Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Meet Millie Samuelson, Interesting Lady and Writer!

Millie is giving away one of each of her books! Make sure to leave a comment and your email address!

How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?

The seeds for my first and surprise Last Supper book were planted decades ago in China, where I was born and raised during devastating WWII times. (Yes, my younger brother and I survived, but our three older brothers are buried in Xian.) Until seventh grade, my sporadic schooling was by my missionary parents as we fled from place to place, seeking refuge from bombs and anti foreign-devil mobs.

During those years, Dad’s pocket New Testament was often my only textbook.

I still vividly remember one day reading a lesson in the Gospels, then asking, “Daddy, why didn’t Jesus have any girl disciples?”

My missionary father (also born and raised in China) looked at me with raised eyebrows and answered, “But of course, Jesus had girl disciples!” And he showed me some of the passages about the women who followed Jesus, and about the girl he brought back to life.

In the decades since then, I have enjoyed researching this topic extensively, including at the Vatican and the Louvre where there are huge ancient paintings showing women, children, and others besides Jesus and the Twelve present at the Last Supper. When my husband Dave and I moved to Chesterton, for the first time we had a pastor willing to portray women at the Last Supper, at my suggestion, along with the twelve men disciples. The first person stories I wrote for the twelve women created quite a local stir of interest, and people wanted the stories in print.

With my son Peter’s guidance and God’s blessing, I soon had a self-published book, Women of the Last Supper: We Were There Too, to sell when I spoke to groups. Now several years later, I’ve sold thousands of copies and just released a revised and expanded edition. It’s a combination of my first two books, and includes the twelve men disciples’ stories, as well as six children’s stories told by Jairus’s daughter and young John Mark (the author of Mark’s Gospel). My church has enacted these stories many times.

What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?

During the thirty-plus years that I was a busy homemaker, professor and college writer, I dreamed of writing short stories and novels (and collected boxes of notes). I just didn’t know what my genre would be. But when I moved to Chesterton, a library writing group and my disciple stories started me on the path of multicultural historical fiction for my Last Supper books and my China novels. I hesitate to call what I write fiction because my stories are researched and as true as possible. But according to publishing standards, that’s what I write because of the first-person story and novel forms I use.

How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?

I’m not a model writer by any means. Sometimes I write all day and into the night, and sometimes I don’t write at all for weeks or even months, especially if I’m with grandchildren. Maybe because of that, I never have writer’s block. When I have time to write, the words just pour forth. Plus I’m totally a computer writer these days, even most of my notes are in computer files. Now that may not sound like much to some of you reading this, but I grew up writing everything first in longhand and then typing it. And oh, how I love the ease of writing with a machine that writes at the speed I think, and edits with such ease.

That said, each of my novels has taken me about five years to write, and the same for my newest Last Supper book. But keep in mind, I don’t write full-time.

You recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?

My books are available from my website http://www.milliesbook.org/ and also from http://www.amazon.com/. In addition to my newly released Women of the Last Supper that I’ve already described, I’m writing a trilogy of China novels. The first one I’ve self-published, titled Hungry River: A Yangtze Novel (inspired by my grandparents and parents’ extraordinary lives in China). It’s currently part of a longer manuscript, Dragon River, represented by Diana Flegal of Hartline Literary Agency. I’m thrilled to be one of their team (along with Carole who’s hosting me today). I’m looking forward to having my books published by a traditional publisher because I’m eager for their message to reach a national and international readership.

What is the spiritual message in your book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?

While I write to inform and entertain,
I write because of the message words contain.
And what is that, you may be wondering,
As upon my words you have been pondering.
The answer? God grants His loving grace
To those who pray and seek God’s face.

Those lines just came to me as I started to write Romans 8:28 for you. This Bible verse is the theme and testimony of all I write, whether the circumstances are filled with light or darkness: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them” (NLT).

I often pray God will speak to each reader of my books in a personal and encouraging way. Based on the steady, affirming feedback I receive (often email from people I don’t know), God is answering that prayer.

Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through?

