Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer and radio host who has authored 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and recently won the prestigious 2008 member of the year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association). Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al, where the two of them spend their free time riding their Harley.

When did you decide to be a writer?

I can’t remember ever wanting to be anything else. I have had a love affair with books since before I started kindergarten, and was reading the funny papers when I was three. My husband says he still remembers the day we were walking home from junior high together (we’ve known one another since we were six) and I told him I was going to be a writer some day. He says I’m one of the few people he knows who actually did what I wanted to do all my life.

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

I started entering writing contests when I was still in junior and senior high school, and won quite a few awards in the process, so it really helped with the confidence thing. I eventually studied journalism and did some string reporting for the local newspaper, as well as writing a weekly “about town” column. At the same time I started submitting articles and poems and short stories to magazines and newsletters and garnering a few credits that way. When I launched out into my first book project, it wasn’t quite so intimidating because of the experience I’d had along the way.

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

I am very disciplined. I treat it like any other job. I’m up early and put in quite a few hours every day at the computer (though it was at my IBM Selectric typewriter when I first started).

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

I’m an avid walker. Sometimes I just have to step away from the computer screen and head outside to clear the cobwebs out. Since I live in Southern California, the weather is usually amenable to that.

What is your favorite novel and what made it special?

That’s a tough one, as I’ve had several favorites over the years, though I have to say that I’m not much of a fiction fan if it isn’t serious fiction with a major message. I suppose if I had to pick one novel only it would be Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. It literally changed my heart and birthed a passion in me for a country I’d never even visited and hadn’t thought much about before. Now I myself have a new novel releasing in April (No Greater Love) set in that very spot.

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

Reading others’ work has been huge in helping me develop my own voice as a novelist. And because I’ve done a lot of ghostwriting and collaborative writing over the years, I’ve had to learn to take on other people’s voices and styles in those collaborative works, while distinctly developing and maintaining my own in my books. It’s a tightrope at times, but I’ve learned a lot in the process.

Tell us a little about your latest release:

I actually have two books in the same four-book “Extreme Devotion” series releasing simultaneously: No Greater Love (set in South Africa in 1989) and More than Conquerors (set in both Tijuana and San Juan Chamula, Mexico, which is Mayan country). This is my first-ever venture into international fiction, which is quite a challenge. (Books three and four are set in China and Saudi Arabia.) This is New Hope Publishers’ first venture into fiction, so we’re all quite excited about the series, particularly the first two books that release in April 2010. (NOTE: Click on the bookcovers to view trailers)

Where did you get your inspiration for No Greater Love?

I first knew I wanted to write about the turmoil preceding and surrounding the fall of Apartheid in South Africa as I watched it happening in the news. I had also read Cry the Beloved Country and was already fascinated with the country and culture. I believed our own country had much to learn from what was taking place there at the time.

Which character is most like you?

I suppose I would have to say I identify most with Chioma, my heroine, who was strong-willed and impetuous—and maybe a bit hot-headed as well. That would definitely describe me in my early days, particularly before I came to know Christ. I’m a typical firstborn high-achiever, and I imagine I write myself at least partially into my main female character in every book I author.

Who is your favorite character and why?

Besides Chioma, I love Anana, the wife of the Afrikaner farmer who is Chioma’s employer. Anana is also the mother of Andrew, the young man with whom Chioma becomes romantically involved—a definite forbidden romance in that time and place. Anana is the type of godly wife and mother that most of us would like to be “when we grow up.”

Did you know how No Greater Love would turn out? Were you surprised by any of the plot twists or characters?

I always know how my stories will start and how they will end; it’s everything in between that comes as a surprise as the story unfolds. I can’t imagine having to outline a novel the way you would a nonfiction book. The characters most definitely take on a life of their own, and as they head for the finish line, it’s exciting to discover what happens along the way.

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

That despite different countries or cultures, experiences or upbringing, human nature is still the same. God has created us with “eternity in our hearts,” and we all long to “get back to the Garden” and to a restored relationship with the Father—though many never recognize or acknowledge that longing, and that’s the saddest statement in the history of the world.

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

I’ve got the book (and the series) on my website and blog, and on every social network imaginable. I have video trailers posted everywhere possible and am doing two blog tours for each book. I have a book/series launch party planned, as well as sending out postcards and distributing bookmarks. The publisher is running ads, and together we will launch the series at ICRS in St. Louis. I have also garnered some strong endorsements and lead with those every chance I get. Finally, I have a blogtalkradio program, co-hosted with Christian artist Ron DiCianni, which focuses on employing all the arts (writing, speaking, singing, dancing, acting, painting, etc.) in ministry, which gives both Ron and me a great platform to market our own products as well as highlight the work of others in these related fields. I will, of course, do as many guest appearances on radio and TV as possible (with the help of my publicist) to get the word out. And I do public speaking every chance I get, which seems to be the best place to actually sell books.

Tell us what new projects you’re working on.

In addition to completing book four of the series (still working on that!), I have a stand-alone historical novel (third-century) releasing from Abingdon Press in October. It’s titled Valeria’s Cross and is co-authored with Susan Wales, wife of movie producer Ken Wales. I am also in the process of writing a couple of other fiction series, though I am unable to devote too much time to them until I finish the final book of this “Extreme Devotion” series for New Hope. After that it will be full-steam ahead on the new series!

Do you have any parting words of advice?

Do this because you love it and believe you would be disobedient not to! Seriously. As passionate as I am about writing (and speaking too), it is not an easy field in which to make a living. (I suppose that means I should also say, Keep your day job!) I’ve had new writers come up to me at conferences and say things like, “I’ve been at this thing for two or three years now, with no real success. I’m becoming very discouraged. What should I do?” My answer? Go back to the place where you decided to venture into the publishing world. Did you believe with all your heart that you were called by God to do it? Then keep going! Obedience is all that’s required to be successful. Book sales are optional (though beneficial!). If we keep that focus, it will be easier to keep pressing ahead when we’d like to throw in the towel and get a REAL job (you know, one with a paycheck). Remember, I first got the idea for No Greater Love in 1989; it finally became a reality in 2010. It’s all about God’s timing, God’s purpose, and God’s glory.
Kathy is giving away a copy of her book No Greater Love. Be sure to stop by The Borrowed Book on Friday, 04/09/10 for your chance to win!


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