Find a Christian store

Interview with Penny Frost McGinnis

Penny loves God and believes the Bible is pure truth. She’s married to a wonderful man, who she describes as “the perfect mate for me.” They have five children, a daughter-in-law, three sons-in-law and “a whole passel of grandchildren.” Penny and her husband also have a dog who shares her name with the heroine in Penny’s recent release, Home Where She Belongs. Both were named for Penny’s great-aunt, Rosetta May.

Penny loves reading, writing, embroidery, nature, drawing, praise time at church, and listening to music. Finding beauty in everyday life inspires Penny’s writing. She wants to bring hope and joy to people’s lives as she has found it, through a relationship with Jesus.

What inspired you to write for your chosen audience/genre? How did you know this genre would be right for you?
For years I dreamed of being a published author. At one time I wanted to publish a children's book, but that opportunity never happened. In my twenties, I was a reader of nonfiction and children's books as I raised my daughters. Then I took a job at the public library and started reading fiction again. I'd read fiction as a young person, but had gotten away from it. The more I read fiction, the more I enjoyed the stories. When Christian fiction became more available, I embraced it. God changed my heart's desire to writing for women, which led me to pen fiction and work toward publication.

What message do you hope readers take away from this book?
Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight" are the verses I chose for Sadie's story. I am praying readers who relate to Sadie's situation find courage and hope. Sadie has trust issues, so I'm hoping her story will encourage readers to trust in God. As for Joel, I hope his struggle opens the door to readers as they see God's forgiveness at work.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
The most significant moment I had was when I put my dreams of publication in God's hands. I confess, I wasn't always looking in the right direction. I was too focused on publication and not seeing my writing as a ministry. When that changed, I changed and wrote from my heart instead of what I thought I should write. I've read so many authors who say pray before you touch the keyboard or pick up the pen, and I heartily agree. Being partners with God on the writing journey has enriched me and my writing.

How have you discovered your story ideas and characters?
Home Where She Belongs stemmed from my husband and me visiting Kelleys Island, Ohio. It's a lovely place to relax with all the parks, hiking, and water. On the way home from a vacation there, I told Tim I wanted to set Sadie's story on an island in Lake Erie. I changed the name to Abbott Island and have used some of Kelleys Island's features, but have fictionalized much of it also.

Sadie had been on my heart for a while. She is a culmination of women who have been through difficult times and long for a peaceful life. Joel represents hope and even though he is a flawed man, he is a kind-hearted and caring person. I tend to listen to my characters as they tell me the story, and I'm surprised at times where the story goes, but it's a fun process.

How do you schedule your time to write?
I'm fortunate to be retired and have time during the day to write. I like to write in the morning or early afternoon. When I was still working, I would carve out time right after I got home from work or on the weekend. I know it's hard to find the time to write. I pen devotions for my blog and put myself on a deadline to get those done. I've also done that with my novels. Self-imposed deadlines are a great way to discipline your writing.

Do you have any quirky habits or special snacks that help you focus your writing time?
In the morning, I enjoy a cup of coffee with almond vanilla creamer. In the afternoon, I take a decaf tea break and enjoy a couple of cookies. I love pecan sandies. I tell myself they are healthy with those little pecans in there.

Tell us about yourself. What should we know about you?
My husband and I live in southwest Ohio with our dog. We have five amazing adult children, four wonderful in-laws, and eleven beautiful grands. We stay busy following the grandkids' activities. Along with being a writer, I enjoy embroidery, fiber arts, flower gardening, and, of course, I love to read. I also enjoy exploring God's creation and visiting lighthouses. I retired a few years ago from working in libraries.

My philosophy for writing stems from finding God's beauty in everyday life. So often we're bogged down with the sadness and tragedy we experience or hear on the news. To combat the sorrow, God has called me to bring hope and joy to people's lives through the positive relationship I have with Jesus. That's why my contemporary romance not only has a dash of mystery; the stories offer the promise of hope. Jesus has so much to offer to the hurting world, and if my writing brings healing and hope through Christ, I've done a good work.

Tell us about your current release.
Tired of being a pawn for her father and an emotional punching bag for her ex-boyfriend, Sadie Stewart escapes to Abbott Island where she spent summers with her grandparents. She plans to resurrect her grandmother's cabin rental business she inherited, and find the peace she's desperate to embrace. Would the love and faith she learned from her grandparents be enough to fuel her new life? She wants to believe God's promises, yet broken trust holds her back.

Joel Grayson left the island long enough to train at the Police Academy. The community trusts him, even though he's failed. When he finds Sadie at her grandparents' cottages, his heart skips a beat. He'd love to get to know her again, but no one needs to share the hurt he harbors.

When Sadie discovers someone is sabotaging her future, she seeks Joel's help. As they are drawn together, will Joel let down his guard and let her in? Will Sadie trust the man who loves her and the Father who cares?

What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Keep at it. If the dream of publication and the call to write rests on you, put in the time, the work, the tears, and the laughter, embrace the love of the written word, and be faithful. The timeline between my desire to write fiction and actual publication has been twenty-five years. During that time, I wrote devotions and had some published. I also started a blog where I post devotions, book reviews, and encouraging thoughts. I penned ideas and I read, a lot.

So many great books have been written by amazing authors who want to help new writers. I joined the American Christian Fiction Writers and got to attend one conference where I connected with seasoned authors. I found smaller conferences to attend and connect. The encouragement spurred me along. I invested money and time for many years because I knew God called me to be faithful to Him and write, and I eventually learned publication was up to Him. I pray you are surrounded by encouragement.

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey would you still write it?
I would. I believe God has called me to write, whether for one person or many. It took me a while to come to this conclusion. Like many writers, I was dazzled by the possibility of publication, but in writing a blog I learned that if the one person who needed the words the Lord gave me, read them, I am doing a good work. When I applied that to writing fiction, my attitude changed, and I started enjoying the writing process. Granted, we all need goals and perhaps publication is one of them, but I also believe in nudges from God as He directs me on my path.

What did you learn along the way to publication that made it click for you? Or had the biggest impact on your success?
As I edited my story, things started to click for me. The more I edited, the more I learned. At some point, I better understood showing versus telling and removing weasel words. As I edited and polished the story, the writing clicked.

Finish this sentence: “Every author should/should know ___________________.”
Every author should interact with other authors. Writers need to be in a community of writers--sharing ideas, listening to advice, and encouraging each other. I love meeting authors online and following my favorites through newsletters and Facebook pages. I've made new friends and love the encouragement we share.
Terri Thompson is an author, foodie, nature lover and philanthropist. She loves walks along the beach at sunset, dancing in the living room with her grandchildren, the beauty of flavors expertly combined, and the joy of words creatively knit together that bring truth to life. She blogs about writing, life and inspiration at To learn about the non-profits supported by the H. G. Clay Foundation go to

For more great interviews, visit our Author Interview Archives.

ACFW Members, click here to apply for an author interview!

Developed by Camna, LLC

This is a service provided by ACFW, but does not in any way endorse any publisher, author, or work herein.