The Shepherd’s Song?
Laurie: The idea for The Shepherd’s Song began in a small coffee shop in Madison, Georgia, where we meet every week to write. That morning we prayed for God to reveal our next writing project. Up till that time we had written children’s books individually and together and we thought we had come to the coffee shop to plan our next children’s book.
Betsy: I had read the 23rd Psalm that morning in my quiet time and it was on my mind that day. We had both committed our writing to God and began to think the Psalm would be a good subject for a book. I had brought my Bible with me and we sat with the open Bible on the table for a long time.
Laurie: The problem was we couldn’t see it as a children’s book. As children’s writers it was hard to imagine writing a book that was longer than 64 pages! We knew that we could only do it with God leading us.
Betsy: The more we talked about the idea the more excited we became and we finished drafts of the first two stories that day.
Laurie: I was stuck immediately with the vision of a man in an olive grove in Italy, betrayed by his brother. Could he sit down to dinner with his brother? The story just about wrote itself.
Betsy: I was taken with the idea of green pastures and was touched by the thought of the struggles soldiers face after the trauma of combat. We both were passionate about our stories and the scripture.
Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. (and why it's special)
Betsy: We both remember this Psalm from childhood, in the King James version. In our minds He still leadeth and restoreth us! The Psalm was special from childhood but writing about the psalm took us deeper into the meaning behind the words.
Laurie: Psalm 23 is so well known. That was a good thing in connecting with readers but also made the writing difficult. The challenge for us was to look at these familiar words in fresh ways and imagine how God could work in a person’s life through each phrase. As we wrote the book and reflected on the psalm we found applications in our own lives.
Betsy: during the writing of the book, We were both blessed with our first grandchildren as our “cups ran over”. We both had struggles with illnesses in family members and we “walked through valleys”.
Laurie: We found encouragement in comfort in the words that we were writing.
What started you on your writing journey?
Betsy: Growing up the daughters of a writer shaped us. From our early days we listened to our mother tell us stories. Even when she read a book, the story often came out of her mouth differently. She could not resist adding, embellishing, pumping it up. Later millions of other children would hear her stories as she went on to win many awards for her children’s books.
Laurie: We have always loved books. Our first library was the book mobile, a truck packed with books that came through our neighborhood once a week. The most memorable library growing up in West Virginia was in the basement of the fire station. Our mother, writer and reader that she is, always made a great effort to put books into our hands.
Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
Laurie: Our main character Kate reflects a part in us and all people who at some point ask the question, “Has my life mattered.”
Betsy: I relate to Kate the most when I think of the years when my sons left home to start their own lives. It was a time when I had been a mother for so many years and suddenly I was not needed in that role the same way. My life would become very full again as God blessed me with work but those were the times when I asked God to “let my life count” like Kate does in the book.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Betsy: Writing makes you more adventurous. You have to get out of your comfort zone to try new things – things that your characters will do in books. When I was working on a book about rollercoasters I rode over 40 coasters in a year. I could never have described the emotion (fear!), and the sensory details without haven’t experienced it myself.
Laurie: One of my “quirkiest” things was also done for my writing! A shark dive in the Bahamas. Fortunately I lived and it made for a great story. We are always game for the next adventure.
Has some place you have traveled inspired something in your writing?
Laurie: As we researched sheep and shepherds we decided to visit a sheep farm. We had read many books about sheep and how God is our shepherd but the reality of that promise came through for us when we visited the sheep and watched a true shepherd at work. Keith Odom has a farm in North Georgia and we drove up for the afternoon.
Betsy: We watched Keith’s affection for his sheep, reminding us of God’s love for us. And we watched the sheep eat – not a pretty site. It reminded me how fearful we can be and how God always provides enough.
The whole experience brought new depth to our understanding of Psalm 23 and was important to us as we wrote a devotional series about our Shepherd.
Writing together has been a great adventure and we are continuing the journey. We are continuing to focus on scripture as our inspiration and are currently working with the Lord’s Prayer.
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They grew up in Morgantown, WV and after careers in medical fields they both began writing. For over twenty years they published more than thirty-five children’s novels with a variety of companies, both individually and together.
Their first collaborative efforts were with their mother. When their mother retired, Laurie and Betsy formed The Writing Sisters to express their faith in their writing and more directly use their talents for the glory of God. Their desire is for their fiction to show the power of God working in the world through Scripture.
Betsy and her husband live in Atlanta, GA. They lead a community group and mentor young engaged couples preparing for marriage. As a licensed counselor she worked for four years with homeless women in Atlanta performing individual and group therapy, often using writing as a tool for healing. Over the years Betsy has spoken at hundreds of elementary schools and has shared her ideas about healing and story with women’s groups. She has two grown sons.
Laurie and her husband live in Augusta, GA where she helped begin an urban Christian school for low-income families and serves on their Board as Treasurer. She leads Bible Studies for young wives in Medical Campus Outreach. She has spoken in elementary schools across the country, sharing with students her passion for writing. Laurie has three grown children.
Connect with Betsy and Laurie here:
Betsy and Laurie are giving away a copy of The Shepherd's Song. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
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