Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label writing. Show all posts

Saturday, September 13, 2014

What Does Your Home Say About You?

     Mementos adorn every area of my house. They’re a part of me and speak volumes of who I am. I like to think my house reflects hope as my writing strives to do.


Plates painted by my 2 youngest & a bear picture painted by the oldest -both at age 8-9

     My three daughters are precious. Memories from their childhood grace several rooms. I cherish each and remember where it was made and which girl made it. Come Christmas, our tree sports decorations made by our daughters. No faddish tree will do for me.


Pictures adorn every table, desk, and wall in this place; children and grandchildren at different ages. If you give me a vacant, spot, I’ll fill it. I add extra shelves to hold new treasures. I look for new ways to display art.


History speaks to me. Things from my past hold a place in my heart. This pitcher set was given to my grandmother when she married my grandfather, so it’s somewhere around 75 years old. I don’t do genealogy, but years ago, when wondering where I got my love of writing, I met a cousin of my mother who wrote poetry.


Friends are important. I may never travel to England or Australia, but I have souvenirs from there given to me by gracious friends. I have visited fields of bluebonnets, but none any more beautiful than a picture painted by a friend.

London souvenir from my English friend, Anne
from Australia. Thank you, Madeleine, my online writing friend.

painted by a dear friend now gone to heaven
Stacks of papers and books make up my husband’s “black hole.” I dust around them, but I never remove them. That’s his territory, a reminder of the wonderful man that shares my home.


Sayings stuck on mirrors, pictures, or cabinets remind me of things I tend to forget, but shouldn’t. One is entitled "Memories." Another says "move it or lose it." The one stuck on the bluebonnet picture above says "It's never too late to be who you might've been."


The Bible I’m studying at the present sets beside my place at the dining table for easy pick-up to read after I eat.


My writing corner. The plaque above it says "Lo, I am with you always - Jesus
A junky study overflows with books, papers, and file cabinets highlighting the computer where I pour out my heart through my fingers.

What’s in your house, condo, or apartment? What does it tell the onlooker about you?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

An Interview with Ane Mulligan

Today, my guest is multi-published Ane Mulligan. She bills her writing as southern-fried fiction. With me being a Texas girl born and bred, I just must like that tagline.

While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, Ane has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that's a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, humor columnist, and novelist. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband, her chef son, and two dogs of Biblical proportion. You can find Ane on her Southern-fried Fiction website, Google+, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Pinterest.


1. Ane, when was the last time you wanted to give up on writing? What saved you from doing that?

    I don't think I've ever wanted to give up, although I've been really discouraged at times. My writing journey has taken nearly 12 years. But every time I felt lower than the bottom rung of a ladder, God showed up with someone who encouraged me. I eventually realized I needed to factor His timing into my publishing equation. Once I did that, I wrote and left the rest to Him.

2. Good advice. Where did you get the idea for your new book?


    Years ago, a young women at church told me when she married, she didn't know she should have prayed for the husband God had picked out for her, so she was gong to get a divorce and go look for that other man.

I talked her out of it, but it stuck with me. If one woman thought that, there had to be others. So I decided to explore what would happen if a woman in her forties, who had been married for a long time just learned that.
3. What is your favorite character from the book?

    Claire. She's a hoot. She's moves without thinking and has no filter between her brain and her mouth. She gets into more messes. The tagline form the book tells it all: With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

4. I think I would like Claire, too. Ane, if you could be a song, what would it be?

    This took a lot of thought. I may have sprained my brain, but I finally came up with When You're Smiling. God wired me happy. I love to laugh and I'm usually smiling. After all, frowning takes more muscles and therefore more work—and more wrinkles.

5. Thanks for the reminder. I must smile more. In what place do you do most of your writing?

    I used to do most of it at Starbucks, but then Hubs bought me a wonderful recliner that stopped all my back problems. So now, I write in my chair, in my new office.

