Friday, August 22, 2008

Guest authour Kathi Macias - Beyond Me

Virtual Book Tours


by: Kathi Macias

Before we get started on the interview I'd like to say that Kathi has graciously offered to send a free autographed copy of her book: Beyond Me to one of my readers. Find out how to win a chance at a copy at the end of the interview.

Welcome Kathi,

Could you tell us a little about yourself personally?
I’m a SoCal gal, born and raised, though I’ve also lived in Texas, Colorado, and Washington. I’m married to my junior/senior high school sweetheart, Al, and we highly recommend the “grandparent thing,” as we are pros at it with 14 grandchildren at last count. My husband has been an avid Harley rider for 25 years now, but I’m perfectly content to ride on the back of his bike (do NOT want one of my own!). As a result, my “road name” is Easy Writer. My 87-year-old mother lives with us, and I am her primary caretaker, combining that with fulltime writing/speaking/editing, so life is busy but good!

I must say you hold your age well. You don't look like a grandma of 14. Easy Writer, I like that “road name”

If you could visit anywhere in the world where would you go and why?

Israel, because that’s where my heart is. I’m an avid student of Jewish history, culture, and language. On a more local level, it would be a trip back to Hawaii. We’ve been there four times (different islands), and we never get tired of it. We also visited Montana recently and absolutely loved it!

I have a brother that lives on the Big Island. He loves it there. Maybe someday I'll get to visit him til then I'll just have to keep dreamin'. I’m from ND, MT’s neighboring state; I’ve driven through some of Montana and yes it is beautiful.

Has writing always been your dream?
YES! I can’t remember ever wanting to do/be anything else.

Tell us when you realized you were a writer?
I was in the third grade, and I wrote a story for a class assignment. The teacher liked it so much that she showed it to the principal, and we ended up turning it into a play for the PTA. I was hooked!

Oh, how fun! Turning your story into a play. Reminds me of Little Women. I love that book. What a great way to boast a young writer's confidence. Wonderful teacher she was. I love teachers that inspire.

Was there a series of events that lead up to you becoming an author?
After the PTA/play experience, I went on to work on the junior and senior high newspapers. I also entered the annual writing contest in high school and always won lots of poetry awards. Later, after some journalism training, I became a weekly newspaper columnist and string reporter, and I also began writing for and eventually editing the church newsletter. From there I went to work as an editorial assistant for the curriculum department at Gospel Light/Regal Books. It was during the time I worked for them that I proposed my first book idea (to be co-authored with another Regal/GL editor) and they signed us on the spot. That was more than twenty years (and more than twenty books!) ago.

Was there any one person that inspired you most to become a writer?
There were many, of course, but I would have to say it was primarily my high school English and creative writing teacher, Bob Ferris, who continually encouraged me to pursue a career in writing.

Do you only write in the non-fiction category?
I’ve published about twice as many nonfiction as fiction books, but I do both. People ask me which is my favorite, and I suppose I’d have to say that it’s whichever one I’m working on at the moment.

What genre do you enjoy reading in your free time?
Like my writing, this would be a mix of fiction and nonfiction. I like to read fiction when I just want to escape and relax a bit. But I really love deep, meaty, nonfiction teaching/discipleship books that challenge me to go deeper and become more committed and mature in my Christian walk.

I love fiction just for a fun read to relax type of thing too. Sometimes we just need to shut-off the brainwaves.

Do you have a favorite author?
I have several. For fiction I would say Brock and Bodie Thoene, Susan Meissner, and Mary DeMuth. With nonfiction—and this is a tough one because there are so many!—but I would have to pick Henri Nouwan, Brennan Manning, and Kenneth Bailey.

Do you have one book that you've read that you just couldn't put down?
Again, there are several, but at the top of my list is a nonfiction book that reads like a great novel. It’s called SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME, and my dear friend Lynn Vincent is one of the authors. That book is one I could read over and over again. I highly recommend it! Not only is it a fascinating read, but it will challenge your heart like few others.

Well, I just might have to check into that book.

Did you enjoy reading as a child?

Absolutely! I read everything I could get my hands on. When my mom told me to go to bed, I’d hide under the covers with a flashlight and read until she caught me.

What was your favorite book?
Oh, wow, here we go again, picking from so many favorites! I loved Louisa May Alcott’s books, as well as a series called THE BOXCAR CHILDREN—and so many more!

I love Louisa May Alcott’s books too. My daughter likes Boxcar Children.

Do you have any hobbies outside of reading and writing?
Hobbies outside of reading and writing? You mean…there are some??? Seriously, give me five spare minutes and my nose will be in a book. But yes, I also enjoy taking motorcycle rides with my husband, or just packing a lunch and heading for the beach or the mountains. (That’s the nice thing about living in SoCal—we have both within easy driving distance.)

I know it's hard for me to keep my nose out of books too. I wasn't a bookworm as a child though.

