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Interview with Sara Beth Williams

Not everyone has experienced major anxiety or deep grief, but several distressing events occurred in 2020 that gave people a taste of what it's like to be emotionally crippled when trying to deal with increasing levels of anxiety, depression, fear, and several other "unwanted" feelings. In the contemporary romance novel Anchor My Heart, Sara Beth Williams dives deep into the area of showing how her characters deal with these issues – and how looking to God to be a stable anchor might be the answer to help her characters – and the world in general – to handle calamities.

Writing about these matters was based on the author's personal experience, but in a "retroactive" sort of way.

"I've suffered ridiculous losses in the last three years. In 2018, I lost three family members in five months. My brother moved out of the state in November that year. My dad suffered major health setbacks. My grandpa passed away in June of 2020. All of this happened years after I'd finished writing most of what is Anchor My Heart."

The author believes it was "God's perfect timing" that brought about the topics covered in both her current release, and in her first novel, When Hearts Collide.

"Before writing Anchor My Heart, I'd never experienced any major anxiety or significant losses. Only after suffering through those three deaths did I begin to have symptoms of anxiety. But God, in His infinite wisdom, love, and knowledge, prompted me and inspired me to write these stories that deal so heavily with grief and anxiety before any of that happened to me – because He knew. He knew I was going to walk through similar experiences. It was as if I were going through some kind of cathartic process before all of the trauma occurred. Not after."

After suffering her losses, Williams went back into her manuscript and rewrote parts of it with those experiences in mind, as the author thinks having gone through certain circumstances helps bring more authenticity to the writing of a story. She does note though that she also believes research is a powerful tool, and finding people to help you in your research is half the battle.

So maybe research contributed to not only grief and anxiety scenes, but also to scenes that revolve around the hero Matt's job as a worship leader. Williams has never been a worship leader – because she says she's a bit afraid to sing in front of people and because she doesn't play guitar quite that well.

"My mom was a fabulous guitarist though, and she played on various worship teams throughout her whole life. I'm always immediately drawn to anyone who can play guitar. Worshipping through song is my absolute favorite form of worship."

The hero in Anchor My Heart is Matt, and the heroine is Tara. Both of these lead characters have suffered tragic loss, and Tara experienced it before Matt. One of the questions asked in the synopsis of this novel is if Tara is able to let God step in to help heal Matt where she can't. The author finds this is something many people struggle with – letting God try to do the healing instead of us trying to do it ourselves. Why does Williams think we humans have such a hard time letting God "do His thing" in His own way and in His own time?

"Humans are fallible and imperfect. My goal as I began writing toward publication was to write stories about authentic characters experiencing real-life issues from a Christian worldview. I think it's important to acknowledge that we as humans don’t have it altogether, and that we so often do want to control things constantly. It's so hard to allow God to be the one to move peoples’ hearts. I only hope that stories like mine can help to encourage people to remember to seek the One who holds all things in his hands."

Williams has told three stories so far, meaning she's published three fictional books, and all have been Christian contemporary romance novels. Why does she write in this genre instead of others?

"I write romances because I really enjoy reading them! Even when I was a teen, any book or TV show that had a strong romantic thread immediately captured my attention. Actually, as a teen, I always had this dream to write historical romances, so perhaps one day I'll dive into that genre. For now, I really enjoy writing about contemporary places and people, and authentic contemporary problems that arise."

As to why she writes Christian / Inspirational books, she says she never wanted to write general market romance because she never felt comfortable with the content of those stories for so many reasons.

"I strongly believe that romance stories should serve to inspire readers toward something greater than themselves. Romance stories should never tear readers down or propagate dangerous thought processes and attitudes regarding men and women and relationships. Even now, as many authors and publishers delve into the realm of 'clean' romances, I hesitate to join in. I believe this is the talent God has given me to use to show others who He is."

Even though Williams had wanted to be a writer since she was in middle school, it wasn't until later in life that she realized writing was a gift from God to be used in the manner she does now. During middle school through high school, she wrote "copycat stories" and poetry, then afterward, she began working on a novel that would now be termed New Adult or Crossover. At that time, she didn't want to write general market romance or Christian fiction though, so she shelved her story for 10 years because she had no idea what genre to put it into.

"I then discovered Christian romance, and some Biblical fiction, and fell in love with those genres. After I read the Jewel series books by Hallee Bridgeman (who is one of my top favorite authors who I have followed for years), I picked up my old manuscript and revamped it as a Christian romance. From there, it organically developed into a series of three books. Once I finished the first story, I began researching and then seeking publication."

Williams was active on Twitter in the writing community for a couple of years at this point, and she found out about various pitch parties. When they began doing #faithpitch, Williams was "all in." Her pitch for When Hearts Collide was picked up by Kara Leigh Miller and Anaiah Press, and she says "the rest is history!"

Williams joined ACFW in 2020, and says she has really enjoyed the ability to network with other aspiring writers, authors, industry professionals, etc. through the various email loops. She also really enjoyed last year's conference and workshops, but says she wasn't able to meet a lot of people because of the virtual aspect of the conference.

"I was invited to some Zoom author get-togethers which was super fun, but there needs to be a lot more of those, I think, for virtual conferences. Networking is key when you're at a conference."

Networking can definitely happen through Williams' "day jobs," which include a freelance publicist and virtual assistant. (She also is a substitute teacher, and has taught everything from K-6th, including special education classes.) She loves anything that has to do with creativity, so she loves creating graphics for blogging, websites, and social media.

"I fell into publicity and marketing on accident while I was working as an intern with Anaiah Press. I worked for several weeks in various departments, and I fell in love with the marketing department, so they invited me to stay on to help with publicity."

Although these jobs are related to writing, Williams definitely has had jobs that are a far cry from being a novelist, such as working at a local amusement park, and working at Toys R Us one Christmas. There was one job "way back when" that was related to writing – but it was a non-fiction experience. She edited and wrote for her college newspaper, but she didn't get paid for that job.

Thankfully she does get paid now for writing fiction, and she plans to keep on writing fiction for quite some time! She has a number of projects she's working on. She just finished one story that she is pitching to agents; she has another story that is at 50k words and almost complete that she'll send to her critique group; and she has quite a few other half-finished projects, most of them being sequels to the current two projects.

As Williams writes more and more WIPs, she has noticed a theme for all her stories thus far: redemption. "I love, love, love, a redemption story! All of the characters who come to me in the middle of the night, or the middle of my workday, or while I’m driving or cooking, or whatever, are broken people who need to find redemption in some way. Usually spiritually. And I love to tell those kinds of stories!"

Lots of people love redemption stories too – so no doubt readers will enjoy the upcoming works of Williams!


Melinda Freeland wrote her first "novel" at age 8 about Mr. & Mrs. Texas Toast, and their struggle to get off the plate before someone ate them. Today, Melinda writes fiction you can relate to—about humans—and their real struggles, not only in relationships, but also with understanding and trusting God. Love, Texas – Population 2 is her debut Christian contemporary romance novel. It was inspired by Melinda's reunion with her first love, her life as a small-town reporter, and her faith journey. Melinda lives in Texas with her handsome husband, two great kids, and her lovable Pug. She'd love to connect with readers at and on social media @authormelindafreeland and @melindafreeland.

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