I'm pleased to end my week
with another author interview today!
Here we go...
I am the author of a growing series known as “I Am Girl” novels. These virtue-rich middle grade books grew out of years of working with children in Christian ministry. I love the openness of their minds, hearts, and souls. I write engaging books that i hope will encourage faith and virtue to take shape within that openness. I live with my husband in Mississippi, where we raised our three children. We enjoy watching them launch themselves into the adult world with their own gifts and talents.
Thirteen-year-old Violet Windsor is obsessed with the rush and thrill of skateboarding through a dangerous, gang-ridden part of New York City. Certain that her high-society parents wouldn’t approve of the rough-and-tumble sport or the sketchy neighborhood, she and her best friend, Sloane, hide her secret adventures in a thick veil of lies.
When Violet’s autistic, non-verbal brother, Oliver, begins drawing pictures that reveal a mysterious knowledge of her secrets, Violet is rattled to the core. Intrigued by clues in Oliver’s drawings, she follows them down a reckless path toward redemption and truth.
Who are you and what do you write?
Hello! My name is Renée Lichtenhan, author of the “I Am Girl” books. This growing series contains stand-alone Christian fiction books for middle grade girls. Think American Girl, but instead of promoting cultural awareness, the featured character in each of these books spotlights a virtue within its engaging, adventurous storyline. Book One, Carabelle, promotes the power of forgiveness. Book Two, Violet, is about honesty.
Where and when and how did the writing life begin for you?
When it came to choosing a career path, my heart and my head waged a war. As a child, my heart was happiest deep inside of stories. In college, my heart was clearly in charge because I majored in creative writing. My head finally got a say in the matter at the end of my senior year when I considered my career options. I couldn’t see how to pay the bills as an author or a poet, so I went the corporate PR and advertising route. A couple of decades flew by in a flurry of raising a family. When my kids became more independent teenagers, I felt the writer in me reawaken. A novel tumbled out of me and was published, then another. It’s been a little surreal, but absolutely awesome, to finally call myself an author.
How has the journey to this point been? Can you give us a basic rundown?
For me, the novelist journey started with a strong yearning. I ached to join the ranks of authors who created worlds and characters that touched people. After I finished my first manuscript, I was terrified to send it out (we writers can be insecure that way, right?). I built my confidence by attending a national writer’s conference and learning more about the querying process. The conference opened up an opportunity to pitch Carabelle and the “I Am Girl” series to Anaiah Press. To my absolute delight, they offered me a contract. Their staff has patiently walked me through all the phases of publishing from editing, cover design, blurb writing (which is harder than you’d think!) and bringing a book to market. I’m living the dream and loving every minute of it.
What's been the hardest part of your writing/publishing experience so far? And the most enjoyable?
For me, the hardest part about being an author is selling the books. Personally, I don’t like spending my time on marketing. While I appreciate interviews like this, I don’t love talking about myself, taking pictures of myself and all of things publicity requires. I’d rather hang out all day in my imaginary worlds where everything goes exactly the way I want it to. The most enjoyable part about being a novelist is a toss-up between the cover reveal and holding my paperback book for the first time. I can only compare it to the heart-bursting joy of holding your newborn baby.
Would you go back and change anything?
Yes, I would have started marketing my manuscripts years earlier.
Where would you like to be in 5 years time? And 10? Or, what are your plans for the future?
As a writer, I hope that in five years’ time, the “I Am Girl” books have strengthened the faith journeys of a lot of middle grade girls. By then, I hope that I’ll have added at least five more books to the series. I also have a supernatural, speculative fiction novel for adults on the back burner. To have that finished and published that novel within five years is a goal of mine. In ten years? I love to travel, so I hope to have seen more of the world by then. It would be fun to spend months at a time traveling around the country (in the RV I don’t have). Maybe I’d have a travel blog, I don’t know. But, I’m sure I’ll be writing something.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to new writers just starting out?
We writers share a terrifying vulnerability. Before we pass out drafts of our work to our writers’ group, we stand before them wringing our hands and apologizing. “It’s still rough.” “It’s an early draft.” “It’s not much.” We behave like peasants trembling before a king who is sure to find us wanting. Multiply this fear a hundredfold at the idea of submitting to a publisher. We drag our feet, bite our nails, brace ourselves for certain rejection. Sadly, many writers can’t summon the courage to do it. My advice is to stop apologizing and stop wringing your hands. Be brave and bold. Be quick to send submissions. Editors are just people. People who love relatable characters and a good story. Just tell them one.
And most importantly...
Ketchup or Mayo? - Depends. I like both. Burgers and fries with ketchup. Cold lunch meat with mayo.
Night or Day? - Well, bedtime is my favorite. But, I work best in the morning.
Inside or Outside? - If it’s Mississippi in summer, put me in the A/C, otherwise I’m a lover of the outdoors.
Dogs or Cats? - Dogs. We have two rescue dogs and no cats.
Twitter or Facebook? - I’m a little too attached to FB. I don’t do Twitter. I just find myself annoyed every time I try it out.
ebook or Paperback? - I’m slowly becoming an Ebook lover.
Sun or Rain? - Rain
Keyboard or Pencil & Notebook? - Keyboard
Comedy or Drama? - Drama. There are very few comedies I actually find funny. I must have an odd sense of humor.
Chips or Chocolate? - CHOCOLATE!!!! Anywhere, anytime. You can have your chips.
Want to guest blog or be interviewed? Got a cover reveal or book coming out?
Get in touch today!