Monday, July 16, 2012

Put Your Hands Together for....

Charissa Taylor Lees!

Welcome to Home school Authors!  Would you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in a close knit pastor's family of five kids. I was homeschooled from kindergarten through high school and loved every part of it. Next, I attended Philadelphia Biblical University (PBU), where I studied Bible and Communication. In order to help pay for college, I joined the Army National Guard. Now there's an experience! After I graduated college I was totally unsure what I should do. I was in a meeting at our church and they were once again talking about building a youth center some day. I realized no one was ever going to actually do it, so after a long couple of chats with God, I decided to try. From that, came the Solid Rock Youth Center, of which I am still the Executive Director. In the middle of that, I was called on to serve a tour in Iraq with my Guard unit. My future husband would serve the tour with me, despite coming back from a different tour only months before. When I came home, I went back to PBU and earned my Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership. The week after I graduated, Shawn and I got married. It was a busy year! We have now been married for two years and I have finished serving my nine years with the military.

What was your favorite part about being homeschooled?
An easier question, might be what didn't I like! I have quite a few favorite parts about homeschooling, but if I narrow that down, I think one of  my favorite parts, was being about to learn about a favorite subject for as much as I wanted and being able to learn about it across other subjects. For instance, my history turned into a geography project, which then became a paper for my writing. Meanwhile, I did as little math as possible! But even when I had a hard time grasping it, we were able to change tracks and I took business math rather than calculus. So, even on subjects I didn't enjoy, we still found a way to make learning a great experience.

What inspired you to start writing?
Being homeschooled! Seriously. The geography project that turned into a writing project was my first taste of creative fiction writing. I give total credit to my mom. I wasn't great at school like my brother was, so my mom found creative ways for me to figure out what I liked to do. She discovered that when I made my island for geography I had amused myself by naming all the towns a certain way and giving it a complex history. She encouraged me to write one of my three page papers on it. It turned out to be five pages. The next one was thirteen. I found when I started writing this way, rather than just repeating facts, I had tons of ideas!

What inspired your book The Guardian Star's True Mark?
The Guardian Star's True MarkI think I was working on this book my whole life. The Guardian Star's True Mark was biased completely on the main characters Tommy and Kiliki. Tommy is a real person and Kiliki is me. I always thought that pirates were fascinating and would make a great story. Hence, their setting was in place. I knew I wanted Kiliki to have a brother, because I am so close to mine, so family became a vital part of the story. I wanted a story where Tommy and Kiliki could finally be together, so I took all those elements and the book was born. I was also reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Linda Chaikin, and realized that her main male character was a lot like Tommy. I figured if a published author could have a character that was so much like mine, I had nothing to lose by writing Tommy's story!

What is it about?
At its heart, it is about finding and fighting for your family and God fighting for you as He marks you as His own child. Kiliki grew up in a house where she really felt unloved. Her only true friend is her maid and her little sister. So, when her parents force her to marry to secure their own place in society and be quiet about it, she decides it is time to get away. She stows away on a ship headed for anywhere but her home town. What she doesn't know is the ship she has stowed away on is The Guardian Star, ship of the infamous Black Panther. The Black Panther is known to hit more pirate ships than he does merchants and he is equally hated by both. Tommy is the pirate captain's name and he is on a mission of his own. His inheritance has been claimed by his uncle and unless he can find a painting and prove his own claim, his uncle will steal everything. Tommy is less than pleased to discover his stowaway, but Kiliki is terrified. Not only is she on the ship of a well known pirate, but one of his crew members seems to be searching for her! If her parents find her, she will be forced into the loveless marriage. But this crew member holds a secret about her past that will change everything she knows. She and Tommy soon realize the only one they can trust is God and whatever destiny He has planned for them, because it certainly isn't what they thought!

Where can people get it?
The easiest way is to go to the book section of my website. I have links to all my books there. 
I have both ebooks and books.

What was your most rewarding moment as a writer?
My most rewarding moment is hearing about those who have read the book and how it has helped or changed them. A close second would be holding The Guardian Star's True Mark in my hands for the first time. It was so amazing to see Tommy and Kiliki's names in writing with a full book cover. I have lived with these characters for so long, to finally give them a real book was amazing.

Do you have any final thoughts?
Thank you so much for interviewing me! This was fun! I love talking about homeschooling and writing. My life would be drastically different without both. I've always said that the best decision my parents could have made for me was homeschooling me. It took me places I would never have imagined and it gave me the freedom and ability to fall into worlds where anything is possible with characters I know as well as my own family. I'm eternally grateful that God lets me write every day just because I love it. I am always writing a new story and I can't wait to see what happens next just as much as the readers! My favorite genres are action/adventure romance and fantasy. Although, I admit right now I am working on a Revolutionary War trilogy. I pray that my writing gives those that read it an incredible journey into the worlds and with the  people I live with everyday, but more so, that they can see the God that loves them in this world and wants to place His mark on them. I love to hear what people thought of my books and what may have impacted them, so please go to my website or Facebook  and talk to me!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story Charissa! Your book sounds very intriguing. It's nice to now I am not the only one who thinks pirates make great characters and stories. :)