Christa Allan Test of FaithMeet Christa Allan!

Christa Allan, a true Southern woman who knows any cook worth her gumbo always starts with a roux, writes women’s fiction stories of hope and redemption. Her upcoming novel, A Test of Faith is scheduled to release soon. Threads of Hope, one of the books in Abingdon’s Quilt Series, released in March (2013). Walking on Broken Glass (2010) and The Edge of Grace (2011) were also published by Abingdon. Love Finds You in New Orleans (Summerside Press) released in 2012.

Christa is the mother of five and grandmother of three. She recently retired after teaching twenty-five years of high school English. She and her husband live in New Orleans in a home older than their combined ages.  You can find her at Christaallan.com, Facebook, and Twitter @ChristaAllan.

Hello Everyone!

Christa Allan headshot

I'm thrilled to share Christa Allan with you all.  Christa's writing is so fresh, you'll want to do a Christa MInd-Meld.  :-)

Enjoy these visceral responses from Threads of Hope.

Threads of HopeOnce she spotted the note taped to it, her heart made its way down, and out of her throat.

Nina took the stairs instead of the elevator, a sort of aerobic decompression to move the tightness in her chest down her body and out through her feet, leaving the tension behind with each pounding step.

Nina felt her heart pinch. “He’s okay, right? I mean, he’s so still . . .”

She looked over at Daisy’s desk, and her stomach still hit her emotional bottom floor with an elevator-like thud. After hearing Brady talk about her being in New York with Janie, Nina suspected that thud might be permanent.

An all-too familiar sensation–that breath-sucking, plummeting roller coaster feeling–I’m thinking he’s been fired, in a car wreck, diagnosed with cancer, six months to live . . . But, no, it wasn’t as simple as that. 

That space in the back of my throat opened again and slid right into my heart.

Margie Asks Christa: Oh my gosh, your visceral responses are as fresh as they are powerful. How do you do it? Do you open a vein and just write?

 

If only writing could be as easy as vein-slicing! Sometimes I’m so focused on describing the character’s sensory experience(s), I worry I’m over-writing. I do remember wrangling with, “her stomach still hit her emotional bottom floor with an elevator-like thud.” I’d started with her “her stomach felt like it hit the floor with a thud.” Besides sounding cliché, the sentence didn’t convey the emotional response I wanted; plus, a “thud” isn’t a thud isn’t a thud, right?!

I wanted to convey that sense of absolute certainty of plummeting to rock bottom, and I thought of an elevator landing because it actually feels like it lands twice. The first hit and then a slight bounce back to thud. So, when I decided to use elevator, it made carried over to using the “emotional bottom floor” metaphor.

Margie asks Christa:

Do you start out with clichéd or overused visceral responses and make them fresh later?

What’s your secret?Christa Allan Edge of Grace

Christa Responds:

In rereading whatever I’ve written the day before, I do look for places where I think I’ve relied on clichés. I want my writing to be tight, but I don’t want it to be predictable.

That’s the struggle for me though…to keep my descriptions from overpowering the scene. When I was still teaching, I often gave ARCs to a few of my students; the ones I knew would be brutally honest in addition to harboring a not-so-secret delight in discovering my mistakes.

A student returned The Edge of Grace with so many Post-It notes the book might have taken flight in a strong wind. On one, she pointed out to me that I used five similes in one paragraph, and, “Really, Mrs. Allan? Don’t you think that’s four too many?” Ouch. But she was right!

Secret? I shop at the Visceral Response Warehouse.

No, the real secrets are to read, read, read and to pay attention to your own emotional responses. I may have mentioned this in another interview, but I keep a notebook with me every time I read. I write down sentences, phrases, words that grab me. I’m always careful to note the title, so I don’t open to a page one day and think it’s something I wrote in an explosion of brilliance. I actually study these, deconstruct them I suppose, to figure out what lure the writer used to snag me. Doing this helps to defrost the shallow lake on which I sometimes skate!

Here are a few I’ve noted:

Elizabeth Berg’s Open House: “…fabrics rubbing together as if each is questioning the other’s right to be there.”

