Thursday, August 27, 2009

with Judy Gann

Book Bonanza Banner

Hey, it's winners' day here at Patterings! Linda has won Mary Moss' book, The Woman At the Well. And Glynis of Ordinary Days is the winner of Tammy Barley's book, Love's Rescue. Send me your snail mail addies, ladies, and I'll get them to our wonderful authors. :)

Mary and Tammy, thank you so very much for being with us here at Patterings! It was a pleasure having you!

Thursdays are dedicated to nonfiction during our Book Bonanza and today I'd like to introduce you to Judy Gann--a very special lady with a wonderful book. Even if you don't live with chronic pain, maybe someone you know does--not only will you enjoy reading Judy's book, but it will help you understand those that suffer with chronic pain--and you can share the book with them. And now, here's Judy Gann...

Whether it’s comforting those who are ill, exhorting parents to read to their children, or encouraging women, Judy Gann’s passion is to offer hope and encouragement through her writing and speaking. A former elementary school teacher, she has been employed as a children’s librarian for over twenty-five years. Judy is the author of The God of All Comfort: Devotions of Hope for Those Who Chronically Suffer (AMG/Living Ink Books). She’s written several magazine articles and contributed to compilations. Judy lives in Washington state where, when she isn’t writing, speaking, or playing matchmaker for books and readers, she enjoys reading, collecting children’s books, crocheting, eating Mexican food, cheering the Seattle Mariners, and taking long walks—even in the rain.

God of All Comfort
Pain. Fatigue. Despair. Where do you turn when you or a loved one is diagnosed with a chronic illness? Based on the author’s own experiences and interviews with seventeen other people with chronic illnesses, The God of All Comfort draws readers into God’s Word to find the strength, comfort, and hope they need to cope with the challenges of living with illness.

Judy, welcome to Patterings! I'm so glad you're here! Tell us about your epiphany moment when you decided you were going to seriously pursue writing.
Books and words have been a part of my life ever since I borrowed my first library book, Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey. When I didn’t have my nose in a book, I was scribbling stories in a notebook. My first published piece was a character sketch of a six-year-old in a county high school literary magazine. In addition, I was an editor on my high school newspaper. Then college, followed by careers as a teacher and children’s librarian shoved aside my writing dream.

In 1988, a severe allergic reaction to a medication impaired my cognitive abilities. After spending nearly a year bedridden, I returned to work only to discover that I couldn’t even put together the words to write a simple memo. My dream of writing crumbled.

Over the next seven years, my cognitive abilities—including writing--gradually improved. I realized that my ability to write is a gift from God. God is a God of second chances. He gave my writing gift back to me and I have a responsibility to use it for Him.

What prompted you to write this book?
I’ve always kept a journal of my devotional times with the Lord as well as journaled my struggles with chronic illness—even if only a word or two on a page during the year I was bedridden. One day a friend came to me and asked, “Judy, which Bible verses comfort and encourage you when you’re battling poor health? I’d like to share them with a friend who is ill.”

Teri’s question stayed in my mind long after I pored through my Bible and journal and provided her with a list of verses. Years later her question motivated me to write The God of All Comfort.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
My biggest obstacle is tuning out my inner editor/critic who shouts in my head. Sometimes I’m my own worst enemy, scrutinizing every sentence as soon as it’s on the page—if not before it’s written down. I sometimes silence this ominous voice by using my AlphaSmart. With its small screen, the AlphaSmart limits what I can see and thus I’m less inclined to go back.

A few weeks ago a friend told me a helpful analogy for getting the words out on the page. She said to view my first draft as the scaffolding of a building. This scaffolding is essential to the building, but then it is torn down and all anyone sees is the beautiful building. No one may see my first draft (scaffolding), but if I don’t write it, I’ll never have a final draft. (Special thanks to Leslie Gould for sharing this analogy with me, and to the friend who told it to her.)

Alphies are great for that aren't they? I love that analogy, too!
What is your strangest habit?

My most irksome habit is that I’m too much of a creature of habit—love my routine and dislike changes and obstacles to my well-laid plans. One of my goals this year is to be more spontaneous and open to the little surprises the Lord brings into my life every day, and to take more risks—although you won’t see me skydiving anytime soon.

What would a perfect day for you look like?
I’d pack a picnic basket, my laptop, and a bag of books and head to the mountains before dawn. I’d find a spot along a creek and divide the time between writing, reading, and taking long walks. Are you sure I can’t stay overnight in a cabin?

