Stephanie has been a member of the same critique group as me for over a year. She is a master at grammar and conflict, and I really enjoyed Angel in the Furnace. Soon you will be able to enjoy it, too. Today Stephanie answers some questions, and I learned a lot. Please leave her a comment and get to know her better!
1. How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing something since I was 6, so almost 21 years now.
2. How did you come up with the title of your book?
The title of Angel in the Furnace comes from Daniel chapter three. I did a Beth Moore study on Daniel a few years ago and loved her video session on that chapter. She discussed that there are three options when it comes to trial–God either spares you from it totally, asks you to walk through it, or delivers you from it by taking you to Heaven. My characters are two people who’ve been asked to walk through their fires. They’ve come out alive, but they still smell like smoke.
3. What do you want readers to know about it?
Dr. Grace Taylor, a driven pediatrician and single mom, needs divine intervention if she’s going to heal from the actions of her cheating, abusive ex. But she never expected that intervention to come through Chris Anderson, a tutor at the local learning center whose secrets keep him from opening up to her. Despite fears and distrust, love begins to take root in both their hearts. But their fiery secrets threaten to keep them apart, and blister their souls.
4. What character are you most like, if any?
This is funny, but I think I’m most like Chris Anderson. In this romance, my hero took shape first. We’re both educators and readers, and we both love kids. And when we get hurt, we both have a visceral reaction of withdrawal from others.
5. What’s your next book about?
The next book (laughs)…I have two ideas. The one I really want to write is sort of autobiographical, about a smart, creative teen girl with mild cerebral palsy, seeking independence from her handicap. My other idea would be to write Josh Anderson’s story. Josh is Chris’ single younger brother, and although I don’t know much so far, I know his love interest’s name is Emily, and she hates dogs for some reason. Except, Josh raises dogs for a living…
6. What do you do for fun?
Well, of course I read for fun, and honestly, writing is fun for me. I just joined my church’s fledgling drama team. I love to sing, and I have a love-hate relationship with exercise.
7. What is your favorite book?
(Laughs) I have to pick ONE?! Okay…I’d have to choose Susan May Warren’s Happily Ever After–really, her entire Deep Haven series.
8. What advice do you have for beginning writers?
Read books whose authors you love. The idea is not to copy them; the idea is to find out where your voice and genre might fit. And then learn all you can about writing. Take classes. Get crit partners. Read books. Let your brain become a writing sponge.
9. What is your favorite verse?
Jeremiah 29:11. It’s been my life verse since I was 17.
10. What is something few would guess about you?
Most people would never, and I do mean never, guess I’m a big fan of Reba McEntire and Martina McBride.
This is long overdue. Back in May I found a site I liked a site so much I wanted to do something more than follow it. I decided to feature it on my sidebar that month, and write a post about them.
May’s choice was Chick Lit Girls.
I decided to break my wrist and fall behind schedule in June.
And, I’m late for July.
My goal is to find a blog, website, organization, or ministry that does something positive and offers different ways to engage with them. It might be subscribing to their blog, joining them with their cause, following on Twitter, who knows. I’m kind of making this up as I go along.
By the way, if you would like to be considered, I can’t promise anything, but you can let me know at email@example.com. When you do, tell me what site/blog/organization/ministry you are nominating, why, and appropriate links. If I choose your recommendation I’ll place the badge/button on my sidebar for at least a month and write a post about it.
This month I’m choosing Glass House Ministries. I first met Cheri through our affiliation with FaithWriters. She reached out and mentored me both with writing and life as a then mother of a preschooler. I got to know her and her testimony. What I learned about her and her husband, Wayne, was that having a testimony wasn’t all God purposed them for. He also called them to minister to families who need love, encouragement, and hope only Christ can give.
From their website, here is a bit about Glass House Ministries:
The heart of Glass House Ministries was born during a painful season in our family, when both our sons succumbed to the temptation to use drugs and consequently battled with the force of addiction in their lives. As Christians, Wayne and I raised our four children to honor and respect the Lord, doing our best to train and disciple them to live a lifestyle of integrity. The problems we faced with our boys left us wrestling with anger, hurt, and confusion, as we tried to figure out where we’d gone wrong as parents.
We experienced two types of attitudes within the Christian community as we trod this desert. Some came alongside with words of comfort and support, joining us in prayer, as we trudged through the fear and the darkness. Others were less gracious; they prayed for our family, but their looks alone made it clear that they suspected what we feared: that we were failures. We knew we weren’t perfect parents, and the sting of judgment reinforced the shame we already carried.
