Q. You’ve written a best seller. What do you think launched Out of a Dream into that category?
A. The honest truth is that God has had His hand on Out of a Dream from the very beginning, so I really can’t take credit for its success. He walked me through the writing of this story as His way of redeeming the years the locusts had eaten away in my life. I think it resonates with readers because it is very real and suspenseful, and it has a powerful message of redemption and hope.
Q. How does this book tap into your salvation testimony?
A. Out of a Dream exposes the deception of New Age beliefs. I know this deception personally because I spent years steeped in that false religion. Reading my horoscope daily, participating in séances and Ouija board sessions, practicing New Age forms of meditation, and even reading tarot cards for others were all part of my life.
When I was 29, my father took his own life. It rocked my flimsy spiritual foundation and brought me to my knees. Through his death, I realized my New Age philosophies and practices were empty. A search for truth led me to Jesus, and a new path in life.
Q. Were you surprised at the response of readers with your revelation of New Age beliefs, the darkness of meditation outside of focusing on things the Bible tells us about, and the negative spiritual side of Yoga?
A. Many of my Christian readers are uneasy as they read the first part of the book, which shows how easily someone can be seduced by New Age beliefs and practices. But all of them have given me such positive feedback after they finish reading the story and my letter to readers at the end of the story. In that letter, I share my own painful journey to God and why the writing of this novel was such a gift from Him.
Q. Was it difficult to bring your fictional character “out of the miry clay” of false beliefs and set her feet on “the Rock, Christ Jesus and truth?”
A. One thing I discovered as I became immersed in the process of writing this book is that my character, Michelle, needed to tell her own story. I could not control her every thought and move. So I learned to watch her life unfold as if it were a movie playing out on a screen in my mind. As she struggled along her own path to truth, God showed up and guided the way.
Q. How long did it take to write the book?
A. Not to discourage any fledgling authors, but from the first time I sat down to write until the day it was published was seventeen years. You have to know that writing this was a God thing, not a dream or aspiration of my own. During those years, I was living the life I had planned and chosen — raising a family, getting a teaching credential and a Masters Degree in counseling, and launching a 20 year teaching career. So the writing was sporadic and relied on God’s inspiration and timing.
Q. Was it difficult to show instead of tell the reader what your character, Michelle, was going through?
A. Definitely. Since I had no formal training in writing fiction, I really had a lot to learn. Getting inside Michelle’s head and heart really helped. As she took on life, she breathed her own depth and drama into the story.
Q. Do you have a critique group or critique partners?
A. Currently I rely on a college English professor, who is my editor, and a host of well-read friends to critique and correct my writing. But I did belong to a critique group for several years and have attended numerous writing conferences. All of these people and events helped to shape Out of a Dream and the Sandy Cove Series, which has by God’s grace found its way into many hands and hearts.
Q. Some readers commented they liked the way you handled the romance. Did you plan to weave it in that way? Tell us how you did it.
A. The goal in all my books is realism, not sensationalism. I wanted to handle romance realistically and with sensitivity toward my audience. So I focused on the heart and feelings of my characters as I wrote the romantic scenes. Love relationships are part of life and that is how I wove them into the lives of my characters. I didn’t bend the personalities of my characters to fit the typical formula for romance.
I am not a fan of formula writing or of reading books written in that style (the basis for many romance novels). Life is not formulaic. These are stories about real life. From what my readers have told me, the realistic nature of my novels resonates with them at a deeper level, and they feel very connected to the characters.
Q. What is your next book in the series? Is it available, or when will it be?
A. There are three books in the Sandy Cove Series. All three are available in print and ebook formats. Although each can be read as a stand-alone novel, they also flow seamlessly as one continuous storyline beginning with Out of a Dream, followed by Through the Tears, and finally Into Magnolia.
Q. Are you thinking of your next series? What is the theme?
A. There is actually another book in the Sandy Cove Series coming up. In addition, I am considering a Christmas novella and a possible memoir. One of the projects I’d love to see happen is a co-authored novel with my sister. So there are many possibilities on the horizon, depending on God’s direction and inspiration.
Q. How has your life changed since you became a born-again Christian?
A. The biggest changes are in the realms of fear and purpose.
Fear used to be the rudder that steered my ship in life. In fact, I wrestled with a pretty intense anxiety disorder for quite awhile. God has patiently pried my hands off that rudder as He teaches me to rest and trust Him with every circumstance and outcome. Lots of prayer, deep breaths, and scriptures are part of this ongoing process.
Before I became a Christian, I had many interests and goals, but not a prevailing sense of purpose. Now I look at life as an opportunity to seek God’s direction and plan for each stage of my life, leaning on Him to help me live it out.
Q. Do you have a “life verse” that you have claimed? If so what is it and why is that verse so meaningful to you?
A. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This verse literally kept me alive during a very dark time in my life following my father’s suicide. It’s promises kept me pressing on, one day at a time, believing that God’s bigger plans for me would eventually restore joy and purpose to my broken life.
- Who (or what) is your greatest encourager when you write and why?
A. Other than the uplifting and enthusiastic responses of my readers, I’d say the far greatest encourager for my writing is God Himself, who grabbed me by the hand and promised to use my books to touch lives and redeem the years the locusts had eaten away.
- Is there anything else that you would like your readers to know about you that would give us even more of a glimpse into your personality and passions?
