Interview & Book Give-Away with Cindy Sproles, Author of Mercy’s Rain

Cindy Sproles headshot 2Wow, wow, wow. Friends, have I got an interview for you! Today’s guest is my long-time friend, author, speaker, and Christian Communicators grad, Cindy Sproles. Cindy and I met years ago at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and she’s been a dear friend ever since. You may know Cindy as director of Writer’s Advance Boot Camp or through ChristianDevotions.us or Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, but now I introduce her a master storyteller of unforgettable fiction. I’ve never read a book like her new novel, Mercy’s Rain. Never.

There were many important aspects to discuss related to this unusual book, and with having a 5th Tuesday this month, this was the perfect time to do a two-part interview. Be sure to leave a comment for Cindy and you’ll be in the drawing for a copy of Mercy’s Rain. Then return next week for Part 2.  And yes, if you post comments both weeks, you get TWO entries! (Be sure to return April 7 to see if you’re the winner.)

Okay, let’s get started. Welcome Cindy! You have a long career writing and teaching writing. Congratulations on your debut novel! Tell us a little about yourself and how you started writing.

Thanks for having me. I’m a true born and raised mountain girl. Raised in the mountains of East Tennessee. I started writing seriously in my mid-40s. I always knew I wanted to write but I never afforded myself the privilege. I had a family, two jobs . . . there just didn’t seem to be time for frivolous ventures. But God piqued my interest, then called me. I listened, attended my first conference and the rest is history.

I know we didn’t talk about this, Cindy, but I want to include the back cover blurb for Mercy’s Rain so readers can get insight into the overall story. I hope you don’t mind. 

Mercy Roller was raised by a twisted father who wore the collar of a Pastor, and chose to be Jesus, judge, and jury, by his own appointment. Abused, broken and bitter, Mercy lifts the hand that takes the Pastor’s life. In one swift action, she becomes what she despises most about the Pastor. Now she seeks redemption. Can the unconditional love of a mountain preacher and his friends, guide Mercy to find peace?

Having read your book, I’m dying to know how you came up with the idea for Mercy’s Rain.

Funny what goes through your mind at 3 a.m. I had the title for Mercy’s Rain long before I had the story. But one morning I couldn’t sleep so I flipped on the television and got one of the old time, down home, spittin’ and hollerin’ preachers. It made me laugh, but I thought, “Wouldn’t he make a great bad guy?” I turned the channel and landed on a documentary (which to this day I still do not know the title of) but it was on sexual abuse in children under 7 years of age. It broke my heart. The more I thought on it the more I realized the perfect storm had formed. Mercy Roller was born.

You wear so many hats, how do you protect your personal writing time?Cindy Sproles Mercys Rain cover

Sometimes it’s hard. Between the ministry of Christian Devotions, the devotions that pour in, project management for LPC and editing, it gets testy. But I’ve learned, you make the time. And I do. When I write on my own, it’s restful for me. I do wear many hats, and I find myself not always having the sympathy for writers who whine they just don’t have time. If you love to write, and you know that is your calling – and you are serious — you make the time to be obedient and write. Folks make time for everything else. This is no exception. (I’m on my soapbox, aren’t I? Sorry.)

Was the transition from non-fiction to fiction an easy or challenging one for you?

It wasn’t hard, but it was different. I wanted to do fiction right and so I studied the fiction writers I love, Alton Gansky, Steven James, Ann Tatlock, Yvonne Lehman, Nicholas Sparks, DiAnn Mills, Francine Rivers. These folks are masters of the art. I’ve taken their classes at conferences, sucked in everything they taught, and it paid off. It was an adjustment to write fiction. I fell into all the first time fiction writers blunders, but I quickly learned. So it wasn’t hard, but it took practice. I still feel like I need practice. Fiction is a fun place to go to let go of all your inner fears, wild ideas, and imaginary friends. Just put them in a story.

Why did you choose the particular theme in Mercy’s Rain? What do you want your readers to gain from the book?

