Powered by DitDat

Since you asked...

  1. What’s the biggest challenge a writer faces when writing a book?

    I can only speak for myself, but it’s discipline. Discipline to write a set word count everyday. Discipline to keep at it when “the muse” isn’t particularly generous. Along with the discipline of writing even when you don’t feel like it, comes the discipline of exercising each day, after those long hours of sitting (not good for the hips!). Then the discipline to “turn off the story” (or at least mute it) when you’re with family and friends. Again, sometimes easier to do than others, especially when I’m on deadline.

  2. What is an average workday like for you?

    I get up around 5:00AM, grab coffee first thing along with my Bible, and I feast on God's Word while sipping and savoring. Next, I get ready, do breakfast, walk the dogs, then come back and get to writing. However, life is always throwing curve balls and each day is different, and writing (especially the first draft of a novel) is just flat hard. For me, anyway. There are those wonderful moments with the words flow effortlessly, but they're rare. Sometimes I'm up until the wee hours struggling to make my word count for the day—or just for the right words to come. But no matter what kind of writing day I'm having, I consider myself blessed to be able to do this. And to share these stories with readers like you.

  3. What is your most memorable moment as a published author?

    There are many! But here's one of them... My husband and I were having some landscaping done, and one afternoon the landscaper asked me what I did for a living since I was “always home.” I told him I was a writer, and he shared that his wife loved to read, and that she was currently on bed rest, due in three weeks with their fourth child.

    I gave him a set of Fountain Creek Chronicles (Rekindled, Revealed, Remembered) for his wife. Well, I got an email the next night saying that his wife was loving Rekindled and was telling him every single scene when he got home from work, so he wouldn’t have to read the book—his wife had already told him everything.

    The next day he arrived. I met him in the backyard to discuss some details and he said, “Before we start, I just want to thank you for writing that book.”

    Rekindled?” I asked.

    He nodded. “My wife finished it last night. She loved it.” He got a little quiet. “She came up to me and told me, after reading finishing and said that it made her love me more, and that she was more committed to our marriage now than she had been.”

    What a blessing he (and she) gave me. There are moments in your life when you wonder if you’re doing what God made you to do. While I have no clue whether I’ll be writing ten or fifteen years from now, I have no doubt that I’m doing what God designed me to do…for now. And I’m grateful to share the hope in Christ that He’s entrusted.

  4. What types of books do you like to read for pleasure, when you’re not doing research for your current manuscript?

    I read a wide variety of genres (both within the CBA and also in the general market). I read a ton of history books too. No surprise there. ; )

  5. What did you do before you became a writer?

    I worked in business in banking and overseeing monetary transfers of corporate banking accounts in Atlanta. Later, I provided support in hardware and software for managing traffic in Radio and T.V. stations like WTBS across the U.S., and also wrote customer service manuals (which, believe it or not, really did help my writing skills!), and I coordinated corporate conferences (which I loved doing). Though I’ve enjoyed my business background, I’m enjoying what I’m doing now very much and have quickly discovered that a business background comes in very handy when marketing a published novel. Especially these days.

  6. When did you first decide to write a novel?

    I first considered writing a novel in 1999. But I need to go back a bit farther to really get to the “seed” of where all this started for me. In 1995, my mother-in-law, Claudette Harris Alexander, shared a book with me, one she thought I would really enjoy. I was busy and let time go by without reading it. She asked me again if I’d read it. Several times. I said no, but that I would. The best laid plans, as they say.

    Very unexpectedly, Claudette died that same year from a brain aneurysm. Weeks passed, and as I was cleaning bookshelves downstairs, I happened across that little volume and immediately sat down and read it. Claudette was right! I felt an immediate connection with the thread of hope woven through that gentle love story—Love Comes Softly, by Janette Oke, originally published by Bethany House Publishers in 1979. That sent me searching for more inspirational fiction published not only by Bethany House, but elsewhere in the Christian Booksellers Association market (CBA). I devoured it, and that deepened my already strong interest in historical fiction.

    A few years later my husband and I were driving back to Colorado from Texas late one night. I finished a novel, turned to him and said (only joking at the time), “I think I could write one of those.” Without blinking, he said, “Well, do it.” Competitive at heart, I nodded and said, “Okay.”

    My first novel made it to the review board at Bethany House Publishers in 2000, after which I received a very nice rejection letter. Writing that first story was a learning experience for me that I took to heart. I then determined to set about seriously studying the craft of writing.

    And a quick update on my first novel… After a complete rewrite, that first manuscript became Thomas Nelson's first historical in their WOMEN OF FAITH fiction line. Even after all these years, I love that story and am thrilled it found its way to publication. The Inheritance—a WOMEN OF FAITH FICTION novel—is one of my most popular stories.

  7. When did you sign your first contract?

    In October 2004, Bethany House offered me my first contract, a three-book deal to write historical fiction. Fountain Creek Chronicles, published by Bethany House Publishers, is a three-book historical series set in the Colorado Territory 1860s – 1870s. Rekindled, Revealed, and Remembered are still some of my most beloved novels by readers.

  8. Do you read all your reader mail?

    Yes, and I love to hear from readers! Feel free to e-mail me through my Contact page. Writing is wonderful and frustrating. It can fill me up and then suck the life right out of me, all in the same morning.

