Friday, April 16, 2010

Interview with Tristi Pinkston and Review of Secret Sisters and . . . GIVEAWAY! Win Tristi's book!

Tristi Pinkston is a stay-at-home mom, homeschooler, media reviewer, obsessive blogger, editor, author, and headless chicken. She's married to her first and only boyfriend, Matt Pinkston, and together they have four adorable children--Caryn, Ammon, Joseph, and Benjamin.

Tristi is a regularly featured presenter at the annual LDStorymakers Writers Conference and enjoys helping others learn how to fine-tune their writing skills. She also gives presentations on literacy, the Hole in the Rock pioneers, and the importance of honoring the talents you've been given.

Tristi is the author of three historical fiction novels and one contemporary mystery. "Secret Sisters" is her first novel with Valor Publishing Group.

"I was thoroughly enthralled and captivated by the characters in this book. Over-the-top and completely lovable, Ida Mae and her counselors/co-horts resort to any means to magnify their callings. I laughed out loud in places and had a hard time putting this book down. I'm so excited that there are four more books to come!" Michele Ashman Bell

If you don't believe me, here are what other people are saying about Secret Sisters. . .

"Pinkston has created a vivid assortment of over-the-top, multi-dimensional characters, while carefully adding enough depth to endear them to the reader. The plot is pure whimsy with an unexpected twist at the end that will keep you scratching your head until the final page-turn. Pinkston has done a fine job of hitting the comedy and drama buttons while tugging on the heartstrings as well." - L.C. Lewis

"While Secret Sisters does include a mystery, it is not the focus of the story. The zany antics of Ida Mae and her cohorts will keep you laughing throughout the entire book. Tristi also includes some real life lessons throughout the book. I finished the story feeling uplifted and happier, and I think you will too. It's a quick, entertaining read, and I highly recommend it. It's definitely going on my shelf of books to keep and read again and again." - Kimberly Job

"Tristi's books are always a treat and I'm guaranteed a good read. This is the first fiction/mystery of Tristi's that I've read. She's an accomplished writer of historical fiction and those will continue to be among my favorite books. I'm not usually a fan of mysteries, but this light and amusing story provided me with an enjoyable few hours." - Karen Clark

"I have to admit that even though I've served in a few Relief Society presidencies, I've never taken my job quite this seriously. We could all learn a thing or two. Putting aside all the illegal acts Ida Mae and her presidency participated in, they really did know how to serve and watch out for the women in their stewardship. I feel a new motivation to personally maximize my own calling." - Kimberly Coates

I had a chance to interview Tristi about her new book. Here's what she had to say.

M.B.: You seem to have a real affinity for these characters. Are they based on someone you know? What is it that makes them so lovable?

Tristi: They're based on themselves. These little ladies popped into my head perfectly formed, with all their own personality quirks and their ways of looking at the world, and all I've done is sit and listen to them. I think it's their "realness" that makes them so lovable.

MB: What's next for these three ladies? Have you got a sequel in the works?

Tristi: "Secret Sisters" is the first in a series of five, so there will be four sequels. The titles are: "Ida Mae Rides Again" (August 2010) "She Wore a Yellow Girdle" (March 2011) "Targets in Ties" (August 2011) and "...And Something Blue" (March 2012)

M.B.: I'm sure I'm not the only one that wants to know this, but, you get more done in a day than any ten people I know. How many hours of sleep do you get a night?

Tristi: Not very many. :) I should make a New Year's Resolution ... but it's not New Year's.

M.B.: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Tristi: I wrote a little story when I was five years old, about a dog named Sue who wanted to be a ballerina. I loved how I could “see” the story in my mind while I was writing it, like peeking into another world through a window. I can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t want to write – it came with me, I guess.

M.B.: What is your writing and educational background?

Tristi: I was homeschooled through high school, and then took some writing courses through BYU Independent Study on the college level. I’m very much a self-taught person. My parents handed me books, I read ‘em, and then I started finding my own books to read and do to this day. Any subject I find interesting, I’ll read about. As to my writing background, I’ve been writing pretty much my whole life, from depressing poetry to failed attempts at fantasy until I finally found the two genres that match me – historical fiction and cozy mysteries.

M.B.: What makes you passionate about writing?

Tristi: I feel the most like myself when I’m writing. It keeps me grounded and centered. If I go for too long without it, I start to have withdrawals. Sometimes I shake. Not really … but it feels like it.

M.B.: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Tristi: I sent it in to one publisher who liked it and asked for a rewrite. I sent it in again, and they had it for over a year before deciding it wasn’t a romance. Huh? I never told them it was a romance. It was a historical fiction. But they decided to reject it because it wasn’t romantic enough to be a romance. Okay …

Then I sent it to another publisher, not knowing that they would ask for some money to help fund the printing. They loved it, but I didn’t have the money.