In our fast-paced society how do you balance it all: family, writing, ministry?
I don’t. I try—really, I do!—but I fail more often than not. I simply focus on one thing, and that’s spending quality time with the Lord first thing in the morning, every morning, no exceptions. Then I trust Him to walk me through the day and to help me do what needs to be done in any/all of those areas. I’m so thankful God only requires our faithfulness TODAY!

Isn't that neat how God works if you give Him first place every day.

Could you share with our readers what is your most difficult writing obstacle and how do you overcome it?
This goes with the last question, as my most difficult writing obstacle is finding enough time to write. My time is stretched, not only with family and other responsibilities, but with marketing my writing. That is hugely time-consuming and definitely not my favorite thing to do. If I had my way, I’d sit at the computer all day and write and leave the marketing (and household chores, etc.) to someone else. Alas, life just doesn’t seem to work that way, does it? So I pray a lot and ask God to help me wisely redeem the time.

I agree it is so easy to spend too much time at these computers. You don't realize it til the day is gone and you say where did it go or what did I get accomplished.

What has been the most rewarding thing about being a published author?
It never ceases to amaze me that God uses me to convey His heart to my readers. I know so many people who absolutely hate their jobs! I love mine, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. And retire? Not even in my vocabulary! Then again, who knows what God has in store in the days to come? I pray God will allow me to continue as a published author, blessing and challenging people with the vision He has given me to convey, but I will also keep my ear pressed up against His chest, listening to His heartbeat to see if He just might have a change of direction for me somewhere along the way.

What do you like best about being an author?
The best thing is being able to make a living doing something I love so much that I’d do it for free. (But please don’t tell my publishers!)

Don't worry about me; I you just told them yourself. They'll probably read this interview. Cheryl, you are to forget the last question and answer that Kathi gave me. You didn't read it. There now the air is clear.

What do you like least about being an author?
I think it feeds my “hibernating in a cave” mentality, enabling me to stay at home, locked away from other people—and that’s not necessarily a good thing. But the Lord gave me a wonderfully social and adventurous husband who convinces me to get out of the house once in awhile and “smell the roses.”

We need people in our lives that help us stay balanced and focused.

What types of marketing methods do you use to get your books out in the public?
Everything! Seriously, I try nearly every type of marketing I hear about and then see what happens. It comes down to “return on investment.” Do my Amazon ratings and website hits go up during a virtual marketing blog tour? If so, I’ll do one again next time. Do public appearances and book-signings/author events help? (The jury is still out on that one!) If they do, great! If not, leave them for someone else. Public speaking seems to be the most effective platform to market/sell books, but I also find that writing articles about a book’s topic and posting them anywhere/everywhere possible is a big help. The Internet has revolutionized the way we market/promote, and it’s something that even we “sixty-something grandmas” have to learn and use.

In chapter 3 of your book you talk about ministry; would you consider writing a ministry?
Oh, yes, writing is certainly a ministry. If I didn’t believe that, I’d feel I was missing the mark somehow. Sure, writing can also entertain, and there’s nothing wrong with that to a point. But I believe it needs to be more than that to be a ministry. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, written for children or adults, it ultimately needs to call the reader closer to the Father’s heart—and to other believers. That’s the “ministry of reconciliation” to which we have all been called.

In chapter 7 you speak of attitude adjustment; do you think the church today is in need of an attitude adjustment?
Maybe not the entire Church in general, but certainly parts of it. Most of the underground/persecuted Church has it right; they know how to live a you-first life in a me-first world, and they do it out of necessity and devotion. Many of us in the Western Church could learn from their lives.

What do you think has brought the Me-first attitude into the church?
I suppose a lot of it is that we in the Western world live, for the most part, in an affluent society, and it’s easy to get caught up in the materialism that drives it. When we are fed the “it’s all about me” message via 24-7 media, it’s tough to combat it, and that mindset eventually worms its way into the sanctuaries and pulpits of some churches, as well as into the hearts and minds of some believers.

Do you have a favorite Scripture verse?
Here again, I have many, but I think my very favorite is Deuteronomy 8:1: “Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply and go in and possess the land.” God’s commandment is to be faithful TODAY—and His promise is that the rest will then fall into place according to His timing and purpose.

What are some other books you have written?
I’ve written more than twenty books over the years, the bestselling of them all being a women’s devotional titled A MOMENT A DAY. I also wrote a contemporary mystery series for B&H (available via my website, and a very popular writing workbook titled THE TRAIN-OF-THOUGHT WRITING METHOD: PRACTICAL, USER-FRIENDLY HELP FOR BEGINNING WRITERS (also available on the website), a topic I teach extensively at writers’ conferences around the country. I also have two more nonfiction books scheduled for release in the next few months: HOW CAN I RUN A TIGHT SHIP WHEN I’M SURROUNDED BY LOOSE CANNONS? and MOTHERS OF THE BIBLE SPEAK TO MOTHERS TODAY. I have some fiction books in the works as well.

I'm going to have to keep my eye out for your new books. They sound like wonderful reads. Maybe I'll have to do another blog tour having you back to talk about one or both of these books (hint, hint: Kathi's publisher). I’m so glad you put your web site in there because I was afraid I was going to have to bother you again with the question of how someone could find you. I forgot that question when I sent my questions to you. I’m new at doing this and still learning all the right things to ask.