6. What habit do you struggle with making or getting rid of?

    We're not talking about chocolate or coffee here, are we? Because those are two of the four major food groups. Can't give those up. Probably getting in my quiet time. I'm ADD and get distracted so easily it's pathetic.

7. What book are you reading now?

    At the time of this writing, it's Woman of Fortune, by Kellie Coates Gilbert. Although, I'll have finished soon. It's hard to put down.

8. How did you connect with your current publisher?

    I read a book I liked, Becalmed, by Normandie Fischer, and mentioned it to my agent. She looked it up, saw it had been published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, and decided to send my manuscript to them as she knew the editor. I'm delighted she did.

    They also allowed my hubs, an artist, to paint my book cover. It was no easy task to pull an imaginary town from my brain. To me, it was more of a feeling than brick and mortar, even though I'd drawn a map for where everything is within the town. But he did it and I'm tickled pink with the result. Ken Raney took his painting and made the cover design with it.

9. What a wonderful thing to have your husband included in the work. I love the cover. Is there anything else you want to tell us?

    If you're a writer, never give up. Only those who give up, fail.
Chapel Springs Revival

With a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Everybody in the small town of Chapel Springs, Georgia, knows best friends Claire and Patsy. It's impossible not to, what with Claire's zany antics and Patsy's self-appointed mission to keep her friend out of trouble. And trouble abounds. Chapel Springs has grown dilapidated and the tourist trade has slackened. With their livelihoods threatened, they join forces to revitalize the town. No one could have guessed the real issue needing restoration is personal.

With their marriages in as much disarray as the town, Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. That is if they can convince their husbands and the town council, led by two curmudgeons who would prefer to see Chapel Springs left in the fifties and closed to traffic.

Okay, I hit Ane with several questions, but she was gracious in her answers. Do any of you have questions or comments for her? Chapel Springs Revival sounds like a must-read to me.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

An Interview with Kelly Irvin

I love author interviews. I approach them with such hope. They're like making a new connection, forging an interesting alliance, beginning a satisfying relationship.

Today, Kelly Irvin tells us something about herself. You and I have the potential for a new friend. If you'd like to ask her a question I forgot, you'll have your turn at the end. 

  Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest Housing Publishing. Her latest release is A Plain Love Song, set in Amish country in Missouri, which debuted July 1. It is the final installment in the series, which also included Love Redeemed and Love Still Stands.


 She is currently working on The Beekeeper’s Son, the first book in the Amish of Bee County series, for Zondervan/HarperCollins. She has also penned two inspirational romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.


Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-six years. They have two young adult children, one gorgeous new granddaughter, two cats, and a tank full of fish. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors.

Kelly, tell us something of your writing journey.

I always wanted to be a novelist, from the time I was a child. But I grew up in a working class family and I knew it was important that I be able to get a job and support myself so I earned a degree in journalism and became a newspaper reporter. Then I got married and had children and the years passed. On my forty-fifth birthday, I woke up and realized I might never reach my dream if I didn’t get a move on. So I squeezed in writing my first novel with a full time job in public relations and two children in middle school and my marriage. It took another seven years, but I finally published my first romantic suspense novel at the age of fifty-two. I almost gave up several times along the way, but God blessed me with a supportive husband and an agent, Mary Sue Seymour, who never gave up so I stayed the course. Mary Sue urged me to try Amish romances after I published two romantic suspense novels. At first, I was hesitant, but she was so sure it was the right move for me, I gave it a shot and she sold the first book, To Love and To Cherish, to Harvest House before I finished writing it. I now have two series with Harvest House and a new series that starts next year with Zondervan/HarperCollins. It’s been an incredible journey.

How exciting. What a history. Wish I'd gotten busy with my writing at age 45. Alas, I waited until 63, but hey, we serve the same awesome God. Is there a favorite spiritual theme in your writing?

