Single mother and foster parent, Christina Berry carves time to write from her busy schedule because she must tell the stories that haunt her every waking moment. (Such is the overly dramatic description of an author’s life!) She holds a BA in Literature, yet loves a good Calculus problem, as well. Her debut novel, The Familiar Stranger, releases from Moody in September and deals with lies, secrets, and themes of forgiveness in a troubled marriage. A moving speaker and dynamic teacher, Christina strives to Live Transparently–Forgive Extravagantly!
Her work has also appeared in The Secret Place, The Oregonian, and Daily Devotions for Writers. Find her at www.christinaberry.net and www.authorchristinaberry.blogspot.com. If you’d like to check-out Christina’s humorous newsletter click here.
Christina, it’s a pleasure having you as a guest. Can you start by telling us what a typical writing day is like for you?
For one short year after my youngest was in school and before becoming a foster parent, I would write or market from 9-2:45 with a short lunch break. This last year has been more sporadic, with email and online marketing in the morning along with frequent breaks to play with or get snacks for the child in my care. Lunch with her, then phone marketing, editing, and writing while she naps. After dinner and once the kids are in bed, I usually log 1-3 more hours of work time.
I’ve found I’m most productive at actually writing when I play games with myself. For instance, I might write down all the chores I have to do on one side of a paper and my word count in hundred word increments on the other. For every hundred words I write, I complete any chore. In a few hours, I’ve made good progress on both lists. Many writers hate to “interrupt” their writing time like that, but my brain seems to process better with frequent breaks and words spill out when I set back down at the keyboard.
Of course, if I get a call to substitute teach, I don’t get much done that day!
Tell us about your latest book.
It’s my debut novel, The Familiar Stranger.
Craig Littleton’s decision to end his marriage would shock his wife, Denise . . . if she knew what he was up to. When an accident lands Craig in the ICU, with fuzzy memories of his own life and plans, Denise rushes to his side, ready to care for him.
They embark on a quest to help Craig remember who he is and, in the process, discover dark secrets. What will she do when she realizes he’s not the man she thought he was? Is this trauma a blessing in disguise, a chance for a fresh start? Or will his secrets destroy the life they built together?
How long does it normally take you to write a book? How many books do you write per year?
I can comfortably write a 90,000-word novel in four months. Fifteen hundred words a day is a pretty doable pace for me, and I could up it if I had a contract to fulfill that necessitated faster writing. Having a month or so to set it aside before doing edits is a wonderful thing.
Mom and I can write a very clean draft of a full novel in about three months.
In the future, I’d love to be putting out 2-3 books a year, a combination of solo and co-written.
How has your writing journey changed your Christian walk?
I see writing as one of the tools He uses to form me into His image—a tool to teach me patience, self-control, determination, reliance on Him, and other life lessons. I also see writing as a gift that brings me hope, fulfillment, and purpose when the rest of life is not so nice. The journey has sharpened me, yet also softened me.
Christina, before you go can you tell us the worst piece of advice you received?
At a Christian conference, I met with a New York agent. The conference doesn’t require the faculty to sign any kind of statement of faith, though it is blatantly Christian in tone. The man actually told me replacing “Jesus” with “God” would make an easier sale and not offend as many people.
With all due respect, excuse me? The very Cross itself is offensive. (See Galatians 5:11) I’m going to use the name of Jesus because in His name dwells power and glory and honor. And really, because when you love Someone, even His name is beloved.
Be sure to follow Christina’s next blog tour stop as she visits Cathy Bryant tomorrow.