About athewriter

Allison K. Garcia is a Licensed Professional Counselor, but she has wanted to be a writer ever since she could hold a pencil. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Shenandoah Valley Writers, Diversity Between the Pages, Virginia Writers Club, and is Municipal Liaison for Shenandoah Valley NaNoWriMo. Allison’s short story, “At Heart,” was published in the Winter 2013 edition of From the Depths literary magazine, along with her flash fiction. Her work, “You Shall Receive,” was published in GrayHaven Comics’s 2014 All Women’s anthology. Winning an honorary mention in the ACFW Virginia 2015 short story contest, “Just Another Navidad” was published in A bit of Christmas. Allison finaled in the 2016 ACFW Genesis Contest and 2018 Montaigne Medal and won an Honorary Mention for Eric Hoffer Ebook Awards for Vivir el Dream, published May 2017. Latina at heart, Allison has been featured in local newspapers for her connections in the Latino community in Harrisonburg, Virginia. A member of cultural competency committees for work and a participant in several Dream Act rallies and other events in her region, she also sings on the worship team and enjoys get-togethers with the hermanos in her church. With the help of her husband, Julio, and their son, Miguel, she has been able to nurture her love for the Latino people.

Broken Pieces of Tomorrow: Interview with Soulla Christodoulou


soulla book

A little about Broken Pieces of Tomorrow:

Sometimes we have to face the unimaginable…sometimes life changes direction and we have no choice but to walk away from the familiar and head into the unknown landscape of a different future.

Georgia, a Greek Cypriot woman, married with three young boys, living in Finchley, North London, does just this after she discovers something she cannot live with.

A ‘coming of age’ story in later life, which will keep you gripped, have you laughing and shedding tears, as Georgia starts over with her best friend, Thalia, by her side. But most of all you will be screaming encouragement as she challenges herself, emotionally and intellectually, on her journey to new beginnings. This semi-biographical story, will stay with you for a long time as Georgia mends her broken pieces of tomorrow.

With determination and resilience she does everything she can…through tears and thrills to learn to love again…and live again…on her terms.

If you like a pacy story with a touch of realism and characters and descriptions that jump off the page, then this book is for you…happy reading.

Interview:

Tell me what you write.

In addition to this Women’s fiction novel Broken Pieces of Tomorrow I have written a collection of 30 poems called Sunshine after Rain and a second novel published March 2018 called The Summer Will Come – based in Cyprus in the 1950s and towards the end of the 1950s in London; my research included on-line research which I collate on Pinterest and has taken me on an incredible journey and I have met people who have opened up to me for the first time, with their personal accounts and memories, which has been a privilege and an honour. I am currently doing final edits and revisions on this story while 43,000 words into a third novel, ‘Trust is a Big Word’.

Have you visited Greece?

I am of Greek Cypriot origin and so Cyprus, growing up, was my family’s destination for Summer holidays where we would escape London and disappear for a few weeks to enjoy both the beaches and the mountains. We also holidayed on the Greek island of Crete. But yes, I have visited Athens many times both for business and pleasure as well as many of the Greek islands including Corfu, Zakynthos, Kos, Xios, Oinousses and Sifnos.

And how does Greek culture play into your life and your books?

Greek culture has played a large part in both my books; Broken Pieces of Tomorrow about an Anglo Greek Cypriot woman’s journey of self-discovery after discovering her husband’s infidelity. In The Summer Will Come the story begins in 1950s Cyprus so the reader is drawn into life on the island.

If your book was made into a movie, which actors would play the main characters?

Julia Roberts would play Georgia as she is feminine, unpretentious yet strong and determined and Salma Hayek would play Thalia as she is glamourous. Robert Downey would make a great Nicolas as he has that boyish innocent face yet can play someone who is angry, calculating and controlling too.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I tend to write out a chapter synopsis of the main action in each chapter, the characters and their motivations, key plot ideas and a running time line alongside this. Both these documents are organic and once I start writing I go back and tweak, change, move chapters around and ‘build’ on my original story idea. Sometimes my story goes in a different direction or I decide to bring in another obstacle or challenge.

Do you prefer to read traditional books or ebooks?

I actually read both. I borrow lots of books from my local library and tend to download books on my Kindle that I have heard about or read about through social media. I have recently read Lady Chatterley’s Lover by DH Lawrence, currently am reading your book Vivir el Dream,  and I have Dead Man’s Prater by Jackie Baldwin to read next.

Who designs your book covers?

