Paula Mowery joins us today. Her debut work of fiction is a novella published by Harbourlight, a division of Pelican Book Group – THE BLESSING SEER. And now her second novel, BE THE BLESSING is available. She is also an acquiring editor for Prism Book Group.
Thanks for joining us, Paula. Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in East Tennessee where we truly have all four seasons. Fall near the mountains is and always has been my favorite. My mom worked for Lifeway Christian Stores before it came to be called that. My dad was and is still a corporate pilot. I have one brother who is five years younger than me who works at the airport doing detailing and mechanical work.
Growing up we were always in church from the time I was in the nursery with Mamaw Rutledge through Sunday school and Training Union and VBS. When I was eleven, we had a revival, which we had each year back then. I realized I had to make a decision about making Christ my personal Savior, and I discussed it with my mama on the way home from the revival services one night. The next night I went forward and was baptized soon after.
As a teenager I met a shy guy who was into church as much as I was. We started “going together.” That’s what we called it then; I think the term now is “we’re talking.” We ended up in a Christian clown troupe together and went on a mission trip. On that trip, my beau knew he was being called into the ministry. We dated seven years and then married. After seminary, we were called to an associate pastor position in Maryland. In an interesting and God-ordained turn of events, my hubby ended up being called as pastor of that church. Yikes! I was a pastor’s wife.
Now we are in our third pastorate position back in East Tennessee. God has led me to have a writing ministry of my own that includes occasional speaking events.
Tell us three things about you that would surprise your readers.
One thing that might surprise my readers is the arduous journey my stories take to make it to their hands. I am old school in that I write out my stories in longhand and in pencil in spiral notebooks first. Then, I type or get them typed into the computer. After being created as a document on my computer, I print it out, hole punch, and put it in a three-ring binder. This is where my revisions and edits are done. After several rounds, I transfer those changes into the computer document.
Another thing that sometimes surprises people because of its rarity is that I am an interpreter for the deaf. I sign my hubby’s sermons each week at church for our deaf members.
A third thing that surprises people is that I homeschooled our daughter through all 12 years of her education. She is now a college student and on her own with her education except she still calls on me to edit her writing.
Were you an avid reader as a child? What did you read?
I have always been an avid reader. Since my mother worked at Lifeway, she brought home Christian fiction. As a young girl, I read Trixie Beldon and Little House on the Prairie books.
What is your favorite genre to read now?
I still love my Christian romance although I’ve added a little bit of secondary genre with that by reading a mix of romance and suspense.
As a child or teenager, did you ever dream of being an author?
Yes, I did dream of being an author immediately after reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.
When did you first begin writing?
As a pre-teen I wrote some poetry. As a teenager I continued writing poems but also dabbled in writing short stories. I really became serious about writing novels in my thirties. By the time I submitted my first manuscript to a publisher for consideration, I had more than 15 completed manuscripts in a file under my desk.
Why do you write?
I do feel a calling from God to write. My books seem to focus on various spiritual issues that people need encouragement to overcome.
Tell us about the journey to getting published.
About four years ago, I ventured to share some of my stories with a friend at church. She was an avid reader of Christian romantic fiction. She encouraged me to pursue publication. I had no idea how to even begin, so I searched and found ACFW. I’ve learned so much from the courses and online interaction. Two years ago I came to one of those defining moments. I asked God to give me a sign to indicate if He wanted me to pursue publication or if He had just given me these stories to use in my church. The next morning I received an email acceptance from a national magazine. I felt God was giving me the go-ahead but also letting me know that I still had a lot to learn. When I submitted the first book, THE BLESSING SEER, I remember my finger hovering above the send button. I prayed: “God, if this is where you want this, let this story touch someone there.” A couple of months later I received an email from the editor. The first line read: “This story really touched me.” I dissolved into a puddle and praised God.
My latest book, BE THE BLESSING, is the continuing story from THE BLESSING SEER. I hadn’t particularly planned a sequel until my editor questioned me. That evening ideas swirled and the sequel was born.
What inspired you to write it?
Both books were inspired by a sermon illustration about a man going to Heaven. As he arrives an angel takes him on a tour. He pauses at the door of a huge warehouse filled with beautifully wrapped gifts. He asks what all those gifts are for. The angel sadly tells him that those are all of the blessings that God wants to give but either haven’t been asked for or haven’t been granted due to disobedience. That got me to thinking about how many blessings I may have missed in my life due to not following God’s direction or just not asking.
