My goodness, do we have a packed Tuesday or what? Let’s start with an interview with debut novelist, Mary Allen
I first met Mary Allen when she attended Christian Communicators Conference in 2013 and when we saw each other, we became instant sisters. After all, we’re both very short, we’re both RNs, we both love to sing, and we’re both writers and speakers. What better way to connect with a sibling, right? And today I’m thrilled to share her and her debut novel, Crying in the Morgue, Laughing in the Dark.
Be sure to leave a comment for Mary and you’ll be in the drawing for a free book! Don’t forget to return next week to see if you’re the winner!
Okay, Mary, Let’s get started. First, please tell us how you got started writing.
I fell in love with words in junior high school. I wrote some poetry and short stories but not much more. When I went back to school in my 30â€™s, I took some creative writing classes, yet still hadnâ€™t caught the dream. Several years ago, at a womenâ€™s retreat, I shared my heart on the topic of joy. The speaker suggested I write a book. A seed was planted. At another retreat I shared my testimony around bonfire.Â The positive reaction surprised me. Another seed. Shortly after that I attended Women of Faith where a friend told me Iâ€™d be a great speaker. I laughed it off, but another seed was planted. A couple of years later, as I struggled with what God wanted for my life, I prayed and fasted, asking God for guidance. I prayed, â€śLord, do you want me to write a book? I need a story, please.â€ť A month later, while spending a little time with my older brother, he shared a part of my life I had never known. The story I wrote is now my book, Crying in the Morgue, Laughing in the Dark.
Yes, it is. It is a fictionalized memoir. Itâ€™s based on the true story of my life with some minor changes in sequence and characters. It is a story of my struggle with self-worth and joyful living though difficult circumstances. Itâ€™s a story of finding out, with God, I am good enough. Itâ€™s not just my story. Itâ€™s Godâ€™s story. Itâ€™s the story of what He did in my life.
You told us about your story at Christian Communicators and I was blown away. I can imagine it was difficult to write about those memories.
Yes, sometimes it was difficult. The most difficult thing to write, however, was my parentsâ€™ back stories. As children, it’s hard for us to comprehend that our parents had a life before we were born. And, if we find out their lives werenâ€™t perfect, or they made mistakes, it is easy to point a judgmental finger. I didnâ€™t want that for my parents. I believe itâ€™s important we understand our parentâ€™s childhood struggles in order to fully appreciate the choices they made in their lives. We must view our parentâ€™s lives through eyes of compassion. I tried to do that. I pray my children do the same with my life–mistakes and all.
Powerful insight, Mary. Why did you self-publish?
As a speaker, my time is often limited, so in order to tell the whole story, I wrote the book to bring with me to my speaking engagements. But I wanted the freedom to fulfill my dream on my terms, in Godâ€™s time. Self-publishing gave us that freedom.
So what is the take away message you hope your readers embrace?
Most women will be able to relate with the story at some level, but I doubt any two women will be touched the same way. If God lead a woman to read Crying in the Morgue, Laughing in the Dark, thereâ€™s a personal message there for them. I wanted to be able to touch women who havenâ€™t found their purpose in life, to make women realize their unique worth to the Father. I always struggled with feelings of inadequacy, until I heard the entire truth. The moment my brother shared that information with me, I realized God loved me so much He saved my life the morning I was born. He filled my life with joy, blinded me from certain hard truths, and waited patiently for me to embrace His love for me wholeheartedly. My worth in God is immeasurable. That is the message I hope women will take away from this story.
Sweet, Mary. Any words of wisdom for other new writers?
It took me four years to complete my book. Most mornings I was up by 5:00 AM to write before work. (I am a home health nurse.) Looking back, it was worth the effort. I would say, be patient, join a good critique group, attend writerâ€™s conferences, make time to write whatâ€™s in your heart and trust God with your story. You are good enough for God!
Amen, Mary! Thank you for sharing from your heart today. I pray God uses your powerful story to point others to the truth that He loves us just the way we are. Period.
Friends, be sure to leave a comment and you’ll be in the drawing!
