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Christy Catherine Marshall

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March 23, 2010

Since I started blogging in 2005, I’ve been privileged to interview some really great people. Most of these interviews were conducted while I simultaneously typed and juggled a baby on my knee. I’ve been able to meet some of these writers in person at conferences, which is always fun.

I’ve updated the links here, so if you’re an author with a website or blog that links to one of these interviews, please update your link with my new web address. And drop me an email if you have a minute!

Claudine Aievoli, April 2007
Tracey Bateman, February 2007
Trish Berg, April 2007
Kristin Billerbeck, October 2006
Allison Bottke, August 2008 interview for Christian Women Online ezine
Barbara Cameron, November 2008 interview for Christian Women Online ezine
Colleen Coble, April 2006
Gina Conroy, May 2007
CJ Darlington, March 2010
Mary DeMuth, February 2006 (1), (2), September 2006
Jenn Doucette, February 2007
Dena Dyer, October 2006
Alyice Edrich, February 2006 (1), (2)
Suzie Eller, May 2006, October 2006
C. Hope Flinchbaugh, January 2007
Tricia Goyer, March 2007
Sheila Wray Gregoire, April 2007
Liz Curtis Higgs, January 2007 cover interview for Christian Women Online ezine
Ellie Kay, March 2007, interview for Christian Women Online ezine
Keri Wyatt Kent, April 2006
Christine Lynxwiler, April 2007
Dandi Daley Mackall, March 2007
Kathryn Mahoney, March 2006 (1), (2)
Randy Mortenson, November 2006
Kathryn Porter, January 2007
Deborah Raney, September 2006
Christy Scannell, April 2007
Donna Shepherd, May 2006 (1), (2)
Vonda Skelton, April 2006, March 2008
Susan Thacker, March 2006(1), (2)

By: Heather Ivester in: Books,Interviews | Permalink | Comments & Trackbacks (0)

March 22, 2010

I find this hard to believe, but 2010 marks my fifth year as a contributor to the world of blogging. Although I’ve taken breaks now and then, I’ve kept this same site and design, and I like it, but …

I’ve been working hard behind the scenes on a few things, and I’d like to branch out a bit and have a site that can sort of grow with me. So if you’re one of those wonderful people who’ve stuck with me for years reading here or you have my blog linked in your sidebar, please update the link to:

For now, nothing will change except the address. It will still be a while before I figure out exactly what I want to do with my name as the site, but I do know I’d like young readers to feel comfortable reaching me … someday.

Although the novels I’m trying to write are still in bits and pieces, the characters are sitting on my desk looking annoyed with me when I ignore them. They want me to tell their stories, so I’m working on it. Along with everything else.

Here’s a quote I came across last week from the enigmatic Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird.:

It’s absolutely essential that a writer know himself, for until he knows his abilities and limitations, his talents and problems, he will be unable to produce anything of real value …The writer must know for whom he writes, why he writes, and if his writing means what he means for it to say.

Writing is, in a way, a contest of knowing, of seeing the dream, of getting there, and of achieving what you set out to do. The simplest way to reach this goal is to simply say what you mean as clearly and precisely as you know how.

(from Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee, by Charles J. Shields).

March 13, 2010

I went to see Michael Flatley’s Lord of the Dance the other night, and it was the most amazing live performance I’ve ever seen. My daughters took Irish dancing a couple of years, so I recognized some of the music and choreography, but I was totally unprepared to see these dozens of feet on fire.

At the end of the show, the dancers bowed to a wild, sold-out audience of clapping, screaming fans. Even I had to join in with a few hoots and hollers, forgetting for a moment I spend most of my days hauling little people around in my mom taxi. It was wonderful. Our joined hearts were flaming. And then it was time to go home.

The theater lights went out; people in the audience started shuffling, looking for purses and umbrellas. But it was so dark. A minute passed.

And then the stage lit up again, the music and lights electrified the room, and the dancers appeared, entertaining us with an encore that somehow surpassed their previous two hours of work. I didn’t know the human foot could possibly move that fast! We clapped and hollered some more, filled with the rich heritage of Ireland.

As I drove home that night, I thought about the darkness that preceded that encore. We really thought the show was over — but the best was yet to come. It reminded me of what an editor once told us wannabe writers at a conference — she used the term, “fruitful darkness.”

She said sometimes you write something, and you think it’s so good, you send it out before it’s ready. Or you get back some work from an editor full of change requests, and you want to dash off an angry email shouting IN ALL CAPS how your writing was already perfect. Instead, she encouraged us to take advantage of the “fruitful darkness,” by letting our work sit for a while, giving it at least 24 hours to rest in silence. In time, you’ll have the energy and renewed vision to give your work the passion it needs.

The same goes for our writing careers, I believe. Sometimes, as mothers, we must spend long YEARS in the darkness, writing quietly in our journals or private correspondences because the timing is not quite right for us to pursue publication. Our families need to eat meals our hands prepare, they need clean socks in their drawers, and most of all, they need our focused attention. And love.