“I save his confidence in me as though his words were silver dollars knotted in a silk scarf and hidden in a sock drawer.”

Bonnie Grove’s Talking to the Dead: “…wanted to swing my pain from its hinges.”

“…waving me over as if she were a dockworker and I the Queen Mary.”

Lolly Winston’s Happiness Sold Separately: “…relax like spoons in cake batter.”

Marion McGilvary’s A Lost Wife’s Tale: “…dandruff flakes of sawdust…”

“…metropolis of papers…”

“The kind of place God would live in if He moved to Manhattan and cheated on His taxes.”

“Could I infect the whole house with insomnia?”

“Carefully clipped hair and vowels to match.”

(I think this is McGilvary’s only novel, but I would read her grocery list if she published it. Her novel is worth a night (or two) without sleep. )

Christa - I'm grinning!  You do what I do.  But you think your deconstructions. I write mine down and put them in lectures..  :-)

 Margie Asks Christa: What’s your deep edit process?

 Do you make multiple passes deep editing different scene components?

 Do you have a certain order you follow?

Christa Responds:

I’m a mess when it comes to editing. My little ADD self is all over the place, and I’ve yet to find a system that truly works for me! I try editing different components in multiple passes, but when I see a breathless run-on when I’m working over my verbs, I just can’t leave it alone. What works for me, and something I’ve read writers should not do, which only goes to prove there’s no such thing as a “not do,” is reread whatever I’ve written the day before when I sit at the laptop. I don’t use that as my only pass, but it is a way for me to clean house before I start making another mess.

I’m afraid, at times, that in spending too much time editing, I might suck the life-voice right out of the manuscript. The blessing in having to send my first-ever novel to an agent who requested it was that I needed to send it soon, so I didn’t have time to obsess over what I’d written.

Christa -- Your little ADD self and your messes turn out stellar writing.

I hope writers who deal with ADD are heartened by your story and your success.

Power through. Or try to stay calm and carry on. 

 Margie Shares Humor Hits!

In the classes I teach online and in Immersion Master Class, I address humor hits. Humor hits can lighten a heavy read or deepen characterization or even make us fall in love with characters we might otherwise hate. Christa’s humor shines in her writing. Check out these examples.

Christa Allan Walking on Broken GlassShe pointed at Nina. “I know by now when you’re in a snit. Your whole face is wound tighter than Lady GaGa’s clothes, your eyebrows bear down on your eyes, and your mouth does this funny fish thing.” She demonstrated a pucker that made her look like a wild-haired guppy.

Her father’s head bobbed and a thin thread of cheese hung from his lips. He looked like an aging redfish that had just swallowed a hook.

By the time she parked in the driveway, there were enough knots in her stomach for a hammock, which, clearly, would not fit in the backyard.

From Test of Faith, Christa's March release:

Logan joked that he didn’t want an “eye candy” wife. “Once she’s gobbled up, there’s nothing left,” he told me. I figured I’d have to be someone with substance, like gourmet granola. With panache. Someone to be reckoned with, not devoured.

From MONA Meets MATT (a WIP):

Marcia smoothed her unapologetic scrubs and jacket that hid her late night dates with Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Caramel Honey, the early morning grande White Chocolate Mocha, and the occasional dips into seasonal candies.

Margie Asks Christa: Love those! Strong imagery!

Any tips for writers regarding writing humor hits?

Christa Responds:

After 25 years of teaching high school English, my sense of humor was both my sharpened sword and my armored shield. Some might say my humor is actually sarcasm in church clothes. One tip is to make sure what you’re using will be current when the book actually appears on the shelf. Some are timeless—like the Beatles, Ozzie and Harriett, hula-hoops, I Love Lucy. Some not so much—like Green Acres (the television show), Nancy Sinatra (though readers might remember her boots song), 8-track tapes, and referring to speeds as 33, 45, 78. Also, make sure it’s audience-appropriate and relatable. For instance, some people’s Frank Sinatra is today’s Michael Buble. And I, personally, would not use humor that is offensive. I’m clearly not the poster child for political correctness, but I’m careful to not use humor that would denigrate people unless I used it as dialogue to show a character’s cruelty or stupidity.

