I’d like to introduce Chana Keefer, self-described in her Twitter bio as a
“Jesus freak, wife, mom to 4, author of The Rapha Chronicles: THE FALL: Rapha, Lucifer’s former BFF, has a story to tell.” My first contact with Chana occurred a couple of months before her July release of THE FALL. She asked for help promoting her “Christmas in July” launch and I did my small part to let others know about her book. Since then it has soared to Amazon bestseller status in two categories and I’ve invited her to share her journey from unpublished to bestseller.
Welcome, Chana, and thanks for taking time to be with us today!
I read in the back of your book about a spiritual encounter that inspired you to write THE FALL. Would you please share a little about this with readers?
In the Summer of 2007, I was doing my morning prayer time and God kinda stopped me in my tracks by whispering to my heart, “What do you want?” I was so overwhelmed by His presence and love, I couldn’t think of a darn thing. The huge prayer list was out the window as everything—EV-ER-Y-THING—just paled in comparison. Finally, it struck me that this amazing goodness, love and generous grace that was GOD, didn’t fit with much of what I knew from the Old Testament. Therefore, I started asking questions. It was as if I grasped the tail of a comet as my 4 decades of biblical understanding just lit up and
suddenly made sense.
What followed was about 40 days of waking each morning around 3 a.m. with a new, mind-boggling realization that put me on my face to ask, research and write like mad trying to catalogue this stuff that blew my mind. Suddenly the love of God and blood of Jesus took on a very literal understanding and vitality. I was falling madly in love with my Savior all over again and running as fast as I could spiritually to try to keep up with whole thoughts that just wedged their broad shoulders into my brain.
At the end of the whirlwind 40 days I had about 250 pages of journaling and revelations. My hubby and another author friend both said, “This needs to be a novel.” I, in my deep faith replied, “Yeah, but I’m not up to THAT!” Obviously, God had other plans. Another month went by and I had a detailed summary of each chapter. After that, the first draft, re-writing, etc. etc. until 3 years later, a finished novel—the first mountain range of several ;).
After the initial inspiration, did you ever run into difficulties with the writing process? If so, how did you work through them?
The hardest hurdles were when I would get back notes from our author friend who was excited about the project and had been an encourager from the start. He would say things like “Excellent! You’ve created a world with complex characters. This has the potential to be the Screwtape Letters of this generation… but … ” and he would then list the issues that needed to be addressed. He was that professor you love to hate who forces you to dig deeper and really do your best work. But man, there would always be a couple days of tears as I stared at another six months, at least, of rewriting time. But I am SOOO grateful now.
Also, during the last rewrite, I hit a wall in a section with Cain & Abel as pre-adolescents. I was grinding and grinding away every day but feeling like I was burying the story—perhaps ruining it. There is a Starbucks pal who called me outside the shop one day to view a huge hawk on top of the telephone pole. “Put something about a bird in there,” he quipped. Sure enough, I did just that and suddenly I was over the hump and the rest of the rewrite kinda flowed.
Once you finished the first draft, how long did it take you to rework, rewrite, revise?
After the first draft, there were about three more major rewrites plus editing I thought would never end. I’m kinda a perfectionist that way, though my housekeeping skills tend to say otherwise. All-in-all, it was about two more years of revisions.
I hired one editor who helped perfect, polish and instruct me that there is to be a space after … But I also had taken advice from my hubby and the aforementioned author friend so the story itself was in excellent shape.
You used Intermedia Publishing Group to release your title. How did you decide on this company and what has your experience been so far?
I chose Intermedia because I was having a hard time finding a traditional publisher willing to take a chance, not only on a first-time author, but on a rather controversial book. It had stretched the hell out of me and had the potential to be an equal-opportunity offender both to those in and out of the church. (Have you noticed He’s not a tame lion?) Therefore, we self-published through Intermedia since we were inexperienced in marketing and distribution and half of what they promised to do was to stay with me after publishing to handle that end of things.
I was and am VERY pleased with the actual book published through Intermedia. It’s beautiful and formatted well since the person over that part of the process had worked with Simon and Schuster. However, the marketing and distribution was where things broke down. In a way it was a good thing because I had to jump into those icy waters and learn, but things have been difficult since they declared bankruptcy in early August. I’ve been scrambling trying to take over the online marketing accounts while frustrated that any monies generated by my huge promotion in July—the Christmas In July “$15=$500” marketing—are tied up in bankruptcy court. However, it’s just one more growing pain in the path. It’s worth doing, so we keep moving forward.
Could you please tell us a little about the process of promotion, how you came up with “$15=$500” for your launch day?
I trained for a couple months with Peggy McColl who had devised the partnering with others to create a fantastic prize package for one day to shoot my novel out of the weeds on Amazon. She has done this with several of her own titles and has trained folks for years with her Bestseller Program. In all, it was about 4 ½ months of focused effort and internet marketing.
Will you release spin-off titles to THE FALL? If so, tell us a little about the next book and when it will be released.
Yes, I plan to do at least three more titles in The Rapha Chronicles series. The next one leads up to and through Noah and Sodom & Gomorrah. I’m hoping to release it in 2014. At the moment, I’m polishing my beloved firstborn novel One Night With a Rock Star, a love story about a good, country-bred gal who meets the rock star of her dreams and worlds collide. It’s modern and edgy yet filled with fun and country charm. I’m hoping to release it direct to Kindle within the next month. Here is a link to something I posted today about God blowing me away with the gift of writing this novel (the gift of writing in general) during an especially trying time: http://alturl.com/oikme
Thanks, Chana, for spending time with us today!
Do you have questions for Chana? Do you have a story to tell about your own publishing experience? Please tell us in a comment!
Chana Keefer–author of THE FALL (Rapha Chronicles #1)
FB: The Rapha Chronicles
BOOK TRAILER for THE FALL (Rapha Chronicles #1) : http://alturl.com/qescu
Amazon link: The Fall on Amazon
Barnes & Noble link:http://bit.ly/VF7VR2