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!