I also think it has to be used sparingly or in proportion to the “darkness” of the novel. In Walking on Broken Glass, Leah’s struggle with drinking and sobriety required scenes that were difficult to write and to read. I purposely used more humor in that novel so that readers wouldn’t finish it and start looking for treatment centers themselves. Characters who are or attempt to be funny all the time aren’t funny.

Do your humor hits come naturally or do you go back and intentionally sprinkle them in?

Christa Responds:

I’d say the hits come naturally; in fact, I often have to tone them down. My first novels dealt with serious social issues like alcoholism, abuse, homosexuality. Opportunities for some humor, but not the kind I was anxious to explore. I’m working on a romantic comedy now, and I’m truly enjoying it.

I bet we'd all enjoy it!  Write faster.

Now for some more fun!

Let’s dig into Dialogue Cues. Dialogue Cues describe the phrases and sentences that let the reader know how the dialogue was delivered. Dialogue Cues are not tags, they’re subtext. Important subtext.

“Give her the benefit of the doubt. Maybe all those initials are wildly incidental,” Aretha said in that voice she used when she complimented someone’s rather ordinary-looking baby.

Christa tapped a universal theme. Readers could identify with that faux-voice carrying a faux compliment. She also gave the reader a hit of humor.

My voice stretched so thin it grated leaving my throat.

“Okay,” she said, but with a voice that made it sound not okay.

Her words landed with the force of sandbags.

Christa lives in New Orleans. Threads of Hope is set in New Orleans. That dialogue cue with the sandbag simile is character-world-themed. Perfect!

“That’s your second sorry of the morning,” she said, wearing her own mother’s voice, just finding it a bit too tight.

Another universal theme. We're right there with that character. Brilliant!

“Of course,” I said, tweaking his nose, hoping he heard the lie in my voice and didn’t see the truth in my eyes.

Powerful writing. Christa juxtaposed the incongruent messages of a dialogue cue and body language. Smart, smart, smart!

A smile is never just a smile. Again. Subtext. Smiles are always an opportunity to deepen character. Just like dialogue cues. Read on for some fresh smiles from Christa.

When she spotted Nina, she smiled as if she’d been rescued from a bad blind date.

When Greg thanked her, she flashed him a lipsticked smile that could have melted pats of butter.

She smiled like someone who’d just trumped in bridge.

“Peas,” his daughter answered. “I be back, daddy.” She flashed him a smile that pinched something in his chest that he knew must be reserved for daughters.

 Wow. That last line pinched something in my chest too.

 That’s powerful writing. Deep edited writing.

 Blog Guests: I’ll share one Deep Edit Analysis and wrap up the blog.

 “Peas,” his daughter answered. “I be back, daddy.” She flashed him a smile that pinched something in his chest that he knew must be reserved for daughters.

 Deep Edit Analysis:

Dialogue tweaked to sound like young child, peas instead of please, I instead of I’ll. Endearing.

Used the smile as a stimulus for a visceral response: pinched something in his chest.

Amplified with a Power Internalization: he knew must be reserved for daughters.

Christa could have made the smile predictable.

 She flashed him a sweet smile.

 She flashed him a sweet little-girl smile.

 She flashed him a sweet little-girl smile that tugged at his heart.

 But we’ve read similar descriptors.

 Christa’s version shared fresh writing. Kudos to Christa!

Thanks, Margie! I appreciate the kind words, and I’m always learning from you. Being in your class my second year at ACFW gave me the courage and the motivation to keep my writing fresh.

 Trust me. Christa Allan always delivers. Take a minute and check out her books: Christaallan.com

Christa -- Thank you for your great responses to my questions. And thank you in advance for being here to respond to blog comments too.

 

BLOG GUESTS:

If you have questions for Christa, ask them!

Post a comment, and you'll be in the drawing for an online class ($50 value) taught by Margie Lawson (me!) or Tiffany Lawson Inman and a copy of Christa's book.

The drawing will be Tuesday, March 4th, 8:00 PM, Mountain Time.

