I have a Master of Science degree from the University of Houston and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California at Long Beach and worked with computers in one form or another throughout my working life. I retired in May 2011 and have enjoyed having more time for singing, writing and traveling.
I am a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Writers League of Texas, and the San Gabriel Writers' League in Georgetown, Texas.
When did you first discover that you loved writing?
My earliest memory of writing is when my sister decided we would publish a neighborhood magazine. I remember where we were living at the time, so I had to be about twelve years old. The magazine included reviews of movies we’d seen as well as news about our neighbors
I had the writing bug from then on. Aptitude tests showed an interest in creative writing, but my school counselors said I should think of it as a hobby since few people made a living from writing. So, I ended up majoring in computer. I continued to write because I felt compelled to and had a number of articles published over the years.
Why do you write the type of books that you do?
My first book, Where Love Once Lived, is the result of having enjoyed books by Jan Karon. I liked the way she took an older character, sixty-year old Dr. Tim, and presented him as a Christian living a life much like any other person I know. I had a story in mind about a bookmobile librarian, who witnessed to her patrons every day. However, I didn't want my story to come across as being preachy. Jan Karon showed that there could be interesting stories about Christians. Of course I've since learned there are many other examples out there, Dee Henderson, Davis Bunn and Karen Kingsbury, for examples.
I wrote Where Love Once Lived while taking an online class on writing so the bookmobile librarian didn't turn out to be the main character after all. However, she was such a strong character, I gave her a prominent place in The Vengeance Squad. Readers often ask about her and offer suggestions about what she should do in the next book.
As sometimes happens, beyond the control of the author, a theme appears. In both my books, I learned later from reviewers, is a single theme. Both books are about men who face situations so tough they turn away from God. The books are about getting back to the church.
What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it?
I've read novels all my life, but I never knew how to construct one. So, when it came time to write my first one, I realized I had no idea how it was done. I read books on novel writing, but it wasn't until I took an online class that I began to understand how to do it. I was fortunate to get a great instructor, Bonnie Hearn Hill, and I repeated the classes until I finished Where Love Once Lived. All in all, it took about six years to complete the book. The Vengeance Squad took less than a year to write.
Has writing changed your life in any way?
I wouldn't say writing has changed my life outwardly, but I am more aware now of how some traumatic experiences in my life have affected the way I felt about God.
When I began my first novel, I told myself that if what I had to say would lead one person to Christ, all the time it took to write would be a worth it. So far, no one has told me they were saved by reading my books. However, several readers have told me that went through some of the same struggles as the characters and they felt better seeing their experience described in a novel.
What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?
Romans 8:28 – We know that all things work together for good for those who love God.
Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?
Lion of Babylon by Davis Bunn is a book I enjoyed reading and am reading again so that I can be the moderator at my neighborhood book club next month when we talk about it. It is difficult to summarize. It has suspense, adventure, characters who come alive, and a story I'd never heard before about Christians in Iraq.
Ohh! That book is currently on my TBR pile:-) What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?
Perhaps not funny or quirky, but still unusual some say. In a period of 15 years, I sang in the Austin Lyric Opera Chorus. I was in 42 productions and had the opportunity to sing with some international opera stars. My only solo was while playing a pastor in Cold Sassy Tree. I was to say "Please be seated." In rehearsal, my line came on cue, but the congregation was already sitting. I said it anyway, and we got a good laugh so the director left it in for all four performances. I've retired from the opera chorus, but I still enjoy choral singing in church and a community chorus. In addition, my wife and I have joined choral groups in China and Austria.
Please tell us about the featured book.
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Chris wants an eye for an eye even if that means giving up God and the church where he and Sarah were to be married. He sets out to learn the tricks of the trade from his ex-con student, all while continuing to teach and coming to terms with his grief. Angela, who claims to be an FBI agent, spots the guys at the pistol range and in cities across the country where the FBI is just steps behind Chris and Tex. She soon joins the team to help the three find the killers.
Can you please give us the first page?
Sometimes it worried me because I thought I must be wrong, but there were times I could read her mind. I’d heard stories about couples who had been married for years who experienced a level of silent communication, but Sarah and I had known each other for only two years. Perhaps it was the intensity of love for one another rather than the length of time together that made the difference. Quite honestly, the love we shared was stronger than I believed possible. It was as if God brought us together and blessed the joining of two faithful servants of the Lord. I thanked Him daily for that.
That day, for example, as I sat across from Sarah at the coffee shop’s outdoor table, I knew for a fact she was thinking about our wedding. I knew that didn’t prove I could read her mind. Any bride would be thinking about her wedding if it were coming so soon. But I recognized a deeper expression of happiness than was usually there. Realizing what she was thinking and knowing for sure I was right made me shiver. I took a deep breath and swallowed for fear I would tear up.
I watched as her eyes twinkled, her cheeks puffed out, and her lips quivered ever so slightly. Her lips. I forgot about reading her mind and realized all I could see were her stunning lips. I had to kiss her right then, so I leaned across the table and placed my lips on hers. She didn’t stop smiling as she kissed me back and just barely stopped talking. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was as I thought about how we’d soon be Sarah and Christopher McCowan.
Sarah was a nurse at Georgetown Hospital, and I was a professor of computer science at Austin Community College in Cedar Park. The outlet mall in Round Rock, Texas, was a convenient meeting place for us. We sat at one of the outdoor tables at the mall enjoying the mild October weather. I’d grown up in California and she on a farm near Bath, England, so we both had to adjust to the Texas weather at times.
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Giveaway ends Wednesday March 14, 2012 at midnight (eastern time).