Wednesday, December 28, 2005

INTERVIEW: Marilynn Griffith

When I met Marilyn Griffith at Mt. Hermon Writer’s Conference, she was such a warm, bubbly, encouraging force of nature, that I instantly knew I’d love anything she wrote. Now others get to experience the same pleasure I had in meeting her, as she releases her novel, MADE OF HONOR. The book is as real, warm and funny as I expected. I especially appreciated the way her writing welcomed me in to a multi-cultural world, where I felt embraced and included as part of the “Sistahood.” I also enjoyed her honesty in portraying women’s friendships as both a huge blessing and an occasional torment. I’ve invited Marilyn to stop by on her “Blog Tour” and answer a few questions. Feel free to post comments or questions!

SH: As a Christian writer, what themes have you felt God highlighting in your own life?

MG: Since my life before Christ (and sometimes after) was pretty crazy, forgiveness is always a big theme in my writing. Intimacy with Christ, God as our lover and other love-y stuff also come up, expecially in Made of Honor.

SH: How have these themes shown up in your novel?

MG: In Made of Honor, Dana Rose has been saved for almost five years. In that time, she's given up a lot of things to draw closer to God (sex outside of marriage for one). When God tries to give some things back to her, she really doesn't know how to handle it. Though she's accepted God's forgiveness, accepting God's love proves much more difficult.

SH: Your slogan is "Serious Faith, Serious Fiction, Serious Fun." Tell us how we'll find each of these in your book.

MG: Well, when I came up with that, I was thinking "serious" in terms of "not funny" serious, not serious in terms of this is deep, theological literature. It isn't. However, there are things in the book dealing with the things Christians don't always talk about--mistakes. And lots of them. The serious faith part relates to the themes in the books. Though the situations may be funny in places, there are often substantial spiritual issues throughout the story. As for the fun, it's girlfriends, guys, God and all the giggles in between.

SH: Where and when can we find your book?

MG: MADE OF HONOR is available at ,, , and wherever books are sold. If you can't find it, ask for it!

SH: Thanks for visiting, Marilynn! And thanks again for the encouragement you offered when we met! You are a true blessing.

Monday, November 28, 2005

REVIEW - Shadow Over Kiriath

I’m a huge fan of Karen Hancock – the author AND the person. Her latest book just released and is as amazing as all her other award-winning novels. SHADOW OVER KIRIATH continues the Legends of the Guardian King with rich use of language and powerful symbolism.

Abramm faces his most glorious victories and his darkest suffering—all with a new level of maturity and wisdom. I especially enjoyed his blossoming relationship with Maddie, and the swashbuckling adventure of the story.

I was also inspired by the example of a man who battles the same temptations I do—fear, doubt, confusion and constant awareness of scars and weaknesses. Hope grew in my own heart as I read about a man who comes to the end of himself and finds he is never alone.

Be warned that as part of a series, the book ends with some intense issues unresolved. But even with more to come, there is enough hope to keep me going until the next book. I can’t wait for the next installment. If you haven’t yet discovered this series, now is a great time to start.

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Joys of Writing

Last week, I began composing a list of the good things about being a writer. Since I tend to get cranky and melancholy, I figured I needed a reminder of what I should be grateful for.

1. I can work in my pajamas
2. I can take a notebook and pen for a hike in the woods and work in beautiful settings
3. I sometimes get free books to review or endorse
4. I've met the best, most amazing people
5. I get to practice waiting.

Okay, that last one wasn't on my list. Being a writer involves a tortuous amount of waiting. Nail-biting while waiting for an agent’s opinion on my latest idea. Pacing while hoping for news from my editor on whether my manuscript has potential. Checking emails obsessively to see what my critique partners thought of a recent chapter.

Last week, I read a chapter in Marlene Bagnull’s wonderful book, Write His Answer. She wrote about waiting expectantly, productively, and patiently.

My vivid imagination jumps to worst-case scenarios when I’m waiting. “The publisher will finally catch on that I don’t know what I’m doing and reject my new proposal. The editors are sitting around laughing at my clumsy prose.”

So, in an effort to wait expectantly, I worked on expecting God’s good surprises . . . whatever shape they might take. Once when the phone rang, I even thought, “That could be my agent calling with a contract offer.” Amazing how much more fun my writing became when I shushed the negative assumptions.