If you'd like to learn more about writing body language and dialogue cues, check out  the course I'm teaching that starts today--

Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist.

That link will take you to a list of courses offered by Lawson Writer's Academy this month.

If you enjoyed the blog, I would appreciate a promo boost. Tweet, Facebook, and/or post a short promo on your writing loops.  Thank you!

 

Comments  

Jax Bubis
# RE: Christa AllanJax Bubis 2014-03-03 13:15
I know it's not rocket science, but I love the idea of having a notebook with me when I'm reading. This saves my books from highlighting and keeps it all in one place. Thanks so much for the tip.
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-03 15:53
Exactly why I started using a notebook! If it's any help, mine is small, a bit smaller than a standard paperback, which makes it easier to schlep around with me.
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Lori Freeland
# RE: Christa AllanLori Freeland 2014-03-03 14:07
Christa,

So happy to see you on the blog this morning. I love your humor hits!
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-03 15:57
Thanks for making it possible!
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Shanda Carlyle
# Out of the trenchesShanda Carlyle 2014-03-03 15:06
I need to take a page from your notebook and start being more aware of my emotional responses. And those beautifully written in others' work. (That's why I love Margie--she does it for you!)
Aside from that, I'm so happy to hear that someone else (also an English teacher with sarcasm for a sword)is a little scattered when it comes to revisions. I start in one place, think of something far off in a later chapter or back at the beginning, and then, I have created an impossible, insurmountable task. :)
Daily, though, I absolutely must edit as I go and clean up the previous day's work before I can move on. If it's been a while, I languish and procrastinate and beat my head on my keyboard. Not pretty.
Glad you've tamed that dragon or, well, learned to ride it with class.
Kudos on your success!
Shanda
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christa
# RE: Out of the trencheschrista 2014-03-03 15:56
Shanda--Great to know I'm not alone, sister! Don't know if you've heard of Scrivener, but that program has been a LIFESAVER for me. It allows me, as a write, to make notes about changes/additio ns...whatever, as I go. It's inexpensive, and it takes a bit of a learning curve, but it's well worth it. My suggestion is just start out slowly, don't try to master the entire program at once. Sometimes I feel like I'm using a microwave to heat coffee (in Scrivener), but that's okay--I use what I need.
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Shanda Carlyle
# RE: Out of the trenchesShanda Carlyle 2014-03-04 12:18
Looking at Scrivener now. May be just what my scattered self needs. Especially since I tend to lose the things I write on napkins and scrap paper. ;) Thanks.

Here's a free trial of Scrivener if anyone else is interested:
http://www.literatureandlatte.com/trial.php
It's 40 bucks on that same site and on amazon.
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christa
# RE: Out of the trencheschrista 2014-03-05 02:53
Glad you found it, and I hope it helps.
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Yalonda Robinson
# RE: Christa AllanYalonda Robinson 2014-03-03 16:19
Wonderful interview!
Christa, Walking on Broken Glass was such an intense read. I got so engrossed in Leah's struggle that I couldn't put it down right up until the last chapter. Looking forward to your latest.
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-03 19:04
Yalonda,

Thanks so much for your kind words. I actually missed Leah after the book was finished. Still playing with the idea of a sequel. What do you think?
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Margie Lawson
# RE: Christa AllanMargie Lawson 2014-03-03 21:21
Christa --

A sequel to Walking on Broken Glass?

Yes! Yes! Yes!

So cool that you missed Leah. I'd love to reconnect with Leah too.

