Meet MARYBETH WHALEN and her debut novel THE MAILBOX

Even at my age (over 50, less than 75), I still anticipate the arrival of the mail…the mail the post office delivers, not Google. It’s archaic and perhaps even silly because I’m old enough to know that, in addition to the useless and often shiny junk mail, I’ll find bills. Even so, there’s just something about the promise of the unexpected that intrigues me as I trot out to the end of the driveway after the mail lady has lowered our little red flag.

Naturally, before I even met her, the title of Marybeth Whalen’s book was enough for me to want to read it; the cover art made it even more appealing. It was a happy coincidence that I came to know Marybeth after I’d known her first novel was soon to be released. She and Ariel Allison, author of eye of the god, contacted me with the jaw-dropping news that Walking on Broken Glass was the April selection for She Reads. From that time until July, the three of us yammered it up on g-chat and email until I had the opportunity to meet them and experience the She Speaks Conference.

Marybeth’s debut novel uses the Kindred Spirit mailbox, a real landmark on the coast of North Carolina, almost as its own character in the novel. Of course, considering my own affection for mailboxes, I appreciated how she used this Kindred Spirit mailbox to draw both characters and the twenty years span of time together in the novel.

As a divorced and now remarried mother, I related to Lindsey’s struggles, her pain, and even her willingness to open herself to the possibility of greater pain.  Clearly, after twelve years of marriage, a divorce was not what Lindsey had envisioned for her marriage to Grant or for their two children. Her husband, however, broke their vows with his unfaithfulness, initiated the divorce, and later, transformed into a more manipulative and deceitful version of himself.

When Lindsey and her children return to Sunset Beach, to vacation in a place both familiar and memorable, the story carries us through a love story that began twenty years before and a faith that endures through disappointments and loss. Lindsey and Campbell, discover through their journeys, that the God of second chances never abandons His children.

1. Okay, spill it sister. Admit you’re a clone. A husband, six precious children (ages 18 to 5), a speaker, a writer of nonfiction and fiction…What ‘s a “typical” day in the life of Marybeth?

Typical seems to be a moving target. Every day is different and just when I get a routine down, something changes to mess it up. Take for instance school just getting out. I had a routine but then the kids got out of school and that routine is out the window! Instead I will tell you that a good day includes writing 1000 words (have found that that’s my sweet spot), going on a run, doing something fun with my kids, talking to my husband beyond just passing each other in the doorway, taming the laundry and dishes, and making dinner. Now, understand that said good day might happen once a quarter. The rest is just me surviving the chaos.

2. How/When did your involvement in Proverbs 31 begin? Your speaking ministry?

My involvement began in 1993 when the ministry was just a little home-done newsletter that we folded in a woman’s living room and sent out to people we knew. It’s certainly grown since then! When my third child was born with a severe birth defect that required a trach and g-tube in 1996, I resigned from the ministry and truly thought I’d never come back. God led me back 7 years ago and when I returned, I got involved with speaking– something else I never intended to do. I love how God surprises us with His plans!

3. What was your first nonfiction title? How many since then? What led you in this genre direction before fiction?

I have done two titles for Proverbs 31 as takeaway pieces for our She Speaks writers and speakers conference: For The Write Reason (for writers) and The Reason We Speak (for speakers). My husband and I did a book that came out last year called Learning To Live Financially Free. I started out in nonfiction because fiction felt too risky. I was afraid I wasn’t good enough and was too scared to put myself out there. I had to get over that.

6. What would most surprise the Marybeth of 20 years ago about the Marybeth of today?Goodness, a lot! That I actually did write a whole novel from beginning to end… and that it got published. That I have been married for 19 years and that we have 6 beautiful children together. That I speak regularly to groups and do not pass out– and actually enjoy it. That my love for writing wasn’t just a passing phase. Turns out it was the way God wired me and His plan for how I would uniquely impact other people for Him.

7. What is the “takeaway value” of The Mailbox for readers?

For one it’s just a good love story for those who love to lose themselves in a good love story. But beyond that it’s for any woman who has ever resisted God’s relentless love for her. She will recognize herself in Lindsey, the main character.

8. What can you share about your second novel? Release date?

I will have a new novel coming out in June of 11. It might be the sequel to The Mailbox or it might be the novel I just turned in. We shall see…

9. How is marketing fiction different from or is it the same as marketing your nonfiction?

Marketing fiction’s a little harder. With nonfiction there’s something to discuss– a specific topic about the book that you can be interviewed about via radio, tv, print articles, etc. With fiction there’s just the great love of story that has to come through and resonate with those who encounter you. I have tried to focus on the regional aspect of the book being set on the NC coast, and also to discuss some of the elements of the story— a father’s love for his daughter, teens struggling with anorexia, divorce, etc. That has helped. One thing I would say that is the same is the relationships I have formed are helpful in getting the book into people’s hands because they know me… and getting the buzz going that way.

10. What do you believe separates Christian fiction from “general” fiction? Do you think Christian fiction needs its own section in the bookstore?

