Monday, November 17, 2008

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.


Anonymous said...

This is so wonderful, Terri! I'm so glad I can share this with you. Keep those awesome books/thoughts coming!


Mary DeMuth said...

Wonderful picture of the bird and you exchanging glances! Thanks for a great interview and may the Lord bless that book abundantly!

Anonymous said...

That bird story is one for the books! :) Fabulous illustration; wonderful that God gave you that to spur you on for this book- Very encouraging and exciting, Terri!! May you continue to have insightful eyes and books that share what they see and perceive. I'm looking forward to getting your book! Blessings and "YAY!"- Aly

Cynthia Ruchti said...

I was privileged to watch this book unfold, petal by petal, and its beautiful author, too. I know it can transform lives. It transformed mine.

Gina Holmes said...

Okay, I want this book. I've always known God as Abba Father. Recently through my circumstances He's wooed me as lover and husband. It's such a big thing to wrap my thoughts and heart around. Thanks for writing it! God bless you.

Cathy said...

This is a lovely book. I read through it quickly and am now going week by week, journaling through the questions. What a blessing to spend that time with my Lord, knowing others have walked this way before me! Thank you for a wonderful devotional! My Christmas list of women who will receive this book grows longer and longer and longer . . .

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Terri -

Wow! I've got to get this book. It's been on my Wish List ever since I met you at a book signing, but that sparrow story moved it to the top.

Susan :)

Ane Mulligan said...

This sounds like a devotional I'd use. :) Thanks for the interview, ladies. Now I'm off to buy this book.

Carrie Turansky said...

Thanks for this great interview. I love the sparrow story too. Terri is a blessing to so many people through her writing and leading of the Philly writing group. I am so happy for her and excited about her new book.

Terri L. Gillespie said...

I'm v'klempt. Thank you everyone for stopping by and leaving these beautiful and encouraging comments. Special thanks to my Cynthia--you're the best!

margaret mcsweeney said...

Congratulations, Terri! You're a terrific writer. And your moment with the little sparrow reminds me of that song, "His Eye is on the Sparrow" What a poignant parable you experienced!

God bless!

easy writer said...

Terri, I am SO happy to see this lovely book finally became a reality that will bless so many--myself included! Thank you for your faithfulness and obedience to write it. Now, twin, when are we getting together to celebrate?

Anonymous said...

Your book sounds amazing! I can't wait to read it, it's on my Christmas List. I loved the sparrow story, how true! Blessings to you and keep writing.
-Amy L.

Eva Marie Everson said...

This book!!!! Gorgeous! It's on my Christmas List and I cannot wait to dig into it! When I saw it at ICRS I said, "I have to have it! I have to have it!" And I have NOT forgotten that, either!

Shalom my friend!

Eva Marie Everson

Sally Bradley said...

It is a beautiful book, isn't it? As a former crit partner of Terri's, I got a tiny peek of the book, but her fiction is spectacular, too. I can't wait for a fiction editor to discover her.

Melody said...

Terri's illustration about the bird is beautiful. So are the rest of the devotionals. Be sure to buy her book

Bob said...

Terri took an amazing journey to bring this book to all of you. Thanks for all your love and support.
To those who have read-spread the word.
To those who have not-you will be blessed.
To those who have encouraged, critiqued and supported-thank you.

To my beatiful wife,
I love you my dear-forever. May the Lord continue to inspire and bless you.

Your loving husband,

Gina Holmes said...

Wow, that was so sweet! Terri, does Bob have a single brother? ;)

Anonymous said...

Hi Terri!

My anticipation is growing to read your book this winter season.
It will be a first for me to curl up with a cup of hot tea,with soft music, and to begin "Making Eye Contact with God".I don't know what will happen when we look into each others eyes, but it sounds like I am in for a real treat!

Terri L. Gillespie said...

Gina, sorry he was the only boy-child in the family. God broke the mold after him. Sigh.

MShirAchot said...

Thank you so much for inviting me to get a bird's eye view of your incredible journey. I'm looking forward to re-reading "Making Eye Contact with God" many times. On my first read, I cried, laughed, then cried again, and sometimes both at once. The book posed some dialog I'd never before considered discussing with my Abba. In so doing, my vision has become clearer for more sustained eye contact with Him.

Thank you for being faithful to be obedient to the call He has placed upon your life. It has blessed me tremendously!

Much love and many prayers,