Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Hi. My childhood was one of mixed messages, abuse, and multiple losses. I set on a quest for purpose, and have spent most of my adult life helping hurting people heal and grow. A former pastor and missionary, I now serve as a writer, speaker, and chaplain with Hospice Brazos Valley in Texas. I’ve had the honor or writing 5 books, including two co-authored with New York Times Bestseller Cecil Murphey. I also have over 300 grief-related articles in print. My writing focuses on grief recovery and sexual abuse recovery. I love Hawaiian shirts, cowboy boots, tofu, and corny jokes.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
My latest book is Please Be Patient, I’m Grieving: How to Care For and Support the Grieving Heart. This book was written by request. Literally hundreds of grieving people asked me to write a resource for those closest to them to help them understand grief and the grieving process. The book gives readers a glimpse of the grieving heart. Those who are grieving see themselves as they read, and walk away encouraged that they aren’t as weird or crazy as they thought. Those wanting to help someone grieving gain insight and skills into what their friend, relative, or co-worker is feeling and going through. We can all make more of a difference than we realize!
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
Since I work full-time as a hospice chaplain and speaker, “writing” gets squeezed in when and where I can. As a result, I often have to work fast. I mind-map with passion, but then tend to have the bad habit of editing as I write. Whoops. My preference is to write first thing in the morning. Most of my “material” comes from my personal and professional grief experiences – from walking with thousands of people through grief. Each story is unique, and there are common threads in many lives. I HAVE to be drinking coffee as I write, or it just doesn’t work well…
What authors, or books have influenced you?
Cecil Murphey has become a good friend and a great mentor. I learned much about from him about writing simply, Point of View, and story-telling. I greatly enjoy John Eldredge and his works, especially Waking the Dead and The Sacred Romance. I resonate strongly with his voice, probably since I think it sounds a lot like mine. I have been a fan of C. S. Lewis for a long, long time. I adore his intelligence, his creativity, and his wordsmithing abilities. The Screwtape Letters, The Space Trilogy, the Chronicles of Narnia, and A Grief Observed are among my favorites.
What are you working on now?
I’m currently in the middle of a book launch (Please Be Patient, I’m Grieving), but have already been working on another more exhaustive grief work.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I’ve found that building relationships is the most satisfying form of promotion for me. That happens through my grief recovery community on my Facebook page, through my email course subscribers, and my book launch teams. I’ve had to learn that good promotion comes from being generous – even more generous than is comfortable. I’m here to help as many people as possible – or as many as want it – and that needs to be reflected in my methods of promotion.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Stay at it! In writing, everything builds on itself. I began with keeping a journal. In the summer of 2011, I began writing a weekly newspaper column of 250 words for free. Now it’s 5 years, 5 books, and 300 articles in numerous publications later. Everything matters. Write. Keep writing. And learn to write well. Not perfect, but well.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Done is better than perfect. It is sometimes scary to think about your words being out there in print, forever. But it will never be perfect. I don’t even know what that would be. But it can be good. I have learned to say, “Good enough,” and hit send.
What are you reading now?
I am rereading Waking the Dead, and also Fathered by God by John Eldredge. I’m also enjoying delving into Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.
What’s next for you as a writer?
Staying the course. I need to be writing, continually. I need to continue to develop relationships and find partners in reaching people who are hurting and need help. I need to network and partner more than I do. The need is massive.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
The Bible, Robinson Crusoe (ha!), and a Mark Twain collection (for humor’s sake!).