It seems that I always come back to two things: forgiveness and grace. The Amish are great role models for forgiveness. The tragic shooting at a school house several years ago received a tremendous amount of publicity when the Amish families who lost daughters forgave the man who killed them. That set me to thinking about what could I forgive and did I live out that fundamental Christian tenet. Just because we believe in forgiveness, doesn’t mean it comes easily. That was the basis for my first Amish romance, To Love and to Cherish. God’s grace covers us and he forgives us even though we fall short of his perfection over and over again. We are called to do the same for others, but it can be a tough road to travel.

Ouch, you're so right. What books have your read recently?

I mostly read mysteries and romantic suspense, but I never miss books by historical fiction writer Allison Pittman. I love her most recent historical novel All for a Story, which is a Christy Award finalist this year. Allison has such a great style and her characters are always memorable. This novel takes place during the Roaring Twenties, which is fun. Plus this one is about a newspaper gossip columnist and the man who inherits the tabloid for which she works. He tries to change the paper into something more wholesome and she resists. It was a great read for a former journalist.

Thanks for the tip. What other interests do you have besides writing?

I love to read, of course, and I enjoy spending time with my children and my nine-month-old granddaughter whenever I can. I have a full-time job in public relations so I don’t have much time to do anything else other than write and spend time with family.

What is your writing routine?

I go to the office early and get some writing done before I’m on the clock at 7:45 a.m. Then, whenever I can, I close my office door at lunch time and write for as long as I can. Whatever time I can squeeze in on evenings and weekends, I do. Because I was a newspaper reporter, I’m used to writing fast and on deadline so I make it work.

What song best describes you?

“Sweetly Broken” by Jeremy Riddle comes to mind. It really speaks to how far I had to fall before I could come crawling back to the cross and the wonderful affirmation that God would take me back, no matter what I’d done or where I’d been.

You mention earlier about almost giving up. Tell us about that, and how you got through it.

As I mentioned earlier, it took seven years to get my first contract. I was so exhausted from working full time and trying to be a wife and a mother as well, I began to wonder if God intended for me to have this fiction writing career. I wondered if I should be writing mainstream novels instead of inspirational novels. It’s a bigger market and more possibilities for the kind of gritty romantic suspense I was writing at the time. Finally, one Sunday I sat in the pew at church and I prayed for God to show me the way, to give me a sign, to tell if I should stop or keep going or do something different. Three days later my agent called with a contract offer. It’s all in God’s hands and it’s all about his timing. I have to keep reminding myself of that even now. People think because an author receives one contract, he or she has it made. But it’s always about the next contract so that an author can build on that momentum and build a following of readers. I try not to get wrapped up in that, but rather to focus on the writing and let God take the helm. It’s the only thing that works.

What's your favorite Scripture verse?

Micah 7:18-19, the verse I used for the second book in the New Hope Amish series, Love Redeemed.  These verses remind us that God’s grace is unending. He will forgive. We need only ask and be repentant. My lack of perfection makes this a very comforting scripture!

Who is a God like you who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?

You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

You will again have compassion on us;

You will tread our sins underfoot

and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

That is beautiful. Tell us what's next for you.

I have a new series that I’m very excited about. The Amish of Bee County is set in Bee County, Texas, home of the only Amish district in the state. It’s very small and rustic. The first book, The Beekeeper’s Son, comes out in January and I’m currently writing the second book, which has the working title of The Bishop’s Son. I think Amish fiction readers will enjoy it because it’s very different from what you typically see in Amish fiction. The Beekeeper’s Son examines the difference between what the world says is beautiful and what God sees as beautiful.

Tell us about your most recent release.

She had to find her way to him…but first she had to find her way to God.


Adah Knepp wants nothing more than to make music. It’s all she’s ever desired—to sing and play the guitar and write her own songs. That’s a dream that will never come true in the confines of her strict Amish community. But then she meets Jackson Hart, and suddenly she sees the chance for a different kind of life…a real stage, a real guitar, and a real opportunity to sing her songs to a real audience!

