While on our virtual tour this
November, I thought a little sightseeing would be fun. Though I love
the view I get from my own Southern back porch, an occasional
exploration keeps the juices flowing, if you get my drift. It can’t
always be just about orange juice and warm weather!
Hubby and I are borrowing our
daughter’s R.V. The fashionable ’50s style silver cocoon will be our
home away from home while in Wabash, Indiana.
“Bill, I’ve been checking the
Internet, and I’m sure we’ll find a campground when we get there. I’ll
pack our clothes and food. Will you gather the bikes and Jake?”
A pleading for mercy look
crosses his face. “Why do want our bicycles?”
“Because Wabash has a
ninety-two-mile trail! We’ll be able to see everything from an
“Ninety-two miles of
perspiration . . . I mean perspective is a bit long, don’t you think?”
“C’mon. It’s going to be fun.
Did you know Wabash became the first electrically lighted city in the
world back in eighteen eighty? We can even check out the original lamp.
It’s on the Wabash City Court House.”
“Hum . . . that’s along the
“Yes, and, Bill, there’s an old
covered bridge of board and baton structure. It’ll be wonderful. Listen
to this. ‘The old Stockdale Mill, built in eighteen fifty-seven, is a
watered-powered flour and grist mill that uses water from the Eel
River. It’s operated by community volunteers.’ There are even duck
“Yes! The people in Wabash float little yellow rubber ducks down the
Eel River, and have races.”
“Okay. That’s something I’ve
got to see. Has your author this month tried that?”
“I don’t know. But
I’m meeting Colleen Coble at the Joy Christian Book Store in Wabash.
She’s having a book signing! Maybe I can find out.”
Colleen Coble was born and raised in the Midwest area of Indiana. Her
upbringing, as well as her voracious reading appetite, gave her the
tools to create some thirty-five-plus novels. In her own words she
explained, “I remember the night I finished a book and told the Lord
how tired I was of reading books that assumed He didn’t exist. I told
God I’d do my best to write for Him, but He would have to open the
In the summer of 1990, God
unlocked a lot of doors, and He has been blessing her ever since. Ms.
Coble is enjoying life . . . with her extended family, a loving church
family at New Life Baptist Church, and her wonderful publishing family
at Nelson Books.
In Wabash Village Shopping
Center, I enter the bookstore to find an array of inspirational gifts,
music, afghans, music boxes, and my favorite, Willow Tree Angels. By
the full line of books and Bibles, I see Ms. Colleen Coble with quite a
number of people gathered around her at a table set up for her signing.
She’s wearing a red jacket with tiny black beads embellishing the
sleeves and down the front, black slacks, and mule shoes. Her classic
style includes a honu (turtle) necklace.
I am so glad she remembered I was
coming and she greets me warmly. “Hello, Valerie. Come sit down right
here, and we’ll let every one listen in on the interview, okay?”
“Thank you so much, Ms. Coble.”
As I place my notes on the table, a few more of her fans arrive. She
cordially introduces me to the newcomers and invites them to stay.
“Shall I begin?”
With a beautiful smile, she nods
her head. “Absolutely.”
I first started writing this column, I interviewed one of your comrades
Denise Hunter. I recall asking her some questions about blogging. Four
of you are writing as a group, and you’ve all done such a marvelous
job. Whose idea was this, and when did you come up with the concept
“Girls Write Out.”
was my idea because I’m the extrovert of the group. The others were a
bit hesitant, but I can talk them into just about anything. Since we
each blog only once a week, it’s not a huge time commitment. Lots of
blogs focus on writing, but ours is targeted to readers. I wanted a
blog that celebrated friendship and pulled our readers into a
relationship with us. We’ve recently added long-time friend Hannah
Alexander to the group. We all started out writing Barbour Heartsongs.
you have a schedule or order in which you take turns, or do you just
pick up the pen, so to speak, when the spirit moves you?
