Thursday, January 18, 2007

Introducing Christy LaShea Smith

Join me in getting to know our Friday blogger, Christy LaShea Smith.

How long have you been writing, Christy?

I've been writing seriously for about 5 years. Seriously, meaning, I sat down and wrote a story. I let a friend read it, then I started on the next....

But let me back track a little... I did write a suspense novel (hand wrote the thing on notebook paper and kept in a three ring binder) when I 13. I never let anyone read it except one friend. Looking back, I was writing things 13 year olds who were raised by a single mom and grandmother, shouldn't know about (bad language, sex, drugs, murder) and the only way I think I learned about them was watching entirely too much TV and MTV.

That manuscript has been trashed and when people ask me, I always respond I've been writing for only 5 years, though I know the seed was planted way back then.

So, I'm writing seriously for the last 5 years. I started on a handful of new stories over the next couple of years. Meanwhile, I submitted query letters to agents and got hurt by their form rejection letters. I thought I knew a lot about writing back then. After I finished the first ms. I'd start the next. I'd get 100 pages down and then decide, this isn't working, or my interest would simply go elsewhere. Since then, I've finished my second manuscript and with this one, I'm finally learning about the craft of writing.

However, up to 2006, everything I was writing was for a secular market. I was thinking of writing under a pen name, because there were some scenes I was writing that I wouldn't want my daughter to read, my cousins, my aunt, or my mother!

In 2006 some thing inside of me changed. I think the Holy Spirit reached me through my young daughter. I had to do better because of her - wait, I had to do better for myself first, and then it will trickle down to her. Even better, I had to do better because that is what God wants of me. No one else matters, truly. That was a hard thing to realize and I'm still learning.

So this past spring, I took a few BOLD steps: I went to an RWA meeting in Georgia ALONE! I'm the type of person who doesn't like to eat in a restaurant by myself, so getting the courage to go to one of these was a huge leap for me. Then, I was seated (by chance - maybe, by the hand of God - definitely!) at a table where two nice ladies introduced themselves - Belinda Peterson and Missy Tippens. Lindi invited me to an ACFW meeting, of which I later joined. That ONE RWA meeting was a true blessing.

Now, I've got a critique group (girls I met through ACFW and GRW). I'm EDITING that 2nd manuscript. I'm revising it where it is an inspirational piece instead of a secular one. Writing for the CBA market is a challenge for a daily sinner like myself, but I also realized in 2006, if I truly have a gift for writing, then I need to be writing to glorify the Lord and no one else. So I am. And Here I am. I have no idea where I'm going. I pray this path is a part of God's plan for me and not my own selfish desires. Its proving to be one of the hardest things I've done, the easiest and the most fullfilling.

You said you write inspirational. What sub-genre do you write?

Romance & Women's fiction

Are there any recurring elements we'd likely find in your stories?

So far, in the books I've either finished or started, kids are involved. I try to make things as real as possible, so there's going to be a dog or cat in the story somewhere. In my current book, Without Condition, Benita - a supporting character - brings her pomeranian to work with her and takes the dog just about every where she goes.

I try to add elements of humor in dialogue, not a lot, but just a quick jab here and there. Mostly, my stories are serious.

In Without Condition, Seth was injured in a car accident 13 years ago. In that accident, in a matter of seconds, his life changed forever: he had just signed a contract to play professional football, but after the accident, he had to have 3 surgeries on his leg. Playing football was over and because Seth was so dependent on what the "world" could offer him, he was left with nothing, and it seemed, no promise of a future. The story picks up 13 years later: Seth has moved on. He coaches high school football, but is unsettled and because the team's losing, he doubts his coaching abilities. Then he meets Aimee, and everything in his world turns around. His parents meet her and love her. She has a son - what would normally have turned him off - but Seth loves the kid. Pretty soon, his attitude is improving, the team's winning and last but certainly, not least, Aimee is leading him to the Lord - and he's going willingly.

But there's a problem, Aimee's a part of his past, the one that snatched his dreams of becoming rich and famous out from under him. Although Seth is learning about Jesus Christ, what his life here on earth meant and how we are to reflect him in our life, he's going to have to put what he's learned to the test if he's ever going to forgive Aimee, and forget the past, to be able to have the rich and fullfilled life he's glimpsed in the time he's spent with her and her son.