I wonder if she's stayed close with her rehab friends... I wonder who has relapsed... I wonder how fast you can write her next story. :-)
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-04 04:28
Great questions...Esp ecially the last one!
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Sandi Jones
# RE: Christa AllanSandi Jones 2014-03-03 16:35
You can tell so much about the characters and their backgrounds from the way they respond in the tags. Great interview! Thanks for sharing.
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-03 19:05
Sandi,

You are welcome! I appreciate your stopping by here today.
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Rebecca H.
# RE: Christa AllanRebecca H. 2014-03-03 16:40
Hi Christa!
Thanks for sharing your writing process and your awesomely fresh writing. Love the book cover for your new book!
Best wishes with it.
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-03 19:06
Thanks, Rebecca. I love the cover, too. It releases on the 18th, so I'm at the nail biting stage!
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Robbin Luckett
# Thanks!Robbin Luckett 2014-03-03 16:53
Christa,

I also have to tone down my humor hits. Sometimes what I think is funny one day, is not the next day. Thanks for sharing your secrets. Love your dialoue cues. I just purchased Scrivener, but it's pretty overwhelming. I guess, baby steps. Happy retirement. Jealous :)
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christa
# RE: Thanks!christa 2014-03-03 19:15
Funny you should share that, Robbin (I know, insert pun-groan here!). I used to write a "slice of life" column for a small bi-weekly newspaper in Texas. The columns I thought would land readers on the floor? Not so much. The one I thought were, "meh" when it came to funny, readers laughed. It's a conundrum.

Gwen Hernandez has a great online Scrivener class for beginners. http://gwenhernandez.com/scrivener-corner/scrivener-training/
She also has a book, Scrivener for Dummies. I found the class easier to digest than the book.

Loving my retirement...so rt of! My husband opened his own veterinary clinic, so I'm back in the work force four days a week...until I can get fired!
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Robbin Luckett
# Now that's funny!Robbin Luckett 2014-03-04 18:01
Christa,

Thanks! I'll have to purchase Gwen Hernandez' Scrivener for Dummies book.

Now, how to get fired! . . .

Who let the dogs out . . . (lame, I know).
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christa
# RE: Now that's funny!christa 2014-03-05 03:27
LOVED it, Robin! Thanks for the giggle!
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Erin
# RE: Christa AllanErin 2014-03-03 18:52
I was introduced to snippets of your stuff at a Margie Lawson workshop this past weekend. You are now on my "to read" list. Can't wait to get started.
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-03 19:17
I love that Margie is so generous in sharing my work! Hope you enjoy my novels (if not, just don't tell me! ;-)

I have a daughter named Erin who was actually born on St. Patrick's Day. We'd already decided on the name before she was born, so her arriving two weeks early worked out well!
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Yolanda Barber
# RE: Christa AllanYolanda Barber 2014-03-03 20:12
Great interview. So many wonderful examples. Walking on Broken Glass and The Edge of Grace are two of my all time favorites. Thanks for sharing.
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-04 04:29
Thanks, Yolanda. Always encouraging to know readers enjoy my novels!
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Lynn Garrett
# RE: Christa AllanLynn Garrett 2014-03-03 21:44
Margie Lawson introduced you in class this weekend. I am in awe of your words, and I haven't even read your books. Please crack open that Christian erotica door you mentioned on your website. There are floods of us who want to surge in behind you, and waves of women who want their stories told. Tomorrow, when the snow and ice melt, I'm off to the bookstore, your newest fan.
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-04 04:32
Lynn,

After reading Songs of Solomon, I don't think Christian erotica should be an issue, right?!

Rumor has it that even married Christians can have mind-blowing sex...
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Christine Kransen
# RE: Christa AllanChristine Kransen 2014-03-04 03:24
Hey there Christa!
Thanks for appearing here with Margie.
Your humor hits and visceral responses are so much fun. I loved all the fresh writing examples.
Wish you lots of success with your coming release!
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-04 04:34
I'm always honored to be on Margie's blog, and I love being able to meet her readers. Thanks for your kindness!
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Bernice Russell
# RE: Christa AllanBernice Russell 2014-03-04 03:49
Loved the examples, especially the use of dialogue tags.
I confess, I hadn't read any of Christa's works before this but it's an oversight I am eager to remedy immediately.

Thanks to Margie for the breakdown.
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-04 04:36
Bernice,

No worries...you won't be in a lifelong time out for not having read my novels!

When you do, I'll be eager to know what you thought!
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Candace Arnold
# RE: Christa AllanCandace Arnold 2014-03-04 08:47
Such fresh fresh writing!!!
You are awesome for sharing your processes with us.
Thanks for the interview.
Best of luck with the new book!
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-05 02:23
Thanks, Candace. Taking Margie's class really opened me up and challenged me to rise about the average. I learn so much from her.