Early on we just jumped in, but for those of us who aren’t very
organized (me, for example!) that got hard. We came up with a schedule
so we always knew whose turn it was.
read one you wrote on coffee . . . I love coffee! My hubby weaned me
off cream and sugar years ago. So we drink it black, but it has to be
Arabica beans. Are you familiar with them? Would you describe your
all-time favorite cup of java?
Oh, you are my hero! I’ve recently managed to get used to drinking iced
coffee black with just a teensy bit of Sweet’N Low, but I didn’t think
I’d ever give up my creamer. My favorite cup of java is pure Kona from
the slopes of Big Island, lightened with International Flavors Hazelnut
creamer, and served in a big mug!
Colleen, I read this on your Web site bio: “The first idea for a book
came to me, fully conceived. I was working full time, so it took a year
to write it. Then seven years to sell it.” Could you explain how you
managed to keep your dream alive during those seven years?
Oh, it was so hard! I knew no other writers and often felt I was
following an impossible dream. When the rejections came, I would cry
for a while and resolve to just forget it, but my husband kept
encouraging me. And God just wouldn’t let me quit. So I’d fire up the
computer again, rework the story and send it out again. Don’t do that,
by the way. Work on something new. Once the story is as good as you can
make it, move on. You learn to write by writing. I don’t believe it
would have taken seven years if I’d moved on to another story. This
particular story was what I call my grief book. It was the story my
younger brother Randy would liked to have lived in the 1860s. His death
by lightning was the catalyst that propelled me into writing, and I
wanted it published.
you truly believed during those beginning years as a writer your
efforts would actually bring you this far? How big a part did doubt
play in the scenario?
no! I never dreamed I could come this far. My initial goal was to have
a book in the library. People laugh when I say that. Libraries are
special places to me, almost holy. I’ve haunted the halls of the
library in my town all my life and dreamed that someday I’d have a book
there. Now there are many books there, and God has
opened more doors than I could have imagined. In August my novel Anathema
won the Best Books of Indiana award in fiction, and it was incredibly
special and humbling to be asked to place a copy in the Indiana State
I believe I counted about thirty-five books, and wow, so many awards!
Has anyone wanted to write “your” success story? Or maybe a primetime
inspirational movie . . . I can see the commercials: “Colleen Coble’s
life and legacy . . .”
I don’t believe anyone has ever dreamed of that honor. God has been so
good to me!
could be holdin’ your latest grandbaby! I know exactly what that’s
like. What’s the best part of being a grandparent for you? You can
mention more than one “best part,” but please don’t go over our
electron limit, okay?
Oh, I have to be reined in when I get to talking about Alexa, so it’s a
good thing you quantified it. I never thought I’d get to be a grammy.
My kids married rather late, and I thought I’d have to be content with
spoiling the babies in the church nursery. I sobbed when she was first
put into my arms. And every day I get to see her is a delight. She has
started squealing when she sees us! The best part of being a grammy is
that I get to practice the unconditional love that my grandma showed
me. And I get to pray for her to grow into a woman after God’s heart.
you ever incorporated your family members, traditions, or “babies” into
Um, yes. When my editor read
Cry in the Night, she
said she could tell I was immersed in baby land. And right now I’m
writing Alexa into my story as the one-year-old baby. I get to put in
all the fun things she is doing right now.
this point of your success finding you at each of your many crossroads,
do you figure you’ll write forever? Have you ever imagined doing
anything else that would have this much meaning in your life?
always say I’ll write until I drop dead at my keyboard! I love writing.
I believe it’s the job God has given me to do, and I’m so grateful to
do something every day I love!
. . . have you always had it?
grandma started taking me to church when I was young, but I didn’t
truly become a Christian until my early twenties. We were in a bad car
accident. When I saw the car careening toward us head-on, I knew I was
going to die and that I wasn’t ready. God gave us a second chance. The
first people on the scene were Christians. One of them rode to the
hospital in the first ambulance with our daughter, who had a broken
jaw, and their church brought in food after we came home from the
hospital. That incident changed our lives and we accepted Christ within
a few months. Sometimes it takes something hard like that to make us
stop and look at our lives.
