Thursday, April 08, 2010
Let’s see… I have one daughter (Erin), and I now have a two-year-old granddaughter and a one-yearold grandson. I know, I know… everyone tells me I don’t look old enough to be a grandmother. I just wish it was true.
Anyway, I am the administrator for the children’s Bible study program at my church and I am a full-time writer. I love to read and spend time with my family.
I have a two and a half-year-old great grandson. What type of jobs or careers have you worked in the past?
I have worked in accounting and in human resources. I liked different things about both areas, however, as the years progressed I discovered that I no longer wanted to work in corporate America. I prefer writing and working from home. So, I hope my readers continue to buy my books so I can keep this career. :-)
Who are your favorite authors? What are your favorite books?
I love everything by Jacquelin Thomas, Francine Rivers, and Karen Kingsbury. I also love Kendra Norman-Bellamy, Tia McCollors, Michelle Stimpson, and Norma Jarrett novels. I travel with the last four authors mentioned in a group called The Anointed Authors on Tour and I make sure to read every novel they write.
My favorite novel however, is Redeeming Love, by Francine Rivers.
Michelle is a friend of mine. Actually, she's in the critique group that meets in my house. And Redeeming Love is my favorite novel as well. I've read it more than once. When did you begin to realize you wanted to write?
I was about nine years old when I realized I wanted to be a writer. I didn’t have the first clue as to how I would accomplish this goal, but I knew that I loved the written word and I loved writing my own stories. After many years of trial and error I finally figured it out.
Tell us about your journey to publication.
As a teenager, I wrote poems and short stories. However, in my early twenties I attempted my first novel. I got halfway through and couldn’t finish it. The same thing occurred with the next three novels I attempted. The first novel I completed was Former Rain and it took seven years from the start of that book until it was published.
I was so excited about finally completing a novel that I didn’t want to wait on a publisher to agree to publish my novel. So I self-published it in 2003. By 2006 I signed a contract with a mainstream publisher. That deal provided me with better distribution. Now, in 2010, I have 4 new books releasing by three different publishers. The one thing I’ve learned through this journey is that God is good. He will never fail us, if we put our trust in Him.
It took me eight years to get my first novel published. Are you a full-time writer? If so, describe your day?
Yes, I’ve been writing full-time since 2005. My day goes something like this: Since I don’t have to drive into work. I eat breakfast and then I read my Bible and have prayer time (some days, I allow things to get in the way of my prayer time, those are typically not good days for me). I am usually at my desk about 9 am. I answer my emails for about an hour and then I write from about 10 in the morning until about 4 pm. I then use the rest of my day to work on marketing issues.
Please list your published books.
Former Rain, Abundant Rain, Latter Rain, Rain Storm, Through the Storm, Forsaken and Yesterday’s Promise.
Which book did you find the hardest to birth?
Former Rain was the hardest book to write. It was my first and I was learning a lot about the skill of writing as I wrote that book. It took seven years from start to finish with several edits. I now write my books within two to three months.
Which book is your current favorite?
Through the Storm is my favorite book, because it is a mystery and I love reading mysteries. But each of my books have touched me in different ways.
How would you describe your writing style?
I write to touch the hearts and souls of my readers, other than that, I don’t believe I have a particular style.
Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind?
No. I like silence, so I can think.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Writers are often encouraged to write what they know. Have you found that to be the case with your writing?
Yes, I mostly write redemption stories and that is because I have been redeemed. I want my readers to understand that God is always there for them. No matter what they’ve done, they can always turn back to God and be forgiven. However, my 2010 books are romance and women’s issue type books that are different from my earlier books, but I believe the reader will be touched by them as well.
Tell us about Yesterday’s Promise.
Yesterday’s Promise is a Christian romance about Melinda Johnson and Steven Marks. Melinda feels called to the ministry, but Steven doesn’t believe that women should preach. This disagreement between the two causes Steven to break off their engagement. But now, after ten years, Steven is back in Melinda’s life as the new bishop over her fellowship, and he wants a second chance with Melinda. However, Melinda can never marry a man who doesn’t respect the call of God on her life. To love one another, the two must knock down the walls that separate them. But can the bishop finally do that for his lady or will Melinda be forced to leave Omega Christian Church?
How did you come up with ideas for this book?
