I have met so many wonderful friends through books. Some are fictional, and some are flesh and bone friends...but all have made a difference in my life in one way or another. We all impact each other's lives. Sometimes it is by something you say that makes me think, and other times it is by a gesture or kindness. And yet other times it may be something that dug deeper, hurt my feelings, or made me sad. Still you made a difference. Through this blog I would like to introduce you to some people who have blessed me with their writing...and I hope you will be blessed as well!

Coffee or Tea?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I met the most facinating friend today...

Today was book signing at our local Harrisburg, Pa. Life Way Store! I was so excited. Tricia Goyer was going to be there. As a writer she is one of the finest, but that barely touches the ice burg in what makes her such a blessing to know.

As usual, before I write about anyone, I try to do a search to see what I can find out. For most writers the interest centers on the books they wrote and the awards they have won, alone with a small personal bio. When I began to read about Tricia I knew there was so much more to her that I would be able to capture in a small blog. Her emotions run deep, and her books pull from the heart her most descriptive scenes and thoughts. But beyond her words are her actions that make her the mentor and friend everyone wants to know. Tricia feels that every experience leads us to a greater picture if we only allow it.

When Tricia was a senior in high school, at age 17, she was your typical outgoing cheerleader...full of energy with a smile that made her the life of the party. She loved going to the library, and reading was her favorite pastime. There really wasn't a lot to do in a little town called Weed, California...population just over 3500. (Rumor has it that also includes the pets.)  It was during that all important year that God decided to expand her world the first time.  Tricia found out she was pregnant, and as often happens the father took up track...running that is, and left Tricia to face responsibility alone.

It was while she was pregnant with her son that Jesus met her in a very real and personal way and she gave her life to Him. She knows the feelings a young girl feels when she finds out that her life is about to change, and can understand their disappointment when they realize their dreams don't always happen the way they wanted them to. As she said, sometimes we pray for one little thing when God has a plan for a much larger picture in their life...and she would later start a crisis pregnancy center with her best friend Twila. Who better than someone who had been down that road and knew first hand what the girls were feeling? Last year alone they believe they made a difference in the lives of 22 young women who chose life over death for their child's future. Tricia is so effective in ministering to the needs of young women because she has a heart for them that only comes from God's plan in her life. She has written a book called, "Praying for your future husband: Preparing your heart for his" with dear friend Robin Jones Gunn. Like many of Tricia's books, it has been translated into many languages.

One of Tricia's fondest fan letters comes from a young girl who couldn't speak English well but wanted to let her know she had accepted Jesus into her heart just as she had read it in the book, "Dust to Ashes". Another one asked how they were going to find boys who were Christians. The girls had accepted Christ, but most boys had never read her books and the girls feared they would never become Christians. Tricia realized she is touching lives around the world. She told them to continue to pray that the boys will accept Jesus.

Like every young girl of God, she prayed that God would would bring her a Christian husband and later that year John entered her world. They were married not long after that and today they are parents to four wonderful children, Two boys and two girls. Today she enjoys the entertainment of one grandchild, a boy named Clayton that belongs to Corey and his wife Katie.  Clayton is close in age to her baby girl, Alyssa. Her daughter is in college; and her youngest son still helps out at home and is finishing high school as a home schooler, like his older siblings. With his help, and a husband she loves dearly,  Tricia is able to write, minister, have her own radio show, and still run a happy family! I smiled as I saw Alyssa "sign" thank you. Her older sister had taught her.

Her youngest daughter, Alyssa,  looks exactly like her, and I believe that is because long before she was born God had a plan in her life.  He knew she would be loved and cherished by Tricia and John, and he gave her Tricia's glowing smile and deeply charming dimples...even though her birth mother is a very tall blond with blue eyes! Yes, the sweet treasure of their life is adopted. It is simple, her birth mother was just her temporary housing until she could get to her real parents! When Alyssa was only 6 days old she came home to John and Tricia.  According to Twila, Tricia was a wonderful home school teacher for her son too, and has a deep love for all children as is shown through their children's ministry and frequent missions trips. Her oldest three children have been home schooled by their mom and Tricia laughs as she recalls working on her book with her children beside her working on their school work.  When there was a math problem, she would have to stop her creative flow and work on her math situation with her "student" then return to work. She became accustomed to multi-tasking with a child on her hip and another one beside her, while writing down her book ideas, as her children were growing up, so these days it is a piece of cake to carry 19 month old Alyssa on her hip, and take care of interviews, book signings, or even getting food at the Chinese Buffet we were able to squeeze into her busy schedule. She never missed a step, as though it was common practice for everyone!

When Tricia was 22 and pregnant with her third child she attended the Mt Herman's Writer's Conference and decided she wanted to be a writer. Balancing two toddlers and one on the way she sat down to write story after story. Each time one would be rejected she would start another, never finishing any of them until she finally stumbled on the perfect combination, after 14 years of attending writer's conferences and learning everything she could. (Note:  Never give up! 14 years she attended, learning everything she could, and still writing every chance she could. 14 years of rejections!) In the meantime she found the right combination for her crit group and together they also formed an on-line prayer group. One of her mentors, and a BFF of over two decades, Robin  Jones Gunn, stood by her side offering love, encouragement and chocolate. As the success flowed on prayer requests so it also flowed with contracts, and one by one each girl in the group found an agent and sold their literary creations for publication. This was just her beginning...

Following advice from her mentors she wrote from the heart, pouring herself into every word and crying along with every tear she wrote. When  she wrote about a boy and his music she pictured her own son and the tears flooded her cheeks as she sobbed out the words. Her results were more than words on paper, they were parts of her own soul displayed for everyone to feel with her. If she was having a great day, she would jump over to a joyful part of her story and write it...but if her day was taking a turn for the blues then she knew it was a day to write the tears and let them flow freely from her keyboard. It was a winning success, and in 2003 she won the Writer of the Year Award from Mt Herman's Writer's Conference. Following that, she won awards from American Christian Fiction Writers Award in Historical Fiction in 2005 and 2006. Thirty Books and over 500 articles in publications like Guide Posts, Focus on the Family, and Christian Women Magazine has blessed her with numerous recognitions and rewards.

Watch for Part two in this series about how things have changed since Tricia began her writing journey, and how she describes her first experience of seeing her book for sale in a book store and a woman carrying it around to buy! That will be published Tuesday October 25th.  On Wednesday October 26th we will talk more about the men who invited her to their reunion and into their hearts as she wrote her Liberator series.

On Thursday we will discuss how she is now recognised by her publishers and her agent well enough they call HER and ask her to write a certain story! Wouldn't we all love to reach that point!

And Finally on Friday we will wrap it all up by telling you about the many different books she has penned (from Amish to Military!) and if any of her characters are like her. And we will print the trivia questions about this fun and inspirational mentor. The winner will be drawn from all the correct entries.  See you tomorrow!

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