I have found that people want to be warned if the book is spiritual in nature so yes, I do think it needs its own section. However, I think that if done correctly a non-Christian can enjoy a Christian fiction book just as much as a Christian. I had a Jewish woman who read The Mailbox and loved it so much she told me she was going to write to Oprah about it. 🙂 So that was such a boost to me to know that the story can touch the heart of any woman who has ever wanted to be known intimately and loved anyway. I don’t want to just write to Christians and my prayer is that non-Christians will discover God’s love for them through this book.

11. If you could write only one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?

The Mailbox— it’s the book I was meant to write and if I never do another one, I will always be humbled and amazed by the experience.

12. What dream(s) do you have for yourself/your family/your writing?

Just to get published was a dream come true so I am still reveling in that! I would be really happy to see Mailbox as a movie, I must admit. As for my family, just to raise all 6 of these kids to be God-chasing adults would be the best achievement I could ever aspire to.

13. What is your idea of a “Marybeth” day?

Spent on the beach with my family, followed by a nice dinner out and a good chick flick before sleeping at least 8 hours, preferably ten.

14. Anything else???

I can be found at where I blog regularly, or at, where we talk about the best Christian fiction books being published. Would love to see you there!


Just Over the Horizon…Meet Richard Mabry

From Christa: Richard and friends…mea culpa for the delay in posting…We’re on vacation in Maui (so sad, I know), and my time zones are altered! I’m truly excited to have Richard’s guest post here.  I met Richard and his precious wife at my second ACFW Conference, after he and I were clients of Rachelle Gardner. I’ve enjoyed knowing him, and I am certain you will too!

When our children were smaller, we had a lake house about an hour’s drive from Dallas. In the time-honored tradition of children everywhere, they began asking “How much longer?” and “Are we there yet?” shortly after we left home. I knew the landmarks along the road well enough that I was able predict our arrivMabry.jpegal before we crested the last hill. Matter of fact, we made a game of it. I’d borrow a line from their favorite Muppet, The Amazing Mumford, and say, “Okay, it’s time. Say it.” And they’d repeat the magic words: “A la peanut butter sandwiches. Make Runaway Bay appear.” And sure enough, it did.

Don’t we CodeBlue_HIRES.jpegwriters wish we knew what was over the next hill? We’d like to be able to say, “A la peanut butter sandwiches. Make an agent offer representation.” Or “A la peanut butter sandwiches. Make an editor offer a contract.” But it doesn’t work that way. We don’t know the landmarks of this journey, so we have to wait, crest the next hill, and if nothing positive happens, press on to the next one.

Of course, even if there is a contract over the next hill, that isn’t the end of the journey. There are the edits—macro edits, line edits, galley proofs. There’s cover art, a possible title change, all sorts of things. And along the way, we’re expected to help market our work, starting well before the date of publication.

Christa and I have both been fortunate enough to crest a number of those hills: representation by an agent (and we’re blessed with a great one: Rachelle Gardner), a contract for publication of our work, and the actual release of the books. Walking On Broken Glass debuted to critical acclaim on February 1. My novel of medical suspense, Code Blue, will release on April 1. These are big hills, and we both were anxious to get to the top so we could see further down the road. And you know what we saw? More hills.

We’re looking forward to having more of our work published, but if we keep cresting hills and nothing appears, I don’t believe we’ll stop. Because writers don’t stay on this road just hoping to see a goal fulfilled. We stay on the road because writing is what we do—for many of us it’s what we feel we’ve been called to do. So we’ll keep doing it, no matter what appears over the next hill.

What are you hoping to see over your next hill?

Eyewitness: The Life of Christ by Frank Ball

1. The gospel stories have existed for some two thousand years. Why put them chronologically together now?

Nine out of ten Americans own a Bible, but the people who most need to hear the message don’t often read the book. They believe Scripture is outdated and too difficult to understand. Would they read the story of Christ if it were presented as a single story that is easy to understand? Most of them say they would, so Eyewitness answers that need.

2. Why do the Gospels appear to have conflicting stories?

At a crime scene, eyewitnesses always have different testimonies about what happened. Because each gospel writer had his own point of view and spoke to a different audience, the information is actually complementary, not conflicting. The apparent conflicts disappear when we use each viewpoint to compile a complete and compelling story.

3. How was writing and recording events different two thousand years ago?

We now use a computer keyboard to rapidly type and edit text that prints on our laser printers. In the first century, writers had only their parchment scrolls in which every word was hand written, one character at a time. Cut-and-paste editing and simple rearrangement of details into chronological order didn’t exist. Writers naturally put down information as it came to mind, giving us a flow of thought that isn’t always in date sequence.

4. What is the significance of John’s gospel being the last one written?

If John were to introduce his book to us today, he might say, “Let me tell you the rest of the story.” There wasn’t much need to repeat what had already been written, so he gives us clarification of events that were already being told and retold, as well as eyewitness reports that are found nowhere else. Unlike the other writers, who were not always chronological, John unfolds most of his story in date sequence in relation to the Jewish feasts. This gives us a chronological guide for putting all the biblical information in order.

