I learned about Tamara and her publishing company, CrossRiver Media Group at the Heart of America Christian Writers Network Conference
in 2011. WordSowers member Angela D. Meyer pitched her book at that conference and CrossRiver Media published “Where Hope Starts” in 2013.
Lionhearted Kat: Tamara, we’ve learned you started in the writing world as a newspaper journalist and now have your own publishing company. How did that happen?
Tamara: I have always loved to read. As a child I read everything I could get my hands on. I devoured books as fast as I could get them and spent every morning reading the back of the cereal box over breakfast. So when it came time to choose a college major, I knew it needed to have something to do with words. I also grew up as a news junkie… watching the evening news every night with my mom. By the time I graduated from high school, journalism seemed like a natural fit.
After fifteen years in the television and newspaper industry, I decided it was time to use my skills for God. While I enjoyed working in news and being on the frontlines of history, I felt called to do more. I started attending a local Christian writer’s group and felt called to help authors find their voice and an audience for their words. The Lord began opening doors and a few months later, CrossRiver was born.
Lionhearted Kat: Tell us a little about your role in your publishing company and your plans for the future.
Tamara: Since founding the company in 2010, I have had a hand in just about every facet of producing our book. Part of my newspaper job included writing and designing special sections, magazines and a couple of books. All of that experience taught me how to put everything together, start to finish, including the printing process. At first, I did everything myself. Now, I have several freelancers that I work with who help me with editing, proof reading and cover design, but I still have a hand in just about every stage of the process.
Lionhearted Kat: We know there are challenges in being a business owner, but what do you find the most exciting in your daily work with CrossRiver Media?
Tamara: I honestly enjoy just about every part of the creative process – from editing to book design and layout. My favorite part, though, is working with new authors to help them share the words God has given them with others. There is nothing quite like being able to tell a writer, their book is on the printing press…and that they are now officially an author.
Lionhearted Kat: I know you are big on social media—when you work with new authors, what is the first thing you tell them about building a platform?
Tamara: The big thing I preach is consistency. If you have a bunch of social media sites, but don’t do anything with half of them, you give your fans and possible publishers the idea that you don’t follow through on projects. Even if you are just publishing something weekly or bi-weekly, it is better than having a site that sits there unused month after month. Be consistent. And realize that you don’t have to be on every social media site available. I recommend that authors choose three sites that they feel comfortable with…and stick with them. If that is a website, Twitter and Facebook, that is fine. If they want to have a Pinterest account as well, that is okay, but they need to know what their limitations are…and not become over-committed. One other tip I offer is to make sure all of their addresses agree. CrossRiver’s addresses are www. CrossRiverMedia.com, Facebook.com/ CrossRiverMedia, Twitter.com/ CrossRiverMedia, and Pinterest.com/CrossRiverMedia. With CrossRiverMedia in every address, we can be sure our fans will be able to find us no matter what platform they choose….and no matter what new social media sites come up in the future. Let’s face it, Facebook is unlikely to maintain its current popularity. Something will eventually replace it and when it does, our fans will know they can find us at CrossRiverMedia.
Lionhearted Kat: What are you writing about these days?
Tamara:Unfortunately, I don’t get to do a lot of writing. That is my one disappointment with choosing to become a publisher. I just don’t have the time to put pen to paper myself. The only writing I do right now are press releases for our new books and copy for our social media and websites. However, I do have an idea for a Bible study rolling around in my head. I hope to start working on it this summer.
On a personal note:
Lionhearted Kat: Did you have one particular teacher that helped shape your writing?
Tamara: I had a fantastic English teacher in high school Mrs. Brown, who encouraged me. I wasn’t a prolific writer in high school. I didn’t tackle poetry or try my hand at fiction. I would much rather have been reading, but she saw potential and encouraged me to try my hand at journalism. I fell in love immediately.
Lionhearted Kat: How did your upbringing influence you as a writer?
Tamara: My mom always had a book with her…in fact, sometimes several. She still does. Her love of reading didn’t take hold in me, though, until about the fifth grade. That is when I discovered the Little House on the Prairie series. I nearly wore the set out…reading them over and over again, devouring every word. My mother also instilled in me the love of the news and the understanding of how important it is to know what is going on in the world around us. It was my father who made me realize that today’s news is tomorrow’s history and the importance of making sure I covered my stories with accuracy and integrity. It all combined to make me into a curious writer who digs deep into the subject for the little details.
Lionhearted Kat: We know you are the mother of four kiddos. How do you balance your writing with the needs of wife and mother?
Tamara: It is a delicate balance and one that I have to admit I have not yet mastered. There are many times when I have to take editing with me to ballgames or spend more time in front of the computer screen than I would like. But I am getting better. I work from a home office, so I am here when the kids get home from school. We live very close to their school so I slip over to have lunch with them from time to time, and I am trying to implement a working policy of nine to five… instead of 24/7. Multitasking is the key to my survival… along with a family which is incredibly understanding and helpful.
Lionhearted Kat: Share something about yourself we may not know—something fun.
Tamara: I played just about every sport in high school…including covering second base on the boys baseball team. Now, I get to coach my oldest daughter. I just wrapped up my first year as a Junior High girls’ volleyball and basketball coach. It isn’t something I dreamed of doing, but I’m having a blast!
Lionhearted Kat: How can we pray for you between now and the conference?
Tamara: First of all, thank you for your prayers. The one thing I would like to request is wisdom in knowing what message God would have me bring to the conference and how I can best help the writer’s fulfill the mission He has given them.
*The books shown above are published by CrossRiver Media Group.
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Katherine J. Crawford, author of Capsules of Hope: Survival Guide for Caregivers, is published in sixteen compilations and numerous articles. Known as the Lionhearted Kat, she resides in Omaha, Nebraska. Visit Kat’s website lionheartedkat.com.Read her journal through breast cancer and the loss of her husband: www.caringgiver/visit/org.