My friend Kathi Macias is back with the two first novels in her Extreme Devotion Series. They are both releasing at the same time. Welcome, Kathi. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
And it makes them very interesting to me. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Wow. I imagine people who know me well would say the list is long, but I tend to think of myself as relatively reserved (my German father’s daughter!). However, the very fact that I ride with my husband on his Harley, often going to various biker events to minister any way possible and being known by bikers all over SoCal as “Easy Writer” would probably be at the top of my list of quirkiness.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I never wanted to be anything else. I was an avid reader as a child, and when I ran out of things to read, I wrote my own stories. A story I wrote for a class assignment in third grade was so well received by the teacher that she and the principal decided to turn it into a play for the entire PTA. I was hooked! It was thirty-five years later before my first book was published, but I’ve considered myself a writer ever since that public “coming out” incident.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I love both fiction and nonfiction, but I prefer books that challenge me and take me a bit deeper than the usual. I bore quickly with rehashed info and don’t care for “escape reading,” though I realize there’s a huge market for it so I’m not criticizing those who fill that niche. It simply isn’t mine.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I’ve written thirty books in all (published under my own name), and scores more for other people (celebs, etc.) Those thirty books include fiction and nonfiction, series and stand-alones, even two collections of children’s issue-related books. All the most recent ones are visible/available on my website (www.kathimacias.com). Right now I seem to be landing more fiction than nonfiction contracts, so that’s what I’m concentrating on right now.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
LOL!!! Who says I do? (Medication helps!) Seriously, the tyranny of the urgent is always threatening to keep us from accomplishing the necessary, so I am very disciplined to maintain my relationship with the Lord first and foremost. If/when He tells me to lay down this writing/speaking ministry He has so blessed me with, I’ll do so and walk away in a heartbeat. I only want to do what He’s called me to do today, for that’s all He requires of me. Of course, it’s easier said than done to maintain that focus, but it’s necessary to preserve our sanity.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
That’s a tough one. Over the years I’ve worked with some of the biggest names in Christendom and won lots of awards in the process. I’ve had the privilege of ministering in some of the worst prisons in the country, even spending an entire day on Death Row at San Quentin. I’ve spoken to groups of thousands, both in person and via TV and radio, and led Bible studies in jail cells with two or three grateful inmates. I’ve served meals to the homeless, and seen my weekly devotional ministry, which I send out free each Thursday in both English and Spanish, get picked up and read by hundreds of thousands each week. And in the midst of those thirty published books, I have experienced the stunning joy of having one of them achieve best-seller status. But the greatest success or accomplishment is ALWAYS when one of my readers or listeners comes to me and tells me that something I wrote or said enabled them to receive Jesus for the first time and/or to fall more deeply in love with the Father. It’s the ministry of reconciliation, however that reads out in my life each day, that is the most precious to me.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
What is your favorite food?
I wish I could say it was something healthy, like celery or bean sprouts, but then I’d have to repent for lying. Pizza is right at the top of my list, along with nachos and Tillamook ice cream. (Yes, it HAS to be Tillamook!) However, you’ll seldom see me turn down a good cheeseburger or taco or… Well, you get the picture.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Two things. First, writer’s block. Journalism taught me there’s no such thing. Just sit your rear end in the chair and get to work, like any other job! Second, marketing. I hate it, and there’s no easy fix for that one. But I’m tenacious when I set my mind to something, and so I’ve made myself learn everything I can about that aspect of successful writing (since selling what we write is a definite part of that equation, right?), and I’m seeing some success.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
At the risk of being the most unoriginal person on the planet, I’d have to say, Keep your day job! Unless you’re independently wealthy and simply don’t need to generate an income for a very long time (possibly forever), you need to maintain another source of financial support. I never cease to be amazed at how many people think I’m absolutely rolling in money because I’ve had a few books published! With few exceptions, I actually made more money doing ghostwriting and editing for other people than writing my own books. And, of course, I have a wonderful husband with a “real” job, who supports me financially as well as emotionally.
Tell us about the featured book?
There are actually two, since the first two books of the four-book Extreme Devotion series are releasing simultaneously in April 2010. The first book, No Greater Love, is set in the turbulent times in South Africa just prior to the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and his ascendency to the presidency. The book opens with a forbidden interracial romance, where many will soon come to know the meaning—and cost—of selfless love. Book two, More than Conquerors, is divided between Tijuana and San Juan Chamula, Mexico, the first a teeming border town and the second a secluded, backward Mayan village where the true gospel is not well received and those who bring the message often pay the ultimate price. When the pastor in Tijuana who has made several trips to San Juan Chamula to deliver Bibles to the handful of Christians in the area has a family member murdered, he must decide if it is worth the risk to continue trying to evangelize the lost in such a dangerous area—particularly with other family members at risk. The two books to follow, Red Ink and People of the Book, are set in China and Saudi Arabia.
Please give us the first page of the book.
No Greater Love:
1989 was not a good year to fall in love—at least not in South Africa, and certainly not with a white man. Chioma had fought it with every ounce of her being, but there it was, literally, in black and white.
Chioma hated whites, and that included Andrew—except that Chioma also loved him. And that made her dilemma even worse.
But at least she had never admitted to him—or anyone else—how she felt, nor did she have any intention of doing so. And yet, the way he looked at her, she could not help but wonder if he knew—and if he felt the same about her.
It was ridiculous, of course, even to think such a thing about a white man, but if it were true, she could only hope he would never be foolish enough to say anything about his feelings—to her or anyone else. Not only would a relationship between them be nearly impossible, but it would be dangerous as well. And Chioma already had enough danger in her life; she certainly did not need to look for more.
More than Conquerors:
Pastor Hector Manolo Rodriguez sighed with relief, as his dilapidated, once-blue station wagon crawled and chugged through the final inches of the hour-long event known as a border crossing. The international station between San Diego and Tijuana saw the heaviest traffic of any crossing in the world, with about 300,000 people making the trek every day—some to work, some to play, some to shop or visit relatives, and some to conduct illegal activities of various kinds. For Hector, it was strictly a venture of love, one he made regularly and yet was relieved when it was over.
It wasn’t that Hector didn’t appreciate the beauty and modern conveniences of his sister city to the north, but he preferred the slower, quieter pace of his humble home on the outskirts of Tijuana, even now in 2008 when crime increasingly encroached on the peace of their existence. He had lived there his entire thirty-eight years, the middle child in a family of nine offspring, and had later married the beautiful Mariana Lopez, who had grown up right next door to him. That she had even noticed Hector never ceased to amaze him, and that she had agreed to marry him was nothing short of a miracle. Now, still living in the same neighborhood where they grew up, they did their best to feed and clothe the three children God had given them, as well as minister to the fifty or so members of their beloved Casa de Dios congregation. To supplement their income, Hector worked part-time in his younger brother Jorge’s shoe repair shop. Though their financial situation did not allow for luxuries, it did provide a roof over their heads and food in their bellies.
It was a good life, Hector thought, as he coached and prayed the twenty-five year old car through the undisciplined crush of traffic on Avenida Revolucion, the main drag in this burgeoning city of nearly one and a half-million people. As always, Hector was anxious to break away from the city’s hub and escape to a quieter, more navigable thoroughfare. Though the quality of the roads would deteriorate the farther out he went, he would be glad to leave the hustle and bustle of the Tijuana tourism trade behind.
He would also be glad to leave behind the sadness that seemed to cling to him each time he crossed the border. And yet he knew his need to continue making the trip would end far too soon….
Then, of course, there was the situation in Chiapas, which seemed to grow more desperate and dangerous by the day. And his sixty-three year old mother, Virginia Correo Rodriguez, was living right outside San Juan Chamula, right in the middle of it all.
I'm interested in both of these stories. How can readers find you on the Internet?
They can find me at my website, http://www.kathimacias.com/ , or my blog, http://kathieasywritermacias.blogspot.com/ . I am also on Facebook, Twitter, Shoutlife, and various other social sites.
Thank you, Kathi, for spending this time with us.
Readers, here are links where you can find these books.
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