Posts Tagged ‘novels’


Friday Five: Laurie Alice Eakes

Today I’m honored to feature the talented novelist, Laurie Alice Eakes. She is a fellow client of my agent, Tamela Hancock Murray and an award-winning author. Her books have won numerous awards, including The National Readers Choice Award. She was also a Carol Award finalist. In the past three years, she has sold six books to Baker/Revell, five of which are set during the Regency time period, four books to Barbour Publishing, as well as two novellas to Barbour Publishing and one to Baker/Revell. Six of her books have been picked up by Thorndike Press for large print publication, and Lady in the Mist, her first book with Revell, was chosen for hardcover publication with Crossings Bookclub. She also teaches on-line writing courses and enjoys a speaking ministry that has taken her from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast. She blogs regularly here. Here latest book is  A Heart’s Safe Passage

Today Laurie was kind to take time out of her writing day to chat with me about the writing life: 

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Mini-Reviews #8

Just finished another great batch of books:

Work Matters by Tom Nelson.

This is a terrific book on a subject not explored fully enough in contemporary evangelicalism: a theology of work. As usual, Nelson (pastor of Christ Community Church in Leawood, Kansas), shares a comprehensive, balanced, biblical view of the doctrine of work.

A Christmas Journey Home by Kathi Macias

Kathi Macias, a friend, is a gifted writer. The last few years she has devoted herself to writing what she calls “bold” fiction. She tackles a thorny social issue and weaves a story around it, opening up the reader’s eyes to issues of justice and suffering. I recently read and reviewed her novel, Deliver Me From Evil which puts a face on the scourge of human trafficking. It so disturbed me that I’ve renewed a committment to help in this fight.

A Christmas Journey Home tackles the subject of illegal immigration, something that provokes heated debate on both sides. What Kathi does is share the stories of two widows about to collide. One is the wife of a slain border agent. She and her son struggle in the year after his death, wondering why God allowed it to happen and taking her anger out on the illegals that cross the border. In her anger you can hear the frustration of those who wish the border was more secure.

The other story is one of a young pregnant Mexican wife who, with her husband, fled the violence in her hometown. Their once quiet neighborhoods were now racked by violence, the indiscriminate murder of innocent women and children. Her father gives the couple his life savings and urges them to try to cross the border. In their story you see the struggle to find a better situation for their growing family.

The two stories collide in a setting not dissimilar from the humble conditions of Jesus’ birth. It is the story of the Nativity that calls the border agent’s wife to find the forgiveness and grace to engage the wife of the illegal. This is not a book that offers bullet-point solutions to the issue of illegal immigration, but readers will put a human face on a problem, pushing past the stereotypes, posturing, and politics that plage the immigration crisis.

This is a great book first for church staff, pastors, and missionaries. Quite often we either send a message to the lay people in our congregation that their day job is less important than that of a ministry leader. We don’t preach often enough on the important doctrine of vocation, of work not simply as a means to an end (tithing, evangelism), but as a form of worship itself. Nelson covers the full orbit of work in a pastoral, encouraging way.

This is also a terrific book for lay leaders. Often you feel as if you’re “secular” work is sort of secondary to church involvement, as if what you do on Monday-Friday has no connection to worship on Sunday. Nelson will shatter that myth with biblical truth and give you a solid foundation from which to glorify God in your vocation.

After reading this book, I’m thinking of doing a future Sunday morning series on the theology of work. We pastors often fail to properly spiritually equip our people for their chosen calling in this world. Work Matters will go a long way toward helping us do that.



Friday Five: Kim Vogel Sawyer

Christmas is the time when a lot of folks take some time off to rest and catch up on their favorite novels. Today I have the privilege of featuring bestselling novelist, Kim Vogel Sawyer. Kim’s books have received numerous fiction awards, including: ACFW Carol Award
Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence, Inspirational Readers Choice Award, Heartsong Presents Contemporary Story of the Year (2006), and the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence. Her latest books are A Whisper of Peace and Katy’s Decision

Today, Kim was kind enough to stop by and chat about fiction and the writing life:

How did you get your start as a writer?

I actually entered publishing through a rather unusual route. I’d always wanted to be a writer, but a series of rejections in the mid-1990s discouraged me and I threw myself into teaching. But midway through my teaching career, my health plummeted to the point that I couldn’t teach full-time. About the same time, my dad chose to self-publish one of my books so I could see my publishing dream come true. The reader feedback from that novel gave me the confidence to purse publishing again, and the part-time teaching schedule gave me the time to write. Between March and November of 2005, I signed contracts for ten books with three different publishing lines. I’ve been writing full-time ever since.

