer, but wounds within her family remain unhealed. Is her revived faith the reason for the rift or could a simmering secret be the root cause?

Cosmetics consultant Rachel buried her past – and her father’s God – but the past refuses to stay buried. Will she continue to run or is confronting her pain the way to freedom?

Two women.

One collision course with truth.

Can God’s grace shine even in the darkest of shadows?

Book trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZqWov5IBQU

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? I started writing fiction out of obedience to an inner urging that had been pressurising me for about seven years. There were so many other (easier) things that I would have preferred to be doing. So in one sense I wrote for the audience of one. Along the way the first person to benefit was myself. However, writing these stories is a ministry. Yes, I’d write for one if that was what God asked but I always hoped that there would be more than one who would benefit.

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? This links in with the previous question. The pressure is always there to write for worldly success but I have no intention of giving in. I write for God and myself. I am writing the fiction that I like to read. I don’t mind reading thrillers and mysteries … but my favourite books are life changing ones. Ones that push me to follow more closely after Jesus. I am successful when I chose to be obedient. If God wants to give me ‘success’ in terms of many people reading my books that is his business. I am enjoying the slow and steady build up. I don’t think I would have wanted a sudden ‘success’ in worldly terms.

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)? The key is prayer and being sure what it is that God wants me to do. That gives me confidence that he will help me write a worthwhile book. Many others join me in prayer. I have for two excellent editors. I have been tempted to only have one editor and thus save money but the two have different strengths. I trust them not to let me release the book until it is ready. I also have a team of readers who give me many comments and later a team of proofreaders. Then I also work with an excellent cover designer.

Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? Yes, I’m a plotter. I use small coloured index cards both in Scrivener (my writing software) and on a bulletin board. If there are two characters, I use two different colour cards. I first work out the crisis points at the 25, 50, 75% points and then work out one main idea/chapter between those points. Generally it is around 40 chapters. Things also develop as I write and sometimes I have to add extra chapters … 

Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book? The general guideline length for women’s fiction is 70-90,000 words. So I set 80,000 in my Scrivener software and I have found that the story fits well into that guideline. (Hint for new writers: Look up on google ‘what length should a X genre novel be?’)

Do you talk out plot lines with others, and if so, who? Over the last three years I’ve been slowly becoming part of a different writing communities. I now have three other authors and we support and encourage each other. That includes beta reading each others work or talking through our plots …

I’m a verbal processor so I’ll often talk through a plot with one of my editors. I can also ask for prayer or ideas on my closed Facebook group. That group also vote on titles, covers … 

How hard is it to come up with names for your characters? What are some of the sources you use? For the first book I chose the names myself. Knowing the personalities of each character I tried to choose an appropriate name. During the first book launch I ran a competition and allowed those attending to choose some of the minor characters names for book two.

For book three, I have asked those who are part of my private ‘storytellerchristine’ Facebook group to suggest names. I always give a summary of the person including personality, age (birth decade) and cultural background. Often people choose a name to honour someone in their life. I do the same.

Involving others in the process increases their excitement about the upcoming book.

Find Christine’s latest release online:

Here is where you can find Christine online:

https://www.storytellerchristine.com/

https://www.facebook.com/storytellerchristine/

https://www.pinterest.com/storytellerchristine/

Christine is giving away an ebook copy of her newest release to a lucky reader! See below how to enter: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview with Author Christine Dillon 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’m excited to have author Christine Dillon as my guest! She is a missionary in the Taiwan- and is Australian. I have a sister-in-law and nephew who are Australian, and had the absolute joy and pleasure of speaking at the Omega Christian Writers Conference in Sydney last year. Australia and the people there have a very special place in my heart. Please enjoy Christine’s interview as much as I did – it is full of wisdom and grace.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I’m Australian but have spent the majority of my life in Asia. First, as a child because my parents were missionaries in Taiwan. In those days, that meant boarding school in Malaysia and the Philippines. I wouldn’t exchange my background for anything.

I returned to Australia for my final two years of high school so I could get into Australian university. I studied physiotherapy, hence my heroine being a physiotherapist and also setting the book in 1995 when I was still familiar with the hospital scene.

I loved my work and it taught me how to talk to strangers and connect with people. I had many opportunities to be ‘salt and light’. But from the age of 7, I’d wanted to be a missionary. All my choices in life were made in light of that goal. After working 4 years I had the privilege of attending Sydney Missionary & Bible College and then joined OMF and came to Taiwan in 1999. I am a church planter which essentially means introducing people and their families to Jesus. We do it by telling Bible stories. I’m also involved in training others in evangelism, discipleship and storytelling. This gives me the opportunity to travel, which I love.

I started writing non-fiction in 2002 although I wasn’t published until 2009.

What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? The non-fiction was mostly laziness. It became easier to write a book than to keep training people one on one and answering their questions.

I’m an extremely reluctant novelist and had never considered such a thing. About 10 years ago, while I was having a ministry related prayer day two ideas for novels dropped into my head. I was horrified but I reasoned that if the idea truly was from God then it was His job not only to push me to do it but to give me the ability.