No, I’ve never felt like “giving up”! My writing journey has been nearly one hundred percent joyous (minus a bit for rejections here and there). Sometimes, though, I do ask God, “Okay, if this isn’t going to work out, what should I try next or wait for?” And God always opens some door of opportunity or encouragement. I hear about authors having disappointing self-publishing experiences, but I sure haven’t. Even if it all stopped right now, I could look back and say, “Thanks, God! What a wonderful experience! Thanks for using the stories in my books to bless and strengthen many, including me.”

Who’s inspired you the most?

The greatest Author of all, God, and the God-inspired stories in the Holy Bible!

Many humans, too, like Emily Bronte, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Willa Cather, C.S. Lewis (can you tell I taught English?), L.M. Montgomery, Lloyd C. Douglas, Pearl Buck, Amy Tan, Mary Stewart, Tony Hillerman, Jan Karon, Jeanette Oke, Gus Lee, Harry Petrakas, Rosamunde Pilcher, John Grishman, and oh so many more. For me, the best part about reading other’s stories is how they inspire me to write “my” stories. I often remember as I write what C.S. Lewis said: “We are never closer to God, the Creator, than when we ourselves are creating.” The novel craft book that’s helped me the most is Penelope J. Stokes’ Writing & Selling the Christian Novel.

Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?

No, not until I sense that’s God’s will for me. Right now, I’m having too great a time to just “sit back and relax.”

Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could?

My greatest dislike in life is war, based on today’s news reports and my own childhood experiences. I had terrible war nightmares for decades. But now that I’ve written my China novels and told about some of those horrific experiences, I’ve been freed from those nightmares. I’ve always known writing was excellent therapy, and now I know it in a major way.

While my worst experiences happened overseas, that’s also true of some of my best experiences. I LOVE to travel, and so does my husband Dave. Together we’ve lived or traveled in more than thirty countries. Some of our recent travels have taken us to the Holy Land, Sweden, and China (including a Yangtze River cruise). We really enjoy cruises, and count ones to Alaska, the Greek Islands, and the Caribbean among our favorite trips.

Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?

  • Looking for a speaker? I’m always grateful for any door that opens for God’s message through my books and me.
  • Check out my website: http://www.milliesbooks.org/.
  • I also blog every second Friday of the month on http://www.hoosierink.blogspot.com/, a great site where ACFWriters from all over Indiana take turns blogging every day.
  • On Face Book, I’m Millie Nelson Samuelson, and I enjoy new friends.
One last “word” that you’ve heard before. In the book of life, reading is an important activity for everyone! I believe words are supernatural, for “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” God’s Words created the universes. And those who read (the right words, of course), succeed and live with hope and joy in times of light and in times of darkness.
 
 
Thank you so much for being here today. Your interview was interesting and gave me more of an idea of your writing life and you.

Readers, please don't forget to leave a comment and your email address for a chance to win one of Millie's books!
 
Blessings!

8 comments:

HB said...

Millie was my English professor a few years back--and was just as inspiring then as now.

Diana said...

Millie, what an excellent chance to get to know you better! May the Lord use your prayer to set cold hearts afire and your stories to stir those hearts to reach others.

Blessings to you and to Carole for hosting you here! Thanks girls.

smiling4him said...

Wow,I did not know all that stuff about you. Want to get your books now and maybe I can win one. Will look in our church library.

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, how I'd love to win one of Millie's books! I met her at the Write to Publish conference in '09, and she's become a dear friend since that time.

Thanks for this interview, Carol and Millie. I'm so glad the Lord delievered you from nightmares through writing. How wonderful!

Blessings to you both,
Jen
jeanettelevellie(at)gmail(dot)com

Mozi Esme said...

These look like interesting, inspirational books... Love the China background!

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

We posted about this giveaway at Winning Readings: http://winningreadings.blogspot.com/2010/10/millie-samuelson-book.html

Wanda said...

Great sounding books! This Canadian girl would love to be entered in your draw. Thanks!
wandanamgreb(at)gmail(dot)com

apple blossom said...

thanks for the interview. Love a chance to win a book. thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Millie Samuelson said...

I sure appreciate your comments, HB (whoever you are, I've been trying to guess), my awesome agent Diana, and smiling4him (I know who you are, and LOVE what an encourager you are). New week blessings! :-)