What is the most valuable part of your background that has helped you in writing such great stories?

I think being an avid reader and being painfully shy helped me a great deal as a writer. I always told my students, the best readers are the best writers because they’re exposed to vocabulary, grammar, and story elements. You rarely found me without a book in one hand and a notebook in the other when I was growing up. Being shy, I stood on the fringes and became a keen observer of people. That contributed greatly toward character development. As a child, I often lost myself in story worlds–writing tales with strong, confident heroines very unlike myself and now as an adult I have the opportunity to bring story-worlds to life…but not to lose myself. Now, my goal is to point readers toward a deeper relationship with God.

Bestselling author Janette Oke has endorsed your work. Tell us about what how her endorsement came to be, and/or how she influenced your work. 

When my novel, which I called Summer’s Joy, landed on an editor’s desk at Bethany House, she shared it with Carol Johnson, who had originally signed Janette Oke. Carol felt my writing style gave her the same feeling as a Janette Oke novel–a peaceful, uplifting feeling. So she shared it with Janette, who offered to endorse it. I was unaware of all of this until after Janette committed to endorsing it, which is probably good. Had I known JANETTE OKE was reading MY story, I probably would have had a nervous breakdown. LOL I truly feel blessed to have been kindly received by the woman I consider the “queen” of Christian fiction. I hope my stories are as full of warmth and Spirit as hers.

You are extremely productive and keep up a high quality of work. Can you offer tips for new writers on how to accomplish this?

I hope I maintain a high quality of work! That’s important to me. With the arrival of contracts came the realization that stories had to be completed by a certain date (i.e.–deadline). To meet the obligation, I began treating my writing as my “job”–a rather awkward transition for all of us after all the years of writing for fun–but I had to set aside a certain number of hours each day for WRITING. I enter my home writing studio at the same time I used to enter my classroom. I start with Bible-study and prayer to get my thoughts centered, and then I write. I am in my office a minimum of six hours a day. I encourage writers trying to break into publishing to establish a habit of consistent writing now, because when the contracts come, they’ll be ready to meet the challenge.

You talk a lot about your grandchildren. Tell us about them:

I have a quiverful of grandkiddos–six Sweeties, two Bugaboos, and one little Wugmump. They range in age from third grade to four months old, and when they’re all here at the same time it is happy chaos! I can’t wait for Christmas. Please feel free to visit my Facebook page.



Friday Five Interview – Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble

We’re privileged to interview  popular and bestselling author, Colleen Coble. Colleen writes romantic suspense and has won numerous awards across the publishing spectrum, including American Christian Fiction Writer’s Writer of the Year, Romance Writer’s of America, RITA award, the Holt Medallion, and many others. She has sold over 1 million books.

1) You have a rather dramatic beginning to your writing journey. Can you share that?

The phone rang late that night with the news that the oldest  of my three younger brother had been killed by lightning in a freak farm accident. In the coming months, as I emerged from the storm of grief, I realized that if I was ever going to follow the dream I believed God had put in my heart, I needed to get started. I was approaching my fortieth birthday, and time was marching on. As part of the grieving process, my husband and I made a trip out to Wyoming to see where Randy had lived during a two-year stint. As I stood on the parade ground at Fort Laramie, the first idea took root and sprouted. The fire of grief and adversity had finally cracked open the seed that had lain dormant in my heart all those years. It still wasn’t easy. Getting published is hard and takes work and commitment. Every time I was tempted to let the computer go dark, God whispered in my heart that I could do it. That he had given me everything I needed to go on. When a rejection came, I’d cry for a while. Then I’d pick myself back up, rework it and send it out again. Seven years later I finally made the first sale. But God taught me about faith and perseverance through those seven years. In those days I knew no other writers. It was lonely and soul-crushing at times. I’m so thankful for American Christian Fiction Writers and other authors whose friendships I treasure now after wandering so long in that wilderness.  Looking back, I’m glad it wasn’t easier. It makes me appreciate so much more the joy and privilege I have to share my novels with my readers and to hopefully make them a little thirsty for the One who holds out a cup of living water.

2) Writing is a calling and a passion, but its also a lot of work. What drives you to sit behind that desk and continue to pound out words, day after day?

I LOVE the writing process. The characters keep me awake at night, and I’m eager to see what is going to happen to them. I’m an organic writer–meaning a lot of the writing is seat-of-the-pants. I’ve tried plotting–really I have! But it strips the joy out of writing for me. I want to find out what is going to happen to these people in my head. So I love the process of discovery.

