Author Interview – Pam Davis

When you give God the reins of your life, you never know where He is going to take you. As a writer, I wanted to share the message that has dramatically changed my own life. I envisioned myself reaching women who, like me, were academics but had missed out on the pivotal truth of God’s grace. I informed God of this vision and trusted Him for direction. The fact that I am now devoting a great portion of my time to creating make-believe stories for young girls, dressing dolls, and creating web games is evidence of both His creativity and sense of humor. Allow me to explain.

Time to crow: What new book or project do you have coming out?

I have one adult non-fiction book and four children’s fiction books coming out in the fall:

Pure Gold: Embracing God’s Grace
Sydney Clair: A Girl ‘n Grace in the 1960’s
Sydney Clair’s Season of Change: A Friendship Story
Mesi: A Girl ‘n Grace in Africa
Mesi’s Season of Change: A Friendship Story

How did you come up with this story? Was there a specific ‘what if’ moment?

My passion is to communicate God’s grace that can be “experientially” known. I had been writing for years in my daily journal for personal discovery. I have had many “what if” moments, where I realized “what if” I would have surrendered my need to be in control and simply believed God’s goodness toward me and reached in faith for his grace. It is these personal discoveries that weave them into fiction story themes.

Every novelist has a journey. How long was your road to publication? How did you find out and what went through your mind?

My road to publication has been a long, long one: twenty years. I wrote and published poetry in high school. At 22 after college, I got serious about writing and honed my craft by taking advanced classes on writing. It was twenty years later, at 42, that I received a publisher’s contract for my books: at least there were five contracts. I certainly would have quit had it not been for the inner voice of God compelling me louder and more persistent than the other voice in my head, which persisted in saying that writing was an exercise in futility.

Do you ever bang your head against the wall from the dreaded writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it?

Since I write on the subject of God’s grace – Jesus Christ – I feel like I am writing “his” story. If, I get stuck I go back to him and ask “what do you want girls or adults to know about you?” I have never had a time when he hasn’t answered. Then I have editors who help me say it more eloquently.

Novelists sometimes dig themselves into a hole over implausible plots, flat characters or a host of other problems. What’s the most difficult part of writing for you (or was when you first started on your novel journey)?

Writing itself has not been difficult for me. It has been all the other things in my life that compete for the attention that good writing requires. I am a wife and mother of three with a part-time job.

How did (or do) you climb out (overcome it)?

I believe God has a “what” and a “how” for every situation. “What” he wants us to be about and “how” he wants us to do it. I have been convinced over the last 20 years God’s “what” has been for me to communicate his grace through whatever means he provides and the “how” is to draw upon his grace to do it.

Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy attic nook?

I write anywhere on anything. I find God speaks when I’m in the shower or driving down the road. That is when I have to try to remember until I can quickly write it down. I feel like my job is to not lose anything God says, “The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19).

What does a typical day look like for you?

I don’t think I have had a typical day in twenty years. Every plan I have had for writing: so many words per day, or such n such time, has been interrupted. Most days I fall in bed frustrated at all I didn’t accomplish toward writing. Then around 3:00 AM I have been awakened with complete chapters and I go down and write until about 7:00 AM. This during some seasons would happen so regularly that I would begin to conclude that I must write in the middle of the night. As soon as I made that “typical” then nothing, no ideas, just a groggy soul trying to get up.

Briefly take us through your process of writing a novel—from conception to revision.

I know the theme, something God has taught me about his grace in my personal journal: Grace is …

I know the time period or locale because I am writing another book in a series, or I am beginning a character’s story from one of our already determined time periods or locales.

So with the theme and the setting determined, I begin researching the needs of that time period or locale. After the needs are exposed I go back and ask God how his grace could have met those needs.

With the theme, setting, and resolution in place, I imagine all the ways I would have tried to meet the needs presented before finally surrendering to God’s grace, therein is the continual storyline: man’s futility apart from God and God’s amazing grace.

What are a few of your favorite books (not written by you) and why are they favorites?