Thanks for stopping by!
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Jadyn
# RE: Christa AllanJadyn 2014-03-04 15:09
This is a wonderful interview and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
I love hearing each author's tale about their creative journey in writing a book. Thanks for being so generous in your insights. I look forward to reading your books!
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-05 02:26
Glad you were here, Jadyn (love your name by the way!). I'm always happy to share how Margie can change writers.
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Lillian Oakley
# RE: Christa AllanLillian Oakley 2014-03-04 15:22
Thanks for sharing these great examples and the reasons why they work, Margie!
Christa, I admire your cadence, the visceral responses in your scenes and your wonderful ability to hook the reader right away. I have read Walking on Broken Glass and The Edge of Grace and enjoyed both immensely.
Wish you well for your future endeavors!
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-05 02:28
Thank YOU, Lillian for having read two of my novels! Best to you as well. Appreciate your being here.
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Suzanne Purvis
# Love the fresh, fresh, fresh writingSuzanne Purvis 2014-03-04 16:16
I've been accused of over-writing, too much fresh writing. Is there such a thing? Thanks for this post. I'll analyze and decide based on what I think my readers would like. Perfect timing.
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christa
# RE: Love the fresh, fresh, fresh writingchrista 2014-03-05 02:33
I'm still not sure, Suzanne. I figure that's what editors are for! As long as what you write is true to your characters and your story, I think that's what matters most. Good luck in your writing!
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cynthia luhrs
# Movie in my headcynthia luhrs 2014-03-04 16:30
Thank you for sharing your process. The imagery - wow! I could see it in my head.

Cynthia Luhrs
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christa
# RE: Movie in my headchrista 2014-03-05 02:35
The most exciting aspect of being a writer is discovering ways to bring feelings and scenes to life--sometimes it's learning from other writers; sometimes it's just the serendipity of showing up every day!

Thanks for being here.
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Chris Norbury
# Chris N.Chris Norbury 2014-03-04 17:00
I like that idea of writing down snippets from other authors while reading their books. I'll try to incorporate that into my reading.
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christa
# RE: Chris N.christa 2014-03-05 02:41
Chris,

I think you'll be surprised when you discover how these snippets stay with you even after you've read the book. Enjoy!
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Sally Bayless
# Thanks for a great post!Sally Bayless 2014-03-04 17:06
So glad I followed the link from Margie's class over here! What a delightful voice--I can't wait to read one of your books, Christa! And Margie, thanks for all your wisdom!!

Sally
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christa
# RE: Thanks for a great post!christa 2014-03-05 02:58
I'm glad you made it here, too! Your name looked familiar, and I followed YOU back to your site! I remember you as a Genesis contest winner, and congrats on all the other great recognitions.

write on!
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Lisa Scott
# RE: Christa AllanLisa Scott 2014-03-04 17:15
I love that you “collect” words. I have the same habit. Sometimes it takes forever to read a book because I keep having to stop reading to write down a word!
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-05 03:03
Lisa, I laughed reading what you shared because I can relate to that word paralysis! It's such a valuable learning experience and a practical one too because there's a payoff. Good luck in your writing!
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Jacob Stoddard
# That pinched my heart!Jacob Stoddard 2014-03-04 17:35
“Peas,” his daughter answered. “I be back, daddy.” She flashed him a smile that pinched something in his chest that he knew must be reserved for daughters.

I'm the father of a 3 year-old girl, and I know exactly what you mean. My heart pinched just reading it!

I also like the idea of taking notes as I read other authors. Up to now, I've only stopped reading to look up word definitions.
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christa
# RE: That pinched my heart!christa 2014-03-05 03:06
Jacob---Start writing down all those precious, unexpected and child-wise things your daughter says. Trust me, you'll not regret having that well to draw from in your own writing. Thanks for stopping by.
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Nikki Weston
# RE: Christa AllanNikki Weston 2014-03-04 17:35
Hey there Christa!