3) You have been pretty forthcoming about your health struggles, particularly migraines. How have you managed to write through all of that pain?

That’s been tough some years! I would have to catch my good days and write like the wind. On my bad days I might only get in 1000 words before I’d have to go to bed. But deadlines will do a lot to make you press forward!

4) You usually include a pet in one of your novels. Why is that?

Even the first story I wrote was about a horse that had twin colts. I love the connections that can develop between people and animals. I grew up with dachshunds. Our daughter has a dog wash/grooming shop in the Phoenix area and I get quite a lot of inspiration from her.

5) What would you say to that struggling writer, who has a manuscript in their hand and believes in the work, and goes to conferences and meets with agents, and yet still can’t get a contract?

Keep working! It took me 6 years to sell my completed manuscript. Don’t make the mistake I did though. Finish a book then move on to another one. Don’t keep reworking the same thing. The book you love will sell eventually. You learn to write by writing! Deep in the middle of the book you learn more and more about pacing and characterization. So finish the book and start another. And another. Keep sending out your work and don’t give up.


Friday Five Interview: Kathi Macias

Kathi Macias is a great friend and a fellow New Hope author. She is a prolific author, having written nearly 30 books and ghost-written numerous others. She has taught and coached writers at conferences around the country is an in-demand public speaker at women’s conferences.

My wife is actually reading How to Keep a Tight Ship When You’re Surrounded by Loose Cannons, which she says has already provided her with a lot of laughs and much inspiration for raising our three children.

1) You’ve been writing and speaking for a long time–what first stirred in your heart the passion to put words on paper?

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write. I was reading before I started kindergarten and just seemed to have an ongoing love affair with words. When my husband, Al, (then boyfriend) and I were walking home from school one day in junior high I announced to him that I was going to be a writer some day. He often comments that I’m probably the only person he knows who knew what I wanted to be when I grew up—and did it!

2) You’ve helped New Hope Publishers launch their first fiction line. You guys are doing something a bit different with it. What exactly is “missional fiction?”

“Missional fiction,” or “fiction with a mission,” is just that: fictional stories based on true stories of those whose lives are dedicated to fulfilling the Great Commission and going into all the world to preach the gospel and make disciples. The stories are based not only on foreign missionaries but also on nationals, all of whom are challenged at some point in their faith—possibly even to the point of laying down their lives. Ultimately, though, we hope to challenge readers to move into that same level of faith. Of course, not all the series that will be included in this “fiction with a mission” line will be about missionaries, but all will have a greater mission of educating and challenging readers to a deeper level of faith and a more vibrant love-relationship with the Father.

3) No Greater Love weaves a story of romance into the epic story of Nelson Mandela, apartheid, and South Africa. What drew you to this story?

This story was originally birthed in my heart more than twenty years ago, as I watched the violence and upheaval in South Africa, preceding the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and the downfall of Apartheid. I couldn’t help but wonder how it was affecting believers in that country and how it might eventually affect us in other countries as well. The nugget of an idea—an interracial, forbidden romance—sparked the story, though it sat on the back burner for many years before I sensed God releasing me to move forward with it. By that time my vision for the story had grown to include believers in other countries around the world—hence, the Extreme Devotion series of four books, rather than a stand-alone book as I had originally anticipated. (God’s plans and timing are always so much better than our own!)

4) More Than Conquerors is set in the violence of Mexico’s drug wars. This is an especially relevant given the increasing attention given to what is happening there. What surprised you the most about what is going on there?

Not only does More than Conquerors delve into the violence of the Mexican drug wars, but it encompasses the superstition of the Mayan culture in the Southern portions of Mexico as well—San Juan Chamula in Chiapas State in particular. We hear so much about the illegal immigration problem in our country, about the violence of the drug wars spilling over across the border, and also the human trafficking that is interwoven with so much of these problems. But we seldom hear of the extreme devotion of those in Mexico who love and serve God under some very harsh and dangerous conditions, and who treasure family second only to their relationship to Christ. That’s the part of Mexico I wanted to bring to life in More than Conquerors.

5) If you could give one piece of advice to young, emerging, writers, what would that be?

Spend time with God, discovering and developing your own calling and passion for ministry, and then let that focus birth the words and stories you write. It’s too easy to jump on someone else’s bandwagon, only to discover it’s already full and straining at the seams. You don’t need to adopt someone else’s vision; God has one tailor-made just for you. Seek Him first—and He will be faithful to reveal it to you. And then be patient until He moves you forward in the fullness of His time.