One of the fun parts about doing a blog on authors is that I get to learn the stories of so many fascinating authors. Today’s guest in My Writing Corner, Christina Strigas, is another one whose story is as interesting as the characters in the fictional tales she writes.
She has also self-published a self-help/poetry book based on her popular quotes that went viral on Twitter. She writes romantic love poetry in a stream of consciousness narrative prose. Her influences are Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Mary Oliver, the Romantics, and Pablo Neruda. Christina Strigas will be releasing The Wanting, an erotic romance novel with The Wild Rose Press, releases today, She will also be rereleasing Crush, a paranormal romance novel on October 13, 2021, with The Wild Rose Press.
She created the popular @ArielPoets on Twitter along with poetry editor and poet, Alexandra Meehan, where they inspire writers and poets to believe in the power of poetry. In her spare time, Christina enjoys foreign cinema, reading the classics, and cooking traditional Greek recipes that have been handed down from her grandmother.
Christina, tell us about your road to publication.
My road to publication has been a challenging one, due to the fact that I am a poet and a novelist. Both have similarities but are somewhat very unique in their own way. I self-published my poetry books through Amazon and Ingram Sparks. My first poetry book was published in 2016 and my latest one, this past summer of 2021. I taught myself everything about self-publishing, hiring illustrators, format specialists, editors, and book cover designers to assist me on my journey. I found a traditional publisher for my two novels, The Wanting and Crush. That road is somewhat easier, in a sense, that you have the publisher and editor guiding you and assisting you along the way.
Recently, the traditional publishing company for my two novels had to shut down for personal reasons, and I gratefully joined The Wild Rose Press Publishing Company. Whether you self-publish or publish with a traditional publishing company, as a writer, you still have to produce a polished final copy that is ready for print.
The most challenging of all my books, was my recent poetry collection, Love & Metaxa. It was accepted and rejected three times, due to various circumstances, and the pandemic. After the third attempt to publish it, it was already uploaded on pre-order with a particular publishing company before they broke the news to me that they were not going to be able to publish my manuscript due to their own personal circumstances and issues. I tried not to take it personally, but I was left high and dry. I had to continue the editing process on my own, with the help of my editor and friend Alexandra Meehan, who was with my every step of the way.
I had to change a few specs on the cover that they designed for me. I had to redo the formatting completely. What I didn’t expect and what I wasn’t told by them is how the “pre-orders” that were sold under their label, were already printed and ordered. To my surprise, and horror at the time, there were sixty copies of my pre-order ordered and shipped on the release date. Hence, after numerous emails to Ingram Sparks, and a slight meltdown, I realized that the old version and the new version of my book were floating around in the universe. It was a stressful time for me, but I survived the chaos. I learned the greatest lesson, if you upload your manuscript on Ingram Sparks for pre-order, you better make sure it is the final copy! In the past, I had never done a pre-order with my other poetry books.
I am proud to say, that from the feedback that I have had from my readers, my self-published copy is turning out to be a well-received book, with a soft cover and a beautiful format design.
What do you feel is the most challenging part of being an author?
The most challenging part of being an author is having the time to write without being interrupted. Also, partaking in all the social media and promoting your books and your brand continuously. I find it draining and lacking in creativity when I have to promote my books. I know I should do more, I know I should ask people to read my books, I know what I have to do, but I would rather use my spare time writing than being on social media. My favorite platform is Twitter. I have met many writers and poets on there and I find it is my best outlet. I still use it to write some thoughts and tweet ideas, but I find it challenging to keep promoting my books. I know my fans and followers like my tweets better than they like my book promotions, so I do it once in a while rather than every day. I find there is not one way of being an author. I prefer to be raw and myself, hence followers will buy my books based off of my unique vision, rather than a tweet of my book with no connection to me. It’s challenging promoting yourself everywhere. I think writers have to choose their favorite platform and focus on that rather than be all over the place and achieve a minimal result.
It’s challenging to be a writer most of all, because our minds never rest. I am thinking of a new novel even as I write my old one.
What do you enjoy about being an author?
The fact is that I live my daily life as a teacher in a public school, and a Course Lecturer for a university. I write books and poetry and I am an author, but I find it hard to enjoy being an author. I find it hard to communicate with people what it feels like to be an author. It gets confusing for me when the lines blur. I don’t live the life of an author because I can’t afford to sit home and write, except when I am off during the summer. I would love to sit at home and write all year long and dedicate my days to writing, but life as we know it is expensive.
