Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Shelly Beach is a full-time author of seven books, as well as a national speaker. Her contemporary Christian novel, Hallie’s Heart, won a 2008 a Christy Award, and the sequel, Morningsong, released with Kregel Publishers in March of 2009. Shelly’s two caregiving books draw on the eight years that she and her family cared for parents in their home. Precious Lord, Take My Hand: Meditations for Caregivers was a finalist for the 2008 Evangelical Christian Publishers Association Award in the Gift and Inspiration category. Ambushed by Grace: Help and Hope on the Caregiving Journey was released by Discovery House Publishers in November of last year. Her most recent publication is The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk (Moody Publications).

Shelly also is a “faith expert,” writing for Caring.com (an affiliate of msn.com). Caring.com is the Internet’s most-highly sought source of information for those caring for aging loved ones and receives approximately three-quarters of a million hits per month.

Shelly and her husband Dan have two adult children and live near Grand Rapids, where they enjoy riding their Harley motorcycle together.

When did you decide to be a writer?

I wanted to be a writer from the time I was a child. I wrote my first story in 6th grade—A Visit from Jupiter. But I made the decision to be a writer when my children were small and I decided to figure out how to actually go about learning the business of querying and researching markets and figuring how the world of publishing worked. I was a teacher at the time, so I took it on like a research project. I’d seen some pretty mediocre writing in print, and I figured I could do better. So I decided to put some research and effort behind it and go to some writers’ conferences and try to learn how.

At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?

I’m not sure I still fully trust myself to be the best expert on every aspect of my writing. I guess that’s because after writing seven books, I still consider myself a learner. I know there are things other writers and editors can teach me, and I’m eager to figure out what they are. But if the question is, “When did I stop getting tied up in self-doubt?” That’s another question. I guess I’d say a few years ago.

Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?

This is a tough question. Am I allowed to lie? No, I certainly do not just write when I “feel” like it. Some days I’m in this chair for sixteen hours, and I have the numb legs to prove it. So I’d say I’m a highly disciplined writer. I’ve never missed a deadline, and I got up every morning over a Christmas holiday break with my daughter, whom I only see twice a year so I could deliver a manuscript on time.

But do I write every single day? No. I’m often slamming down on deadlines that push me to the max. When I’m done, I come up for air, take off on the Harley with my husband, and clear my head. Just two weeks ago I went to a writers’ retreat with my closest writing friends, and I didn’t write a word. I’d just finished a book the day before, and I needed to stare at the lake and sit by the fire.

What kind of activities to you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?

Ride our Harley with my husband. Travel. Be by the water or the ocean. Visit my kids. Did I mention ride our Harley with my husband?

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

A Tale of Two Cities. Redemptive themes. Great characters. Amazing plot. Love it, love it.

How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?

Reading the work of others feeds my creative energy while giving my mind the opportunity to evaluate plot, setting, characterization, voice. Reading gives me the opportunity to just wallow in the art and beauty of good writing. A good wallow is a very refreshing thing.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

My latest release is The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk: Conforming Deadly Thought Patterns to the Word of God. This book was a lot like stripping down to my spiritual undies and parading myself in front of the world. It was a book I was afraid to write because it would mean so much self-exposure. But I knew God had called me to write it, and so I had to do it.

The book is about where we go when we step away from the character of God like Adam and Eve did in the garden of Eden. We stumble straight into a lust for power, then selfish forms of self-protection, then positioning ourselves so others only see the best side of us, then self-promotion, and finally plundering (ripping off) from others and sometimes from ourselves as well. The book helps readers understand the nature of self-talk, engage in the self-talk cycle, and lean into the exciting expectancy of change that Paul talks about in the book of Philippians.

Where did you get your inspiration for The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk?

My inspiration came from my own struggle with manipulation and control. I’d been a Christian working in Christian settings for years, and I was married to a wonderful Christian man. But I was doing all the right things for all the wrong reasons. One day God planted me in an MRI tube while doctors scrabbled around trying to diagnose a golfball-sized lesion in my brain. Suddenly I was nose-to-nose with God, and my self-talk was dialed up full volume. For the first time I could see the raging inconsistencies in my thought patterns.

This book is aimed toward reconciling people’s thought patterns to the Word of God. What would you say are the biggest lies people tell themselves?

One of the biggest lies we believe is that we’re alone in our self-talk. One we recognize that God is present there with us, we can “lean into” that presence and turn out self-talk into God-talk.

Another one of the big lies we believe is that we’re loving God and loving other people when our motives are often self-centered and twisted. As James 1:16-25 says, we need to be “Quick to listen, slow to speak; do not merely listen and deceive yourselves . . . the man who looks intently . . . and continues to do this—he will be blessed in what he does.” We seldom take the time to look intently at our self-talk and see what’s really there.

We live in a world that pushes a “me-first” philosophy. How do you think Christians go about defending themselves against this kind of self-idolatry?

Too many of us are so busy checking things off our Spiritual To-Do Lists that we don’t take the time to look at what we’re really thinking and saying to ourselves. We believe we’re loving God and loving people, but we’re also defending the fact that we’re screaming and coaches and refs, taking potshots at our grumpy neighbor, grousing about the church music, sniping about our boss behind his back, and disrespecting our spouses and children—and we don’t seem to see the inconsistencies in our thinking.

What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this book?

God’s greatest gift to us is change. The most powerful moment in our lives is the moment we realize how messed up we are and we throw ourselves into the arms of Jesus. That’s the moment change can begin.

What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?

I’ve done a number of radio interviews, and I love to speak on the topic. I’ve enjoyed doing women’s seminars and retreats where I get to talk about how crazy and messed up I was and how God’s changed me and made me new. He’s changed my marriage and my relationships with my adult kids, and my thinking processes have been turned inside-out with just a few simple principles.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

I just finished co-authoring a beautiful and fascinating book with Dr. Don Brake titled A Visual History of the King James Version that will come out in celebration of the 400th birthday of the King James Bible in 2011. And I’m currently writing for Caring.com as their faith expert on caregiving issues, as well as writing a new book on motives.

Do you have any parting words of advice?

For authors—write your passion and communicate it with everything you’ve been given. For readers, find the passion God’s placed in your and steward it with everything you’ve been given.
Shelly is giving away a copy of her book, The Silent Seduction of Self-Talk. Be sure to visit The Borrowed Book on Friday, February 19, 2010, for your chance to win!

1 comment :

  1. I'll be recommending your book to several friends! Thanks for stopping by The Borrowed Book today, Shelly.


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