5. In what way do you think the readers of Eyewitness will have a clearer understanding of the nature of God?

Jesus said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” If we can see what Jesus is doing and hear what he is saying, we become eyewitness of God’s nature. Because the words in Eyewitness are more like what we would read in a novel, readers are able to visualize themselves as present at the gospel events. It’s the next best thing to actually being there, walking with the other disciples.

6. How many different Bible translations were necessary to complete this project?

Hundreds of scholars have invested countless hours in the production of good translations. In the development of an easy-to-read wording for Eyewitness, translators’ handbooks and more than fifteen popular translations, as well as the Greek and Hebrew texts, were considered.

7. Is the Bible flawed in presenting the life of Christ in four separate books?

No, not at all. Each author’s report has its own perspective and meets a different audience need. Matthew points to the fulfillment of ancient prophecies to prove Jesus was the Son of God. Mark, the shortest of the Gospels, is the quickest to read. Luke, being a physician, gives many important details. And John adds clarity, chronology, and new information. Eyewitness was written for those who don’t read the Bible and for people who are helped by seeing how the story unfolded, chronologically.

8. Why do you think Eyewitness appeals to people who seldom attend church?

Even professed atheists and agnostics have questions about the meaning of life and what happens after we die. Eyewitness isn’t a book of difficult-to-understand rules that threatens punishment if we don’t do everything exactly right. The life of Christ is presented in a way so people can easily understand the value of loving our enemies and helping people in need.

9. Where can we find out more or purchase a copy of Eyewitness?

Please feel free to visit my web site at

Eyewitness: The Life of Christ Told in One Story by Frank Ball (WinePress Publishing)

Eyewitness reaches people who seldom go to church or read their Bibles.

Of the millions of Americans who don’t go to church, 56 percent consider themselves Christian. If they knew what Jesus said and did, they would know the importance of networking and reaching out to help others. While Bibles sit on coffee tables and bookshelves at home, gathering dust, people pick up Eyewitness and don’t want to put it down. Not only does it use language that is easily understood, it pulls readers into the story, almost like walking with Jesus in the first century.

The Bible has sold more copies than any other book and continues to sell year after year. Continuing in its footsteps is the Eyewitness series written for the average person.

Flash back to first century AD. One man appeared who shook up the world. Four men testified to what they saw and heard. The details of Jesus life were recorded by four of his closest followers. Each account is written from a different perspective and only one of the four tells the events in chronological order. Therefore, for centuries, the accounts have been told in out-of-sequence fragments.

Eyewitness compiles the information from the Gospels and hundreds of other Bible verses into one chronological story laid out like a story without reference or verse. The result is a seamless combination of the four gospel books that will appeal to customers across the board, even those who would not normally purchase a Bible.

About the Author

Frank Ball was the Pastor of Biblical Research and Writing at Anchor Church in Keller, Texas, for three years. After thirty years of research and teaching the life of Christ, he began a twelve-year project to analyze every gospel story about Christ and put the events into chronological order. Ball meticulously considered almost twenty resources, including the Greek and Hebrew texts, the opinions of other Bible writers, and different translations, to make sure his translation was correct. Using the gospel of John as the chronological backbone, he determined an appropriate time setting for every event.

Ball believes there is no greater role model than Jesus. The better we know him, the more we can be like him. “It’s impossible,” he says, “to love someone you don’t know. The Scripture arranged in this easy-to-understand order helps us to know Jesus. It allows us to be more of an ‘eyewitness’ to the events of Christ’s life, and in doing so, to be more like him.”

Ball has always been a great student, especially in math and the sciences, but hated English. He excelled in high school; however, because his family was impoverished, he was unable to attend college. After high school he took a menial job that supported his parents and siblings. In 1968 he married Kay and they had three sons. Kay passed away in 2005. Ball currently lives with his family in Fort Worth, Texas.

When personal computers became available, Ball embraced systems analysis and business administration. He devoured reading material on the high-tech industry and was a successful business executive until he made a commitment to full-time ministry in 2002.

In 1995, despite his dislike of English, Ball believed God was redirecting his life, and he devoted himself to writing—which has, ironically, become his passion. Knowing the challenges he faced without a secondary education, Ball became self-taught by voraciously reading books as if they were college texts. He studied as if he were preparing for tests.

Ball says that this project wasn’t his idea at all. He just had an unexplainable desire to do this chronology, and along the way he realized that God had a plan. Using his Eyewitness Stories version of the Gospels as a foundation, Ball assembled the gospel information, as well as more than two hundred other Bible verses from the Old and New Testaments, to create what he believes is the accurate order of events. Ball believes the combined stories resolve some of the discrepancies that some say exist in the Gospels.

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Note from Christa: I met Christina and her precious mother (who looks fab-o, by the way) Sherrie at my first American Christian Writers Conference. We were in Margie Lawson’s amazing Early Bird session. At one point in her teaching, Margie asked us to look for particular rhetorical devices in our writings. The prologue to my novel, Walking on Broken Glass, happened to contain one. Anyway–I promise I’m getting to the point–at the break, Christina and her mother shared with me that they were touched hearing what I wrote. They were so comforting and enthusiastic; they introduced themselves and we’ve been chatty ever since! Please visit Christina’s blog when you finish reading this. She will blow you away with her compassion, wisdom, and strength. And sign up for their mom-daughter newsletters too!