But pursuing her dreams means turning her back on her faith, her family, and her community—and saying goodbye to Matthew, the gentle Amish farmer she can’t get out of her mind. Is it worth giving up the only home she’s ever known to pursue her dreams?
Purchase it at:

Contact Kelly at::

Twitter: @Kelly_S_Irvin
Thank you, Kelly, for allowing me to get acquainted with you. Now, it's the Writing with God's Hope blog viewers' opportunity to ask questions. Click on post a comment.

Saturday, March 29, 2014


A few years ago, Garth Brooks sung a song, "I hope you dance." I love that song. Dancing signifies enjoying life, taking time to smell the flowers, and singing in the rain.

There, is that enough clichés for you writers trying to avoid them.  As psychologist, writer, teacher Margie Lawson warns her students, "Cliché Alert."

Still, I'd like to remind my followers to dance.

Line dancing with friends

Young people assume they're invincible. I hate the term elderly, and yet, advancing age does teach us to live life one day at a time, to enjoy every phase even if it's getting old.
This week again has reminded me of that. My husband and I went to visit his mother in West Tawakoni, Texas and took her to eat in Greenville. My husband got sick at his stomach. His illness progressed and by Wednesday landed him in the hospital. I stayed with him most of the time. We waited and watched for each new doctor to give us the latest report. Even in that situation, I found opportunities to thank God and enjoy some laughs with my beloved. Metaphorically, I danced and sang praises to the Great Physician and Comforter.

I enjoy family and special events with them.

Granny's 90th birthday with 3 daughters & 1 grandson 

I love flowers.

I like football especially when we win. P.S. I like baseball, too.


Grandson who plays for Leonard Tigers.

I like God's sense of humor. Have you looked at the animals lately? We took our youngest grandson to the zoo on spring break this year.

Fort Worth zoo

Today, after worrying all week over my husband, my heart is filled with gratitude.
Today, I want to say thank you to all who follow my blog.
Today, I want to thank God that I can put my thoughts on paper, or online.
For all of you, I hope
that you stop and smell the wildflowers and notice the different colors and textures
that you sing in the storm, on the merry-go-round, and in the hospital
And, that you dance and laugh wherever your feet start tapping.
Margie, how's that for changing up clichés?
And now, the winner of last week's contest for a copy of my book, Divine Dining.
The winner is Jean Ann Williams.
Thanks to all who left a comment. I hope your daughter enjoys the book, Jean Ann.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

A New Release for Judy P. Davis

 I met Judy P. Davis on the loop for Christian Writers Fellowship Intl. Her new book Happy New You is now available.  I feel blessed to tell the Writing with God's Hope followers about her and her latest book because I know you'll see her heart. 

Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom of the post. Davis is offering a chance to win the book.

Judy, tell us something about your writing journey.

 I started writing over 25 years ago in 1985 when I felt the calling of God.  I was reading my Bible and prayed, "God you have been so good to me, what can I do for you?"  I turned to the Scripture in Jeremiah 30:2 "Write every word I have spoken to you in a book."  I had never written anything but a few letters and felt like Moses.  Who me? 

The journey began as doors opened for me.  I started writing a column in the local newspaper, attending the Florida Christian Writer's Conference each year for almost 20 years, went to college while working full time for the government.  Later, in 1995, I earned an Associate Degree in Theology.  I retired from my Civil Service career in 2004.  God equips those He calls.  I have never looked at Christian writing as a career but as a ministry.

Is this your first book?

 No,  this was my 11th book.  Some of them are on

What caused you to want to write this book?
 Last Jan 2013, I prayed for the new year and in my prayer, I asked God, "What would be a good devotional to read this year?"  And the words came into my heart and spirit, "Why not write your own devotional, a 365-day devotional?" I started writing that day and continued writing almost each day for a year.  Happy New You Reading the Bible Through will soon be released from the publisher.

I can sure identify with that since I wrote my 365 day devotion book, Divine Dining. God does give the words. Do you have another book in the works?

 No, not at this time.