A. My childhood dream was to be a teacher, not a writer. A year-long anxiety disorder after college destroyed my dream of teaching and threatened to leave me housebound indefinitely. But God, in His abundant love and grace, restored my dream and gave me 20 sweet years of teaching all ages from preschool through 8th grade. I treasure those memories and still enjoy teaching Sunday school and women’s Bible studies. Now He’s called me to a new form of ministry – writing stories that will touch hearts and draw others to Him.
Q: Will you tell us why you wanted to write these books and what you want people to take away from them?
A: Becoming a writer was never on my radar growing up. Although I’ve always been an avid reader and found that words flowed easily for me, my career goal was focused on teaching.
I didn’t become a Christian until I was 30 years old, choosing New Age beliefs instead. One day I was praying and expressing my regret to God about how I had wasted those first 30 years trying to live without Him. I’d even mocked Christians as out-dated and narrow-minded.
As I expressed my regrets in prayer, God impressed on my heart that He was going to redeem the years the locusts had eaten away. As a new believer, I had no idea that was actually a Bible verse from the Old Testament book of Joel. Then He gave me an inspiration to use the gift of writing and my life experiences from those first thirty years to help others understand His grace, mercy, and love.
Initially, I hesitated, not seeing myself as an author. But bit-by-bit God dismantled my excuses and fed me the stories that became the Sandy Cove series.
My hope and prayer is that He uses these books to make a spiritual impact on believers and non-believers alike. For believers, I hope Michelle’s journey through New Age deception will help them understand this false religion and be better equipped to share Jesus with family members and friends who have been seduced by its tantalizing lies. For non-believers, I hope it will open their eyes to who God really is and the only truth that can truly set them free.
Q: How much of your own life did you write into this series? How true to your life was the heroine, Michelle Baron?
A: First let me say I believe that fiction authors are most effective in their storytelling when they write about struggles and conflicts they have faced in their own lives. That said, each of Michelle’s trials are trials I have experienced, but her story is definitely her own, and she has her own unique responses to these circumstances and struggles.
Q: How easy is it for people to become taken in by the New Age Movement?
A: For those who have never experienced a genuine relationship with God through Jesus Christ, the New Age system of beliefs is very enticing. It gives followers the flexibility to basically design their own religion and create their own personal god, suited to their lifestyles and desires. In our contemporary culture, that kind of self-power is very appealing. Plus, New Age beliefs espouse “tolerance” for all beliefs, a mindset that is advocated in our public life in America, including in our public schools.
Q: Tell us a little about your writing journey. How hard was it to get started on this road and where has it taken you?
A: Writing these novels was a seventeen-year journey. I wrote as God inspired me along the way, while I worked full time and raised a family. In addition to the writing process, I had to make decisions about publication, which required research and attending writers’ conferences. Once the books were published, I began the process of learning how to get the word out to potential readers through social media, advertising, and lots of prayer.
Q: Please tell us a little about yourself. Besides writing and reading, what do you like to do? I understand you were once a schoolteacher, as I was. I think your teaching experiences led to the writing of your third book, Into Magnolia.
A: My childhood dreams always revolved around being a wife, mother, and teacher. God has graciously given me the opportunity to fulfill all of those dreams. My husband and I have been married for 37 years, we have two wonderful children — a daughter and a son — who are both married and live near us. Recently we became grandparents to two beautiful granddaughters now ages one and two.
My dream of teaching did not unfold easily. It was nearly derailed before it began by an anxiety disorder that crippled me for the first year after I obtained my credential. This was back in my New Age days, and I basically abandoned any hopes or plans for teaching.
After I became a Christian and began asking God to make me one of His servants, He answered, “Teach my children.” That was a very frightening thought for me. I resisted for awhile, but He patiently and gently led me one baby step at a time back into the classroom, beginning with a handful of preschoolers in a parent co-op on the beach, to an elementary position, and finally into my 15 years of teaching junior high English.
Those years as a junior high teacher gave me an opportunity to work some intensive interventions in the lives of kids who were struggling. Through my experiences, I saw the effects of broken homes, a limping foster care system, and the lack of character education and values on some very fragile kids. All of this contributed to the third novel in the series, Into Magnolia.
Q: Your second book, Through the Tears, dealt with the prevalent problem of infertility. I went through this with my daughter and thought you presented the problem very realistically. Why did you choose to write a novel with this topic?
A: I wrote about this topic because there are so many people who struggle with it silently. I wanted to portray how this issue wrenches the hearts of those involved and becomes a consuming factor for them.
My prayer is that family members and friends, who are looking in from the outside, will have a deeper understanding and compassion for those in the midst of this struggle. I also hope and pray that those who are immersed in the heartache of infertility will find courage and hope from Michelle’s journey.
Q: Are you a member of a Writers’ group? How important do you think this is for people who desire to write?
A: I have been involved in several writers’ groups. It is a wonderful way to learn and grow as a writer, and I highly recommend trying it! If you don’t click with one group, don’t give up. Try another. Or start one yourself!
Q: Are your books available in print as well as ebook? How can people get these books to read them?
A: My books are all available in hardcover, paperback, and ebook formats. They sell via most online vendors such as Amazon, Barnesandnoble.com, Kobo, Apple Books, etc. For more information, your readers can visit the book page of my website, which provides some links for purchasing them.
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