LEA ANN VANDYGRIFF
- GUEST AUTHOR -
Today, I interview a Christian fiction writer from Texas.
Welcome Lea Ann,
1. TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING JOURNEY.
I lost my husband to cancer about three years ago. I am a single mom with two daughters. I have gone through many challenges over my lifetime. I am a Christian and strong in my faith. I write religious fiction. I wanted to write novels with inspiration and is also suitable for teen readers.
2. WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A WRITER?
When my husband passed away, I had an overwhelming desire to write. I never knew writing was my destiny until for the first time in my life, I was making all the decisions for my family. I just could not shake the feeling to write. So now I have dedicated my career to writing and I love every minute.
3. WHAT TYPE OF PREPARATION DO YOU DO FOR A MANUSCRIPT? DO YOU PLAN EVERYTHING FIRST OR JUST SHOOT FROM THE HIP?
As far as a plan, mine goes like this: I pray before I write, I become inspired and I start writing. If the writing is not flowing and I have too over think it, then I stop and take a break. My writing is more than just stories, for me it’s a ministry and I take it seriously.
4. WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
I love the fact that I am sharing a piece of myself, my experiences and my faith. People are already asking about the second book and want to know if there is a movie. That means I touched a life and caused emotions in my readers. What a great feeling.
5. WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A WRITER?
Putting yourself and your work out there for the public. You can’t please everyone. There will always be someone out there who will rip up your dreams and hard work. The way I look at it is, If I can make a difference in just one life, then it’s all worth it. I’m pretty thick skinned.
6. WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A WRITER?
I was an executive legal assistant for 26 years. Not by choice, my husband and I started our own law office. There are too many things that I have accomplished and struggled through to mention. Some of those things will be revealed as the Seasons book series continues.
7. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST WRITING ACHIEVEMENT?
My debut book, Seasons Once Upon My Innocence. My hope is that is will be the first in a series of four books.
8. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?
I am about half way through the second book Seasons Justice Is Not for the Weak. I am kicking around the idea of writing a screenplay for a TV series.
9. WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
When I can inspire others, I get inspired.
10. WHAT GENRE DO YOU WRITE?
I write Religious Fiction. I have had so many experiences in my life, good and bad. When my friends heard I was writing a book, they assumed it would be about my life and my faith. The fact is no one would believe one person could have been through everything I have. So, I started to write fiction from my wealth of knowledge. Lol. Guess the mystery is what parts of the novel are real and which are fiction?
11. DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
Don’t force the story and don’t over think it. Have confidence in yourself and your abilities.
12. DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
No, on the contrary. I carry a notebook because ideas and storylines come to mind when I least expect it. I have ideas for other novels, books of encouragement, tv series and feature films. I am covered for the rest of my life lol
13. DO YOU HAVE A PREFERRED WRITING SCHEDULE?
I do not, I have target times. A single mom with a teen at home, it is impossible to have a schedule I can keep. Some days I will write for hours straight and other days I just work on writing my blog entries and social media.
14. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE WRITING PLACE?
I do, my desk faces a big window with a beautiful view. I have music playing softly, a scented candle, puppy sleeping in my lap and birds chirping. Sounds like a lot of distraction right. Not for me, it’s were I do my best work.
15. WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST JOY IN WRITING?
The joy for me is touching lives. I love to take the reader on an emotional journey. When I write, I don’t know exactly where the story is going until I write it. I like it when my writing is even a mystery to me. Lol.
16. WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
I don’t really have a favourite author. I like to read books that will inspire me and get me thinking. I would say The Left Behind Series has to be the one that comes to mind. I could not put them down. I think I read every book in the series in record time.
17. WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED FROM A READER?
I have heard that my book had some intense moments and the reader could feel the emotions. Another reader said “Did not see that coming, got me thinking.” Those are some of the responses I had hoped for when I was writing the book. The book has only been out just a few months. The actual press release and publicity campaign starts the end of February 2018. I hope my greatest compliment is yet to come.
18. WHAT WAS THE WORST COMMENT FROM A READER?
It’s always hard to set-up the scene, backdrop and introduce the characters. The first chapter was a lot of getting to know the characters and describing the town. Once the reader got to the second chapter, they were attached to the characters and the real action started. The cool thing is the second book I don’t have to do that. We jump right into the action.
19. WRITERS ARE SOMETIMES INFLUENCED BY THINGS THAT HAPPEN IN THEIR OWN LIVES. ARE YOU?
Of course, that is one of reasons I am writing the series Seasons. Much of my life is reflected in the book. However, it is fiction, so you will wonder how much is real and how much not. The series is going to take you through the seasons in my life or rather my fictional character.
20. OTHER THAN WRITING, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I love everything Disney, my family has gone every year since 2004. This is my magical place. I love kids and animals. The laughter of friends and family.
21. DID YOU HAVE YOUR BOOK / BOOKS PROFESSIONALLY EDITED BEFORE PUBLICATION?
Yes, don’t even try to do it yourself. You will miss something.
22. DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
Fourth of July at Disneyworld, breakfast at Whispering Canyon, spending the day with the ones I love, laughing riding rides and watching shows. Early dinner at Beauty and the Beast Castle with a glass of wine. Dance party in the streets at Tomorrowland and finishing it off the night with the fireworks desert party.
23. IF YOU WERE STUCK ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONE PERSON, WHO WOULD IT BE? WHY?
Someone who loves me and can make me laugh. Why, we are not meant to be alone.
24. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY IF YOU HAD THE CHANCE TO SPEAK TO WORLD LEADERS?
We all come from one creator and we all bleed the same. When you die you can’t take any of the things you are fighting about with you. Dig deep in your heart, ask yourself are the petty things worth all the drama. Every moment you spend arguing, it’s a minute that is gone from your life.
25. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE?
To be a best-selling author and have my screenplays made into movies. Honestly, if those things happen that would be amazing! I am taking one day at a time and letting God guide my path.
26. WHAT ARE YOUR VIEWS ON BOOK TRAILERS? DO THEY SELL BOOKS?
I think that some yes and some no. My publisher showed me samples of book trailers basically words on a screen and images of the book, music and some doves. I was not impressed. When they showed me mine, I was impressed, it had what looked like footage from a movie. I think if it is done right, it will help sale the book. Mine is on all my social media. I plan to have mine running at my booth at festivals.
27. DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN ANY OF YOUR CHARACTERS?
Yes, in Seasons Once Upon My Innocence, Aubree is based on myself. It is fiction so not everything that happened is real.
28. DOES THE PUBLISHING INDUSTRY FRUSTRATE YOU?
I think I chose a good publisher. For the most part I have been pleased with them. I do think that there are certainly publishing companies that will leave you hanging and simply take your money. I prayed and researched, so I would chose the best publisher for my needs.
29. DID YOU EVER THINK OF QUITTING?
I think everyone has doubts, but I have invested in myself and I know this is what I am called to do. I took a leap of faith and I plan on seeing it through. There is nothing fast about writing, publishing and marketing a book. Give it a chance.
30. WHAT WAS YOUR FAVOURITE MANUSCRIPT TO WRITE? WHY?
Religious Fiction. I can share my faith and by being fiction I am only limited by my thoughts.
31. HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE ‘SUCCESS’ AS A WRITER.
For me, if I caused you to feel emotion, connect with a character or think about life, then I would say that is successful.
32. WHAT SHOULD READERS WALK AWAY FROM YOUR BOOKS KNOWING? HOW SHOULD THEY FEEL?
My hope is that by connecting with the characters in the book, they can learn to forgive and find comfort in Christ. Maybe they will learn even though you make a big mistake in your life doesn’t mean you are not worthy of being loved.
33. WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE YOUR BOOKS MADE INTO MOVIES? EVER WRITTEN A SCREENPLAY?
Yes, my degree is in communications / film. I have taken a portion of my book Seasons Once Upon My Innocence and wrote a feature screenplay entitled Journey of Innocence Lost. It has currently been submitted to multiple screenwriting contest around the world.
34. HOW MUCH THOUGHT GOES INTO DESIGNING A BOOK COVER?
Had a lot of help from my publisher. When you look on the shelf the first thing you see is the cover, if you are drawn to it, then you read the title. I wanted my book to give you a visual hint about what is happening inside. It did take a while to get it right.
35. WHAT’S YOUR ULTIMATE DREAM?
To become a public figure so I can be an inspiration to others through a ministry of books, movies and speaking.
36. WRITING IS ONE THING. WHAT ABOUT MARKETING YOU, YOUR BOOKS AND YOUR BRAND? ANY THOUGHTS?
I am self-published, I have a budget. Be careful, everyone thinks they have the perfect marketing plan for you, “for a price”. Research and make sure they can deliver what you need under budget.
37. ARE YOUR BOOKS SELF-PUBLISHED?
38. DESCRIBE YOURSELF IN FIVE WORDS.
Professional, encouraging, compassionate, independent and a Christian
39. WHAT PISSES YOU OFF MOST?
Taking advantage and hurting my family.
40. WHAT IS THE TITLE OF THE LAST BOOK YOU READ? GOOD ONE?
Between Heaven and Hollywood by David White. I am doing my research. Being a Christian and writing religious novels and screenplays, I wanted to see what I’m up against.
41. WHAT WOULD BE THE VERY LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
Learn from your mistakes and live a good life so when you stand before God He will say “well done good and faithful servant.”
42. WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU HAPPIER THAN YOU ARE NOW? CARE TO SHARE?
Knowing my children are happy, healthy and taken care of. Finding a wonderful Christian guy to share my life.
43. ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE TO ADD?
One thing that is unique about my blog (leaannvandygriff.com) is that my main character “Aubree” in Seasons Once Upon My Innocence has journal entries. These entries will relate emotions, feelings and between the lines information not in the book itself. You can also send Aubree a message and there is a good chance she will respond to you.
The blog also has entries from myself. There is also a place for you to ask for a private prayer request and you can chose, to have me send a prayer back to you via email.
I am all about the interaction with my readers.
Clancy's comment: Thank you, Lea Ann. You've obviously had some trials and tribulations, but keep writing. Best wishes for top book sales.