Where is your favorite writing place?

In my office.  My husband bought a new computer for me for Christmas.  I also enjoy writing on my laptop.

If a song could describe you, what would that song be?
  I can't think of a song but my life verse is "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, do not lean on
your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your path straight."  Proverbs 3: 5,6

Oh, I love that verse, too. Good to remember. Can you tell us something about your new book?

Here's an excerpt from the forward that my pastor wrote for the book.

In this book, “Happy New You”, Judy Davis takes you through a journey in the
Scripture that allows you to read, reflect, experience, and interact with God. 
In this quest for “something more”, as you allow your heart to brush up against
eternal truth, there will be subtle, yet powerful, changes in your life.  When
the liberating power of this truth begins to work its way into the essence of
your soul and spirit, the experience of reading the Scripture will transform
from a task to a highlight of your day.

As a pastor, I am always giving counsel to believers on resources that will
strengthen their walk with Christ.  I can say, without hesitation, that this
resource will serve that purpose in a uniquely practical way!  Pastor Merrill

Judy, tell us more about yourself.
Davis has written newspaper columns, articles and devotions for Pentecostal Evangel, Pathways to Go, Woman’s World, Evangel, The Upper Room, Christian Pulse online, and many other publications. Her books include: Faithful Women of the Bible, Living Abundantly Spiritually, Financially, and  Physically, Women of the Bible, and many others. She uses her vast writing knowledge to judge Writer’s Digest self-published book awards.
She and her husband, Colin, have been married for 47 years.  They have 3 children, 6 grandchildren and 1 great-granddaughter.  They love to travel since retiring from their careers in 2004.

How can people find you online?

Thank you for giving us some insight into who Judy P. Davis is.

Now for Davis' offer for a giveaway for a kindle version of her book. All you must do to be in the drawing is leave a comment and don't forget to give your e-mail.  The winner's name will be drawn on the evening of March 14.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Set Goals and Dreams for 2014

Have you set new goals for 2014, yet? Today is February 1. It's past time.

My devotion book, Divine Dining, offers these suggestions in the devotion for December 31.

But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit, for the Spirit searcheth all things, yeat the deep things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:10

      Tomorrow we begin a new year. New Years Resolutions may not work, but setting well-thought-out, written, and prayed-over goals do. It’s time to evaluate the illness that tied us in knots. Has God brought an emotional healing during this year? Has He started a new work? Have you hit bottom where you’re ready to begin?

     Wherever you are on the path, it’s time to focus on where you want to go. In the new year, will it be God’s Way, or My way for you?
     Go through these steps.


     Decide if you’re ready to submit to God

     Read this daily devotion book in the new year and

          everything else that will help, especially the Bible

     Energize through leaving off sugars and fats that drain

          your vitality.

     Admit your powerlessness and Ask God to take over your


     Mentor others as you receive your day-by-day healing.


 Here's another example of how to DREAM. 


    Discern God’s will daily.

    Record your progress and reaffirm God’s leading.

    Eat the Word. Make it part of you.

    Associate with friends that pray and encourage.

    Maintain contact with God regardless of what’s going on in


Prayer: I can’t. God can. Lead me in the coming year.
Check out also the post under, Dream on, Writers, published on another page on this site. This article has appeared in several magazines and newsletters and aims the goal setting more for writers. As you can tell, I love acrostics.

Many of you already own Divine Dining. If you don't, go to the link above now to purchase it, or find it also on Amazon in print or kindle version.

Saturday, January 11, 2014


I use every wonder cream modern technology devises. Maintaining my weight loss makes me appear younger than I looked twenty years ago. Despite my efforts, my age races ahead and catches me. Every day, I awake with a new pain, a new wrinkle, and less energy.

Life runs through cycles. Each time we transition, we face challenges.

