Saturday, February 21, 2009

TAKE TEN: Author Carrie Elizabeth Greene

Author Carrie Elizabeth Greene is claiming 2009 for herself with a vengeance. With a novel just released and a second book coming before the end of the year, she is living the life that many aspiring writers only dream about. On top of all her other activites she is also a judge for the country's first literary reality show The Write Stuff that will be debuting during the summer. How did her journey begin? She reveals that along with what saved the life of some of the characters in her debut novel and more in this exclusive interview.

Carrie, thank you for taking the time to talk with Conversations. Before we get into your book A VOICE BEHIND THUNDER, I want to fast forward to the reaction to the book. Has it surprised you what readers are saying about your debut?
Yes, I never thought it would be so greatly received. I am very excited .

For so many writing is a dream they can only hope to realize. How does it feel to be living this dream today?
It was a long time coming, but I'm grateful that I held out and didn't give up.

I have never asked you this before, but I think our readers would be interested to know when did you decide writing was something you wanted to do?
I can't say that it was always something I wanted to do, not like some who know from a child that they want to be a writer. However I always liked a good story, whether on television, movies, or the written word.

With that being said, how did your debut novel come about?
I loved to read Christian fiction and had a desire to write a Christian novel one day. When Genesis Press first started I wanted to contribute to the new project. I had this story in mind and I wrote it for them, however it was rejected. That was in 1995.

You have successfully produced a balance of romance and inspiration. Was it difficult for you to decide how far to go with either?
People don't like to think that romance is a part of a Christian’s life. It is very much so, and I wanted to show that although people are Christians, saved and desire to do God's work, they have and desire to have romance in their life. I lead the singles group in my church and am often confronted with how they should conduct themselves as a single Christian. There are times when we need to face the fact that Christians sometimes get off track. I wanted to do that with this book.

The characters you developed are so universal that anyone should be able to see themselves or someone they know. Who did you have in mind when you wrote it?
My characters are a combination of myself, and others, women and men with good and bad characteristics. People that i have met throughout my life.

Redemption is a big part of the message I got from your book, especially when it comes to dealing with issues of faith and people of faith. Do you think some people take the notion of 'once saved always saved' to heart and stop trying in their relationships with people and God?
Our egos like for us to believe that we are right, and the problem is with everyone else. Until we can see our own flaws and imperfections we can never forgive and love the way that we should. Our salvation is not based on works, but our ego's can keep us from living a fulfilled life while we are here on earth. So in the long run when we refuse to make our corrections we suffer.

I'm not going to give away the story but it seems as though you wanted us to expect more from your characters. Will there be a sequel and what should we expect from you next.
Actually, I wanted to kill off some of the characters but we decided it would not go well with the readers. I don't know if I will bring a sequel but I will write about the period, late seventies to the end of the eighties, because I believe it is an important time in our history especially for African Americans and it is worth taking a second look at.

I do have a second book called "Don't Delay your Increase: A spiritual guide to giving. which will be released in Dec 2009, and is published by Urban Christian Fiction. It is a guide that answers questions about giving, how to give, when to give, what organizations or people to give to and when to stop giving.

Now that you are a published author I know that those aspiring to be where you are have many questions. What advice would you give to them about moving forward from a thought to action?
I think it is important to write a story that has a purpose and a message. Think about the person that will read your book. What are the messages you want to leave with them, and write for that one person. Don't think about how many people will read your book, just write what you feel and be transparent.

Thank you again, Carrie. If our readers want to find out more about you online how can they do so?
You can email me at My website is

Friday, February 13, 2009

TAKE TEN: Author Alicia Ash

Her personal story is an inspiration to people of all ages and backgrounds across the world. Author Alicia Ash has been near death more than once, but in the end her desire to be there for her kids and her family helped her to come out a winner. In this exclusive interview she talks about her past, the transformation she has made both on the inside and outside and what she hopes her example does for others.

Alicia, thank you for taking out the time to speak with us. First of all I know you are preparing for the release of your debut book. Tell our readers the name and what led you to write it.
The title of the book is I Dropped 142 lbs in a year & lost 220 lbs in a Day. When I started this journey of transformation I started journaling to be able to keep track of my daily routine to see if I needed to make changes. As I began to see I was really getting great results, I wanted to share my experience with other people like myself that felt like it was not possible. As the transformation started to be so visible to others around me they were begging me to please help them so I knew then this was not about me anymore it was a ministry to bless others with a proven system that I knew works.

