Saturday, February 4, 2017

Spork Sister interview with the fabulous Alayne Kay Christian

Have you ever been stuck and on the verge of greatness? Have you ever been so in love with a Story that you exhausted your “readers” trying to get it, just right? Well, that’s when you need to call on a superhero, like Alayne Kay Christian.  Who, as it just happens is one of my Spork Sisters!

To refresh your memory- One of the most magical things about landing at Clear Fork’s Spork has been the birth of “Spork Sisters”.  A brilliant, lovely, supportive and creative group of women (now a couple men) who are adding their light and energy to the world, one story at a time.

So, getting back to Alayne… The other day, there I was, stuck, in love with a story, on the verge of greatness and in walks (or types) Alayne.  She agrees to “read” it for me but instead of just reading it, she blows my mind with a critique.  One like I have never received.  It was thorough, insightful, kind and so beyond the pale helpful. I am not sure how I will ever, (other than wine when we are in the same place) ever repay her.

My good “Spork Sister” fortune is now yours because today I am bring this angel to this blog and you.  I do hope that you enjoy her visit, voice and overall fabulous energy.

AKC: Thank you for your kind words, Laura. And thank you for inviting me to be spotlighted on your blog. I’m so pleased that my critique has been helpful. I look forward to our wine time that will undoubtedly happen one day.

LNC:First, I would love to know about the three things you are most passionate about-

AKC: Hmmm – wow! Only three. Okay, I’ll give it a try.

1. My husband – always – and our new nomad lifestyle. This is a little bit of a cheat because this lifestyle affords me the benefit of many things that I’m passionate about including the following: Freedom. Nature. Mindfulness. Improved health. Letting go of the illusion of control. (Not having a home base and only having a glimpse of where we “might” be in a day, a week, a month, and so on forces me to go with the flow.) Experiencing this beautiful country, and much, much more. To use a worn out phrase – I get to have my cake and eat it too because most of the time, I’m able to balance this passion-fulfilling life with my other passions. This brings me to #2.

2. Writing, learning, and supporting the writing community. I woke up this morning with a middle grade story premise and a basic outline that had been gifted to me in my sleep. I see moments like this as an indication that writing is a part of me that cannot be denied. My heart has also been stricken with a desire to do whatever I can to help fellow writers in the best way I know how. I give as much as I can with my limited time and energy. And it all makes me happy.

3. I am passionate about working to maintain, for myself, as much positive and loving energy as possible. I’m also passionate about spreading that positive and loving energy to others through my actions, thoughts, and beliefs.

I know I was only allowed three, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention family and friends when it comes to love and things I am passionate about.

LNC:Tell me about you?  Where do you write/illustrate? How long have you been writing/illustrating? What do you most love to write/illustrate?  What is a challenge?

AKC: I usually write at my kitchen table in our Holiday Rambler Scepter motor home. I sometimes write at the chart table or the cabin dining table on our sailboat. I just bought a small table so I can use my laptop outside and enjoy more of the beautiful Palm Springs, California weather while we are here.

LNC: How long have you been writing/illustrating?
AKC: I’ve been writing as far back as I can remember. I’ve been writing for children for about 12 years.

LNC: What do you most love to write/illustrate?
AKC: I love writing any story that comes to me. Right now, I mostly write picture books and chapter books. I love writing picture books because I love the challenge. It’s not nearly as easy as it looks! I love writing chapter books because I get to take ideas deeper than I can in picture books. I enjoyed writing my picture book course because that is a whole different form of creativity. I also enjoy writing from a darker side in adult novels. I love writing free verse, but sadly I have a lot to learn there.

I love writing all of the above because I like to think that it all touches those who read it in one way or another.

LNC: What is a challenge?
AKC: Maintaining confidence, faith, patience, and a positive attitude in a very trying profession. 

LNC: Where are you in the process of publishing? Is this your first publication?  If not, what was the first experience like? If not with Spork, how was it different?

AKC: SIENNA, THE COWGIRL FAIRY: TRYING TO MAKE IT RAIN is my debut chapter book. My experience with my debut picture book BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDMA was fantastic. There were a few challenges. It was difficult to allow editors to convince me to change the story from its original concept. It was hard not to be involved in the illustration process when I had such a clear vision for the book. But it was a thrill to see the book gradually come to life. It was like a lovely birth to see the finished product for the first time. To look at the beautiful, satiny pages and lively illustrations that offer two different styles of art because of the book within a book concept. To see my first book on the shelf at the bookstore. To read it to my granddaughter who inspired the story. And on and on. Then came great reviews and awards and library sightings. Lots of happy tears!

