Writer’s Ink: Allison K. Garcia

Allison K. Garcia
Allison K. García is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a passion for writing. Latina at heart, Allison has absorbed the love and culture of her friends, family, and hermanos en Cristo and has used her experiences to cast a glimpse into the journey of undocumented Christians.
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1.) In two and a half sentences, give us the book summary. I shall be strict and exacting. 😉

The fates of an undocumented college student and her mother intertwine with a suicidal businessman’s. As circumstances worsen, will their faith carry them through or will their fears drag them down?
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*Editor’s note: My strict and exacting nature apparently isn’t terribly strict and exacting; I’ll let you keep that last clause and use it as your “half sentence.” 😉
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2.) What was your inspiration for this book? And how does its subject matter affect you personally?

I have been inspired by a lot of people in my life, especially by my hermanos en Cristo. Seeing their unwavering faith in times of crises really pushed me to write the book. Also I have heard a lot of stories of injustice through friends, family, and therapy clients, which also inspired some ideas for the book. Personally, my husband is Mexican and my son is mixed, so I think about the struggles my husband has had to face and what my son will one day face. And a good friend of ours from church was deported before I wrote the book and that was something that affected me and our church community very deeply. On a positive note, I have been inspired by Latino culture, particularly Mexican culture, and love the cuisine and the kindness and the language. I tried to make that come through in the book as authentically as possible.
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3.) One of my favorite characters was Hector, particularly his character arc as he changed from someone who flirted with the wrong side of the law to someone who walked in faith, trusting God to lead him. Did his character grow organically in your mind? Or was he a sudden idea?


So, I did this book during NaNoWriMo (*Editor’s Note for everyone that has heard me go on and on… and on… about NaNoWriMo: that’s National Novel Writing Month–generally taking place in November) and all I had was a three-page start, the name of the book, and a general concept of an undocumented college student trying to make her way in the world. This said, there was no Hector when I began the book…I set forth with zero romantic ideas and then suddenly there were two fellahs on the page! I also love Hector. He came out of nowhere and won the show! I think subconsciously I liked the idea of him actually having a good heart underneath his hard exterior.
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4.) Do you have a favorite scene in this book? Can you give us a taste of what it looks like?


Aaah! This is the hardest question yet!!! I love all the scenes! Okay, there are a few I hate because of how they hurt my favorite characters.
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Okay, okay, I know I need to choose…I’m trying to think of the ones that only make me cry…
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One of my favorite scenes is when Linda steps forward at the Dream Act rally as an undocumented college student (i.e. Dreamer). When I have gone to those rallies and have seen the Dreamers stand at the front like that, I am awestruck by the bravery that takes. I tried to evoke that in Linda’s scene, along with her realization that she is loved by God whether or not she has “papers.” Then having the people there that she loves support her and not judge her for her undocumented status added an extra beautiful angle, I think.
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5.) You mentioned that you had originally intended this to go through the traditional publication route, and then you switched to indie publishing. What was your reasoning? Did you enjoy the process more or less than when you were sending out 80+ query letters?


Well, it’s hard to top the excitement of sending out 80+ query letters…hahahhaa!
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So…I really wanted to be traditionally published and gave it a good shot for about 5 years but because I came to the realization that my book falls between genres, really creating a new genre, Latino Christian Fiction, which at least as far as I could see on Amazon and Google, there weren’t many other books like this out there. So the Christian agents didn’t know how to market it and some were turned off by the undocumented angle, and secular publishing doesn’t deal with Christian fiction. Therefore, after much praying and consulting with friends, I decided to go indie.
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Being an indie-published writer is hard! That’s kind of one of reasons I wanted to do traditional! But, alas, I really felt like God wanted me to write this book and get it out in the world, so in the end, you gotta do what you gotta do! I have been through very vigorous editing, which a friend and I like to call, “The Tamara Effect” (*Editor’s Note: This Effect of which you speak sounds fascinating and amazing, and more people should know about it!), which I believe helped my book be super awesome, and I got an awesome formatter and my husband to do the cover. I hope people like it!!!
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6.) What are other projects? Can we expect to see more of your work hit the market in the next months?