Alot of people find it hard to look at themselves and reveal personal details about their life, but you seemed to be okay with sharing what was your truth. Was it always easy for you to do so?
In the beginning it was not easy at all. You could not even get me in front of a camera let alone to be around a crowd of people, because I was ashamed at how I looked and felt. As I came to realize this was bigger than me, it was a message I wanted to share with everyone that wanted to not only shed weight but shed issues because I was carrying not only physical weight but mental weight as well. I believe we all carry too much of one or the other and we need to learn how to balance it to live healthier lives.

Your journey has been anything but ordinary. In fact your unhealthy lifestyle almost killed you. What was the turning point?
My turning point was once I had three strokes because of my unhealthy lifestyle. The third one did it for me. Then there was knowing that I could possibly not be here for my children. To leave behind for them to know how to be healthy and teach them how to live a better life is the best gift I could ever give them.

Weight-loss is only part of your story. How much would you say you have changed emotionally and spiritually as your body changed?
I have grown so much. Some may say it is a bad thing to get a divorce, and at first I thought that too but to stay in it I would have been pleasing people. I was married 15 years and in order for me to grow he and I both knew we had to be apart to be happy. We are much better as friends than we were in a marriage, and we are better parents and not living in a marriage that was not growing spiritually or emotionally. I always say evaluate your situation and make changes from there.

In 2006 you achieved what is the goal of so many people: being on The Oprah Winfrey Show. What was that experience like for you, and how much did it encourage you to your commitment to stay healthy?

Wow, being on the show and meeting Ms Oprah was the second best goal to accomplish. When I walked on that stage I was like I can do anything I put my heart and soul to because I do know there are celebrities that have not been on her show. I was just amazed and very thankful for the oppurtunity. She is my American Idol and that alone keeps me motivated. I promised myself if I accomplished this major task I would not go back to living minor in my mind.

I'm curious, Alicia, what do you hope people get from hearing and reading your story?
I hope my message will encourage people to live happier, healthier lives. Do research ,get checkups know your body and don't let it be too late to want to make a change. Do it now and pass it on to your children. Obesity is nothing to play with. It causes so many other health problems that can be prevented, so hopefully by me having another chance at life people will see it can be done and it's not about a number on the scale or a size 2 clothes: It's about being healthy and feeling good on the inside and that will flow out.

What advice would you give for someone who has a family member or friend that is battling the demons that you faced?
To encourage them and be a support team for them in a good way, not being negative. Make small changes like I did instead of celebrating all with food do something different.

Aside from your book, what other projects are you involved in?
I am excited to be a guest judge on the upcoming reality show Write Stuff that will be debuting in the summer of 2009. It is such a great opportunity for aspiring writers to see what is involved in the process and to network with those who are making their mark in the end. Though there can only be one winner, all the contestants will glean so much from the experience. I also have a foundation called SKIN DEEP. You can go to my web site and get more info, and in the I future I am hoping to launch a clothing line. On top of that I travel the country as a motivational speaker.

When it comes to writing, if someone feels as though they have a story to share, what would you tell them to do?
I would say get as much of your material in the proper format, do plenty of reseach on how to become an author because there are plenty of people that have a great story but are not writters. Get to the right people and never give up on your dream because only you can make it become a reality.

Thank you for your time. How can our readers find out more about you and your upcoming events?
You can visit my web site and pre order the book today and if my tour does not have your city on there request it by going to or

TAKE TEN: Author Don Greco

A heartwarming story of love and acceptance, author Don Greco gave the world a literary treasure with Abramo's Gift. Here he talks about the book and what he hopes others get from his debut novel.

Donald, Happy New Years and thank you for talking with Conversations. Before we get into your novel Abramo's Gift, I want to talk about the response you have had to the book so far. Have you been surprised at the feedback from readers?
I have been pleasantly surprised both at the universal approval it has received and the insight that some readers have into its content. When one writes a story, it is very gratifying to see that some readers derive life lessons and personal comfort from it. When one is a little known writer as I am, it is nice to know that readers like what I do and are glad they took the time to read my story.