It was so great to read your work during my recent Margie class, congratulations on all your success, and here's to many more publications and fresh writing!

Best - Nikki Weston.
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-05 03:09
Thanks, Nikki! I appreciate your kind words. Good luck in your own writing!
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Angela Quarles
# Angela QuarlesAngela Quarles 2014-03-04 17:43
Wow, great interview! It's always cool to read how a writer works and their process. I also loved the examples, thanks for sharing!
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christa
# RE: Angela Quarleschrista 2014-03-05 03:14
You are so welcome, Angela. By the way, your novel titles are so clever! Good luck to you in your writing journey.
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Melissa Borg
# RE: Christa AllanMelissa Borg 2014-03-04 18:36
Great fresh descriptions. The elevator drop was a wonderful way to describe it. Thanks for sharing your process with us.
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-05 03:17
Thanks, Melissa. I really enjoy meeting Margie's readers and appreciate being asked to share. Best to you!
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Stephanie Taylor
# Stephanie TaylorStephanie Taylor 2014-03-04 18:51
As a beginning writer, I am always searching for great writing tips that will make an huge impact on my own writing. This post was full of practical advice that I can implement immediately such as the idea notebook. I also loved the examples of visceral responses and dialogue cues that were provided and I am inspired to interject more of these in my projects.

Christa - I am looking forward to reading more of your work.
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christa
# RE: Stephanie Taylorchrista 2014-03-05 03:24
Even after five novels, I still feel like a beginning writer every time I sit down at my laptop to start a new manuscript. In a way, though, that's one of the gifts of being writers. We're free to grow and learn in our craft.

And Margie is an excellent teacher. Take as many of her classes as you can!
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Pamela Trawick
# Reminders always welcomePamela Trawick 2014-03-04 19:04
I also keep a list of great writing examples. The reminder to actually do something beneficial with it helped.
Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
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christa
# RE: Reminders always welcomechrista 2014-03-05 04:05
Pam,

At least you now have the examples to return to and do a Margie Deep Edit Analysis! Keep writing and collecting!
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Tara Kennedy
# RE: Christa AllanTara Kennedy 2014-03-04 19:18
Great interview Christa and Margie!
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-05 04:06
Thanks, Tara. Great to be invited to be here!
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Anne Belen
# RE: Christa AllanAnne Belen 2014-03-04 20:16
So glad to see someone successful employing the same editing hop-scotch habits I do! After six manuscripts you'd think I'd have settled on a method already, but the process keeps evolving!

Great post -- thanks Margie and Christa! :)
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-05 04:08
It's always reassuring to know there's another writer somewhere who's playing hop-scotch! Appreciate your stopping by!
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Sally Bradley
# RE: Christa AllanSally Bradley 2014-03-04 21:01
This made me want to go on a Christa Allan book shopping spree!

Actually I've got my sights on A Test of Faith. I plan to buy it as soon as I can.
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-05 04:10
Hey, Sally!!! So fun to find you here! I'd love for you to go on a shopping spree! Test of Faith is actually already available for order on Amazon, even though I haven't received my own copies yet.
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Terri Herman-Ponce
# RE: Christa AllanTerri Herman-Ponce 2014-03-04 21:40
Sigh. Such wonderful writing. So SO descriptive! This is what I aspire to, to ditch the speech tags like 'said' and use visceral responses to really show what's happening in a scene or between characters.

Love it. Love it. Love it.
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Margie Lawson
# RE: Christa AllanMargie Lawson 2014-03-05 03:36
Terri --

Sounds like you'd love the class I'm teaching this month:

Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues Like a Psychologist.

The class started yesterday.

Just thought I should mention it. ;-)
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-05 04:13
I agree with Margie! Sign up now! A great class...and write on!
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Becky Rawnsley
# Re: Christa AllanBecky Rawnsley 2014-03-04 22:35
Thank you Margie and Christa for an inspiring blog!

I loved the idea that 'a smile is never just a smile, it's a chance to deepen character', as are dialogue cues. I intend to review my WIP with that in mind - so many chances to deepen character (and write fresh) :)

Thank you Christa for the great examples, so many its hard to pick favourites (excuse my English spelling!).Here 's two.

