Wednesday, February 22, 2012

LOVE FINDS YOU IN NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - Christa Allan - Free Book


Welcome back, Christa. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Because when you’re the once-divorced, twice-married, recovering alcoholic Christian wife of a Jewish husband, and mother of five with a daughter with Down’s Syndrome and another in an inter-racial marriage, and the sister of a gay brother…well, there it is.

I never intended to write about issues. They found me first. And when I first discovered Christian fiction, I wanted, needed, characters with whom I could identify. Sure, I found some novels with characters that were alcoholics, or gay, or parents of special-needs children. But, generally, they weren’t the protagonists or their situations didn’t mirror life as I saw it.

What I hope readers will take away from my novels is that we never know, just by looking at people, what’s going on in their lives. So many people look bright-faced, happy, and pretty on the outside that we’re duped into believing they lead charmed lives. Like those families in the picture frames sold in stores (who ARE those people, by the way?!). But turn those pictures over, and what’s there…nothing. That’s not the life God planned for us. He wants our lives to be framed by His love. We called to compassion, and to consider that all those “pretty people” might just be waiting for someone to take them out of their frames.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
I’m hoping I haven’t lived it yet! Truly, the Lord has blessed me with more than I could ever have imagined, and I’ve been grateful to experience an abundance of happy days.

How has being published changed your life?
Yipes…that’s a loaded question! In many ways, it hasn’t in terms of my day-to-day life. I’m still teaching high school full time, still coming home to cooking and cleaning and grading…The difference is that now I have another full-time career, which is writing. So, publication is now one more ingredient added to the gumbo of my life. In some ways, it’s increased the pressure and stress because of deadlines, editing, marketing and all the assorted collateral issues related to being a writer. But it’s also opened me to a new world of writers and books and readers I wouldn’t have known otherwise.

What are you reading right now?
Since I’m in the final writing/editing stages of a manuscript, that’s the extent of my reading right now. Oh, with the exception of the stack of student papers waiting to be graded (any one reading can feel free to help with these!).

What is your current work in progress?
My manuscript, which will be submitted March 1, is one of the novels in Abingdon’s Quilts of Love Series. It’s entitled Threads of Hope: A career-driven magazine writer brazenly pursues meetings with HIV-affected families in search of the career-boosting article she's been needing, only to find something she wasn't looking for - a complete change of heart after meeting a selfless man and the HIV-positive daughter he adopted from Ethiopia.

What would be your dream vacation?
A month in Hawaii, followed by another month in Greece, and to be able to share it with all my children and grandchildren.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
I’m such a Southern girl that I just stay with what I know. So, New Orleans and Houston have been the primary settings for my novels.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Just one…honestly, I’d have to say my husband because between his job and mine, plus the time I spend writing, our conversations are sometimes limited to a dozen words or less…and when I’m on deadline, the poor man makes himself invisible. I’d love to spend an evening together knowing there’s nothing or no one else demanding our attention.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I’m not sure this qualifies as a hobby, but I find pulling weeds in my garden quite therapeutic! Drinking Coke Zero and eating Blue Bell, I’m certain, do not qualify. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I enter a cheesecake-baking frenzy and buy cream cheese by the case. So, I suppose that’s a hobby, of sorts.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I’m my most difficult obstacle. My little ADD self can hop down all manners of bunny trails, and at the end, I’m exhausted from going nowhere fast. Lately, I’ve been using something I’d heard about years ago, and Mary DeMuth recently tweeted (or maybe Facebooked) about it. It’s called the Pomodoro Technique, and it’s made a tremendous difference in my ability to stay focused. Here’s the stripped down version from their website:
The basic unit of work in the Pomodoro Technique® can be split in five simple steps:
1. Choose a task to be accomplished
2. Set the Pomodoro to 25 minutes (the Pomodoro is the timer)
3. Work on the task until the Pomodoro rings, then put a check on your sheet of paper
4. Take a short break (5 minutes is OK)
5. Every 4 Pomodoros take a longer break
               
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Read books that make you wish you’d have written them. Be teachable. Read books about the craft. Joining American Christian Fiction Writers and attending their conferences opened doors to writing and publishing that I didn’t even know existed.

Don’t be afraid to write awful stuff. The awful is far easier to rewrite or edit than a blank page.

And as for that adage about writing what you know…Well, I don’t think Stephen King personally knew a high school girl with tele-kenetic power who wreaked a bloody revenge. But he did know high school girls who were bullied and teased, who had weird mothers, and he wondered, “what if…” Stephenie Meyer had no personal experience with vampire love. Write what you know doesn’t mean you’re limited to the 21st century and characters who look like your siblings and live in Tallahassee or Tickfaw. You know about betrayal and envy and joy and hope and fear. You know how your mother bites her lower lip when she’s thinking or your daughter twirls her hair when she’s nervous. These are the “knows” you bring to the page.