I know from your interview on Conversations LIVE! Radio that you didn't even tell many around you that you were even writing, let alone going to have a book published. How has the support of your family and freinds encouraged you to forge ahead?
It’s satisfying to realize that people you have been very close to all your life enjoyed reading your story. But it was also fun to see how surprised they were upon receiving a novel in the mail from this strange person they thought they knew so well. Now most of them are impatient to read my next novel, so that sets a new goal for me.

Let's rewind a bit to the actual storyline of Abramo's Gift. I can't help but realize that there are some similarities between you and the main character Abramo Cardone. Both of you have had to deal with personal tragedy. How did the story develop for you?
It developed from a sense of longing, for the love that was lost… in my case, my wife, Angie. In that sense, Abramo Cardone also has that longing for the love that he lost. Some of the most poignant stories are those about people who are lonely and anguished yet then find grace and comfort when they least expect it. That belief was the genesis of my story.

Other than Abramo, which character resonated with you on a personal level?
It’s hard making a choice, but I think Mrs. Reid is a good one. She is hurt and lonely and realizes that all her great wealth cannot buy her happiness. She lost a husband and an only son and has had to endure in silence the false rumors that circulated about her son possibly being killed in Army service in less than honorable fashion. She’s honest, reverent, and kind, but has a short fuse in her righteous anger. But her great heart, and her willingness to change and grow ends up being her salvation in the story.

One of the things I got from the book was the importance of walking in your own truth, that is, facing challenges and hardships head-on instead of trying to mask it with something else. Out of curiosity, how did you deal with your own grief, and what can others learn from Abramo and your examples?
When something terrible happens in your life, people close to you try to help you cope with your grief. But because grieving is such a solitary process they often don’t know what they can do to help. When my wife died suddenly, a dear friend of ours gave me the best advice. She said that I had to learn to let people help me, and not to shut them out. She told me, “Your friends love and care about you, and they want to do something to comfort you and help you heal…but often they don’t know how. If you let them try to help you, they will feel better and so will you.” It was the best advice I ever had, and it helped me get through the worst time in my life.

The world of publishing is a very competitive one. How much research did you do about how to be successful in the industry before deciding on trying to break into print?
Not much. I thought my only job was to produce a good story, and everything else would fall into place, but I was wrong. Consequently, I have been following a steep learning curve regarding the business aspect of marketing a book.

Have you been surprised at how much of the book's success still falls on the author even after the book is available in stores worldwide?
Since my greatest challenge is getting my books into bookstores anywhere, I’m not sure I can answer this question accurately. But I think that books are like your children: you will always be a parent, and you will, likewise, also be a father or mother to your stories.

Your book was chosen as one of Conversations' "Best Kept Literary Secrets" of 2008. For those that are just finding out about the book through this interview, what would you hope they get from the story you tell in Abramo's Gift?
I would hope that ordinary people would realize that they can achieve greatness in their own quiet ways, not by wealth or high attainment, but by finding love and grace in the people around them.

What would you say to those who may have a story in their head and heart but haven't taken the time to try and share it?
First of all, if it’s only a matter of taking time, I urge the imaginer to find the time and give it all the energy he can muster. Most stories are told in their own best time. If one has a good story, he should not let it fade away. Stories have a way of doing that. Often times, a story can be told at only one period in a person’s life. As years pass, the imaginer changes, his tastes and circumstances change, and so the story sometime changes, or becomes more anemic and obscure in memory. When that happens, the story is lost, and may never be resurrected again.

Having said all this, the reality of life is such that not everyone can write good stories. So if you are one of those people who cannot put stories in your imagination into pen and paper, and if you believe your story is wonderful, then by all means tell it to someone else who may have the gift of finding words to tell your story. Both the imaginer and the writer, not to mention the readers, would have a great sense of satisfaction and fulfillment for your efforts.

Thank you for your time, Don. What is next for you in 2009?
This year I want to concentrate on making my story, Abramo’s Gift, known to as many people as possible. If I can do that, and if readers like my novel and my writing, then I’ll feel comfortable putting forth a new novel in 2010. It’s as good as the current one, but a different kind of story.