My favorite books are devotionals that help me see the heart of God: My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers and The Secret Place of Strength by Marie Chapian.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve heard?

“Quit.” After ten years of trying to get published with no success, I friend said, “quit.” I took their advice and tried to quit. Once I realized I couldn’t quit was when I also realized that I was a writer, maybe not a very good one, but never the less a writer. I didn’t worry about being published any more. I just wrote.

What do you wish you’d known early in your career that might have saved you some time and/or frustration in writing? In publishing?

I knew it, I just wished I would have believed it more: God is in control.

How much marketing do you do? What have you found that particularly works well for you?

The publisher is the one that has been marketing the books.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

If you are writing for any other reason than you just can’t stop. For example, writing to make money, or writing for fame, or to show people how creative or wise you are, stop! There are easier and quicker ways to accomplish those ends. However, if you are writing because in doing so you find yourself in a state of peace as if you were created to do it, then continue and quit whining. God is capable of getting you published and marketing your books or for providing the grace for you to continue without either one. It is a gift: enjoy it!

Author Interview ~ Brenda Nixon

Tell me a little bit about what you do for a living.

I travel to speak at parenting and childcare conferences, schools, churches, MOPS groups, parent expos, or anywhere I’m invited if the audience lives or works with kids. I belong to a couple of speakers associations and continue to read and learn as much as I can to continually improve my craft and service to others.

Since there’s a marriage between speaking and writing, I also write books and magazine articles about child behavior and guidance. If a person is going to speak to audiences about a topic, it’s natural to put those words on paper and publish. Most of my colleagues do both speaking and writing.

With my education background, I’m contracted to teach Ohio Health & Safety curriculum to childcare providers, and I am adjunct faculty at an Ohio university.

How much travel does all of that require?
Speaking invitations have taken me from Virginia to New Mexico to Iowa. I’m still hoping for that invite to Hawaii. Business takes me out of my office about 8 times a year. Now that our kids are grown, my husband and I have more freedom to travel together, so he occasionally comes with me to work my booktable.
What topics do you address?
Number one topic: discipline. Close behind that are toilet teaching, understanding temperament, and boosting a child’s school success. Depending on the program planner’s request, some want my Kindergarten readiness talk and others just request a review of normal child development. To keep things interesting and fresh, each presentation is unique; some use power point, some use role-play, and some have silly jokes. When I was in Iowa recently, the event planner asked me to close an early childhood conference with “Women Are Winners” — a motivational, lighthearted talk about all the work women do. It’s based on the Proverbs 31 poem in the Bible’s Old Testament.
Those are just a few of my presentation. I posted a menu of topics on my website so event planners don’t have to think up a topic, they can just select.
So, what has prepared you for this career?

I completed my degree in Christian Education, and right out of college, I taught preschool. After receiving my Masters in education, I married and had my first child. To me, being a parent is one of the most important ways to prepare for speaking and writing about raising kids.
I’ve also been a Psychiatric Chaplain, Certified Parent Educator, and Educational Consultant with Discovery Toys. Every one of those experiences funnels into my work today. For example, teaching preschool helps me empathize today with childcare providers and preschool teachers – been there, done that – and I understand what can be frustrating and what is fun. Being a chaplain gave me valuable training in counseling and public relations. While my daughters were young and I was a SAHM, I sold Discovery Toys to benefit my daughters and supplement our family income. That job helped me be tenacious and to learn more about quality education products for children.
My most recent job was serving as a parent educator for the Kansas City, Missouri school district. There I visited with parents one-on-one and shared specific child development information, answered questions, provided resources and support for the parents, did health screenings, and modeled parenting skills. As a requirement for the job, I took hundreds of hours of continuing education in child development and parent education. That job was the springboard into what I do today.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to start speaking professionally?

