The Top 5 Authors Who Inspire Me

Behind every writer are stacks of books as tall as they are. These books were authored by people who touched the writer, either in-person, in the written form, or both.

Creativity inspires creativity, and so I believe it’s important to absorb as much content as possible. And so as to not stay a consumer, I believe it’s important act upon those inspirations and to honor those who inspired you.

And so, it is with great fondness that I present the five authors who have been my greatest inspiration as a writer!

Jack Cavanaugh

My very first Christian historical fiction book was The Patriots by Jack Cavanaugh. I’ll never forget the fourteen-year-old version of myself who had this 540-page book thrust into my hands by an excited friend, albeit, under a five-day deadline.

For someone who was used to 200-page Trixie Beldon mystery novels, this was a step into a rabbit hole I never recovered from.

Did I finish all 540 pages in five days? Yes. Was I hooked on “Uncle Jack’s” books from that moment on? Yes. Within a few short years, I’d read almost every novel he’d written.

Charlotte Brontë

I went through a phase in my writing development years of reading as many classics as I dared. I devoured everything from Les Miserables to Little Women. I nibbled on Shakespeare, and snacked on Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

But the historic authoress whose writing most echoed within my soul was Charlotte Brontë. Not to be confused with Emily or Anne, who had styles beyond my threshold of enjoyment. (Wuthering Heights and Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Need I say more?)

The Jane Eyre, Shirley, and Villette author had a direct but deep style that I appreciated. While her sister Emily had a dark streak, I never sensed that in Charlotte’s work–no, not even with Jane Eyre‘s abusive teachers and relatives, the mad wife, several deaths, and…am I missing anything? Whereas Wuthering Heights was full of vengeance and bitterness, Jane Eyre presented difficulties as circumstances to rise above.

As I said, direct but deep.

Lynn Austin

As an older teenager, I discovered Lynn Austin. It was like meeting the long-lost aunt you always knew was surely out there somewhere. As soon as she appeared in my life, I felt a kinship.

I read her Civil War novel Candle in the Darkness at least five times, not only because it was engaging, but because I’d finally found a novel that also included historic Richmond landmarks–namely, Libby prison–which I had researched in-depth for my first novel prior to discovering Lynn Austin.

Every time I pick up a Lynn Austin novel, I learn something either about writing or history. It’s always a sweet adventure, and I fall in love with her characters every time.

To date, I claim “Aunt Lynn” as my #1 favorite author because not only do I enjoy her stories, characters, and preferred time periods, but I trust her storytelling, her content, and her dedication to God and truth. She has a special talent and message.

Jerry B. Jenkins

Little did I know when I was twelve and starting the Left Behind series that the author would become a mentor figure in my life.

If I did know, I probably would have planned a way to tell him how my family and I developed a line of succession each time a new Left Behind book came out. It would always start with Mom. No question. When she finished the book, the next fastest reader acquired it…usually me, but sometimes respect had to be maintained in the household, and Dad would inherit it. This produced groans from my brother and me, as we all knew, despite Dad’s dedication, how slowly his toilet paper bookmark would move through the chapters. (Sorry, Dad. But you know it’s true!)

I would have told Mr. B-Jenkins (as he came to be known among his students) that we developed very strange ways of getting through a book under the intensity of peer pressure. Yes, I developed a way to wash dishes and get a few pages read. Thank goodness I wasn’t driving yet, or else the temptation might have gotten me in trouble at stoplights.

When I entered the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild and advanced to the Craftsman level, I got to attend a residency program with Jerry and other CWG mentors/teachers. Through this program and one-on-one interaction, I observed Jerry’s heart to build up proficient writers who created stories that impacted God’s kingdom. He truly poured so much into my life by way of the Guild, which has forever impacted my writing journey.

DiAnn Mills

I saved the best for last.

Throughout the two most advanced levels of the Christian Writers Guild, DiAnn Mills was my mentor. She writes romantic suspense, and even though our genres and styles are very different, her approach as a mentor covered any differences our writing had.

A couple years after I finished the Journeyman level, I met DiAnn in person at a writers conference. Her enthusiasm was contagious. I was just honored that she remembered the teenager-now-young-woman who had emailed assignments from New Zealand.

DiAnn encouraged me to take the last level, Craftsman. Little did I know at the time, I got into the last official class of Craftsman that DiAnn would lead.

During the year of Craftsman courses, DiAnn and I met via Skype every two weeks. During these interactions, conferences, and the residency intensive, I caught DiAnn’s enthusiasm for not only being a professional writer, but also for teaching and encouraging others in the craft.

She helped me navigate a publishing offer, strengthen plots and proposals, and overcome my fear of failing in my calling. Even today, I know I can write DiAnn any time and fill her in. She’s like a literary grandmother to me, and I am so grateful she came into my life during those important years and still cheers me on from a distance.

