Friday, May 10, 2019

Talking With Authors: Grace Ross.

Getting to know us:
Author Interviews #1

Straddling The Border: Memoir Of A Missionary Kid.

To my dearest friends and followers,

Today's post is the first in a series of author interviews I will be posting randomly (not consecutively) on my blog. I decided to kick this off with a newly published indie author, Grace Ross. I've actually known Grace personally for nearly two years now. My husband, David, had known her and her family through the church they all attended, before the Ross's moved. When I met David in Oregon, he introduced me to his friends who were extremely supportive of our new relationship and became mentors to us. I continued my friendship with Grace once David and I became long-distance, as I remained in Oregon and he returned home after the summer of 2017. I enjoyed several evenings sitting in the living room of Grace's home with her boys playing and the ocean just across the street. She actually told me little about her book, it was easy to forget she was writing it, but I'm excited to share with you her writing experiences and her journey to publishing her first book!!

Tell me a bit about yourself?

I'm an introvert who was raised as a third-culture/missionary kid. Like most introverts, I avoid the limelight and prefer quiet places, spaces to think, and occasional social gatherings with a small group of close friends. However, when you are raised in a different country, you inevitably attract attention. When you are a foreigner, you are "foreign", unique, different, and that makes you stand out. So my childhood was one that trained me to work through life as an introvert who can play the part of an extrovert very well. I am also a wife, a mother, a homemaker, a telecommuter, and a writer. These roles that I play in life often feel a bit superficial in themselves; like I am pretending really hard to balance home, work, and family. Deep down, I am a thinker, a Jesus follower, and someone who wrestles with wanting to live a simpler life. I recently published my first book, Straddling The Border: Memoir Of A Missionary Kid.

What made you decide that you wanted to write? 
When did you decide that you wanted to write?

I remember wanting to become a writer when I was eight years old. Reading made me want to write. Also, my dad read out loud to us a lot when we were young, which influenced my love of stories. I didn't necessarily write a lot of fiction as I was growing up, but I journaled almost religiously during different seasons of my life, read anything I could get my hands on (classic lit, contemporary fiction, children's lit, Christian fiction), and I wrote poems from time to time. As an adult, I go through seasons when I write almost by compulsion, with words keeping me up late or waking me way too early in the morning. Other times I am wrapped up in life and can't get two words together without getting distracted or losing my train of thought.

How long did it take you to write this book?
Tell me about your writing journey.

This book started as a joke when I was in college. I needed to complete some creative writing credits for my major. My advisor, who just happened to be the chair of the English department, asked what I might like to work on. I jokingly replied that I could write a memoir about growing up on the mission field. "Do it!" he said. That semester, I wrote several of the stories that have since evolved into part of the book, but the original files were on an external hard drive untouched for almost seven years. I was still writing, had a blog that was very short-lived, and worked a couple jobs that involved writing. I work for a non-profit, which means they tap into whatever skills their employees might have. Last year, a friend self-published her own book, and when I read her beautiful, real stories, I was inspired to finish my own collection. I wrote, re-wrote, and revised for around 8 months and came up with a decent collection of stories/chapters I thought could work together as a book. 

Why did you write this book?
Tell me what it's about in your own words and why someone may be interested in it. 
Who is your audience?

As I mentioned before, this book started as an assignment, but I discovered in the writing process that in writing about my childhood I was dealing with unresolved feelings about my past, particularly questions about identity as a half-hispanic, third-culture kid. My questions only got more complicated when I came back to the states and experienced reverse-culture shock. Each story in this collection looks at an aspect of cross-cultural life, culture shock, bilingualism, or multicultural homes. It would be of special interest to people interested in cultural questions. It's also meant for other missionary kids (those who are still young and those who have grown up and can't shake implications of the title), so that they know they're not alone, and it's for people who want to support and understand missionaries better. 

Have you written any other books?

If so, tell me about them briefly.

This is my first book project.

Do you plan to write more books?
If so, what can we look forward to?

I am working on a new project now, but whether it turns into a book down the road, I am not yet sure. It's also not something that I am ready to share too much about. In the meantime, I am writing and submitting articles to blogs here and there on family life, culture and faith. 

Tell me, how did you decide on a publisher for your book?
Who did you go through and how was it using their services?

I was recommended Kindle Direct Publishing by the friend of an acquaintance. I honestly chose this publisher because everyone knows Amazon, so I knew I could get the book to readers, and most importantly, its FREE! I also understood that though my stories are unique, I am not a celebrity or public figure. Self-publishing is the way to go when you know a traditional publisher won't be interested. Granted, you have to do all the work: edit, proofread, format, cover design, etc. But with the software they provide, all you have to invest is time. In my case, I had several very gracious friends help me with editing and taking head-shots. I "hired" a local graphic designer (who is also a friend) at a low cost. The publishing process was pretty drawn out. When you're asking favors you don't give hard deadlines. 

What does it feel like to be published now?

I feel like I finally finished what I started over seven years ago. As a young mom/homemaker, there is very little in my day to day life that brings a great sense of accomplishment (dishes pile up again as soon as you finish washing them), so seeing my words in print or in e-book form makes me feel like I'm contributing to something bigger than myself and my little world. 

What advice do you have on publishing to other indie authors?

Don't wait until it's perfect to publish. Honestly, the more I read what I wrote, the more I kept second-guessing my own ability to put two words together. Every writer starts somewhere, and even if you aren't an instant success, finishing a project and putting yourself out there will only help you write more and write better next time. 

Did you learn anything about yourself while you were writing this book?

Since this book dealt with my past, I learned a lot about my own insecurities, my tendency to play the part that I think other people want to see in me. And, I hope, it helped me outgrow some of those "people-pleasing" tendencies.

Do you have any writing advice for us?

Whenever you are putting words together, you are writing. There are times when family life is pretty consuming, and I don't have time to do any of my "personal writing." It used to bother me that I would spend my evenings writing appeals, newsletters or informational emails for work, and I had no time or energy left to work on my projects. But being in the habit of writing regularly, whether for work or pleasure, keeps the fingers typing, brain working, and words coming. Even if you aren't working on the next book, just write, whether it's a personal journal, a blog, or an email/letter to a dear friend. Sometimes, those are the very words that bring you back to the big project with fresh inspiration. 

Anything else you'd like to add?

Thanks for inviting me to post! Please check out my book Straddling The Border: Memoir Of A Missionary Kid on Amazon and feel free to like my Facebook page as well as add me on Instagram @gracerossauthor where I post about any blogs or articles I guest write. 

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me, Grace!!

Yours truly,

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