 My childhood friend and I spent many happy days. Since she lived down the street from me, we were together all the time. I could never have imagined life without Janis. Then, we entered junior high. She gained bad habits that my parents didn't like, and I was no longer allowed to associate with her.  My heart broke. Our ways parted. I pushed aside my timidity and made new friends, even a boyfriend, so thus, I moved into the teen years. God went with me.

My fiancé returned from a navy tour in Japan, and we married. He moved me several states away from family and friends. My sweetheart went on with his work leaving me alone and unhappy. Fights erupted between us. Money was scarce. With the birth of our first child, my overeating compulsion that I thought I left behind back in college, returned with new struggles to face. Still, God blessed us.

My husband's career blossomed. I fluctuated between mom of three daughters with all the PTA, softball games, and girl's church groups. When our finances tightened, I got an extra job for awhile. I attended parties and banquets with my husband as he became more and more well known and successful. During this cycle, my life revolved around my family, my church, and my community. Then, while I was in my late thirties, we moved to another town where I knew no one. God moved with us.

Through my forties and into my fifties, my compulsive overeating devastated me. I reached out for help to psychologists and tried every diet plan or medicine I hadn't tried in my thirties. I worked in the medical field and took part in church projects. God never forsook me, keeping me from the pits of suicide and hell. My health deteriorated. I started a Weight Controllers class at church. God began an emotional healing in me, and I started to lose weight.

The time of retirement brought the next change in the cycle. I searched for God's will for my life. He hadn't intended to heal me without using me, and so my writing career began. Within seven years, My debut novel released. A few months later, my devotion book about healing from compulsive overeating, came out. My life-long dream became reality. God used my weakness to magnify His strength.
Booksigning at Wichita Falls, TX library

Now, a new transition looms. My husband has semi-retired. We long to spend more time in our travel trailer, visiting with our family, and taking life easy. As I told my oldest daughter, I'd like to start acting more retired.

At the same time, my writing is my dream come true.. Each new book especially in a different genre brings more and more speaking engagements, booksignings, and online promotion. This is part of the dream. The challenge to this transition is find a balance. I want to continue to succeed with my writing career at the same time I want to start acting more retired while I still have energy enough to enjoy traveling and hiking.

I don't know yet how this will look, but from the cycles I've already weathered, I know this one thing.

God will go through it with me.

But He knows the way that I take (He has concern for it, appreciates, and pays attention to it). When He has tried me, I shall come forth as refined gold (pure and luminous). Job 25:10 TAB

What cycle in life are you in?
What challenges and struggles is it bringing?

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Interview with Singer/Writer Tara Johnson

At the 2012 ACFW conference in Dallas, I sat at a table with a young lady that I immediately fell in love with. She talked of Christ's love and faithfulness and gave me a demo CD of her songs. What a kindness that was. I thanked her but never realized how much that CD would minister through the next year. The title song is "It's a Brand New Day." Talk about encouragement, it's there.

I emailed this lady and asked if I could interview her. She graciously accepted my offer. Help me welcome Tara Johnson to my Writing with God's Hope blog today.

    Tara, when did you know you wanted a career in singing?

   I remember being tucked into my bed at the age of six and daydreaming about what my life would be. I was suddenly struck  with this image: I was looking out from the middle of a well-lit stage, microphone in hand, watching a large crowd listen as I sang. But honestly, as I got older the thought that I could ever be a singer felt ridiculous. For one thing, I didn't think I was that good! I spent high school and the first part of college determined that I wouldn't go into music. As much as I loved it, it didn't provide a very stable income. Instead, I entered the education program...and was miserable. God finally caught my attention and I ended up changing my major to music with emphasis in voice and songwriting. The rest is history!

      When did you make your first CD?

   In 2002. It was a custom album a friend of mine and I put together before I signed with Incubator Creative Group.


       How many CDs do you have?

   "Sweet Mercy" and a Christmas album entitled "O Holy Night" along with lots of individual singles. I need to get them compiled into a new project! With itunes shifting so much of the way music is sold, it's much more feasible these days to work on individual singles than huge CD projects. I'm guessing that CDs will soon become a thing of the past, another item to add to the retro pile along with 8 tracks and vinyl records.

