Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Interview with Mary E. DeMuth

It’s my great pleasure and honor to have author Mary E. DeMuth on my blog today. Mary started out as a newsletter editor, then moved on to be a novelist, columnist and freelance writer. Originally from Seattle, her family Texas to become church planters in Nice, France. She’s a Christ follower, wife, mother of three, and has a heart for God you just can’t miss. Her latest releases include a non-fiction parenting book titled Building the Christian Family You Never Had and a fiction title Watching the Tree Limbs.

DM: Mary, thank you so much for stopping by. I just love reading your posts on the ACFW loop and exploring your awesome website and blogs. Can you tell us what’s behind the “passion to communicate truth through relevant prose”?

MD: God has done so much in my life—a real overhaul of my soul—that I want to proclaim it to the rooftops. And I love to proclaim that through the avenue of well-crafted words.

DM: When did the light turn on, so to speak, that writing was what God had called you to do?

MD: I wrote a bit about this on my blog ( where I’m serializing my road to publication. One instance: I wrote a short story called “Five Hearts One Hand” When I was finished, I felt God’s presence so strongly. I knew I’d be writing stories for His renown. Then, before I finished my proposal for Building the Christian Family You Never Had, I brought a chapter to the Dallas Christian Writers Guild. I wondered if writing this book was a mistake. But after someone read the chapter out loud, I glanced around the large circle. Several folks were crying. I felt then that God was up to something.

DM: Wow, that must have been amazing. You seem to have many roles, especially in writing. How do you keep track of it all?

MD: I don’t know. It’s hard. I am a church planter, a mommy trying to raise my kids in another culture, a writer, a worship leader, a publications person. It’s pretty darn crazy. I try to remember to be kind to myself, to take runs (because that’s when the Lord pours into me), and to rest on Sundays.

DM: Mary, you’ve written both fiction and non-fiction books. Do you have a preference? And do you write both in similar manner or do you plan one and write SOTP on the other?

MD: I prefer both for different reasons. I’m utterly jazzed by writing fiction because I believe my strength is storytelling. But with nonfiction, I tend to have a broader audience.

DM: As a writer, what do you find most challenging in your work?
MD: Keeping my soul quieted, particularly about worrying about sales. It’s like pregnancy. You read all those pregnancy books and then something strange happens: a baby is born. And you have to know what in the world to do with the baby! So, yeah, I’m published, but now what? There are so many more stresses once you’ve grasped that golden apple.

DM: Tell us about your latest book, WATCHING THE TREE LIMBS. What has this book meant to you?

MD: It’s the book of my heart. It poured out of me like an overzealous garden hose. It’s my hope that many, many will read this book and set it down encouraged. God sees. Even the most horrific of abuses. And He can heal.

DM: As a former European transplant, I remember well the challenges of living abroad. What have you found most challenging about living in a foreign country?

MD: Not being able to communicate my heart. I speak like a three-year-old here. As someone who makes a living (sort of!) from my words, it’s terribly disconcerting to not be able to communicate.

DM: Do you find your experiences living abroad seeping into your writing? What influence does it have?

MD: The Lord has taken me through a very dark almost two-year valley here in France. So my heart has been changed, stretched, pulled. I believe there is more depth to my writing now because of the trials of moving away from home and starting a church in a relatively hostile culture.

DM: What do you feel God is directing you to write about for the future? Do you see a need that is un-ministered to or overlooked?

MD: I want to write about hypocritical homes and their effects on children.

DM: Can you share a little more about that? What do you see happening to these children?

MD: I’m speaking here about parents who appear to be Christians, who say all the right words in public but don’t live out Jesus’ teaching in private. The Lord has brought many adults across my path recently who were raised in homes like this. It’s pretty crazy-making. Kids who grow up in homes like this either resent God or have to go through an intense process of coming to understand authentic Christianity. So much of parenting, we think, has to do with task—saying and doing all the “right” things. But my theory is that it always boils down to the heart. What is in our hearts will come out in our children’s lives. Thankfully, God is gracious and supersedes it all, but it’s still important that we as Christian parents not only speak Christianity, but live it.