SIENNA, THE COWGIRL FAIRY: TRYING TO MAKE IT RAIN is a little different because it will be released with only minor revisions. And I am allowed some input on illustrations. Our illustrator, Brian Martin, is a pleasure to work with. He’s doing an incredible job of capturing the story characters in his drawings.  I’m having so much fun seeing the characters come alive in his sketches.

The process was nearly two years with the picture book. TRYING TO MAKE IT RAIN will be released much faster than my picture book. I’m sure there will be a lot of happy tears with this book, too! I’m especially excited about this release because my 92-year-old mother has been in my corner with this story from the time I told her the premise. She loves Sienna already, so I can’t wait to hand her the book.

LNC: Can you tell me about the most magical moment in the process you have experienced…?

AKC: There have been so many magical moments. I listed a lot of them above. I’m not sure I can pick the most magical. It was pretty cool to sign with Clear Fork Media for four Sienna books. I have no doubt it will be magical to hold the first in the series for the first time and super magical when I have all four on my shelf. I think it was pretty special when my mother discovered BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA in her library system. And when my granddaughter saw the book in a library for the first time, she deemed me famous! How could that not put a smile on my face.

LNC: What has been the hardest moment/aspect? (Marketing, School Visits, Editing)

Marketing can be a challenge for me. I’ve been fortunate with BUTTERFLY KISSES FOR GRANDMA AND GRANDPA because it is easy to identify the target market, which is grandparents, long-distance grandparents and grandchildren, gift books, and more. Because it has a gift appeal, sales go up around Christmas, Grandparents Day, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day. I’m thinking about Sienna, who the target market might be, and how I might reach it. Since I’ve never marketed a chapter book, this will be a new experience. I’m up for the challenge . . . I think ;-)

LNC: What are you most excited about? (Marketing, School Visits, Editing)

AKC: School visits are a blast!

LNC: Tell me about your book- Characters, location, problem, escalation, resolution.

AKC: Sienna is not your normal cowgirl, for she’s half-human and half-fairy. But Sienna wants nothing to do with fairies. When her ma sends her to fairy camp instead of cowgirl camp, she ain’t none too happy. Not only must she deal with cliquish fairies who reject her spunky spirit and outspoken ways, she must also noodle out how to help Mother Nature end the Texas drought. Can Sienna balance cowgirling with some tried ’n’ true fairy skills to both fit in and make it rain? This is a story about perseverance, friendship, teamwork, self-acceptance, and acceptance of others. 

LNC: How are you taking over the world? (Blog, website, twitter, Facebook, interviews, school visits)

I’m far from taking over the world. I like to blog, but don’t get to it as often as I would like. I’m not the best with social media. And in all honesty, I feel like a lot of time can be wasted on social media if one isn’t careful. It’s a wonderful distraction! Of course it has many benefits as well. I do my best to balance everything. And right now, I’ve got some heavy thinking and planning to do in preparation for the release of Sienna.

LNC: Did anything change for you since signing with Spork? As a writer?  As an individual?

Since signing with Spork, I’ve found a new and fabulous writing family! I feel more accomplished as an author. I’ve fallen deeper in love with Sienna, “my” cowgirl fairy. As a writer, I’m more inspired to write more chapter books. And driven even further to keep writing picture books.

LNC: Does the support from the “Sisters” inform on your overall confidence to try something new?And what does it mean to have something like “Spork Sisters” in your corner?

AKC: I’m not sure yet, but I love having their support.  It makes me feel like I’m not alone – what a wonderful gift! I’m so grateful that I’ve met so many kindred spirits and made so many lovely new friends.

LNC: Do you feel like the “Sisters” will be a benefit to you while you are in the publishing world?  If so, how?

AKC: Yes. It is wonderful to think that I have some partners on the marketing end, which I’ve mentioned can be a struggle. I believe their encouragement will push me a little more beyond my comfort zone than I might have gone otherwise, which is nice from a growth perspective. I love the collective energy. We build each other up when at times we feel as though we are being knocked down. It’s fantastic having friends who fully understand to turn to when things get tough, or even better, when things are exciting. I also like lending my support wherever I can. It truly is like a family. This is a good time to mention Callie Metler-Smith, the owner and editor of Clear Fork Media. She is fabulous to work with. She’s kind, smart, hardworking, dedicated, open and highly responsive. She is super supportive and a big part of the family.

LNC: Tell me about the critique work that you do.  How did you get started with it?

AKC: As I mentioned, one of my passions is helping fellow writers. For several years, I critiqued writers’ work as favors. People kept telling me how much my critiques helped them and that I should start a critique service. Eventually their voices got through to me. Somewhere along the way, I realized I was pretty darn good at this critique thing. And my critique service was born. But I ran into a problem. My critiques are highly detailed. I often offer deep analysis and mini courses within a critique. I found that doing critiques was robbing me of my creative energy. So, I suspended the service.

