Regular readers of my old blogspot blog “connectwithcarolbrown” know that I am a member of a Christian writing community called John 3:16 Marketing Network. We are a group of authors who support each other’s work. This is a group of highly sensitive people who lean in hard to hear the heartbeat of God and express it in a myriad of ways. Today I’m featuring Lorilyn Roberts who founded the group. She is launching a new YA work. In her way she is shedding light in the darkness! Here is our interview:
How does it feel to be launching your seventh book, Lorilyn?
Launching a new book is scary and awesome all at the same time. I usually talk more about myself when I launch a book because readers love to learn about authors—e.g., when did you start writing, or ask questions about an off-the-wall topic that you’d probably never put in a blog post. So I selected a few questions for this interview I’ve not written about before.
This week I am launching my new devotional book, “Am I Okay, God? Devotionals from the Seventh Dimension.” As part of the launch, visit http://bit.ly/Christian_Books and win some nice prizes. While there, you can purchase my book for only 99 cents (66 percent off the regular Kindle price), curl up with a cup of coffee, and be reading it within minutes.
When did you first want to write?
I began writing when I could hold a pencil in my hand. I fact, I was writing before I could really write—in scribble. I would hand my mother a piece of paper and tell her to read it. She would admire my fake words and ask, “What does that say?” And I would read her my “special words” – often love notes. I have one story that I kept. I was eight when I wrote it.
All through school, when other kids were complaining about term papers, I was already at the library researching, taking notes, and typing on an old manual typewriter. I loved it. Then I discovered poetry when I was eleven. I wrote parts of two books in high school.
Recently, my 15-year-old took a careers test to see what her “bent” was. She hasn’t figured out what she really wants to do, but she asked me to take the assessment, too, just for fun.
So here I am at 58, taking a test to see what I should do with the rest of my life. There were close to 200 questions on the assessment, and at the end, guess what it said I should be when I grow up? An author! I laughed. If only. If only my life could have taken that course.
But God is a God of redemption. We must let go of what wasn’t to allow God to give us what can be. As long as we are still breathing, God is not finished. If I make it to the ripe old age of 100 and I write a book a year, I can write 50 books (I’ve already written six).
And if I don’t, I can focus on the process of writing and give myself one hundred percent to it when I’m not captioning, paying bills, raising my two beautiful daughters, or eating peanut butter and ice cream.
I justify my strange addiction insisting it helps me to write at 3:00 am in the morning. Who wants to eat healthy then?
You have the responsibility of a family. Do your children have an interest in writing?
My children do not have an interest in writing although they are good writers. I’ll tell you a funny story.
A few years ago I had the opportunity to meet Jerry Jenkins. He was a new grandfather to a little boy his son and daughter-in-law had adopted from Thailand. As you know, I wrote a memoir about the international adoption of my two daughters, so I wanted to share my book with him. I told him up front I wasn’t looking for an endorsement or review. I just thought he would be blessed.
To make a long story short, he did read it and emailed me that if I was ever in his part of the country, he’d love to meet my daughters. As it turned out, we were going to be in Castle Rock, Colorado, later that summer for a family event, forty-five minutes from where he lived. He invited us for a visit while we were there.
So my daughters (who were 13 and 21 at the time) and I drove out to his home/office in the country. Of course, I’d given my daughters the lecture that I wanted them to make a good impression and not embarrass me. Tell him you’ve read the Left behind Series (I had read several of the books to Joy when she was younger). What can go wrong, right?
We walked up to the front door, knocked, and he came out to greet us. We were all starry-eyed, and then Jerry asked my older daughter, “So what did you think of your mother’s book about you?” Without missing a beat, Manisha says, “I didn’t read it.”
Jerry looks at me—oops. What am I going to say? The truth is they don’t read my books. And I write YA.
But we did have a wonderful visit, and Jerry and Manisha spent a lot of time talking about their favorite movies. She asked him what he thought of the Harry Potter Series (which she consumed— why can’t she attack my books like that?) and he said, “They’re brilliant.” I knew then they’d be friends for life.
But one thing Jerry Jenkins said that struck me was this: He never compromised his family for his writing. And I feel like I have tried to do the same.
I wrote my first book, “The Donkey and the King,” a children’s picture book, when Joy was 7. I became so obsessed with creating the story and embracing that writing passion that had been dormant, that afterwards, I felt guilty for the time it took me away from my children. After all, I’m a single mother.