    Writing is a solitary activity, and I’m a very social person and enjoy interacting with people. So the hours on end spent in my make-believe world, while enjoyable most days, can be lonely at times. Like most other writers, when I’m in the middle of writing a novel I get caught up in the story, swept up in the plot or character emotions or conflict. But during the course of writing a novel, over months and months of working on the story, it’s easy for a writer’s confidence to lose its footing. I start questioning if the story is really okay. Or not. That’s why it means so much for authors to hear from readers.

    I always try to keep in mind that I write for an Audience of One—for the Lord Jesus Christ. And while that doesn’t ever change, it’s nice to occasionally hear from readers that they have been encouraged or have connected with a character or situation in some way. That’s even better than chocolate! 

  9. I want to write a book. What should I do?

    My first advice is to write, write, write! Then study the craft! I’ve listed several books below that are part of my library and that I keep close at hand.

    I’d also encourage would-be writers to check out American Christian Fiction Writers (www.ACFW.com). ACFW is a professional writers organization dedicated to equipping authors in the craft of writing Christian fiction. Their affordable annual membership offers online classes, critique groups, and an annual conference that’s among the best in the industry. The knowledge I’ve gained through my affiliation with ACFW, along with the relationships I’ve made there with other writers, have made all the difference!

    Suggested Reading for Writers:

    The Moral Premise by Stan Williams
    Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
    How to Grow a Novel by Sol Stein
    Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell
    Getting Into Character by Brandilyn Collins
    Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass
    Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan
    Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King
    Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

  10. Will you read my manuscript?

    While I’m unable to read prospective manuscripts, I strongly encourage my fellow writers to read the books listed above and to join a professional writer’s group such as ACFW, and to attend writer’s conferences such as ACFW’s annual conference. ACFW also has critique groups members can join which are so helpful! For some great tips on writing, visit Literary Agent Steve Laube’s writer resources.

  11. Did you study writing in high school or college?

    While I’ve always enjoyed writing and dabbled it in when I was younger, I never formally studied the craft of writing until later in life. I’m grateful for the education, both academic and spiritual, that I received at Greater Atlanta Christian School (GACS), and later at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas. My education strengthened my belief system and core values, building on the foundation that my parents, Doug and June Gattis, had already laid in my life. I won the lottery when it came to parents! Dad and Mom are both home with Jesus now, and I so look forward to the day I'll see them again.

  12. What do you hope to leave with readers after they read your books?

    Each time I write a book, I take steps closer to Christ. And as readers read my books, I hope that they take steps closer to Him too. Real hope and the pathway to God is found only in Him. The world searches for hope in so many other empty, dead-end places. Life will often be hard. Disappointments will come. We won’t always be happy, nor should that be our goal in this life. In fact, believers in Christ are promised struggles and persecution. We're told not to be surprised at "fiery trials." But Jesus tells us in John 16 to take heart! That he's already overcome the world. Authentic hope—hope that will last for an eternity—is found only in Jesus Christ.

  13. What is your goal or mission as a Christian writer?

    For me, the greatest thrill of these writing journeys is when Christ reveals Himself in some new way, and I take a step closer to Him. And my deepest desire is that readers of my books will do that as well—take steps closer to Him as they read. After all, it’s all about Him.

  14. Will there be a sequel to your award-winning Women of Faith Fiction novel, The Inheritance?

    The Inheritance released in March 2009 and, thanks to my readers, it immediately became a CBA and ECPA bestseller. I've been asked if I'm going to write a sequel to The Inheritance. I'd love to do that someday (there are definitely more stories to tell there), but for now my plate is full with finishing the last installment of the Carnton novels, as well as my first contemporary novel for Focus on the Family, and two upcoming novels for Tyndale Publishers. Busy, busy.

  15. Are all three books in the Timber Ridge Reflections series available now?

    Absolutely! All of my books are available in print and in ebook and audiobook.

  16. What do you do when you need to get away from it all?

    I love going for walks. And to movies. With friends, but also alone. I’m very comfortable with that. I love reading, of course—can never get enough of that—and enjoy visiting historical landmarks, museums, antebellum homes, and cemeteries. I love walking through cemeteries. The idea for Remembered came to me as my husband and I strolled the three-hundred-year pathways in Cemetery Montmartre in Paris, France. You never know where stories will come from!

  17. Do you travel much for writing?

    While my actual travel time this year is limited, I love to meet with book clubs via Skype or FaceTime to share in their discussions of my books. So if you're part of a book club and have an upcoming meeting where you'll be discussing one of my stories, and would like for me to join you via phone, please visit the For Book Clubs page. Schedule permitting, I'd welcome the opportunity to call in for a 20-30 minute chat.

  18. Are there things you haven’t accomplished yet that you still would like to accomplish?

    It’s not so much an accomplishment as a “want to.” Does that still count? If yes, then I’d love to tour the castles of Europe. A dream, I know... But a fun one!

  19. What motivates you?

    Deadlines. Reader letters. Needing to pay bills. Deadlines. Reader letters. My editor asking if the book will be delivered on time. Chocolate works too. As does coffee. Donuts work best. But really...deadlines.

  20. What aspects of your work do you enjoy the most?

    Having written! When the book is done, all revisions made, and I’m holding that first “hot off the press” copy in my hands. Oh, that’s a wonderful feeling. Nothing else like it. The next best thing is typing “THE END” on a first draft. That's a tiny taste of heaven. And I love the rewrite process so I welcome that with open arms (compared to the blinking cursor on an empty screen). Thanks, friend, for reading and taking these journeys with me.


eBook Sales

Watch Videos

For Book Clubs