From Christa: I knew Mary DeMuth from her novels before I met her at my first-ever writing conference when I signed on for her to critique ten pages of my writing. In a series of events that only God could orchestrate so seamlessly, Mary ultimately led me to Rachelle Gardner, my agent, who sold the novel whose first ten pages Mary read.
Mary is one of the most transparent, passionate, and talented women I’ve ever met. The first novels of hers that I read, Watching the Tree Limbs and Wishing on Dandelions, both inspired and challenged me as a writer. And the first novel in this series, Dasiy Chain, showed me the power of words crafted by a writer who never forgets her message: tragedy, in God’s hands, can be transformed into triumph.
In participating in this blog tour, I chose to write about an act of sacrificial love. This is one I witnessed in my own family when my twin daughters where sophomores in high school. My daughter Sarah, born with Down’s Syndrome, had been nominated for the Homecoming Court. Her twin, Shannon, who could have also been a nominee, chose to not do so. Instead, Shannon and her friends rallied votes for Sarah. Because of their campaign and the absolute generosity of the class of Fontainebleau High School that year, Sarah served as one of the two sophomore maids on the Homecoming Court that year. When she walked across the football field at half-time, her arm linked in her father’s, the entire stadium cheered. I know God did as well.
MEET MARY DEMUTH:
Tell me a little bit about your background and your family.
You can read my testimony on my website (www.marydemuth.com). I came from a difficult upbringing, but Jesus saw fit to find me at fifteen. He has utterly changed my life.
I’ve been married 18 years to my husband Patrick (who’s been told he looks like George Clooney on more than one occasion). Interesting side note: I’ve been told I look like Laura Dern, and we share the EXACT same birthday. Twins separated at birth? Possibly. If you’re reading this and you’re chums with Laura, could you probe a bit?
George (er, Patrick) and I have three kids: Sophie, Aidan and Julia. Sophie’s learning to drive—and what’s interesting is that I’m not worried about it. She’s a careful driver. My son Aidan is thirteen. He’s passionate about finding water for a small village in Ghana. We got to go on the trip of a lifetime to meet the village of Sankpem last summer. Our daughter Julia is ten and is deeply kindhearted, beautiful inside and out. We also have an overly needy (farting) dog and a fat & fuzzy (sometimes cranky) cat.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?
I love to cook and garden and sew and decorate and take pictures. I’m really quite a homebody. I also keep in shape by training for small triathlons, emphasis on small.
What has God been teaching you lately?
To learn how to embrace subtlety. I’m a loud, in your face, writer. I’m learning to create nuance. This, of course, translates into my everyday life too.
Alas, the other thing is pretty convoluted and deep, but it has to do with learning to trust God’s love for me, even if some people in my life act in enemy-like ways. (I’m sure none of you have ever struggled with this.) In other words, what do you do when some voices say unkind and untrue things? Used to be I took those words like morsels into my heart and chewed on them until the poison saturated me. Now I’m learning to weigh the words briefly, then place them in Jesus’ hands. It’s a discipline to do that. The tricky part comes when I act as my enemy, hurling insults at myself. It’s all about giving every word to Jesus and choosing to believe His words about me. I am dearly loved. Wow.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
This may sound strange, but I wanted to be a doctor. But even then, the writer in me came out because I liked the cadence of my maiden name with the title doctor. Mary Walker, Medical Doctor.
Where are you headed next?
I hope I see that I get to continue this writing dream—writing for the sheer joy of it, and also receiving compensation (a nice writerly dream!). I also pray that if things take off, I’ll keep my head on straight and constantly strive to point to the truly Famous One, Jesus.
I sense that more public speaking is in the future as well.
How did you get involved in writing?
I’ve been writing since college when the bug hit me. I wrote my first short story about a missionary going to Russia (when it was firmly encased behind the iron curtain) and having to do all these clandestine things to share the gospel. I’m embarrassed to write this, but the piece started with these four words: Thump, thump, thump, thump (representing the protagonist’s heartbeat, of course).
I’ve been actively writing since 1992 when my daughter Sophie was born. I created a newsletter that helped moms manage their homes. I bought my first computer from the proceeds. I also designed and edited church newsletters, wrote homeschooling curriculum, and even wrote a script for an ultrasound training video. Soon after, short stories started flying out of me. When we moved from East Texas to Dallas for my husband to go to Dallas Seminary, I decided to get serious. I met my friend Sandra Glahn then, a professor at the seminary and a published writer. She shepherded me through the query-letter-writing process and has been an incredible cheerleader.
In 2002, I wrote my first novel. In 2003, I signed with an agent, then signed two nonfiction books. Since then, I’ve had five books published (those included), Daisy Chain being my sixth book. The first novel I wrote is yet to be published.
How do you find time to write?
I make time to write. I give myself word count goals every day. While my children are at school, I work full time. Lately I’ve been writing and promoting like a crazy woman, pulling 10-12 hour shifts. Even so, it’s a priority for me to have a sit-down dinner with my family every night. It helps that I love to cook.
What do you enjoy most about the writing process?
I love the initial flurry of words on the page where I’m uninhibited. I love fleshing out a story as it comes to me. I see my novels on the movie screen of my mind, which may account for the visual nature of my narratives.
What was the most difficult aspect of the writing process?
I am not in love with rejection.
I also don’t cherish rewriting. But it’s a necessary and important evil.
What would you say to someone who wants to become a published author?
Here’s the analogy you need to memorize and internalize: Beginning the publishing journey is like wearing a sweatshirt and toting a sack lunch at the base of Mount Everest, thinking, Hmm, this should be a breeze!
