Marja: Well, I have to be honest, it wasn’t my idea to begin with, not at all! It was about the last thing I had on my mind when during my prayer time the Holy Spirit prompted me to write my first book, Sacred Sabbath, on Isaiah 58:13. I wasn’t too excited at first, I was willing to write on fun stuff but not so much on law and grace. But God changed my heart and attitude and I actually started to enjoy studying this subject. Halfway through that first book it became clear that it was going to be the first one in a series about the Ten Commandments with emphasis on fulfilling the law in love.
Karen: Who is your target audience?
Marja: I am happy with whoever reads my books; I have received comments from new and old Christians alike, but also from atheists, scholars, pastors and teenagers. You’ll never know where your books will end up.
Basically I am looking for Christians who have a desire to learn more about God’s Word, but shy away from theological books or complicated Bible studies. I have noticed that most Christians (women in particular) would rather read romance than non-fiction study books, so I try to write my books as low key and inviting as possible. They are, however, thought-provoking and I hope they will inspire and motivate readers to dig deeper and study God’s Word.
Karen: Tell us a little about how you connected with your publisher. Did you have an agent?
Marja: When I finished my first manuscript I considered my options: self publishing, agency, or publisher. I passed on self publishing for starters and found both an agency and a publisher seeking new authors. I submitted my manuscript and received a contract from the agency and the publisher! So, I had a choice and I decided to go with Tate Publishing in Oklahoma.
“There is no seven steps plan to become a cheerful giver; it requires a change from the inside out, a change in our whole being.”
How do you feel this change from “the inside out” happens in our lives?
Marja: In various ways. I believe it is God, through the work of the Holy Spirit, who changes our heart. The reading and understanding of the Word changes our attitude and the practice of what we've learned changes our life!
Karen: You divide your time between California and Holland. When you are in the states, what do you miss about Holland? And vice versa?
Marja: When I am in California I miss the social life in Holland. In Holland, friends, family and neighbors visit each other all the time for coffee, tea and conversation; it is part of everyday life. I find society here on the West Coast very lonely. When I am in Holland I miss the beautiful weather in California and the incredible landscapes of the South West…and brownies of course.
Karen: I love tossing out random questions, so here are a few:
Do you prefer coffee or tea? Tea
Writing in longhand or on the computer? Laptop
Favorite writing snack? None
Dream vacation? With a stack of good books on the beach.
What author, living or deceased, would you like to meet? Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life). That book really made an impact on my life and it has sold very well for a Christian book. Rick has withdrawn and is busy with other projects. I wonder how he looks back on the success.
Karen: What advice do you have for someone who wants to write a book but doesn’t know where to start?
Marja: Hmm, that’s probably different for everyone, depending whether you desire to write fiction or non-fiction. Looking at my own situation, I had no clue what I was going to write. All I had was a scripture and a very clear word from the Lord: “This is your book.” I made a folder in my computer which I simply called ‘my book’ and I added 10 sub folders which I simply called ‘chapter one, two, three, etc.’ Then I started praying and waiting for revelation.
Still, it might help to answer two questions before starting: What do I want write and why do I want to write it? Answering these questions will guide you in a certain direction. Then make sure your desk is empty because clutter distracts. Next, start a rough draft. Write whatever comes to mind first and work from there. The hardest thing about writing is the beginning…Sometimes all I need is an opening phrase for my columns for example, once I have one, it flows from there. Be alert, listen, read and learn from others.
Karen: How can readers find out more about your books and blog?
Marja: My blog can be found here. It consists of news and updates on my books as well as meditations and short articles. My profile can be viewed at Goodreads by following this link.
Karen: Thanks so much for joining us. It’s been a great pleasure!
Marja: Thank you Karen, I truly appreciate your hospitality, I feel welcome and at home and always enjoy your writing.
Karen: You are most welcome, and thank you. :)
To enter to win a copy of Marja's book, Grace of Giving, note these important details:
• Leave a comment with your email address. Entries without email address are ineligible.
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• This is open to United States and International readers.
• Deadline to enter is midnight Eastern Standard Time, Friday March 18, 2011. Winner will be announced Saturday, March 19, notified via email, and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.
What are your answers to Marja's writing advice questions? Above, she asks, "What do I want write and why do I want to write it?"