First off, Mercy’s Rain was not geared to the Christian Market. I wrote it to the secular market. There were a number of things I wanted to accomplish:

1) I wanted to thread the underlying idea of redemption and its availability to everyone. The Christian world’s television evangelists falling to sin and bearing it in a very public manner gave me an easy “in” to the secular market. That market of readers tend to call Christians hypocrites, so why not capitalize on their already established ideas? By their standards, who doesn’t love to hate a preacher?

Cindy Sproles booksigning2) I wanted to address two difficult subjects. The first to the Christian market: Worship your God Almighty, not your preacher. I’ve seen so many congregations crumble because they put their faith in the man, not God. I wanted to address this issue. Let me be clear. I don’t have a vendetta against ministers. I went to Bible College and married a minister. But I do want people to understand that preachers are men . . . men who can be equally as tempted, who can fall to sin, just like everyone else. I also want folks to know that just because they are preachers doesn’t mean they can’t have the same redemption you and I get. It’s a balance. And one that can easily tip either direction.

The other topic was one of child abuse. I was just broken-hearted to watch that documentary that morning and see infants murdered from the cruelty of their abusers. Maybe I could address it with a deep passion through the eyes of my character Mercy Roller. We see and hear about these types of abuse on a daily basis, but we choose to look the other way. I don’t want you to look the other way. I want you to be aware that these horrible things happen and it’s up to us to help find a way to stop it. I’ve had a lot of folks blast me over this subject. “How could someone who calls themselves a Christian be warped enough to write such trash?” My case in point. We don’t want to see this horrible state of affairs.

My husband and I watched a show called In an Instant this week. It was a horrible story of spousal abuse. Half way through the show I was in tears. This stuff REALLY happens. It wasn’t a figment of this poor woman’s imagination. She was nearly killed. So call me warped if you like, but Christian or not, we have to open our eyes to this and become active in working together with authorities, doctors, and support groups, to find legal and appropriate ways to combat abuse to both women and children.

3) Finally, I wanted the world to understand that Christians ask God the same questions – Why do you allow these horrible things to happen? But it is through our deeper relationship with Him that we see God is present in every situation. That’s what sets us apart. Faith, trust in the higher power of Christ. God doesn’t create the sin, but He is ever present, even when we do not see the reasons why. I feel sure God cries at the atrocities some can concoct.

My goodness, Cindy, I can’t imagine how difficult it was to go through the emotion of writing Mercy’s Rain. Thank you for your faithfulness to bring such difficult subjects to the forefront for Christian readers.

Friends, I hope you’ll return next week to see the conclusion of this interview as we see more of the hows and whys Cindy wrote Mercy’s Rain as she did.

AND there’ll be a special gift for everyone who returns next week–you don’t want to miss it!

Thanks for Tweeting!

I’m sorry but Twitter and/or ClickToTweet are on the blink this morning, so here’s a Tweet you can copy and paste into Twitter, if you would, please. Thank you!

You’ve never read a novel like Cindy Sproles’ Mercy’s Rain! @CindyDevoted #BookGiveaway @VondaSkelton #MustRead http://bit.ly/1ELi2tB

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  • Rene` Diane Aube

    Your book sounds very powerful, Cindy. Two very sensitive subjects addressed in one ~ WOW!

  • Cindy Patterson

    Great interview, Vonda and Cindy. I can’t wait to read this!!

  • Kristi Woods

    Wow! My toes are tapping as I sit on the edge of my seat. This book begs to be read. That says a lot, because I don’t read fiction often these days. Your interview, Vonda, leaves a girl ready to read in immediate fashion. Seriously.

    I’m thankful that you’ve taken on such tough topics, Cindy. They do happen. Ask some of my friends. 🙁 Your answers ring through with such a level of “real”. It gives you credibility. As a new writer myself, it makes me want to sit across the table at Starbucks with you and soak in every word. Best wishes with the ministry of this book.

    • Thank you Kristi. I’m not a victim of child abuse and there are those voices who are saying I have no idea what it is to be abused. Never said I did. I only make the effort to bring this horrible thing to the forefront. Just look in your own areas. In ours alone, over the last 8 months, there were 6 cases of child abuse, and three led to the death of these children. One, of a little girl maybe 8-10 yrs old, whom her mother and step dad, made her drink grape soda until she drowned. REALLY. So no, I’m not a victim of child abuse, but this is just sad. No, beyond sad. Hence, the story.

