About Cristael Ann Bengtson:
Raised in the high mountains of scenic northern New Mexico, Cristael Bengtson grew up riding horseback in the mountain forests and meadows surrounding the small village of Pecos, where her parents owned and operated a small power and telephone company. At the age of 17, she had her first visionary experience of a loving and luminous Light. She went on to have her Near Death Experience in 1998.
Cristael is the mother of two sons that she raised as a single mom. She earned BA degrees in music education and elementary education, going on to earn her Master of Arts in elementary education with a focus on the reading process.
For two years she taught music in Sandoval County, at that time the third poorest county in the nation. She then became an elementary classroom teacher, teaching mainly third grade. After her sons left home, Cristael left teaching to take care of her mother until she passed on.
Cristael’s book grew out of her need to share her near-death experience. It was her way of coming out of her closet of secrets.
Cristael enjoys singing. She is in the grip of a lifelong compulsive reading habit.
What inspires you to write?
Asking myself the three big questions: What sets me on fire as I am writing this book? How can I set the reader on fire? Will what I am writing have the possibility of changing the way the reader looks at the world?
Tell us about your writing process.
I am a seat of the pants writer up to a point. My first drafts are messy, mixed up, and unfinished. At some point the theme of the book begins to jell. Then I start doing mind-mapping. I use that to create temporary informal chapter headings and a very rough outline. Once the book as a whole begins to take shape, I do mind mapping for each individual chapter, just going back and forth from the map to the writing. I use this dig deeper into each chapter and each section of the book. It also helps with the overall focus of the book.
What advice would you give other writers?
If you wake up with writer’s block, write about your writer’s block. If you’re frozen with fear, write about being frozen with fear. If you’re scared that your writing is really bad, give yourself permission to write five to ten really awful pages. More if you like. The funny thing is that after writing a few terrible paragraphs or totally uninspired pages, writing without any inhibitions or self-judgment, all of a sudden you will find yourself taking off and just writing.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I knew I wanted to self publish right from the start. I chose Create Space because I felt I couldn’t go wrong with Amazon’s publishing company. I figured Amazon wanted me to have the best because that ultimately would mean more money for Amazon. I liked the feeling that I was in control of the entire publishing process. I knew that I could always have the last word if necessary. I had a really good experience with Create Space. They came up with a professional print book and cover, as well as a great Kindle version.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I like Amazon’s free days, which are a marketing game that authors can play to win. They work because Amazon knows more about selling books online than just about anyone. I want to find ever more effective ways of using Amazon and lists like Book Goodies to reach lots and lots of readers.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?: Near-death biography
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print