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Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Edie Melson

Edie Melson
Edie Melson

Greetings from Marti Pieper in rainy, wintry Seneca, South Carolina! As I type this, I’m waving east to my friend Edie Melson, also a resident of this beautiful state. I’m thrilled to introduce an accomplished writer such as Edie to you today, so let’s get started.

Welcome to the CAN blog, Edie. Would you please tell us a bit about Soul Care When You’re Grieving?

Soul Care When You're Grieving by Edie Melson
Soul Care When You’re Grieving by Edie Melson

Grief is difficult. We all experience it—and we experience it differently. There is no right or wrong way to face loss, yet many of us feel we could be coping better. Going through loss narrows my world. I used to believe that was my personal experience, but I’ve discovered that limited perspective happens to us all.

And the last couple of years have highlighted grief more than ever for so many of us, which makes this project so timely. What inspired you to write this book?

This series was contracted in 2018, and this title was slated into the 2020 calendar year. The series was written for times in life when we desperately need God, but we may not have the ability for long, deep blocks of time. Grief is one of those times. So this book is written to help us connect with God in those in-between moments. It has five short chapters, and each chapter contains five devotions, five prayers, five creative connection points, and three Scripture Prescriptions to help us meet God where we are right now.

That sounds so wise. What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?

The thing that surprised me most was the timing of this book. I had just finished writing it when our precious daughter-in-law was killed in a tragic farming accident—leaving our son and their three-month-old baby. I had spent the previous nine months immersed in how to cope during grief and was immediately placed into a situation to put what I’d learned into practice. It was an amazing gift from God, and reminded me that He truly does provide what we need when we need it.

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

My hope is that readers will discover that grief is a very personal experience and there’s no right or wrong way to go through it. We need to give ourselves permission to grieve the way God created us. Some of us grieve privately, some need the interaction of loved ones, and some have a mix. We need to give ourselves and others lots of grace when it comes to grief.

I also pray that readers will come to understand that the traditional “Five Stages of Grief” are not a step-by-step process. They are just common things that most people experience during a loss event.

Again, I can see how much wisdom the Lord has given you. What’s your favorite section in this book?

My favorite parts of this book are the devotions. I loved exploring how God has used life experiences and situations to illustrate His truth.

What themes do you return to again and again in your writing?

I think the biggest theme I return to is finding God’s strength and equipping during difficulties. This pertains to the Christian living books I write, the books I pen for writers, and even my novels. God has perfectly designed each of us for this specific time and place.

How has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?

Embracing my calling as a writer who writes for God has enabled me to work closer with Him. I’m doing what God designed me to do. It’s not always easy, but it is something that fills me with joy.

When did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?

My mother would tell you I began writing when I could crawl to a white wall with a red crayon. But I remember surrendering to God’s call to write for Him in 1994. I had three small children and didn’t see any way I could do it, but I told Him if He’d make a way, all my writing would be for Him.

I love that, and He has made lots of ways for you! What talents do you have aside from storytelling?

I’m also a professional photographer. I love getting to focus on life through the lens of my camera.

I’m pretty sure you’re a storyteller via your images as well. Everyone struggles with time management in our 24/7 world. How do you stay disciplined and meet your deadlines?

I’m a huge fan of bullet journaling. I discovered this process, developed by Ryder Carroll, several years ago. It allows me to organize my days and keep track of what’s gone before.

I know several writers who say the same thing as you. What are your hobbies, activities, or passions outside of writing?

I love to knit, crochet, and do crafts of all kinds.

I think what we’re learning about Edie through this interview is that God put creativity all the way through your DNA! Now, please tell us about your next project.

Soul Care When the Nest is Empty, another in the Soul Care series, is written to those who are transitioning to an empty nest.

Marti Pieper
Marti Pieper

And that is just as needed as Soul Care When You’re Grieving. Thank you so much for sharing your words and your wisdom with us today. Blessings now and in days to come!

To learn more about Edie Melson, please visit Edie’s website and Edie’s Blog .

For His glory,

Marti Pieper

Marti’s Website

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Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Carla Hoch

Carla Hoch
Carla Hoch

Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the joy of interviewing Carla Hoch, who turned her martial arts skills and her writing skills into a blog and a book that are amazing resources for other writers! Plus, she’s just an all-around interesting person–enjoy!

Welcome, Carla! Please tell us about your book, Fight Write.

Fight Write by Carla Hoch
Fight Write by Carla Hoch

In Fight Write writers will learn practical tips, terminology, and the science behind crafting realistic scenes of fighting, action and violence. From before the altercation to after the decomposition, Fight Write has you covered,

What an incredible idea for a book! What inspired you to write it?