First, meet Christina

Tell me about receiving The Call.

My agent, SaraBERRY-4213-T1[1] (2)_428x600.jpgh Van Diest, had been back and forth with me on the phone and over email for a few weeks as two houses were showing a lot of interest in what was then titled Undiscovered. House “A” had said they would be making an offer, but nothing concrete came in. House “B” was rushing the project through so they could compete. Being a compulsive email checker, I actually found out House B—Moody—had come through with an offer about three minutes before I answered The Call. Instead of breaking the news to a clueless author, Sarah had to listen to me shriek with excitement for a few moments before she could even speak!

Tell me about your novel.

The Familiar Stranger—formerly known as Undiscovered—is about a couple going through a really rough patch in their marriage. When an accident incapacitates the husband, their relationship must be redefined. Which would be a lot easier to do if BIG secrets from his past didn’t raise their ugly heads. Despite the upheaval, the choices they make involving forgiveness and trust might allow a new beginning. Or … they might not.

You can see the back cover copy and what other authors have said about The Familiar Stranger by going to

How did you come up with the story?

In the summer of 2006, two stories appeared in the newspaper. One was a huge, national story; the other a smaller, local-interest item. I wondered what it might look like if those two stories conceived a child. Boom! I had the entire plot for The Familiar Stranger. It will be interesting to see if readers can figure out which stories inspired the book.

What challenges do you face with your writing? What comes easy to you?

As a single mother of young children, and currently serving as a foster parent, time is my biggest challenge. I have to make sure my family knows they come first, but to balance that with treating writing as a career.

Strength-wise, while the idea of writing or editing may seem hard, I usually get quite a lot done in a short amount of time once I start. An object in motion tends to stay in motion. That applies to our writing. A little momentum can go a long way!

What surprised you about the publishing process after your novel was contracted?

I knew that titles were frequently changed for publication, but I didn’t expect the title to change before the contract was officially signed. Also, I knew that editors move from house to house fairly often in this industry, but I didn’t expect to lose my dream editor two days after signing the contract. (Hi, Andy!)

After getting over the shock of losing my editor, I was very surprised at how much Moody valued my input, how frequently they communicated with me, and how they lifted my family up in prayer. In fact, everyone from my editor to the marketing manager to the author liaison has been amazing!

What takeaway value do you hope readers receive after reading your novel?

The recent changes in my life—losing my husband, facing finding a “real” job, selling my home—have done nothing but solidify what I hope to be the theme of the book and my life: Live Transparently—Forgive Extravagantly. If reading The Familiar Stranger makes even one man or woman be more honest with his or her spouse or delve into trust issues in a healthy way, I’ll consider it a success. Maybe there’s a hurting heart that can find a new path to forgiveness because of the story.

What part does God play in your writing?

I believe He guides the story, adding layers I’m not even capable of comprehending while I write it. I’m not great at starting my writing time with prayer, but I try to stay open to where He might lead me.

I see writing as one of the tools He uses to form me into His image—a tool to teach me patience, self-control, determination, reliance on Him, and other life lessons. I also see writing as a gift that brings hope, fulfillment, and purpose when the rest of my life is falling apart.

What fun facts may surprise your readers about you?

I was the team captain and second answerer in the speed round for our family on Family Feud in 2000 … and we won! Also, I grew up in Nigeria, West Africa, while my parents were Southern Baptist missionaries. I remember being awed at the selection of toilet paper in the grocery store when we returned to the States.

How can we pray for you?

Behind every book is an author, but what I tend to forget is that the author is a real person with real struggles, doubts, and hardships. This happens to be a period of pain, growth, and change in my life. I would love to be held up with prayers for the following: grace and strength to show Christ’s love to everyone I come in contact with, the ability to find joy wherever possible, and financial, emotional, and spiritual safety for my family as we continue the transition to a single parent home.

What made you start writing?

Buried deep within my closet, one might find some angst-filled poetry from my teenage years and a very spooky seven pages of the novel I started in high school. Though I was in love with the idea of being a writer, it wasn’t until I finished college and stayed home with my first child that I actually decided to write a book. Truthfully, my mom told me we were going to write one together, and being the obedient daughter I am …

Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

Any character has some aspect of my personality, for better or worse. I can only write what I know. I’ve seen a richness develop in my writing as I’ve grown in my faith and walked through some valleys in the last decade.

Denise and Craig’s story is based on the lessons of forgiveness God taught me when my marriage fell apart … the first time. Accordingly, many of the emotions Denise goes through correspond to what I felt, though our situations differ. However, I also wanted to really understand the male perspective, so Craig had parts of me in him as well. The path away from God and following temptation is something we can all recognize and, unfortunately, identify with.

During the editing process and years after my husband and I reunited, our marriage of thirteen years unexpectedly ended. The words I had written as a happily married woman ministered to me in my singleness. My heart’s hope is that this book will lead people to Live Transparently—Forgive Extravagantly!

