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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Meeting A Legend of Christian Fiction

Just got home from the annual ACFW conference—had a spectacular time—and enjoyed meeting a legend of Christian Fiction, Frank Peretti. Frank was warm, funny, humble, and utterly approachable. 

A friend asked if I was nervous when I talked to him. I said I wasn't.

Five years ago? Yes, significant anxiety would have pinged through my stomach. Not so much these days. Here's what changed:

At twelve years old I had two dreams: Play in the NFL and be an author.

To me, athletes and authors were gods. Some floated higher than others, but none touched the ground like we humans. So in the mid-nineties, when a friend of mine said he had gotten to know a number of well-known authors, I was astounded.

“How did you do it?”

“I wrote to them. They wrote back. Some of them became friends and ended up staying at my house when they came to town.”

I replied with a witty comment along the lines of, “Oh wow, uh … wow, that’s so cool.”

I couldn’t imagine doing what he'd done. Never considered writing to one of my favorite authors. Didn’t think they’d ever respond and didn’t think they’d care what their writing had done for me.

I thought all authors were either having coffee with other authors, or tucked away in their attic writing rooms contemplating great spiritual truths and composing pithy prose—on a plane far too high to stoop down and consort with mortals.

Then my first novel was published and I had a bit of success. I started getting e-mails. Nervous readers began introducing themselves. I published a few more books. More readers wanted to shake my hand, more e-mails filled my in-box.

(I thought it was a bit ludicrous. Me? Really? My wife didn’t think it ludicrous. She used the word comical.)

Then I started meeting many of my writing heroes and became close friends with a few of them. In a flash of not so blinding insight, I realized my new friends were humans just like me, with doubts, fears, dreams, sorrows, and joys. 

Put another way, all the authors I know love hearing from (and meeting) readers. One of the reasons we write is to make an impact on our readers. Entertain them. Provoke them. Make them smile, cry, think deep, see life in a different way, see them restored, get a dash of hope, be set free …

When readers tell us we’ve done one of those things? It’s life!

Talk to me. Have you ever hesitated to e-mail a favorite author or introduce yourself in person? What held you back? If you didn’t hesitate, have you been surprised at how human most authors are? 

If you’re a published author, what has it been like getting e-mails from readers and meeting readers in person?

James L. Rubart is the best-selling and Christy award winning author of ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, THE CHAIR, SOUL’S GATE, and MEMORY’S DOOR. During the day he runs Barefoot Marketing which helps businesses and authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he dirt bikes, hikes, golfs, takes photos, and occasionally does sleight of hand. No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at


  1. I have no problem posting a positive review on Amazon or emailing an author and telling them how much their book impacted my life. I've received replies back from authors. They appreciate hearing that a reader has enjoyed what they've written.

    I live near Woodstock so have met some local authors at Writer's festivals and things like that. Honestly, I get nervous, but none have bitten my hed off. All are supportive of a fledgling writer. Still there are some, and Peretti Dee Henderson, and Francine Rivers, that I would hesitate. I remember reading their books before I got saved and they impacted me. I would tell them so in person, but be quivering inside.

  2. A number of years ago, about 8 or 9, I read Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell. Then, I saw a book in the library with his name on the spine. Wondering if he did what he said in P&S, I checked it out. He did. I loved it. So I sent him an email. And wonder of wonders, he replied! I was flabbergasted! But that began a long mentorship. Jim would answer any question I sent him. And I took every class he taught on this side of the Mississippi. He's the greatest teacher I've had, and I've sat in the classes of some of the industries best. My hope is to pay it forward. :)

    So thanks to all you multi-published authors who take time for those of us who come after you!

  3. I read one of Liz Curtis Higgs' novels -- and cried at the ending. And then, I wrote her an email and told her so! Within a couple of hours, I was astonished to find an email from her in my inbox. A best-selling author, responding to my email? Wow!
    Being a writer myself, I've met some of my favorite authors at writers conferences. And yes, I'm often nervous -- hesitant to interrupt them while they chat with friends or other attendees. (This is why I didn't come up and say hello to you at ACFW last year, Jim.) :)
    I can still remember having the chance to go out to dinner with "the" Rachel Hauck and thinking, "I'm walking and talking to Rachel Hauck!" She's become a precious friend and mentor.
    And yes, as an author, I love connecting with readers -- online and in person!

  4. Jim, years ago I wrote to Ted Dekker after finishing Thr3e or Blink. He was still a newbie. But I was taken aback when he replied. I had mentioned I was writing a novel to which he added: "Read a lot, write a lot". One piece of counsel that all authors agree on.

    I now try to write to all authors of the novels I read to encourage them to keep producing as their work brings me such joy.

    As a new author it's lovely to receive emails and to interact on social media and/or Amazon/GR and such.

  5. That was my first writer's conference--and I was truly struck by how wonderfully human each person was, published and unpublished.

    While there, I met my favorite author--Robin Jones Gunn. We met near the elevators while the halls were amazingly quiet. She remembered me from an email a few months back, and in her reply she'd told me not to be shy if I made it to the conference. Truly, I was blessed by those minutes. I felt I'd known her for 20 years. And I suppose in some ways I have, through her books.

  6. Yeah, Brandilyn Collins. I wrote to her about 8 years ago and she suggested I join this strange outfit called ACFW. Now I write to her whenever I have a question about the craft and she always writes back. Friday night at the conference she and I were talking when Jim Bell walks over and joins us. Next thing I know we're all brainstorming my book. I looked at the other writers walking by with a "Yeah, these are my writing peeps" look on my face. What a blast.

  7. There was this one author--it took me a lot of time to get the courage to email him and let him know what an impact his book had had on me. I worried about sounding like a raving lunatic or just making a fool of myself. I knew I could only hope that God would use me as He had used this author. Finally, I got up the nerve to tell him. And then I got shake his hand and get a picture at the ACFW conference with him. He is NOT Frank Peretti...but I bet you know who he is. :P (Although I did get to meet Frank and totally agree with your assessment.)


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