Looking to strengthen the relationship between local indie authors, libraries and readers, the Indie Author Project holds a contest every spring to find the best indie-published books. This year, Jefferson County Public Library is thrilled to announce that one of our own, Tasha Christensen, won the 2023 Colorado Indie Author Project Contest for her young adult romance set in the world of marching bands, As You Were.
In addition to cash prizes and promotional opportunities, Christensen is also in the running for National Indie Author of the Year! (To be announced in 2024.)
Born in Minnesota and now residing in Colorado, Christensen is not just a writer but also a mentor to other young writers. JCPL had a chance to chat with the local author to learn more about the contest and how she came to write the book she wished existed when she was a teen.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in Evergreen, Colorado, with my husband, 5- and 7-year-old daughters, two dogs and a fish. When I'm not reading or writing, I have a wide range of hobbies! I enjoy volleyball, video games, hiking, learning languages, travel and board games. I grew up the middle of seven children in Minnesota, where my books are set. I love my home state, but I'm a pretty big fan of the milder winters here in Colorado.
Can you give a little background about your writing journey?
I've wanted to be a writer since I was little, but I didn't start taking it seriously as a career path until my senior year of college. I worked at the campus radio station and had a chance to interview the author of my favorite book growing up. (Ella Enchanted, by Gale Carson Levine, for those wondering!) I was so inspired by her that I started writing the first manuscript I would ever finish, a dystopian retelling of "The Little Mermaid." Writing an entire book was a huge accomplishment, but I had a lot to learn, and that book has never been published.
Was there a particular inspiration/moment when you started working on As You Were?
After years of honing my craft and learning about the book industry, I decided to write a YA book series focusing on characters in marching band. I wanted to create the book I wish I had as a teen, and As You Were was the result. It's full of humor, romance and unabashed geekiness.
Can you talk about the Indie Author Project?
It honestly feels like I applied a long time ago, so I was shocked to learn I was even a 2023 finalist! Not to mention the thrill of becoming the YA winner for all of Colorado — wow. I'm honored and excited to become further involved with libraries as a result of this program. They are essential institutions that have provided so much for me over the years.
How did you find out about the program?
I've had several author friends take part in the Indie Author Project in their various states, including two winners. I loved the idea of libraries lifting up quality indie books and giving their authors opportunities they might not have had without a traditional publisher backing them up.
What advice would you give to our budding writers, the ones who know they have a book in them but aren’t sure if they have what it takes to pull it out?
When it all comes down to it, you have to write. Set aside time to sit down and make it happen. You can plan and outline and fiddle with wording all you want, but that won't get you a completed manuscript. It's incredibly motivating and validating to finish writing your first book. Keep that goal in mind, and allow your first draft to be messy and imperfect. Turn off that voice in your head that insists on everything being perfect. No one has to see what you write yet! This first draft is for you.
The Colorado Indie Author Project is an online publishing community that helps local authors get the recognition they deserve. Aspiring writers can participate in their annual contest each spring. Find additional writing resources, like the Pressbooks Self-Publishing Platform for formatting your own title, or BiblioBoard Libary for discovering more indie-author, online at jeffcolibrary.org/writing.