Isn't weather weird? Some people in a nearby town had what's called a "dust devil" spin up in their back yard. It looked like the Tasmanian Devil off Looney Tunes. It roamed around their back yard and knocked over the goat pen, lodged the lid to another pen in a nearby oak tree about thirty feet high. It threw a garbage can across the yard, messed up the fencing for the little farm. Yet, despite all the trouble, not one goat, not one chicken, or any other animal, for that matter, walked off or got transplanted by the storm. As a matter of fact, they seemed unfazed by the incident by the time the reporter showed up.
It reminded me that despite life's troubles, and even when the Devil comes and tosses our backyard of life around like rag dolls, those who truly know "their owner" (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20) need not be afraid when the Devil throws his tantrums or tries to invade the life of a believer.
Isn't God good?
I think that after you read our next guest's interview today, you'll find that she, too, feels that way about our Heavenly Father.
Let's welcome to the Florida Front Porch, which is still covered in pollen and is now dealing with blind mosquitos, a transplanted to Californian, Elaine Marie Cooper!
Elaine, give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Elaine Marie Cooper?
Elaine Marie Cooper is a quiet soul who occasionally breaks out into lively song. I love Celtic music, dogs and cats, reading, and playing with my grandchildren (I have five). I’m married and have two sons. I retired from being an RN when my older son and his wife had triplets. Cross-stitch is my “thing.” I’ve had eight books published, and I’m working on the ninth.
Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?
I’ve always been in love with books since before I could read. I really never thought I’d become an author even though I liked to write. I wrote a heartfelt essay in elementary school that got a terrible grade and I felt SO bad! I tried writing for the school newspaper in high school but my work never got published.
By now I thought my word crafting skills were mediocre at best. I became a Christian at the age of 21, then met and married a local newspaper writer who had recently become a Christian. We had three children, two boys and a girl, and I was a stay-at-home mom. Having three “Littles” kept me so busy and to cope with the craziness, I wrote silly poems about motherhood.
An editor at my husband’s newspaper saw them and asked my husband if I might be willing to write feature stories. I was shocked. Someone actually liked my writing? It didn’t seem possible! Of course, I agreed and was off on my first professional writing jaunt. I loved meeting local people to interview and writing stories about them.
I did freelance writing for many years and dreamed of one day writing a novel. But by now I’d gone to school to become a nurse and was still raising my ever-growing kids. Creating a book would have to wait. But then the unthinkable happened when my daughter was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.
Each day seemed like a battle to survive, knowing at some point that my daughter likely would not. Doctor appointments, MRI’s, treatments at the hospital, and the ever-present knowledge that cancer would win unless the Lord intervened with a miracle, filled my days. I continued to write freelance to help with the bills. My daughter lived a year and nine months after her diagnosis. After she died, I tried to write one story, then put my pen down. I was determined that I’d never write again.
Four years later, on the anniversary of her passing away, I hid under my bedcovers so I could hide from the world. But I couldn’t hide from God, and He “spoke” to me beneath the quilt. At first, I ignored His inaudible voice, thinking I had imagined it in my head. Until I “heard” it again. I was to write a fictional story based on my ancestors.
At that point, I threw off my bedcovers and went to find my husband. With embarrassment, I shared the directive I was given. I thought he’d laugh for certain, but he didn’t. Instead, he took me to the used book store where we could find books on the era. That led to my first novel, Road to Deer Run.
Are you married? Single? Have kids?
This month marks Steve’s and my 46th wedding anniversary. Our older son, Ben, is in the military. Our younger son, Nate, is part owner of a business in SoCal. We’re so proud of them both. It’s not easy losing a sibling and then rising above the pain to make successful choices in life but both of our sons have done so, with God’s help. I have five grands who call me GiGi: eleven-year-old triplets, a three-year-old girl and a one-year-old boy.
For all the pet lovers out there, answer this question: Do you have any?
I am SUCH a pet lover. We currently have just one little dog but in the past, we’ve had multiple pets at a time. Our current sweetie is our Chihuahua/terrier mix named Mocha. I fell in love with her on Facebook when my editor/friend, Alycia, posted photos of her litter of pups that had just been born. Mocha was born with a white heart on her back! J Although the heart merged into a multi-color coat as she grew, she still provides lots of love for us. Now four-years old, Mocha is full of energy and fun, and she frequently makes us laugh.
I can’t imagine not sharing our lives with at least one pet. After so many years together, Steve and I have memories of the many pets we’ve owned and rescued through the years. Two of our memorable rescue dogs were both black, long-haired dachshunds.
Lily was our first. I’d gone in to the shelter looking for the dachshund who’d been advertised in the newspaper but she had already been adopted. That’s when I saw Lily, running around the shelter office, rolling over to have her tummy scratched. It was love at first sight and she lived with us for over ten years. What a sweetie. We still miss her.
Tooni was our second rescue. Overweight and with a serious medical history, Tooni attracted lots of attention at the dog adoption fair, but it was mostly laughter. “That dog looks like a sausage,” said one male bystander. I wanted to give him a stern lecture. It wasn’t the dog’s fault she was fat but the previous owner had obviously fed her too much. She had a scar on her abdomen from removing bladder stones, and she had been shaved. But she had the sweetest personality that seemed to cry, “Please love me.”
“I know,” I answered, “but please just go look at her. She’s so sweet, and I don’t think anyone will adopt her.”
