I recently had the privilege to sit down for a podcast interview with my friend, Jordan Raynor, to discuss the the sometimes tense, but often beautiful, writer life from the perspective of faith and work.
Say that five times fast.
Jordan is the bestselling author of Called to Create, a book that “restores God’s position as the first entrepreneur, helping readers see the eternal value in the work they do today.”
Jordan’s upcoming release, Master of One, Jordan builds on that message, using his “story-driven, gospel-centric style to make the case that it is through excellent work that we glorify God, love our neighbors as ourselves, and earn the right to be heard by a world thirsty for truth.”
With this as his underlying message, Jordan’s podcast, The Call to Mastery, assembles a line up of speakers from all vocations who are intent upon working with excellence all to the glory of God and the good of others.
Jordan and I had a wonderful conversation about my work as a fiction author. We discussed the crazy dinner that Jordan and my husband had in London with Douglas Gresham, C. S. Lewis’s stepson and head of the C.S. Lewis Foundation, which resulted in a developing friendship between Doug and myself, ultimately culminating in a surprise endorsement from him for my newest novel,A Silver Willow by the Shore.
Over dinner and, cigars, Jordan and my husband and one other friend spent an entire evening talking with Doug about life, art, C.S. Lewis and theology. That night is now logged in my husband’s book as one of the most epic of his life. It may have even edged out the day we got married.
Jordan and I went on to discuss what it might look like to work as a Christian who is an author, but not necessarily define as a “Christian author”.
The discussion was rich and fun and multifaceted, covering everything from my daily habits as a writer to my most recommended books, to the unlikely person I consider a mentor.
Click here to listen to Jordan and I discuss faith and work from a writer’s perspective.
The verdict is in, and readers are loving my newest novel,A Silver Willow by the Shore! I couldn’t be more thrilled with the messages I am getting from readers about the impact this story of mothers and daughters, and of the longing for home, is having on each of them.
A Silver Willow by the Shore weaves together the stories of three generations of women, from the gulags of 1930’s Siberia, to the quiet oppression of 1980’s Soviet Moscow, to present day Tennessee. It is an unforgettable narrative of the treachery of secrets, and of the light that unites the heart of a family.
Click here to purchase your copy of A Silver Willow by the Shore!
There really isn’t a non-awkward way to begin this post. It’s been nearly ten months since I last posted in this space. In internet years that’s practically a lifetime.
A lot can (and did) happen in ten months. For those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or Instagram, here is the abridged version of events.
We adopted Sawyer in November, and while we thought we were prepared for the adoption journey, there was much about Sawyer’s health that wasn’t disclosed to us, so the learning curve has been straight uphill.
Shortly after bringing Sawyer home, when we were still reeling from the whirlwind that was China, our oldest son got sick. After a solid month of running a fever, and an ultrasound that revealed a swollen spleen, he was diagnosed with mono. A month after that, he was diagnosed with pneumonia.
On the same day that he was diagnosed with pneumonia, I was diagnosed with mono. This happened to be the same day that Sawyer had major surgery to repair his cleft palate.
The months of January-April are a bit of a blur. We were just trying to survive. We have seen more doctors and specialists than I ever knew existed, and we’ve met our family medical deductible for the first time in our lives, an accomplishment that isn’t nearly as exciting as it sounds.
There’s so much more I could share about these last ten months. They have been some of the hardest, most exhausting, emotionally charged, physically taxing, spiritually formative months of my entire life.
But it’s more than a simple blog post can handle, so I’ll simply leave it at this:
God is good because He is God. Hope is slow, but it is never ending. Life is hard and unpredictable while simultaneously beautiful and miraculous.
In the midst of this hard season, I’ve found myself craving the process of writing like never before. It was my lifeline when the mono knocked me out. In the wee hours of the morning, when fear and despair seemed to constantly drive me from my bed, tapping away at the keys brought and unexpected solace.
And through the storm of life, a new story has evolved.
