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Interview With Kristy Dykes

Meet Kristy Dykes
Interview by Sandra Moore

1) Tell us a little about yourself -- age, married/single, children, how many books authored, etc.

I've had success in nonfiction writing with approximately 600 published articles, for which I give God all the glory. I've worked for two New York Times subsidiaries, am a former newspaper columnist, have sold to Guideposts as well as many other publications, and I'm on the Publications Advisory Board of Woman's Touch magazine. But my dream was to see my Christian fiction published. That happened in 2000 with American Dream (Barbour anthology), which hit the CBA bestseller list and went into its fourth printing. Now, I've sold five works of Christian fiction (American Dream, Sweet Liberty, Church in the Wildwood, The Tender Heart, and Room At the Inn), with more being considered. I'm a public speaker for women's events. I'm married to a pastor and have always been actively involved in ministry-children, youth, women, choir, accompanist, playwrite/play director, VBS, ad infinitum-and I've cleaned enough commodes to last a lifetime! I think the only ministry I haven't directed is men's functions!

2) How did you become interested in writing?

For me, it was a calling. I can only explain it this way: In my twenties, God spoke into my heart that one day I was going to write for His glory. At the same time, unbeknownst to me, God spoke the identical word into my husband Milton's heart. God also told him that one day He was going to use us both in writing. That has come about-we co-write articles; for example, "Affair-Proofing Your Marriage," and we believe even greater things are in store for us as a team. We're excited about our future in the people-helping and God-glorifying vocation of inspirational writing.

3) What was your biggest obstacle in regards to writing and/or getting published? How did you overcome it?

In the nonfiction arena, the almost-unheard-of thing happened. The first article I sent out was accepted for publication. It was entitled, "When It's Time, God Will Make A Way," and was the miraculous story of how my husband's minister-parents inherited a home in their twilight years after living in church parsonages all their lives. Concerning fiction, it takes perseverance to see success. Gilbert Morris says in How to Write (And Sell) A Christian Novel that it takes timing, talent, and tenacity. Dr. Penelope Stokes, who wrote The Complete Guide to Writing & Selling the Christian Novel, says it takes teachability. I say a hearty Amen to Morris and Stokes. I'd like to add that your dream--which I define as a "God-ordained desire"-and in this case we're speaking of writing-is doable. It's doable-as long as you pay your DO's (misspelling intended)! 1) DO everything you know to do, and do it diligently. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might." Study the craft of fiction. Take writing classes. Join a critique group. 2) DO rest in your call. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, "Faithful is he who calls you, who also will do it." When the rejections pile up and the doubts assail, keep reminding yourself that God has called you to write for Him. Be assured that He will direct your paths. Trust in Him and His timing. 3) DO NOT want "it" (to be published) above the Lord. Matthew 6:33 says, "Seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you." Make your relationship with the Lord your priority, always.

4) What has been the highest moment of your writing career?

There have been many high moments. Holding my first book in my hands. Getting letters from readers gushing over my writing (both fiction and nonfiction), telling me how much it blessed them. Hearing good comments from bookstore owners/managers about my writing. Going to the inaugural Christy Awards banquet and each subsequent one. Meeting and becoming friends with myriads of writers, both published and "prepublished." Winning awards (American Christian Writers "Writer of the Year, 1995"; American Christian Writers "Persistence Award, 1999"). And on and on I could go.

5) Who/What is your greatest inspiration to write? Where do your story ideas come from?

I have to squelch ideas. They keep me awake at night! I don't sleep much, an affliction that's hereditary that I've learned not to worry about. I joke that if I could sleep, I could conquer the world! I pick up a magazine like Romantic Homes or Victoria, and presto, there's an idea. I hear a song, and viola, a book nugget is born. I visit a historical compound, and a character jumps out at me. For instance, when my husband and I toured the old settler's house-a "cracker gothic" cottage inhabited by early Florida settlers called "crackers"-at Manatee Village Historical Park in Bradenton, Florida, I "saw" a young woman standing on the porch wearing a tattered dress, one hand on the rail, the other shielding her eyes from the sun. That girl became Sebbie Hanford in The Tender Heart (Heartsong Presents; 11/03). Ah, ideas. They're everywhere!

6) Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer, or do you plot extensively before your fingers hit the keyboard?

I plot extensively. I joke that I don't have OCD-obsessive compulsive disorder; I have OCO-obsessive compulsive ORDER!! I'm an organizer, so this comes out in my plotting. Of course, I'm not married to a plot point if my story/character wants to veer a little. There's room for flexibility, as well as creativity, in the writing process.

7) What's the nicest thing anyone ever said about your writing?

My husband and I co-wrote the article "Eights Truths of Lasting Marriage," based on a teaching in our popular Joy in Marriage seminars. A reader wrote, "I've been praying for weeks with a girlfriend who's been having serious marital problems. Your article was such a blessing to her. I just can't tell you the joy I felt when I saw the hope in her eyes when she read it. Please know that the Lord has used you in so many ways, most profoundly, in my friend's life today." Another: "I never thought I would compare anyone else's writing to Janette Oke, but you are just as good and I mean it sincerely." Another: "I am sharing my books with some women in my neighborhood. One friend has just renewed her faith in the Lord Jesus after reading your books (in particular, 'Free Indeed' in Sweet Liberty)." I often wipe tears of joy away at these wonderful comments!

8) How do you deal with publisher rejections?

Someone said, "There are hazards to every trade." A nurse risks getting infected by sick people. A teacher has mountains of paper grading and report making. A writer gets rejected. Even famous writers. It's part of the process. We must always act professionally.

9) If you could give a beginner one piece of advice, what would it be?

Learn, learn, learn, before you send, send, send. Most new writers think you write a story, learning the craft of fiction as you go, and then in one or two years, you get published. This doesn't happen often. It takes years. Teachers go to school four years to become teachers. Doctors go to school much longer than that. So why would anyone think you could become a professional writer in a short amount of time? Early in my writing career I read, "A lemon is produced in 2 ½ years and a pearl in 7." I decided I wanted a pearl not a lemon, and I resolved to give myself seven years. Wouldn't you know? I studied fiction for seven years, and "suddenly," I achieved publication. So, again, I advise, learn everything you can about fiction and the "business" of Christian publishing--for years. Then submit. Then wait on God. And remember what Habakkuk 2:3 says: "For the vision is yet for an appointed time. But at the end, it will speak and will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it. Because it will surely come." Amen and amen!


Thanks, Kristy, it was great to meet you at the conference.

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