23 June 2013

Heather Day Gilbert Interview with Carrie Fancett Pagels


Heather Day Gilbert


HEATHER DAY GILBERT is the administrator of her blog, Writing Beyond the Vows, and a co-founder of Married…with Fiction, an online community for writers and more. She has written a Viking historical novel (God’s Daughter) and a Contemporary Appalachian Mystery (Miranda Warning). Heather is the ACFW Area Coordinator for West Virginia. She is represented by Ruth Samsel of the William K. Jensen Literary Agency.

HEATHER, welcome to Overcoming With God.  We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers. 

Would you tell us about the most difficult thing in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help? (transparency appreciated!)
Thank you so much for having me here! One of the things I’m constantly struggling with is faith. I tend to take a negative view of things so I can be prepared for the worst. Deep down, I’ve always believed God works all things together for good, but when you go through particularly grueling circumstances, you start questioning God’s concern for you personally.

To be honest, one of the hardest things I’ve had to have faith about is this writing journey. It’s come well-nigh to breaking me many times. Mentally, I was unprepared for the dizzying heights and breath-sucking depths I’d go through on my route to publication. I have been writing seriously for five years now—in which time, I’ve written three books and had three agents. Still no book deal in sight.

Carrie, you gave me some wonderful advice last year. My book had been out on submission for six months, and it was still out with publishers. The wait ratcheted my tension levels to the ceiling. You told me to start writing something else, and I took your advice. Thus, my third book was born—the one that’s out on submission now. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to be diverted from the book that had been out. (CFP: I wish someone else had told you that--it is such a simple thing and I am glad to have helped!)

But back to faith. It’s hard to think God has great plans if you feel like He’s been silent in one specific area of your life…for years. Not long ago, I read Ann Voskamp’s book, One Thousand Gifts, and it totally changed my perspective. It wasn’t a matter of me having enough faith or not. It was a question of whether I was praising God for the small things in the meantime. 

Here are a couple of quotes from that book:

Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle.” –Ann Voskamp
Rejecting joy to stand in solidarity with the suffering doesn’t rescue the suffering.”—Ann Voskamp

I realized that there is power in thanksgiving. When we thank God during the horrible times, when we’ve reached the end of our ropes and tied a knot in it (as someone famous once said), we are worshipping God. We are fighting the enemy of our souls, who wants nothing more than to make us turn our backs on God forever.

What is your favorite Bible verse and why?
Hm. I have lots of favorite verses. But one I’ve really been praying lately is the prayer of Jabez. There is real power in praying the Word of God, and my life has personally changed course due to that prayer in the past.

“Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain! So God granted him what he requested.” (1 Chronicles 4:10)

I posted more about what this verse means to me in this post (When Prayer is the Only Way Out): http://marriedwithfiction.wordpress.com/2013/04/14/when-prayer-is-the-only-way-out/.

What has been the most important thing you hope your readers will get from your blogs and why?
The purpose of my blog was primarily to let readers get to know me. Five years later, I can say my readers know me very well! I love connecting with other homeschoolers, writers, and classic literature-lovers.

Becky Doughty, Jennifer Major and I started Married…with Fiction as a means to connect authors, agents, and editors with one another in an organic way. We also wanted to promote and encourage traditional marriage in fiction, so every Monday we have marriage posts. Fridays are geared around writing tips. We’ve been blessed to have many editors and authors on our website—and it’s so fun when the authors are married and can talk about how marriage plays into their writing! We’re also constantly doing book giveaways…so hope you can all swing by!

As you researched your manuscripts, did you learn anything that particularly touched your heart?
Most definitely, especially in regards to my Viking historical. As I researched the sagas I based my main character, Gudrid, around, I found she consistently took stands as a Christian, despite being raised as a pagan. With my novel, I wanted to show the light Christianity shone into the Viking world and practices. Sadly, on TV and in movies, we still see Vikings portrayed as bloodthirsty maniacs, when the other half of the story is rarely told—they were family oriented and women were respected, not treated like dogs. And more and more archaeological discoveries are showing that the Vikings were indeed in North America, where Gudrid traveled with her husband.

In this latest work, do you have any topics that will be useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation?
In the Contemporary Mystery that’s out on submission, the topics of schizophrenia  and in-law relationships play into the storyline. In the Viking novel, depression, lust, and absentee husbands are topics. I do hope those who have struggled with any of these things will feel they’re accurately presented. But I wouldn’t say that my novels are therapy in those regards—I just want people to be able to relate in some way.

Thank you HEATHER for agreeing to answer these questions.  Have a blessed day and keep on writing!!
Thank you so much for having me! I always enjoy reading your posts here! Blessings to you all.

Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Sixteen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as ten years spent homeschooling her three children. Heather’s Contemporary Appalachian Mystery, MIRANDA WARNING, is currently out on submission. If you check out Heather’s Pinterest boards, you’ll see loads of visuals for her current and in-progress novels.
Married…with Fiction: http://www.marriedwfiction.com



 





32 comments:

  1. HEATHER, welcome to OWG! Thanks for sharing your testimony. I loved reading about your writing journey. The manuscripts you've written sound very interesting. I hope you will get a contract soon! I'd love to read your books some day!

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    1. Thank you so much, Marian, and so great to meet you (I love your name, BTW). Writing journeys can certainly be all over the place--you can be elated and then DEflated all in the space of just two emails. Thanks for the good wishes on the books!

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    2. Thanks - I give you permission to use my name in a novel. LOL

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  2. Hi, HEATHER, what a joy to have you with us today! I have also been praying the prayer of Jabez and I use my name in place of Jabez's. So God granted Diana that she requested. If He did it for Jabez He'll do it for us, too! Loved reading your testimony and can identify with many of the things you mentioned in your faith journey!

    You can use my name in a book, too. lol

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    1. Thank you, Diana! Yes, that's a lovely name, too! Lots of great name ideas today! And the prayer of Jabez is so powerful, isn't it? I think it helps that it's so BOLD to ask for God to bless us INDEED. And yet, isn't that our hearts' desire? And to have our territory expanded for HIM? Thanks for having me today!

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  3. Wow, I can tell I was meant to read this today ! Jabez's prayer has been on my heart and touched me for over a year now, saw it on a lace wallhanging over at m friends mennonite store and its like it reached out and grabbed my attention and its been on my mind so much and so many times this year. It is so hard to write when others in your life don't know what is in there that needs to be shared and at the right time... You would think those of your family right who know your past, history and how God brought you through things would understand right ? NOT Only God understands the best. Thank you for Sharing this Healther, thank you for interviewing her Carrie. I so needed to hear it....
    Blessings to both of you
    Linda Finn
    faithfulacres7@gmail.com

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    1. Aw, Linda. So glad to hear this was uplifting to you. Sometimes writing is such a great way to work through these things that we've struggled to put into words over the years. Blessings to you, and keep on praying that Jabez prayer! I will, too!

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  4. Wonderful testimony, thank you for sharing with us! It sure is hard to trust and be thankful during hard times. Great reminder to me! I homeschool and it sure drains a person - but gives me more to be thankful for. I can't wait to check out your page and your books when they come out!
    Susan P
    farmygirl at hotmail dot com

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    1. Thanks so much, Susan, that's so encouraging to me! I plan to let the whole world know when one of my books comes out--grin. And homeschooling...I know, it really is such an investment of you as a person. Sometimes it's hard to balance being teacher AND being mom. But in the end, I don't think you ever regret pouring that time into your kiddos. Blessings to you!

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  5. HI HEATHER it's so great to have you on OWG. Thanks for sharing what you have encountered while on your journey. Just keep the faith and in GOD's time that book deal will come!

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    1. Thanks so much, Teresa! So nice to visit today! Always enjoy the posts here!

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  6. Hi HEATHER, thanks for sharing your testimony here. I could relate with your struggle with faith and in having trouble believing God's best for you when going through grueling trials, as I used to be like that quite a bit. That's something I thank God constantly for in overcoming ever since He gave me a revelation a few years ago of His love. Because when it comes down to it, we just need to trust in His love!
    Looking forward to your books being published, they sound great!

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    1. Thank you, Noela. It is such a hard thing to get through, when you KNOW you're a believer, but you start doubting God's goodness toward you. I read some of C.S. Lewis' A GRIEF OBSERVED around that time, and really felt he vocalized the kind of sadness I was feeling, as well as the book of Lamentations in the Bible. But in the end, the Ann Voskamp really helped me start focusing on something OTHER than my grief. Glad God revealed His love to you...sometimes all we need is a sense of His closeness.

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  7. I enjoyed reading this, and I will be sending a link to your page to a dear friend of mine who is 90 yrs. old and writing! So far, she has only self-published, but I enjoyed reading her 1st book, and I'm waiting to see her next books that she is currently working on, including a Vikings book, which sounds like it might be somewhat similar to yours. She has lineage in the Vikings and has long researched about them and found the same thing you said--that there were some wonderful Christian women among them. She was even blessed a few years back, to visit her homeland country, where she researched even more about some of these ancestor's. I would love to read your books and will be praying you will find the best solution to getting your books published. God bless you and your work!
    Vicki

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    1. Thank you! That's wonderful. Yes, I got interested in Vikings b/c I'm supposed to be related to Eirik the Red. She might be, as well! It's been great to find so many Viking lovers out there. I'm especially thrilled to find those who've read some of the sagas and who've seen the influence Christianity had on some of these Vikings. I'm sure that was such a blessing for your friend to get to visit her home country. I'd love to visit L'Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland, where these Vikings landed, not to mention Iceland and Greenland...please wish your friend all the best with her book!

