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Something I Am Not Blog Tour: Author Interview + Giveaway

Something I Am Not Blog Tour 
Welcome to the Blog Tour & Giveaway for Something I Am Not by Cher Gatto, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

Something I Am Not by Cher Gatto Title: Something I Am Not
Author: Cher Gatto
Publisher: Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas
Release Date: January 25, 2019
Genre: Mature Young Adult

A father who never loved him. A woman who stole his worth. A brother he couldn't protect. Where does someone run in the face of his deepest shame?

Billy McQueen works hard to keep his life together ... and concealed. At seventeen, he dreams of an escape from the barroom, his father’s manipulation, and the advances of his father’s girlfriend. However, on his eighteenth birthday, he is introduced to a younger brother he never knew he had. An eight-year-old, barely capable of navigating the distorted and corrupt world of his father’s boxing club. Billy realizes in order to protect his little brother, he can never leave.

After discovering a battered young woman in the back shed of the club, Billy uncovers the true nature of his father's activities. Before he can share it with the sheriff, Billy is kidnapped by his father and sold to a wealthy old maid who imprisons him on her yacht in the Gulf of Mexico. His death is fabricated and his little brother used as leverage for his compliance.

In order to secure his freedom, Billy must fight for it. To save his little brother who is next in line for the slave trade... he must die for it.

PURCHASE LINKS*: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository  

Cher Gatto

Cher Gatto is the award-winning author of Something I Am Not. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and their five teenaged children. Together, she and her husband founded a kids’ ranch in Mexico (www.ranchoelcamino.org) and a recovery ministry (www.recovery-hub.org) based in NJ. Cher also launched the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) NY/NJ chapter to support other writers in her area and currently serves as president.

Visit her website: www.journeywithwords.com and sign up for her newsletter and monthly blog for inspiration and encouragement. Follow her on Instagram @chergatto.

CONNECT WITH CHER: Website | Facebook | Instagram  

Hi Cher! Thank you for taking the time to answer these questions and giving my readers the chance to get to know you and your new book- Something I Am Not- a little bit better. I always like to begin these interviews the same way with something fun… tell us 5 random facts about yourself that we WON’T find in your bio!

Five random facts, huh? I’m a number one (Perfectionist) on the Enneagram which means I’m already evaluating my answers for this and thinking they don’t measure up! I spent my childhood on the back of a horse, usually upside down and backwards. I collected every stray I came across assuming it needed a home—my husband jokes, saying he was the last stray I brought home. While we lived in the desert for ten years, I pumped water into my washing machine, ran a generator for power, and ate rattlesnake and donkey stew (well, not every day… just a few times). I also doused myself in lavender every night to ward off the scorpions. Best ten years ever!

Let’s talk writing! You didn’t start writing until later in life--- how did that come about?

Yep, I never meant to be a writer. It's something that happened to me when I wasn't looking. Our family lived in Mexico developing a horse ranch for kids in poor areas, at-risk youth, and broken families. Our co-workers ran a women’s shelter, and we used the horses to love on them. I say “women’s” shelter, but most were children (13, 14, 15 years old) trying to raise babies of their own. Many of the babies a result of abuse, rape, or incest. Some had been drawn out of trafficking. Their stories tragic and incomprehensible.

About a year after we got on the field, the shelter closed down for a dangerous breach in security. All the girls were sent back to where they came from. We could do nothing. Nothing at all, but watch them go. A few months later, I saw one of the girls at church escorted by her “father.” When our eyes met, the vacancy in hers shattered my heart. I will never forget it. And one day, while I was cleaning a horse corral, I had Billy’s story. Not the whole thing, but a piece of it. Just one distinct scene, actually.

I hid myself away whenever I could for months and wrote furiously. I had no idea how the story would unfold, or even what themes would develop. But three hundred and fifty pages later, I was done. I guess it was all in there, needing to come out. Billy's journey gave me the key to process and heal from things I saw around me but couldn't change. Things that broke my heart.

I needed a different ending—a redemption.

I thought I was done. One story in me, and that was it. But one turned into the next, and now I’m hooked. As of today, I finished my second novel, REGENT (in final edits) and just began Billy's sequel.

What advice or encouragement would you offer those who have found a new (or renewed) love of writing at a later point in life?
Fantastic! I believe the more we’ve lived, the more fodder we have for story-telling. Sometimes life brings us seasons that we never expect. It’s exciting when a new talent or gift is uncovered and we have the courage to explore it. I would say do not be discouraged as the learning curve is steep. It’s a one day at a time thing. It doesn’t happen as quickly as we expect it too.