The word “months” just scared me a little. Ahem. I’m fine now. I plan to translate Vivir el Dream into Spanish by the end of the summer. I also plan to edit another Latino Christian fiction book I wrote called Finding Amor. Then in November during NaNoWriMo I plan to finish the last 2 books of my 8-book children’s fantasy series, Prince Miguel and His Journey Home.
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7.) What author or authors have impacted you the most on your journey to becoming a writer?

I love so many authors, it is hard to choose. I love classics like the Brontes, Dickens, etc. In the contemporary realm I love Agatha Christie, Barbara Kingsolver, Isabel Allende, Paul Coelho, Lois Lowry, J.K. Rowling, and Suzanne Collins.

Thanks for stopping by, Allison! Check out Vivir El Dream for yourself. Purchase your very own copy and then do Allison a favor and leave a review on Amazon or another retail site. Those reviews are essential for sales!

Vivir kindle cover new

Linda Palacios crossed the border at age three with her mother, Juanita, to escape their traumatic life in Mexico and to pursue the American dream. Years later, Linda nears college graduation. With little hope for the future as an undocumented immigrant, Linda wonders where her life is going.
 
Tim Draker, a long-unemployed businessman, has wondered the same thing. Overcome with despair, he decides to take his own life. Before he can carry out his plan, he changes course when he finds a job as a mechanic. Embarrassed about working at a garage in the barrio, he lies to his wife in hopes of finding something better.
 
After Juanita’s coworker gets deported, she takes in her friend’s son, Hector, whom her daughter Linda can’t stand, While Juanita deals with nightmares of her traumatic past, she loses her job and decides to go into business for herself.
 
Will the three of them allow God to guide them through the challenges to come, or will they let their own desires and goals get in the way of His path?
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SOUL SURVIVOR is here!!!

Between the publication of Ashes, Ashes and Soul Survivor, there was a span of 14 months. It felt like forever, but at the same time, it passed in a flash as I busied myself writing new books, participating in contests, honing my craft, doing a million projects I’ve set for myself, and now I finally have another book on the market!

Cover7I’m so excited, y’all! Swing by the link and pick up your copy today. goo.gl/FOp95t

This book has a special place in my heart as I set it in Asheville, North Carolina and the Smoky Mountains in which I grew up. Those of you familiar with the area will recognize several landmarks, including the Biltmore House and the Grove Park Inn, and if anyone wants to imagine where on the Parkway I placed the Manor, just head another mile or two up the twisting, winding road past Craggy Gardens, and you’ll find the views I imagined as I built the house in my imagination.

Care to read some reviews? One reviewer says: “As a writer, Tamara Shoemaker is honing her skill, and Soul Survivor is her best novel yet.

Another says: “I was pleasantly surprised by this tight little thriller. It had realistic, believable characters and a well-woven plot with a twist that caught me off guard.

You’ve perhaps read my “Making of Soul Survivor” posts; now you can read the thriller itself. Check it out, and then (if you would be so kind), head back to Amazon or Goodreads or both and leave your own review on this book. As an indie author and an author with a small press, I rely on those reviews to help me generate income, so when you leave a review, you’re playing a huge part in making my dreams reality.

Thanks in advance.

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Will a 12-year-old secret and the death of her twin continue to haunt Eden Grey? Or will she find the courage to face her loss and fear and escape the killer who wants what she’s hiding?

Twenty-two year old Eden Grey knows all about fear, bitterness, and heartbreak. Twelve years ago, she’d witnessed a stranger’s murder in a shadowy highway rest stop. The next day, she’d found her twin brother Evan drowned. A secret that endangered her own life and the lives of those she loved kept her silent.

Now fresh out of college and living in Williamsburg, Virginia, Eden struggles daily. An incapacitating stammer results from her traumatic past and shields her from social interactions and the persistent and attentive Greg Katts.

When she discovers Greg’s true identity, the old fear seizes her and she flees.

Seeking to hide in the obscurity of the Smoky Mountains, Eden takes a job at Blue Mist Manor, a renovated mansion run by Jake Hayden, Eden’s old flame. He’s betrayed her before; how can she trust his offering of protection now? Or should she place her faith in Aaron, the dashing and flattering English professor staying at the Manor?

When the killer closes in, Eden has one last chance. Will she run, as she did twelve years earlier, or will she fight to survive?

Soul Survivor is more than a gripping mystery. It’s a story of how one young woman deals with loss, fear, and betrayal. Will she let her past dictate her future? Or will she learn to trust again?