I needed to write fight scenes and there was nothing out there to help me. There were books about violence, some about weaponry, but none about craft and fight technique and injuries and all the other things I didn’t know I needed to know until I needed to know it.

So true! Novelists frequently ask each other how exactly they can hurt their characters in certain ways—a little disturbing, but it’s who we are. What surprised you the most during the research or writing of your book?

I lived out a lot of the research for the book. I began fight training long before I began Fight Write. To date I’ve dabbled in close to a dozen fighting styles. So, I know what it felt like to punch and be punched. I knew how to use a knife and defend against it. And, because I was in the fight world so much, I understood the injuries.

As a trained teacher and writer, adding my fight knowledge to my “write” knowledge just came naturally. And, I knew what authors needed to know. What I couldn’t address from personal history I researched and loved every minute. Honestly, much of the research for the book had been done for my blog. I was able to use posts I had written and expand upon them based on writer questions or simply because there was more I wanted to cover but didn’t in the interest of blog post length.

God created me a writer and made me into a fighter. I began martial arts at 38, fairly long in the tooth to begin doing some of the things I was doing. During my first class, I had a small panic attack that turned into an extended total meltdown afterward in my “mom van.” I was raised in an unsafe home. And, I had no idea it was a trauma that I still carried with me. In that first class, I learned that though an adult, I was still very much a scared child. To say the least, it was a surprising realization.

After crying all the way home that first day, I said I’d never go back. So, I went back. That’s kind of how I am. And, again, I cried and swore it off. Then went back and cried again. Ultimately, I kept going back until I quit crying about it.

Martial arts, especially Brazilian jiu-jitsu has made me feel safe in my own skin. It made me face down my insecurities and reckon with my ego. And, even though the training was the vehicle for a certain amount of healing, it was God driving the thing.

So, my blog and book, it’s a constant testimony of what God can do. Here I am, knocking on the door of fifty, still training and competing. I’m the oldest and smallest on the mat, which is a real pain in the backside, let me tell ya. There are moments when my brain goes back to my childhood, but my body doesn’t follow it.

God does as He pleases. Sometimes He heals on the spot. Sometimes He makes you walk out the healing. However He does it is a prescription compounded personally for you. Trust it.

That’s beautiful! I love how He chooses such personal and unique ways to teach and heal each of us.

Speaking of personal and unique…what would be your ideal writing place? And…what’s your actual writing place like?

I would thrive in a Hobbit hole. I’d have the fire going, bread baking. Man…I can hardly write for thinking about it!

My actual writing place is a guest bedroom/office. I have things on the walls and around me that keep me motivated. On the wall behind my computer, I have a note that reads “keep going” and a wood block that reads, “Trust the next chapter because you know the Writer.” On another wall I have a huge 4’x5’ photo of the Twin Towers. I love New York and my best friend is from Queens. She was on the Brooklynn bridge when the towers fell. It’s actually her photo. 

On another wall I have several pieces of rough draft from one of Kathy Tyers Gillin’s Star Wars books, Truce at Bakura. I am blessed to know Kathy. She was dealing with some tough personal issues when she was writing her Fire Bird series and the Star Wars books. When I see those type written pages, filled with pencil scribbles, I’m inspired in so many ways.

I have books and jiu jitsu medals here and there as well as a few comical items and things my kids have made me. And, last but not least on the bed, I have an old laptop that stays open and some magazines and books laid out. They are for my cat Dottie. She has to have her own work space or she will sit on my lap. I am being dead serious. Apparently, cats like to “mirror” us. If you have a cat that won’t leave you alone as you write, put an old computer out and let them sit on it.

Why have I never thought of that?!? Cats are the best.

Other than playing mind games with your cat, why do you love writing?

I come from a family of writers that goes back to William Shakespeare, sort of. I’m a descendant of his mother’s sister, Margaret. My late father was a writer and my late maternal aunt was a poet. I grew up typing manuscripts and was going to adult poetry conclaves as early as elementary school.

Writing…oh me. Like most writers, I think, I love/hate it. I love it when I’m in a flow and unencumbered by responsibilities. In other words, when it’s easy. But, most of the time, it’s not easy. I am not a fast writer. My gift is viscous!

But, when I am writing, I am on my “home planet.” I feel very much myself. Time kind of ceases to exist. Who doesn’t love that?

It’s the best! What ministries are you involved in, and why?

I help with the Open Gates ministry at my church. It’s a program that allows special needs kids to worship and be in class with all the other kids. I’m a “shadow,” one-on-one with a child the entire time they are in kid’s worship. Whatever they need, I am there and the Open Gates ministry has items and a plan especially for that child.