Before we leave what is it that you hope your readers will come away with after reading your book?
I pray they will find a new and more strongly defined focus on the important things in life: seeking and listening to God’s heart and becoming more like Him, as opposed to pursuing their own wants and desires. There is an old saying that “people who are wrapped up in themselves make small packages.” God never meant for us to be small packages. He wants us to move beyond ourselves and reach up to Him and out to others, where the possibilities are limitless….

Kathi, I'm so glad that I had the privilege of doing this book tour. I trust I'll be asked to do another one it has been such a delight and pleasure to share your book with the readers. Readers be sure to look for Kathi's book Beyond Me.

Book Synopsis:

Living with others in Mind: Beyond Me is an invitation to pursue true discipleship. Using sometimes humorous but always vulnerable and meaningful examples, Beyond Me ties together current, historical, and biblically documented insights and teachings to encourage you to aspire to the higher calling of true discipleship. Beyond Me is appropriate for individual or small-group settings.

Book Excerpt: Our reunion with the Father is a moment frozen in time, etched in our memories as the turning point of our lives—more than that, of our birth into a new life, one that would never end. Who could forget such a monumental occurrence? And yet we sometimes do—maybe not the event itself, but the implications of it. As a result, the unconditional love and grace of the Father who forgave us and welcomed us home ceases to amaze us. Hardness sets in, and we forget who we are, as well as the purpose to which we have been called. And that is a tragedy of such magnitude we scarcely can begin to comprehend it. There is only one way to assure ourselves that we will never take for granted the love that enabled us to escape the pigpen and then welcomed us home from our rebellious journey—and that is never to lose sight of the pain that journey caused to the One who was left behind, waiting. Henri J. M. Nouwen, in The Return of the Prodigal Son, explained it this way: The immense joy in welcoming back the lost son hides the immense sorrow that has gone before. The finding has the losing in the background, the returning has the leaving under its cloak. Looking at the tender and joy-filled return, I have to dare to taste the sorrowful events that preceded it. Only when I have the courage to explore in depth what it means to leave home, can I come to a true understanding of the return. As I meditate on those words, I cannot help but relive my own moment of revelation when I realized that my hardened, wandering heart had the power to crush the very heart of God. It is at the point of understanding the immense depth of the Father’s love—and His sorrow at our not returning that love—that our hearts are sealed to His. But the moment we cease to listen to the beating of His heart, our own drifts off on another journey, back to the far country, away from the Father and into the pigsty. For the leaving comes so much easier to us than the returning…. Henri J.M. Nouwen, The Return of the Prodigal (NY: Image Books, Doubleday, 1994), pp. 34-35.

My Review of the book my be found here.

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a Free autographed copy of Kathi's book. Be sure to leave me an e-mail address to get in contact with you. Or you my send me an e-mail with book drawing in the subject line. This drawing will be open til next Friday, Aug 29th. I'll pick a winner on Saturday morning.

Two winners were: Calgirl and Ginny. Congratulations!



Kathi Macias said...

You said you're new at doing this sort of thing (blog tour interviews), but you did an absolutely wonderful job! I thought your questions were some of the most thoughtful and meaningful I received. Thank you for hosting me on your site, and I'd be happy to come back anytime. In fact, I so enjoyed it that I'd be happy to offer a free copy of Beyond Me to one of your readers. You decide how to pick one and let me know, and I'll send an autographed copy. Blessings to you all!

danandmarsh said...

Yes you sure do look good for a grandma of 14!
Would like a chance to win this book!

Anonymous said...

What a great interview! Thank you so much for bringing it to us. I would like to be entered to win for a friend of mine. She is new in her walk with the Lord and wants to grow in the area of giving of herself.

Thanks again!

judybrittle said...

I think my daughter would love this book and I'd love to give it to her. Thanks for the review!

Unknown said...

The interview was fun to read, and the book sounds really interesting.

windycindy said...

Hello, Thanks very much for the chance to win a signed copy of this wonderful book! Please enter me in your drawing. Many thanks, Cindi

Cheryl said...

Okay, I'll pretend I didn't see that comment about Kathi being willing to write for free. LOL!

Great interview. I agree with Kathi, these are some wonderful questions and I look forward to coming back to your blog often.

Best of luck Abi!


Alyce said...

I think I really need to read this book! I am always reminding myself that it's not about me. LOL! :) Looks like a wonderful, helpful book!

akreese (at) hotmail (dot) com

Anita Yancey said...

This sounds like such a good book. One I would love to read. Please enter me, and thanks.

Anonymous said...

I would love to read this

kaylee8 said...

Nice interview - it has made me want to read Kathi's book!

Ginny said...

You did such a great job on the interview, congrats!

Audrey B said...

great interview, my whole family would love this book

calgirl said...

I liked reading about the author. I understand that each day can change our life by what we do or don't do that day.