In addition: know you are called. Know you have talent. Know you’re full of tenacity. All three things will help you succeed along the journey.
Another idea is hang out at The Writing Spa and its corresponding blog WannabePublished. I tackle nearly every question a new writer would have. I offer weekly free critiques and I have guest authors cameo there. I evaluate the saleabilty of a book idea. Hop on by at http://www.thewritingspa.com.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
I wrote the series of stories based on hearing friends of mine talk about their Christian homes that appeared great on the outside, only to hide abuse on the inside. This really bothered me. Daisy became the inciting incident to explore three people’s stories relating to authenticity and hiding. In book one, Daisy Chain, I explore a teenage boy’s perspective to a family in crisis. In book two, A Slow Burn, I examine what would it be like to have deep, deep mommy regrets enough to want to be free from them. In book three, Life in Defiance, I tell the conclusion of the story through a battered wife’s perspective.
I am not a teenage boy. Nor am I a neglectful mother. And I’m not a battered wife. But I’ve interacted with folks who are. It’s for them that I wrote these stories.
What are the major themes of the book?
You’re never too far from God’s grace and love and forgiveness. That God is a pursuing, redemptive, relentless God. He loves His children, even when they run far, far away. That Jesus comes to us in surprising packages, and sometimes we’re so bothered by appearances that we miss Him.
What kind of research did you have to do for the book?
I had to figure out how a drug addict acted and thought. I had to research what drugs do to a person, particularly the lure and the trips they take folks on. I had to get into the mind of a drug addict, which wasn’t easy for me, someone who is terrified of drugs. I created Defiance from my head and my two-year stint in East Texas.
With which character do you, personally, identify most and why?
That’s really hard. I see myself in all of them. When I feel guilty about my parenting, I relate to Emory. When I feel like an outcast, trying to do the right thing, I understand Hixon and Muriel better.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
That God is bigger than our sin, our regret, our hopelessness. He takes delight in intersecting the darkest of circumstances. He is there, available.
Yet so much like herself it made Emory shudder.
Burying her grief, Emory Chance is determined to find her daughter Daisy’s murderer-a man she saw in a flicker of a vision. But when the investigation hits every dead end, her despair escalates. As questions surrounding Daisy’s death continue to mount, Emory’s safety is shattered by the pursuit of a stranger, and she can’t shake the sickening fear that her own choices contributed to Daisy’s disappearance. Will she ever experience the peace her heart longs for?
The second book in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy, this suspenseful novel is about courageous love, the burden of regret, and bonds that never break. It is about the beauty and the pain of telling the truth. Most of all, it is about the power of forgiveness and what remains when shame no longer holds us captive.
Mary DeMuth is an expert in the field of Pioneer Parenting. She helps Christian parents plow fresh spiritual ground, especially those seeking to break destructive family patterns. Her message guides parents who don’t want to duplicate the home where they were raised or didn’t have positive parenting role models growing up.
An accomplished writer, Mary’s parenting books include Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture, Building the Christian Family You Never Had, and Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God. Her real-to-life novels inspire people to turn trials into triumphs: Watching the Tree Limbs (2007 Christy Award finalist, ACFW Book of the Year 2nd Place) and Wishing on Dandelions (2007 Retailer’s Choice Award finalist).
Mary is a frequent speaker at women’s retreats and parenting seminars, addressing audiences in both Europe and the United States. National media regularly seek Mary’s candid ability to connect with their listeners. Her radio appearances include FamilyLife Today, Moody Midday Connection, and U.S.A. Radio network. She also has articles published in Marriage Partnership, In Touch, and HomeLife.
As pioneer parents, Mary and her husband Patrick live in Texas with their three children. They recently returned from breaking new spiritual ground in Southern France where they planted a church.
Learn more about Mary at http://marydemuth.com
Here are the blogs featuring A Slow Burn during our SEPT 28-OCT 3 Tour.
Admissions of a Suburban Philosopher
All are welcome here
A Musing Mom Speaks
A Sandy Path Book Reviews
A Writer’s Journey
Adventures of the Duncan Six
AP Free Writing 101
Awesome God…Ordinary Girl
Be Your Best Mom
Beams of Light Ministries
Bell Whistle Moon
Blog Tour Spot
Bluebonnet in the Snow
Book Nook Club
Caregiving and Beyond
Carla’s Writing Cafe
Carly Bird’s Home
Cheaper by the Half Dozen
Cindy’s Stamping and Reviews
Communicating the Vision
Declaring His Marvelous Work
Drive Home Productions
Fiction for the Restless Reader
Five Bazillion and One
Fresh Brewed Writer
Gatorskunz and Mudcats
His Reading List
i don’t believe in grammar
Joy in the Journey
Karen R. Evans
Latte with Me
Literary Fangirl Book Reviews
Mocha with Linda
Moments with MarLo
Musings by Lynn
Musings of Edwina
My Alabaster Box
My Life Message
Net’s Book Notes
One Desert Rose
Passionate for the Glory of God
Real Hurts, Real Hope
Rebecca Barlow Jordan
Refresh My Soul
Scraps and Snippets
Surviving the Chaos
The 160-acre Woods
The Gospel Writer
The Harrison Kaleidoscope
The Heart of Writing
The Stubborn Servant
The View from Here
This That and The Other
To Be Beautiful
Where Romance Meets Therapy
Write 2 Ignite
Write on the Knows
Writing to the heart of the matter