I have children with special needs and worship can be very stressful. You sit there the whole time wondering if your kid is ok or watching the screen to see if your kid’s number pops up and you need to go help them. Or, worst of all, you can’t worship in-person because your child can’t handle the sensory experience of worship and there is no special needs ministry to help. Being able to take that stress off of parents means a lot to me. Also, all children need to be around all children. People with special needs aren’t created to be hidden. And really, don’t we all have a special need in one way or another?

I love that so much! What an awesome ministry—not just to those children but to the whole church.

When you’re not fighting or writing, what do you read for pleasure? What are you reading right now?

I love nonfiction and have lately found myself hip deep in mystery/thrillers. But I love just about any kind of fiction. And, I generally have a devotional book going. Actually, now that I think about it, I generally have a non-fiction, fiction and devotional book all going at the same time! Hmm.

I just finished How to Kill 11 Million People (mega short read), The Night She Disappeared and Gay Girl, Good Go­d. I’m now reading Limitless, American Dirt and through the Bible through chronologically.

What are your hobbies or activities or passions outside of writing?

Well, as I said, I do Brazilian jiu-jitsu. A lot. Five times a week or so. And, I’m dabbling in hand-lettering. That’s where you draw letters in a fancy calligraphy sort of way. It keeps my focus and I completely lose track of time. It’s very relaxing.

Sarah Sundin
Sarah Sundin

Thank you so much, Carla!

To learn more about Carla and her books, not to mention to glean fighting wisdom for your stories, visit Carla’s website, FightWrite.

Writing for Him,

Sarah Sundin

Sarah’s website

Categories
Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Janet Morris Grimes

Janet Morris Grimes
Janet Morris Grimes

Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I have the joy of interviewing one of our newest members of CAN, debut novelist Janet Morris Grimes!

Welcome, Janet! Please tell us about your book, Solomon’s Porch.

Solomon's Porch by Janet Morris Grimes
Solomon’s Porch by Janet Morris Grimes

I first read of Solomon’s Porch in the book of Acts. It’s a place where Jesus walked and Peter healed a lame man. I envisioned a modern-day place of hope and healing, at a time when our wounds are invisible and run so deep we pretend not to notice them.

And a town called Ginger Ridge was born.   

Beautiful concept! What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to answer these questions about kindness. Could simple acts of kindness over a lifetime last forever? How might the ripple effects of one man’s choices affect an entire town?

What is the primary focus of your book?

Redemption, community, and the fact that we need each other. Sometimes we’re so broken we don’t know how to let others in. We need each other, and Solomon Thomas understands that better than anyone.

He sounds like an inspiring character. What was your greatest challenge in writing this book?

Honestly, wondering if anyone would ever read it. It’s my debut novel, and it takes years to learn to create a moving, satisfying story. Many scenes were tossed and many others rearranged or restructured until I could say I’d given my best to every character and every scene.

With all that work, what was the hardest scene to write?

The last scene with Solomon. I can see it so clearly in my mind, just like a movie. But I couldn’t use song lyrics, and there’s a prominent song playing throughout. Many have said they’ve cried during this scene, so I believe they see and feel what I do. It’s always been such a powerful moment, and I hope I did it justice.

Still, turning it into a movie sure would help. 

How do you share Christ in your writing?

I don’t get too preachy, but neither did Jesus. He’d share a story and let it speak for itself. He rarely explained his parables, but yet, people felt understood and walked away with a message they carried with them long after he was gone.

I hope that’s how my writing affects people. A glimmer of hope, a moment of escape, a belief that we can make a difference. It takes both light and dark colors to create a beautiful picture in the end, and no one does this better than Jesus. Even when you can’t see him. 

How has being a writer impacted your relationship with Christ?

As a writer, I’m an observer. I try to hear what people don’t say to fully understand where they are coming from. As a writer, you meet characters, reveal their pain, and try to help them come out on the stronger side of their own story.

That’s exactly what Jesus does for us. I’m amazed we get to do this together. 

Maybe it’s empathy or maybe it’s Jesus smoothing out my edges, but the more I write, the closer to him I feel. In order to create on a daily basis, I must spend time with the Creator himself.

So true. What would be your ideal writing place? And…what’s your actual writing place like?

I’ve got a great setup in our basement with hanging lights and instrumental music. I get the most done because I lose track of time and can’t really tell if it’s day or night. 

But I find my best plots and solutions when I’m outside taking a walk. Looking up and feeling the breeze. Another layer of the story hits, as if it’s been there all along. And I’m always thankful I took that break when I did.

I think walking is a novelist’s best tool. So, what is one thing about writing that you wish non-writers knew?