Over the next five years, the sense of urgency to write grew. In 2012, I was staying with a friend in the Philippines and read a Biblical novel. Again, crystal clear the idea came, “That’s how you write a novel. You’re a Bible storyteller, go and write a biblical novel as practice.” So I sat down and did the research for a novel on Samuel. I loved the biblical research and the thinking/planning but the actual writing was hard work.

I wrote two Biblical novels as practice before I dared to go ahead and plan what I regarded as the ‘real thing’. It’s taken over four years of hard work. At each stage, something or someone has come along to show me the next stage and how to improve things.

Tell us about your current release: Grace in Strange Disguise is book one of a contemporary Christian fiction series which now looks like being five books. It is based in Sydney, Australia.

Physiotherapist Esther Macdonald is living the Australian dream, and it doesn’t surprise her. After all, her father has always said, “Follow Jesus and be blessed.” But at twenty-eight, her world shatters. Everyone assures her God will come through for her, but what happens when He doesn’t? Has she offended God? Is her faith too small? So many conflicting explanations. Will finding the truth cost her the people closest to her heart?

Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? Enid Blyton for magic and adventure especially the ‘adventure’ series (‘Castle, Island, Circus …). LM Montgomery – Anne and Emily books and especially Blue Castle in my teens. Silver Brumby – Elaine Mitchell (Australian series about wild horses)

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? Over the last two years I’ve been devouring Christian fiction. Much of it concerns me because it subtly buys into the idea that God is there to make our lives smooth. I want to see stories in which non-aristocrats feature (for historicals). Stories about single people and widows which don’t end with “and they married and lived happily ever after.”

I only give 5 star reviews now to books I consider ‘impact eternity’ and there are far too few of them. Books that make me weep and inspire me to follow Jesus whatever the cost. Books where people live a Christlike life whether or not it is easy.

How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? In the end I think God pushed me to self-publish. I had lots of misunderstandings about it – confusing it with vanity publishing. This is quite a common misunderstanding. I’d already had two non-fiction books published by two traditional publishers. That was what I was familiar with. However, most doors to traditional publishers are closed. Instead, you have to find an agent. I made my own list of agents and in the end only had six I was interested in. But I applied too early in the process and so was refused (fair enough as my writing wasn’t nearly as good as I’d thought it was).

With those doors slammed, I began to investigate self-publishing. The more I found out, the more I thought, “I think this is for me.” I’d learned a lot about the publishing industry by then and there were many podcasts online.

It was a huge amount to learn and I’m fairly poor at marketing, technology and business but I’m much better at trawling through information and I learn fairly fast. I’m not relying on sales to eat, so that gives me some freedom.

Three months in, I’m delighted I self-published. It’s much harder at the beginning but I think it will get easier.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

  1. Pray a lot first and make sure the idea is really from God. The process is too hard unless you are have the Lord with you.
  2. Check your motives for writing – if they are self-centred that it is only going to lead to pain. Our motivation must be for God’s glory as there will be many temptations along the way.
  3. Take your time – make sure the timing for publication is God’s timing. I had to delay 15 months after my original deadline. If I had published earlier the book would have been a disaster. I had to learn to write and that took a lot more time than I’d expected.
  4. Pray at every step of the way that God will give you a team. I am so grateful for finding excellent editors at the beginning and for my cover designer. But there are also many others who God has found for me – some excellent proofreaders, some advocates who mention my book to their friends.
  5. Find a community. For me that has been through Facebook groups for Australian authors and Christian Indie Authors. Plus, I’ve found a group of 3 other Australian authors and we encourage each other and share resources.

How did you make the initial step into writing your first novel. What were some of your major roadblocks and how did you overcome them? Once God had pushed me to do so, to me it was a matter of obedience. I planned using something called the ‘Snowflake’ method and I started writing.

Major obstacles:

My attitude – I prayed about it and submitted believing that joy would come from obedience. It’s taken 3 years but this last year I’ve started to enjoy this new direction.

Inability to write fiction – again I prayed every step of the way. If this was God’s idea then he had the responsibility to give me the ability to write and link me with the right resources. I found some Facebook writer’s groups and they recommended many good books…to improve my writing.

Being weak in business, marketing – It just has to be learned and there are many free podcasts and resources there to help you. I am grateful that my journey before this first novel was a long one. It needed to be because there was so much to learn.

Being weak on the technology like designing websites, learning to use MailerLite ….again I’ve prayed and asked people for help. God has provided every step of the way.

Pride – an author has to be humble to do a good job because our work must be submitted to critique and some of it is harsh. We have to have our eyes focused on what Jesus thinks and not allow people’s opinions to make us go up and down emotionally. Writing for anyone other than Jesus will be painful.

The length of time it takes to learn. I delayed publication a few times and am glad I did. Marketing-wise it makes sense to have 2-3 books ready to publish relatively close together.

Who do you envision your typical reader to be? Most likely a woman (or mature teen) between 15-80 who loves a story which tackles serious issues. Someone who wants to grow in Christ. I have been encouraged how many middle-aged and older men have also been enthusiastic about the book.

Find Christine online:

Website, Facebook, Pinterest

Find Christine’s book online:

Enter to win an ebook of Christine’s latest release:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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