Your turn! Who are your top figures of inspiration as a writer?

Rebellious Hope

Jane Marczewski, in a tweet, once said, “Some people will call it ‘blind denial’ but I prefer to call it rebellious hope.”

This, said by a woman who had a 2% chance of overcoming cancer. Who had a million dreams to live for. Who inspired just as many people with her golden buzzer performance of her original song, “It’s Okay.”

Continue reading “Rebellious Hope”

Setting Off Toward Home

Three years ago to the day, I was carting a U-haul to Oklahoma, my would-be home. Not knowing a soul there, apart from the people I’d interviewed with at my new job, I remember setting off into the sunrise and being as excited as I was scared. 

Up until five weeks previous, when I was offered the job, I’d been drifting from one short-term home to another for over a year. I was soul-weary from doors closing in my face and in my heart. From wandering and wondering. From staring at a horizon that held no promise.

Deep inside me, I knew I wasn’t going to stay where I was forever. But I had no idea how I was going to get out of there, or where I was going to go next.

Continue reading “Setting Off Toward Home”

Hindsight: What I Now See

I discovered this post in my drafts, where it had lingered for three years. It helped me remember the creativity and goodness in God’s plans, so I’m sharing it in the hope that it will encourage someone else.

I recently caught a view that took my breath away. It was on a hike (I still haven’t completed it yet, but more on that in a bit.) The last few miles seemed more downhill than upward. Talk about demoralizing. It was a stretch of mostly shadow, with certainly no view of the top.

But then—a sharp bend and a sudden lookout! And though I could not stop, I looked back from there, and I could see the view of the last portion I’d traversed. And it wasn’t nearly as ugly as I thought. In fact, its ruggedness made it beautiful.

Continue reading “Hindsight: What I Now See”

Simply, Complexly Human

All of us, so simple…

We eat, we sleep, we live.

We work to live, and work takes our life.

We breathe, we bleed, we try.

All of us hurting…

We feel, we hurt, we hide.

We hide the pain and the pain hides us.

We fake, we ache, we wonder why.

Continue reading “Simply, Complexly Human”

A Starbucks Script: as told by baristas

What would the script look like if Starbucks baristas could make an honest welcome video? Probably something like this…

Manager/barista: “Hello, welcome to America’s favorite barely-coffee shop. Fall is only nine months away, so that could mean just one thing: you’re wanting to order a pumpkin spice salted caramel chai mocha frappuccino. Let me get that started for you. Your total today is a mere $25.73.”

Barista 1: Many customers comment that it’s hard to remember what our sizes are. Here’s a tip to help you remember: tall is small (and small is tall), venti is plenty, and at only 12,000 calories, grande is…just right.

Barista 2: All baristas love making frappuccinos. In fact, we look forward to when school goes back so that we can see the kids before and after school each day ordering the ten-step drink and spending their parents’ money wisely.Continue reading “A Starbucks Script: as told by baristas”

Serving vs. Selling

So many thoughts rummaging around in my head these days, but one that has emerged in some state of cohesiveness to ponder with you all is about marketing. And yet it also isn’t.

Let me explain. I was reading a fantastic article about marketing by author and writing coach K.M. Weiland recently. (Or, more accurately, I was listening to its podcast while I picked raspberries.) Considering I’ve been there and back again with agents and editors, having come so closeContinue reading “Serving vs. Selling”

One More Day – A Poem

“Heart, where are you?” I said.

But my voice came back hollow.

“Surely you’re not dead…

Don’t go where I can’t follow.

“Dawn can’t stay always away,

So turn your face to the sky.

Hope can’t stay forever at bay,

Awake; lift your head high.”

Only silence from the depth,

Just as still as before.

But this was life or death,

So I tried once more.

Continue reading “One More Day – A Poem”

The Jonah Within

There are few Bible personalities I really connect with. You know: Ruth was so good, and Esther was fearless and beautiful, and Mary was amazing. Paul is hard for me to get my head around, and the disciples, well, they were interesting and funny, but relatable? Well, maybe not so much.

But start talking about Jonah, and I’m right there with you. Somewhere amidst that moody, intense, prophet nature, I sense a personality at war with itself. He knew what was right, but he also knew himself. Maybe even doubted himself. And feared failure. And likely even feared success.Continue reading “The Jonah Within”

If Infinity Is the End

For one moment last month, I thought I was going to die.

And now that you probably have a vision of me flipping a car or falling off a roof, I must admit it was nothing so dramatic. I was struggling to breathe, choking on a bite of food I’d hoped would give me the energy I needed before I dashed out again for a job interview. Nonetheless, when the Heimlich maneuver didn’t work for the second time and I feared making the problem worse, a thought came like a whisper: is this it?

Continue reading “If Infinity Is the End”

%d bloggers like this: