Mary, describe yourself for our visitors.
I am wife to a deacon, mom to a tribe and proof that God gives second chances. I love gospel and jazz. Lizz Wright, Israel Houghton and Tye Tribbett are in high spin in my lineup currently. I am involved with the mom’s ministry at my church and have a big interest in missions.
How do you find time to connect with God?
It’s not easy. My kids wake up ready to roll, so I have to do like Charles Wesley’s mother and throw my apron over my head in the midst of it all sometimes. The Bible says to pray without ceasing, so I try to do that as well as listen to audio sermons on the Internet and praise music while I exercise.
Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books?
Oh, this is hard. There are so many and for so many different reasons. Right now I’m reading Diane McKinney Whetstone’s latest. Sharon Ewell Foster, Claudia Mair Burney, Gail Hayes, Lisa Samson… A lot of my favorites happen to be my friends. There are a lot of new authors on the horizon as well who I’m enjoying. Mostly though, I read young adult titles with my daughters.
Tell us about your journey to publication.
My journey was riddled with rejection and confusion like most, but God brought people into my life to encourage me. In 2001, I started having chest pains and thought I was having a heart attack. When my family and friends passed before my eyes, the characters of all my secret stories did too and I told God that if I made it out of this, I wouldn’t wait for someday, I would write. Almost immediately, the pains stopped and they couldn’t find any cardiac damage or explanation. I started writing something every week and eventually joined American Christian Fiction Writers and went on to become Vice President. I joined a critique group, got an agent, attended conferences and just when I was about to give up, landed my first contract.
Tell us about your current book?
Rhythms of Grace is a story of faith, friendship and forgiveness. And yes, even a little love. Grace Okoye was once a dancer with a dream, but a boy wearing a ski mask stole but her virtue and her future. Though she left the town where her life changed, her childhood dance teacher has called her home to teach at a charter school. When she returns, she’s shocked to hear in her heart the beat she thought had stopped long ago…the rhythms of grace. She’s even more surprised to see who’s playing the beat, Dr. Brian Mayfield, the finest boy in town whose grown into an even finer man, except for one thing–he no longer believes in the most important person in Grace’s life, Jesus Christ.
How did you come up with ideas for this book?
About ten years ago, I was writing short stories and a group of friends emerged: two boys, black and white, united in tragedy and triumph. Though it wasn’t meant to be a novel, they started showing up again and again, eventually as adults. Then one day, a woman arrived, she looked like Angela Bofill and spoke in whispers like she had a secret. She said,"Leaves danced the day I died…" and it was on.
List your most recent books.
My three latest titles are Happily Even After (1/08, Steeple Hill Books), Turquoise (8/07, Revell Books) and If the Shoe Fits (1/07, Steeple Hill Books)
What’s next for you?
The follow up to Rhythms of Grace, Songs of Deliverance comes out in 2009.
Where can visitors find you online?