Dear Readers, Connilyn is a member of our local chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers. It with great pleasure I introduce you to her and her debut novel. My copy of the book just arrived a few days ago, so I haven’t read it, because I was editing a ten-novella collection that was uploaded to Amazon yesterday. I’m eager to read Counted With the Stars.
Welcome, Connilyn. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
What a great question
I certainly do not plan to write myself into characters, but pieces of me inadvertently
get scattered in along the way. Sometimes it is a strength, or an interest, but
sometimes it is a flaw. One thing I never considered when setting out to write
a book was how much the Lord would use my own writing to convict me. When I
begin seeing characteristics of myself showing up in antagonists, I know God is
dealing with me!
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I am wracking my brain for quirky things and coming up empty—apparently I am boring. It may not count as quirky but I write in my master-bedroom closet. I was desperate for a quiet space of my own, so a few months ago I did some rearranging, dragged in a desk and shut the door. Since then I have added a comfy reading chair, a lamp, and a cozy heated throw blanket—so if anyone needs me, I am usually hiding in the closet. Of course the kids, my husband, and our crazy cats inevitably find me in my hideout so I may invest in a lock for said closet door…
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I was about thirteen years old. I had just read Gone with the Wind, which I devoured in one day (after being home sick from school) and decided that since Margaret Mitchell had died before writing a sequel, I would be the one to do it! I sat down with paper and pen and wrote a scene that I can still vividly remember. Although I did not have the courage, or confidence, to write a novel until only a few years ago, my passion for writing was sparked at that moment.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I have always been a voracious reader, mostly historical fiction–which fascinated me even as a kid, but I enjoy well-written contemporary romance, women’s fiction, and have even enjoyed some excellent YA in the past few months. Now that I have a writer’s perspective, I have become a bit of a picky reader but will usually give most anything a chance.
I think it’s interesting that you like to read contemporary novels, but you’re writing historical. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Well, other than consume copious amounts of coffee—I would say the best thing I have done for myself and my family is to streamline my life. There was a time when I was teaching piano lessons, art classes, homeschooling, playing in a band, doing worship at church, and oh, yeah, writing a novel in my spare time. Although these were good, beneficial things, they were not all things I was truly passionate about. I gave myself the freedom to let go of extraneous pursuits so I could focus only on the things God was calling me to pursue. Also, in this world where busyness is a badge of honor and rest is labeled laziness, I have found that taking Sabbath rest is imperative to my spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being. God loves us so much that he gave us the privilege of one day a week to lay aside the work of our hands, meet with Him, and revel in His beauty. How cool is that? I find that when I ignore this command I become drained, overwhelmed, and anxious very quickly.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Honestly, that is one of the hardest things about writing Biblical fiction! I spend a lot of time scouring online lists of Hebrew and Egyptian names trying to find names that sound historically accurate but also might appeal to a modern reader’s ear. No one wants to read a book with a hero named Bakbakkhar … right? Or a heroine named Hazelelponi? And of course it’s much easier to find male names since female names are rare on historical documents. And, confession, sometimes—using my (limited) knowledge of Hebrew and names of gods worshipped in Ancient times—I make them up.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
As one of those creative, random-abstract, procrastinating, project-starting-but-never-finishing personalities, I am still stunned that I have completed not one manuscript, but three! And on deadline too! It just goes to show that when God gives you a calling, He gives you the tools necessary to complete that mission, in spite of your weaknesses. I’m also quite proud that I’ve turned my children into voracious book-devourers—as evidenced by our excessive library fines. My 9 year-old daughter recently declared, “Mom, I’m so glad we are a book family!” Made my author-mommy heart go pitty-pat.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Is there an animal that drinks coffee? No? Then I would probably say a bird. The lure of flying, unfettered to the earth, has always appealed to me and I am fervently hopeful that Isaiah 40:31 (And they shall mount up with wings as eagles…) is not only a spiritual promise, but a physical promise that I will be able to fly in the kingdom-to-come.
What is your favorite food?