How little it pays and how success isn’t always measured by sales figures. A year ago, I was ready to give up and throw in the towel. Now I’ve published my first novel, and the response has been fantastic. I still don’t really know sales numbers. Thankfully, my publisher gets those. But those who’ve read it love and appreciate these characters as much as I do. We’re all experiencing this story together—the readers and the writer.

That’s what I call success. That and the fact that someone besides my mother has read it.

Yes! My mom is my biggest fan, but I’m glad she isn’t the only one!

So, do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?

I’m an administrative assistant at a local college near where I live. I love it. The energy of the students, the chance to do something new every day and invest in the future.

There’s a nurturing side to being an assistant. Anticipating needs, sitting at a desk so others can shine. Serving in the background and sticking to it until a problem is solved. 

It’s a lot like writing books, except I get an actual paycheck, which helps to cover the costs of this blossoming writing career. It’s a win/win situation.

So many writers grew up around libraries. Do you have a favorite library memory?

I worked as a library aid in the fourth grade. I loved the sound, smell and creaks of the books. I went to the M section and pictured my book on that shelf, and wondered how long it would take to fill up the checkout card in the back. That probably dates me a bit, but it was so cool to see the names of people who’d checked out that same book through the years. When it’s time to get a new card, you know you’ve got a great book.

And that’s exactly what I hoped to do one day.

Here’s to filling up that card! And what about the next card? Tell us about your next project.

Next is a series of children’s books called Character is a Choice. They are fun, read-aloud, participation stories that teach children fun ways to remember the rules that get crowded into their precious little heads. The first is Do Your Best, Tess! It’s about a little girl who never finishes what she starts.

Or it may be about a middle-aged woman who is finally learning to do just that. Finish all what I started years ago. Writing books.

After that, Solomon really deserves a sequel. There are many places the town of Ginger Ridge can go from here, and I’m hooked on this town, these people, and their stories.

Sarah Sundin
Sarah Sundin

I’m sure your readers will be hungry for more! Thank you for visiting with us, Janet!

To learn more about Janet and her books, please visit Janet’s website.

Writing for Him,

Sarah Sundin

Sarah’s website

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Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Debbi Migit

Debbi Migit
Debbi Migit

Greetings from Marti Pieper in getting-ready-for-Christmas Seneca, South Carolina, where I just finished decorating our tree! Let’s move our attention away from Christmas for a moment, though, so we can focus on the subject to today’s author interview, Debbi Migit.

Welcome, Debbi, to the CAN blog! Please tell us about your book October Outlaw.

October Outlaw by Debbi Migit
October Outlaw by Debbi Migit

Jess Thomas gains the attention of two outlaws. One is a man, one a beast. When they terrorize the people she loves, Jess is determined to face the danger—alone.

Cole McBride respects Jess’s courage but fears someday she’ll take one risk too many. 

And what inspired you to write this book?

I write what I like to read. I grew up reading Trixie Belden—she is much more relatable than Nancy Drew. I want to write characters who have real problems and faults. In my Justice, Montana, series, Jess is loyal to her family, but she also takes dangerous risks to try and protect them. I hadn’t planned to write a series, but I love the characters so much I can’t let them go.

We hope your readers feel the same way and don’t want to let them go, either! Every writer faces challenges. What was the hardest scene in October Outlaw to write?

There is a scene between Jess and her younger sister, Maggie, where they discuss their future without their parents. I hadn’t planned to write that scene—it was supposed to be a lighthearted talk between the sisters on another subject, but it took a serious turn that surprised me. I’m learning that the best scenes sneak up on me like that—my defenses are down, and the characters take over. That’s my favorite kind of writing.

I love it! And what’s your favorite scene in this book?

I really enjoyed writing the scene in the ghost town of Bannack, Montana, as Jess and her friends come face to face with the cougar named Outlaw. My heart was pounding since I felt like I was watching and recording a movie  

And again, we hope your readers feel the same way. Debbi, what themes do you return to again and again in your writing?

I always focus on the faithfulness of God. I may not start with that in mind, but that truth is such an integral part of my life experience it permeates everything I write. I also want young people to know that being a Christ-follower is the best adventure you can ever have!

So true. What would be your ideal writing place? And. . . what’s your actual writing place like?

I’m blessed to have a dedicated office for writing. However, much of the time it’s like Grand Central Station since my family likes to stop by throughout the day. I love having their company but when I really need to focus, I go to plan B. My friend owns a cabin in the forest two hours from my home. I often go there for several days and write the intense scenes. Even though I’m in Illinois, the log cabin is secluded, and I can imagine I’m actually in Montana, where my series takes place. I’m glad I have such a great imagination!

