Open your mouth on behalf of those unable to speak, for the justice of all who are destitute. Proverbs 31:8, TLV
I was thinking about our featured author for May, Deborah Malone. One of my gifts is finding patterns around me — in events, circumstances, and even people. After interviewing Debbie via the Q&A below and the fun YouTube interview Author Highlights with Terri, I discovered my friend’s pattern. She is a seeker of justice. Let’s see if you can find the threads to this pattern. If you can find those threads, list them below in the comment section. (It could pay off justly.)
First a bit about Deborah Malone:
Deborah Malone has a degree in Human Services and worked in the field for several years before starting her writing career. Her first novel Death in Dahlonega, finaled in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Category Five writing contest! Deborah was also nominated for 2012 and 2013 Georgia Author of the Year in Novel category. She has worked as a freelance writer and photographer, for the historic magazine “Georgia Backroads” since 2001. She has had many articles and photographs published, and her writing is featured in “Tales of the Rails,” edited by Olin Jackson, as well as the “Christian Communicator,” and “Southern Writer’s Magazine.” She is a member of the Georgia Writer’s Association, Advanced Writers and Speaker’s Association and the American Christian Fiction Writers.
Debbie is also an extrovert — for which I am forever grateful. She sought out this introvert when I was new to Georgia and helped me back into the writing fold.
My friend, what was your inspiration for writing in general – why did you choose writing?
I sometimes think writing chose me. I remember being a young girl and starting on a mystery. I never finished it but did have the desire to write at a young age. I have always loved to read – I think I came out of the womb reading. Even from an early age mysteries have been my favorite genre. My first computer was so old that it worked on the old DOS system, and I called it Dino. I bought it from a co-worker (computer, monitor, and keyboard) for $50.00. I was so excited. I was even more excited when I found a dot matrix printer that would work with it.
I began writing short stories and poems for a college class I was taking. That kind of started the fire. Then I was challenged to write a story for a historical magazine we had in Georgia and I took up that challenge. My very first submission was excepted and I couldn’t have been happier. It was about a very historic building that then housed a restaurant. Everything was going great until I went back to get more pictures and interview the owner again. Her husband was sitting alone in an empty restaurant. That wasn’t a good sign to me. Come to find out the owner had run off with the cook over the weekend. (That’s a whole other story) That story, needless to say never got published, but I went on to write another story for them and I wound up free lance writing for Georgia Backroads for ten years. By then I had started on my novels.
I LOVE your cozy mysteries! To think your passion for writing mysteries began as a young girl! What did you read as a child?
Mysteries have always been my favorite genre (and anything with horses in it). I think I read all the Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden books. I dreamed of being Nancy Drew and driving around in her car solving mysteries. The main character in my first mystery series, The Trixie Montgomery Cozy Mystery Series, is named after Trixie Belden. I’m pretty sure I read every young adult mystery in our little downtown library.
LOL! I can imagine you tooling around with Nancy Drew solving mysteries. Who are your favorite authors to read and why?
When I first started writing my mysteries, Anne George, from Birmingham, Alabama was my favorite. She wrote about real places and that is what I wanted to do. After writing the first draft of my manuscript, I read a book by Margaret Daley and discovered Christian Fiction. Didn’t even know there was such a thing. I learned as much as I could about writing Christian Fiction and went back and rewrote my first manuscript how I knew I really wanted it to be. I’m so thankful for reading Margaret’s book and going to her website and the American Christian Fiction Writers on-line group. I have had the privilege of meeting so many wonderful authors, in all stages of their writing.
I will have to check out Anne George. Margaret Daley is wonderful! Do you have any strange writing habits/quirks?
Well I don’t think I do, but I’m sure others might disagree. One particular thing I deal with when I’m writing is not being able to write non-stop. For one, I get sore if I write over a couple of hours at a time, and two, I am not a prolific writer. It kind of comes in spurts.
I always wonder if someone observed us writing if they could tell us our writing quirks. Which of your characters has really stretched you as a writer?
Well, I love all my characters in my fiction series. I like to say that if anyone knows me well, they will see me in my first main character, Trixie Montgomery. I also had a couple of friends that I asked their permission to take from their personalities so even some of the stories in my first books really happened. Maybe not in the exact same way – but pretty darn close. But as far as one of my characters stretching me it would have to be my non-fiction book, Blooming in Broken Places. I shared parts of myself that I had long thought were buried. I admit I tried skirting around a lot of it, but my editor and publisher (and even my cousin) said I needed to put more of myself in the story. So that’s what I did and yes, I did feel like I’d been stretched like an old rubber band by the time I was finished.
Interesting that you have always sought to place yourself into your fictional characters, but struggled to write your own story. What is the story behind Blooming in Broken Places?
Blooming in Broken Places, is my life’s journey. I had been asked many times over the years to write my story, but I wasn’t ready – I didn’t want to dredge up the past and I sure didn’t want a book that was discouraging. So for many years I didn’t write it.