DM: Mary, thank you so much for sharing yourself with us. I can see how your work and writing blesses so many people.

MD: Thanks so much! It’s been a joy to be here.

Don’t miss our on Mary’s website. It’s packed with all kinds of information about writing, her work, life in France, and some very yummy recipes. Her latest book Wishing on Dandelions releases September 15.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Mount Hermon Moments Part Deux

Here are three of the midnight madness that coagulated at the coffee shop each night, Brandilyn Collins, Steve Laube, and Meredith Efken. I have to say, sitting around these three and the others who came and went was a blast. Steve's a pretty funny guy. And well, Brandilyn's just Brandilyn. LOL! Watch out for Meredith. That girl is a suspense writer waiting to happen. This coffee shop is the birth place of the notorious Mount Hermon Chick-lit Caper. That reminds me. Anybody heard from Randy Imgermanson lately?

Skunk, anyone? I took this picture just so you could see the spot of my skunk encounter. Confession time. I got lost trying to find my way back to my room Sunday night. It was dark, the sky and moon were blanketed in clouds. I was a lone woman walking the road, trying to find my way home. LOL! Had enough yet?

Here's the suspenseful version.

I walked the dark street with only a flashlight to guide me. Farther and farther I walked. Nothing looked familiar. I looked behind me, fearing a car wouldn't see me. Then I'd just be tomorrow's road kill.

On I went until a path opened. I bolted up , relieved to be off the open road. Trees closed in around me. Only my footsteps broke the din of the teeming crickets. I neared some steps, glanced up. And froze.

A black and white animal hopped up the stairs. My first thought? It's Mitty Kitty!

Then I remember I wasn't home, and that was no Mitty Kitty. It was a skunk!

Thankfully my night time friend (or should I say nemesis?) didn't see me as I bolted for the next set of stairs farther up on the path. Whew! Call me odorless...thank goodness!

Any of these faces look familiar? This is my mentoring group, led by the magnificent Brandilyn Collins. We got to spend every morning with her, learning and eating chocolate. Great group! Loved being with these wonderful people. So much talent too! Such an honor to be with them all week.

So, that's it for the Mount Hermon moments. Hope you enjoyed the show. Tune in next week for more interviews. In the meantime, write on, dudes!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Mount Hermon Moments

What a shot! I finally got to meet email buddy Jennifer Tiszai, live and in person. She's actually almost as tall as me. Notice I said almost? Yeah, well, that means I can take her in a fist fight. She still refused to do her one-handed cartwheel. I even brought my camera and all I got was this picture. LOL! Sounds like a T-shirt in the making. So, Jennifer, when are you going to do your thing? Or do I have to come to Arizona and rough you up first?

Isn't she sweet? Camy will be coming after me now for calling her that. But she is sweet. LOL! Anybody willing to take in a CA refugee? Yes, darling Camy Tang, the newest addition the Zondervan's author line up. I expect great things from this chicky.

The fantastic, one and only (drum roll please) Eustice Scrub! Jeanne Darmoff, Chris Fisher, and Michael Snyder. Yes, here they are folks, and if you're smart, you'll recommend them to the conference coordinators near you. LOL! They rock, literally. Great music, AWESOME worship.

Are you tired yet? Stick around. I still haven't told you about my skunk story. More to come...

Saturday, April 15, 2006

I Survived Mount Hermon

For the scoop on how I survived Mount Hermon, check out Gina Holme's blog, Novel Journey, for the article I wrote by this exact title. Thanks Gina!

And stay tuned next week. I've got photos, a fist fight, and a wacky skunk story to still tell you about.


Friday, April 14, 2006

An Interview with Colleen Coble

It’s my great pleasure to have the ever gracious and wonderful Colleen Coble on my blog today. Colleen is a fabulous suspense author. She’s been voted American Christian Fiction Writers’ Mentor of the Year two years running now and has a huge heart for us fledgling writers. She appears frequently on the CBA Bestseller list, and her twenty-eight novels and novellas have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Romance Writers of America prestigious Rita award, the Holt Medallion, the ACFW Book of the Year, the Daphne du Maurier, and the Booksellers Best awards. Her newest title, ALASKA TWILIGHT, is a Women of Faith fiction selection.