LoL Judy, you are MORE than welcome to stay overnight at the cabin! Can I go with you? Pleeeeeze?
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

What a question for a librarian! My favorite books range from children’s books to women’s fiction, with some cozy mysteries mixed in. I usually have three books going at once—a children’s novel, the Christian fiction book I’m reviewing for the library system, and my evening/bedtime book. In addition, I try to read one book on the craft of writing each month. Right now I’m reading When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (children’s), Gone to Green by Judy Christie, Tender Grace by Jakina Stark, and Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas.

Are there certain foods or snacks keeps the words flowing for you?
I usually need vanilla nut coffee to get me going in the morning. Although not much of a snacker, I admit to a weakness for Lindt’s white chocolate truffles and Mexican food.

What lesson is the Lord teaching you right now or recently taught you?
The last two years have been extremely dry for me in terms of my writing. With publishing growing tighter and no contracts in sight, I was ready to give up on writing. Then one morning during my devotional time I read Jeremiah 17:7-8: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

We don’t usually think of bearing fruit during times of drought. Yet, although I couldn’t see it, the Lord was bearing fruit in and through my life and writing in the midst of this dry period. In the weeks and months that followed He’s shown me He isn’t finished using The God of All Comfort to encourage and provide hope to those with illness. In addition, the Lord is opening doors to some exciting new opportunities for me; all fruit that began during my “drought.”

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it?
Although I don’t have a book coming out, I’m working on a book for parents on sharing books with young children. My background as an early literacy librarian and passion for encouraging parents to read to their children provides the material for this book. I’m also working on my first fiction manuscript.


Thanks so much, Patty! I’ve enjoyed visiting with you and your readers.

You can keep up with Judy at her web site, blog, on Twitter and Facebook.


You can purchase God of All Comfort at Amazon and CBD.

Here's an excerpt from The God of All Comfort.

A Roller Coaster Ride
 
“And He shall be the stability of your times.” (Isaiah 33:6, NASB)
 
“Come on, Aunt Judy,” begged Allie. “It’s just a baby roller coaster. You can do it.”
 
My hands and legs trembled as I climbed into a car on this “baby” roller coaster and sat down next to my niece. With a loud “clack-clack,” our car lurched to the top of the first hill.
 
I clamped my eyes shut and clung to the safety bar. Our car plunged to the bottom and then rocketed up the next incline. Surely I’d left my stomach at the bottom of the last hill.
 
Life with a chronic illness often mimics a roller coaster ride. Symptoms of diseases such as lupus and fibromyalgia are cyclical in nature. One day we feel great, exploding with energy. The next day, stricken with a flare-up, we descend to the depths of pain and fatigue.
 
This unpredictability disturbs my structured, orderly nature. Coping with symptoms today is far easier for me than not knowing how I will feel tomorrow. “Good” days are spoiled as I fret about how long they will last. Making plans becomes a distasteful guessing game. How do I respond when someone says, “But you were fine yesterday”?
 
As Christians we have the privilege of gripping something far more secure than a metal safety bar as we ride this roller coaster of volatile symptoms: the faithfulness of God. Jesus is as constant and unwavering today as he was yesterday and will be tomorrow. He is with us in the downward spirals as well as on the heights of our “good” days.
 
The roller coaster of chronic disease makes steep drops and corkscrew turns. Yet we trust in the living God who knows what is lurking around the next curve.
 
Lord, thank you that you are one constant in my life. In spite of my fickle health, may I live in today, trusting you for tomorrow.
 
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever.” (Heb. 13:8)


Judy is giving away two copies of The God of all Comfort. To be entered in the book giveaways, leave a comment and check back on Wednesday, September 2nd to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. OR you could sign up to have Patterings updates delivered to your inbox. If you do, it will give you a bonus entry in the giveaway, otherwise you can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on. :^)

Don't forget Kathy Fuller's giveaway that's still going on, too!

8 comments:

  1. I'd love to win!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This was a wonderful interview! I love the analogy to scaffolding for our writing. I'll be remembering that one. I would love to be entered and many blessings to her for writing such an encouraging book!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh - do I EVER want this book! ENTER ME! ENTER ME! ENTER ME!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I deal with several chronic diseases. Would love this book! Please enter me. Thanks.
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you all for your comments! Terri, yes, the scaffolding idea is so helpful.

    Blessings,
    Judy

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'd like to read this book.
    It sounds very good.
    please, enter me. :)
    God's great blessings
    marthanadnny(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  7. This was a great interview, Patty. Thank you for sharing with us. I would love to be entered in your drawing.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Your interviews always inspire me to press on as a writer!

    I live with chronic pain and know many others who would benefit from this book as well. Often its hard to see God "in the pain" but He IS there!

    ReplyDelete

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