Monday, September 13, 2010

REINVENTING RACHEL - Alison Strobel - Free Book

Welcome to my blog, Alison. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Not as much as I used to. The more characters I create, the easier it's getting for me to give them personalities that are distinctly different from my own. That being said, a lot of my little quirks or preferences still make their way in now and then.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

The quirkiest thing...that's hard! I don't typically think of myself (or my actions) as quirky. How about the most "un-like me" thing instead? I joined eHarmony in 2002. *Totally* not the kind of thing I'd normally do. My friends--the few to whom I admitted it--thought I was nuts, until I ended up marrying my 100th match. :)

When did you first discover that you were a writer?

It's a toss-up--either 7th grade or 8th. In 7th I wrote my first novel, and in 8th I had a teacher tell me my writing was so mature I could be writing college papers. Both of those convinced me that writing wasn't just something I was good at--it was something *inside* me, a defining characteristic of who I was.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

I like books that challenge how I think, that teach me something (without being obvious that it's trying to teach me), and that fire up my own creativity--and that are, of course, suck-me-in entertaining. Some of my favorite authors include Jodi Picoult, Douglas Coupland, William Gibson, and Terry Pratchett.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

Worlds Collide (Waterbrook 2005) was my first novel, followed in 2006 by Violette Between with the same publisher. This past May Zondervan released my third novel, The Weight of Shadows, and they'll release The Heart of Memory next April. I just turned in the first draft of my sixth novel to David C. Cook, and it will release next September. No clue what title they'll give it, but right now I'm calling it Trouble Child, because it was inspired, in part, by the Joni Mitchell song with the same name.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I don't do a very good job with that, unfortunately. I'm getting better, though--implementing set work hours and stopping myself from working outside those hours has definitely helped me juggle writing, motherhood, and marriage--and just today I started going through "Your Whole Life" with my friend and fellow author Claudia Mair Burney and a few other women, which is a dieting/discipline/discipleship program. I'm not doing it so much for the dieting part--though I will definitely benefit from the encouragement to eat better and exercise more (or, realistically, *at all*)--but more for the structure that I know I'm going to be creating in my life over the next 12 weeks of the program.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Sometimes I choose names based on their meaning--the main character's names in Violette Between were all chosen that way. Other times it's by the personality or physical traits that a particular name suggests to me--for example, Rachel's best friend in Reinventing Rachel is named Daphne, a name that suggested to me a tall, willowy woman with a carefree attitude and exotic beauty, and that's just what that character was meant to be.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

Having written six books. When I got my first contract, it was for Worlds Collide and "a second novel to be named in the future." While I was totally psyched to have secured a two book deal, I was also terrified that I'd never be able to write another book. There always comes a point when I complete a contract when I think, "Was that it? Is that all I'll ever write? Is the well empty?" But God continues to plant seeds in my imagination.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

Dolphin--I love swimming!

What is your favorite food?

Spinach stuffed pizza from Edwardo's in Chicago. Mmmmmmmmmmm. But when I'm unable to secure a slice--which is pretty much all the time--there are a number of foods that will do the trick--peanut butter and chocolate ice cream, really good French bread and yummy spread cheese, a massive bowl of Cheerios with brown sugar sprinkled on top. (Great, now my mouth is totally watering.)

Ours are, too. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

There are two things that were equally as difficult to figure out. The first was plotting. Worlds Collide was the first story I ever outlined, which is the main reason why it was also the first decent story I ever actually completed. But the concept of plotting was a shady thing for me. I honestly didn't know there were such things as plotting structures until I heard a 101 level workshop from ACFW. That totally opened my eyes! And when I found Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake Method, my writing life was complete.

The second thing was letting a story tell itself, instead of trying to manhandle it into what I think it needs to be. Reinventing Rachel was an absolute mess, and I had to rewrite it three times because I kept trying to manipulate it. I had a set idea in my head of what I wanted this story to say, and I kept trying to shoehorn it into that mold, and the result was always an unreadable catastrophe. When I finally let go of what *I* wanted the story to be and just let the characters live out their lives to see what happened, that was when it became something people would actually want to read. A lot of that has to do with me being a control freak, and having to learn that God is the one who should have a plan for my books, not me. I'm just the messenger. And while Reinventing Rachel has only been out for a couple weeks, He's already proving that He can and will use my books in incredible ways in readers' lives if I just trust Him to do so.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

If you're like me--you've been writing ever since you learned what a sentence was, you got A's on every written assignment you were ever given, your friends even recognize that you're a writer--don't assume you know what you're doing. I thought I knew everything I needed to know to write great books, and then I started reading books on writing and attending conferences. Talk about being humbled! I had to learn that reading voraciously and writing prolifically only gets you so far. Then you need to start actually studying the craft and *working* at it.