I had to go to work but I received a call from my husband later. His demeanor and voice had totally changed. “She really is sweet …”
I rejoiced! We adopted her the next day.
Tooni was older but her age was never really known. We enjoyed her sweet spirit for at least five years, until one day, a disc problem left her paralyzed. We were heartbroken but made the difficult decision to put her to sleep. We’ll never forget those wonderful, final years of her furry life.
When you look for a new car, what are the things that are important to you?
My dream car is a new Subaru Forester, Apple Red. Safety features are top priority.
Do you have a favorite line from a movie or book? If so, what is it and explain why it is special to you?
“Shoot all the bluejays you want, if you can hit ’em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird. Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs. They don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” -- Atticus Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.
I love this character of a loving father who takes opportunities to teach his children. “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).
Of all the stories/books you have written, which one is your favorite? And what compelled you to write this story?
IF I had to choose a favorite, Scarred Vessels would be near the top of my “Favorite List.” It’s a historical romance involving a young widow during the American Revolution and the soldier who comes to break the news of her husband’s death. Besides this romance however, the story revolves around the formation of the 1st Black Regiment of soldiers in Rhode Island during the American Revolution. This idea was birthed through a suggestion from my military son. The research took me on unexpected findings of slavery in the New England colonies, a part of our nation’s history that I had previously been ignorant about.
As a writer, if you had one thing you would do over again, what would it be?
I would NOT have self-published my first book. I was too new in the writing field to understand the importance of editing.
Editing is always a thing, isn't it? Even after a book has been published, I find that I can go back over it and think, "I wish I had written that sentence differently."
Tell us about your writing day. How do you go about writing?
Since I am unable to provide enough royalty money to pay all the bills, I work part-time as a cashier. However, I love it! I work at Hobby Lobby and love interacting with the customers and praying for those who seem to need it. I write any time of day or night, depending on my deadlines. I’m better writing in the morning, however, as I tend to be a morning person.
Tell us about what project you are currently working on.
I am currently working on Book 2 in my Dawn of America series. It is called Winter’s Ravage and is under contract with Scrivenings Press. It’s the sequel to Love’s Kindling.
Knowing what you know now about writing, publishing, etc., what piece of advice would you give to the person thinking about writing that novel they have always wanted to pursue since they were young, or the person who believes they have a non-fiction book in them that would be helpful to others?
The key to publishing a good book is to learn the trade of word crafting. That includes classes online or at conferences, reading basic books about writing in general and finally, hiring a good editor. You may have a great story to tell, but if the reading is not a pleasant experience, then no one will want to publish your book.
Isn't that the truth! And if the book gets self-published and isn't crafted well, then readers don't want to read it either, even if the story is amazing. Writing is definitely an art.
When developing the story for a novel, how do you come up with the names for your characters?
Since I write historical fiction set in the American Revolution, I Google names from the era and choose from those lists.
Why do you live where you live?
My husband and I moved to Southern CA two years ago to be close to our son and his family. My husband was still recovering from a stroke and my granddaughter had cancer in her foot, requiring amputation. I was so stressed, I needed to be close to family.
Wow, you and your family have been through a lot. But God is good, right? As you get older, glorified bodies and the promises of Revelation 21:1-4 sound better and better, don't they?
We know “Readers are leaders, and leaders are readers.” Is there a book you’ve read in the past five years or so that has helped you become a better you? If so, which one was it, and how did it affect your life?
What could be a better answer than the Bible? The words of truth within the pages have strengthened me when I am weak, encouraged me when in despair, and cautioned me when I’m not trusting in the Lord. So many people read “how to” books or “inspiring thoughts” without ever studying the Word.
What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most, and why?
Proverbs 31: 8-9
for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
This verse speaks to my heart about my responsibility to speak out against abortion. Who is the most voiceless of all victims but babies in the womb?
Interesting. my book, The Letters, deals with the subject of abortion, and I used Matthew 2:17-18 (and it’s quote of/reference to Jeremiah) along with Psalm 68:4-5. The Matthew reference was used a bit allegorically, which I will be explaining in an upcoming blog as to how I came up with the idea of The Letters (a question I get asked a lot).
The aborted do need a voice, don’t they?
Elaine, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover?
My first thought is a personal one. I’ve told your readers that my daughter died of a brain tumor in 2003. I’m mentioning this in hopes your readers will understand that losing a child is the worst kind of grieving. I have lost many other people in my life but nothing compares with losing a part of yourself. If you know anyone who has lost a child, whether through miscarriage, accident, illness or suicide, please understand that one never “recovers” from such a loss. Losing one’s future generation is the pain that never leaves, although it may submerge for a time in the busy-ness of life. Be patient with them. Listen to them speak of their child and their experience. Let them cry. Give them a tissue.
My second thought is that Love’s Kindling is re-releasing on April 20. My original publisher closed and the book was contracted with Scrivenings Press. It’s the first time I’ve had a book release that already received a finalist award in the Selah Awards. ;)
Congratulations on being a finalist!
Congratulations on being a finalist!
Readers, if you wish to know more about Elaine and her writing, you can find her at the following locations on the web:
Elaine's Website & Blog:
Elaine blogs here once a month:
Until next time, if the Lord tarries,
PS - We also have a special announcement! Kevin's latest novel, The Letters, was recently announced as a finalist in the 2021 BRMCWC Selah Awards in the Speculative Fiction category too!