For a short time we pretended everything was fine, but we soon grew to hate the charade. We decided instead to just be real about our lives and to deal with the problems head-on. As we submitted our hearts to the Spirit’s tender care, we began to see healing and restoration take place in our family. One day we found ourselves coming alongside another family in distress, just as they’d come alongside us during our trial, and soon thereafter Glass House Ministries became more than just a dream in our heart.
For our family it happened to be drug abuse. We could just as easily have been the victims of unwed pregnancy . . . abortion . . . divorce . . . alcoholism . . . pornography . . . eating disorders . . . sexual abuse or addictions . . . depression . . . or a host of other harmful realities we see prevalent in today’s society. The truth is that people make choices that are less than healthy because they are driven by needs they do not know how to satisfy . . . the need for approval, the need for love, the need for acceptance, the need for respect, the need for security, the need for purpose . . . the list goes on.
In our modern-day world, broken homes and blended families are the norm. As many as one in four people will deal with cancer in their lifetime. People live under the constant threat of terrorism. Everyone wants to feel safe, wants to be able to trust in someone or something. But people will let us down, things will not fulfill as we expect, and when our confidence is violated, we easily grow bitter and unforgiving, angry and crippled in our ability to love and relate well. We demand perfection from ourselves and others, so that we do not have to deal with disappointment ever again, and life becomes impossible.
Is your life impossible? Have you finally come to understand that neither you nor anyone else can be perfect? Are you ready to be real? That’s where we found ourselves not so long ago, and we know we aren’t alone. We all live in glass houses. Throwing stones of bitterness and judgment at one another will only result in shattered houses and shattered lives. Misunderstandings, shame, fear, guilt, confusion . . . all these work to keep those hurt by life’s disappointments trapped and silent, isolated and alone; but it doesn’t have to be that way. Real people have real problems and they need a place to go, so we founded Glass House Ministries, a safe place to be real.
Through Glass House Ministries, Wayne and I pray God will use us as a source of comfort, encouragement, prayer, and support, to come alongside others in whatever challenge they face, just as God used fellow-Christians to minister to us in our time of need. We want Glass House Ministries to be a safe haven, a place to freely share and find hope. And no, your life doesn’t have to be in a shambles to participate here. If you are an encourager, and you have a heart to pray for people, you are welcome here. Basically, if you want to be here, you are welcome here!
Wayne and I are not counselors, therapists, or attorneys. We do not claim to have “all the answers.” We do care. We can listen. We will pray. And we will share our own story. Ultimately, it is God Who has all the answers . . . to every imaginable situation we can encounter in this world. We will point people to Him without apology, for it is only through His mercy and grace that our family was made whole again, and it is our heart to see the same thing happen to the people who come to Glass House Ministries.
In addition, Cheri wrote a book to encourage others who are going through a storm. Worth Every Tear is for any parent who is anguished by their child’s choices when as the parent, they strived to do all the right things.
I recommend you buy the book, and follow their blog.
It’s Saturday so here is my Character Confession. Can you relate? I’d love to hear your comments.
I haven’t been watching a ton of TV (a good thing) but when I do, I’m noticing a trend.
Celebrities are pushing pot as a fun thing to do without consequences.
And that, my friends, makes me angry.
Entertainers gush about how their “inhaling” gives them creativity and helps them write songs and calm down. I watched one late night talk show where an actress who is also known as a beloved animated character went on and on and on with the host about how she went to high school and bought the drug off what is now a well known rap star. Said rap star was a guest performer on a kid’s show my children watch. His personal habits weren’t pushed but still, celebrating this lifestyle makes me angry.
I know growing up when Nancy Reagan said Just Say No, it sounded cheesy. Yet I rode the tough bus where many of the kids were involved with that drug. There wasn’t anything glamourous about them or their choices. The stats are there that users move on to heavier drugs. Addiction is possible. But of course, the entertainers aren’t telling you that part of the story.
I’m not entering the medical reason debate because that isn’t my issue today. I’m just sick and tired of turning on the TV and seeing “Mary Jane” as my elders called it, promoted as a fun thing to do when I have kids that enjoy the people’s work who are bragging about it. If you want to be on the stage and famous I think being a role model comes with the territory. I take that seriously as a writer and ministry worker. People are watching and that isn’t paranoia from your choices, it’s the truth.
I don’t like this, not at all.
And since this is my blog and my confession, I’m allowed to be angry.