The humor Sherrie Ashcraft (my sometime co-author and always mother) and I display in our infrequent, humorous newsletters–sign up at–has garnered the attention of an editor. You just might see a funny, non-fiction cooperative work from the Ashberry Ladies at some point in time. Plus, I have a funky TV-based devotional a house is interested in … Busy, busy, busy!

The Familiar Stranger.

Craig Littleton’s decision to end his marriage would shock his wife, Denise . . . if she knew what he was up to. When an accident lands Craig in the ICU, with fuzzy memories of his own life and plans, Denise rushes to his side, ready to care for him.

Familiar_Stranger_Cover.jpgThey embark on a quest to help Craig remember who he is and, in the process, discover dark secrets. What will she do when she realizes he’s not the man she thought he was? Is this trauma a blessing in disguise, a chance for a fresh start? Or will his secrets destroy the life they built together?

How can our readers purchase your book?

Here are two links:

You can also have any bookstore order copies for you if they don’t have any in stock.

A SLOW BURN: Mary De Muth’s second novel in the Defiance, Texas Trilogy

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.


Tell me a little bit about your background and your family.
You can read my testimony on my website ( 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

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.


She touched Daisy’s shoulder. So colA Slow Burnd. So hard. So unlike Daisy.

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.

Meet Mary DeMuth

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 medimary-demuth-6-iia 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

A Slow Burn Book Trailer

Mary DeMuth’s Facebook Profile

Follow Mary DeMuth on Twitter

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
Arkansas Dreams
Aspire2 Blog
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
Carma’s Window
Cheaper by the Half Dozen
Cindy’s Stamping and Reviews
Communicating the Vision
Critty Joy
Declaring His Marvelous Work
Drive Home Productions
Elizabeth Bussey
Fiction for the Restless Reader
First Impressions
Five Bazillion and One
Fresh Brewed Writer
Gatorskunz and Mudcats
Heading Home
His Reading List
i don’t believe in grammar
J’s Spot
Joy in the Journey
Karen R. Evans
Kristin Early
Latte with Me
Lit Fuse
Literary Fangirl Book Reviews
Luxury Reading
Merrie Destefano
Mocha with Linda
Moments with MarLo
Musings by Lynn
Musings of Edwina
My Alabaster Box
My Life Message
Net’s Book Notes
Niki Nowell
One Desert Rose
Paper Bridges
Passionate for the Glory of God
Pollywog Creek
Ranunculus Turtle
Real Hurts, Real Hope
Rebecca Barlow Jordan
Refresh My Soul
Scraps and Snippets
Sheila Deeth
Sherri Woodbridge
Sky-High View
Snapshot’s Photoblog
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
Unreasonable Grace
Walking Daily
Where Romance Meets Therapy
Word Vessel
Write 2 Ignite
Write on the Knows
Writer’s Wanderings
Writing to the heart of the matter

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What to do while you’re waiting: Meet Debut Novelist Myra Johnson

shapeimage_3 Christa and I are both recently home from the American Christian Fiction Writers conference, held in Denver, CO, this year, so I know she understands the “brain-dead” feeling of post-conference week!

 Yet here I am trying to come up with a witty guest post, so bear with me, y’all (yes, my Texas roots are showing).

 One of the things I love most about the ACFW conference is our time spent in worship and praise, and one of our worship songs was “While I’m Waiting,” by John Waller. The words were especially appropriate for a roomful of 500+ writers, because—published or not—a writer is always waiting for something.

 Our critique group’s praise (hopefully!!) of the pages we submitted.

 Manuscript contest results.

 A response from an editor or agent.

 That first (or subsequent) book contract.

 Five-star reviews.

 Making the best-seller list.

 Winning a coveted book award.

 For the advance check to arrive.

 For lightning to strike with the next great book idea.

 But as the song lyrics remind us, waiting isn’t static. There’s always plenty to do during that time, including worshiping our Lord, serving others, and generally keeping on with the business of living.

 Which is exactly what I had to do for the 25 years I wrote and submitted manuscripts and soaked up feedback from critique groups, editors, and contest judges. Despite regular publication in magazines and devotionals, my one big unfulfilled dream was a published book. So many times I thought about giving up—but look what I’d have missed! I’d never have seen the release of my debut novel, One Imperfect Christmas, nor the next three book contracts that followed in quick succession.

 Wherever we are in our waiting—and whatever we may be waiting for—we must remember that God’s timing is always perfect. He is never slow, never late. He knows what is best for us at every stage of life. If we are obedient to the still, small voice of God’s instruction and direction, if we look to Him only for our fulfillment, our waiting will not be in vain.

 About Myra: Myra Johnson’s roots go deep into Texas soil, but she’s proud to be a new Oklahoman. Empty-nesters now, she and her husband share their home in Broken Arrow with two loveable dogs and a snobby parakeet. Her debut novel, One Imperfect Christmas, released in September 2009 from Abingdon Press.shapeimage_2

She also writes for Barbour Publishing’s Heartsong Presents line. Autumn Rains, winner of the 2005 RWA Golden Heart for Best Inspirational Romance Manuscript, releases October 2009, soon to be followed by Romance by the Book and Where the Dogwoods Bloom.