Then I heard from Granite Publishing, and I went in to meet with them. We signed a contract, and “Nothing to Regret” was born. I also published “Strength to Endure” with them before we parted ways.

M.B.: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Tristi: Sure, I’ve been discouraged. In fact, after the second publisher told me they needed me to fork over some money, I went to bed and cried for two hours. But then I did what I always do – I got mad, I got out of bed, I went to an all-night Kinko’s and ran off four more copies of the manuscript, and did a mass submission. That’s when I found Granite. If I’d stayed in bed, I might not be a published author today.

Life brings disappointment and discouragement. There’s no way to avoid it. But it’s what we do with that discouragement that makes us or breaks us.

M.B.: What is your writing schedule like?

Tristi: I do most of my writing late at night or on the weekends. Being a busy mom and working for Valor, I fit the writing in wherever I can. But my characters make it easy. I just sit down and open my document, they start to talk, and I just transcribe what they say. They’re great that way.

M.B.: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is
good enough to write a book about it?

Tristi: Oh, wow. That could be a whole ‘nother blog post. My ideas have come from a wide variety of sources. “Nothing to Regret” was a dream. “Strength to Endure” came to me in Relief Society. “Season of Sacrifice” was a family history, and “Agent in Old Lace” began off a news story but ended up completely different from the first idea.

M.B.: When did the idea for this book first come to you?

Tristi: It was in the middle of the night, during a conversation with my husband. He was discouraged because a sister in his care as a home teacher felt as though she was being spied on when our stake president asked the home teachers to take stock of how much food storage everyone had. I said, “What if home teachers and visiting teachers really did spy on people?” We sat and talked about it for a good hour and gave ourselves the giggles. By the time I woke up the next morning, the characters were in my brain, ready to tell their story.

M.B.: What do you hope readers will get from this book?

Tristi: I hope they have fun. My first three books are more serious, dealing with moments in history, but I hope “Secret Sisters” makes people laugh and truly enjoy themselves. We need to appreciate life more.

M.B.: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit
down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline

Tristi: My historicals were outlined in that I would have a time line in front of me, with the major events of that historical event on it. I would then decide where my character would be at each point in that history. Then I sat down and let it flow. With “Secret Sisters,” though, it’s totally been by the seat of my pants. I let the characters off their leash, and they run with it. Then I go through and make sure all the loose ends are tied up.

M.B.: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Tristi: I stand up, walk away, and do something else. I can’t try to force it, or it takes even longer to come. Most of my writer’s block comes from being too tired, and so when I rest, it comes back.

M.B.: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when
you are writing?

Tristi: I can write through kids and television – I’ve learned to block those sounds out. But I can’t concentrate if there’s contention, so the kids have to be happy. I can’t listen to music at all while I’m writing. I prefer music with lyrics, and I like to sing along, and I can’t write and sing at the same time. Therefore, no music.

M.B.: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?

Tristi: If I’m writing a historical, before I ever sit down to write, I do a ton of research. I also watch movies set in that era and get a feel for the clothes, manners, and how things looked back then. Very often, little things I see or read will spark off whole subplots. For “Secret Sisters,” I just wait for the little ladies to start talking. And they do talk … a lot … about everything, and not just their story.

M.B.: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?

Tristi: A great many people have come into my life and said a little something or done a little something to shape me into who I am today. I don’t know if I can really narrow it down – they range from grandparents and parents to other authors to readers –but each of them have been so appreciated.

M.B.: Do you use a critique group during the writing process? Why or why not?

Tristi: I didn’t use a critique group for my first four novels. I didn’t have access to one at the start, and then I wasn’t sure I could fit one in to my schedule. But right at the same time I started writing “Secret Sisters,” I was invited to join a critique group with Keith Fisher, Heather Justesen, Nichole Giles, and Kimberly Job. I love the friendship and the support, and I love how each person brings a different perspective to the table and they each tell me something different to work on. I wish I’d had them in 2002!

M.B.: Which of your books is your favorite, and why?

Tristi: Each book represents who I was at the time I wrote it, so it’s hard to say. I learned a lot about writing with “Nothing to Regret,” and “Strength to Endure” proved that I wasn’t a one-hit wonder – that I really could be a writer. “Season of Sacrifice” is the most personal to me, because it’s the true story of my ancestors. “Agent in Old Lace” was my first step out of the historical mold, so it was ground-breaking for me in its own way. I would have to say that “Secret Sisters” has brought me the most joy in the writing.

M.B.: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to
have their manuscripts become books in print?

Tristi: Keep at it, listen to constructive criticism, and never be afraid to learn and grow. There is no such thing as being the best you can be – it’s a process, and you should never stop reaching and climbing.