DM: Colleen, thank you so much for being here. (laughing) I have to ask, how do you manage to write so fast? How do you manage your writing time?

CC: Thanks for inviting me, Dineen! I love to talk about my passion—writing! As far as managing my writing time, it’s more that I’m obsessed! It’s harder to tear myself away from the computer than it is to make myself sit there and write. I don’t have kids at home, and writing is my full-time job. So it’s not so much a matter of writing fast as it is that I spend lots of time doing it.

DM: How do you balance your writing life with your spiritual life?

CC: I make sure my devotions are in the morning. My day always goes better after spending some time with God first, and I find if I don’t do it in the morning, the day crowds in and I don’t do it at all.

DM: Now I know Romans 8:28 is a kind of life verse for you. How did you come to choose that Bible verse?

CC: My spiritual journey started out badly, yet I found God brought good out of it. We had been at my in-laws for a birthday party—mine and my son’s. An icy rain had started falling while we were in the house, and we didn’t realize it. They lived out in the country, and we had to drive back to town. We thought about staying, but it wasn’t that far, and we thought we’d be fine. I was tired and had just dozed off with Kara in my arms in the front seat (before the child restraint laws). I heard my husband exclaim, and my eyes opened to see another car in our lane sliding toward us.

In that moment I knew we were going to die. I held Kara close and waited for the end, knowing I wasn’t ready to meet God. I’d gone to church with my beloved grandmother, and I knew I wasn’t right. God was merciful and spared us all, though a boy in the other car had been killed. We were all pretty battered. Kara’s jaw had been shattered, my husband had teeth knocked out and his wrist was badly damaged. Our son was in a neck brace, and I had a piece of the dash sticking in my leg. We were in the hospital about ten days. The first people at the scene were Christians, and they rode with our kids in the ambulance, their church brought in food when we got out, and we began attending and committed our lives to Christ within about six months.

I really didn’t see anything good in that accident. Then about a year later, I took at look and at the time, 10 people had come to Christ as a direct result of the accident. So I learned the truth of that verse very early.

DM: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of writing?

CC: The initial rough draft. I love all aspects of writing, but once I can get the rough draft down, it really gets fun!

DM: What is your favorite part of the writing process?

CC: I’m a junkie for the revision process. Waiting to get the feedback from my editors is exquisite torture. Will they like it? What suggestions will they have? Then when it comes, I dig in and see the bones of the story flesh out into something even richer.

DM: Colleen, your books have very rich characters. How do you go about developing and researching them?

CC: I try to make sure they’re not perfect. I’m not perfect so I don’t relate to perfect. (laughing) I spend some time trying to figure out their quirks and their flaws. And I always try to create strong characters. Wimpy heroines make me ill.

DM: Many of your books have an animal or mammal as an important character. Can you tell us more as to how or why you like to do that?

CC: You know that was just a fluke. Shocking huh? I wrote the Rock Harbor series and everyone just loved Samson. I love animals and it came through I guess. When I was creating the new series, I asked my editor Ami McConnell to help me figure out what my brand was. To my surprise, she listed an animal as being an important element. Then when I looked back at my Barbour books, I realized I often had either animals or children. I’m a nurturer at heart and I guess it just came through.

DM: Tell us a little about the research you did for ALASKA TWILIGHT.

CC: I’ve been an Alaska junkie for years. I bet I’ve seen North to Alaska twenty times. I read all the Jack London books over and over again as a teenager. Something about the wilderness calls to me—maybe it’s my Native American heritage (I’ve got Miami and Cree blood). I got quite a few travel books to read as well. And I was blessed to have Amy Bang and Kristin Blincoe read the manuscript for me. They’re both from Alaska.

DM: ALASKA TWILIGHT is a Women of Faith book. Will you be touring with Women of Faith? Can you tell us a little of what that will be like for you? What cities will you be in?

CC: I’ll be at six Women of Faith conferences this year: Atlanta, Cleveland, Fort Wayne, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and St Louis. I’ll be signing books though, not speaking.

DM: What’s next on your writing schedule. I hear we’ll be seeing more books set in Hawaii? Will that be a continuation of your Aloha Reef series?

