Picking just five is an impossibility, but among my favorite books, these five have had a great deal of influence on my writing and life, and a lot of staying power.
(1) The Bible -- I never want there to be a question in the mind of anyone who interacts with me about my identity as a Christian. This book is without a doubt the most important and influential in my entire life, and I've read thousands of books.
(2) He Still Moves Stones (Max Lucado) --- A nonfiction work that focuses on one of my life verses, Isaiah 42:3. Lucado's easy, grounded, conversational writing style makes me think of getting together over coffee to discuss a profound theological question or subject in the most intimately understandable of terms.
(3) Into the Darkest Corner (Elizabeth Haynes) --- A psychological thriller that weaves together the past and present life stories of a young woman who barely survived a controlling, terribly abusive relationship. This work hits home for me because, if not for different choices and circumstances in my own life, I might have ended up in a similar situation several years ago. I'm thankful every day for a new lease on life.
(4) To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee) --- My favorite "classic" and one I absolutely never minded reading in literature classes. I learn something new each time I read it, about how to create a likable protagonist, about how to build subtle tension, about the power of description and setting, about historical accuracy.
(5) Acheron (Sherrilyn Kenyon) --- The pivotal masterpiece in Kenyon's Dark-Hunter series, this novel is what I would call (for the most part) an urban contemporary paranormal romantic suspense/thriller; narrowing down the genre any further than that would be a challenge. Part of the book's exquisite staying power is in the fact that dozens of other novels in the series referenced the title character in passing or even involved him a little more heavily in the story, but his own personal background and upbringing remained a secret until this work's publication, and I (along with hundreds of other readers, I presume) was devastated for what Acheron suffered, making him one of the most admirable heroes I've ever read in fiction.
What do you read for pleasure?
Everything. Cereal boxes, if there's nothing else laying around nearby.
In fiction, I read thrillers and suspense, select romance and fantasy, mysteries, and literary fiction. Favorite sub-genres include paranormal, supernatural, romantic, and urban contemporary.
In nonfiction, I read the Bible and Christian nonfiction, and books about theology, biography, memoir, humor, history, autobiography, psychology, culture, writing, publishing, freelancing, small business, marketing, floral design, crafts, home decor, cooking, travel, politics, parenting, personality types, blogging, and any obscure topic I need to research for a current project (bar-tending one day; the fashion industry the next; horses and gardening after that).
I also love poetry, modern/contemporary and classic, from Robert Frost to John Donne to Louise Gluck and Yusef Komunyakaa.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I prefer an actual book in my hands, but I do enjoy my Amazon Kindle Fire for its ability to access Internet in a pinch and for my ability to download several dozen books to take with me when I'm traveling, reducing the need for a third suitcase dedicated only to books and writing materials.
Describe your desk
A total wreck, and that's putting it nicely. Cups stuffed with pens and pencils ... a rack of CDs (yes, I'm that old-fashioned) ... a stack of unopened mail accumulated over the past week ... piles of magazines ... library books ... books about writing, publishing, memoir, character emotions, police procedure, personal finance ... a copy of the July 2014 "Hemispheres" magazine from a United Airlines flight ... newspaper articles ... bookmarks ... sunglasses ... takeout menus ... piles of books I still need to review for my blog ... coupons and catalogs ... church bulletins ... textbooks ... a rhyming dictionary ... a backup drive ... a baby names book for characters ... my Kindle ... file folders ... slips of paper on which I scribble quick ideas or words or phrases to jog my memory ... notebooks and folders ...
Did I mention I actually have two desks?
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing in second grade, eight years old, when my class in public school (God bless Geraldine Brezinski, my very patient and encouraging teacher) had a unit on writing. I drafted a story about a wizard who fell in love with a princess (riveting literature, let me tell you) and Ms. Brezinski got all our books hard-bound by a real publisher. I still have that first story somewhere.
Who are your favorite authors?
In fiction, Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels, Janet Evanovich, Jeanette Windle, Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Harper Lee, Norma Johnston, Anne Perry, Nicole St. John, Kristen Heitzmann, Dee Henderson, Francine Rivers, L.M. Montgomery, Ted Dekker, Robert Liparulo, Susan May Warren, Baroness Orczy, John Grisham, Elizabeth Haynes, and Sophocles, among others.
In nonfiction, Max Lucado, Donald Maass, James Scott Bell, Kevin Leman, Gary Chapman, John Cloud, Henry Townsend, Melody Beattie, Pia Mellody, Shannon Ethridge, John Eldredge, Stasi Eldredge, Wendy Shalit, Ravi Zacharias, and Philip Yancey, among others.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.