Hi Julie, First, tell us a little about yourself.
I am a widow who lives in Fort Worth, Texas. I am a native Texan and write about Texas folks and places because it is not only what I know, it is what I love, deep in the heart…as the song goes. I love words and play word games with friends and the computer. I always have—from crosswords, to find the word to solving the jumbles in the daily paper. My mom was always my Scrabble partner and would cheer me on when I won. I do miss staring at that board of pink, tan, red, and blue squares with her.
Let's talk about your writing. Why do you do it?
Why do you scratch an itch? Seriously, I have always loved to express myself through writing. I made up stories as a child and took creative writing in school. Then life got in the way, but I’d still find myself casting characters and plots while folding laundry or being stuck in traffic.
We moved a lot because of my husband’s career and I found that best way for me to make money was freelance writing. But my true desire was to write solely for One Person. I began tithing my writing day to Him, donating devotionals to several publications, and eventually being paid for a few.
Now, besides being a novelist, I am a digital missionary. I am on staff to write and edit devotionals and inspirational articles for Cru Canada’s Power to Change Internet ministry. Our websites touch 600,000 lives a month and lead many into conversations with confidential online mentors who plant the seeds of faith or help encourage those who are struggling with their faith. I also have my own devotional blog, Where Did You Find God Today, with readership in 51 countries.
Tell us about your latest series.
I originally contracted for suspense romances, and then a few contemporary romances. But my love has always been whodunits. So my sister challenged me to write one. Long story short, my publisher took the chance and signed me for a three-book cozy mystery series called the Bunco Biddies Mysteries.
All of them are set in a fictitious 55 plus community in Central Texas where twelve active seniors play Bunco, and then when crime begins to seep into their neck of the woods, decide to help the police solve them. After all, they know the people and, being retired, have time on their hands. The fact the chief detective is the ringleader, Janie’s, son-in-law adds spice to the plots. The first, Dumpster Dicing, won Best Cozy in Texas 2017 by the Texas Association of Authors.
All of my books, fiction and nonfiction, can be perused on my website
Threes, Sixes & Thieves is the third in the series. Like Dumpster Dicing and Baby Bunco, it has a dice theme. When someone rolls three sixes, the game of Bunco ends. But to title a faith-based novel Three Sixes? Um, no. So my publisher changed the title.
I wrote it from a personal experience. I was working part-time at a church when, just down the road, a man shot a policeman who had pulled him over and ran away. That put the whole area on lockdown for six plus hours and the church became the police command center for the manhunt. So naturally I had to write about it, right?
Wow! What do you love about this book? And what do you hope readers will tell others about it?
My characters are lovable seniors who still have a lot of life left in them. They love God, country, and each other. The series is mildly humorous and I hope the characters’ interactions and shenanigans make the novels enjoyable. At least that is what reviewers say so far. I also hope readers will tell others that these books are fun, have many twists and turns, and surprise endings which make each one worth their time to read.
Does your faith affect your writing? How?
My faith is my life, and so it naturally influences my writings. Though I often don’t quote chapter and verse in my novels, my characters live out their lives according to their faith, and their struggles and circumstances are guided by it.
What are you working on right now?
There is a fourth Bunco Biddies, entitled Until Dice Do We Part, in edits right now. I am also contracted to begin a new cozy series based on three thirty-something women who delve into genealogies and find skeletons in family closets others will do anything to keep closed. Those will begin to emerge later in 2018-2019.
Now as an adult, I see that Lent is a practice session for what I am supposed to do all the time. It doesn’t work to give up pizza for a few weeks, and then the afternoon after Easter services order a large pepperoni to be delivered. Or to give up chocolate only to devour a candy bunny from our Easter basket on the way to church. No habit has changed. It’s only been postponed.
Jesus told his disciples, “In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples.” (Luke 14:33) Seems harsh, but the Truth often is. As Scripture reveals, we can’t have two masters. Jesus preached that He would give up everything for his followers, and He did. He gave it up for me—and for you as well. What will we give up in return?
How about pride? Can you give up the idea that it is all your doing and instead give God the glory because He made you with the talents, beauty, or skills you have? Do you point to yourself or to Him when success shines on you?
What about envy? Can you set aside the green meanie that rises in your throat and begin to see the worth God sees in you? He has a use for all of us, no matter our age, abilities, outward appearance, or intellect. Or will you waste time comparing yourself to others and feeling useless?
What if we gave up prejudice? That’s a tough one. As the song in the old movie South Pacific states, we are taught at a young age to distinguish them from us. It is human nature to dislike people who are different, to not trust them. It takes the love of Christ to break down the walls.
What about giving up other things such as time spent on social media or watching TV? Sure, diversions are fun and can take our mind off of things for a while. Honestly, as an author, I hope my books provide a bit of an escape for folks. But should even faith-based fiction take the place of prayer and Bible study? Nope.
Lent begins in about a month and goes until March 31st, the Saturday before Easter. But any day can be the beginning of your own personal Lent. Just remember when you give up something, you need to take on something to replace it. Take off the cloak of pride and pull on the gown of humility.
Remove envy and slip on hospitality. Slough off prejudice and drape yourself in compassion. Okay, do read books—please! But also take on some quiet “me and God” time each day.
This year, strive to give up something for the One who gave up everything for you. And seek His help in doing it. He will be glad you asked. It’s the reason He lived, and died, and rose again.
*Butterfly photo courtesy of Pixabay
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