Waiting productively isn’t difficult for me. As a recovering workaholic, I comfort my anxiety by working. So I kept writing during my weeks of waiting for news on a new project. And I also asked God to make the time productive in other ways. Strengthening relationships, caring for physical health, studying and improving my skills.

Patiently? Well, that’s another story. I’m the kind of person who is so desperate to see what’s around the next corner I barely notice the street I’m on at the moment. But God was providing me a chance to practice. To remind myself that His timing is spot on. To acknowledge that most of life happens BETWEEN desired events, so I better embrace the between times.

One of the joys of being a writer really IS the experience of waiting. Writing chapter after chapter with uncertainty about whether it will be published. Revising manuscripts that might never be read. Trusting that God has called me to this path. Every day is raw and frightening and blazing with potential. And that propels me straight into God’s arms.

And that’s another one of the joys of writing.

Oh, and yesterday the phone rang, and it was my agent with good news. And I was grateful I'd had to wait for it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Ultrasound

Today I have a writer moment to share. I've told many friends that birthing a book is similar to birthing a baby. Pregnancy can feel very long and sometimes uncomfortable. You desperately want to hold the baby, but sometimes fear that day will never arrive. There are preparations to make--painting the nursery, buying diapers. And because you want to be an exceptional parent, you study many books on how to excel at this role. Midwives are there to guide you through the experiences of each month of the pregnancy. Still, it can be hard to imagine holding that longed-for child in your arms as day after day passes.

Today, I saw the ultrasound of my book-baby. The cover art.

Like hearing a heartbeat, and seeing a tiny figure swimming in a hidden place, the life of this book-baby is vibrantly real in a new way.

Can a book "quicken" like that moment you first feel the flutter of your child? If so, The Secret Life of Becky Miller quickened for me today.

I LOVE the cover that the artist designed. It conveys so many aspects of the novel. I feel incredibly blessed by this ultrasound moment--this glimpse of what the baby will look like.

We'll be posting the cover art on my website soon, so check it out. I'm an unabashed proud mom, waving her sonogram around for all to see. And if I'm this delirious now, just wait until the day of the birth!

I pray your heart with quicken today with whatever God is birthing in your life!

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Nine Dead Mice

Something smelled funny under the stairs. We pulled out all the suitcases, tax records, and other odd things we stored under there, and found nothing. So we scrubbed and put everything back, hoping we’d solved the problem even though we didn’t know what the problem was.

Over the next few days, the smell grew stronger. We suspected there was a dead mouse in the wall. Since we live near woods and wetlands, we occasionally have one sneak in, especially in the fall. Since there was no way to reach it, we kept windows open, burned candles, sprayed Oust, and figured we’d have to wait it out.

But it grew worse.

So yesterday Ted pried off the wood paneling of the basement wall to expose the studs, while I stayed far away, and my fifteen-year-old son videotaped like a crime scene investigator.

Ted found the dead mouse. And eight mouse buddies, also deceased. Ew!

Besides giving me nightmares, the experience made me think. How often do I spray Lysol on my soul, hoping to disguise the stench? Do I try to clean under my stairs, figuring I’ve done all I can so it’s good enough? Only God can pry away the wall and expose the sin that is rotting away. Only His forgiveness can clean it out.

All right. It’s a disgusting (and true) story. But I think that’s why it struck me. Ted was very brave to tackle the decayed rodents. God is very brave to face the repulsive odor of sin—even more gross than nine dead mice—and restore me in love.

Lord, next time I catch a whiff of pride, a scent of a harmful habit, a sour smell of selfishness, remind me not to gloss it over. Remind me to let you pry back the walls and purify my heart.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Interview with a Restorer

Do not read if you haven't read the book yet.:-)

Kelly Lorton, a talented seventh-grader, read an early manuscript of The Restorer's Son before it was published. She created this interview as a book report for her class.

The Restorer’s Son
By: Sharon Hinck

Setting: Year: two years after Markell left their world (during which time twenty years pasted in our world.) The scenes in our world take place in 2007.