Bio: Mary Allen lives with her husband Bob, the love of her life. Theyâ€™ve been married a whole bunch of years. They have a wonderful, ordinary family they love with an extraordinary love. Mary loves to sing, read, laugh and make people smile. She hates high tech gadgets, but puts up with them. Just barely. Sheâ€™s hoping sheâ€™ll inherit a million dollars from a long lost relative so she can quit the job she loves as a home health nurse to stay home and be a full time writer. But sheâ€™s not holding her breath. When she speaks about God at an event, a hand full of people listen, but when she prays, the God of the universe hears every word. You can reach Mary at MaryAAllen@comcast.net.
Now it’s time to celebrate YOUR successes!
Congratulations are in order for some of our Christian Writer’s Den writers and speakers.
1. Jayme Hull (TN): Jayme just signed a new contract with the Moody Collective division of Moody Bible Institute for her book for millennials, Face To Face. She is writing the book with Laura Captari and they’re expecting a spring 2016 release.
2. Lori Hatcher (SC): I’m praising God for these two gifts: 1) In 2014, one of my goals was to teach at Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference. Iâ€™m delighted have been invited to teach four workshops at Blue Ridge next weekâ€”two on the topic of public speaking. Thank you, Carolyn Knefely for encouraging me to go for it. 2) Iâ€™m privileged to present the one-day seminar â€śPraying with Powerâ€ť to the womenâ€™s ministry of Good Shepherd United Methodist Parish on May 9.
3. Jeanne Doyon (CT): Vibrant Life has accepted my article, When Your Kids Leave Home: Six Ways to Ease Your Empty Nest.Â It will be published this fall.
4. Susan M. Baganz (WI): My debut novel, Pesto and Potholes, released on May 1, 2015 in print and Ebook. It has been in the top 100 of “hot new bestsellers” in its category for the past few days. Yay! (Vonda here: Susan says she has “…written many novels racking up my word counts with MoGo7000….”)
5. Maureen Hager (NC): My testimony, Out of the Brokenness, is published in Trials and Triumphs II, Rooted and Grounded in Love.
Congratulations Jayme, Lori, Jeanne, Susan, and Maureen! I’m so proud of all of you!
(And I hate to admit it, but I thought I’d heard from another Christian Writer’s Den friend who had a kudos, but for the life of me, I can’t find another one. Hopefully I’m thinking of another month. But if you sent me something and it’s not here, PLEASE let me know!)
Who met the MoGo7000 Challenge in April?
These writers earned an entry into the 2015 MoGo7000 Writing Challenge, giving them another chance at winning $100 at the end of the year!
#3: Tim Suddeth – 12,314 words
#4: Joan Hall – 30,909 words
#5: Susan Baganz – 12,876 words
Okay, writers, as you can see, this is a VERY good year to get in on the drawing. The odds are looking really good for winning the cash prize. And it’s FREE!
Want to know how you can join in the fun? Check out the MoGo7000 Challenge guidelines here.
And who won the Chip’s Bad Poetry Contest at the Christian Writer’s Den?
According to my husband, the winner is…
Nice Lady with Gun!
Congratulations on your horribly-awesome poem, An Oculance of Love!
And no, Nice Lady didn’t win because she has a gun. đź™‚ She won because I am a former RN who worked in ophthalmology and neuro-ophthalmology in surgery and in the office for many, many years, and Gary and I loved all the ocular references! “Vitreous humor” was absolutely brilliant! I laughed out loud when I read it and still giggle every time I think of it.
Be sure to visit last Wednesday’s post about Chip MacGregor’s Bad Poetry Contest, and read the bad poems (in the comments) written by some of our own Christian Writer’s Den readers and entered into Chip MacGregor’s Annual Bad Poetry Contest.
Disclaimer: The contest here at the Christian Writer’s Den is a shameless tag-along to Chip MacGregor’s annual contest. He will be announcing his own favorite horrible poem, so be sure to check there to see who wins at Chip MacGregor’s blog.
Well, that does it for this 2nd Tuesday. Be sure to come back next week when I’ll share a brand new collection of writing opportunities collected just for you!
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