Tell us about the featured book.

Reinventing Rachel is about a young woman who experiences a series of tragedies that she thinks God was obligated to protect her from. The fact that He doesn't makes her start doubting if the faith she's lived out since childhood was just a farce. She ends up walking away from it, moving from her home in California to Chicago, and becoming a disciple of her hedonistic friend Daphne, thinking that living by her own rules will at least give her a measure of control over her life and protect her from the kind of hurt she experienced back in California. As you can imagine, things don't work out the way she expects them to.

So many people have done that. This sounds like an interesting story. How can readers find you on the Internet?

I'm all over the place! is my website, and my husband and I can be found talking about our children's books at

I'm on Facebook (with both a group page and a personal page) and Twitter (username alisonstrobel--though I'm really bad at remembering to tweet), and when I've got time to kill I'm over on learning how to be a better mom to Abby and PJ. (If you're a mom, or planning on ever being a mom, come check it out--I'm Novelmama there.)

Thank you, Alison, for this wonderful peek into your writing world.
Readers, here's a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 6 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

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Wendy said...

I have been wanting to read this book.

Annette W. said...

Wow. THis sounds like a fabulous story that too many people can relate to! I'd love to read it!

wmmahaney said...

This sounds like a great book.

fredamans said...

Sounds like a beautiful book! Please enter me. Thank you.

grannyvon said...

This interview was super and I would love to win the book. Thanks you gor the chance to win it.

Bakersdozen said...

I am really interested in seeing how Rachel learns from all she went through. It sounds like an interesting read. vidomich(at)yahoo(dot)com

Cherie J said...

Enjoyed the interview. Please enter me in the drawing. Thank you!

Alison Strobel Morrow said...

Thanks so much for having me over, Lena!

Claire Koenig said...

Thank you for this interview. I look forward to reading the book - would love a free copy!

Ann Lee Miller said...

I'd love to read Alison's Reinventing Rachel.

Sheila Deeth said...

Really nice to meet you in this blog Alison. Interesting to read about your path to writing, and thank you for the advice.

Linda Kish said...

I'd love to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Cindy W. said...

Great interview and I would love to be entered to win a copy of Reinventing Rachel. Thanks for the chance.

Cindy W.


Patsy said...

Sounds like a great book. It's true. Sometimes things don't turn out the way we want. Looking forward to reading this one. Thanks for giving away a copy

Simply Stacie said...

Please count me in.

rbooth43 said...

A person might have a series of tragedies that she thinks God was obligated to protect her from. The fact that He doesn't makes her start doubting if the faith she's lived out since childhood was just a farce. God is with her but everyone goes through trials and tribulations. It doesn't mean God is not listening, but there is a plan for everyone, and if you have faith with God, you can become strong and persevere.

I would like to read Reinventing Rachel to find out how she realises what I have learned.

Julia M. Reffner said...

I would love to read this one. I love Alison's story about giving God control of the book.


Julia M. Reffner said...

I would love to read this one. I love Alison's story about giving God control of the book.


Julia M. Reffner said...

I would love to read this one. I love Alison's story about giving God control of the book.


karenk said...

would love to read this novel...thanks for the chance :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Edwina said...

This was a great interview! I would love a chance to read Alison's book.


Anonymous said...

Please enter me in this contest. I really like the story line. Oddly enough, it reminds me of one of my aunts!


Robyn said...

Wow--what a great storyline. Sounds like an absorbing read.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com

April said...

Great post. This sounds like an interesting story. Please enter me.

PatriciaW said...

Heard about this one recently and interested to learn more about Ms. Strobel and her writing.

pwriter1 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Carole said...

I downloaded The Weight of Shadows when it was offered on Kindle and was immediately hooked. I watch for any new release by Alison now, and appreciate the chance to win Reinventing Rachel.

What a great story about eHarmony! I doubt I would have had the courage to join, but what a blessing the outcome was!

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Brenda said...

Please enter me! I would love to win the book!

dancealert at aol dot com

Nancye said...

Sounds like a great book! Thanks for the chance.

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net

Lourdes said...

Great interview looking forward to reading this book. Thanks.


holdenj said...

Sounds like a great premise for the book. I liked the interview, Alison's eharmony story was cute.

Judylynn said...

I'd love to win this book. Please enter me!


Anonymous said...

Please enter me.

ebeandebe at gmail dot com

peachykath said...

Sounds like a very interesting book. Please enter me in the drawing!


rubynreba said...

Please enter me. This sounds like a very good story.

Megan said...

Sounds like this one will challenge us all in our faith. It will be interesting to see what happens to the friend, Daphne, in the end. Thanks again, Lena!


Molly said...

Wonderful interview! Thanks for sharing and for the chance to win Reinventing Rachel!


Sarah G said...

I'd love to read this book! Thanks!