Today, I’d like to introduce my first interviewee today, Rayleigh Gray, both a blogger and a writer. Rayleigh is a graduate from homeschool, manages two blogs, and is a columnist for Tap into Your Potential for Pursue Magazine. Her first blog Accelerate the Jesus Movement, is essentially a gas stop for Christians to refresh them throughout the month with thought-provoking posts. Literature Approved is her second blog, where she reviews a variety of books based on Christian morals and a Christian worldview. Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing her about her blogs, writing projects, and reading interests.
Thank you so much for having me Liz! I love reading all of your posts, reviews, and other topics, so I am honored to be able to team up with you and to be featured on your quaint little piece of the internet.
As a get-to-know-you kind of question, if you could eat dinner with anyone (historical, fictitious, or otherwise), who would it be?
Honestly, this is a very tough question. There are so many people who I would love to enjoy dinner with that I’m not sure I could choose only one, but if I must, I’d probably go with either Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn. Simply for the reason that it would certainly make for an entertaining evening!
What are your favorite genres?
Some of my favorite reads are Dystopian, Romance, and classic literature. 17th century poetry also has a special place in my heart, however I haven’t been able to get my hands on much of it.
What are your favorite books in each genre?
Oh, such a hard question! For Dystopian, I’d have to say in regards to best writing, best storyline, and best characters, that my favorite would be The Safe Lands series by Jill Williamson. For Romance, definitely any and all books by both Elizabeth Camden and Jen Turano; specifically, Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth and A Talent for Trouble by Jen. My favorites for classic literature would be Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne and all of Jack London’s books, I’m also incredibly fond of The Great Gatsby. As for poetry, like I said I haven’t been able to read much, but I do enjoy the works of Percy Bysche Shelley.
Who are your favorite authors?
Well, stealing from my answer to the above question, Elizabeth Camden, Jen Turano, Jules Verne, and Jack London. But the favorites that were not mentioned above are Mark Twain and Ted Dekker.
When you read the first chapter of a book, how can you tell if it’s worth reading or not?
Usually for me personally, the first chapter needs to start in the middle of the action or in the midst of a romantic scene. I like to feel a mystery brewing and want to try to figure the story out in the beginning pages (however if I can, I won’t like the book, so the hook needs to hook me, but the story needs to keep me wondering).
How do you find time to read amidst your other projects?
Wow, really, I have no idea! Sometimes I just have to sit down and make myself read and other times its no problem. But usually I have to pencil in the book and chapter I want to read in my schedule so I know I’ll have time for it.
What clichés, tropes, or elements will make you stop reading a book?
Overwhelming, inappropriate romance scenes will drop a book from my hands faster than anything, but there are also things such as too much detail when describing an item (in fiction), inconsistent dialogue amongst characters, and a lame storyline.
What inspired you to start your blogs, Accelerate the Jesus Movement and Literature Approved?
Accelerate the Jesus Movement was started in 2012, the week I came home from summer camp, YFN (Youth For the Nations). The theme that year was Accelerate the Jesus Movement and the reason I named my blog after it was because at that camp was when I discovered my gift for writing and I viewed “Accelerate the Jesus Movement” as the purpose of my gift, hence the title of my writing blog. Literature Approved was started a little less than a year ago simply so I could have a place to move my book reviews to; I had started reviewing books on my first blog but they grew so fast that they started to overtake it, so I gave them their own place.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring blogger, what would it be?
Follow. Read. Comment. And schedule. Following blogs that you are actually interested in reading will keep you interested enough to read and comment on the posts, and that will often get “follow-backs”. Also, many beginning bloggers assume that they must post something every single day in order to attract attention, but that will only keep people from following you because you’ll blow up their emails or blog feed. If you make a schedule and stick to it (ensuring that it remains as flexible as you need it to be), then you’ll show your followers that you have a plan and they’ll be more likely to follow you.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
DON’T BE SCARED OF A MESSY FIRST DRAFT! I know, I know, easier said than done, but trust me, turn off that inner editor until the first draft is finished and just write, typos and grammar problems and all. You’ll thank me after the first draft later!
Speaking of writing, what writing projects are you working on right now?
Currently, I’m not working on any writing projects (college and work have most of my time right now), but I do have some ideas for a story that’s been rolling around in my head for some time now, so I may be starting a book of the Contemporary Romance genre.
Since you’re a columnist for Pursue magazine, would you mind telling us about Pursue and what you write for them?
Of course I wouldn’t mind! Pursue Magazine is an online magazine for teen girls that encourages them to be who they were created to be and to find what is unique and special about themselves. My column is titled “Tap Into Your Potential” and I write different articles that encourage the readers to step out of their comfort zone and discover new things about themselves. The topics are quite diverse, ranging from simple encouragements to how-to’s in approaching something new.
For the readers here, what are three of your favorite Pursue articles you’d recommend reading first?
The first one I would recommend would be “Forgiven & Forgotten; How to Live Burden-Free” which was written by Sarah Tinning, its such an encouraging article that reminds us that once we are forgiven, God no longer holds those sins over our heads, so we shouldn’t either.
The second would definitely be “More Than Me; Beauty Beyond the Physical”, written by Natalie Macek. I’m recommending this one because I believe that all girls, at some point in their life, need to be reminded how beautiful they are and not to believe the lies that our culture throws at them and this particular article is so beautifully written that I am sure it will be a blessing to someone.
The third I recommend is actually going to be one of my own articles, not because I think it’s so outstanding that everyone must read it, but because I feel that the topic I discuss needs to be read and fully grasped in order to fully understand the potential that is placed inside each and every one of us. It is titled “Tap Into Your Potential by Understanding Your Identity” and I really hope that it will encourage many of you.
Thank you so much for the interview, Rayleigh!
And to my readers, what did you think of the interview? What questions did you like best? Who would you like to see interviewed in the future?