Time: The weeks following the big battle of Morsal Plain (they don’t have a moon, so they don’t have months like we do.) They mark their years by six seasons… a season is how long it takes the grain crops to sprout, grow and be ready to harvest – about 60 days.

Place: The clans of the People of the Verses (including Lyric and Braide Wood) and the dark kingdom of Hazor.

Host: Ladies and Gentlemen: today we are fortunate enough to have Kieran of Braid Wood join us. He is one of the brave
Promised Restorers sent from The One to the People of the Verses to help them in many great ways.

1. Host: Tell me Kieran, do you have any relatives or close friends in Braide Wood?

Kieran: Yes, my sister Kendra and her husband Tristan live there with Tara and Payton. Plus, they also seem to have constant company.

2. Host: So, Kieran, how did you feel when you found out that you were going to be the next Restorer?

Kieran: To tell you the truth, at first I was furious and mad at The One. I thought that He had made a big mistake by choosing me. But soon I learned that The One doesn’t make mistakes, and everything he does is done for a purpose, His purpose.

3. Host: We’ve been talking a lot about Restorers. Could you explain to the viewers what exactly is a Restorer?

Kieran: Well there is an old prophecy that pretty much sums up the entire roll of the Restorer, and it goes like this; “In every time of great need, a Restorer is sent to fight for the people and help the guardians. The Restorer is empowered with gifts to defeat our enemies and turn the people’s hearts back to the Verses.”

4. Host: That’s pretty cool. How did you feel when you learned that the teenage boy you almost killed was Susan and Markell’s son?

Kieran: I felt all of the blood drain out of my head and I stopped breathing because if I accidentally killed their son, Markell would never trust me and possibly even kill me.

5. Host: Why did you decide to pledge your protection to Jake Mitchell?

Kieran: Well, I just felt like I couldn’t leave him there because he was totally helpless and on top of that, he was Susan and Markell’s son, the Restorer’s Son. I just couldn’t leave him to fend for himself.

6. Host: Kieran, I heard that you fought with The One, how did it feel to clash swords with one so powerful?

Kieran: Well, at first I was surprised when I saw a figure coming toward me through the mist. When he drew his sword, I did the same and we fought all through the night. Finally, when I couldn’t stand it any longer, I fell to the ground and I waited for him to kill me, but he didn’t.

7. Host: What happened after he didn’t kill you?

Kieran: He told me to yield. A million thoughts ran through my mind as we waited there. I couldn’t fight, but I wouldn’t yield. But then he put his sword back in its sheath and stood over me. Then he said it again, yield. Finally, I had no choice, so I said, “I yield.”

8. Host: Are you sure that it actually happened? How do you know that you weren’t just hallucinating?

Kieran: Well, After The One left me; I fell into a sound sleep until morning. When I woke up, my sword was lying on the ground a few yards away from me and by body ached all over, so I know it really happened.

9. Host: When you were at the temple in Hazor, why did you stop the sacrificing ceremony to the hill gods?

Kieran: I just had this feeling from The One that it was wrong to sacrifice the children to the hill gods. I’m not really sure why I did what I did, but I knew that I had to do something.

10. Host: How did you feel when you learned that you could heal people with your Restorer gifts?

Kieran: Actually, it was The One that healed the people through me, but to answer your question, I was very amazed and surprised.

11. Host: What thoughts ran through your mind when you found out that Nolan was your son?

Kieran: At first I was very shocked, but I knew that I couldn’t leave him to fend for himself because his mother had just died.

12. Host: There have been rumors that you are friends with Zarek, the king of Hazor. How did you get to know him?

Kieran: Actually, he called for me when people told him that I worked “magic” on the little girl at the ceremony. He wanted to know how I did it and why. After that, I saw him daily and we became good friends. I actually spared with him once.

13. Host: Are you serious? You spared with the most powerful man in Hazor? Tell me about it. Was he any good?

Kieran: I was very surprised myself at first. He just walked up to me, drew his sword, and said that he needed some practice. And yes, he was surprisingly very good.

14. Host: I heard that the king of Hazor wanted to “steal” The One. How exactly did he plan to do that?

Kieran: Well, he planned to capture the Tower of Lyric, where he thought The One lived so that his country could posses Him.

