Some writers wait for the muse before they write (not a recommended strategy), but not Christina Sinisi. She actually turns to simple math to help her get her stories written–and it’s working! With two novellas and one novel releasing in three years, she’s figured a few things out, and she’s here to share her secrets.
Thank you for being here! First things first: what do you write?
Thank you for having me! I write Christian Contemporary Romance. So far, I’ve sold two Christmas novellas—The Christmas Confusion came out last November and Christmas on Ocracoke is expected this December—and one full-length novel is expected next summer, Sweet Summer.
I chose this genre because it reflects who I am. My faith is the most important thing in my life, followed by my husband of 34 years and my children. Now, did I realize that at first? No. I was writing fantasy/sci fi and getting nowhere until a friend (who also happens to be a NY Times best-selling author) said I think you should write inspirational. She was right.
What’s the most difficult part of writing your genre? How do you work through those challenges?
There’s a balance between demonstrating how God works in people’s lives and being preachy; I need to work to find that happy medium, not lukewarm, but neither do I want to turn people off. I want to depict people’s struggles with their faith as well as how wonderfully faith can be a comfort in the tough times.
How long does it take you to: write the book? Edit it? Finalize it?
Don’t hate me—but I can write in whatever time frame I’m given. I wrote The Christmas Confusion in 3 and a half weeks because that’s how long I had between seeing the call for novellas and the deadline. I set a goal and I reach it. Now, if I could only do that with my diet. J
What’s your favorite book on writing? What do you like about it?
Deb Dixon’s GMC, Goal Motivation and Conflict is a very hands-on and useful book. I use her charts for every book I write. I find it really important to get to know my characters as people and the plot follows from there.
What conference do you most want to attend? Why?
I’ve attended RWA and Moonlight and Magnolias several times each, as far as the general romance writing world, but I have yet to attend ACFW. Since this is my writer’s world now and I really love our local chapter members so I look forward to attending the national conference as soon as I can.
What’s your writing day like?
I rarely get a day to just write. I’m a professor in my day job and that, along with being department chair, never seems to completely stop.
In the summer, though, I do get afternoons or mornings depending on what comes up. When I sit down to write, I usually journal first as a warm-up. Then, I write until I reach my page count for the day. I set my page count by literally counting the days until the book is due (or, when I don’t have an official deadline, I’ll set one) and divide.
So, for example the typical novel is around 300 pages (check guidelines for whichever publisher you’re considering submitting) and if I have three months…I’ll give myself a week for plotting and planning and creating the GMC for my characters. Then, I’ll deduct at least a week or two at the end to revise and edit and send to a writing partner for critique. So, that gives me about 2 months and a week which rounds out to 5 pages a day. That’s not hard!!
What advice do you have for new authors?
If you love writing, keep at it. Don’t let rejections or the lack of time or everybody’s confusion—how can you keep writing when you’re getting nowhere—get to you. I mean, what else are you going to do with your spare time? Binge watch Netflix all day? Nah.
How do you self-edit your manuscript?
I was a member of RWA for over a decade and attended monthly workshops as much as possible so I’ve learned quite a few strategies on self-editing and revising. Generally, I love the process where you take turns going through the manuscript, maybe with different colored post-it notes looking at different things. These passes can include—POV, romance threat, conflict thread, faith thread, and grammar. I’ll also take notes as I go about small points I need to check on—like does my secondary character have the same name through the entire thing (I tend to write fast and try out different options). I talk more about plotting and this pass-through process in my own blog at www. https/ChristinaSinisi.com
A member of the American Christian Ficiton Writers, Christina Sinisi writes stories about families, both the broken and blessed. Her works include a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest and the American Title IV Contest in which she appeared in the top ten in the Romantic Times magazine. Her published books include The Christmas Confusion and the upcoming Sweet Summer, the first two books in the Summer Creek Series, as well as the upcoming Christmas On Ocracoke expected this December. By day, she is a psychology professor and lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina with her husband and two children and cat Chessie.