M.B.: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?

Tristi: You can find all of my books on Just do a search for my name and they’ll all pop up.

MB: What is something about you that no one knows?

Tristi: That's a hard question, because I'm a very open person. The only things I hide are the things that are too personal to share. Let's see ... In 1991, I spent two weeks in Russia and got home about three weeks before the coup.

MB: What's your favorite part of writing and being an author?

Tristi: I really love bringing new worlds and new ideas to life. And when it comes to the Secret Sisters, it's been so much fun to hold on to their apron strings and go along for the ride!

M.B.: Any final words you would like to share?

Tristi: I’m completely awesome and everyone should try to be just like me when they grow up. Or like Michele. Can’t go wrong either way.

Email Tristi
Tristi's Blog: Tristi Pinkston, LDS Author
Tristi's Website:
Valor’s site:
Valor’s blog: (I do a weekly Writing Tip on Tuesdays)



Miss Breeze said...

WOW!!! Am I really the first one!! I'm so excited to have read the interview, I've heard a lot from a friend about Tristi, but haven't read anything of hers yet, although Secret Sisters is loudly calling my name. I hope I win a copy of her book. Now I'm off to go mention it on my blog!!

Miss Breeze said...

Made a post about this on my blog, and here's the link.

Rebecca Talley said...

I love the last comment :) Great interview, Michele. I love Tristi and her books, especially Secret Sisters. Ida Mae is da bomb.

kristi said...

I would love to be a part of the contest. THANKS!

chris weigand said...

Great interview. It's nice to see that I'm not the only person that my characters talk to. It still amazes me how they can take control of the story.

Michele Ashman Bell said...

Therein lies the magic, don't you think? To another author, that's what writing is all about. To anyone else, it's called a psychotic episode.

Sue said...

Secret Sisters sounds like a great book. I try to buy one at a Barnes and Noble and they didn't have it. I would love to win a copy.

Sue said...

Secret Sisters sounds like a great book. I would love to win a copy.

Taffy said...

Good interview! Tristi makes me happy.

Taffy said...

I thought I was a follower but I wasn't. Now I am!

Taffy said...

Here is where I posted the contest:

Jennifer said...

I love winning books, especially ones that look as good as this one. Also, added your blog to my Google Reader as well as follower.

Krista said...

Great interview. I got to know a lot more about Tristi! Thanks!

One Cluttered Brain said...

Wow Michelle, how do you get the chance to interview such rocking people on your blog? Tristi is an all around rockstar!!!

Well, I don't want to take any chances away from the first gal that entered--Miss Breeze and I go WAY back...I'm thinking of getting that book at the conference anyway when I go NEXT week.

Miss Breeze deserves to win so this IS NOT an entry to win Tristi's book just a cheerleader for Miss Breeze and Tristi who I will be getting HER book--I have special book money I saved for this conference...:)

See YOU at the conference!

L.T. Elliot said...

I loved Secret Sisters. It was just the lighthearted, joyful read that I've been in need of. Awesome interview, Michelle! I have a copy of this book but I still had to comment because it's so awesome. =]

Elizabeth Morgan said...

I think tristi is such an awesome author. Her books are so amazing.

Lisa And Randy said...

I am looking forward to reading Tristi's latest book, and enjoyed reading the interview. Thanks so much for the wonderful writing, and providing books that are uplifting and ones which my girls can read also.

Lisa And Randy said...

I am heading over to make a post on my blog at

berlinwritergirl said...

Tristi is such an inspiration! I can't wait to read this book!

elizabeth said...

Thank you for inviting to participate in this contest! I'm so excited! Tristi sounds a lot like me with her inspiring thoughts as well as having kids around that don't fight to be able to write.

Michele, thank you for posting this!! :)

Todd, Katrina & Kyler said...

Secret Sisters sounds like a great book. I would love to win a copy


Todd, Katrina & Kyler said...

Made a post about this on my blog.


Abi said...

Cool. I'd love to win this book. Thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Abi said...

Michele Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving the nice comment.

You asked if I do book reviews. Yes! Yes! Yes! I do.

I couldn't find an e-mail address to personally reply. so I'm replying this way. Thanks.

Rachel said...

I can't wait to read her new book! I love her other books, real eye opening. Thanks for the interview!

Michele Ashman Bell said...

Laura left a post on Tristi's site to be entered into the contest.

Anne Patrick said...

Great interview ladies! Secret Sisters sounds like a wonderful read, Tristi.

Michelle, I've given you an award. Visit my blog to pick it up.

Camy Rosewood said...

This book sounds so cool. I can't wait to read it!

Cheri J. Crane said...

This sounds like an awesome book and future series. You go, Tristi!!! =)