Then one day, I was talking to a group of women that I thought could benefit from parts of my story. After talking, I told them that I’d never talked about this part of my life in public and that I probably never would. One lady came up to me afterwards and asked, “Why would you say that when you could be an encouragement to someone?” I began to look at it a little differently.
I was writing my third book in my second cozy mystery series when I was finally led to write Blooming.
Now mind you, I’d been writing fiction for years and knew nothing about writing non-fiction. And yes there is a learning curve for each one. So I came up with this really great idea. I would find a co-author and I’d tell them the story and they could write it. Pretty clever, right?
Well, I put the call out and got a lot of replies, but the one lady I was drawn to was Julie Morris. Her writing was so encouraging. So she invited me to her house to talk about it and the first thing this sweet lady told me was that she didn’t want to write the book. What! My heart sank to my feet. But, she said, “Debbie this is your story you need to write it. I want to help/mentor you through it.” And that is what she did.
What a wonderful blessing she was every step of the way. I went from being afraid to write a non-fiction book to being awarded Georgia Author of the Year (GAYA) in Inspiration Category for 2018. To me it just shouts, “Never give up!”
It also shouts that our pain and challenges can make a difference in others’ lives! What else did God teach you while writing Blooming in Broken Places?
Because I used women from the Bible to correlate with what was happening at a particular point in my life – I discovered just how much they were just like women of today. Their cultures were different, but, their feelings and emotions were the same as what we experience today. And that God’s timetable is not necessarily our timetable, but doesn’t mean it is not going to happen. All we’d have to do is ask Sarah, Rachel, or Hannah. And the most meaningful for me is that God can and will use us even in our darkest times.
. . . And even while in our broken places. What is one of your favorite quotes in Blooming in Broken Places? Why do you love it?
Oh my goodness, I’m sure there are more than one. But I’ll share the one that popped into my mind first. In the story of Esther when Mordecai sent her the message: “ For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from anther place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14 NJKV)
Then Esther replies to Mordecai, Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather all the Jews who are present in Shushan, and fast for me; neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 14:15-16 NKJV)
I love the story of Esther. It is apparent that God had his hand on this plan from the beginning. But like so many times in our lives when we are in the midst of a life-changing event it is hard to see God working at the time. So many times I’ve been able to look back and see where God has worked in my life.
And, of course, the famous quote from Mordecai to Esther, “Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.” What an empowering statement to women everywhere. Who knows if God has called us out of our comfort zone to further his message.
And her reply is just as riveting, “And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” Esther knew she had done all that she could by fasting and praying. Her faith was so strong that even if the king called for her death, she was willing to stand up for her (God’s) people.
Oh, to have that much faith!
Yes! What great faith! What are you working on now?
I’m so glad you asked that, Terri. I am working on a companion book to go along with Blooming in Broken Places. When I started my plans, it was to write a devotional to go with Blooming, but a friend, (I think her name is Terri) invited me to an online bible study – and I fell in love with bible studies. So my plans for a devotional turned into a devotional/bible study.
The first four days will be a devotion to go along with the chapter in the book and the fifth day will be a bible study of the chapter. Even though it’s been a little slow going, I’m happy to say I’m about 2/3 through. I can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel now.
YAY! I’m so excited about this new book! Can’t wait! A friend once asked me, “What is important to you? What are you so passionate about that makes you cry out and pound your fist on the table?” What is your pound-on-the-table passion?
When I wrote Blooming in Broken Places, my goal was to show women, that through studying broken women from the Bible, God can and will use us even in our darkest moments.
We can all appreciate that! Thanks for a great interview, Debbie. But, readers, that’s not all!
The May Author Highlight Giveaway!
Debbie has graciously offered a great package of giveaways for this month’s winner! an autographed copy of, Blooming in Broken Places, a 31-Day Devo Journal, Grow in Grace, and a Grow in Grace t-shirt. To enter, post a comment below about the interview. On Friday, May 14th, one entry will be randomly selected.
And if you haven’t already, I hope you’ll subscribe to my monthly newsletter below — I have two special surprises for you. And, you’ll have another entry into the giveaway!
One Winner! And it could be you! Be sure to tell your friends and family to come on by and enter! Drawing takes place on Friday, May 14th!
NOTE: WANT TO INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING THIS INCREDIBLE PRIZE PACKAGE?
Check out my YouTube Author Highlight interview with Debbie. In the video interview Debbie will answer different questions, and provide some fun insights. By Liking and Commenting you will have one more entry. Sharing the video, another entry. Subscribe, and you have TWO entries for the chance to win.
That means, my friends, if you comment and subscribe -– or are already a subscriber -– to my blog, then watch the video and LIKE, SHARE, and COMMENT, then Subscribe to my YouTube Channel, your name will be entered SIX TIMES!
Be sure to tell your friends! See you there!
Thanks so much for stopping by. I hope you enjoyed getting to know Sherri Wilson Johnson and her books. Next month’s Author Highlight is award-winning, and best-selling author, Carrie Turansky. God bless and Keep Reading!