Myra writes full-time and is active in her church as well as local and national writers groups. Myra and her husband have been married since 1972. The Johnsons have two married daughters and five grandchildren.

 About One Imperfect Christmas: Graphic designer Natalie Pearce will soon face the most difficult Christmas of her life. While taking down last year’s Christmas decorations, her mother suffered a massive stroke, and Natalie blames herself for not being there when it happened. Worse, she allows the monstrous load of guilt to drive a wedge between her and everyone she loves—most of all her husband, Daniel. Her marriage is on the verge of dissolving, her prayer life is suffering, and she’s one Christmas away from hitting rock bottom.

            Junior-high basketball coach Daniel Pearce is at his wit’s end. Nothing he’s done has been able to break through the wall Natalie has erected between them. And their daughter Lissa’s adolescent rebellion isn’t helping matters. Daniel’s hope reaches its lowest ebb, and he wonders if the next Christmas will spell the end of his marriage and the loss of everything he holds dear.

The KATIE WELDON series returns! COMING ATTRACTIONS by Robin Jones Gunn

Tell me a little bit about your background and your family.

If you’ve read a Christy Miller book you might see some similarities here. (Write what you know, right?) I was born on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. My parents moved to southern California when I was five. I grew up in a strong, church going family. My dad was a junior high history teacher and coach. My mom directed a pre-school at our church. My sister and I squabbled over clothes and chores, my brother and I liked to make forts in the orange grove next to our house and sleep out in a tent in the backyard in the summer. The three of us were all born within five years and I’m in the middle. We’re still close. In high school I started a Christian club at mAttractions Covery school and went on missions trips to Mexico with our church. I had some really great God-Lover friends and we spend many hours at the beach and around campfires singing praise songs.

I attended Biola University for two years. I traveled to Europe when I was 21 to attend a Bible school in Austria and work for a mission organization in Germany. My husband and I married while he was finishing seminary and we immediately began a journey together of doing youth ministry for 22 years. Our son was born five years after we were married and then four years later our daughter arrived. We moved a lot. The favorite year for all of us was the year we living on Maui. We’ve been in Portland, Oregon area now for 15 years where my husband is a counselor. Our God-loving son is married to a wonderful young woman and our daughter is living back in California, working and loving life and loving God in new and deeper ways. I feel so blessed. Really.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?
Travel, travel, travel. And when I read, it’s all about Hawaiian history or poetry and hymns. I’ve incorporated the travel in all the Sisterchicks books over the years as well as the Christy, Sierra and Katie books. In “Coming Attractions” I sent Katie off to Africa and I’m going to follow her there in real life. I’m going to Kenya, Lord willing, in November to teach at an International Writers Conference

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Actually, last month I did feel as if I had a superpower. God gave me the superpower to forgive someone and wow! What a supernatural change that made in my heart.

What has God been teaching you lately?
Every year in January I take a full day where I curl up in a chair in the living room by the fireplace and a pot of tea. I light a candle, open my journal and read what I wrote over the previous year. My heart is always overwhelmed with the faithfulness and goodness of God. Then I list all the evidences of His hand on my life and thank Him some more. My final tradition is to ask Him for a word. Words are what my life is all about so in sweet and personal ways over the years I have seen God give me a gift each new year – a gift of a word. That word becomes a banner over me for the coming year. And as you can imagine, when I look back over the year the next January, I can see specific ways that He wrote that particular word over my days many times across the months. This year the word He gave me was “radiate.”

And yes, I’ve felt the fulfillment of that word already this year in opening Robin’s Nest Online Shop The influence of the stories I’ve been writing all these years are now “radiating” to a wider audience. We listed some stories on the landing page that are really touching from readers and shoppers. What I’ve been so aware of this year is that in order to “radiate” there has to be a source of power that comes from elsewhere. I’m just a reflector of the power of God. There have been some really difficult times this year when I wanted to turn off the switch, so to speak, and go dark into hibernation/invisible mode. But then I roll back around to the reality that I’m not the one producing the energy. I am powered by God’s faithful, extravagant Spirit. All I have to do to radiate is stay plugged in.

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A missionary. I wanted to travel to foreign lands and translate God’s Word into a language that unreached people could understand. I tried applying for a position in Africa when I was in my twenties. The only opening they had for someone of my very limited abilities and talents was a “laundry supervisor”. It wasn’t what I had in mind as my life work for Jesus, but I applied and was rejected. The fun part of this story is that when I was teaching at a LittWorld Conference in England 11 years ago I met an African woman named Wambura who had read my books as a teen in Kenya. When I told her my story of rejection she said, “Oh, Robin, you did not need to come to Africa to wash our clothes. God sent your stories and they have washed our hearts.” !!! When I go to Kenya this November I’m spending 4 days with Wambura. She says she wants to help fulfill God’s will for my life so she’s going to let me do her laundry. :)

Where are you headed next?
Well, Africa in November. Career wise, I have several options available to me at the moment and am thinking and praying and waiting on the Lord to make some big decisions. I’m not able to reveal specifics yet. I keep readers updated in my e-newsletter, which they can sign up to receive by going to

How did you get involved in writing?

