1. Toni, what made you start writing?
Some years ago, I was having difficulties finding the right words to express myself to the Lord in prayer. No pulpit message or bible study brought those words to my lips. One day, I picked up a novel. The heroine in the story spoke the words that were burning in my spirit, but I couldn’t verbalize. Ah, the release! I remember shouting, “Lord, this is what I’ve been trying to say to You!”
It was a fictional story, but it “spoke” life into me.
Shortly after that, I felt compelled to write.
The thing I want most is to be in the center of God’s will. I truly believe that writing is His will for me in this season of my life.
2. How important is faith in your books?
Acts 17:28 says it best: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”
My faith is everything to me. It’s not just a way of life. It is my life. Because it is so integral to who I am, it will always be an important factor in anything that I do. That includes writing novels.
3. What author’s books do you enjoy reading?
I’m an avid reader. I enjoy so many books. If I list authors here, I’m afraid I’ll leave out some really good ones. I’ll just say that I like cozy mysteries and historical and contemporary romances. My only requirement is that they MUST give me a good giggle.
4. Do you put yourself into your books/characters?
Not intentionally, but I don’t believe that it’s possible to write a story and not have elements of yourself shape the characters that you “give birth” to.
In Expectations, Daria’s main struggle was my own—unforgiveness. I experienced firsthand its stagnating and destructive force. Like Daria, I also experienced Christ’s liberating power in this area.
5. Do you have any advice for other writers?
• I encourage newbies to find a mentor and be willing to learn. After you’ve found your voice and sharpened your skills, allow the Lord to direct you in how, when, and where He wants His message to be released.
• Make sure you know why you’re writing. Are you writing for profit or to be a conduit for the Lord’s message?
• Writing is hard work and not everyone will appreciate your brilliance. LOL! Weigh what you hear. Accept that which edifies—instructs and improves. Reject that which destroys.
• Remember, enjoyment of the written word is subjective. One person may not like your story, but another may love it.
• Please, please keep it real. Don’t sugarcoat life and the truth. I have received encouraging responses from readers about Expectations. Without fail, they’ve enthused about how real and believable the characters and situations are. If readers can identify with your characters and feel like they are a part of your story, I believe there’s a better chance of the message being accepted.
6. What are you working on right now?
I am currently working on my second novel, Even Then (working title). It contains some of the lovable and hilarious characters from Expectations. Even Then is a romantic comedy-drama about two women whose hearts are sent into a tailspin when they’re broadsided by the love of men they thought they knew very well.
If you like Aunt Lenore and Aunt Euvinia in Expectations, you’re going to love ‘em in Even Then.
7. Where can we find Expectations?
Expectations is available at…
• On-line bookstores (amazon.com, target.com, christianbook.com, etc.)
• 1-877-421-READ (7323)
• Local bookstores (if you don’t see it on the shelf, ask for it).