Chat with nonfiction author Terri Gillespie

Terri Gillespie is also a speaker with a vision to touch women’s hearts with God’s love and healing—liberally sprinkled with laughter. In her spare time she serves as the Director of Development Operations for the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (a Jewish organization that believes that Jesus is the Messiah). Her other writing credits include contributions to several devotional publications, magazines and books. She oversees a local ACFW group. Terri and her husband Bob live in Pennsylvania. They have one daughter, Rebekah.

Welcome to Novel Journey, how long did it take you to get published?

If you count my first attempt at publishing, it took twenty six years. Oy! All I had was a story and no craft. It was a children’s book—a fantasy based on a Bible narrative. After ghastly, heart-wrenching rejections—both of them—I just knew I’d never be published.

Drama set in—I had failed God and therefore He didn’t want me to publish. I still wrote, but didn’t try to publish again until Marlene Bagnull dragged me kicking and screaming to my first writers’ conference in 2003. By the way, that first book was revised and is under consideration with the publisher of Making Eye Contact with God.

Do you think an author is born or made?

Good question. I think an author is born, they just don’t always know it. God seeds the person while in the womb—for some of it takes time for that creative root to surface.

What is the first book you remember reading?

The Pokey Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey.

What common qualities do you find in the personalities of authors?

A bit of insanity. All those voices in our heads you know. What? Hush, now!

What is the subject of your latest book?

Making Eye Contact with God is an interactive women’s devotional. It’s an invitation to women to go to that place of intimacy with the Lord. Think of a bride and groom looking at each other as they say their vows.

What is the takeaway messages and why was getting that point across so important to you?

At a high level the primary message is God’s redeeming love and longing.

He longs for us. The Creator of the Universe wants us.

Until recently, I never understood that. Soaking in this miraculous revelation puts my world and craziness into perspective.

Women get what it means to be a bride. We also have unique issues we struggle with. The first half of the book deals with reasons we might struggle with eye contact—insecurities, guilt, unforgiveness, busy-ness—the harmful material woven into the fabric of our lives. The rest of the book gives a perspective of God’s desires for intimacy—how He longs to surprise us, dance with us, fly with us.

When do you know you’ve got the finished product and it’s your best effort?

When someone tells me. I’m forever editing and editing and editing . . . I’m very thankful to my critique peeps who know when to say, “Enough already, submit it!”

Any anecdotes about the research or writing of your books?

Making Eye Contact with God began with a trapped sparrow. The little guy was stuck between the storm and regular window of our house. I tried to gently coax him into my hand, but he became more agitated. Finally I grabbed him by the tail feathers and created a cage with my hands. He went ballistic and I had a difficult time holding on to him. How was I going to open the doors to release him? Then through an opening between my fingers, the bird and I made eye contact. Immediately he calmed. I was able to remove my hand. He sat peacefully in my palm as I transported him to the outdoors, where he flew away.

I thought about that incident for weeks and came to realize how much I was like that bird. How often did I get into trouble and run from God’s rescuing hand? How often did He have to grab me by the tail feathers and hold me while I fought Him? How much easier would it be if I made eye contact with Him? To sit at peace in the palm of His hand. How marvelous that His goal is to set me free from my captivity.

How would you pitch this book to your intended audience?

I share the sparrow story. Seems it resonates with others. Apparently I’m not the only bird who wants to make eye contact with God.