Know that only you can write the story God placed in your heart.

Tell us about the featured book.
Raised by her grandparents in 19th-century New Orleans, Charlotte knows little about her long-lost parents. Now facing an arranged marriage to a suitor she dreads, she finds herself attracted to somebody else: a young Creole man named Gabriel Girod. Meanwhile, her grandparents harbor a family secret. Will the truth set everybody free---especially Charlotte?

Please give us the first page of the book.
Grand-mere and Abram were due home from the French Market at any moment, and Charlotte could not convince Henri to leave her bedroom.

“You know Abram will throw you out the door, and after grandmother is finished with me, I may never leave this bedroom. Forever a prisoner of this house.” Well, forever until the day of her coming out party. Lottie knew there would be no missing that event, even if she wanted to. And most days she felt exactly that way.

Henri yawned and stared back at her.

“If your belly wasn’t so full, you wouldn’t be so content.”

He stretched and blinked a few times as if to say, “Whose fault is that?”

Of course, he was right. Lottie reached for her mattress and pulled herself up from crouching on the floor to have her one-way conversation with the calico cat that eluded capture under her four-poster bed. She started feeding Henri the day she spotted him wobbling after the milk lady’s cart. Miss Margaret delivered milk to Grand-mere, but the cat with the pleading grey eyes stayed behind. Her grandmother begrudgingly relented when Lottie promised he would never, ever cross the threshold into their house.

Still wearing her nightgown, all she could do was peek through the muslin curtains. “Only two houses away,” she whispered, as if the words might alarm Henri. She turned around just as the cinnamon-striped cat started to make his escape and, in a movement so swift she almost toppled into her armoir, she snatched him.

Even before Grand-mere made her entrance through the wrought iron gate at the rear of the house, her basket sprouting colorful vegetables, Lottie had deposited the cat on the front steps. She hurried through the library and the parlor up to her bedroom, just in time to see Agnes pick up the china saucer left under the bed.

Agnes looked over Lottie’s shoulder and then behind to the gallery where Marie LeClerc could be heard already discussing dinner with the cook. “Now, Miss Genevieve Charlotte,” Agnes lowered her voice from its usual trumpet blast and set her chestnut eyes right on Lottie’s guilty face. “You forget your cup this morning when you fount the coffee?”

Without waiting for an answer, which they both knew would be one step away from the truth, Agnes slipped the saucer into the wide front pocket of her white apron. “I’m taking care this,” she patted her pocket, “while you taking care of getting dressed for the day.”

How can readers find you on the Internet?
Website: http://www.christaallan.com (I have a contact page there, so please feel free to use it!)
Facebook (My author page)

Thank you, Christa, for the very interesting interview.

Readers, here is a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.
Love Finds You in New Orleans, Louisiana


Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (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 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.
Http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com

45 comments:

Maggie Carr said...

i would love to win this book. sounds like a good read.

maggie in northern indiana

Judy said...

I really enjoyed this interview with Christa. This book sounds so good and I can't wait to read it. I would love to win a copy of "Love Finds You In New Orleans, Louisiana".

Blessings!
Judy from Indiana

Robyn-coolestmommy R said...

I love books in New Orleans and love the LFY series. Sounds like this will be a winner of a book.

coolestmommy2000 at gmail dot com
NE

Patty said...

I love to read books set in great american cities. Especially ones that I haven't visited! Great way to learn and have fun at the same time.
Thanks for the grea tinterview with Christa.
Patty in SC

Anonymous said...

I WOULD LOVE TO WIN.

ANGELA FROM KY

wfnren said...

I love the LFY books, thank you for hosting this giveaway for another great book.

I live in FL

wfnren(at)aol(dot)com

Casey said...

I love Christa's books and this is such a gorgeous one! I live in Oregon. :)

tweezle said...

Hello from sunny PA! I really enjoyed your interview and loved the Stephen King comment :)

This book sounds wonderful. Thanks for the chance.

Angie Adair said...

Sounds like a great book! Love this genre! angadair@nwcable.net

Katie G. said...

Please enter me! Sounds great. I'm from NC.

Katie G.

scottsgal said...

I like the plot line of this book - sounds like one I'd enjoy
cheryl in IL
msboatgal at aol.com

Christa Allan said...

Dropping by to say thanks to everyone...I've just returned from the dentist, so I've not had a chance to check in online!

I appreciate Lena hosting me and everyone stopping by. More later!

Christa Allan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Christa Allan said...

Just adding two fun facts!

1. Right before I turned in the manuscript for this novel, our offer on a home in New Orleans built in the 1840s was accepted.

2. The home is located on a street with the same last name as one of my characters! No kidding!

misskallie2000 said...