     Ah, yes, I still have some records that are keepsakes.  Do you write your own songs?

   Yes, much of the time. My concerts are a mix of original music and cover tunes but I love to write my own when I can. And whenever I need a good laugh, I work on creating parodies. For example, I changed the old song Daddy's Hands to Daddy's Hair. It's a tribute to my awesome Dad and his, um, hair-challenged predicament. :)

   That's funny. Do you have another job or career besides music?

   Yes and I confess it's hard to describe. There's no good job title for it. My manager calls it 'being a musicianary'! In 2004, I signed with Incubator Creative Group which is a record label and management company out of Santa Clara, Oregon. Basically, I help encourage people battling depression, people pleasing and grief, all struggles I've dealt with in depth. In fact, this past year I wrote a book about it! (Hollow Victory: How to Identify & Disarm 5 Landmines that Make Victorious Christian Living Feel Like a Lie) I travel to churches, women's retreats, prisons (basically anyone who is willing to put up with me) and talk about how radically God has transformed my life. So along with music, I do a lot of public speaking, comedy and writing.

  Do you still go to writer’s conferences with your mom?

   Absolutely! We are planning on attending the national ACFW conference in St. Louis next year. It's a great time for both of us to get creatively energized, deepen our craft and bond a little closer. And laugh. We always laugh.

Does your mom still write?

   At the moment, no. Her job is full-time and extremely stressful. She is brimming with ideas but hasn't had a chance to start fleshing them out yet. But when she does, I'll be her biggest fan! Actually, I suppose I already am.

 If one song could tell your life story, what would that song be?

   Wow. That's a tough one. That's like asking a chef what his favorite recipe is! I would probably have to say a song I wrote called December Songbird. Over the past several years, I've lost two babies in miscarriages and have learned that praise is a choice. This song encompasses the idea of what Job declared. "The LORD has given and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD." Come what may, I will continue to praise His great name.

         Tell us something about yourself that we might not have heard.

   Haha! I've been doing that game on facebook where a person is given a number and they have to list a certain number of things people may not know about them. So I suppose that list can apply here too! Here are my top six:

          * I've done my fair share of cow-tipping.
* I can only sleep on the cool side of the pillow.
* I used to have a wall-hanging in my bedroom growing up that spelled out my name     with each letter hooked together. T-A-R-A. My brother would come in and re-arrange them on a regular basis to spell A-R-A-T. 
* My nieces and nephews call me "Aunt Spaz" and think that's my real name.
* During our wedding ceremony, the church caught on fire. True story.
* I am the biggest history nerd of all time.

           Where do you do your best writing or practicing?

   I can write just about anywhere but my favorite is my front porch when the weather is nice. I have a bench surrounded by flowers that I can relax in while I type away on my laptop. Usually if I'm out there, my kids are too. Getting to hear their squeals and giggles as they ride their scooters or play with their dogs on the front lawn is a great way to write.               It's also my favorite place to study my Bible.

          I love to practice music at my piano, mainly because of the sweet memories it brings. It's an old player piano that my Grandpa gave my Grandma on their first anniversary. That was over sixty years ago. When I was little, I would sit next to Grandpa on that old piano bench and giggle as he played Has Anybody Seen my Gal?. Every time he sang "five foot two, eyes of blue", he would elbow me in the ribs and grin. I always think of him when play that old piano.
Thank you, Tara , for stopping by to answer all my questions.  I've loved getting better acquainted with you.

Tara Johnson is a singer, author and songwriter from Alexander, AR.  In 2004, she signed with Incubator Creative Group, a Christian and ministry based record label out of Eugene, OR.  Tara loves to travel to churches, ladies retreats and prisons to share her testimony of how God led her out of a life of people-pleasing and depression into a new walk with Him. 