CC:The next book out will be Dangerous Depths, book three in the Aloha Reef series, releasing in May. Then Fire Dancer, the first book in the Fire Jumper series will be out in October. Book four in the Aloha Reef series, Midnight Sea, will be out next February. It’s a Women of Faith book also. I’m working on Midnight Sea right now.

DM: Colleen, thank you so much for being with us today. And thank you for all that you do for the faith and writing communities.

CC: Thanks for having me, Dineen. Great questions, and it’s been really fun!

Be sure to check out Colleen’s website for the latest information regarding her books, writing, and her speaking and touring engagements.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Serial Killer at Mount Hermon

News Alert!!!! For complete details, go to Brandilyn's blog. There's a killer on the loose and chick-lit authors are dropping faster than Walmart prices after Christmas. Who would have thought Mount Hermon could be such a deadly place...he he he he.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Thoughts From Mount Hermon

This blog entry comes to you from the Espresso Bar at Mount Hermon. Two days packed with information and inspiration in rain, shine and gorgeous redwoods. I came thinking I had left my agendy at home, and I did, for the most part. What I had secretly hoped would happen, didn't. And what I thought for sure wouldn't, did.

Have I confused you yet?

That's ok if you are. I'm confused, too. I haven't yet figured out what God has in mind but I'm determined to listen to what he has in mind.

In the meantime, I've had the pleasure of meeting Jennifer Tiszai in person, up close and real. I brought her an interesting gift. You can read about it on her blog. I also got to meet the infamous Mike Snyder. Or should I say, soon to be famous? LOL! Some very talented people and lots of fun to talk with. (Yes, this is my blog and I'll end with a dirty preposition if I want to! Besides, techinically it's not agains't the rules.)

Let's see. They feed you constantly here. The worship time is awesome, really bathed in the Holy Spirit. Very cool. The atmosphere here is very relaxed, which has made meeting editors and agents easier.

Now, meeting with Brandilyn Collins in the morning for the mentoring group has been awesome! There are ten of us, and just about every genre is represented. Fun stuff, let me tell ya! And of course, Brandilyn is an amazing teacher and mentor.

So, I will leave you now. My soft, cushy pillow is calling me. (Gee, how'd it know my name? Oh, yeah, we sleep together. LOL!) There's a band (Eustace Scrubb--go bug Mike Snyder about that one.) playing in the sanctuary. They are fantastic. Guess I'll catch you later. Be sure to drop by. I may tell you something really cool next time...

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Mt. Hermon, Here I Come!

I leave tomorrow for Mount Hermon, a five day Christian Writers' Conference. One of the biggest, if not the biggest, of the year. This will be my first year going.

Can you say, very, very nervous?

If you're in a praying mood, send a few up for me, please. Please pray I survive. LOL! Please pray I learn, grow, and most importantly, hear what God has to say.

I'll tell you all about it when I get back. I promise...

Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Kitty Named Mitty

Meet Mitty Kitty. He's my favorite lap kitty. As you can see from the picture, he's not always the brightest either. By the webs on his face, I'd say he'd taken a venture under the house. Amazing how he came running back to the door, looking for relief. He knows where home is, and who loves him. Simple trust.

I love the way he mews at me when he's ready for a snooze. He only mews at me so he can get on my lap. His favorite spot is on a red, black and white afghan. Now put that on me, and he's in heaven. His favorite blanky on his favorite person. This cat knows what he wants.

So often I see God's lessons in things like this. Oh, he's really good at doing that. Especially through my kids. As I looked at this picture, I wondered what lesson God might want to teach me.

Is it about trust? Knowing that no matter how "messed up" I get, God is always there, waiting and ready to open the door? Is it about appearance, understanding that regardless of what's happening on the outside—getting older, fatter, you fill in the blank—God still loves me? That his love can't be lessened or increased, it just is? Or perhaps it's a lesson about endurance—accepting that things just happen sometimes. The trick is to dust off (which Mitty did himself, btw) and get back on track.

Or maybe it's just a picture of a cute but messy kitty named Mitty.

What do you see when you look at Mitty?