Hey, Kim, welcome to my little ole web site! Your new book is out, Faithful, from Thomas Nelson. I’m excited for you. Tell us a little bit about the book and why you wrote this story.
KCT: Hey Rachel! Thanks for having me in your little ole corner of the web world! Faithful is about three female friends, each of whom finds herself in the midst of a struggle.
Cyd is turning 40 and wondering why God hasn’t sent her a husband, why her much younger sister is getting married on her 40th birthday--in which she’s the maid of honor!--and why her life is suddenly complicated by the playboy best man who’s showing interest in her.
Her friend, Dana, discovers that her husband is having an affair--and they’re co-leaders of the church’s marriage ministry. And Phyllis is a fairly new believer whose husband is hostile to her newfound faith. When she attends a college reunion, she’s drawn to another man--because he’s a strong Christian.
I wrote this story because I wanted to explore real life trials and real life responses to those trials--the questioning, the doubt, the fear, the weariness--as we try to hang on and trust God.
The back of the book asks, will they trust God’s faithfulness...and find the strength to be faithful to Him? That’s really what it’s about--that two-sided dynamic. God is always faithful, but we will we trust that, and will we be faithful to Him?
RH: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
KCT: I hope readers will walk away with an abiding sense of God’s faithfulness. It doesn’t mean that everything in life will go the way we want it, or that we won’t encounter struggles, but if we look for His faithfulness, we’ll find it—it’s always there. I also hope readers will be inspired to grow in faithfulness toward God. I’ve gotten a lot of feedback already from readers who’ve been touched in these ways, and I’ve been thanking God.
RH: Before writing and kids, you were a lawyer. Now you know I’m a closet lawyer like most lawyers are closet writers. Tell us about your legal work. Do you miss it? How do you stay in touch with your legal side?
KCT: Ah, yes, we writers do seem to have former lives, don’t we? After law school, I clerked for a federal judge in Wisconsin, then practiced civil litigation at a large law firm, ultimately making partner. I left when my kids were 1 and 3...and uh, no, can’t say I miss it. (smile) I came to know the Lord while at the firm, and I discovered that He had an entirely different plan for my life. Don’t you just love that He had a plan for us before time began? (RH: Yes! You and I've talked about this. We share this passion for people's destiny.)
But maybe one day, I’ll reconnect with my legal side...hmm, a contemporary romance that delves deep into issues of the heart, against the backdrop of a suspenseful courtroom drama… Wait, gotta jot down a story idea... (RH: Love that... jot fast!)
RH: How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
KCT: Ha. Guess I’m one of the strange ones. I did not dream of being a published author. While on maternity leave with my firstborn, I was asking God what kind of home-based business I could start.
He was putting it in my heart to leave the firm, and I figured, “Okay, I’ll start a business from home.” But one day at church, I heard clearly in my heart that He wanted me to write about my spiritual journey.
I even had the title before I left the service, “More Christian than African-American.” But I had no idea how to go about it. I got a book on how to write a nonfiction book proposal, and a few months later, had an agent and a contract.
But fiction didn’t enter my world until years after that. A story began to weave itself in my mind, and I thought, “God, really? You want me to write fiction? But I can’t do a proposal; I have to write the whole book before I know whether it’ll go anywhere!” That story became “Heavenly Places,” which was published in 2008.
RH: What has been the biggest help to you in the journey to publication?
KCT: Prayer. When I started writing fiction, I was a homeschooling mom with little extra time on my hands. I didn’t know any authors personally, didn’t belong to any writing groups, and had never been to a writers’ conference. In other words, I didn’t have a clue! But I think God wanted it that way, for me to totally depend on Him. I had no idea that the journey would draw me so much closer to Him.
RH: Is the “writer’s life” what you thought it would be?
KCT: This is bad, but I don’t even know what I thought it would be. I just know my own writer’s life has always been crazy! (RH: I think they all are!) I continue to homeschool, so I don't get hours upon hours at the laptop like most writers. I get up early in the morning to write, and I kind of keep the laptop near during the day and keep index cards handy to catch ideas.
But I guess there’s one aspect of "writer's life" that has surprised me--I’m always doing something related to writing. I know, duh! But let me explain. (smile) I don’t think I realized I'd be working on three books at one time--drafting a new manuscript, editing a just-finished manuscript, and promoting a just-released novel. I’m learning to juggle, juggle, juggle! (RH: For me, it's that I'm always thinking of my book. Or being hit with a new idea and turning it over in my mind to see if it has any merit.)
RH: This year you joined the Women of Faith team. Tell us about that and how it's impacted your life.
KCT: Oh, yeah, I’m juggling that too. (RH: What a fun juggle!) It was a total God thing. Women of Faith was just about the farthest thing from my mind. But for the first time in 2010, they split the conference into an east coast and a west coast tour, thus needing more speakers.
The fiction team sort of threw my name into the mix, and I thought it was nice but that it wouldn’t go anywhere. But God used the process to truly grow my faith. When they gave me an opportunity to speak at four events this year, I knew it was all Him.
It’s impacted me greatly. I’ve never done anything like this in my life, so I’m depending on God all the more. The conferences themselves have impacted me as well, seeing the enthusiasm for God among the women who attend and the hearts for ministry among the Women of Faith team. I’ll be on the 2011 east coast tour, so if you think of me, I’d love your prayers! (RH: Always praying for you!)
RH: You’re married to Bill, a professor. Tell us about him and how you two met?
KCT: Bill and I started dating while I was in law school and he was in graduate school. He’s a professor at Washington University in St. Louis. His specialty is mathematics education, and he’s head of the Department of Education. We’re so blessed to have been married 17 years, with a boy and girl, 14 and 12. Both of us are children of divorced parents, so we’re very thankful that we love and enjoy one another. He still makes me laugh! (RH: My hubby makes me laugh too after knowing each other 22 years!)
