Thursday, August 26, 2010
So glad to have you back, Maureen. Tell us about your salvation experience.
When I was in Middle School (back then they called it Jr. High) I was already writing stories. As it happened, one of my characters used to like to quote the Bible. However, being from a family who didn’t read the Bible, I had no idea where to start. Like many families of the late 1960s and early 70s, we did own a copy of the Bible—but it was just a nice dust collector. So I brushed it off and started reading, looking for wisdom, wit, and even judgment that this particular character might use around other characters in my book.
Well, one day while I was reading this Bible, one of my older brothers came home for the weekend from college. While away, he’d been challenged in his own faith—or lack thereof—by a group affiliated with Campus Crusade for Christ. He talked to me about what the Bible was really for—not just research for one of my stories, but the actual Word of God—and that was the beginning of my life being changed.
I always found it interesting that God kind of “warmed me up” through a character in one of my novels. I guess He knew how to reach me, didn’t He?
That's why we shouldn't put Him in a box. He know just how to reach each of us. You’re planning a writing retreat where you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?
First of all I’d ask you to be there, Lena! I tend to be on the introverted side, so having someone as friendly and outgoing and eager to share as you are would really start things out right. I’d also have Siri Mitchell, who is a good friend and critique partner, because we’re similar in so many ways. And Jill Eileen Smith because I’ve known her so long, and Judith Miller because she’s another kindred spirit, and Tammy Alexander and Kathleen Fuller because they’re also friends of mine…oops, you did say just four others, didn’t you? I don’t think I’d be able to cut it down to four, because I have several others in mind...
Sounds like a retreat I'd love attending. Thanks for including me. Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that.
I’ve spoken a few times at Ladies Retreat events and a couple of writer’s conferences, but it’s not something I do very often. I’ve never really felt that teaching is my gift, since I prefer to stay home and write. It’s also hard for me to get away, having a child with a disability who basically needs round-the-clock attention.
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?
I admit trying to avoid embarrassing situations at all cost, which is probably why I need my characters to live more exciting lives than I allow myself. Thanks to that general mindset, I have few recent examples. However, years ago when I was single I attended an event with other singles where a pastor visited while we all shared snacks as he spoke. Somehow I ended up in the very first row. As I was trying to slice in half a piece of fruit, my plastic fork broke in two pieces. Part of the fork went one direction, the fruit in another, and the plate in my lap. Did I mention I was in the front row? The pastor stopped speaking, watched me pick up the pieces, let me apologize, then continued on with his sermon. Needless to say, I didn’t end up with anyone asking me for my phone number at that particular singles event…
People are always telling me that they’d like to write a book someday. I’m sure they do to you, too. What would you tell someone who came up to you and said that?
I do have people mentioning that to me, and one of the first things I try to find out is if they’re really serious. Many people have a desire to write but with little actual intention to follow through, even though computers have made writing so much easier. If they’re a dabbler, I encourage them to continue to explore writing because I believe it’s a wonderful way to connect not only with our own thoughts and emotions but with God.
But if they’re really serious about writing—let’s say I’ve met them at a writer’s conference, so they’ve already invested some time and money into this endeavor—I encourage them to read voraciously, everything from the genre in which they hope to sell something. A market study is a great place to start, especially reading the work of new authors who’ve recently broken into print. See what works, try figuring out why their book was chosen. I also encourage them to find a critique group, either in person or online or both, enter writer’s contests in their appropriate genre (unbiased feedback is worth the entry fee, whether or not their submission becomes a finalist or wins). And if I haven’t met them at a conference, I counsel them to attend one that offers appointments with agents and editors. Meeting someone in that venue is invaluable, especially in this day and age when so few editors are open to looking at something without an agent, and agents are nearly as hard to connect with as an editor.
