Michelle Cox and John Perrodin interview

» Posted on Apr 23, 2008 in Blog | Comments Off on Michelle Cox and John Perrodin interview

Don’t forget to leave a comment with your email address or email me at margaretdaley@gmail.com if you want to be in the drawing for their book, Simple Little Words.

1. What made you start writing?

JP Reading. Ever since I could read I’ve wanted to write. I love how books draw you in and take you to places you could never otherwise visit.

MC I never intended to write—but God had other plans. I had compiled a cookbook to welcome my son’s bride to the family and included letters and stories about the friends and family who contributed recipes. I gave a copy to my pastor’s wife and a few weeks later, my pastor called and said, “You need to do something with your writing.”

God kept nudging my heart in that direction until one day I prayed and said, “Okay Lord, if that’s what you want me to do, I’ll do it…but we might have one small problem. Have you happened to notice that I can’t write?”

Then I heard that still small voice say, “That’s okay. I can. You just be willing and I’ll take care of the rest.” And God has provided everything I’ve needed for this writing journey.

2. How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

JP I’ve been writing since childhood. But as my experience expanded I realized that writing books wasn’t the only option. So I’ve done magazine articles, newspaper columns, scripts for radio blurbs, book reviews, speeches, and just about anything I could try. I was a “ghost” on the first book I sold, Tyndale House Publisher’s “Sex, Lies &…the Truth.”

MC I’ve been writing about five years and I received my book contract for Mothers Who Made a Difference in 2006.

3. How do you handle rejections?

JP Best case scenario? I learn from them. I especially appreciate when a kind editor takes the time to offer a few pointers on what I’ve done wrong – and right. That involvement is rare, but wonderful.

MC I pray over my proposals before I send them. “Lord, this is the best I can do at this point in my career. I give this to you now. Please open and close doors according to Your will.” Then when the rejections come, I realize that a contract with that particular publishing house at that particular time wasn’t God’s will for me. Looking at rejections as God’s stepping-stones to teach me or connect me with someone has made receiving those letters much easier.

4. Why do you write?

JP I write because I enjoy using words to share my thoughts. Writing is a very personal experience and yet I’ve found that collaborating with a friend can make it less lonely. Michelle Cox (www.michellecoxinspirations.com), my co-author, is an outstanding editor and writer. She helped us make Simple Little Words as clean as possible before presenting it to our editors.

MC I write because I have to write. The words rattle around in my head and drive me nuts until I get them on paper. I love what I’m doing and to receive a note from someone telling me that my simple words have touched their life is amazing and humbling.

Why do I write with John? He’s a wonderful friend. I’ve gleaned from his wisdom and writing experience and I know God put our writing partnership together. One of us will have an idea and then the other will run with it. That’s fun! John lives in Colorado. I live in North Carolina. With e-mail and free cellular minutes, writing together works beautifully for us.

5. What would you be doing with your free time if you weren’t writing?

JP Breaks from writing are a must. That way I feel anxious to get back to work. I WANT to get to my keyboard again! In my free time I love walking with my wife, playing with the kids, working out at the Y, and reading. As a writer, reading is a constant.

MC I love spending time with my family. Right now, we’re in the last few weeks before my youngest son’s wedding so every spare minute is spent on wedding details. Reading has always been a passion and I’ll even read junk mail if I don’t have something else to read.

6. What are you working on right now?

JP The third book in The Trio Plus series (www.thetrioplus.com) for Thomas Nelson. The first two books were Uncover Me and Surviving Me. I’m working with Susie Shellenberger, Editor of Focus on the Family’s Brio magazine. These novels for teen girls deal with some of the toughest topics out there.

MC I write frequently for Focus on the Family Magazine. John and I are working on a study guide/workbook on prayer for an international evangelistic ministry.

7. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?

