Seven Questions: Allison K. García

I recently had the pleasure of formatting Allison K. García’s first novel, Vivir El Dream, a story of life in America for Mexican immigrants and their families. It gave me a chance to practice my rusty Spanish as I checked endnotes that translated the Spanish material in the book into English.

Allison is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a passion for writing. Latina at heart, she 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 from Mexico as they attempt to make a life in the United States.

Allison K. Garcia

Welcome, Allison!

1-Pitch your book in three sentences or less.

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?

 

2-Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

Indie published. Well, this has been a five-year journey for me! I wrote this book during 2012 NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, November) and had been hoping to get it published traditionally in the Christian market. I bumped up against a lot of barriers, mostly because there is not a lot of diverse Christian fiction on the market right now and because this might be one of the first English-language Latino Christian fiction books. Long story short, it’s a new genre, so a lot of Christian agents weren’t sure how to market it (not to mention the fact that it deals with undocumented Christians, which is a hot topic). The secular market doesn’t like dealing with Christian fiction, so I wasn’t able to go that route either. So, after much praying and consulting with other writerly friends, I decided to go the indie route. I felt called to write this book, and I feel the world needs to see it, especially with everything going on right now. Then came the whirlwind of indie publishing, which I am still in the midst of figuring out. Thankfully, I have plenty of friends who indie publish, so they have been awesome at answering my many, many questions during the journey.

3-What are your favorite genres/books to read, and do you think this affects your writing? How?

Well, I love reading diverse books, I find myself drawn to them. And I’m a sucker for classics like the Brontës, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, etc. I love stories about people and their lives and struggles. I love epic fiction, as well. As long as it has a good story with interesting characters, you’ve got me!

4-What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

Two come to mind. I love going to my American Christian Fiction Writers conferences and spending time with my local chapter, because they often remind me why I’m writing Christian fiction and get my head back in the right spot.

Also I had a Creative Writing teacher in high school, Ms. Whiting. She said, “Allison, you write, “And then she slowly walked over to the door, step by step, raised her hand to the knob, and twisted her hand to the right, allowing the door to creak open.’ Sometimes you just need to say, ‘She opened the door.’” That has stuck with me.

5-How do you fit your writing into a busy life?

I write and edit in the mornings before my toddler wakes up. I’m up at 5 and he usually is up between 7-8am, so I have a solid 2-3 hrs to write.

6-What is your favorite book that you would categorize as similar to Vivir El Dream?

I would like to say Like Water for Chocolate because of its Mexican culture, how it talks a lot about cooking and has humor and a bit of romance, but also deals with some tough issues.

7-What’s your secret superpower?

The ability to catch a falling toddler in a single bound! Just kidding…sort of…one of my hidden talents is cooking from scratch. My proudest example was making lasagna from scratch…like for real. I made the mozzarella and ricotta cheese, I made the noodles from flour, egg, etc. and I made the marinara from my homegrown tomatoes and herbs from my garden. I felt pretty Italian in that moment! I channeled my Italian ancestors for sure!

So many thanks to Allison for appearing for Seven Questions on my blog.

You can get Vivir El Dream on Amazon here.

Vivir el Dream Kindle cover

Vivir El Dream

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?

 

 

Seven Questions : Brady Koch : Guns, Gods, and Robots

For this month’s edition of Seven Questions, I’m featuring flash-fictioneer and short story writer Brady Koch, who composes his “pulpy” short stories on the train to and from work. His new release is Guns, Gods, and Robots, a collection of seven science fiction and horror stories guaranteed to keep you up at night.

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1 Can you pitch your book in three sentences?

Guns, Gods & Robots is a diverse collection of stories where routine life is turned upside down by the incorporation of a single sci-fi or horror deviation. Whether our characters are at a dusty remote frontier outpost, locked underground in a bunker for generations, or maintaining a fleet of robot missionaries in the 3rd world, their actions can result in catastrophe or moments of salvation.

2 Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey. 

Indie all the way. Writing is something I do between family and work as a means of relaxing and having a creative outlet. I fear any effort to try and acquire a publisher would make this feel like a job. I’ve had a lot of fun with making my work available for pay-as-you-will sites like NoiseTrade and OpenBooks and engaging with the community has been really insightful. Taking this all into consideration, self-publishing just feels right.

3 Your book’s unifying themes are guns, gods, and robots. What appeals to you about each of these topics?

I think that these three things have the potential to do a great amount of good or a great amount of harm. People can see all three things as incredibly scary or liberating based on their life experiences. The characters in my stories all have tough choices to make involving them.

In selecting the stories to include in this collection, I started seeing these common objects present in many of the stories. So much so, that I created a spreadsheet to map out which themes were in which story. I ended up using this grid to sequence this collection so that, if read cover to cover, the experience would be varied.

4 What’s a favorite sci-fi book and why?

True to my love for short work, it’s The Jaunt by Stephen King. I read this when I was too young to read it and it still scares me. Without saying too much it’s about teleportation. I’m worried that if I read it again as an adult it won’t be as terrifying.

Brad Pitt’s production company recently acquired the rights to this and I worry about making a full length movie out of what is a very compact short story.

I’ve read some terrific sci-fi over the years, but this short piece still gnaws at me decades after reading it once.

5 What makes a great sentence?

A great sentence for me is something with just enough alliteration to be fun without it sounding intentional. I’m a pretty pulpy writer and I like to be direct and succinct, but if I’ll always look for some ways to have fun with the way the sentences read aloud.

6 What are your top five overused words?

This changes every time I catch myself overusing a word, but lately my top five are:

Opportunity

Inundate

Said

Had

Looked

Many from this list are simply the result of using too much passive voice or being unable to find a stronger synonym.

7 How and when did you first know you were a writer?

I used to like to write a lot in school, but as my priorities shifted as I entered the working world, I lost touch with my desire to tell stories. Recently at my parents’ house I found an old story I wrote in 2nd or 3rd It was accepted into Cricket children’s magazine for their Halloween story edition which was surprising given its content. It was about a brother and sister being pursued by a maniac through the woods. Suppose I could dig that one up and include it in the next story collection.

More about Brady:

Needing an activity to rebalance his mindset between work and home, Brady Koch started using his 45 minute train commute to start writing science fiction and horror stories. Brady started taking these new works to local library writing groups and then to online retailers. Leveraging the welcome feedback from these new readers, he has continued writing novellas, and shorter works resulting in his first published collection of stories: Guns, Gods & Robots. A Florida native, Brady now lives outside of New York City with his wife and children.

More about his book:

Guns: A girl’s birthday wish comes true when she gets to spend an afternoon on manhunt with her lawman father.

Gods: An old man discovers his crops aren’t the only dead things on his farm.

Robots: A heartless machine built for compassion malfunctions, leading its engineer on a hunt to fix the corruption before it spreads.

In Guns, Gods & Robots, Brady Koch, mixes and remixes three themes across this collection of stories and novellas that spans the range of science fiction and horror. The stories, collected here for the first time, range from the uplifting to the horrifying. Sure to spark your imagination, the seven stories in Guns, Gods & Robots will also keep you up at night.

Many thanks to Brady for sitting in the hot seat for Seven Questions.