I always finish by saying that although I love writing, only a small percentage of writers ever get to be published in the traditional way. It takes every bit as much perseverance as talent (perhaps more). In fact, I usually try saying that if there is anything else they’d like to do as an outlet for their creativity, perhaps they should do that if they aren’t prepared for rejection, discouragement, and little job security which unfortunately are the foundation pieces in the business. That just sounds like a bundle of good news, doesn’t it? Sometimes writers are called to write, but it’s hard to say how God will bless that particular gift. Enjoying it as something that draws us closer to Him is a good thing to keep in mind.
Tell us about the featured book.
Whisper on the Wind is a story of love, action and adventure, and all about the power of words. In the middle of World War One, Isa sneaks inside German-occupied Belgium to smuggle out the man she’s always loved. But Edward refuses to leave. He’s involved in a secret newspaper, one that is a lone voice of hope to a city occupied by the enemy. Soon Isa is caught up in the uncensored newspaper, too—but is she doing it because she believes in the cause, or just to get Edward to notice her?
Please give us the first page of the book.
Whisper on the Wind
By Maureen Lang
Once there was a young man who came of age just as war erupted, a war reaching farther than the world had ever known. His country, his home, his parents, his very future—all were threatened by an enemy whose power stretched wide. He shared only one belief with his oppressors: that the written word is the immortality of speech. Because of the oppression, he could not roar as they did, but found a way to join a whisper so incessant that even his enemies stopped to listen…
Edward Kirkland kicked through the ashes, staring at the black dust as if seeing what it had been just yesterday: his home. All that was left was a pile of charred ruins amid the shell of the hotel his father had managed. And there, not far in the distance, was the university. He could see the vestiges of the library from here, with nothing but rubble in between. Compliments of the German Imperial Army. There wasn’t a thing Edward or all of Belgium could have done to stop it. Not that they hadn’t tried, but a mouse couldn’t fight an eagle.
Edward turned to leave. He shouldn’t be out anyway, with German soldiers still roaming the streets, keeping the peace they’d broken with their arrival. He needed to return to his mother and brother in hiding at the church.
Something on the ground glimmered in the faint afternoon light. Though he stopped to investigate, scraping away fragments with the tip of his shoe, Edward knew nothing of value was left. Before they set the fire, the Germans had carried anything of worth out to a waiting cart to be shipped to Germany as spoils of war.
Then he saw the rose and a flash of silver light. With a lump in his throat, Edward bent and picked up the picture frame. He saw that the glass was broken and most of the photo burned away . . . except for the middle, where a shard held it intact. And there, smiling as if the world were a happy place, was Isa Lassone’s face.
Isa, his mother’s young charge, who’d fled with her parents before the invasion. She was safely ensconced in peaceful, prosperous America. She had both her parents, both her silly, selfish parents, while his father lay dead and the remains of their home smoldered.
The picture might have fallen without the glass holding it down. Bracing the photo in one hand, with the other he brushed away the broken pieces. He should let it go, let it join the wreckage of his home.
But Edward’s thumb pressed it back into place, firmly within his grip.
Slipping the frame into the pocket of his coat, he made his way through the brightening streets. The ground was strewn with debris—bricks, glass, even a stinking dead horse here and there, the carcass oozing under the early August sun. Half the city was gone, along with Edward’s father. Shooting and looting had lasted all night, but he’d had to see the hotel and university himself before he’d believe that they, too, had succumbed to the fires.
Something inside told Edward he should pray, reach out to God to help him face this day. That was what his father would have done, what he would have wanted his son to do.
Edward turned up the collar of his coat against an ash-laden breeze and walked away, trying not to think at all.
Edward did so because to refuse a soldier’s orders was to be shot. He’d seen it done.
“You will come with me,” came the awkward command, followed by a firmer, “Es ist ein Befehl!”
Edward raised his hands, sorry for only one thing: his death would multiply his mother’s grief.
Wow! I'm hooked. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thanks very much for having me, Lena!
It's always a pleasure to visit with you.
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