Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
This week Tamera Alexander is in the Spotlight! To win a copy of Tamera’s new Belmont Mansion book, A Lasting Impression, leave a comment on this post!
Share a little bit about yourself. Married with kids? Empty nester? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
I’m a wife and mother, and it’s the best part of my life. Joe and I have been married for going on 27 years, and we have two fabulous kids. Kelsey (24) and Kurt (22) who both live here in Nashville. Kurt had said something funny and we were all trying not to laugh, but obviously not trying hard enough. And that’s Jack, our little silky terrier. He’s a part of our family too.
And regarding writing, after several years of working outside the home and then writing from 10PM to 2AM, I’m now a full time writer. And I’m grateful for my job!
And share something about your writing. What’s your genre(s), your areas of interest…
I write historical fiction. I’ve written eight published novels to date. Seven are set in the Colorado Territory and Rocky Mountains, with the eighth (A Lasting Impression, just released) set in the stunning Belmont Mansion in Nashville, TN, circa 1853. I love history, and graveyards, and old letters and diaries, and Southern antebellum mansions.
How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I first considered writing a novel in 1999. But I need to go back a bit farther to really get to the “seed” of where all this started for me. In 1995, my mother-in-law, Claudette Harris Alexander, shared a book with me, one she thought I would really enjoy. I was busy and let time go by without reading it. She asked me again if I’d read it. Several times. I said no, but that I would. The best laid plans
Very unexpectedly, Claudette died that same year from a brain aneurysm. Weeks passed, and as I was cleaning bookshelves downstairs, I happened across that little volume and immediately sat down and read it. Claudette was right! I felt an immediate connection with the thread of hope woven through that gentle love story—Love Comes Softly, by Janette Oke, originally published by Bethany House Publishers in 1979. That sent me searching for more inspirational fiction published not only by Bethany House, but elsewhere in the Christian Booksellers Association market (CBA). I devoured it, and developed a strong interest then in historical fiction.
A few years later my husband and I were driving back to Colorado from Texas late one night. I finished a novel, turned to him and said (only joking at the time), “I think I could write one of those.” Without blinking, he said, “Well, do it.” Competitive at heart, I nodded and said, “Okay.”
My first novel made it to the review board at Bethany House Publishers in 2000, after which I received a very nice rejection letter. Writing that first story was a learning experience for me that I took to heart. I then determined to set about seriously studying the craft of writing.
After you started writing seriously–how long was it before you were published?
In October 2004, Bethany House offered me my first contract, a three-book deal to write historical fiction (Rekindled, Revealed, and Remembered). Then another three book series (From a Distance, Beyond This Moment, and Within My Heart). The Inheritance—the first historical for the WOMEN OF FAITH fiction line with Thomas Nelson—released in March 2009.
And now I’m writing Southern fiction, and loving it!
Aside from a cup of good, strong coffee, what helps you get all of your “brain cylinders” firing so you can write well? Do you have any favorite places and routines when you write? How many hours a day do you spend writing?
Walking helps tremendously, followed by an iced latte, of course. My main computer is a laptop so I’m mobile and write all over the house. I usually spend about 5-6 hours a day writing, then another 2 or 3 with email, marketing and promotion, social networking, etc…
What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication? Writers’ conferences? Writing groups?
Writers who’ve come alongside me to mentor me… I’ll be forever grateful to Deborah Raney for sharing her knowledge and experience with me, and actually dedicated this latest release, A Lasting Impression, to her. (Love and appreciate you, Deb!) I was also incredible blessed to “somehow” get included in a group of writers who meet each summer to plot and pray and play together. These women have made all the difference in my writing, and my life. American Christian Fiction Writers was also very instrumental in my early writing journey. I was part of the original ACFW Crit Group 5 (a loving shout out to Lisa Harris, Jeanne Marie Leach, Deborah Vogts, and Elizabeth Goddard!).
Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
Not at all. I thought (at the outset) that writing each book would get easier, but it’s proven to be just the opposite for me. It’s gotten harder. Much harder. The more you know, the more you realize you have to learn. One of the most unexpected blessings, and the most precious to me, are the connections I’ve made with readers. Their letters and emails about how these stories have touched their lives and encouraged them in their faith journeys have been such an encouragement. They make all the difference.
What are your biggest distractions?
Email and social networking.
What was one of the best moments in your career and what was one of the worst?
Having my mom with me in 2007 when I won my first RITA, then having both her and Dad with me in 2008 when I won my first Christy. Mom went home to be the Lord in 2009 after a brief battle with gallbladder cancer, so I’m especially grateful that she was able to see some of the “tangible” affirmations from my writing. It meant a great deal to her. And again, winning those awards was very meaningful, but sharing them with my parents and having them with me at ICRS and them “seeing a slice of my writing world and meet my writing buddies,” that was incredibly special.
I haven’t had one “worst” moment that I can think of, but “a” worst moment is when I’ve been late with manuscripts. Life happens, I know, and we have to roll with the punches. But still, it’s not a good feeling. I’m so appreciative of the extra time Bethany House gave me to write Within My Heart after Mom passed away. They were very understanding.
What do you least like about being a writer? Most like?
The long solitary hours of writing. And the long solitary hours of writing. It’s a catch 22. I love getting lost in that story world with the characters, but it can also be lonely at times. I’m very social.
What is the role and importance of an agent?
I wouldn’t dare attempt to navigate the publishing waters without an agent. There are all sorts of roles for an agent but I wanted a career builder. Someone who would not just “work a deal” but who would help me build a career and become a better writer. I found that and so much more in Natasha Kern.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Write, write, write. Read, read, read. And surrender your writing journey to the Lord and to his will for your life. Easier said than done, I realize. But what joy is found when you’re centered in the middle of God’s will.
Then I also share my list of favorite writing resources:
• The Moral Premise by Stan Williams
• Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
• How to Grow a Novel by Sol Stein
• Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
• Getting Into Character by Brandilyn Collins
• Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
• Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan
• Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave
• Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Pretend I’m a customer at a bookstore looking for a good book. Give me a one or two sentence promo to convince me to buy your newest release, A Lasting Impression.
A fake. A forger. That’s what Claire Laurent knows she is, which is why she can’t fathom working in the home of the richest woman in Nashville, let alone America. But when Claire meets Sutton Monroe––Mrs. Acklen’s far too handsome and equally as discerning personal attorney––Claire’s certain the first impression she made with him…will be her last.
What’s on the book horizon for you?
I’m already at work on another Southern historical, and loving it! My next book will be out Fall 2012.
Last question, how can readers find you and your books?
Thank you for sharing your writing life with my bleaders! (blog + readers = bleaders)
While Tamera and her book, A Lasting Impression, are traveling across the country virtually (with a few international stops as well!), she will be hosting a Kindle Fire Giveaway (11/4 – 11/15) and preparing for a lavish Southern-Style Facebook Party (11/15) (dripping with hospitality, of course). She will be giving away Southern Food Baskets, books, and an array of other fabulous freebies! Don’t miss a minute of the fun. Swoon!
One grand prize winner will receive:
- A Brand New Kindle Fire (shipped as soon as it releases)
- A copy of A Lasting Impression and 3 other special books Tamera wants you to have (for Kindle)
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends at noon on November 15th. Winner will be announced at A Lasting Impression Facebook Party on the 15th. Tamera will be wrapping up the A Lasting Impression celebration with an author chat and giving away Southern Food Baskets (Loveless Cafe Food Baskets, books, Amazon & Starbucks gift certificates, and copies of Christy Jordan’s Southern Plate cookbook), six gift certificates to Starbucks and Amazon.com, and copies of A Lasting Impression! So grab your copy of A Lasting Impression (it’s okay if you don’t have one yet- you might win one!) and join Tamera on the evening of November 15th for an author chat, a trivia contest (How much do you know about the 1860’s?) and lots of Southern-inspired giveaways (complete listing here).