While our writing waits in the dark, we can still be getting our creative acts together, behind stage, waiting for the lights to come on, the music to begin, and the timing to be right for our best performance.

March 11, 2010

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing writer CJ Darlington about her breakout debut novel, Thicker Than Blood. I’ve known CJ for years through various writer’s groups and comment threads, such as Terry Whalin’s The Writing Life and Gina Holmes’ Novel Journey, so holding her book in my hands for the first time was like cradling a precious newborn. Her book is absolutely gorgeous and a stunning read, which I highly recommend if you are a book collector and lover of all things literary!

The plot centers around the theft of a first-edition Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls, one of my favorite novels. I hope you’ll visit CJ at her website and read the story behind the story about how she got her first book contract through Tyndale by winning a writing contest! Dreams do come true!

CJ DarlingtonWelcome, CJ! Since you were homeschooled by your mother, can you tell us how she encouraged you to become such an avid reader and writer?

Mom never said one negative word to me about pursuing writing. Everything was always positive. And still is, I might add. She took the time to notice my interests and provide all the necessary tools. That’s what she believes is so important for homeschooling moms to do. It’s a parent’s job to water the dreams of their kids, not to impose their dreams on their children.

My parents never hesitated to take my sister and me to the library, and they never complained when we came home with bags and bags full of books. Mom created curriculum around our interests. She made sure we read some of the classics like The Scarlet Letter, The Old Man and the Sea, Huckleberry Finn, To Kill a Mockingbird, and the like.

Oh, those are some of my favorite books too! Anything else?

She also had us keep a journal from an early age, making sure we knew she wasn’t going to read them (she felt this was important to tell us up front). She just wanted us to be creative and write without editing. I still journal to this day.

And she made us learn how to type! Of all the things I learned homeschooling, that’s one thing I use every single day.

Your mom sounds amazing! Do you have any words of wisdom for today’s moms who want to teach their kids to love books, despite all the competing media and demands for kids’ time?

It’s one thing to tell your kids to read, it’s another to read out loud to them. By doing this, you’re practicing what you preach, and you get some great quality time with your kids. This opens up the door to discussing what you read too.

Books are doorways into countries we might never explore in real life. Through books we can travel to worlds beyond the solar system. We can learn history and how not to repeat it and discover what character traits were noteworthy in others. Through reading we learn without even realizing it.


You started writing your novel when you were 15, and you describe your long 14-year journey to publication. What would you say to a teen writer who dreams of publishing books someday? Is there anything he or she can be doing now to prepare for a life as a professional writer?

First of all, know that if you have a dream to be a writer, that dream is valid and most likely comes from God. Being a writer is a very important calling. God took the time to write His thoughts on paper. I don’t think he would have done that if there was a more powerful medium.

Read lots of different authors. Yes, write whenever you can (writers write after all), but when you’re reading you’re learning by osmosis how other authors have mastered the craft. Subconsciously you’ll pick up techniques.

Don’t give up. Determine that no matter how long it takes to reach your goals, you’re not letting go of your dream. Maybe you’ll read another author and start to wonder how you could possibly write like him or her. Or someone will say something critical about what you wrote, and the words will cut deep. That’s not the time to push the keyboard or pen away! Keep at it. Even when the words don’t seem to flow.

Then, don’t be afraid to start submitting to publications. But don’t be discouraged if the rejections come. Often an editor will reject a piece simply because they don’t have space or they’ve published something similar recently. It doesn’t mean they’re rejecting you or that your writing isn’t publishable. My first novel was rejected by almost all the major Christian publishers before it finally found its home at Tyndale House.

This all sounds like great advice! One last question: Are there any writing courses or programs you’d recommend for teens who love to write? Also, do you know of any publications that accept short articles or stories from teens that may help them build up a writing resume of clips?

The Christian Writers Guild has several courses designed especially for young writers. If you learn best through courses and programs, I highly recommend them. The staff there are amazing and supportive. Their website has all the info.

But if you’re more unstructured (like I am), it is possible to succeed as a writer by learning on your own too. There are so many great how-to books and magazines out there that can teach you everything you need to know. One of the first things I did when I was starting out was subscribe to Writers Digest and The Writer magazines. They’re also available at most libraries. Read Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell and A Novel Idea by Chilibris. They’re great books on the craft to start with, but then there are so many others as well.

A great resource for finding magazines and websites that accept articles and stories is The Christian Writers Market Guide by Sally Stuart. It’s a valuable reference tool you’ll turn to again and again. My very first short story was accepted for publication when I was 18, and it was published in a Sunday School take-home paper called Live. The take-home papers can be a great market.

Thank you so much for all of your encouragement, CJ! And to all of you aspiring writers out there, be sure to visit CJ at her other home on the web,, where she reviews books, movies, music and other inspirational media.