    • Hi Kristi, thanks for joining in the conversation and encouraging Cindy and her work. I couldn’t agree more! And yes, I can verify that sitting across the table from Cindy and soaking in her words is a great place to be. And you can do that at the Writers Advance Boot Camp next year Feb 19-21 at the Billy Graham Training Center at The Cove! Here’s the link: http://writersadvancebootcamp.com/

  • Ruth Allender

    Hi, Cindy– My daughter could not put your book down, literally, and read it in one l-o-n-g sitting! She is picky about character development and prose; she loved it! That shared, thank you for your inspiring example of sincere, no excuses, tenacious faith that encourages and challenges me. Many blessings.

    • Thank you Ruth. So glad you both enjoyed it.

    • I can certainly understand her urgency to read Mercy’s Rain. I couldn’t put it down, either. “Just one more scene.” “Just one more chapter.” Over and over. Then I still could hardly get Mercy out of my head. Compelling read, for sure!

  • You’re pure inspiration, Cindy! I’m slowly working my way from non-fiction to fiction and your insight has spurred me on because it is quite different (but I love it!) Thank you for pouring your heart out in Mercy’s Rain. No doubt it is blessing many as a result.

    Thank you, Vonda! I look forward to seeing you both at Blue Ridge. 🙂

    • Hey Cathy. Thank you. It was a different animal to tame – going from non-fiction for me to fiction. But I have enjoyed learning the process.

    • Thanks for your encouragement, Cathy. And I can’t wait to be back at Blue Ridge!

  • Well, I’m waving from here. 🙂

  • Tracy Crump

    Thank you, Cindy. You’ve inspired me to move forward with an idea for a fiction book. It’s also based on some tough issues. I only hope I can make the transition from nonfiction half as well as you.

    • Thank you for your encouraging words to Cindy, Tracy. And I just know you’ll be able to write fiction well, too!

    • You can. Speak the truth in love. That’s all you have to do. That’s exactly what Jesus did on tough subjects. He didn’t beat around the bush, but he spoke truth in love.

  • Nan Jones

    Vonda, I’m so glad you interviewed Cindy about Mercy’s Rain so I could learn even more about how this fabulous book came to be. I’m nearing the end of this remarkable work and I can’t wait to read it again and again. The first time, I’m reading it as a lover of story. The following times will be as a student of the writing craft. Cindy, I’ve always known that you are a special daughter of the King, but what you’ve done with Mercy’s Rain is nothing short of amazing. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your obedience. AND for those who would call you warped? I do believe I can hear my Father saying to you, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Well done.” The Pharisees thought Jesus was warped too, so you’re in good company.

    • Awe. Thanks Nan. Those are sweet words. I know this is not a story for every one. It’s hard. Dark. But it ends goods. What I hope is every one sees this as a walk. Christianity is a walk, not a sudden fix all.

      • Thank you so much for joining us today, Cindy. After I read Mercy’s Rain I couldn’t wait to have you at The Christian Writer’s Den!

    • Amen, Nan! As I say sometimes when I talk about writers being weird: We’re in good company. The culture thought Jesus was weird, too!

  • Vonda, thanks for sharing this interview with Cindy, and Cindy, I’d love to read your book. Love the title –and the serious subject matter sounds very compelling.

    • Thanks Cheryl. I hope you will read the book. Be prepared for a roller coaster ride of emotion.

    • It IS compelling, Cheryl. That’s actually a perfect word to describe it. 🙂

  • Barbara Latta

    I am in the process of reading this book now and I can also say I have never read anything like it. These issues need to be brought to light and addressed but so many people want to hide them and either pretend it will go away or hope someone else will do something about it. Fiction is a great way to make people aware of what can happen in places where we don’t look.

    • I agree. It’s time we as Christians stand. I doubt seriously Jesus rejoiced as he climbed the hill to Calvary, but He did something. He stood for us. Gave His life for us. Now we need to do the same.