Ride the learning curve! Read everything you can get your hands on, go to speaker websites and absorb information, ask others in the profession about it, join Toastmasters then eventually the National Speakers Association, and attend seminars to learn about speaking. It isn’t something you must know all at once but will continue to learn about each year. Speaking is kinda like parenting: the more you know and practice, the better you become.
At first, speak to small groups and get comfortable in front of people. The best piece of advice I heard early in my career was to make mistakes before small audiences. Improve, then go on to the larger audiences.
If anyone wants advice and encouragement, my published speaking articles are now all together in a booklet, You Can Speak. I offer it for $10, to those who want to launch and maintain a successful speaking career. Anyone can receive this booklet by mailing $10 to me at: PO Box 1302, Mount Vernon, OH 43050.Finally, all work and no play isn’t healthy.

Tell us something personal about yourself like your hobbies.

Hmm, good question. I don’t have a declared hobby, but cultivate myriad interests including garage sales, gardening and landscaping, volunteering with the Humane Society, bicycling, playing with my dachshund, Opie (I’m co-authoring a book of devotions for dog lovers), and learning about and watching hummingbirds. I also read anything that interests me, from Cesar Milan’s book on dog behavior, to Stephen King’s book On Writing, to child development research and parenting magazines, to religious publications. I favor devotional books by Oswold Chambers and Max Lucado.
Thanks for this opportunity to share with your readers. It’s been fun, and I hope helpful to everyone.

Rachel Hauck ~ Guest Blogger Revisited

Ten Things I Learned On The Road To Publishing (in no particular order.)

1. Read. Read. Read. While pursuing writing, I stop reading. When I began to read again, I truly believe my writing improved. A lot.

2. Less is more. Writers write, right? We over write many times. I’ve gone through manuscripts and edited like crazy. Or so I thought. But later while reading the published copy, I found many other places where I could’ve tightened my prose. Find a way to state a story point in one finely crafted sentence, then let it stand.

3. Crit partners are nice, but … writing is a solitary job. Writing friend understand the trials we go through, but be careful not to lean too heavily on others. Honing the craft often means grinding out your ideas alone and making them work. Thinking through your story, not counting on others to fix it for you. Too much input can actually hinder the creative process and kill your confidence. Nevertheless, be humble and brave enough to reach out to others for input and help when the time is right.

4. Sitting too long in my chair makes my legs hurt. Don’t forget to get up and move.

5. God is the best writing partner. Develop stories ideas with Him.

6. Networking is key. Most of my major writing strides were made after attending a writers conference and making friends and learning craft. Take advantage of conferences or weekly writer’s meetings.

7. Using writing techniques like newspaper articles or email are good ways to give readers information and advance the story without a long narrative or dialog scene. Sophie Kensella does this well in the Shopaholic books.

8. Discipline your time. Whether you work, are busy raising children or are retired and have all day to write, nothing will happen if you don’t discipline your time. Writing won’t happen outside of sheer determination.

9. Contrasting a characters greatest fear with his/her secret desire is a great way to create inner and external conflict. For Lost In NashVegas, my heroine, Robin Rae McAfee wants to be a songwriter. But she’s afraid to sing in front of people. Her journey is overcoming her fears. It was fun to write.
10. People talk to me all the time about writing. “What do I need to do to get started?” My response? “Backside in chair. No way around it.”

Rachel’s new book, Love Starts with Elle, released this month.

Elle’s living the dream-but is it her dream or his?

Elle loves life in Beaufort, South Carolina-lazy summer days on the sand bar, coastal bonfires, and dinners with friends sharing a lifetime of memories. And she’s found her niche as the owner of a successful art gallery too. Life is good.

Then the dynamic pastor of her small town church sweeps her off her feet. She’s never known a man like Jeremiah-one who breathes in confidence and exhales all doubt. When he proposes in the setting sunlight, Elle hands him her heart on a silver platter.
But Jeremiah’s just accepted a large pastorate in a different state. If she’s serious about their relationship, Elle will take “the call,” too, leaving behind the people and place she loves so dearly. Elle’s friendship with her new tenant, widower Heath McCord, and his young daughter make things even more complicated.

Is love transferrable across the miles? And can you take it with you when you go?