Without giving away the ending (or the beginning and middle, for that matter) what is one takeaway message you hope readers will get from reading this book?
In BE THE BLESSING I hope that readers can realize that struggles aren’t punishments from God. And, even in our struggles and trials, God will use us to touch someone else.
If you could interview any character in one of your books what might that character say? Why?
The main character, Addy, should she be interviewed, would be too timid to speak. But, she would state that she truly wants to do something of significance for God though she tends to waver when pushed out of her comfort zone.
What are your favorite themes to write about?
I like to write about the fact that God has a plan and a purpose for each of His children. We never mess up too much that He isn’t willing to set us on the right track if will we just ask. And, if we will partner with God, He will use us to do more than we ever thought possible.
What are you working on right now?
I’m revising a Christian romance in which the strong godly legacy of a grandmother influences the main character on the road to finding God’s will for her life.
Do you have to juggle writing with a job, family responsibilities or other obligations? How do you balance it?
I am a Pre-K Assistant for 5 hours each day, so during the school year there is a whole lot of juggling. I am also a pastor’s wife. I recently became an acquiring editor as well and am excited to be working with my first two authors. Lots of juggling! But, I try to not waste one moment. I live for school holidays and summer time. That’s when I tend to crank out more work.
Share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.
First and foremost I try to read my Bible and devotional in the morning so that is the first thing on my mind. My way of maintaining God as center and first. I don’t drink coffee. My coffee is a big ol’ diet soda, most of the time Diet Dr. Pepper.
Does your faith affect your writing? How?
I only write from a Christian perspective. It seems the themes that emerge are either things God has taught me or is teaching me. I want to pass it on and feel that fiction is a good way to do so because it meets readers in their everyday lives.
Do you have a favorite scripture that applies to writing?
Proverbs 16:1-3: Mortals make elaborate plans, but God has the last word. Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good; God probes for what is good. Put God in charge of your work, then what you’ve planned will take place.
Do you have a life verse that doesn’t necessarily relate to writing? If so, what is it and why is it your favorite?
Jeremiah 29:11: God has a plan for me. Even when I face difficult circumstances, I must realize God isn’t in the business of hurting me. He wants to give me a hope and a future. That is how I can rest at night – He’s got it all under control and planned out.
Tell us something funny about your life.
As an interpreter for the deaf at my church, I have to sign my hubby’s sermons. He has been known on occasion to put me on the spot. One of the most memorable was the time that he was using some long and very complicated names from the Bible. As he began to rattle off the names, he moved near me and said: “Let’s see how the interpreter does with these names.” The congregation got a kick out of it as well as the deaf people who were rolling the rest of the service. Me? I am just glad I’m a pretty good fingerspeller.
What is the bravest thing you have ever done?
One brave thing that stands out is when I went to Haiti on a mission trip two summers ago. With all of the shots and preparation like that we had to make, I was a bit afraid. And, that place is hotter than hot. But, God does prove that in our weakness, He makes us strong.
What are some things on your bucket list?
Honestly, I would like to make it to the ACFW Conference one year.
I have had the opportunity to speak to women at conferences, but I would love to speak to a large gathering about God’s love and plan for them.
I have this dream to visit Alaska.
What advice would you give to writers who are seeking traditional publication?
Start small – write and submit to magazines to get your name out there. Join a group like ACFW. Take courses. Read. Read. Write. Write. And, repeat. Above all, pray for God’s leadership – He has the plan.
What is your number one spiritual gift?
Probably my number one spiritual gift is teaching. I do enjoy teaching and speaking especially to women’s groups.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?
The fact that I am seeing my second book published is still mind-boggling. God has been so good to me. I am humbled that He would use me to spread His word through Christian fiction.
Where can readers find you or your books on the internet?
Please look me up on Facebook under my name Paula Mowery. I have what I call a personal page and an author page. I would love to connect. You can also find me chatting on my blog – www.paulamowery.blogspot.com. I also write for www.christianonlinemagazine.com. I am on LinkedIn under my name. You will also find my name listed as an acquisitions editor at www.prismbookgroup.com. My books are available from my publisher at www.pelicanbookgroup.com and on other online book stores such as Amazon.
Thank you, Sherri, for this opportunity to share some things about me.