The critique process forced me to learn more about writing. While critiquing, when I instinctually sensed something interfering with good storytelling but didn’t know exactly what it was or how to express it, I would seek answers.

I noticed there were consistent issues in the manuscripts that I critiqued. I noticed I was repeating the same mini courses but custom written for the manuscript I was critiquing. Suspending my critique service left me still wanting to help fellow writers, so I decided to put everything that I learned through my critiquing experiences and put it in a self-study course ART OF ARC.

I have reopened my critique service, but only for those who have taken my course. This allows me to reference lessons in the course that the author of the manuscript can revisit to help strengthen the areas of concern in their stories.

LNC: What about your course?  Who would benefit from taking it?

·       Anyone who wants a deeper understanding of arcs, conflict, tension, emotional core and more

·       Anyone who is new to picture book writing

·       Picture book writers who want to develop further and become more powerful and effective storytellers

·       Picture book writers who need a stronger foundation in storytelling

·       Picture book writers who want to build on what they have learned in other courses or from craft books

·       Picture book writers who want a methodical system for analyzing and revising their manuscripts

·       Picture book writers who want a methodical system for analyzing mentor texts or their critique partners’ work

·       Anyone with picture book manuscripts in need of revision

·       Anyone who has no idea what a story or character arc is

·       Anyone who has no idea what episodic stories or cause and effect are

LNC: What does the course cover?

AKC: This course takes students into a deeper level of picture book writing (using a traditional arc method) than most picture book courses. All lessons have reusable worksheets for analyzing manuscripts. The lessons walk students through the writing and analyzing process step by step. For more details and testimonials visit my website





LESSON FIVE: EPISODIC STORIES - Includes methods for testing your story for episodic elements.






The course includes an excellent eight-page supplement detailing sixteen different picture book structures. Each diagram and description includes a list of picture books to study for that particular structure.

LNC: Is there anything else you would like to share with the readers?

AKC: For anyone who made it through the whole interview, I appreciate you sticking it out. I know it is a long interview; thanks to chatty ol’ me.

LNC:  I think it’s magic, this bond that has planted and is growing at Spork and I feel so blessed having been introduced to you.  Thank you so much for sharing your time, energy and thoughts with me.
I agree wholeheartedly about the magic. And I am so happy you are a part of that magic, Laura!

Thank you so much Alayne for stopping by and sharing your time and energy with us.  You really are magic and I wish nothing but the best for you.

Alayne Kay Christian is an award-winning children’s book author and a certified life coach. Her picture book Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa (Blue Whale Press, LLC) received the Mom’s Choice Awards gold medal and an IPPY Awards silver medal. Alayne’s Sienna, the Cowgirl Fairy chapter book series launches in April 2017 with the first book, Sienna, the Cowgril Fairy: Trying to Make it Rain (Spork an imprint of Clear Fork Publishing). Alayne is the creator and teacher of a picture book writing course, Art of Arc: How to Write and Analyze Picture Book Manuscripts. In the spring of 2016, Alayne and her husband sold their home in the Dallas, Texas area and became nomads as full-time RVers and part-time sailors.

Websites and blog links.
Alayne’s Website:

Butterfly Kisses for Grandma and Grandpa Website:

Clear Fork Publishing:


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this interview. It was wonderful to learn more you, Alayne. I can't imagine all the experiences you must have living on an RV. I am looking forward to reading SIENNA when it comes out in April. And most importantly, I feel blessed to have met you both and the rest of our Spork Sisters

    1. Thanks, Jenna. It’s quite an adventure living on an RV – I’m loving every minute of it! I’m happy I’ve met you as well.

  2. This is great! I enjoyed reading the interview and learning more about Alayne :) Hooray for the Spork Sisters!!!

  3. Fun interview. I am still struggling to find time to finish Alayne's course -bit it is amazing so far.

  4. Laura - what a fabulous interview featuring my fellow Spork Sister, Alayne! I am so excited to read Alayne's "Siena" series! I am taking the Art of Arc course...all I can say it that Alayne is amazing! Love live the Spork Sisters!

    1. Thank you for all your kind words, Melissa. I'm so lucky to know you! I'm looking forward to reading your book as well.

  5. I can attest that Alayne gives the BESt critiques! So glad to see her being published again.

  6. This was so much fun to do. I very much enjoyed getting to know Alayne better!

    1. Thank you, Laura. I appreciate you inviting me to be on your blog. And I'm grateful you helped me troubleshoot problems with commenting ;-)