"Her words landed with the force of sandbags" LOVE -so simple, so powerful.

"She smiled as if rescued from a bad blind date." Brilliant - humour hit and a universal everyone can relate to in imagination if not reality!
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christa
# RE: Re: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-05 04:15
Enjoy your WIP review. You'll be surprised at the tweaks you'll make that truly bring the scene alive. I'm glad you stopped by.
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Sharon Wray
# Thank you for these wonderful examples!Sharon Wray 2014-03-04 23:17
I always love to read examples of such wonderful writing. Thank you for sharing them today.
I can't wait to read your books, Christa. You have an amazing voice!
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christa
# RE: Thank you for these wonderful examples!christa 2014-03-05 04:17
Coming from someone who is a five-time RWA Golden Heart finalist, your comment humbles me! Thank you, and I do hope you enjoy my books.
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Mary Guida
# Writing FreshMary Guida 2014-03-05 01:35
Hi Christa,

I love your fresh examples and it pushes me to try harder. Great Blog! Mary
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christa
# RE: Writing Freshchrista 2014-03-05 04:20
Mary,

Judging by your website, you seem to be quite busy writing! Thanks for your kind words.
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Leslie Miller
# Evocative!Leslie Miller 2014-03-05 02:55
I'd kill to write a line like this one:

By the time she parked in the driveway, there were enough knots in her stomach for a hammock, which, clearly, would not fit in the backyard.

It's beyond fresh and hilarious too...
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Margie Lawson
# RE: Evocative!Margie Lawson 2014-03-05 03:41
Leslie --

I love that hammock line too!

It's as fresh as it is hilarious.

I love teaching writers how to write fresh!

And fresh writing sells.
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christa
# RE: Evocative!christa 2014-03-05 04:21
Leslie,

Great news...hang with Margie, and you won't have to plan a homicide to write fresh!
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Margie Lawson
# RE: Christa AllanMargie Lawson 2014-03-05 03:33
HELLO EVERYONE!

So fun to celebrate Christa's stellar writing with you all. Thank you for being here!

Random.org picked our two winners.

The winner of the book by Christa Allan is............A my Pfaff!

The winner of an online class taught by me or Tiffany Lawson Inman is............. .............Ma ry Guida!

CONGRATULATIONS AMY and MARY!

I will email you tonight.

A big cyber hug to Christa Allan! Her fresh writing always pinches my heart and makes me want more and more and more.

All smiles......... ...Margie
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Kris Lynn
# Hello Margie, Christa and classmatesKris Lynn 2014-03-05 03:59
A little late checking in this evening, a long day but topped off with my first response in my first Marie Lawson class. Already I have learned valuable craft.
Looking forward to more!
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christa
# RE: Hello Margie, Christa and classmateschrista 2014-03-05 04:24
Congrats on reaching out to comment! Glad you made it here!
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-05 04:23
THANKS TO MARGIE AND HER WONDERFUL BLOG READERS for your encouraging comments!

Congrats Amy and Mary!!!
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Anne Belen
# RE: Christa AllanAnne Belen 2014-03-05 04:07
Congrats Mary and Amy!
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Sandra Tilley
# RE: Christa AllanSandra Tilley 2014-03-05 13:11
Loved your insight into the whole writing process. And your writing...WOW. I went to your website and was moved by your daughter's description of you. Bought Walking on Broken Glass. Can't wait to read more fresh writing.
I, too, am a Southern woman with 25 years of teaching English--to 7th graders. Bless our hearts.
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christa
# RE: Christa Allanchrista 2014-03-06 22:27
God bless you, Sandra, after all those years of teaching those little hormones on legs!!!

I'll tell my daughter you enjoyed her observations... she was a bit hesitant to do that for me.

Hope you enjoy my novel. Let me know!
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Nikki Weston
# RE: Christa AllanNikki Weston 2014-03-06 14:15
Congratulations Amy and Mary! Enjoy!

Best - Nikki.
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