Chris Stralyn – This Time You Lose

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

This Time You Lose is an intense read. It is the terrifying story of Lisa Kaamp, who operates a small childcare business out of her home in the sleepy little town of Nogeksum, Michigan. Highly respected and known for going the extra mile for her daycare kids, Lisa thought she had handled every daycare emergency possible.

But nothing prepared her for the nightmare she now faced. Lisa awakes one morning to find herself bound and gagged, four strange men in her home, and the daycare children being held hostage in the next room. Terrorized by her captors as the authorities work to meet the ransom deadline, she tries negotiating with the men for the release of the children, and soon realizes that at least one of them has no intention of letting anyone go. With the deadline quickly approaching, Lisa must do the unimaginable to protect the children and get everyone out alive.

Tell us something about yourself.

I never intended to be a writer. Short-order cook, security guard, safety officer, childcare provider, and teacher were all titles I’d worn – but never writer. Then I entered an essay contest for “The Worst Vacation Ever” and won. Writing became my new hobby, and soon I had several articles in print with local publications. This was followed by a short story, The Khaki Pants, which was published by RDR Publishing in an anthology that went on to sell over a million copies.

A suspense thriller was my next undertaking, and in 2008 This Time You Lose was named a finalist in the TNBW Strongest Start Novel Competition. Four months later it earned the distinction of being a TNBW Readers Choice Top Ten Novel, and has remained on the Top Ten list ever since.

I continue to work full time, raise a family, and occasionally put pen to paper in my endeavor to appease the Muse within. I live in Michigan with my husband and family.

What inspired you to write this book?

Years ago, a neighboring community was plagued with a series of home invasions. A childcare provider myself at the time, I wondered what would happen if one of these invasions occurred in a childcare home. A woman home alone, caring for up to a dozen children in a deserted, middle-class neighborhood made the perfect target for one of these invasions – and thus my story was born.

How did you choose the title?

I changed the title of this book numerous times as I wrote, edited, and then rewrote all or parts of it. Originally, I’d titled it Daycare Nightmare, then Every Parent’s Nightmare. However, some of my first test readers were men, and they pointed out those titles could pigeon-hole it as a woman’s book. They noted that while they really liked the story, with either of those titles, they would never have picked it up off the shelf. So… I gave it a lot of thought and finally settled on the title This Time You Lose – which is actually a line of dialog in the story.

What obstacles did you encounter in getting this book published? How did you overcome them?

The first draft was completed in 6 months, but it took another year and a half of editing and rewriting to get it to the point where I felt confident sending it out. After many, many, many rejections I finally got an agent in New York. She sent it out to all the major publishers – who rejected it, but offered constructive comments. I then reworked the story based on their comments and my agent resubmitted it. This time most of the publishers really liked it, but still turned it down. My agent explained that it had more to do with the current economy than the writing….the big publishing houses just weren’t taking many chances on unknown authors right now. She suggested shelving it for a year or so, and trying it again later. So I put it away for awhile. Then after much thought and research, I decided not to wait. I didn’t NEED a big publishing company to get my book out there. I could do it myself. So I decided to self publish, and went with a print-on-demand publishing company. In less than two months I had my finished book in my hands. Of course 100% of the marketing is also in my hands, and that has proved to be more difficult than writing the original story.

Do you have any writing rituals?

My only writing ritual is copious amounts of coffee – and Tootsie-roll pops! If I’m writing in the morning, I need LOTS of coffee. If I’m writing in the evening, I require a tootsie-roll pop in my mouth at all times. Oh, and editing requires potato chips. J

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

None of my characters are named for real people. I just used names I liked, that were dissimilar enough to keep them straight in my head.

Did you learn anything from writing and publishing this book? What?

Writing is the easy part, and the most fun. Editing is hard. Getting published is tough – even with an agent. Marketing is by far the most difficult part of the whole process.

If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?

I would try to have a specific time & place available to me for the purpose of writing, editing, etc. Much of this book was written in the car, in the stands, even in the bathroom. (the only room in the house with a lock on the door!) As a working mom, the distractions were constant. A nice private island with a palm tree would be perfect!

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I love suspense thrillers. I also like comedy, and true crime, and horror.., hmmm, I guess I like just about everything except romance and vampires!

I grew up reading Stephen King, and continue to do so. I am currently reading James Patterson and Dan Brown

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I am currently spending most of my spare time marketing this book. However, I do have my next 2 books planned in my head. One will be another suspense thriller, with a writer as the protagonist. The other will be an anthology of real life stories – more of a humor collection.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Don’t give up on your dream. Join a writers critique group – in person or online. Step back from your work occasionally and really consider what others say about what you’ve written, BUT never let others tell you that you can’t do it. Keep plugging away, and don’t be afraid to put your work out there.

Who is the perfect reader for your book?

My book is perfect for those who like an intense read. It keeps the reader on edge and tense all the way through. Not for the faint of heart!

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Readers can learn more about me, This Time You Lose, and related products at any of the sites below.

Facebook fan page: This Time You Lose Fan Page
Twitter: @chrisstralyn