15. Host: So, how did that plan work out for the Hazorites?

Kieran: I knew that the One didn’t dwell only in a certain place, but in the hearts of his followers. So, with a few complications, I succeeded in getting that message to Zarek. In the end it all worked out and Zarek even invited The Singers to go to Hazor to help teach the people about The One.

Host: Well Kieran, I’d like to thank you for coming out here to be on our talk show. We’ve enjoyed having you and learning more about the many different ways that The One can work through whom ever he chooses. I hope you have a safe trip back to your world!

Until next time, have a great week and see what ways the Lord is working in through your life.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Not Getting My Ezine?

I love computers and the convenience of the cyberworld. But sometimes glitches arise.

I aim to send out my monthly Book Buddy ezine on the 15th of each month, but I often hear from folks who didn't receive it. Here are some things to check.

1. Is your current email on my Book Buddy list? If you change emails, the ezine will be bounced when it is sent and my subscription service will automatically stop sending to you.
Easy fix: sign up on the front page of my website with your new email. You'll get an email asking you to verify and when you click that, you're good to go!

2. Did you complete the sign-up? When you sign up, you receive an email that says, "click here to verify." If you don't click on the link as that email requests, you are left in the "started-to-sign-up-but-didn't-finish" limbo and don't get the mailings.

3. Be sure I'm "whitelisted." Your computer might not know I'm a friend. My ezine comes out from the address
so be sure to add that in your address book, so that your Internet Service Provider recognizes my ezine as "friend."

4. Check your "junk mail" or "spam" folder. Although I'm careful that my content doesn't contain red flags, any group mailing is in danger of being routed directly into a folder of junk mail. My ezine feels sad when its classified as junk, but it understands. You may need to reset how tightly you are filtering, or at least peek into your junk folder around the 15th of the month in case my ezine is hiding there. I recently learned that my email program has one filtering system and my ISP has another, which added up to too much screening, and some mail hasn't reached me.

I hope these tips help! And I will never share my email list with others. Thank you for being a Book Buddy.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Writing Retrospective Part One

When authors get together, conversation often drifts to these questions.

"When did you know you wanted to be a writer?"
"How long did it take you to get published?"
"What was your writing journey like?"

We are fascinated with each other's stories, because the call to be a writer is such an overwhelming force in our lives. Sometimes we're afraid we have it all wrong.

Maybe we're delusional. Maybe we were never supposed to take this road.

So, for those who are interested, I decided to trace the “call to write” in my life.
Not because I love talking about myself (although that's probably true), but because it's a chance to notice some of the amazing fingerprints of God in a life that has sometimes seemed like a hopeless muddle.

Stories always fascinated me.

I remember writing a story in second grade—horribly derivative, involving three pigs, and their homes, and their adventures in the woods. I drew paths across the page and glued Dixie-cups onto the paper to create the houses. I still remember the thrill of forming a world that felt so real with pencil, lined paper, and cups.

In third or fourth grade I crouched over an old Underwood typewriter on a day that I was home with a high fever. My two index fingers pecked out a story on sheets of onionskin paper with a carbon page between. Why carbon paper? Perhaps even then I knew that stories are meant to be shared.

I wrote a story full of pathos and anthropomorphisms—about a horse.

In sixth grade, I wrote spy stories—lurid tales with the heroine fainting, and plenty of guns and villains.

In seventh and eighth grades, I began to write songs on my guitar—melancholy expressions of adolescent pain.

In high school, I wrote to rage against war, to proclaim my faith in God in large letters, to process intense emotions. Teachers wrote comments on my papers about becoming a writer, but writing was a release (like laughing, crying, hugging) and I couldn’t imagine it as a career.

Had God planted the writing call in my heart during my childhood? If so, I never saw it as that. But I read voraciously and loved the power of words. And I continued to write—essays, short stories, poems, songs, sermons, letters, scripts.

(More to come! Tune in next week for Part Two!)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Television Interview

To watch the ten-minute interview I did on The Harvest Show recently,
click on the screen below.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

A Little Writer's Prayer

Are you a writer, an artist, a choreographer, a musician, a photographer?
Do you yearn to express the mysteries of God and the authentic truths of humanity through your art? It's not an easy journey. I invite you to join me in prayer today.