I decided not to write anymore until Joy was older. I waited four years, until she was 11, before I wrote my second book, “Children of Dreams,” the story of adopting my daughters, as well as the medical mystery of the older one. We were later featured on Animal Planet’s “Monsters Inside Me” in reference to Manisha’s neurocysticercosis.
I have to admit, it was hard for me to delay my passion. I was afraid I would forget all the details from the adoptions, as it had already been over a decade since I had adopted Manisha. But God helped me to tell the story He wanted me to write.
Now that Joy is fifteen going on eighteen, I have more freedom and don’t feel guilty for the time I spend writing. They have finally figured out, if they want to eat sometimes, they might have to go to the grocery store and cook a few meals. I’m preparing them for the real world, I tell them.
This last week I gave them my credit card and they went to Publix together. I couldn’t believe they spent $300. I discovered things in the grocery bag I didn’t know we needed, like mason jars.
“What’s that for?” I asked Manisha. You’d be surprised at what mason jars can be used for.
I confess I hadn’t shopped in a while. What’s a mom to do? I did get a lot of writing done while they went on their shopping spree buying things they thought we couldn’t live without.
Manisha says all I want to do is eat ice cream and biscuits. (I sneak the peanut butter when they aren’t looking.) So now we have food to last a month—I hope.
I am cutting back on captioning—but until I can support my family with writing, I won’t be giving up my day job any time soon. I am thankful, though, for the freedom and financial security television captioning has given me.
Many stories behind the stories I’ve captioned will find their way into a book someday. A tease might go something like this: What sports has taught me about creative writing. Hopefully that piques your curiosity as it does mine. I’d like to read a book like that.
I see you’ve done lots of traveling. Is it a personal journey or is it related to your writing?
I don’t travel like I did before I adopted my daughters, but much of my writing goes back to my traveling days. Part of the reason is that my kids don’t want me writing about them – you wrote a whole book about us already, they say – so I don’t write parenting books. And when you think about it, when we raise kids, we are all doing the same sorts of mundane things, attending kids’ events and doing homework (or homeschooling like I did).
As our children get older, we have more time to go back to our roots and re-explore some of what we missed or revisit some of the places we have been to and want to explore again. That’s what I like to do.
I stay close to home now except for family vacations. I envision the day when I will be able to travel on speaking engagements and share my books. But until my daughters are either on their own or married, I don’t have the desire to scuba dive in the Red Sea or take a cruise on a live-aboard off the Great Barrier. Or ski in the Swiss Alps or be ordered to a safe room wearing a gas mask in Jerusalem. Yes, I did all those things. God has blessed me with many stories and I love to share them.
How many books do you have in print? Is there a special one and why?
I have six books in print and am finishing the rough draft of my seventh book. My favorite book is the one I’m writing at the time I’m asked or have just written. I suppose it’s because with each book, I learn more about writing and strive for each book to be better than the last. I hate to go back and read my earlier books. I’m the worst critic and find things that need to be fixed. So I enjoy the process of writing and marketing the newest published book the best, whichever book that happens to be.
The book I’m writing now is the second book in my Seventh Dimension YA Fantasy Series, “The King.” I outline my novels and once I got about halfway through the first draft, I realized the book was going to be over 130,000 words. That’s too long. So I divided it into two books, “The King – Book Two,” and “The Castle – Book Three.”
The premise behind the Seventh Dimension Series is there is a dimension called the seventh dimension where we all spend part of our lives. It’s a spiritual dimension that we visit – but instead of being just spiritual, I have made it physical.
All realities exist at the same time, on a time line, and the spiritual reality of the protagonist in each book is determined by his or her background, goals, and issues that must be overcome. We have free will, but ultimately, we must choose.
That is the fantasy element. Most of the plots in all the books take place or will take place in first century Israel, but the spiritual dimension intersects and forces the protagonist to choose between good and evil. Salvation through the king is the ultimate good in all the books.
The books are presented as fantasy to avoid Christian legalese. I’m trying to reach the unchurched audience and secular Jews. The final book in the Seventh Dimension Series will be aimed at reaching YA Muslims. God is at work all over the world and I’m amazed at what is happening in the Middle East.
My hope is for “The King – Book Two” to be released this summer.
“Seventh Dimension – The Door,” the first book in the series, was a finalist for several book awards. My goal now is to write a novel that will do even better.
Creating unusual plots is my favorite part of writing. And I’m insecure enough that I know I can’t write well without God’s hand throughout the process. Jesus was a masterful story-teller— and I’m thankful God has given me the passion to write from His storehouse of gifts. My dream is to do it fulltime—and why not dream? If we don’t have great dreams, God can’t answer us with great redemption.
