Friday, September 4, 2009

Interview with Christina Berry

Today we are interviewing author Christina Berry. Her debut novel, The Familiar Stranger, is available through Moody Publishers.

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 and

The Familiar Stranger—formerly known as Undiscovered—is about a couple going through a really rough patch in their marriage. When an accident incapacitates the husband, their relationship must be redefined. Which would be a lot easier to do if BIG secrets from his past didn’t raise their ugly heads. Despite the upheaval, the choices they make involving forgiveness and trust might allow a new beginning. Or … they might not.

Christina took a few minutes to talk about publishing from a writer's perspective with Writing Career Coach.

Writing Career Coach: What are some ways you prepared to market your book before you were published?
Christina Berry: In November 2006, my mother (who is my co-writer on other projects) and I launched our website and asked our friends and family to subscribe to the infrequent, humorous Ashberry Lane Newsletter. Technically, this marketing effort began before I wrote a single word of The Familiar Stranger, but it laid the foundation for my current marketing.

We set a goal of getting 1,000 subscribers before one of our books made it to print. While we’re still a couple hundred short, setting such a goal pushed us to recruit from real world, shoutlife, facebook, and conference contacts. Having access to 750+ interested readers and the building of momentum over the years has been priceless. I can’t imagine starting at ground zero in the midst of all the release date hoopla!

As soon as Moody designed the cover and secured the ISBN, Amazon and put the book up for pre-order. Though I haven’t seen much of a push from other authors, I decided to really promote pre-ordering. We’ll see if it worked!

I’m also focusing on making one reader at a time, whether it be the woman who waited with me as our snow tires were removed at the tire shop, or the checker in the grocery store. Pretty much just looking at me sideways will earn you a business card.

WCC: Tell us about your book.
CB: Craig Littleton has decided to end his marriage with his wife, Denise, but an accident lands him in the ICU with fuzzy memories. As Denise helps him remember who he is, she uncovers dark secrets. Will this trauma create a fresh start? Or has his deceit destroyed the life they built together?

The Familiar Stranger (Moody Publishers, Sept 2009)

WCC: How do you plan and write your book?
CB: My previous writing has been heavily plotted and I’ve known almost everything about the characters before diving into the story. Writing with a co-author, Mom and I both need to know exactly how a character looked and his or her history. We wrote out each scene’s main plot point and point of view character on index cards and posted them on a large corkboard. We also found catalogue models that looked like our characters, made collages of the pictures, and slipped our character interview in the back of the plastic sleeves.

With The Familiar Stranger, the first scene came to me like a movie. Once the first chapter was written, I took a few hours to write down how I saw the story progressing. Then I numbered each main point and called it a chapter. All told, I had just over one page of plotting. To keep everything straight, I made notes about the characters as I went along. A very different experience to write by the seat of my pants, but I’m working through my current book in the same way.

WCC: What is it like working with editors? Do you have tips for getting along and building a great relationship with them?

CB: Cookies and chocolate! No, really, I have no trouble working with them because I believe their desire is to make the best book, which in turn makes me look better than I would on my own! I’ve had the pleasure of working with a freelance editor and two editors with Moody. Each person shaped and buffed the manuscript and the end result shines.

One tip? Treat the editor/author relationship like you should any other. Be respectful and honest, ask questions to clarify, and be thankful of his or her time and talent.

Over the years I’ve become real friends with several editors who rejected my work because I care about them as people, not as stepping stones on a career path. Two are even listed in my acknowledgements!

Read the rest of Christina's interview here at and learn about her upcoming projects.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at

Tiffany is a speaker and teacher. Find out about available topics for your group’s next event.

Tiffany is a National Examiner. Read her articles here.

Learn more about Tiffany’s Marketing techniques on her main blog.

Common-sense money management is free at The Balanced Life website.

Read Tiffany’s award winning manuscript “A Face in the Shadow” on her fiction blog.

She writes a blog for the Christian writer Tuesdays at Writer’s Rest.


Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Tiffany & Christina -

Thanks for the great nuts and bolts interview.

I enjoyed reading about your writing process. Being a SOTP writer, I keep hoping some of this plotting stuff will get in by osmosis. LOL!

I'm happy to say I'm one of the subscribers to Christina and Sherry's Infrequent and Humorous newsletter. It lives up to its name. :)


Lady Araujo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lady Araujo said...

Hello ladies!

Thanks for the interview, I've just learned little more about Christina Berry.
The Familiar Stranger sounds like a great book. ^^

God's blessings
Hugs from Brazil

PS: I had to deleted the previous post because I forgot to leave my e-mail address.