You know how you meet someone, and instantly, you find their very existence peace-bringing – Elora Nicole is one of those people for me, and we have never met. Something about her tweets, her blog posts, even the images she chooses just calms my spirit. Plus, she lists Walking on Water as on her favorite books. How could I not love her? I’m sure you will, too.

1. Tell me about your latest project.
Come Alive is a novel about Stephanie Tiller, a girl who believes in stories but not when it comes to the possibility of hope and change within her own life. Abused, alone and invisible to those around her, she struggles with self-worth and believing in another world – one of love and safety and healing. Living with a father who prostitutes her to local authorities and an alcoholic mother who doesn’t see
what’s right in front of her, Stephanie’s life hangs in the balance. There are those in her life who believe in redemption and new beginnings, people who offer her love and acceptance despite her surroundings, but can Stephanie trust them when all she’s ever known is betrayal? This is her story – all of it – the chaos and beauty caused by the wrecking ball of her family and the fight for rescue.

2. What role, if any, did books, writing, and reading play in your childhood?

Some of my first memories include me editing Dr. Seuss books and creating stories in my grandmother’s computer. I read voraciously – sometimes 10-12 books a week when I was in middle school. For me, words were an escape. I thought in story – always wondering the background of events and people. In high school, I took to writing poems (like every teenage girl) and was published in my high school’s literary magazine. It wasn’t until a creative writing class though that I even realized this could be something I did for a living. My teacher believed in me and loved everything I wrote. His belief inspired me.

3. What is your writing practice, your writing routine?

I try to write every day – and if I don’t, I try not to beat myself up about it. I’m learning more and more that for me, my words will burn deep in my chest for awhile before I’m able to put them down. I let them simmer for awhile but try and write down the idea when I get it because as we all know – words don’t come twice.

4. Who are you reading now?
Madeleine L’Engle – I love her. Just finished Wrinkle in Time and will finish the rest of the series before moving on to another novel. I’m also soaking in Sue Monk Kidd’s Dance of the Dissident Daughter.

5. What are three of your all-time favorite books? Why do you love those?
East of Eden – Kathy/Katherine/Cathy is seriously one of the only characters in literature who legitimately scares me. Plus, Steinbeck’s approach to story here is inspired. I can’t get enough of this book. It’s a yearly read for me.
Walking on Water – Madeleine L’Engle captures the tension between art and faith perfectly in this book. I love her explanation of writing about darkness.
The Collector – this book totally captured me in graduate school. I read it in a day. I’m not sure how John Fowles managed to get into the mind of his characters, but he did and there’s some spectacular themes of connection and beauty in here.

6. How do you balance “building a writing platform” and the actual writing to set on that platform?
Honestly, this is something I struggle with daily. I’m not a marketing guru. Like most writers, I’m very much an introvert and stumble through the whole promoting myself part of publishing. In a lot of ways, it seems counter-intuitive to how I work. But. I’m learning the balance and I’m understanding how to focus on the writing I set on the platform as a way to continue to build the platform itself. Plus, I challenge myself. Like this year – my goal is get at least 1,000 people on my writer’s page on Facebook. This is so not me naturally, but I look at it as a way to meet new people, and I love connecting.

7.What is a typical day like for you?

I just quit my job to write full time, and so I am still maneuvering my way through a completely new routine. I usually wake up, walk the dog, grab my coffee and read through some of my favorite blogs. From there, I take a look at my planner and make sure I know any deadlines coming up – usually those come first. Sometimes, though – the words are something completely different than what I was anticipating and I focus on getting them out before they’re lost. So I write for a few hours and then in the afternoon, after lunch, I try and read or focus on something I need to accomplish for the book launch. I’m a night owl too, so a lot of my writing will happen late at night.

8. Describe your dream writing space?
Anything with a view of the ocean. It would probably need to be a small space, too – I tend to get distracted by things going on around me.

9. What is the hardest writing critique you ever received? How did you respond?
I’ve been told my writing is too dark. It can be difficult to hear this, because in a way I feel like they’ve missed the whole point of what I’ve written. There’s always hope. Always. And even though my writing may be dark, it’s because looking to the darkness is how I see the Light.

10. What is the best wisdom you have to share with other writers?

Don’t give up your voice. There’s a lot of “wisdom” out there on how to succeed, and I feel like sometimes those people who claim to be gurus are really just trying to make us all sound the same. Keep your words sacred. Keep them hot and pointed and holy and broken. Let the fire burn in your bones and tap into those spaces others tend to forget about – make your writing count.

I am Elora Nicole, author of Come Alive and When Beauty Pursues You. I write because if I can move a heart – if I can bend a knee – then this is all I need. I am not a savior, but I can write about One who specializes in wounded hearts. I am not a healer, but I can pen a poem about One who seeks out the fatherless. This messy middle is where I find my joy. And so I keep writing, keep stumbling, keep figuring out what it means to tell my story and help you find your own. You can read her work at her website, Eloranicole.com