Tell me a little bit about your life aside from writing.

My husband and I have been married for 9 years. My daughter, Downey, is 22 months old. I also have 2 canine children: Mack, a black labrador, and Tonka, an English bulldog.

I'm a member of West Hall Baptist Church. While I enjoy my church's pastor, I study material put out by Dr. Charles Stanley (http://www.intouch.org/) of First Baptist of Atlanta. My grandmother got me started watching him. She has passed away, so when I watch him weekly, its another reminder of her and how precious she was and still is to me. Dr. Stanley has a gift of teaching that has always spoken to me and made me think, and made many messages in the bible so clear.

I graduated from Brenau University with a BBA in Marketing. I spent four years trying to decide what I wanted to do with myself, so I obtained an Associate of Science (thinking I wanted to become a nurse) and then an Associate of Arts (simply because I was going on to another college for a business degree - got this one by default). During this time in college, I worked as a unit assistant at my hospital, then went on to work for an insurance company as a claims adjuster. I worked as an adjuster up until 2 years ago when I had my daughter.

I watch a ridiculous amount of Barney (the purple dinosaur, ya know).

I enjoy crafts - I have an afghan I started crocheting about 9 years ago that I hope to get back to some day. I want to try quilting; I plan to teach myself to sew one of these days, or enlist my mother to teach me; I've got 2 scrapbooks started and not finished. I keep saying when my daughter gets older, when I finish this book, when I get a room organized - I'm going to tackle all these projects again. I am optimistic I really will!

I love to bake, but hate to clean up the mess. I love baking cakes for birthdays, starting from scratch, no box for me. The last cake I baked was for my mother in-law - a german chocolate cake.

This is all I can think of. Not a really exciting life, but it is pleasant for the most part.

Sounds like you're a busy and creative woman. Give me a little known fact about yourself. Something no one would ever guess about you.

Boy, this is a toughy. Well, a little known fact about me would be I love to sing. I'm not very good at it. I've never had lessons, but for as long as I can remember, I've loved to put on a record, tape or cd, even the radio. and sing as if I was on stage in front of thousands. I came close - in high school I was in drama and I had a part in the musical I sang with the group, but didn't have to sing alone (phew!). I sing in church, not in the choir, but along with the congregation. There I can sing loud, feel okay about how I sound, but not have to really put myself out there and sing by myself - although that's a dream of mine, to sing by myself on a stage and sound wonderful!

Thank you, Christy.

Until next time. . .

5 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing, Christy. Nice to read about your journey. Those adolescent stories are always fun to look back on, aren't they?

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  2. Thanks for checking us out, Ane!
    Yes, those old stories are both fun - and scary. Christy

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  3. So fun to get to know you better, Christy!

    And I hope to see you at our chapter meeting tomorrow!

    Ane, so glad you dropped by! I hope you'll come back!

    Missy

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  4. Christy,

    You are the only one I haven't met on our blog. I'm looking forward to getting that chance. When is the GRW conference? Unlike Mindy and Angie, I'm within driving distance from NC.

    We have a lot in common. I too started out writing secular. I switched to Christian fiction October 2005. I handwrote my first manuscript (a Civil War historical) when I was eleven. After about 100 pages, I put it down to live my teenage life and finished it at 22, after I got married. I attended my first RWA conference in Dallas in '96. I was 24, and brave enough to market that manuscript. I'll never forget Judith Palais at Berkely asking me to send it. Looking back, I can't believe it. I didn't know a soul and flew out there from NC. I had never been further west than TN. That manuscript is lying in my house and will never leave my house. I've started rewriting a portion of as a Young Adult novel from the prodding of a professional writer and critiquer at the North Carolina Writers Network conference a few years ago. I may one day finish it as a YA. Great interview and hope to meet you soon.

    Blessings to you,

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  5. Jennifer,
    Thanks so much for your message and sharing your first trip to conference. I see a lot we have in common too. I wish you would come on down to GA. Our Moonlight and Magnolia contest is at the end of September, after ACFW's conference.I'm praying about which one is best for me to attend and that I'll be able to attend, God willing. I hope to meet you, Mindy and Angie soon!!

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