Making of Soul Survivor: The Blooper Reel

Behind any work of art, you have the bloopers, the mistakes, the frayed edges that you try hard to erase before the final piece. You’re embarrassed; you shuffle the blunders into the dark corners, hoping that no one will notice.

The thing is, without the mistakes, the final piece would have less character. The mistakes color the final product so there’s life and vibrancy.

I love watching blooper reels. It’s fun to set the story aside for just a moment while I see the artist’s attempts to create the world that I’ve just lived in. Some of the old Jackie Chan movies are my favorites. Since the man insisted on doing all his own stunts, some of his blooper reels were reminiscent of the physical comedy of the old Laurel and Hardy episodes and Three Stooges.

Jackie Chan Laurel and HardyBlooper #1:

(Excerpt): “Shooting a swift glance back at the house, I lean over and try to open the glove compartment. Locked. Of course. I snatch up Greg’s keys, inserting his ignition key into the lock, my shaking fingers making it difficult. I’m sure I won’t find anything, but I’m terrified lest I do.”

In the original draft, the glove compartment wasn’t even in the picture. Eden is upstairs in her house, finds a secret compartment in the floorboards of her house and in the compartment, something that will change her life forever.

That seemed too unrealistic, so I moved the “something that will change her life forever” into Greg’s jacket pocket, which he then leaves flung over the back of the rocking chair at her house.

But why in the world would Greg leave such an important “something that will change her life forever” in his jacket pocket? The “something that will change her life forever” is far too important to leave in such an insecure place.

At last, I settled on his glove compartment. By now, it’s the fourth draft. The glove compartment seemed like a relatively secure place to leave something important, but then a test-reader reminded me that a lot of glove apartments actually lock.

Not mine, but whatever. I decided it made sense to lock it, so I added a lock, and keys, and trembling fingers that have a hard time finding the keyhole. Voila, five drafts later, we have the above excerpt. But I never would have gotten there without the first four drafts.

Blooper #2:

(Excerpt): “Another note of panic hits my brainwaves. Can he trace my phone? It’s not the most recent model, no internet access from it. Could there be a GPS on it? Probably not, but I don’t have anyone to ask, and if there is, I have a target on my back.”

What do you do when you have no clue about the answer to a question?

You have two options: a.) research, or b.) translate your own uncertainty to your character.

Take a wild guess what I did above.

Side note: the nice thing about writing is that you can generally proclaim “truth” with a few keystrokes. So, as a result, whether this is generally true or not, Eden has a phone that most likely doesn’t have a GPS on it, most likely doesn’t put her in danger, most likely is not a threat at all. However, because she’s unsure (because I’m unsure), she tosses it out the window of her truck as she makes her escape. BECAUSE AUTHOR SAYS SO. 😉

Blooper #3:

(Excerpt): “Count Tramp begins to pace, back and forth, back and forth across the opening of the cave. I sit as I wait, trying now and again to exit the cave, to run for help, but Count Tramp won’t let me. Every time, he snaps at me, refusing to let me move. He paces and paces, until at last the gray dawn coats the scenery. The clouds have moved in. I can’t see the mountains anymore.

                    “But Count Tramp lets me pass him now. We exit the cave.

                    “On the hill, in the grass, close by the trampled, crooked line I had created earlier as I trod my path downward, I see a set of footprints in the dew, matching my trail step for step.”

Going back to the first draft, this scene was much shorter. Eden has fled the house, desperate to think, needing to be alone. The dog, Count Tramp, accompanies her, and she seeks out the cave, sorting out her thoughts through the long, dark night. She finally finds peace, and decides to head back to the house, but according to my timeline…

It’s still 3 a.m. or thereabouts. Pitch black.

Those footprints in the dew are super important for her to see. She has to notice them to move the action along, to do what she does next, and even a silvery moon won’t show up dewy footprints.

So I had to return to the cave. Count Tramp has to pace. And pace and pace and pace. Time goes by, and poor Eden’s thought tumble longer and longer, until FINALLY…

Dawn.

Eden exits the cave, and… *sinking-feeling-rock-in-the-pit-of-her-stomach*… footprints not her own.

WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN? 😉

Lest I run the risk of making this blog post too long, I’ll leave it with the three bloopers. There are many more, but maybe I don’t have to say what they are. Maybe I’ll let you find them for yourself.

