Linda, give us the preview for your featured book, Sweet Tea for the Soul.
These Southern winks of contentment are just downright comforting! This 90-day devotional features truthful and whimsical reflections on what truly matters. Each devotion will bring your heart to a quiet, slowed-down pace and be a reminder of God’s calming, down-home peace in the midst of your busy life.
How did you come up with the idea this book?
These devotions were distilled from my daily Bible studies I do with the Lord. I pick a page at random most of the time and do a deep dive from that starting point, which is my favorite way to study God’s Word these days. For years I studied chapter by chapter, but now I mix things up a bit. I will probably go back to my chapter-by-chapter studies eventually, but this method has proved invaluable to me when writing devotions.
Did you have a specific reason for writing this book?
Writing a devotion book seemed to be a natural outcome of the daily devotions I do every day on my own. I started writing a collection of them, about ten in all, not really thinking about what I planned to do with them. And then one day Susan Downs, my very first editor from Barbour years ago, contacted me and told me that DaySpring was looking for someone to write a devotional book. What an a-ha moment that was. I sent them my sample devos and they sent me a contract. I wound up doing three books for them, all with a Southern theme.
Can you call a devotional collection a labor of love?
Though devotions can sometimes seem like writing them would be almost effortless, mine are definitely not without time, effort, and prayer. I spend a great deal of time with each one, writing and rewriting, distilling from a large devotion into a smaller, tighter version. I carefully choose quotes as well and I vet who I’m quoting. The quality of a devotion matters to me because I know it matters to God. And my prayer is always that God will send these books out to reach as many people as possible with the gospel truth.
I know it’s like asking if you have a favorite child, but do you favor one devotional in this book over the others?
My favorite devotion, out of all the devotional books I’ve written is on page twenty of Sweet Tea for the Soul titled, “Harps Upon The Willows.” This devotion resonates with all believer creatives who are committed to using their God-given gifts and talents to serve God and God alone. It has to do with the Babylonian captivity. Some of the captive Judeans would play the sacred songs and worship God near the willow trees on the banks of the waters there. When the Babylonians heard them, they wanted to hear more, but instead of entertaining man with what is sacred to God, they chose to hang their harps upon the willows and give up the thing they loved. An author might be offered a book contract to write in a genre that is contrary to their faith, or a singer, a song with worldly lyrics. Would they be willing to hang their laptop or microphone upon the willows rather than take that sacred gift and use it to serve the world instead of giving honor to God?
Do you share Christ differently when it comes to nonfiction and fiction writing?
In non-fiction, it’s usually in stories and anecdotes that people can relate to, along with a pertinent scripture. In fiction, I weave underneath the cloth to achieve that purpose with characters people can relate to, people who are faced with impossible situations and choices who have to rely on their faith to either overcome or endure.
Overcome or endure – yes, an excellent way of addressing what we all face. What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?
Reunion and Restoration.
What is your writing place like. Is it close to your ideal place?
My library. One wall is all built-in shelves and cabinets. I have a comfy chair, and often cross my legs underneath me as I write. I have an upright contraption to hold my phone and a side table with a glass of water and Norwegian black licorice. My favorite treat whether I’m writing or not.
That sounds like a specifically tailored setting! What is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?
That so-called overnight successes have had a very long night indeed. An Alaskan kind of night.
Are you involved in other ministries besides writing?
I have taught a women’s Bible study in my home called Babes With A Beatitude every Tuesday for almost thirty years now. All the women go to different Christian churches, but we somehow come together in our love of God’s Word, sweet prayer time, and fellowship.
What talents do you have aside from storytelling?
Oil and acrylic painting occasionally. I should make more time for it because painting is very relaxing. Puts you in a different creative zone.
Many authors have pets who either inspire or interrupt their writing. Do you have such inspirations at your feet or on your lap?
Gypsy, our Jack Russell terrier. The problem is, she loves to either sit right next to me in the chair where I write, which can be a tight squeeze, or she insists on sitting on my lap and trying to lick me while I write.
Challenging indeed! In spite of such up-close-and-personal pet support, do you have a new project coming?
I actually have two projects my agent is just sending out…a new book of devotions and a historical fiction based on a true story here in Texas, a forgotten place not far from my home with an incredible tale of faith and redemption. And as for cozy mysteries, I’ll never lose interest in writing them. Cozies are so much fun to write. A rollicking adventure every time.