Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Accidental Jesus Freak by Amber Lea Starfire - Book Tour and Giveaway



About the Book

In 1973, Linda was a flute player and music major at a California community college, until she met and fell madly in love with a charismatic piano player, plunging into his world of music-making and drug-fueled parties. When, just three weeks after their wedding, he reveals that he's been "born again," Linda makes the spontaneous decision to follow him into his new religion and, unwittingly, into a life of communal living, male domination, and magical thinking.

With unflinching candor, Amber Starfire chronicles her journey as Linda Carr into the evangelical church culture, where she gives up everything for her husband and their music ministry. But in the process, she loses her most valuable assets: her identity and sense of self-worth. It is only when Linda returns to live with her birth family and faces her complicated relationship with her mother that she finds new purpose and the courage to begin to extricating herself from the limiting beliefs of her past.

Accidental Jesus Freak is the story of one woman, one marriage, and one kind of fundamentalism, but it is also the story of the healing that is possible when we are true to ourselves. Both a cautionary tale and celebration of personal empowerment, Accidental Jesus Freak is a powerful reminder for anyone who seeks to live a life authentic to who they truly are.



Excerpt

As it happened, our formal outreach period coincided with the coldest winter Amsterdam had experienced in twelve years. The canals were frozen, and the famous Elfstedentocht speed-skating race or “Eleven Cities Tour” was on that year. The tour occurs only when it is cold enough to form ice at least fifteen centimeters thick along the entire 200 kilometer course. 1985 was one of those rare years when the temperature plummeted to 13 degrees Fahrenheit and hovered there for six weeks. So, except for one or two memorable occasions, our outreach became a time of so called Inn-reach, because it was too cold to be out on the streets for long. We ended up going with YWAM’s night teams to proselytize in restaurants and nightclubs, as well as serve in the organization’s Christian coffee bar.

On one of the few outdoor occasions, we took all the children to the spacious plaza in front of Amsterdam’s Central Station and had them perform a dance while we played music and then preached. It was so cold that day, I wore my long wool coat and scarf and played flute with fingerless gloves. I worried that my lips would freeze to my flute. When it was time for the children to dance, we had them take off their coats, perform, and then bundled them back into their clothing and gave them steaming cups of hot chocolate.

Travelers and Amsterdam natives walked around us as if we were part of the structure of the plaza, pillars that stood in the way of their path, nothing more. Other than a few quick glances in our direction and eyebrows raised at the sight of the children during their dance, we were only another odd group of people on the streets.

Guest Post

Top 10 Writing Tips for New Authors

Do you desire to become an author?

I have found that writing is, hands down, the most difficult — and most satisfying — work I’ve ever done.

Writing takes having something to say and the willingness and ability to dig down into yourself and find the best way to say it.  It’s a skill and, like any other skill, writing well takes practice. This is why it’s called the “craft of writing.” You have to be willing to work at it.

But then . . . after you have toiled and sweated over your words and paragraphs and chapters for days and months and sometimes years, when you have finally gotten it just right and your story is complete, when you finally hold your book in your hands, and when you hear from readers how much your story has touched or entertained or helped them . . . well then, writing feels like the grandest thing you’ve ever done.

Because I believe everyone has an important story to tell and that anyone who wants to work at it can become an author, I’d like to share with you the following top ten writing tips that have helped me along the way:

1. Believe in yourself. When you believe that writing is a part of who you are, you will naturally apply yourself to practicing and learning how to be a better writer. 

2. Read — a lot. You have to read to fill your own well of creativity, to learn what works and what doesn’t, to understand what speaks to you and what doesn’t, and to trigger new ideas. Stephen King, in On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, writes, “If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

3. Schedule your writing time and show up for yourself. It’s all about consistency and persistence. Set a goal each week for your writing and then work toward that goal. For most writers this means writing every day. For others, it means thinking and thinking and thinking about their story and then writing in larger blocks of time. Figure out what works best for you and then do it. No excuses.

4. Outline your story. To reach your destination, you have to know where you are going, what road to start down, and where to turn along the way. So don’t be afraid to map out your story. Having a plan will help you stay focused and on track. And remember that you can always change your route along the way.

5. When you’re writing a first draft, don’t worry about being a good writer. First drafts are always ugly. So, just get that story or essay onto the page. Revise and craft it later.

6. Be a semi-perfectionist. This tip goes with the previous one. You have to allow yourself to write badly in order to write. But then, once you have that first draft, revise and revise and revise. Be willing to write as many drafts as necessary to polish your piece as much you can. At the same time, don’t expect perfection — there is no such thing. At some point, you have to call it “good enough” and release your work into the world.

7. Share your writing with others — when it’s ready. Wait until after the second or third draft to share your writing because comments, when they come too early, can derail you. Keep writing, stay focused. Once you reach the end of your piece and have revised it until you feel it is presentable, then invite others’ comments.

8. QTIP  — Quit Taking It Personally. Remember that the story you are writing — even when you’re writing about your own life — is not you. Consider all critique with objectivity. Listen to what makes sense and throw out the rest.

9. Hire an Editor. Hiring an editor is like hiring a fitness coach. In addition to line editing, an editor will point out inconsistencies or gaps in your writing, ask questions to help you write with more clarity, show you what is and isn’t working, and just generally push you further than you are willing to push yourself in order to strengthen your writing and give it “muscle.”

10. Don’t give up. Know this: failure is an integral part of success. Your work is going to be rejected more often than accepted for publication. At times, you’re going to struggle. At times, you’ll feel uninspired and inadequate and like a pretender; you’ll wonder why you write; and you’ll be your own worst critique. But remember, that you have a unique perspective. You have something to say — this is what drives you to write. So, whenever you feel like giving up, circle back to Tip #1 and start over.

Which of these tips inspires or helps you the most? Do you have tips you’d like to add?



About the Author

Amber Lea Starfire MA, MFA, is an author, editor, and creative writing coach whose passion is helping others tell their stories. She has published two memoirs: Accidental Jesus Freak: One Woman’s Journey from Fundamentalism to Freedom (2017) and Not the Mother I Remember: A Memoir — finalist for both the 2015 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and the 2013-2014 Sarton Women’s Literary Awards. She has also published several books of non-fiction, including Journaling the Chakras: Eight Weeks to Self-Discovery, and Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts & Meditations. Amber is co-editor of the award-winning anthology, Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the '60s & '70s. Her creative nonfiction and poetry have appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals.


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Giveaway
Amber Lea Starfire will be awarding a $50 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway