Today I am going to introduce you to Marcia Laycock.
Marcia’s writing began in the attic of her parents’ home where she wrote poetry and short stories for her dolls. She says they never complained so she kept it up. Since those humble beginnings, her work has been published in magazines, newspapers and anthologies in both Canada and the U.S. and has been broadcast on radio across Canada. Marcia’s work also appears frequently on the world wide web. She currently writes a weekly devotional column, The Spur, which appears in publications across Canada and goes out by e-mail to hundreds of readers each week. Marcia’s fiction and non-fiction has won many prizes, garnering praise from notable Christian writers like Janette Oke, Mark Buchanan, Phil Callaway and Sigmund Brouwer.
What books/short stories/articles/poems have you written, whether published or not?
ML: I've published one novel, One Smooth Stone, which won the Best New Canadian Christian Author Award when it was released. The sequel, A Tumbled Stone should be released soon, (I hope! ;) I also have about four or five other novels on my computer. Two complete manuscripts and a third partially finished in a fantasy series are a few that I'd like to start marketing soon.
I've also written a number of short stories, some published, some still waiting. One of my favourites, Cassie, can be downloaded for free at Smashwords. Quite a nice review on it was recently posted there.
Then there is my devotional writing - I've lost track of how many devotionals I've published - probably somewhere close to two thousand now - I have three devotional books - two hard copy editions, Spur of the Moment and Focused Reflections, which can be ordered from my website - http://www.vinemarc.com/booksand two ebooks, A Traveler's Advisory and Abundant Rain (for writers) which can be downloaded at Smashwords.
What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
ML: I've been told my fiction style is a mixture of literary/suspense with a dash of romance thrown in. My fiction tends to be strong on setting and action, a combination that seems to please my readers. My devotional writing is anecdotal - I start with a story and then give the spiritual application.
What do you enjoy most about being a published author?
ML: The humbling experience of receiving letters and emails telling me how something I wrote changed a person's life. For instance, last summer my husband and I went back to the Yukon, where part of One Smooth Stone is set. It was our 30th anniversary so we returned to the place where our lives intersected and we began our journey of faith. (You can read a bit more about that on my website - http://www.vinemarc.com/My%20Testimony.htm
While there we stayed with an old friend who, in the wee hours of the night, confided in us that at the age of about 12, after a vicious beating from his father, he vowed he would never cry again. That vow became like a curse on his life and in over 50 years he had not been able to break it, in spite of much counseling. As we were leaving God nudged me to give him a copy of One Smooth Stone, which deals, in part, with a young man who faces abuse as a child.
I wasn't sure he would read it but a few nights later I opened my laptop in a hotel room and read an email from him. He said he couldn't put the book down and what no-one else had ever been able to achieve, the book was doing. He began to weep. The curse was broken and he was so thankful he decided to start reading an old Bible someone had given him years ago. He continues to keep in touch, telling us how God has continued the healing of his heart and soul.
Knowing how God is using my words to do things like that makes all the effort worth it.
I also love teaching writing and it's a special joy when one of my past students achieves something in his/her career.
Can you tell me a little bit about your newest book?
ML: A Tumbled Stone is the continuation of my first novel, One Smooth Stone. In the sequel, Alex and his new wife, Kenni, go in search of Alex's sister, Andrea, who went into foster care when they were young children. It is about Alex's struggle to let God control his life, his sister's struggle to discover who God really is as she finds herself in an unwanted pregnancy and her foster-parents' struggle to mend their relationship and restore their family. The issue of abortion comes into play as Alex races to find Andrea but keeps running into frustrating roadblocks.
What was your inspiration for this book?
ML: A woman from a local crisis pregnancy centre spoke at our church and we chatted for a while after her presentation. She asked me a question that became the hook for One Smooth Stone - "Can you imagine what it would be like if someone discovered his mother had tried to abort him?" I did begin to imagine and the character of Alex Donnelly took shape. He is very much a composite of many people I knew in the Yukon. At the end of his story I thought it would be fun (and kind of nasty ;) to leave readers with a dangling mystery. So I had him discover that he had a sister he didn't know about. That led to the sequel and I began to imagine what it would be like for a young girl with little emotional support to discover that she was pregnant. And away we went again. :)
What was your greatest roadblock in writing this book and others, and how did you overcome it?
ML: In One Smooth Stone there are a few scenes that involve the abuse the main character suffered as a child. Those scenes were difficult because they were emotion-packed and I also wanted them to be real but not overly graphic. One of the best compliments I received on this book came from a writer I admire a great deal, Mark Buchanan - he said my writing was "grimly real but deeply hopeful." That's exactly what I was trying to achieve.
A Tumbled Stone faced many roadblocks - some of my making, some with my publisher. A lot of "life" happened in the course of writing it - my husband resigned from the church he had pastored for almost 20 years, to begin again planting a new church; we moved to a new community to begin that work; a young couple who fled Iran were finally granted permission to immigrate to Canada and came to live with us; my middle daughter was married, my youngest daughter graduated and moved away to college, my oldest daughter moved to another community; and several other smaller events occurred as well. Finding the time to write and edit was a challenge to say the least.
How did I overcome it? I just kept writing whenever I could, in between all of that "life" and eventually it was finished and sent off to the publisher.
When a reader gets done with your book, what do you want them to come away with?
ML: I want them to know the deep and abiding love of God and the incredible grace and mercy he extends to each and every one of us.
Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
ML: Finding a group of like-minded people who were on the same path. When I first began to write for the Lord, I discovered there was a group called the Alberta Christian Writers' Fellowship. I joined immediately and have been an active member for over 20 years. I received invaluable mentoring and training through this group, now called Inscribe Christian Writers' Fellowship. I am also a member of The Word Guild, based in Ontario and American Christian Fiction Writers, based in the U.S. All of these groups have helped me tremendously in various ways.
How can readers find your books and where can they find you on the Internet?
ML: One Smooth Stone is available from any Christian bookstore or online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble etc.
It's also available, along with my other books, on my website, www.vinemarc.com and at www.smashwords.com
I contribute to a few blogs -
http://www.marcialaycock.blogspot.com is my personal blog which right now is mostly about my dealing with cancer
http://www.writer-lee.blogspot is where I do reviews and interviews of authors
http://www.novelrocket.com is where I write a regular Sunday devotional column
http://inscribewritersonline.blogspot.com/ - where I post on the 2nd of each month in rotation with others from ICWF
http://twgauthors.blogspot.com/- where I post in rotation with others from The Word Guild.
http://internationalchristianfictionwriters.blogspot.com/ - is where I post once a month along with other authors who writing about cultures and countries other than the U.S.A.
And then there's Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/Marcia-Lee-Laycock/58215841648
Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/MarciaLaycock and Faith Writers - http://www.faithwriters.com
With all of the above, I'm not hard to find! I'd be very pleased to see a few more followers on my personal blogs and if I can be of help to other writers I'm happy to do so. :)
Thank you, Marcia, for taking the time to tell us about your writing. I have enjoyed learning about you as I'm sure my readers have.