Well, other than my favorite caffeinated beverage, I would have to say that Chocolate Chip Cookie-Dough Cheesecake from the Cheesecake Factory tastes exactly like cookies my late grandmother used to make. Let’s just say it’s a good thing that chocolate-chip-walnut-cream-cheese goodness is over an hour away from my house.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Perfectionism, by far, is my greatest writing struggle. I was the girl who got an F in art in second grade because I threw all my art projects away for not being “perfect enough.” And strangely, taking an art class years ago helped me deal with this issue in writing. I realized that art was an expression of my heart, unique to my personal perceptions of the world, and that when I kept fiddling too long with a painting to attempt to perfect it, I usually ruined it. This lesson has translated into my writing, I’ve learned that I cannot compare my art to someone else’s, I must write to the best of my ability, release it into God’s hands, and let him make up the difference.
A very wise decision. Tell us about the featured book.
Counted with the Stars is my debut novel. Kiya is an Egyptian who was sold into slavery by her own father. When she is befriended by a Hebrew slave-girl who entertains her with stories of an invisible god, Kiya is fascinated but scoffs at the idea that a god of slaves would have any power. When horrific plagues strike the land and rumors of a Hebrew deliverer reach her ears, she begins to question all that she knows. To save her disabled older brother’s life and break the bonds of slavery, Kiya convinces her family to take refuge with the Hebrews and then flee with them on the Great Exodus. She finds herself following a glowing cloud into the wilderness, drawn to a man who disdains her people, and questioning whether she has led her family to their demise. This book is the first in the Out from
Egypt series, which re-tells the
story of the Exodus and the wilderness wanderings through the eyes of fictional
characters: an Egyptian slave, a Hebrew midwife, and a Canaanite captive.
Please give us the first page of the book.
20th day of Akhet—Season of Inundation 1449 B.C.
My sandals have not crossed this threshold since I was ten.
Inhaling, I focused on the Eye of Horus woven into the papyrus mat at my feet. After summoning an infusion of courage from its steady gaze, I lifted my chin and entered my father’s chambers for the first time in six years.
My father’s braided wig lay on his desk, as if flung aside without a thought for his usual meticulous appearance. He stood with his back to me, studying a papyrus document with such intensity that my quiet entrance had gone unnoticed. Did I imagine that his hand trembled?
Intuition fluttered in my chest.
Appointed with an ornate ebony desk, vibrant tapestries painted by my brother, and a gilded sleeping couch fit for Pharaoh— this room resurrected a long forgotten memory of sitting beside my father as he studied trade reports and his warm hand enveloping mine.
Hoping to swallow the quiver in my voice, I cleared my throat. “Father, you sent for me?”
He startled, but did not turn as he spoke. “Yes, Kiya. Come in.” Scratching at the silvering stubble on his head with one hand, he continued examining the document in silence.
Fidgeting with the beaded shawl I had purchased this morning, I stroked at the embroidered ibises and the silver beads that twinkled like stars along the hem. I had also been considering a lyre, with roses scrolling down the body of the instrument and petals so lifelike I could almost inhale their delicate fragrance. But before I could make any offer, Yuny, my father’s servant, had skidded to a stop in front of me with his chest heaving from exertion and a curious demand from my father to return home in haste. The stricken look on the man’s wrinkled face had caused me to abandon the lyre and rush back to the villa.
I’m so glad that I can soon immerse myself in this book. How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is ConnilynCossette.com If you’d like to hear about new releases, exclusive content, and great giveaways sign up for my email list there. I also love to connect with readers on Facebook , Twitter ,or Pinterest where I have boards for all my novels to explore. I also contribute to the blog at LearnHowToWriteANovel.com and JoyComesintheMorning.net.
My pleasure and great blessing, Connilyn. I know my blog readers are as eager as I am to read this story.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Counted with the Stars - Christianbook.com
Counted With the Stars (Out From Egypt) - Amazon
Counted With the Stars (Out From Egypt Book #1) - Kindle
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