    • So true, Barbara. It’s hard to imagine that anyone could be so deceived by one so evil, but if we think about it, we frequently see exactly that in the headlines. It happened back then and it happens now.

  • Oh, Cindy–I can tell. This novel was written from such a merciful heart. I love, love, love the title, and sounds like such a powerful story–one that needed to be told.

    I know your name, but we haven’t met. Hope to, one day!

    xoxo

    • Well hey Julie. It’s my pleasure.

    • I hope you do, too, Julie. She’s an amazing writer and sister in the Lord!

  • Vonda, thanks for interviewing Cindy today.

    Cindy, thanks so much for being willing to open your heart, listen to God’s prompting, and write in obedience about a very difficult, yet extremely important, subject. May each of us who write for Him be as courageous.

    • Thank you Sandy. I just want to be a writer. That’s all. I ask God, can I be a writer for you. He said, “Yes.”

      • And aren’t we all glad He said, “Yes.” 🙂

    • Yes, that’s how I feel, too, Sandy. I pray we’ll all be obedient with the task He’s assigned us–whatever that is!

  • Thank you, Cindy, for putting reality on the table. We live in a fallen world where abuse of every kind happens much too frequently. If we are not touched by it ourselves, chances are we know someone dealing with it (whether we are aware or not). I pray that your book finds its way to those who need it most.

    Thank you, Vonda, for putting Cindy and Mercy’s Rain in the spotlight. I can hardly wait to read it.

    • Yep. Our world prides itself on political correctness as long as we don’t tread on truth. If you have not gone through “The Truth Project” from Focus on the Family…you should. We need to learn to love our brothers, hate the sin and strive to be better so the face of Christ shines through. It’s our job to be plant the seeds. God’s job to grow them.

      • Cindy, thank you for a truly marvelous book. You have captured the essence of evil and redemption. I love the inference of generational abuse in the relationship the Pastor and his mother. And I especially love the concept that generational abuse can be truncated. Well done, my sister, very well done!

        • Thanks Judith. I wanted Mercy to be the one to break the cycle and hopefully women will see that as horrible as this is, it can stop. So thank you.

    • And I can hardly wait for you to read it, Judith. Just be prepared, it’s not an easy book to read.

      • Vonda, just finished reading Mercy’s Rain. Downloaded to my Kindle and had Ian entire afternoon to read. Wonderfully well done. Cindy out did herself.

        • Wow, that was fast, Judith! I’m so glad you found it as riveting as I did. Not an easy read, but a powerful one, for sure.

  • Michele Reeves

    I can’t wait to read this!!

  • It’s sad, but both child and spousal abuse happen even within the Christian community. For many years, it wasn’t talked about – sort of swept under the rug. I believe fiction books also have the ability to cause people to wake up to the realities that go on around them.

    • You are so right. We can teach truth through fiction. We’re able to teach through (as Steven James says), the consequence of sin. Then we have the privilege of showing the acts and result of redemption. And that is what Mercy’s Rain is about. The road to redemption.

    • Yes. As a whole, Christian fiction is becoming much more real than those written in years past. Books like Redeeming Love paved the way years ago. I fully believe Mercy’s Rain is trailblazing a new type of fiction, one that addresses even more difficult subjects. Obviously, it’s not a type of fiction for everyone.

  • Sue Badeau

    Oh cool, I get to post the first comment! Cindy, I love your description of why you chose the themes for this book. As someone who has devoted my life to abused and neglected children and the lifelong impact of that trauma – as well as the opportunity to bring life-changing hope into their lives – these are topics I am passionate about as well. I love your story-telling voice, your heart and your passion. Thanks for giving us a peek behind the curtain! (((Hugs)))

    • OH SUE! Hey. And boy, are you one we can all learn from when we talk about compassion. What you have done for trauma ridden children, to bring them hope, is amazing. It’s you…you has the truth embedded deep in your heart. Thank you for stepping up and doing your part to make a difference.

    • Oh, Sue, I’m sure you have lots of horror stories of what your kids went through before they found their forever home with you. I’m so thankful for trailblazers like you and Hector, too!