Kristina Ellis’s father lost his battle with cancer when she was seven years old. After his death, her family fell below poverty level and struggled through years of emotional and financial turmoil. On the first day of high school, Kristina’s mom informed her that she could not financially support her after graduation; she needed to find her own way to pay for college. As a student with decent grades and average test scores, Kristina realized that she was going to have to sell herself to scholarship committees if she wanted to stand out. That’s when she devised the plan that led to her receiving several of the most selective and prestigious scholarships and grants that paid for 100% of her education at a Top 20 university.
What inspires you to write?
Finding ways to help people simplify and improve their lives inspires me. I’ve struggled through poverty and depression, and I know how hard life can be. I love finding ways to help people overcome the obstacles they’re facing and make life easier. I’m inspired to write when I feel like I have something moving to share that will positively influence someone else.
Tell us about your writing process.
My writing process really varies depending upon the topic, but most often I try to break things down as much as possible before I ever start. I begin with what I like to call “brainstorm bubbles,” where I use a diagram to help organize my thoughts. Each section from my “brainstorm bubbles” helps me form a thorough outline. Then I’ll often edit my outline a few times until I have a very clear road map. Armed with a strong outline, I can then start filling in the blanks.
When doing a research-based project, I usually go through all of my data in advance, highlight what I’m going to use, and type up all my highlighted material into its own document. I then combine my research document with my outline, inserting key content where I plan to put it. Then I focus on one section of the outline at a time. I usually have it broken down so that each section ends up being no more than 5 paragraphs. This takes a lot of the pressure off when I finally do start writing, because I can really concentrate on each individual section and write freely about it, knowing it fits into the thematic big picture.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
What advice would you give other writers?
Take comfort in the fact that you can go back and revise your work. For me, it often feels like that first draft is the hardest to get out of my mind and onto paper. It can seem so intimidating staring at that blank page and hoping everything will come out perfectly. Remove that initial pressure to come up with something perfect the first time around and just start writing. The fact that you can edit yourself later puts the initial draft in a whole new light. You’ll often be pleasantly surprised at how strong your free writing actually turns out.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I had a mentor who really helped me through key decisions in the publishing process. He had been around the industry for a while and was very familiar with all forms of publishing. Once I had the first draft of my book complete, we kept our options open as to whether we wanted to self-publish or go with a traditional publisher. Once we met with my current publisher, Worthy Publishing, and they reviewed my manuscript, we knew it was a great fit and that they understood the vision for my book. Having so much synergy in that first meeting made it clear that it was the right direction to go.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I would advise new authors to network and try to find a great mentor who knows the publishing industry and who can really help guide you through the key decisions you’ll make. There are so many aspects to publishing that you don’t even imagine as a first-time author, so it helps to have someone who can answer your questions and advise you about next steps.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer
What genres do you write?
Christian, Education, Self-Help
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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