This fall, I will release my second novel, A Silver Willow by the Shore.
A brief synopsis:
How do you face the future if you don’t know your own past?
When an unexpected pregnancy changes her dreams, seventeen-year-old Annie tries to keep it from her mother and her grandmother. But secrets have a way of coming out. In a household of strong women, the arrival of a new life sets off a spiral of truth that reveals a past full of whispers and lies—a past that existed in another world under the heavy hand of Soviet oppression. This history has dictated the circumstances of the present, but hope, redemption, and forgiveness will grow in the rocky places of these generational differences.
A Silver Willow by the Shore is the story of the unshakeable love between mothers and daughters and of the impact that past decisions can have on present day circumstances. This novel weaves together the stories of generations of women, from the gulags of 1930’s Siberia, to the quiet oppression of 1980’s Soviet Moscow, to present day Tennessee. It is an unforgettable narrative of the treachery of secrets, and of the light that unites the heart of a family.
In the weeks to come, I will be sharing more about the book and opportunities to help spread the word. In the meantime, if you aren’t following me on Instagram, hop on over as I’m posting updates there regularly about this newest novel, my crazy life, and the art of the written word.
It’s awkward to jump back in this way after so many months away. It’s like trying to reinsert yourself into a conversation that you walked away from.
But here we are. We’re alive and (mostly) well. We’re surviving, and perhaps even thriving. By God’s grace alone, we’re standing in this place, humbled, changed, and excited about what the future holds.
Now, fill me in on you! What has life thrown your way in the last ten months?
Nine years ago, I started my first blog. Like a lot of people, I didn’t start off smoothly. It was a rough few months figuring out exactly what a blog should be, how to tell a story in a way that was interesting, how to share what was happening in our lives without oversharing.
Blogging filled a need for me. I was a writer, but I needed to practice the art of the written word, and I learned a lot in those early blogging days. I also had a lot of fun.
I owe a world of gratitude to the blogging community and all it has offered me. This is why it’s sort of painful for me to step away from it, but more and more over the last few months I’ve felt that it was time for me to take a hiatus from the blogging world.
I’ve fought this decision. I didn’t want to stop blogging, and discontinuing my blog goes against all conventional wisdom for writing and marketing books, but the current life stage in which I find myself demands that I make some changes.
Right now, my heart’s desire is to continue to build my publishing career, and with four kids, homeschooling, taxiing said children to ALL THE SPORTING EVENTS IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD, and every other daily responsibility that falls on my shoulders, something has to give.
Right now, I can either write good books, or I can write good blog posts. But I can’t do both.
So I will be taking a hiatus from the blogging world. I don’t know if I’m stepping away forever or for a time – I just know I need to give myself the freedom to walk away so I can focus on writing my next novel, as well as the novella I’ve been mulling over. I’m also fleshing out an idea for a new nonfiction book.
My brain is spinning with ideas, and this is exciting!
So, while I’ll be stepping away from blogging, I’m not completely disappearing. I still want to connect with all of you!
I’m going to start posting Facebook videos a couple of times a week on my Facebook page, and I would love to have you join me there. I’ll be discussing books I’m reading, talking about the writing process, telling funny stories – pretty much everything I would have done here only in short 2-5 minutes video bites.
I will miss sharing my life in this medium, but for now this is the right decision. To whomever has hung on with me from the beginning (and there are a few of you!), I thank you for taking this life journey with me. You all have been such a blessing.
And for those of you who are new, I sure hope you’ll continue to follow along, because if I’ve learned anything during this blogging journey it’s that life is so much more fun when it’s shared!
I do not have quiet children. I have the loud, gregarious type of children who enjoy being seen and heard, some of them more than others. And the more the noise ramps up, the more this mama feels like she is losing it.
It’s not just their voices, though. They’re into music now, so there’s always music playing in the background, which I love. I always dreamed of having a house filled with music and laughter. Only, and I’m revealing my age here, their music is loud and…dare I say annoying?