Also, our writing at any age can make us feel vulnerable and can take captive our identity like nothing else. We expose our insides to the world, and that can be scary. As authors, we experience good days and bad days. Approval and rejection. All of us. We tend to give too much power to a stranger. So we need to be grounded in something more. Something greater that doesn’t bounce our value around like a yo-yo. It makes a huge difference when I start my day with that deeper understanding of who I am.

Something I Am Not is your debut novel… congratulations! What has that experience been like? What was it like seeing your words in print for the first time?

All amazing and wonderful! Being an author, I thought finishing my first book—just finishing it—would be the ultimate accomplishment. Wow. I wrote 350 pages of something. Fifty-seven chapters. One hundred twenty-eight thousand words. Phew. I was done. But then I had to publish it. Rewrites. Edits. Cover design. Formatting. Launching. And off it went to the press. And I held my very first book in my hands! Done-Wow! Nope. I had to write another one and get a contract for that one. Maybe strive for audiobooks … a movie deal… best seller list.

But the thing I’ve come to realize is that the idea of finishing is illusory. There actually is no end. No end to the laundry. No end to the dishes. There is no finish line to working on our marriage or even raising our kids (they’re our kids even at 50!). We don’t brush off the dust and say, “There. I’m done with that.” At least for most things … including writing.

It can all feel a little like MC Escher’s staircase, right? Never really going anywhere. But how much fun we would have in MC’s stairway if we weren’t trying to get to the top. If we were more focused on the journey than the end. We could meet some interesting people. See some amazing sights. And even hang upside down every now and then. Imagine if each day we wrote just to write.

Every single day I have to remind myself of that!

Can you tell us a little bit about Something I Am Not?

Something I Am Not is the story of Billy McQueen, a seventeen-year-old who dreams of escaping his father’s rural Pennsylvania barroom. On his eighteenth birthday, he is given a prostitute for a gift and introduced to a younger brother he never knew he had—an eight-year-old, barely capable of navigating the corrupt world of his father’s boxing club. In order to protect his little brother, Billy knows he can never leave. When he uncovers the true nature of his father's activities and the ring of human-trafficking, he is kidnapped before he can share it and sold by his own father as an escort to a wealthy old maid. His death is fabricated and his little brother used as leverage for his compliance. In order to secure his freedom, Billy must fight for it. But to save his little brother who is next in line for the slave trade, he must be willing to die for it.

Something I Am Not won the ACFW Genesis Award for unpublished works (as Billy) and was contracted with Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas. Though published as a general market young adult, the book’s strongest reader group is women over 40. It’s raw, gritty, and deals with tough topics, but does so discreetly and maintains a Christian worldview without preaching. This makes Something I Am Not a great bridge novel for secular readers as well as Christian.  

What do you hope readers will take away from this book? 

The story is really about never being too far away, too hidden, too broken to be redeemed. Billy’s journey is a spiritual allegory of living under the wrong “father.” Believing the lies and living in the fear of that world. It’s about what happens when he (and any of us) encounters the place he truly belongs, the thread of eternity that was in him all along, and he is called home.

I have found that writers are so often some of the best readers too. If we were to take a look at your own TBR, what might we find there? 

I love the classics—Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, etc.—but lately I’ve been trying to expand my YA reading. I have really enjoyed John Green’s novels as they’re similar in voice to my own. I love his honest portrayal of the existential crisis in the heart of teens, the pressures of youth, and learning to cope in a world that feels upside down.

Thank you again for taking the time to answer my questions. Before we go, can you give us an idea on what we can look forward to next? Any projects you are currently working on that you can share? 

From popular demand, I have begun a sequel to Billy’s story. Although it never called for one and is complete on its own, my readers have asked what happens next. After finishing my second novel, Regent (still in the editing phase), I started Inside, Something, a journey into the healing process of someone (in this case, Billy) salvaged from the slave trade.
I love hearing from you! Please visit me at www.journeywithwords.com! You can watch my book trailers and read a first chapter of my upcoming works. I also write a blog on the “intangibles” of life. Happy reading and writing!

(1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Something I Am Not JustRead Giveaway

Be sure to check out each stop on the tour for more chances to win. Full tour schedule linked below. Giveaway will begin at midnight April 27, 2020 and last through 11:59 PM EST on May 4, 2020. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.


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