I love th LFY books and LFY in New Orleans, Louisiana sounds like another great book for me to read. It is already on my wish list. I enjoyed the interview and the excerpt with the cat. Cat's own you where you own dogs. lol
Thanks for the opportunity to enter giveaway.

I am from Georgia

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

LRY in New Orleans is a fantastic book. I hope everyone reads it. I could not put it down!!! Christa is an amazing writer, teacher and friend. Loved your interview, Christa!! When am I going to get one of those cheesecakes???
Please do not enter me in the contest, I have the book and can't wait for her next one.
jo-anne from Tennessee

Anonymous said...

Please excuse the typo...it should have read LFY in New Orleans. oops

Sharon said...

Would love to win a copy! Thanks Christa and Lena.
Sharon in Eagan, MN

Marianne said...

Thank you, Lena and Christa for a great interview and giveaway opportunity. i love all the LFY series, and this one sounds awesome, too. This way i can travel all across the world without spending a lot of money! Thanks.
Marianne from Arizona

mitzi underscore wanham at yahoo dot com

Aizess said...

Please enter me. Thanks for the chance to win!

I live in New York

marybelle said...

I now have a hankering for cheesecake. LOVE FINDS YOU IN NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA looks wonderful.

Mary P

QLD AUSTRALIA

CarlybirdK said...

You can't go wrong with Christa Allen or Love Finds You. I would love to win this book. Thank you.
Carly in NC

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this wonderful novel :)

karenk...from PA
kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Christa Allan said...

I'm enjoying the trip across the country following the different states everyone lives in. A few of them I've never had the chance to visit.

And Australia, of course, NOT a state, and oh, how I would love to travel there. I wonder if a cheesecake delivery could be deducted as a business expense?!

Jen said...

I would love to win this book, sounds like a fun read. Great interview.

Jen in Sunny Florida!

Joanna Richmond said...

sounds very interesting I have collected love finds you in North Carolina and would Love to add this to my collection, Thanks for the chance to win Thanks
Joanna Richmond,
Blanch NC

apple blossom said...

I love LFY books would love to win thanks for the chance.

live in ND

ABreading4fun [at] gmail[dot] com

Sarah said...

Looks and sounds interesting!
Please enter me in the drawing!
Thanks for the chance to win.
God Bless,
Sarah Richmond
Blanch,N.C.

Ingrid said...

Thank you for a great Interview, I love reading them.Christa your book sounds great please add me to your Gontest.

I live in S.Illinois

ingrids62448(at)yahoo(dot)com

Patsy said...

I love all of the "Love Finds You" series. I would love to read this one since I live in the south.

from Southern MS

plhouston(at)bellsouth(dot)net

Courtney said...

Sounds like a great book!! Thanks!

Courtney
from WA state

Carol N Wong said...

I would love to read this book. The storyline sounds great.

CarolNWong(at)aol(dot)com

Amada Chavez said...

I am in DIRE need of a Christian fiction book to read, and this one sounds GREAT! We live in the boonies, and we can't get to a book store often enough! My address is Willard, NM. but we live farther south.

Amada Chavez

Faye said...

Sounds like an amazing book :) Thanks you for the interview!

SD

Judy Cooper said...

Christa Allan is a new author to me.I found that I could relate to several things she shared in her interview. Also I like the fact that the book setting is in New Orleans, Louisiana. Love Finds You in New Orleans, Louisiana seems an interesting book, since I live in Louisiana I am looking forward to reading it. Thanks for the chance to enter. Judy C.

Sharon Richmond said...

Enter me I would love to win a copy of this book it sounds like a great story! Thanks and God bless.
Sharon Richmond
Blanch, NC.

rubynreba said...

Very nice interview. I enjoy reading about New Orleans.
pbclark(at)netins(dot)net

rubynreba said...

I forgot - I'm from Iowa.

Merry said...

Stories set in New Orleans seem to have a special atmosphere... add me please!
Merry in TX

Jo said...

I have enjoyed the Love Finds You books that I have read. Thank you for the opportunity.

Blessings,
Jo from Southern Arizona
ladijo40(at)aol(dot)com

Aizess said...

Please enter me! I would enjoy reading this book!

I live in new York

Michelle said...

Sounds like a great good, would love to win it.

Kentucky

Christa Allan said...

I'm screeching toward deadline on a new novel, so done "read bys" but am just now taking a break to leave a comment.

Lena--your blog readers are awesome! Thanks to all of you for your enthusiasm about the LFY novel. I'm thrilled to be able to share my city with everyone. It's not perfect, but then I guess that's what makes it so lovable!

Blessings to all of you, and I hope you enjoy reading it!

Krista said...

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

Krista in Oregon

Katie McCurdy said...

The cover of this book is BEAUTIFUL and the synopsis intrigues me. Thanks for the chance to win!

Katie from Florida