Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Interview: Kimberly Alan

Today I'd like to welcome author Kimberly Alan to my blog!

Welcome, Kimberly. Tell us about yourself.

I’m originally from New Jersey and ended up in Connecticut after college and law school in the New England area. I’ve been writing since junior high and finished my first “book” at sixteen, long before computers were around. Though I continued to write, school and work demands, followed by marriage and children forced me to “steal” time to write but I never made much progress. By 1989, the voices of the fictional characters and their adventures shouted so loudly in my head that I could no longer ignore them. It was then that I decided to learn about the actual business of writing and how to submit a novel for publication. I joined Romance Writers of America and the Connecticut chapter, finding them wonderful resources and making great friends who gave me the courage to take my writing seriously. But alas, my personal and professional obligations continued to overtake my attention. After writing countless legal documents all day, then taking care of my children, I was pooped. So I would start tons of stories but found it nearly impossible to find the time to actually polish and submit anything. Finally, in 2008, nineteen years later, I took two weeks off from work, finished TRUTHS UNVEILED, and submitted it to what is now White Rose Publishing. Thankfully, they published it the following year. And so now the process continues. But this time I am not waiting nineteen years. ☺

Describe Tom Jarrod and Pam Harrington, the hero and heroine of your inspirational romantic suspense novel, Truth Unveiled, and what inspired you to create them.

Tom and Pam are composites of wonderful people who found each other at an early age but made mistakes that tore them apart and would affect their lives forever. During the past fourteen years they’d struggled separately to right the individual wrongs they’d committed, each continuing to blame themselves. Then they unexpectedly receive a second chance at love and a life together, but only if they can finally resolve the issues from their pasts.

Tom is that bad boy we all knew and swooned over in high school whenever he looked at us. He wasn’t the captain of the football team but he had a certain independent charisma that made him attractive and fun to be with. Those traits followed him into adulthood, making him chief of emergency medical rescue operations for a large medical center, set in a rural but developing area where he also continues to manage his family’s dairy farm.

Professionally Tom has everything going for him. Personally, however, his life is a mess. A failed marriage based upon an unexpected pregnancy, a troublesome ex-wife and two beautiful children caught in between run havoc with his emotions. Then he learns that Pam may return to the area. He hopes and prays that this is their chance to start again.

Pam was a super smart, painfully shy and pretty high school girl who knew at an early age that she wanted to be a doctor. Years later, she fulfilled that dream and became an emergency department physician, relentlessly driven to save every patient in a big city hospital. When she receives a too-good-to-be-true job offer at a new medical center, she knew there had to be a catch. And there was. The medical center was located in the small town she’d fled years earlier. Though she’d long ago gotten over Tom’s betrayal, Pam still continued to have nightmares about the horrible auto accident that killed her best friend that night she had learned the truth. She had vowed never to return to her past. And now here it was, demanding her attention.

I was inspired to write this story because bad things can happen to good people and yet life goes on. So many of us are affected today by decisions or circumstances that occurred in the past. Some good and some not so good. I truly believe that God forgives our mistakes and hears our prayers. After all, to err is human. Our job is to forgive ourselves, learn from the experience, and make sure that each new day is better than the day before. We see this through Tom and Pam. We also see that things are not always as they first appear. Time and faith do have a way of clarifying and healing all things, if we let them.

What appeals to you most about writing inspirational fiction?

Writing inspirational fiction is the one place I feel free to recognize and share God and His blessings, along with the gifts and struggles we all experience as human beings. Personally, I live in a very secular world. While I know He is definitely with me and everyone else here in Connecticut (and around the world), faith is not something that is typically openly discussed. Especially in the business world in which I operate. Fortunately, our church provides a much different atmosphere. I can’t tell you how many wonderful story ideas continually pop into my head each Sunday morning during services and other functions. It gives me chills just to think about it! So, keeping in mind that is helpful to write what you know, many of my characters tend to live in secular-type places and have secular-type careers. And yet I hope they convey the message that God is everywhere. We just have to look for Him.

Do you write in any other genre?

I tend to write contemporary, inspirational romantic mystery/romantic suspense. In addition, I’d like to inject some humor in the mix. My first attempt is one of the current stories I am working on. It’s called, Is He Dead Yet? It’s a divorce romantic comedy blended with inspirational undertones and suspense.

Currently, I continue to practice divorce and family law under my “real” name, Kimberly Peterson. In that capacity, I have written two legal textbooks, subtitled Anatomy of a Lawsuit. They are published by Prentice Hall and are how-to books for new lawyers and paralegals, along with people representing themselves. I wrote them to help readers navigate the very confusing courthouse process in Connecticut and other eastern states.

What is your writing schedule like?