And it isn’t so much laughter that’s floating through the halls of my home as it is a mixture of bickering, posturing to be heard, and the telling of silly jokes that I think are supposed to be funny, but 99% of the time I don’t get the punchline.
I think maybe I am the punchline.
It’s been an intense season around here. No one told method launching two books in three months would leave me feeling poured out in ways I didn’t know possible. I hesitate to say anything because it sounds like I’m complaining.
For the record, I am not complaining.
If I were to list the number of blessings to come out of the last five months, this blog post would turn into a short novella. It’s been a wild, but extremely exciting ride, culminating in the release of the books, both of which I am immensely proud.
I’m also immensely tired.
I’ve felt all poured out the last couple of weeks. I sit down to write, and the words feel stuck. They can’t seem to make it from my fingers to the page, which is a problem when you make your living as a writer.
I think I just need some time. I need time to be with my family and not feel rushed.
I need time to exercise, coaxing my loose muscles back into shape.
I need time to let my neck heal, since I somehow seem to have injured it with all this rigorous book launching. (It’s ridiculous, I know. But I refuse to say my neck hurts because I’m getting old. I’m sticking with the whole “writing injury” thing.)
There’s this sense of angst that settles in my heart when I consider taking a break. Part of the business of writing requires that you build an audience. Know your people and talk to them. Publishers like that.
The truth is I like it, too. I like sharing my life with readers, and in turn I like them sharing their lives with me. But it’s time for me to give myself a little space.
I’ll be taking a blogging break. I just need to give myself the freedom to step back, not completely. I’ll still be sharing on Instagram, and on Facebook, and occasionally on Twitter. I would love to have you follow me in one of those spaces.
But I’m going to let this space breath for a little while. Because here’s the thing:
I’m working on a new book.
I’m really excited about it. I love the characters already, and I’m fleshing out the details. I’m ready to start diving in, but I need to give myself a break in other places in order to let my brain process. So I’ll be quiet in this space for awhile, but I do hope you’ll stay connected.
Because this journey is so much more fun with community.
After years of research. And a few more years of seeking representation. And then a few months of seeking publication. And then another year of editing and marketing and incessantly talking about the book.
HERE IT IS!
Like a River From Its Course officially launches today. This is the day I’ve been waiting for since I was 22 years old. This is the day I dreamed about.
These are the stories I wanted the world to hear.
I pray I’ve done them justice. I pray that the men and women who are represented by this book are honored, because my deepest heart’s desire is to prove that there are still stories we haven’t heard.
In a world that feels unpredictable and frightening, I wanted to offer a book that gave hope. Four years ago, I visited Tanzania with Compassion international, and in the deep red soil of Africa, the Lord imprinted upon my heart the words that would become my life’s anthem:
The evidence of that truth becomes more and more clear to me with each passing day. Hope is slow. But oh my friends, hope is alive. It is so alive, and it’s real, and when the world feels dark and scary and uncertain, we can cling to the fact that hope is here.
We need the stories in this book for such a time as this. We need to be reminded that man cannot be so easily broken. We need to recall a time when people rallied against a greater evil. We must remember the men and women who put their own lives on the line so that they could protect their neighbors.
We need these stories. And we need them right now.
I don’t know if I’ve done a good job with this book launch. I don’t know if I’ve become annoying with all the promoting and marketing. I don’t know if I’ve spoken to the right people. Maybe I’ve been too forward. Maybe I’ve been too timid.
I’ve made mistakes along the way, and I’ve learned a whole lot in the process.
But today I know that none of that matters. Today is a celebration because today the book is officially out in the world.
Today I can finally say I delivered on my promise to share these stories.
Today I can say I’ve seen a dream fulfilled.
Today I give these stories as a gift to you. Please treasure them because they’re precious.
And today I say thank you to all the people who have cheered me on.
Thank you to the people who wouldn’t let me give up when I wanted to throw in the towel.
Thank you to the people who were waiting at the finish line with chocolates and cheers of excitement.