What advice would you give to writers to encourage them to continue on the journey if they find it too hard or hit a lot of roadblocks?
A couple of thoughts come to mind. Take a break from writing and relax. Read some good books. Re-evaluate what you are writing. Taking a step back and relaxing will give you more perspective.
If you are serious about writing a book, you have to finish it. If it were easy, everybody would do it. Writing a good book is not easy. Break down the process into small chunks: A sentence, a paragraph, a page, a chapter, and soon the words will develop into a full-length book.
Set a realistic goal each day. Sometimes my goal is 100 words. A couple of days this last month I wrote about four thousand words. Some days I don’t write anything—partly because I haven’t set a goal.
I always focus on the process and try to accomplish something that is realistic. If I don’t set a goal, I usually don’t get any writing done. There are just too many good things that will distract me and take up my time.
Another suggestion would be to check out the John 3:16 Marketing Network. I lead this group of Christian authors who work together in a unique way to encourage and share information about writing and marketing.
I find it less lonely to talk each day via a private forum with other authors about writing and marketing, especially at times when I get discouraged or need advice. There is always someone to bounce ideas off of, share information, and encourage me. Sometimes I might have a question and at other times I might have a marketing idea.
I believe that by joining together to help each other, we all benefit, not only in marketing but mentally and emotionally. I know we have all saved time, money, and frustration by not repeating mistakes in marketing that others have made.
I also enjoy seeing other Christian authors succeed. Maybe there is something I can learn from them. Or maybe there is something they can learn from me. In the end, we all benefit from the shared knowledge.
When you consider all the creativity we have from authors all over the world, I feel like we have created a very special network. Encouragement to the mind is like prayer to the soul.
If you are interested in joining the John 3:16 Marketing Network, you can learn more at: http://www.lorilynroberts.com/john_3_16_marketing_network.html
If you would like to be added to my mailing list for the release of “The King – Book Two,” please visit http://LorilynRoberts.com and scroll to the bottom of the page where there is a square box to sign up for my newsletter.
I would also like to offer you an opportunity to purchase “Seventh Dimension –The Door” for free on Smashwords. The link is: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/208413
The Coupon Code is AZ34N (The coupon is good until May 8, 2014)
Thanks for letting me share my writing passion. And please stop by http://bit.ly/Christian_Books and get “Am I Okay, God? Devotionals from the Seventh Dimension” for only 99 cents.
Her books, all available on Amazon, include the following:
The Donkey and the King (ages 2-7)
Seventh Dimension – The Door, Book One – a YA Christian Fantasy
Seventh Dimension – The King – Book Two- a YA Christian Fantasy
Devotionals from the Seventh Dimension
Food for Thought: Quick and Easy Recipes for Homeschooling Families
How to Launch a Best-Selling Christian Book
Taste and See Volumes One and Two (editor)
Children of Dreams, An Adoption Memoir
Lorilyn graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Alabama in 1991. Her studies included spending two weeks in Israel at the start of the Gulf War and touring England, Australia, New Zealand, and several countries in Europe. She later attended the Institute of Children’s Literature and earned her Master of Arts in Creative Writing from Perelandra College.
Lorilyn has two daughters whom she adopted from Nepal and Vietnam as a single mother. She homeschooled both of them, the older one through high school, and believes that the hope of the United States may rest on the conservative values homeschooling families instill in their offspring.
“If we fail to teach our children how to live out their Christian faith practically, we will have lost an opportunity to impact the world for good. It only takes one generation to forget the past. As JRR Tolkien said, ‘There is some good in this world and it’s worth fighting for.'”
Be sure to follower her on twitter at http://twitter.com/LorilynRoberts
You can follow the John 3:16 Marketing Network on twitter at http://twitter.com/John316Network
If you would like to contact Lorilyn personally, you may reach her at AuthorLorilynRoberts@gmail.com
To follow John 3:16 Authors check out the hastag #John316books on Twitter.
To purchase any of her books on Amazon, please go to: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002K8S2Y6
Thank you, Lorilyn for joining us on the porch. And thank you for being a light in the darkness. And like you, I have found that my immediate family does not read my books either. It is quite a phenomenon. I think part of it is out of love–they don’t want to hurt us by not liking our writing and not reading it in the first place means they can have no opinion!
I enjoyed your first novel, The Door – The Seventh Dimension. I am sure this one will be as good if not better, given your desire to keep improving your craft! I’m looking forward to reading it.
Well that’s it for today. Click on over and get your copy of The King and join me on the porch for a good read!
Blessings, Carol…shedding a little light!