I started writing 22 years ago when our two kids were babies. I didn’t really set out to be a published writer or dream about someday writing a book. I think my motivation was probably to satisfy a storytelling instinct I didn’t even realize I had. Or maybe I didn’t understand how “bad” I had it!
My first series of six books for toddlers was released in 1985. It took two years and I think 10 or 11 rejection letters. I was ready to give up but my husband along with several friends kept encouraging me to continue sending out the book proposal. Determined friends can be such a gift! They believe for you long after you’re ready to give up.

The publishing journey with the Christy Miller series started with a distinct moment in a tent. My husband and I were on a camping trip at the beach with our youth group and some of the 13-year-old girls were sitting in their tent reading books rather than going out to the beach and hanging around with everybody else. I asked if I could read three of their favorite books out of the stack of probably 20 books they’d brought from the library. I got in the tent with them, read their books and soon said, “You know what? I don’t want you reading these books. This is not what I want you putting into your young hearts. Do your mothers know this is what you’re reading?” The girls shrugged and said, “What else is there to read?” This was 1986 and the selection of Christian fiction was quite limited.

The girl challenged me to write a book for them. They said, “How hard can it be? We’ll even tell you what to write!” And they did. It took two years and those teenage girls brutally critiqued every word I wrote. They changed the book into the kind of story they cared about. It was the best writer’s training course I could have ever taken. If you want to find out if your work rings true or not, read out loud to your potential audience and believe me, you’ll know.

That first YA novel, Summer Promise, released in 1988 and grew into a series of books, followed by the twelve-book Sierra Jensen series. Then I wrote the College Years, because I wanted to find out what was happening with all the characters! Christy’s best friend is Katie, so the Katie Weldon series is the continuation of all those characters as seen from Katie’s point of view. I have to say the three Katie Weldon books were immensely fun to write.Gunn Headshot

I should mention that I started writing the eight Glenbrooke novels 15 years ago because we had just moved to Oregon and I loved the idea of connecting all these 20-something-plus characters to Glenbrooke, an imaginary small town in Oregon. How did these couples meet? How did they know they were in love? Those were the sorts of questions my readers were asking when I started that series. That was a delightful series to write.

The Sisterchicks® Series just sort of happened. I was actually writing a novel for The Women of Faith and it turned out to be its own sort of new beginning. That book was Sisterchicks on the Loose! So, instead of that book going to The Women of Faith, I wrote Gardenias for Breakfast for them and launched the Sisterchicks stories into an eight-book series. Sisterchicks in Wooden Shoes! just came out in May.

What was the most difficult aspect of the writing process?
This week I’d have to say it’s the rewriting process. I’m not very fast at rewriting and it seems that with some books I have to really work at getting the adjustments to the story just right. It’s as if the story happened so clearly in my imagination just the way it came out and now when I go back to make changes there is a battle in my head as my imagination says, “Hey, why did you change that? That’s not how it happened. I was ‘there’. I saw how this story happened. You’re changing the facts.” It’s an odd dance between the right and left brain I guess. Editorial direction almost always wins out and that has been a good thing. But my free spirited imagination bucks against it every time. I actually get sulky and feel subversively belligerent during the rewrite process. Then I see the finished book and get all humbled again and think, “Yes, this is much better than what I first wrote.” Love the results, hate the process.

What did you enjoy most about the writing process?
Collecting the ideas, jotting notes, cutting photos from magazines to visualize the setting of the story and getting to know the characters. I think I work more on this preliminary part of my own unique writing process than I do on the actually spilling of the story. I do best when I really “know” the characters first. Then I just listen and they tell me their story.

How do you find time to write?
Finding big spaces of creative time is getting more challenging as all these other avenues of promotion keep opening up. When our kids were little I had a set routine of getting up at 3am three days a week and writing for four hours while the house was nice and quiet. I still get up early sometimes to write but not like I used to.

What would you say to someone who wants to become a published author?
First, commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be established. (Proverbs 16:3) It was His idea to infuse your imagination as He did. How does He want to use this gift He gave you? Explore ways to get training. Classes, conferences and workshops abound and many of those can be found in Sally Stuart’s Christian Market Guide. Also, I highly recommend Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writers’ Guild as a fantastic mentoring program. 

Second, learn how to discern between criticism and advice. Be open to both but know what to sift out and throw away and know which gems to pick up and hold on to.

Where did you get the idea for the book?
The idea was with me for many years. I wanted to find out what happened to Katie and Christy and the rest of the God-Lovers gang. But after I finished writing I Promise, Christy and Todd had just walked down the aisle and my 14 years of writing about these characters ended. The day I typed the last line I clearly sensed the Lord impressing on me that I had finished what He invited me to do when I started writing for teens. So I asked Him, “What’s next, Lord?” What followed was the Glenbrooke Series, the Sisterchicks Series and 4 non-fiction books. But no more teen novels.

