Faith Journey | Book Clubs |
My life changed on a rooftop in Berkeley, California. I was twenty-one years old, a student at the university and living in one of the co-ops. The house motto was “Those who know don’t tell and those who tell don’t know.” It was 1978 and the social scene was everything you’d expect. Alone on that roof, I looked up at the sky and saw untouchable stars. I looked out at the bay and saw a black hole.
That night, I felt completely alone. I had high grades and plans for the future, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that none of it mattered. My life reminded me of ice cream melting in the sun, sweet but destined to become a mess.
After earning a BA in History (my dad would tell you I graduated Phi Beta Kappa), I moved back with my parents. We’re a close family, and I sensed immediately that something had changed. I was right. My mom had become a Christian. My dad always had a quiet faith, but I became more of aware of it. It didn’t take long for their prayers to work. In the middle of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, a time when the world felt crazy, I said a prayer that went something like this: “Okay, God. If you’re real, I’m willing to listen.”
Not exactly humble, but God was (and is) exceedingly kind. He also knew how to get my attention . . . Boy, did he ever! A good-looking guy rode into my life on a motorcycle. My husband has a story of his own. It’s dramatic and joyous, the stuff of rock n’roll and the Psalms. We became Christians on the same day but in different places. That night, he knocked on my door.
“I’ve got something to tell you,” he said. “You won’t believe it.”
I had something to tell him, too.
We spoke at the same time. “I’m reading the Bible.”
It didn’t take long for us to fall in love (maybe five minutes?) A few months later, we got married on a Tuesday morning in May. After a honeymoon in Baja, we headed back to our first apartment and the journey began. It’s continued for over thirty years with children, dogs, birds, careers, disappointments, successes and enough car trouble to curl a woman’s hair.
The Lord’s been with us every step of the way. Between California and Virginia, we’ve attended churches with eight people and churches with more than 12,000. We’ve been blessed by teachers including Greg Laurie, Don Thomason, Dr. Gene Scott, David Swarthout, Lon Solomon of McLean Bible Church, Brian Bolton at Centerpointe Christian Church and John Weece at Southland Christian Church here in Lexington, KY. The common denominator among these churches and our lives is a deep and abiding love of Jesus Christ.
Sometimes I think about that rooftop in Berkeley. If someone had said, “Vicki, let me show you a movie of your life,” and then rolled the film of the coming years, I’d have been speechless. All my life I’ve wanted to write fiction. To date I’ve sold 16 books. I wanted a family of my own. Mike and I have two wonderful sons who have married strong and accomplished women. I wanted adventure. I found it in a life that’s been everything but dull.
Amazing, isn’t it? I love what Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.”
Life is good. God is better. Jesus Christ is best of all.
With much love,
As someone who belongs to a book club (and loves it!), I know how helpful it is to have a few “starters.” My LIHs all have Study Questions in the back. Feel free to contact me for any additional needs for book club discussions. I’d be glad to Skype in.
Book: The Outsider by Penelope Williamson
Classic: Jane Eyre
Christian Song: Grace Like Rain by Todd Agnew
Country Song: Would You Go With Me by Josh Turner
Hymn: Great is Thy Faithfulness
Bible Verse: Isaiah 50:10
Movie: The Sound of Music
Snack: Red apple with super chunky peanut butter
Footwear: Running shoes
Vacation Spot: Anywhere with a beach
Where do you get your ideas?
My books all start with a spark of some kind. A “what if” thought will come to me out of the blue, and my mind takes off with it. Sometimes it’ll be a character. Other times the idea will be more thematic, something like, “How can a person overcome grief so deep it paralyzes them?” Once in a while an idea will be more light-hearted, but my books are usually on the serious side. The humor in them comes from “laugh or cry” moments.
When a reader gets done with your book, what do you want them to come away with?
My books generally fit into one of three themes: redemption, resurrection and restoration. They’re about people overcoming life’s trials with the help and grace of God. I hope readers come away with a sense of hope, an interest in faith and an understanding of forgiveness.
Do you have any suggestions for the aspiring writer?
Here’s my three-part approach to writing: Inspiration is a gift. You can’t manufacture it. You want to write or you don’t. Discipline is a choice. You can choose to put your fingers on the keyboard, or you can simply want to have written. The third element is technique. If you’re serious about writing a book, study the craft. Read Jack Bickham’s “how to” books. Discover the logic of Dwight Swain. Go to workshops and conferences and glean whatever you can. This is where writing is turns into work. But it’s worth it . . . I love what I do.
When do you write? Day or night?
I’m a morning person unless a deadline is looming. It’s painful to set the alarm for 4:30 a.m., but that’s when I write best. Once the day starts, I’m prone to distractions like the internet, phone calls, barking dogs, the mail truck, the trash truck . . . you get the picture!
When you were a child did you have a favorite book or books?
My reading passion goes back to the Black Stallion books by Walter Farley and the Little House on the Prairie series. I was raised in southern California within walking distance of the library. I went every week and read voraciously. I also loved the Clara Barton nurse series, Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell, and Nancy Drew.
Is there something about you most people wouldn't know?
Excuse a bad pun, but I’m pretty much an open book. Here are a few tidbits: I had eye surgery at the age of two. My favorite candy is Almond Roca. And last, my favorite hymn is “Be Thou My Vision.”
Do you have a favorite genre to both read and right write?
A big piece of my heart will always be in the Old West, but I love contemporaries too. I thoroughly enjoyed the change of scenery with Until I Found You. Reading wise, I like to mix up settings and time periods. For me, it’s all about the characters. I gravitate toward any story that’s about hard choices.
Did you have favorite authors growing up who have influenced you?
My all time favorite author is Penelope Williamson. Her writing is pure music. She wrote The Outsider. Love that story! I’m also a Jane Eyre fan.
Do you have a place you love to visit or would love to visit?
Pismo Beach is in central California. It’s a lazy beach town with miles of sand. I’d love to go back for a visit. I also have fond memories of the Channel Islands off the coast of southern California and San Felipe, Mexico.