RH: I know he supports your writing and speaking life, but with two children, how does this great thing God’s done effect the family?
KCT: That’s a good question because we have absolutely no family nearby for support. Thankfully, the academic life is very flexible. Bill often works from home, and when he needs to go into the office, we’re only five minutes away. My mother is always a huge blessing. She makes herself available to come and take care of the kids if need be...and they love their grandma!
RH: You’re a home school mom, and we’ve chatted some about your flexible writing schedule. How do you manage to make your deadline?
KCT: Ha. It wasn’t easy! (smile) This year was the first year I’ve had to write under a deadline. Faithful was already written when I got a contract with Thomas Nelson, so I only had to edit it.
But writing Cherished, my 2011 release, was an exercise in tons and tons of prayer (read, crying out to God). (RH: Been there, moved in, made it my permanent address.)
I told God that if the day finally comes when I have hours of uninterrupted time to write, it’ll seem too weird and I won’t know how to function. But I’ll tell you, God is faithful. The manuscript got done, and my editor loves it. Now ask me the same question this time next year. I’m starting from scratch again and hoping I’ll make that deadline! (RH: I'm sure it's fabulous!)
RH: Is there any one person who’s had a profound effect on your life?
KCT: Jesus. Seems a pat answer, but He’s the one who has had an amazingly profound, everlasting impact on my life. He’s the only one who could have changed my heart in the ways it’s been changed, renew my mind to see the world in an entirely different way, flip my goals and plans, and set my mind on things eternal. He has given me a desire to live, move, and have my being in Him. He is my life. That’s about as profound as it gets. (RH: I've had the same experience of just wanting do desperately for Him to by my all in all! I'd not live any other way now.)
RH: What is the Lord speaking to you today? Is there one thing He keeps highlighting to you?
KCT: At any given time, I seem to have several things the Lord is speaking to me, but for many months, one of them has been Colossians 3:12-14. I had been praying to have a right heart in the midst of all that’s happening in life, and these verses speak directly to that. They say to “put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another, and forgiving each other...and beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.”
It’s become my specific prayer, to have that kind of heart. It’s not easy, especially when it’s not returned, but God’s been speaking that to me too--to maintain a right heart even if I don’t receive the same from others. (RH: I love praying the Word, especially those verses that stand out. I've had the issue with people not responding to me in a way I thought they should or was fair. God has worked on my heart, and I've come to realize, it's not usually intentional. And even if it was... so what? I'm really only a legend in my own mind. snort-snicker.)
RH: You wrote “More Christian Than African American.” I think the theme of finding our identity in Jesus is universal to all races, don’t you? What’s a take away for us?
KCT: It’s absolutely universal. It’s so easy to find our identity in earthly things, whether race or ethnicity, a career or calling, even hobbies, but all these things will pass away. God never intended for them to define us. From the foundation of the world, He had an identity reserved for us in Christ. This is the identity that makes us whole, that undergirds and empowers us. This is the only true identity, one that will last forever. (RH: Love, love, love this. This is the word of the day, the hour, the century!)
RH: What advice would you give to people trying to find their identity in culture, race, career title, looks, even family and marriage?
KCT: I would say first of all, that it’s natural. Even when we know that our identity should be fully in Christ, it’s easy to lose sight of that and begin to wrap ourselves in something else. In fact, the enemy wants us to clothe ourselves in these things because he knows they lack power.
We will never be fulfilled in any identity apart from Jesus. It will never fully satisfy. As Jesus told the woman at the well, “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst” (John 4:14). He’s the only One who can complete us. (RH: Well said!)
RH: Any advice for a new writer?
KCT: My advice for new writers is to seek the Lord first and foremost. It can be overwhelming to read books and blogs and to attend seminars and conferences, and end up with umpteen different and often divergent strands of advice on writing and publishing.
Certainly, books, blogs, and conferences are needed, and serve an immensely useful purpose. But if you’re called to write, God already has a plan for you. Seeking Him is the first step. He will then lead you to the exact resources that you need on your journey. (RH: Okay, you keep reading my mind. I say the same thing to new writers!)
RH: What’s next on the golden horizon for you?
KCT: I like that -- “golden horizon”! I’m editing Cherished right now and really looking forward to its release next year. I’m praying it will minister greatly to women who may still be hurting from past sins and needing to walk in God’s forgiveness. I’m also excited about being part of the Women of Faith 2011 tour.
RH: Any final words of encouragement?
KCT: I want to encourage anyone who may be reading this to not give up on the desires God has put in your heart. Sometimes you’re thinking there’s no way it will happen because you just don’t see it. That was me.
After my nonfiction book was published in 1999, I just knew God was calling me to write, and I was raring to go! I thought I would do more nonfiction. But suddenly, nothing was happening. God planted me in a season for years when I was simply home with the kids, frustrated because I didn’t have time to write, and ultimately doubting that He had truly called me to write.
Nine years passed between the release of my nonfiction book and the release of my novel in 2008. But God had done so much in my heart during that interval, drawing me closer to Him. If you’re in a season of waiting, use the time to draw near to God and seek Him further. And don’t give up! Trust that what He’s put in your heart, He will establish in His time, for His glory. Blessings to you on your journey!
RH: Kim, such great words of advice about life, let alone writing. I'm encouraged by all you've said. It reminds me to look to the Lord, not people, for my destiny, approval and identity. He will bring the right words, people and things across my path when I need them. It's so vital to KNOW He loves us and has a purpose!
Thanks for stopping by, Kim! You are a joy in my life.