I enjoy the parts when people reach out to me and tell me how they are inspired by my writing or loved my book. I am humble when it comes to my work and excited to talk about my writing when people ask and care. I should shout it out loudly that I am a writer but most of the time when people ask me what I do, I say, “I’m a teacher.”
How do you develop characters?
I develop characters by taking mental notes of people I meet, people I have met, and people I will meet. I research names and their meanings. I like how names roll off the tongue. I like how characters are flawed. I like tragic heroes. I am Greek, so I think of all the Greek tragedies ever written and the characters that formed them, created the essence of historical figures we try to decipher today. I research jobs, characteristics, public figures, and places.
I delve deep and even use my own experience from time to time. I remember stories that were told to me from a young age.
I develop characters who I would like to meet, and ones who I would stay away from and are toxic.
I like when my characters have so many imperfections, but are still loved, despite it all.
How do you come up with your plots?
I come up with my plots while I write. The ideas come to me during the writing process and the stream of consciousness awareness. It is as if my mind is visualizing the characters and the scenes as they are being written. I don’t know what will happen from chapter to chapter, but when it comes to my first draft, it is all through stream of consciousness.
What is your latest book and how did you come up with the idea to write it?
My latest book that is coming out on Sept. 27th is an erotic romance novel. It all started when I received a beautiful journal as a gift from one of my students. I opened the journal and started to write a poem, on July 4, 2010. It was 7:45 a.m. and I woke up with a poem in my head. I wrote “I love your soul” on top and the number one for the page number. I flipped to the final page of that journal and I wrote, “New Book Idea : Serena – Teddy” and the first two chapters were hand written poems turned into prose. It started out as a poem and then it turned into love letters, and finally a book. The creative process has no boundaries.
When I started writing this story of Serena and Teddy, I had no idea where it would take me. My imagination ran with it.
I don’t write any outlines when it comes to my novels or poetry books. I go with the flow of the words and the characters. I did know that I wanted to write about two people and how they were destined to meet. I also wanted to write about their sexual awakening happening at the same time. This is not your typical erotic romance novel. I did not follow any formula, but the one guiding my fingertips. I have learned that when it comes to coming up with an idea for a novel, I need to merely write it out and the words will come rather than sit and think about it. I am more of a stream of consciousness type of writer when it comes to both my poems and my books.
My other novel Crush, which is a paranormal romance novel, is also not a typical love story. I wanted to make my vampires unique and so I researched Greek folklore and came up with my own terminology and definitions of vampires. At the time that I was writing The Wanting, Crush was getting rejected left and right. Then one day, in 2012, it was accepted by MuseItUp Publishing.
I worked closely with Lea, the editor, and years later she published The Wanting. She helped me with the editing in both novels and helped me become a better writer, as much as Alexandra Meehan helped me become a better poet.
A writer needs an editor more than she needs coffee!
Tell us about your latest book, The Wanting.
It’s an intimate account of sexual awakening. Between two people with a magnetic pull and connection that leads them to each other. It is an erotic tale of relationships and their internal struggles as told through dialogue with themselves.
One night, Serena and Teddy are out at a bar and they both meet and fall for another person. Serena meets Ben, an attractive eBook writer and Teddy meets Melina, a sexually charged school teacher. The story that unfurls, is a roller coaster ride of two erotic journeys. Questions arise...Are two people meant to be together? What is serendipity? Do soulmates exist?
The Wanting is a book about the confusion between sex and love. It is a modern romance into the mysterious world of sex and the power it holds over our minds.
What’s your next project?
I am working on a few projects at the time. I have a finished poetry book that I am submitting to publishing companies. I am also working on a collaborative poetry book with my poet friends, Alexandra Meehan and Jacquie Prebich. We want to feature all our poems in one book to showcase our different writing styles through similar themes.
Over the course of the summer I started to write a series that I need to edit and rework based on a group of friends and their romantic relationships in foreign cities. I am on Book 1 and Book 2 now. It is the first draft. I am hoping to finish it by next summer.
I also have a full-length manuscript that I have been working on the past couple of years that I keep changing.
As you can see, I have a lot going on at all times and my mind rarely rests.
Here are Christina's buy link and contacts to find out more about her work:
Thank you Christina for being my guest on this week's My Writing Corner. Any questions or comments for Christina?