AUTHOR: Alisha Braatz
BOOK TITLE: The Awesome Book About God For Kids
GENRE: Middle Grade / Early Reader
PUBLISHER: Harvest House
NOTE: Ms. Braatz is offering a copy of her book to one of my blog readers who "likes" her Facebook page. Please be sure to mention in your comment on her page that you saw and read the post here. She will then come back and announce the winner here and on her page. Be sure to leave information on how she can contact you if you're the winner!
Please tell us about yourself.
Whenever I’m presented with this question, I simply don’t know where to start. I am special ops trained, I run marathon(s), and I travel the world at a moments notice. I have the reflexes of a Formula 1 driver, and am told I possess the singing voice of Whitney Houston coupled with the stage presence of Beyonce. After winning my fourth Jeopardy Championship, Alex Trebec asked me to step aside and let the more unfortunate contestants win a few rounds. I said, “Okay. But only for you, Alex.”
Outside of these primary accomplishments, I am a wife to a ruggedly handsome dude, and a mother to two truly precocious preschool girls. I am an ex-Realtor, lover of all Hotrods and fast cars, and a massively competitive board game player. Oh, and I love-love-love Hawaii.
Are you a full-time writer or part-time, and how do you organize your writing time?
I suppose that if one counts ‘full-time’ by a measure of eight or more hours at the desk per day, then no. I am not even close to being a full-time writer. But I think about my stories constantly! I have gargantuan epiphanies whilst making snacks for my kids. And I keep my notebooks close-by so that when I do sit down at the computer my time is well spent and my thoughts well-ordered.
As my children get older, my writing time fluctuates. I have to be ready to create when the quiet moments of play present themselves. Each day I can count on a two-hour block of dedicated writing time.
When and why did you begin writing?
As early as three. My dad made me a desk and I sat on an overturned peach crate for a seat. Then I took reams of that accordian-folded paper (from the ancient printers of yore) and wrote stories. Long—really long—stories. Of course, it was nothing but gobbly-goop, but I could tell you the whole thing.
What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
When I’m not writing, I am riding my long-tail cargo bike with my two girls. Or watching So You Think You Can Dance. My husband would like to think that I am doing the laundry or at least planning dinner, but the truth is...the girls and I just filled a bucket full of water and took turns jumping in it outside.
What was the toughest criticism given to you? What was the biggest compliment?
I once made the unfortunate mistake of sending a first draft to an editor (who had said to send what I had) and received back a full-page of hard-hitting criticism that included the thought that maybe I should be a reader, not a writer. I learned to never send in anything that was less than ready to go to print.
The biggest compliment I have ever received is to watch my husband read my writing. He doesn’t really like reading (I am AGHAST!) so when I can hook him, I feel genuinely proud.
Did those change how or what you did in your next novel?
It changed the way I submitted my work. But of course, I’m not patient. So I’ve had to relearn the basic lesson many times now.
Do you ever have writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?
To me, Writers Block happens when your characters stall out. They’ve hit a dead-end. They are no longer motivated to do anything, least of all finish the story. So to combat this, I always write a full outline first. Sure, things always change, but the main structure is there and you can remind yourself of the story arc over and over.
What are your current projects?
I finished my novel The House Account this year and have started the second installment, Cargo. They are upper middle grade thrillers in real-life settings (no science fiction or fantasy).
March 1991: 14-year old Braedon Soldatti witnesses two thugs manhandle his father off a homebuilding site and into the back of black sedan. With the help of a very unreliable Uncle, Braedon discovers that his Father has reentered dealings with a Seattle crime syndicate and has only three days to make good on a $150,000 loss, or he will not return home. Braedon must decipher his Father’s last enigmatic missive, outwit his adult adversaries, and battle the memory of his mother’s death to recover enough money to save his Father’s life.
The stories were inspired by the books that I inhaled as a teenager--all the Quiller thrillers, and Agatha Christie mysteries. Today, I still love a good Jack Reacher adventure.
How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?
Facebook/Twitter: Alisha Braatz
I try to do updates relatively often, but can’t decide what to say most of the time.
Tell us about the current book you’re promoting.
The Awesome Book About God For Kids is a fun, modern retelling of classic Bible stories. Daniel eats peanut butter and honey sandwiches and Gideon struggles with how God will use kitchen appliances to save the day. The book is a fresh read for kids and parents with a time to talk and ask questions at the end of each chapter.
What is your experience working or being around children or teens?
After college I worked as an Au Pair in Italy for a year before settling down into ‘real life’. That was the most intense year of my entire existence. Still. Nowadays my real kids continually stretch me, make me laugh, and often confuse me.
What influences your writing?
Dave Barry. Erma Bombeck. Adam Hall. Agatha Christie. Now, you might notice, two of these writers are humor, and two are mystery writers. But they all four share a common trait: brevity. I like action. I enjoy books that move forward and don’t bog me down in too many lengthy descriptions of pine needles and pink sunsets.
Is this your first published children’s work? What other types of writing have you done?
This is my first published children’s work, yes. Before The Awesome Book About God For Kids, I wrote a syndicated humor column for Inman News, a real estate publication. I also produced a lot of text for websites, print media and blogs as a small business writer.
Do you outline before you write? If not, what’s your initial process?
While this book in particular is not a good example of something you have to outline—I mean, let’s be honest, the Bible pretty much lays the stories right out there—in my other work, I must outline. I may start the story immediately as the inspiration strikes, but before I get more than thirty pages in I require self-direction. Once the outline is complete (which is totally the hardest part) we can get on to the fun part: writing!
What books have most influenced your life?
Fourth grade was the best year for reading EVER. I couldn’t put down The Indian in the Cupboard and Tuck Everlasting might still be my favorite story. There’s something indescribable about the feeling I got from these two books; something akin to: anything is possible. In my grown-up life I absolutely love Leif Enger’s Peace Like a River. I could read it endlessly. I also love Elizabeth Kostova’s The Historian.
Describe your writing space.
I’ll describe exactly what I see right now: a small espresso-colored desk from Ikea, covered in my notebooks, Iphone, Kindle, notes from the last SCBWI conference, my Nespresso log-in information so I can order coffee when I am done with this interview, and a coupon to Pottery Barn.