My “schedule” is always “to be determined” or “under construction.” No matter how much I plan and prepare to write, there are no guarantees that it will actually happen. Recently, I have determined that my writing must be the first thing tackled each day, before I check email, answer the phone or return a call, pay the bills, do the breakfast dishes, put in that one load of laundry, or do “that one last thing.” Because those one last things are like a mutating bacteria, resistant to antibiotics and determined to take over every second of my life! They constantly multiply and morph into new obligations and before I know it the day is over, I’m pooped and little if any writing got done. I also still manage my small law practice and I have two “tween” daughters, so life is very busy. Fortunately, writing is the one thing that helps keep everything in perspective.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I think I am a mental plotter. Characters and ideas can swirl around in my thoughts for quite a while before I actually sit down and write about them. Once I start typing and the story begins, I tend to jot down ideas for scenes so I don’t forget about them but the actual writing comes with little initial outlining. Every twenty or so pages I often create a very loose written outline, to get a sense of the story’s structure so far. I look at the different points of view, the characters who are introduced or involved in that section, how the conflict is building, etc. Then I create a punch list of sorts to fill in the blanks later. Whenever I feel “blocked,” I skip the scene and move on to another scene, to keep the writing flow going. Later I go back and fill in the blanks.

Can you tell us what you are working on now?

I have three major projects in the works. My mood that day will determine which one I work on. I already mentioned Is He Dead Yet? The other is entitled, When Destiny Calls. It is a contemporary inspirational romantic suspense that involves events that took place in Hitler’s Nazi Germany. Two major characters are a Jewish resistance fighter and a young German woman from a high ranking Nazi official family who joins his cause.
On a lighter note, I am working on Imperfect Justice. Again it involves inspirational romantic suspense. The hero is a defense attorney who has a spinal cord injury and the heroine is a prosecutor, intent on proving his client’s guilt.

Do you have a website or a blog?

I have a blog entitled, Love On and Off the Rocks. It’s like a relationship advice column that I started last year and also talks about writing. It stems from all the experience I received about relationships as a divorce lawyer for twenty years. I am hoping to have more time to devote to it in the upcoming months.

My newest project, which is also under construction, is a blog called, Today’s Good News. It was created as an alternative to all the negative news the media constantly inundates us with. The idea started to materialize while I was reading Joel Olsteen’s book, Become a Better You. There he talks about how dwelling in negativity only creates more negativity and that’s not what God wants for any of us. I shudder to think what the rest of the world thinks about America when they watch our evening news. It must seem like a horrible dangerous place, filled with hateful people. And yet we know that it’s not. In fact, it is by His grace that we are able to live in this most wonderful country, compared to many other places on this earth. Therefore, we need to put forth and share all of the good that happens in our lives every day. When we live in a state of gratitude and faith it is easy to see all of God’s good, all around us. So what your TGN?

What good books have you read recently that you’d like to recommend?

I smile as I write this because it’s such a difficult question. There are so many fabulous stories out there. In fact, I tend to feel intimidated when I walk into a bookstore and see each author’s masterpiece. My writing career developed as I read everything Nora Roberts wrote so I want to take this opportunity to recognize her and say that her work is simply breathtaking. Jane Ann Krantz, Lori Avocato, Susan Elizabeth Philips, Robin Lee Hatcher, Dee Henderson, Suzanne Brockman, Robert Parker and Jeanette Windle are my other favorites but there are so many wonderful authors. Please don’t take offense that I have not mentioned all of them. It’s just that I consider these folks my mentors, whose works I have devoured over the years.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

First off, believe in yourself and believe that you have something to say. Next, write! Keep writing! And keep writing some more! Be sure to read also. Read everything you like to write about. It helps keep you centered. In addition, be sure to surround yourself with other productive, committed writers. Learn from them. Go to conferences, join writers’ groups, and meet other writers as well as editors and agents. Learn as much as you can about the profession. I can’t say enough about Romance Writers of America, along with the state and special interest chapters. They are invaluable to all writers.

Furthermore, the actual craft of writing is a very individual and isolating process. The words will not just write themselves. Also remember that no one can tell your story, except you. Therefore, I find it incredibly helpful to read and listen to nonfictional motivational-type books/CDs and websites/blogs written by Anthony Robbins, Wayne Dyer, Joel Orsteen, and then Rick Warren. He wrote Purpose Driven Life. Each of them helps me to renew my faith and belief in my God-given abilities. They give me the inner strength and perseverance to move forward, regardless of the obstacles. (There are countless other gifted motivational people. Find those who “speak” to you and keep them close. It really helps.)

In Joel Orsteen’s book, Become a Better You, he said, “God would not have put the dream in your heart if he had not already given you everything you need to fulfill it.” And then how about this really powerful statement: “He doesn’t call us to do something without giving us the ability or the wherewithal to do it.” Now if that isn’t inspiring, what is? (Both statements are found in the first chapter, on page 12, Free Press, NY, 2007). Every time I read it, it makes me race to the computer to write! God Bless!

Thanks for stopping by, Kimberly!

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