Every week for the next seven years I received requests from readers all over the world asking me to write more novels for teens. With every letter I’ve asked the Lord, “May I, please?” The answer was always silence. I even approached two different writers about the possibility of them writing about these characters. Both times the projects didn’t develop. So I surrendered again, stepped back and asked God, “What’s next, Papa?”

The answer came in a unique way one afternoon a few summers ago. I was stretched out on the couch for a little nap with my eyes closed. In my heart I distinctly sensed the Lord saying, “I’m giving Katie back to you.” I opened my eyes and looked around to see who spoke because the words seemed so clear. The sun streamed through a high window bathing me in light and a sweet sense of peace. Out loud I said, “Am I making this up or are you directing me, Father?” Just then the music on my computer switched to a song I have long considered Christy and Todd’s love song. I felt a rising sense of excitement. God was doing a new thing.

From there all the doors swung wide open and I am overwhelmed and grateful and thrilled that I was able to write these three Katie Weldon novels. Peculiar Treasures released from Zondervan in March, 2008, and picked up where I Promise ended. Then came On a Whim and now Coming Attractions.

The question I’m asked now every single day is, “Will there be more?” My answer once again is, “I don’t know. I’ll keep asking God and see what He says!”

What are the major themes of the book?
Katie is a college student and in each book she is facing all the struggles that come with that season of life; what am I going to do next? Do I really love Rick? Does he really love me? Are we supposed to get married? What about this nudging I have toward one day going to Africa? How can I resolve this ongoing unsettled relationship with my parents? How am I going to get the money I need for tuition? Where am I going to live after I graduate? Who are my true friends?

The themes, as with all the novels I’ve written, revolve around friendships and moving ahead in relationships with others as well as an authentic relationship with God.

What kind of research did you have to do for the book?
Before I started the series I went to a university in southern California, similar to the setting of the imaginary Rancho Corona University Katie goes to in the books. (Yes, I’m sorry to have to say it, but Rancho Corona is an imaginary college! I receive letters every week from readers who want to go there.)

My editor and my agent went to the California college with me and since my daughter was attending that school at the time, she gave us the grand tour, answered a bazillion questions and gave me lots of details of what her experience was like since she was an RA that year, like Katie. I told lots of photos, talked to groups of women in the dorm at night, spoke in chapel, ate in the cafeteria and sat on a bench by the fountain and just watched. That was a very helpful trip. Having my daughter working in tandem with me on the books was the biggest help, though. She allowed me to draw from a deep well of her own feelings and experiences and I think that’s what helped make the books feel true to life for readers.

With which character do you, personally, identify most and why?
Katie, I think. But I was a lot like Christy when I was growing up and so I’ve always been able to relate to Christy’s timidity. I like to put all my “spiritual” thoughts into Todd’s dialog, though. So I don’t know. I feel connected to all the characters in different ways.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?

That was actually my daughter’s word for the year when I started writing the Katie books. Yes, my daughter has begun her own tradition of running away with Jesus for a day in January and asking Him for a word. I hope readers will see how deeply and intimately they are loved by God and how He has pursued them and called them by name and longs to have a close relationship with all of His daughters. I hope they will see that in every situation there is hope. When you shake all the frivolous stuff out of life, as Paul said, “These three things remain; faith, hope and love.” We all know that the greatest of these is love. We also all know that our journey with the Lord begins with faith. But I think we forget that the bridge there between the two is hope. For Katie, hope is what kept her going. Hope is what she was willing to take risks for and release the past in order to embrace the future. “May your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD, even as we put our hope in you.” Psalm 33:22

While I was writing these stories I loved listening to a band named “Ruth” Their lyrics gave me such a great sense of what Katie and Rick and the rest of the gang were feeling throughout this series. Plus I like the music! Give a listen and see if their music reminds you of Katie and the gang, too.
I would love to add you to the list so you can receive the Robin’s Nest e-newsletter! Go to to sign up. We are always coming up with new ideas for drawings for free books. And now that we have the brand new Robin’s Nest Online Shop you can order my books directly through the shop along with some adorable Tshirts, keychains, posters and more fun items related to all my books. Oh, and please stop by the guestbook on my website and sign in. I love to go to that page and just pray for all the readers from around the world. It would be a joy to pray for you

Thanks for stopping by Robin Jones Gunn’s Coming Attractions Blog Tour.

Here are the blogs featuring Coming Attractions during our AUG 31-SEPT 4 Tour.
4 the Love of Books
A Peek at My Bookshelf
Blog Tour Spot
Book Nook Club
Carlybird’s Home
Christy’s Book Blog
Come Meet AusJenny
Deus e Fiel
Drive Home Productions
Great Christian Reads
Karen R. Evans
Life is one daily adventure
Lighthouse Academy
Mama Kenz Studio
My Christian Fiction Blog
My Spot
Red Said Paisley
Sherry Kyle
The 160-acre Woods
The Friendly Book Nook
The Gospel Writer
The Writing Road
WORD up!