That sounds perfect! When did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?

When I was ten-ish, I wrote a worship song and sang it for my family. I also wrote poetry, short stories, and even plays that my classmates performed. For years I thought of writing as a hobby. Then one day I received a letter from a young girl in New Zealand! She mentioned how much she enjoyed a short story I’d written for a children’s magazine, and suddenly I realized God was giving me a voice to reach beyond my small community.

That’s beautiful. Now, please tell us about your most touching moment with a reader.

My true story, Child of Promise, details many miracles, but our three amazing adoptions are the main focus. I received a letter from a woman I’ll call Faith, who traveled to Africa to adopt her son. As she boarded the plane, a friend handed Faith a copy of my book. The trip was only supposed to last for two weeks, but due to red tape, it stretched into almost two months. When she finally returned home with her son, Faith wrote that there were pages in the book that were shiny with her tears. She said she read and reread parts of Child of Promise, telling God, “If you can do miracles for Debbi, you can do them for me.” That letter is priceless to me.

A precious story indeed. Do you have pets, and do they inspire your writing or hinder it?

I don’t have pets at the moment, but I long for one! I loved riding horses as a young girl, so I’m delighted to include horses in my book. Also, Roxie, the Australian shepherd featured in the series, is based on our beloved sheltie, Jordan, who has been gone for several years.

It sounds as though you may need to add a pet to your Christmas wish list this year! Please tell us about your favorite library memory.  

When I was in second grade, I had a serious disease that required me to stay quiet all the time. I often watched my twin brother and our neighbor playing outside while I was restricted to the couch. My mom brought stacks of books home from the library, and those were my companions for several months. By the time I was in third grade, I was reading at high school level.

I was thrilled when I was finally allowed to go to the library in person—and it quickly became my favorite place. All through my high school years, I would go to the library after class and spend hours lost in a book. One of my best memories is of sitting on the stone steps, leaning against huge pillars as I read. It was autumn, and the crisp air and falling leaves were the perfect setting. I never wanted to leave.

No wonder you became a writer. What are your hobbies or activities or passions outside of writing?

I sincerely wish that playing Candy Crush while listening to audio books could be a paying gig. I would be rich.

Let us know if that works out! In the meantime, please tell us about your next project.

November Knight will take Jess into more danger than she’s ever faced as she tries to save a friend from human traffickers.

Marti Pieper
Marti Pieper

Intriguing! Thank you so much for sharing with our readers today, Debbi, and best to you and your writing endeavors. Merry Christmas!

To learn more about Debbi Migit, please visit Debbi’s website.

For His Glory,

Marti Pieper

Marti’s website

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Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Narelle Atkins

Narelle Atkins
Narelle Atkins

Hello readers. Davalynn Spencer here, and welcome to our first author interview for December – Narelle Atkins.

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Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Delores Topliff

Delores Topliff
Delores Topliff

Warm near-Thanksgiving greetings from Marti Pieper in Seneca, South Carolina, where we had our first frost of the season last night. Although I haven’t met Delores Topliff in person, I am so excited to share this author interview. That’s especially true because her upcoming book fits into the “most wonderful time of the year,” which happens to be my favorite season—and my favorite novel-season as well! So without further ado—let’s get started with today’s interview.

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Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Susan U. Neal

Susan U. Neal
Susan U. Neal

Warm greetings on this Veteran’s Day. Davalynn Spencer here, welcoming CAN author, Susan U. Neal RN, MBA, MHS, with her featured book, Eat God’s Food: A Kid’s Guide to Healthy Eating.

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Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Susan G. Mathis

Susan G. Mathis
Susan G. Mathis

Greetings from Sarah Sundin! Today I have the pleasure of interviewing CAN vice president Susan G. Mathis, an award-winning nonfiction author who has also become an award-winning novelist! Susan is here to share about her newest historical novel.

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Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Kathy Harris

Kathy Harris
Kathy Harris

Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I’m visiting with my Tennessee friend, multi-published author Kathy Harris, who made a “divine detour” from her career in the music industry to writing novels. Come and see how her fascinating background plays out in her writing!

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Author Interviews

A Chat with Author Karen Whiting

Karen Whiting
Karen Whiting

Greetings from Marti Pieper amid the lovely fall weather of Seneca, South Carolina! I haven’t met all of our CAN authors in person, but the one I have the privilege of interviewing today is a special friend. Karen Whiting and I have many things in common, including, the fact that we both have five adult children. Karen is a prolific writer who has much to share, so let’s get started with our interview.

Welcome, Karen! Please tell us about your book, 52 Weekly Devotions for Family Prayer.