One of the best things about joining a “local” (I drive 3 hours to get there so not super local) ACFW chapter is that you get to meet some amazing people. We’re all crazy different–appearance, lifestyle, career, writing genre, and I suspect theologically as well. There’s Michelle the creative memoir writer, Scott (who was our lone guy writing a cool story about salmon until March’s meeting when Paul arrived), Deborah the gracious hostess who also has a killer funny blog (Read it!) and half a dozen others. But we have a couple of things in common–our love of the Lord and of the written word. It didn’t take long for me to feel deeply connected to these people.
So, when one member, Kathy Ide, brought her books to our meeting, I, of course, bought one of each. Since then, she’s published more. I love her “Proofreading Secrets” book (highly recommended. Kathy is a fabulous editor). I need to send a copy to Christy. But her “21 Days of” Fiction Lovers Devotionals” are such a cool, unique idea. So, I asked Kathy to answer a few short questions to introduce the series to you. My book review will technically a “series” review and will follow the interview.
Me: Kathy, tell us a little about you.
Kathy: I’ve been writing for publication since 1989 and I’ve been a full-time freelance editor since 1998. I teach at writers’ conferences across the country, and I’m the director of the Orange County Christian Writers Conference in Southern California. I’m also the founder and director of two organizations for freelance editors: the Christian Editor Connection and The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network.
Me: So, what is your favorite genre to write in and what inspires you?
Kathy: I love writing Christian fiction because that’s what I love reading. Like Jesus’ parables, a good fiction story grabs me by pulling me into the character’s mind and heart. I “live” the story through the character’s perspective and relate to her (or sometimes him), then think about what I would do if I were faced with those circumstances. That helps me think more clearly about how to handle similar situations in my own life.
Me: So what gave you the idea for the 21 Days series?
Kathy: I believe in the power of fiction to touch hearts and change lives. But in my quiet times with the Lord, reading a chapter from a novel just doesn’t seem quite appropriate. So a devotional with short fiction stories seemed like a great solution. And I loved the idea of collecting short stories, followed by brief life applications, from a variety of different authors. At the end of each chapter is an author bio that gives some background information. So if you really like a story you read, you can find out what else that author has written, and you may just find some new names to add to your favorites list. And if you haven’t read much Christian fiction, this devotional will give you a taste of several different authors and genres, without having to commit to reading an entire novel. You might just discover that you actually love Christian fiction!
Me: What do you hope these books will do for readers?
Kathy: My prayer is that the Holy Spirit will speak to readers with whatever messages God wants them to get. As Rene Gutteridge wrote in the foreword to the first book in this series, 21 Days of Grace, one story can do many things to different people—some of which the author never planned or even imagined. For those who want to go deeper, individually or in a group setting, we have a companion study guide, with tips for leaders and discussion questions for each chapter. It’s available as a free PDF on FictionDevo.com, or as a 99-cent e-book on Amazon or Barnes & Noble’s websites.
Thank you, Kathy! I know you’re a crazy busy woman–getting ready for the Orange County Christian Writers’ Conference next weekend. So taking time to answer a few questions means a lot to me. If you’re an aspiring author in a four or five hour drive of Fullerton, California, I highly recommend the conference. They have a COOL program this year with great writing tracks to cover. Me, I’ll be attending NY Times Bestselling author, Cindy Woodsmall’s advanced fiction writing class. But if you go, BE SURE you zip me an email. I want to make sure I find you and get to chat for a bit (between filling those coffee carafes. I know nothing about it, but apparently I didn’t allow for HALF the time you need to brew enough for one of those suckers. OOPS! Guess who probably shouldn’t be in charge of ensuring that people have their caffeinated nectar?)
So… all of that aside. What do I think of Kathy’s book series?
I learn best through stories. It’s why I write. Just writing all the books I do helps me solidify how to live my faith in practical, tangible ways. Readers often wonder how I “know so much” about how to apply the Word to my life. Um. I don’t. I’m learning as I write and then still have to do it!
So Kathy’s idea, in my opinion, is genius. There are so many benefits to these books. First, she uses twenty-one different authors to tell stories on a topic. What does that do? That gives the readers more than inspiration to dig deeper into the Word (which, let’s face it, is the most important thing!). It introduces the reader to a wide variety of authors. Some of these names I’d never heard of. Others, like Cindy Woodsmall or Kathy Macias are well-known authors that many of us have read.
The stories are quick reads–most are 4-5 small pages long. But they keep you thinking long after you’ve closed the book. I hope to see many more in the future.
I’m giving away four books–one of each title. To enter to win one, just leave a comment and say which one interests you most and if you’d prefer hardback or kindle. I can’t PROMISE that if you win you’ll get your preference, but I’ll do my best! And whether you receive one as a prize or buy them and read them, please do Kathy the great favor of leaving a book review. Book reviews make or break the success of an author’s work. If you want to see more of this or any series one excellent way to make that happen is to leave good book reviews. Publishers often use the quantity and quality of authors’ book reviews as a measure of a book’s success. I, for one, would love to see this series continue.
Don’t forget. Mother’s Day is coming. 21 Days of Joy is all about motherhood–a great and inexpensive gift for any mom in your life.