I put a shout out on Instagram and a wonderful young student called Mya Glenister has designed two of the three book covers for me and an Athens University student called Alex Sainidis has designed my third book cover. Both students have been absolutely brilliant and as a former Business Studies teacher I am pro pushing and encouraging entrepreneurship in young people so this seemed to work all round; it gave the students a platform on which to showcase their work and has given me the satisfaction of knowing I have given them an opportunity to shine, build their confidence and develop their ideas on a formal footing.

Do you attend literary lunches or events?

As a fairly new writer I haven’t attended many but spent three days at LBF2018 where I met with and connected with a number of authors and publishers. I have attended a Bloggers and Authors event in London and recently attended a networking event organised by the Federation of Small Businesses. Both events have allowed me to talk about my work and gain an insight into how other authors and entrepreneurs have been able to be successful. I am always open to learning new techniques and trying out new ideas. My thoughts on last year’s LBF2017 can be seen here.

What do you think about writing groups or critique groups?

My experience of both has been positive. I suppose as a former teacher I know how important feedback is when you are working on a project and sometimes we can be too close to an idea or a story to see something might be missing or not quite working. I would say take the feedback about your writing, don’t take it personally, and use it, to improve your writing for the reader.

What does literary success look like to you?

It’s too early for me to tell but I’d like to think that for me it’s having my books published and people talking about them, leaving reviews, being invited to talk about my writing and my writing journey and hopefully making some money along the way.

How long does it take you to write a book/poem?

Broken Pieces of Tomorrow, from the initial idea to the final formatted draft, has taken me about a year to write. A poem can take anything from 15 minutes to an hour or more! My collection of poetry probably took me about 60 hours.

How do you market yourself and your book?

So far it has been mainly through my social media although I have recently engaged in author interviews, blog posts, attending business and author networking groups. I had an official launch and book signing for The Summer Will Come, and it went tremendously well and has definitely made a huge difference in sales for the new release and my first book too!

Why do you write?

Quite simply it makes me feel happy from the inside out and the outside in!

How often do you write and what is your process?

I write every day and I treat writing as my job, my business, and so I tend to write for a minimum of 6 hours a day, and often at weekends too. I write at my laptop which is set up on my dining room table. I have a beautiful outlook onto the garden and in the summer months I open the French doors and let the outside in; I find this conducive to losing myself in my ‘writing’ world and sometimes forget to stop for lunch as I am so engrossed and in my writing. In terms of my process, I read over what I have written before to remind myself where I am in the story and just get on with it. I normally have a paper copy of my chapter synopsis open next to me which I annotate if I change or need to tweak anything while I’m tapping away.

What writing advice can you give?

I would say surround  yourself with a support network – writing buddies, readers, bloggers, beta readers – as writing can be a lonely occupation, way of life, and it’s very easy to shut yourself off and bury yourself in your writing in complete solitude. Don’t get me wrong this is great as you need to get the writing done but equally, in my experience, you need people around you even if it’s just to say you’re on the right track or have you thought about this?

Can you create a short writing prompt?

Ooh yes…It wasn’t what she had expected and realised she was about to make either the best decision of her life or the biggest mistake. She pressed send…

What is your favorite food?

That’s a really difficult question to answer! I enjoy home cooked food the most, especially Greek Cypriot cuisine, but equally enjoy Thai, Chinese, Mexican, Persian and Indian. I tend to like foods with great flavours and tastes.

If you were trapped on a deserted island and could only bring 5 books, what would they be?

Only 5?

I’d bring:

The Secret Garden which was one of the first books I received as a gift when I was a child from my god-sister. It has a red leather cover and gold embossed lettering on the cover. It’s a beautiful book to not only read but to hold.

The Five People you Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom which gets you thinking about life and actions and consequences and ‘what ifs’. It’s a spiritual book which turns life on its head.

Teacher Man by Frank McCourt which captures the life of being a teacher so aptly.

Nacht (translated simply as Night) by Elie Wiesel which is a personal account written by a Nazi concentration camp survivor. Reading it had me in tears almost from start to finish. It is profoundly thought-provoking.

And definitely my third book, currently a work in progress called Trust is a Big Thing (though this may change) so I can finish writing it!

Thank you, Soulla! I can’t wait to read these books!!!!!

soulla

Bio: Born in London to Greek Cypriot parents Soulla Christodoulou spent much of her childhood living carefree days full of family, school and friends. She was the first in her family to go to university and studied BA Hotel & Catering Management at Portsmouth University. Years later, after having a family of her own she studied again at Middlesex University and has a PGCE in Business Studies and an MA in Education.