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  8. I enjoyed reading this, and I will be sending a link to your page to a dear friend of mine who is 90 yrs. old and writing! So far, she has only self-published, but I enjoyed reading her 1st book, and I'm waiting to see her next books that she is currently working on, including a Vikings book, which sounds like it might be somewhat similar to yours. She has lineage in the Vikings and has long researched about them and found the same thing you said--that there were some wonderful Christian women among them. She was even blessed a few years back, to visit her homeland country, where she researched even more about some of these ancestor's. I would love to read your books and will be praying you will find the best solution to getting your books published. God bless you and your work!
    Vicki

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  9. I had to go check out your Pinterest boards, HEATHER :) Love them! I look forward to when you reach publication with a book.

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    1. Thanks, Anne. I love finding pics that resemble how I picture my characters and their surroundings...sometimes it's hard to find pics of those quirkier characters!

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  10. Lovely post, Heather, and enjoyed learning more about your writing. best wishes for success!

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  11. Heather, what fun if was learning more about you. I only respect you more for sharing your true ins and outs of your faith journey. May you be blessed with many sells... and not too far away either.

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    1. Thank you so much, Elaine, and right back at you on the sells!

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  12. PS--Heather. I love the black & white photo of you!

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    1. Thank you! I took that myself! HA. One of those hold-the-camera-at-arms'-length photos!

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  13. This has been a hard subject for me lately. I'm trying to push too many rocks up too many hills, and it's easy to see God's plan of 'good things' wrapped in a rock - aimed at my head.

    It's easier to see God as a leader in war - who sometimes has to deploy, and expend, those who serve Him. Not easy for Him, but necessary to win the fight. Even if we who are expended don't understand, or see the Big Picture.

    Ours not to make reply, ours not to reason why...ours but to do, and die, to paraphrase Tennyson.

    With that, it seems, I must be - and am - content.

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    1. I hear you for sure, Andrew. I've often thought of that Tennyson quote. Have you ever read A GRIEF OBSERVED by C.S. Lewis? That really resonated with me and asked some of those hard questions. I got a bit depressed working through those emotions as I read, though, so I never got to the end of the book. But I imagine he came out the other side w/some things resolved. Yes, we often have to re-align our views of God with the truth of His word. Even then, we're such HUMAN creatures, we need that touch of encouragement or some kind of bolstering of our faith at times. Praying you'll feel those touches and bolstering.

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  14. Heather, thanks...I have read "A Grief Observed" - it's really the crucible of Lewis' faith.

    He did come through with his faith intact, and that hard passage made him focus the themes he'd earlier visited in such works as "The Problem of Pain".

    When I feel like God's picking on me - as I do, sometimes - I make sure I remember that Jesus probably felt that way, too. He didn't get delivered from Gethsemane - instead, He faced that fact that He had to deliver, for us.

    That deliverance included feeling abandoned, on that dread afternoon, on that wind-scourged hill.

    In the end, I hope that I'll have the healing touch, the balm of God's blessing...but if not, I walk in some very well-defined footsteps. And, as a man named Philip Hunter said, before going to his death in 1940, "We are in the place of honor, and we must accept it."

    And as Jesus said - "Fear not, for I have overcome the world."

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    1. Yes, thinking of Jesus and those who've gone before is comforting. Just watched a video on Jan Hus, who was burned at the stake for trying to get the Bible into the hands of the common people. Though each of us goes through our own valleys and sometimes it seems it'd be easier to be a martyr than to endure whatever it is we are called to endure. But you are so right, Jesus felt the most abandoned of all, and yet He continued...for us.

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  15. Wonderful interview.

    Heather, you've encouraged me and inspired over the past year or so. I'm honored to know you. Thank you for sharing your writing journey, it helps knowing others struggle too.
    Praying you will be published soon!
    God bless.

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    1. TC, you're always such an encouragement to me, too. Even if I never get pubbed, I have been so blessed to make friends like you along the way! Blessings to you.

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  16. I love your heart, Heather. Waiting is tough, especially when it comes to our dreams. Hang in there and keep praising Him. On the "pre" side of publication, its easy to think that we will have arrived when that first book is actually out there. But I think that along with the joy of holding that first book, comes other challenges--challenges that will be tough if we don't embrace and conquer the ones God has given us today in the waiting period. Remember, His timing is perfect. ;-)

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    1. Yes, Gwen--and I really cling to that saying you posted recently: "God, I know that You love me. God, I know that You CARE about this. God, I know that You are able to take care of this for me. God, I know that You WILL take care of this for me. God, I will praise You, because it's already DONE." It helps keep the focus on the fact that even though we can't see everything, God is active on our behalf, in ways we might not be able to see.

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