. . . have you always had it?
I’m always hopeful. Sometimes sickeningly so.
you generally an optimist or a pessimist when dealing with things
you’re not certain of?
I’m an optimist. I always hope for the best and generally see the best
in others, which means I can sometimes be disappointed, of course. But
I’d rather take a chance and look for the good than be expecting
Touring . . . at what age will Colleen Coble think she’s ready to relax
and take it easy?
Shudder. Oh, I hope the answer is never! I love my
life. Love writing, love encouraging other writers, love building
relationships with my publishing house, love spending time with my
Speaking of which, what’s up next on your agenda?
Right now I’m writing my first historical romantic mystery series. The
Mercy Falls series is set in a small town in northern California. The
first book, The Lightkeeper’s Daughter, will ship
to stores in January 2010. I’m nervously excited to see what my readers
think. It’s still very much one of my normal novels with mystery and
romance woven together in a strong sense of place. And it has a dog.
You’ve mentioned mentoring. Who have you mentored, and how are their
careers coming along?
Oh, I’ve mentored many. When I first started writing, I knew no other
authors. I call that time my wandering in the wilderness. And I’m such
a mom. I’m the oldest of four, so I’ve relentlessly mothered my younger
brothers and still do. My personality is to mother others. Two recent
mentees who come to mind are Robin Miller and Cara Putman. They are
both doing very well, and I’m so proud of them!
daughter-in-law is originally from Indiana— she grew up in the southern
part near Kentucky. She loves Florida but still calls Indiana “back
home.” If you were to give Floridians a pitch about Indiana, what could
you tell us that would be better than our warm weather, aqua surf, and
pure-white sandy beaches? She’s hoping you’ll come up with something
Crisp fall days with the leaves glowing red and gold in the sunshine.
Bright summer days with the smell of cut grass in the air.
Midwesterners’ friendliness. (I love the way fellow Hoosiers help other
people!) The sun gleaming on mounds of snow in February. Daffodils
popping up in the spring and waving a bright yellow hello. Indiana
[Smiling] How will you spend this Thanksgiving? Do you go out, or
celebrate at your home?
This year our son and daughter-in-law want to have Thanksgiving dinner
at their house and establish a new tradition there. So we’ll go, and
I’ll take my specialties (sweet potato casserole with pecans and
cranberry salad, cherry pie, too) and that evening we’re going to fly
to Phoenix to spend ten days with our daughter and her husband.
Sounds great! Have a terrific time. Speaking of time, I believe
everyone’s ready now to get their books signed.
Thanks so much for these questions, Valerie! I think this is the most
fun interview I’ve ever done!
Valerie: Ah, [taking
a bow] thanks . . . to all of you. Have a happy and safe
Award winning author, Valerie
Anne Faulkner, came from New York, moved to the Gulf Coast of
Florida in 1973. Author of I Must Be in Heaven, A Promise
she spends her days working side by side with her husband, Bill, as an
electrician, then evenings, as a writer. The CFOM interviews have been
a great way for her to meet other authors and hone her writing craft.
This back-porch writer’s family is very important
to her, and
she cherishes time spent with her three grown children and seven
grandchildren. A few hours with family or a day enjoying one of
Florida’s Gulf beaches are her favorite ways to relieve stress and
refresh from her busy lifestyle.
Valerie was honored to receive First
Place (Memoir) 2008 Royal Palm
Literary Award by the Florida Writer’s Association in
November, and now is celebrating her latest achievement as Winner
Next Generation Indie Awards.
Valerie’s motto is “A day with
prayer . . . seldom unravels.”
Visit her at www.imustbeinheaven.com