Soulla is a Women’s Fiction author and wrote her first novel Broken Pieces of Tomorrow over a few months while working full time in secondary education and is a mother of three boys.

She is a compassionate and empathetic supporter of young people. Her passion for teaching continues through private tuition of English Language and Children’s Creative Writing Classes.

Her writing has also connected her with a charity in California which she is very much involved in as a contributor of handwritten letters every month to support and give hope to women diagnosed with breast cancer. One of her letters will be featured in a book ‘Dear Friend’ out in September 2017.

When asked, she will tell you she has always, somewhere on a subconscious level, wanted to write and her life’s experiences both personal and professional have played a huge part in bringing her to where she was always meant to be; writing books and drinking lots of cinnamon and clove tea!

She also has a poetry collection, Sunshine after Rain, published on Amazon and just released her second novel, The Summer Will Come.

Website: https://www.soulla-au thor.com/

 Social Media links:

Blog: https://www.soulla-autho r.com/blog/

Books: https://www.soulla-auth or.com/the-summer-will-come/

            https://www.soulla -author.com/sunshine-after- rain/

            https://www.soulla -author.com/broken-pieces- tomorrow/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/s christodoulou2?lang=en

Instagram: https://www.instagr am.com/soullasays/

Facebook: https://www.facebook .com/soullabookauthor/

Scriggler: https://scriggler.c om/Profile/soulla_christodoulo u_anastasia_loizou

Pinterest: https://uk.pinteres t.com/asceducational/

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My First Podcast Interview


Check out what inspired me to write my book, Vivir el Dream. 

https://potstirrerpodcast.com/E14

The Danger of Putting America before God


09-06 - daca

I haven’t blogged in a while but considering recent events, I thought I should come out of hiding. As many of you know, I’ve written a Christian fiction book, Vivir el Dream, about undocumented immigrants trying to live “the American dream.” With the recent end of DACA (Deferred Action for Child Arrivals), which used to be known as “The Dream Act,” I have seen a lot of hurtful posts about “illegals” and “criminals” and “getting what they deserve” etc. Seeing that kind of hate, always brings me back to the Bible and remembering what Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31 were the most important commandments:

  1. Love the Lord your God with all heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
  2. Love your neighbor as yourself.

Considering this, I think about immigration and what that means in terms of loving God and loving our neighbors. Here are some verses that stick out to me:

  1. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. (1 John 4:20)
  2. “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt. (Exodus 23:9)
  3. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:10)
  4. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:34)
  5. You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native-born. I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 24:22)
  6. The community is to have the same rules for you and for the foreigner residing among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the foreigner shall be the same before the Lord (Numbers 15:15)
  7. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. (Deuteronomy 10:18)
  8. Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. (Deuteronomy 24:17)
  9. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, (Ephesians 2:19)
  10. I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. (Matthew 25:43)
  11. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)

I found all these verses easily on biblegateway.com by searching for the keywords foreigner and stranger. Sure, there were other verses that contextually spoke about foreigners overtaking things (generally in the context of the Israelites), but the majority were about treating them fairly.

Now, people are going to say, “What about all the verses about following laws?” And I agree, it is important to follow the laws. But, do are the laws of a country above the laws of God? Those very laws that tell us to love our God and our neighbor? No. It calls us to stand up against the laws that do harm and injustice.

The main issue is that Americans are so used to feeling comfortable with what we have, we forget that God doesn’t want us to be comfortable, He wants us to love. We as Americans can more easily place blame on someone rather than looking at the Greater Law that God put forth, the law to love God and our neighbors (which, by the way, means anybody – no exceptions!) And there’s a verse about that, too, in Luke 10:25-37 when Jesus shares the parable of the Good Samaritan. The final result:

Jesus asks: “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” (Luke 10:35-37)

Nowhere I am aware of (and feel free to correct me) in the Bible does it talk about pieces of paper and setting borders to keep people out and to deny help to those who need it, to turn people away because they are different or immigrated one way instead of the other. No, those are our laws we made up to keep control, to keep comfortable.

But that isn’t God’s law. God’s law is love. Love, kindness, mercy.

Go and do likewise.

ACFW Virginia Writer’s Conference – Registration Open


I’m going! Are you???

ACFW Virginia

Registration is now open for ACFW Virginia Annual Writer’s Conference. Join speaker, Dani Pettrey, for two craft sessions in the morning. Afterward, we’ll break for The Crown Award Luncheon and announce the winners of The Crown writing contest. Then choose from nine classes for the afternoon sessions.

Find more information on our conference page.

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