 This past year has kept Tara busy with singing engagements, counseling with people who are battling depression and writing her fourth book Hollow Victory.  In 2012, she won the Bronze Medal in the Frazier awards hosted by My Book Therapy and has articles published in Plain Truth Magazine. She and her husband Todd have been married for sixteen years and the Lord has blessed them with five children:  Bethany (10), Callie (7), Nathan (4 months) and Taylor Lynn and Morgan Lane who are with Jesus.

 You can contact Tara at  www.TaraJohnsonMinistries,  through facebook, twitter (@TaraMinistry) or email her at

Janet, here - I'd like to add a footnote of my own. Tara recently sent me her book Hollow Victory: How to Identify & Disarm 5 Landmines that make Victorious Christian Living Feel Like a Lie.

I began reading it right away, but as posted previously, I'm a slow reader. Also, I keep a fiction and a non-fiction book going at the same time. I wanted to give this short review.

I find Hollow Victory encouraging, inspiring, and helpful. The story of the Songbird touched my life. We must learn to deal with grief, depression, people-pleasing, perfectionism, and fear/anxiety to live in victory. Tara gives us ways to disarm these using God's tried and true methods. These landmines destroy compulsive people like me. I can and will use Tara's prescribed methods for myself and teach them in my weekly Divine Dining weight loss classes here in Wichita Falls, TX.

Thank you, Tara, for being obedient to God in writing this book. Thanks also for sending me a copy. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

It Only Took 5 Years?

Learning has come full circle for me. I guess I'm slow, but, as the cliché goes, I'm sure.

Five years ago, I wrote a manuscript with this tagline:

She’s addicted to overeating.

      He’s compelled to control her.

      But only God has the power to provide




At the ACFW conference in 2008, I pitched this story to an agent and a publisher. Their responses were helpful, but the takeaway was that it wasn't ready for prime time.

I pitched it as an inspirational romance.

"What's your main character's goal?" the publisher asked.

"To overcome her compulsive overeating and prove she isn't insane like her dad."

"Then, it's not a romance, it's a women's fiction."
PROBLEN NO. 1 - wrong genre

"We only publish romance."
PROBLEM NO. 2 - wrong publisher

I pitch it to the agent.

"What's the length?" he asked.

"60,000 words."

"Too short for women's fiction."
PROBLEMS NO. 3 - wrong length

The agent read my ten pages, and gave good feedback. I'll always be grateful for that.
He said, "Either, change the goal to hero and heroine finding love and publish it as a romance, or add 20,000 more words, and keep the same goal."

I prayed and made a decision.

Going through the entire work another several times, I added more drama, fleshed out scenes better, and took scenes from flashbacks to active time. Much better. Then I deleted unnecessary words. I was left with:
66, 000 words

In my inexperience, to add 14,000 more words, I needed another whole subplot, so I gave a fourth character three POV chapters. Now, I had it.
a little over 80,000 words

I pitched it several times after that without success, so I laid it aside.

In summer, 2012, 4RV Publishing released my debut novel. Then, in Dec., 2012, Pen-L Publishing released my devotion book for overeaters. I decided that would team up nicely with my fictional heroine who struggles with overeating, so I pitched it to Pen-L and started the process of rewriting the old story.

Thanks to five years of online courses, reading books, going to ACFW Conference, Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Conference, and OWFI conference, I stored up a wealth of writing helps. During this period, I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more. I read many books in my slow-reader style. In September, 2013, I attended the Immersion with Margie Lawson which improved my skill at putting the reader into the story and revving up the emotional impact.

I rewrote all fifty chapters. By the time I finished, the manuscript was 96,000 words.

PROBLEM NO. 3 repeated - wrong length
Only this time, it's too long.

I prayed and made a decision.

With my five years of studying, now I realize that I need to delete the extra POV chapters for the secondary character, and rewrite what happens in the hero's POV.

So, what did I learn in 5 years?

Go full circle. I don't require more characters.

SOLUTION TO ALL PROBLEMS - deepen the emotion in your story