Back in the 90s, Lena Wood and I worked as editors at the same publishing company. We reconnected a few years ago when she visited my city and I ended up being one of her beta readers for her latest novel, Storm God. Lena has republished her YA novels with gorgeous new covers. Storm God, however, though part of the series, is all new. In it, she revisits her characters as adults as they come together over a crisis. Oh, and she has a George R. R. Martin connection.
How did you decide to become an author?
The seeds of writing sprouted decades ago. As a child I wrote a few poems, my sis and I wrote funny skits, and a high school English teacher praised my first short story, suggesting that I could be a writer. That one encouragement really influenced me.
In college I began freelancing articles and curriculum, which has continued until the present.
I had a midlife writing crisis in my 30s, wondering if I could create fiction, so I dove into short stories and studied screenwriting. My claim to fame was writing a screenplay, submitting it to a TV show, and receiving a very nice rejection letter from George R. R. Martin. My script was trashed by the best.
How does your background help with your writing?
Not having a degree in journalism or literature is perhaps a drawback, but I do love research and travel. And I’m curious.
The Bible—the greatest book of all time—and lyric-rich music have both been foundational.
And writing runs in the family. Mom enjoyed reading the dictionary—Who does that?—and wrote for the local newspaper. My sister is an editor/author. Our children have excelled in the creative arts, including songwriting, articles, and an upcoming children’s book.
Can you tell us more about why you wrote your latest books?
Storm God is a novel of fact and mystery. It’s Volume IV of the Elijah Creek & The Armor of God series. I wrote the sequel because fans had asked for more stories about Elijah and the Magdeline Five.
The first stories took about 18 months each. Storm God involved ten years of research, a couple of brushes with death, a few demon encounters, and two trips to the other side of the world. It was a rough haul. Needless to say, I didn’t know what I was getting into when I began. But what an adventure!
Genre-wise, Storm God is a new adult, didactic, supernatural adventure, with a bit of romance and cli-fi (climate fiction) woven in.
My other books written this past year were devotional journals, Go Forth, Go Far, and Go Light. These have small word count with journaling pages throughout, so writing three books in three months wasn’t as herculean as it sounds. But it was a stretch.
The original set had gone out of print, but I kept getting requests. I wrote the previous publisher about gaining the rights, but never heard back. I was so hoping to have the journals for an international mission convention. So I asked asked my tremendous publisher, David Braughler of Braughler Books if he thought we could pull off writing and publishing three small books in three months. And, by cracky, we did it! Thank you, DB of BB!
“If you want to know what’s going on in a country, don’t ask a politician, ask a missionary.”Lena Wood
Up to two million Americans go on short term mission trips every year. These teams provide great opportunities to serve those in need, to see the world, and share good news everywhere. Many come home with a wider view of the world, with renewed purpose, and with gratitude for their own blessings.
Each journal has two weeks worth of thought-provoking devotions. Go Forth is for preparing before you go. You’ll take Go Far with you on your mission adventure. And Go Light will enrich your return, helping you to re-group. Mission trips can be intense. If you don’t write down your thoughts and experiences at the time, they may be lost. Journalling keeps those memories alive.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Don’t write if you don’t love it. There may be little or no money or fame for all your work. Writing Storm Godtook upwards of 10,000 hours of research and probably that many dollars. No regrets, though. None.
Read only the best books. Absorb them. My go-to fiction inspirations are Ellis Peters, G K Chesterton, and C S Lewis. Honorable mentions: Sue Grafton, Edgar Allen Poe, Richard Peck, and Mark Twain. The Bible and Shakespeare are foundational, even if you just read random passages. Soak up all that depth and genius.On the flip side, don’t read trash or watch trash TV, which are empty calories for the brain, and will stunt your growth as a writer.
“Write what you know” is great advice. But be open to experiencing for the first time what you want to write about. Step out. Be adventurous. My research has taken me to several countries: the backroads of Ireland on Halloween, Japanese castles and hot springs, staying overnight at Mt. Everest basecamp, and zip lining over a South African jungle, all after age fifty.
And marketing. As unsavory as it is for some of us creative types, it must be done. Hire help.
What are some upcoming publishing projects you are working on?
I’m taking a break before completing the Elijah Creek series to do some marketing and finish up a “Christian trashy novel” I’ve had in my files for years. I’m joking about the genre. It will be a modern day, gothic, romantic suspense, detective novel, with a sturdy moral spine.
Anything else you’d like to share about your books?
The Elijah Creek books provide young people (and adults, too) with insights into what’s termed “spiritual warfare.” It’s based on Ephesians 6 and explains how to be armed against dark, destructing influences.
Your armor is ready, friend. Put it on.
For the devotionals I gathered stories from around the world. Pretty amazing stuff is happening out there, mayhem and miracles that will never make the news. If you really want to know what’s going on in a country, don’t ask a politician, ask a missionary. They’re quite good at seeing the big picture, understanding cultures, and connecting with people. It’s an honor to circulate their stories.
Storm God is available from Braughler Books.