JP At times, I see bits and pieces of myself in a character, but I like to push past “me” and create completely new individuals to people my novels. When working on Simple Little Words I was struck at how often I had the chance to “say something nice” and failed to do so. The folks who shared their stories in SLW prompted me to be more free with my compliments and encouragement.

MC I think all writers include pieces of themselves in their books. That was one of the most difficult things for me as a new writer. I was putting my heart on paper and risking others rejecting it. Then I realized that if my writing doesn’t move me, it won’t touch other people and a certain level of vulnerability is necessary or the final product won’t be good.

8. Tell us about the book you have out right now.

JP Simple Little Words is a book of hope. Full of gut-wrenching, heart-touching stories, the reader discovers the many and varied ways available to uplift others with words. And you don’t have to be a great speaker or published author to encourage someone. You just have to look for opportunities to put someone else’s feelings first. And then follow through with simple little words of encouragement.

MC You might wonder what bestselling author Karen Kingsbury, Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, a farmer’s granddaughter, and Focus on the Family CEO Jim Daly have in common. They have a respect for the power of words because all of their lives have been touched or changed because of something someone said to them.

Words are powerful tools that can wound and leave scars or they can encourage and inspire. That is the message of Simple Little Words. We have collected over 40 heart-tugging amazing stories of lives that were touched or changed by words. The book concludes with a poignant question: What simple little words do you need to say to someone who needs to hear them?

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?

JP Read and write. Every day if possible. And if it’s not, then spend a few minutes thinking about the next scene you’ll be writing. Or reflect on one of your characters. Consider the different ways they might respond to an upcoming conflict – and then brainstorm a completely different approach for them to take.

MC Be persistent. Sometimes the most successful writers aren’t the ones with the most talent. Instead, they’re the ones who are most persistent in working to achieve their ambitions—and God’s ambitions—for their lives.

Meet your deadlines. That’s a personal goal for me. So far, I’ve never been late for a deadline. This one trait will set you apart from the majority of writers. I can promise that most publishers and editors will love you for turning your work in early or on time.

10. How important is faith in your books?

JP Faith is vital to my books. But I want readers to discover the miracle of faith for themselves. That’s why Michelle and I made a point of letting the stories in Simple Little Words speak for themselves. We didn’t need to sum things up for the readers because the power of encouragement was clear and obvious for everyone to see.

MC God is part of every facet of my life. I wouldn’t know how to write anything without Him being involved.

11. What themes do you like to write about?

JP I like to deal with issues that every person – Christian or not – must cope with. Topics like trust, spiritual growth, despair, betrayal, and joy. But again, my goal is to make these concerns organic to the plot or storyline. I want readers to come to conclusions for themselves. And hopefully in the process they will draw nearer to Jesus. Many of these hot button issues are addressed in our free Study Guide for Simple Little Words. It’s available online at www.simplelittlewords.com.

MC I’ve realized recently that I’m a storyteller. Jesus taught powerful truths by using stories. I want mine to bring hope, healing, inspiration and encouragement to those who read my books and magazine articles.

12. What is your favorite book you’ve written and why?

JP Simple Little Words is my favorite so far. That’s because of the response I’ve heard from friends and family. They have found that they need a tissue for many of the chapters. The emotion comes through that powerfully. And I love the idea that each of us can help encourage others. No special skills required – you just have to care. Please visit www.simplelittlewords.com to find out more.

MC I love Simple Little Words. The stories in this book are so powerful. I cry every time I read them. John and I have already received wonderful comments from people whose lives have been touched by this book. My story is the first chapter in Simple Little Words. (The chapter is available on Amazon.com.) Read it and you’ll understand why I love this concept so much.

13. What is your writing schedule like?

JP Every day I try to write a chapter or work on some editing. But I also believe it’s crucial to take frequent breaks, stretch, and refill the creative tank.

MC I don’t have a set schedule because my life doesn’t work that way. I do spend part of every day on some aspect of writing whether it’s articles, editing, compiling new proposals, promotion, or zooming to meet a deadline.