I was doing a book signing at the Indiana Black Expo and the lady next to my table was signing copies of her book that talked about the struggle for women to preach. Since the bishop of my church is a woman and we have women preach at my church all the time, I had never thought anything about any struggle that women faced when it came to preaching. But then a man walked into the room where we were signing our books. He took one look at Pastor Notoshia Howard’s book and started screaming at her. He told her that she had no business trying to preach to men and that women were not allowed to preach. That’s when the idea of Yesterday’s Promise was dropped in my spirit. I wanted to write a book that details the struggles women who have been called by God have to deal with in order to preach the gospel.
Did you have a favorite character? Who and why?
I loved Melinda’s character because she was so complex. She was a preacher with issues of unforgiveness that stemmed from broken promises that had been made by her mother, ex-fiancé and her father. She was an interesting character study. I enjoyed watching as she resolved her issues and gave love a second chance.
Did you have to do quite a bit of research for this novel?
This story really flowed from beginning to end and it didn’t require a lot of research on my part.
What do you hope readers will learn/discover from reading Yesterday’s Promise?
I want readers to close the book on Yesterday’s Promise believing in themselves and in love again. Sometimes the world beats us up so much that we put aside the things we know we should be doing, in order to do the things that make the most sense – but if God called you to it, He will bring you through it.
Please give us the first page of your book.
Standing before the congregation of Omega Christian Church, Melinda Johnson preached a message on God’s precious gift of salvation. Her mission in life was to tell as many people as possible about a Man named Jesus. Preaching the gospel had become her greatest joy. “Don’t wait until it’s too late,” she told the congregation. “The Lord Jesus wants to fellowship with you right now. He loves you and desires only good things for you.”
Melinda continued in that vein until her voice cracked and tears ran down her cocoa-cream face. She never tired of talking about God’s ability to do the impossible, or how He could take nothing and make something miraculous out of it. She usually avoided making public displays of emotion, but this message was more important than her image. As the tears continued to fall, she gave an altar call and watched as dozens of men and women left their seats and rushed toward the front of the sanctuary. Repentant souls stood around the altar weeping as they raised their hands in surrender to God. Melinda prayed to God on behalf of each and every one of them.
After the service, Melinda stood by the sanctuary door and shook hands with most of the people as they left the church. This was something that her father, Bishop Langston Johnson, always did. Since he couldn’t be there today, Melinda wanted to make sure the job was still done.
“Thanks for your wonderful message, Sister Melinda,” Janet Hillman said on her way out. “My son was one of the people who came down to the altar today.”
For the past three years, Janet had spent her lunch hours in noonday prayer on behalf of her son. Having joined her on numerous occasions, Melinda was aware of the addictions and incarcerations that Janet’s son had been through. However, Janet had kept the faith—she’d kept believing that her son would one day serve the Lord.
Melinda beamed. “You prayed him through, Janet. I should give you my prayer list, because I know you’ll stay on the job until it’s done.”
When Janet walked away, Bob Helms, the head elder, came up to Melinda and said, “You brought down the house with that sermon.”
“Thank you, sir, but I can’t take credit. That message was God-given,” Melinda said. After a short pause, she asked, “Do you know why the elders weren’t at prayer this morning?” The church leaders met for prayer on the first Sunday of every month, but Melinda had noticed that none of the elders had been in attendance that morning.
“Your father had asked that all the elders meet with him this morning,” Elder Helms told her.
“Oh,” was all Melinda said. She had been with her father the night before, and he hadn’t mentioned anything about meeting with the elders in the morning. The situation seemed odd to her because she had always been included in his meetings with the elders. Moreover, it was essentially understood by the entire church leadership that Melinda would assume her father’s position once he retired. Right now, her father was in the hospital, recuperating from what he’d thought had been a heart attack. Now that Melinda thought about it, he had been given strict instructions to rest, which probably explained why he hadn’t told her about the meeting. He knew that she wouldn’t want him worrying about church business right now.
Elder Helms interrupted her thoughts. “The Bishop did tell me to make sure that you left church right after preaching the message, Melinda. He wants to see you immediately.”
It seemed like Elder Helms knew something Melinda didn’t, and it scared her. “Did something happen to Dad this morning?”
Shaking his head, Elder Helms reassured her, “No, no. Nothing like that. The Bishop is doing fine. He just wants to see you.”
“Thanks for letting me know, Elder Helms,” she said. “I’ll head over there now.”
How can readers find you on the internet?
Readers can find me on my website: http://www.vanessamiller.com/ or on facebook by typing in Vanessa Miller.
Thank you so much for taking time to do this interview. I really appreciate it.
And we really enjoyed this time with you, Vanessa.
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