Help me welcome my friend Rachelle Ayala! I met her through World Literary Cafe last year, and have been blessed by her friendship ever since. Rachelle has a new release, "Hidden Under Her Heart." Her first novel, "Michal's Window," addressed the controversial issue of sex in the Bible, and wouldn't you know it, "Hidden Under Her Heart" deals with another point of contention, but Rachelle's ability to not only see, but write in an objective, yet caring manner, makes this story enjoyable for everyone.
So, pull up a chair and get to know this wonderful author.
1. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What were some of your first steps toward making your dream a reality?
I dreamed of being a writer as a little girl. I loved to read and make up imaginary stories by daydreaming. Sometimes I’d stay awake in my bed until 3 or 4 in the morning playing these movies through my mind. But I rarely wrote them down and didn’t consider writing a novel until I was in a college honors course where I wrote a children’s travel adventure story.
2. Tell me a bit about your computer background and how it has affected your writing .
I was one of the fortunate ones who grew up with the computer industry. My first programming job was on mainframes, CDC 7600, IBM 360, Prime, Intel hypercube, Sun workstation, DEC, HP, etc. Back then, you learned a new operating system with each vendor. Nothing was standardized. It meant you really understood the low level file systems, device drivers, and command line language. Uh… probably boring everyone here.
How did it affect my writing? I’ve experience every type of programming paradigm from spaghetti code to highly structured design patterns. To relate it to writing, the code/test/debug/recode process is similar to draft/critique/revise. I’m not too concerned about getting everything right in the first draft. Writing is ultimately freeing, because unlike performing arts, such as violin playing where a single mistake ruins the concert, writing and rewriting allows me “do-overs”. This is similar to coding.
3. Tell us about your books. Genre, titles, any favorite characters? What can we look forward to from you in the near future? WIP’s, upcoming releases.
My three novels are of different genres, but all feature women facing serious issues. Michal’s Window got people to empathize with a strong woman who was suppressed by her time in history. Broken Build deals with grief over violent crimes and shows the power of forgiveness. Since I published Hidden Under Her Heart, many have shared with me their personals stories, or those of their friends and relatives. My story is compassionate and shows how people who are burdened under layers of guilt can find peace.
I’ve been bitten by the romantic suspense bug so the next one will be full of action and mystery. My first three heroines are strong women, but caring and compassionate, nurturers who seek love. This next one is going to different. She has a surface charm, but she refuses to fall in love. The hero I’m pairing her with has similar issues, so it’s going to full of fireworks to see who will give in first.
4. Is there a common thread in your books? How do your values show up in your writing? What do you want readers to take from your writing?
I am a Christian, but did not become a Christian until age forty, so I have a very different outlook than someone born and raised in the church. The common thread in my book is about acceptance and compassion over judgment. My characters are flawed, make mistakes and seek forgiveness. Many Christians are too quick to judge others when they have not walked in their shoes. My current story, Hidden Under Her Heart, deals with a woman who has been raped and considers abortion.
I’ve heard from friends who say they’d never consider abortion, that it’s heinous and wicked. Well, ahem, maybe you’ve not been in her shoes either, or you were fortunate not to be faced with a circumstance beyond your control. As my main male character says at the end of the book: Even though she chose wrongly, she didn’t need judgment, but understanding. She didn’t need condemnation, but forgiveness.
5. What do you look for in a good book?
Dramatic storylines with vivid characters facing huge problems and obstacles. Great storytelling that keeps me turning the page, and occasional twists and surprises that gets me to think. I like to think that I write this type of story, but of course the reader must be the final judge.
6. What are some of the best social media, marketing, and publicity tips you’ve come across? Particularly those that have worked for you. Any time-saving advice?
Oh, goodness, don’t I wish I knew of time-saving tips. Actually I enjoy social networking and meeting people. Facebook is the place I hang out with my friends and find out about events and happenings.
7. What are some things you know now about writing and being an author that you wish someone had told you at the very beginning?
Not to expect family and non-writer friends to care or support your writing efforts. One person told me how liberating it was when she realized her husband’s job is not to affirm her and that she shouldn’t be looking for approval from him. Writing and marketing are so time consuming that your immediate family or physical friends think you’re taking time away from them and their needs. You’ll get emotional support from writer friends and satisfaction from readers responses.
8. Along that same line, what are some of your favorite resources?
Definitely my online posse of fellow writers who critique each other or share/swap marketing tips, exchange blog posts and take phone calls to chat or commiserate.
9. What lifts your spirits when you’re discouraged?
Strange as it seems, it is reading the funny parts in my novels. For Michal’s Window, it is all the Ittai scenes. For Broken Build, it is Claire and Melissa scenes. I even managed to sneak in a few funny moments for my latest book, Maryanne’s tour of the Melissa’s Woodside mansion before Halloween and the Epilogue with Lucas’ biggest prank.
10. What tips can you offer towards building and maintaining a strong support system as a writer? Any groups or sites that are particularly helpful?
Give others a hand and they will give you one back. I enjoy chatting with other writers in forums from private Facebook groups to places like Kindleboards. Sharing experiences is a great way to bond with fellow writers. The World Literary Café has several forums as well as tweet teams where authors can do blog swaps and cross promote. I also love CritiqueCircle.com where I can trade critiques with other authors. I’ve gotten to know many people from giving and receiving critiques.
11. What are your thoughts on finding balance as a writer – time to write, first and foremost, and time to expose your writing to a real audience (marketing, publicity, social media)?
I’m not a very balanced person. I tend to do things in spurts because I like to focus and do the best job in any task I work on. I’m currently not writing a draft or revising, so I’m doing a lot of interviews, blog hosting and promoting. When I’m deep in writing and revision, I cut back on social media and marketing.
Thank you so much for participating in Fridays with Friends, Rachelle!
Learn more about Rachelle by clicking on these links:
Visit her at: http://www.rachelleayala.com or follow @AyalaRachelle on Twitter.
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