Hehehehe.

Hey, here’s an idea! Soul Survivor is available for pre-order! Why don’t you get your bid in early; it’ll help me out in the rankings on Amazon, and YOU get first dibs on the book! And it’s only the price of a Starbucks cup of coffee (mmm, coffee). Here’s the link: http://booklaunch.io/route11publications/54f9939d66e3bff92b26b195

Enjoy!

Guess What’s Coming Down the Pike?

Dear Friends, Family, and Fans,
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My new book, SOUL SURVIVOR, launches today and is available for pre-order from now until its hard release on May 1st.
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I have a specific favor to ask you. You see, by putting my book up for pre-order, it allows the book to collect sales that will be credited toward the day it goes live for release.
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Why does this matter?
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Because the more books counted toward sales on that day, the higher the book will rank. And rankings are important for one reason only—the higher the ranking, the more people will see my book.
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There are so many books for sale that it’s easy to get lost in the slush. The only way people will even see my book and have the opportunity to make a decision whether to buy it or not, is for me and my book to climb out of the slush pile.
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Will you help me? It’s only $4.49 to pre-order SOUL SURVIVOR.
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That’s the price of a cup of Starbucks coffee. Not much, but for me, it’s huge! It’s been my dream to publish a book, and now I am proudly a published author. Your small investment will be compounded by the small investment of many others to help me reach the next goal, which is simply to have others see my book and have the opportunity to buy or not to buy. That’s it.
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You can go to my book launch page here <http://booklaunch.io/route11publications/54f9939d66e3bff92b26b195> and see several options for making this small investment in my work. This page has links to places where you can pre-order.
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Thank you in advance for helping me by pre-ordering SOUL SURVIVOR. And if you decide not to pre-order, that’s ok. But would you at least forward this to other people who may be interested? Email, Twitter, Facebook, Google, telling the person standing beside you.
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You have my deepest gratitude.
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Best to you,
Tamara Shoemaker

Making of Soul Survivor Part II: the Beginnings of a Villain

I have a minor in psychology, but I still felt completely unprepared for the ins and outs of my villain’s mindset. I wanted to create someone a little different than your typical Voldemort or Professor Umbridge–where the reader has absolutely no empathy with him/her and where you wish they would leap off the edge of a cliff in a blazing inferno of anguish. And all the people rejoice.

VoldemortI wanted instead to create a character that once had a decent beginning, someone with whom the reader could identify, maybe even have shared a cup of coffee with at some point earlier in their career. Someone who, had things gone just a little differently, might have ended up the protagonist (here’s looking at you, Mr. Rochester). 😉

RochesterThis was more difficult that I had anticipated, however. In my head, I could see the fully fleshed-out villain in all the glory that follows such a character, but stripping off their skins, baring them to their inner core, was a tough process.

The villain kept morphing on me. I’d think I had them pegged down, but they’d change before I could really get a grasp on who they were. While I gripped my hair and stared wild-eyed at the laptop screen, my husband offered me this jewel: “You’re the author. Just make them who you want them to be.”

sebastianAfter I got done giving him the hairy eyeball, I went back to the drawing board.

Nobody is born a killer. They may become predisposed to such things through external circumstances and/or internal factors like mental illness. But a baby does not come out of the womb ready to kill. So I had to take my mind back to that first innocence and build the character from there.

In the earliest portions of the book, cool logic and method dictate the villain’s course of action. They’d already moved along from the once innocent that they were, but the seed of humanity still hangs, barely visible, in their decisions.

And THEN, hooray! The psychotic break!!!

This was such a fun segment for me to write, maybe because I’ve got a few hinges loose myself (but not in a bad way – my loose hinges present themselves much more amiably than this particular villain’s). It was so much fun to write the destruction of lucidity, to describe in vivid and colorful detail the slaughter of reason as it melted to pools around the villain.

At this point, you love to hate this person, but at the same time, there’s that deeper root that I built into the character. The villain once ate Cheerios, was late to school, owned a pet goldfish named Clyde, struggled with fractions, struggled with cliques and self-worth. So rather than setting the book aside at the end with the finger brush of “good riddance,” you’ll (hopefully) find this character walking with you for a few days at least.

Weeks if I’ve done my job really well.

I hope you’ll decide to see for yourself.