Plug time. What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?
Ransomed Dreams, book one in the Defenders of Hope series, is due out April, 2007. It's the story of: A tragic accident. An international plot to kidnap the Ambassador’s daughter. And two people with shattered dreams~ one a Crimes Against Children FBI agent. The past is key, but forgiveness unlocks the future.
Please check out www.defendersofhope.com for more insider info on the stories behind the stories in the DOH series.
To read a review of Ransomed Dreams, click here.
Tell us about your journey to publication. How long had you been writing before you got the call you had a contract, how you heard and what went through your head.
I began my writing journey oddly enough. In searching for good stories to share with my girls Christmas 2001, I came across some grown-up novels. Devouring my first taste of fiction since my college years, I'd then hand the books to my husband and tell him how I'd change them. After about seven, my husband handed a book back and said to write my own. I shook my head. But then a dream about FBI agents and a mom in trouble wouldn't be dismissed.
So I wrote the story in January of 2002 and got involved in an awesome writer's group called the American Christian Fiction Writers. I spent a little over three years learning the heart and craft of writing, all the time working on a number of novels, short stories, and proposals. I was thrilled to have four short stories accepted for publication in two God Allows U-Turns books, a Chicken Soup book, and the book A Cup of Comfort for Expectant Moms. I received a recommendation for an agent who loved my first book and we signed a contract. Eighteen months later the publishing house I dreamed of working with offered me a three-book contract.
I heard about my novel contract through my agent’s email. The wonderful people at Multnomah were so encouraging and it was awesome to start receiving emails directly from them welcoming me into the family. From the first emails, I truly felt like I’d found a home. Even so, my first reaction to learning I had a contract offer was an overwhelming desire to throw up. I can’t believe I’m letting anyone but my best friend know this! ;-)
I think the realization my dream was coming true and all the work I knew was ahead, as well as the heavy responsibility I felt knowing my words were going out to people I’d never meet really weighed heavy on my heart. But God was so good to remind me this weight rests on His shoulders. I can’t write to glorify Him and touch hearts on my own. I need Him. And He promises to take every step alongside me. That and the fun I had celebrating with friends and all the well-wishers who emailed made my apprehension turn to excitement.
All that sounds so nice and easy. But I'd only be telling half the story if I didn't add that this journey has been anything but nice or easy. It's more closely resembled a difficult pregnancy than a walk in the park. Lots of rewrites, deadlines, missing my kids, stress related illnesses, and a whole lot of wrestling with God have kept my feet from floating up to cloud nine.
But God returns me to a few basic things and reminds me that He's given me the amazing privilege of living my dream. Here are a few foundational remembrance stones I go back to during the hard days: He called me. He promised to equip me. And I rise and fall to Him alone. The other big thing God reminds me of often is that writing is an act of worship. True worship is costly, so says 2 Samuel 24:24. It's my constant prayer that with every step of this writing journey I'll offer up to God a pleasing sacrifice, an offering that has indeed cost me something.
Do you still experience self-doubts regarding your work?
Most definitely! The enemy is always prowling around trying to twist those self-depreciating lies deeper. The best way I’ve found to deal with them is hanging out with my Heavenly Daddy and letting Him tell me the truth about who I am and Whose I am. That’ll trump the doubts most times. And when that doesn’t seem to work, God graciously reminds me of the truth through my hubby, daughters, best friend, awesome mentor group partners, and my wonderful editor.
What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?
Write and keep writing! Also to have a blog. That’s really helped me stick with writing when the going gets tough because with a blog, I see immediate fruits of my typing. I get to connect with lots of people and write to encourage them by sharing what I’m learning in my walk with the Lord. That in turn keeps me motivated to write and keep writing.
Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?
There have been so many times I wanted to quit. Times when a rejection cut deep or a story received really tough critiques and I just didn’t want to bleed onto the paper anymore. But I’d say the hardest time was the summer of 2005 when my husband and I were separated. We’ve gone through so much in the eleven years we’ve been married, and it came to a point of no return in 2005. We attended a marriage intensive with the Smalley Marriage Institute and learned a lot of great tools about growing up in Christ and letting Him heal our hearts. But we had to be separated for a time to really get it through our heads that we needed to focus on God and not the other person’s changing.
During that very long, painful time period, I couldn’t write. But from that time, with the help of an awesome marriage counselor and a lot of forgiveness and grace, we’ve come to a place of healing. And like the writer I am, I’ve seen God use all that hurt to bring good through my keyboard. Earlier this year I completed the first of a three-book series that address some of the specific issues that nearly destroyed our marriage. It’s been both healing and encouraging to see the response from those who’ve read the manuscript who've said it pointed them in a better direction and gave them hope for their marriages.
What piece of writing have you done that you’re particularly proud of and why?
The letters I write to my daughters and my husband on birthdays and Christmases. These four know me best and love me anyway, so when I get to use the gift God has given me to write and touch their hearts, that thrills me. To see their eyes light up reading words where I express how much I love them and what I see God doing in their lives is such an awesome thing.
Can you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?
I write mostly on Saturdays. I do some research and blogging during naptimes Monday through Friday. But because I homeschool my kiddos, my focused writing time is kept to Saturday. I get up and do a writer’s devotion and spend some time praying before I get busy hammering out the story I’m currently writing. I typically work 10-12 hours and am able to get about 8,000 words I’m happy with done. I edit as I go and redo a few chapters I’d previously written to get back into the flow of the story.
When I started writing, I’d try to do a chapter a night at least twice a week. But writing on Saturdays gives me a long stretch of uninterrupted time to focus and let the words flow.
Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?
I would love to see some of my women's fiction published as well as write more non-fiction. But the power of a story keeps me firmly in the fiction world and probably always will. Multnomah was my dream publisher when I started writing and still is. It would be the continuation of a great dream to remain a Multnomah author.
Was there ever a time in your writing career you thought of quitting?
About every other writing day. ;-) Okay, maybe not that bad, but I have tried to quit a number of times. But I couldn’t. The call of God on my life and the stories He’s given are far too loud to ignore. So I don’t quit… for long anyway.
What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?
I love being carried away in a story and going deeper with God and watching Him work through what I type.
Least favorite? Hum…the first major edit when all my flaws and places to improve glare back at me and I wonder for the umpteenth time what my editor saw in my writing in the first place.
How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?
I’m not a salesperson. But I am passionate about what God has called me to do. So when He provides an opportunity to share my heart, I do. I think the best advice I can give here is pray and have people praying with you. Ideas like my websites, blog, and speaking engagements that drop out of nowhere, have come from praying friends and family and have given me a lot of opportunities to encourage others.
Being who you are and doing what God puts on your heart to do resonates with people and I think they’re drawn to that. I guess what I’m saying is being real is your best “marketing tool.” And when your heart is to glorify God, He’ll give you plenty of opportunities to do that.
Enjoy the journey. No matter what you do, look up and see God smile as you do what He created you to do. Find your passion and watch God work in and through you to accomplish more than you can dream.