Dear Heavenly Father,
We all need you SO much. You have the only healing to the pain we feel. You
alone can fill the empty, lonely places. Thank you --for often bringing us
comfort, healing, and fullness through your Body--through precious friends.

Encourage each of us in our writing, Lord. We are so often
tired of the struggle. The struggle to face the computer screen. The
struggle to find the right word. The struggle to let others read it. The
concerns about whether this is a legitimate use of our time (even though
you've asked us to do it, it still feels self-indulgent sometimes).

We surrender our need to understand, and simply make ourselves available.
Fill us with your Holy Spirit today. Open doors for our stories--in your
place and time and way.

Thank you for loving us. Thank you for giving us imaginations and the gift
of story. Thank you for your creative nature.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Inner Circle

A strange shift occurs when a writer signs her first book contract.

A pre-published writer is treated a bit like a wanna-be. Usually subtly, sometimes overtly.
Many folks are kind and helpful. Some are even interested. But there is a definite feeling of being on the outside and pressing one's nose against the window pane, longing to join the party.

Then the magic moment occurs. The door opens. Inside the lights are a bit blinding, and the music is loud. Laughter and conversation bounce the new author from side to side. Not only is she "in," now she is in demand. Other writers want her to critique manuscripts, judge contests, teach classes, offer endorsements. It could be a heady feeling.

Except for one thing.

Five minutes after signing a book contract, I was the same person I had been five minutes before signing it. The same cranky, self-absorbed, obsessive, giddy, goofy, weary human being. I had no new level of intelligence. No brilliant wisdom imparted from the Orb of Publication.

So what do I make of the strange phenomenon? Why would someone with little interest in my thoughts before the contract, now suddenly find me valuable?

Okay, I understand that having an editor and publishing house believe in me adds some credibility to the stammered declaration, "I, I'm, well, a writer."

But should it?
I know several wonderful, gifted authors whose novels aren't in print yet. They haven't found that perfect match of an editor who loves their style, at a house that has a hole to fill, with a genre that bookstores are clamoring for, in the right time. Or God simply is steering their path the long way around.

And I've read plenty of published books that are poorly-constructed drivel.

It's important for me to remember that truth.

I have a book contract. Praise God. I worked for it, prayed for it, yearned for it, and I'm delighted by it. It's a gift from Him.

But I haven't suddenly become someone worthy of being "inside." In fact, the writer who steps out of the cold weather of seeking publication and inside the ballroom, soon finds there is an inner study where only the REALLY cool folk are invited. And I'm guessing inside that room is a door to the truly exclusive library. It never ends.

C.S. Lewis gives a delicious description of a man corrupted by his longing to join the "inner circle" in the sci-fi novel, THAT HIDEOUS STRENGTH. And once "inside," the man compromises almost anything to keep his position.

Lord preserve me from that deception.

I'm not hot stuff.
Not as a writer. Not as a human being.
I'm a mess, only imbued with beauty and purpose because God, for an inexplicable reason, loves me.

That's the only inner circle I need. And we're all in that one together.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Seeing the Finish Line

Today I reached 73,000 words in my manuscript that will be about 80,000 words.
(This is the sequel to THE SECRET LIFE OF BECKY MILLER, which I've been working on since April).

I've been mulling marathon metaphors, and picturing those poor exhausted runners who can barely drag themselves the last few yards. I can relate.

I'm also feeling the way I used to when I took ballet classes. I tended to work full-out at the barre, go for maximum height in every jump, and the longest possible line of every extension. But then after an hour and-a-half of intense work, it would be time for across-the-floor combinations. Huge sweeping movement, enormous traveling jumps. And my legs had become rubber.

So I'm hoping I saved enough energy for the finish line. I'm hoping the story will make sense. I'm hoping that readers will feel that wonderful sense of satisfaction as all the plot threads pull together and the protagonist faces her big crisis.

And I'm thinking that although this finish line matters to me, I'm aiming for a much more exciting finish line.
(See Hebrews 12:1-3) Happy running!

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Joining the Blog-olution

I should be working on my current manuscript.
Instead I'm trolling the seas of the internet reading the blogs of friends.
They make me smile.
They inspire me.
So I'm joining the revolution and trying a blog.
Check back for weekly updates.