Friday, June 20, 2008

And Now ... Forged in the Refiner's Fire

Where was this book when life was particularly trying for me? When I got the opportunity to participate in Candace’s blog tour, it was short notice with little time to read (and I’m a slow reader.) However, I had to jump at the chance because I’m a fan of hers. It was quite unusual then, when I managed to read the whole book in one sitting because I found it so captivating.

A collection of personal experiences by a variety of authors, this book deals with many tender subjects from infertility to substance abuse, from life-threatening injuries to lifestyle-altering job concerns, and everything in between. I believe I’ve read a book or two that tried to address these issues, but it seems to me they always tried to make me feel like somehow, somewhere, I had failed to do something that would have made these trials easier to bear.

What I loved about Forged in the Refiner’s Fire, is that the people sharing their stories, shared their whole stories—the good, the bad, and the ugly. They did not paint themselves as saints worthy of translation. They willingly showed their faults and shared the lessons they learned while suffering through their tribulations.

I was truly touched by the stories, the personalities that shone through the words and the testimonies that were shared. This book will have a place on my bookshelf because it promises to be timeless in its value for me—for though I do not seek trials, I know they will not stop coming until I have stopped living!

I am grateful for this book and all it strives to offer its readers. I encourage you to read it for yourself, whether you are currently experiencing a challenge, or have in the past, you can bet you likely will in the future, and the stories contained in Forged in the Refiner’s Fire might just offer you the keys to enduring it well.

What prompted you to want to produce a book like Forged in the Refiner’s Fire?

Elizabeth Cheever, my co-author, is the one who came up with the original concept. When she approached me, I was very busy but drawn to the whole idea of Forged in the Refiner’s Fire. While we were deciding the direction we wanted the book to go, Elizabeth came up with a list of questions that would shape the kind of stories we wanted. We needed stories of real people going through real life trials and tribulations. Those people needed to have made it through that trial and drawn closer to God in the process. And even then, I did not understand the powerful book that would come to be, not until I held the first copy in my hands.

Can you share any experiences you might have had while compiling it?

During the compilation and writing of the introductory chapter (Elizabeth) and the concluding chapter (me), Elizabeth and I were in full writer and editor mode. I can’t speak for her, but for me I could sense the power of the stories but was very wrapped up in grammar, punctuation, structure, flow and order of the stories. So no, I felt no special experiences. But the first day it came out my publisher brought me a case of books to the hospital where Alvin was. We cut it open and Alvin settled back in his bed while I read to him. Three pages into the book I began to cry until I could no longer read. That was when the full magnitude and power of what Elizabeth and I had pulled together hit me. It was all we had hoped for and more. Average people with tremendous trials who’d made it through. That is Forged in the Refiner’s Fire.

Why did you choose to compile stories as opposed to writing a book yourself?

I actually am going to write a book about everything Alvin and I have been through over the last six years, but to me, there’s seems to be more power in the collective stories of others. While a certain reader may not connect with Robin’s story they may certainly be hit hard by Donna’s. With the compilation we manage to have something for everyone.

How did you come to work with Elizabeth Cheever?

Elizabeth and I met at the very first LDS Storymakers Writers Conference in the spring of 2004. She is a shy woman, but very tall. We were both unpublished authors at the time. There was something about her that drew me to her, so I shot her a smile and invited her to sit with me on the front row of the auditorium. I told her tall women needed to stick together and I’d snagged us some seats with leg room. That was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Turns out we had a world of things in common. When she approached me with the idea, I couldn’t say no.

Forged in the Refiner’s Fire has a strong message of personal worth and the love of God—do you feel it is your mission to share His love with His children?

With everything in me I believe that is part of my mission. We are so beloved by our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. If we only stop to consider the sacrifice they both made.

Jesus descended from His heavenly throne to come into a world where His message would be rejected by His own. He was ridiculed, scorned and scoffed at. At the conclusion of the crowning glory of the world’s history and future, the Atonement, Jesus Christ was betrayed by a childhood friend, one of his own apostles. After having literally bled from every pore because the agony was so excruciating, that we might gain eternal life, He was arrested, rushed through a kangaroo trial, mocked and beaten with the cat of nine tails (a whip with sharp objects sewn into multiple tails) which tore at His flesh causing the blood to run freely. He was betrayed by the very people he’d come to save and ultimately crucified. And as our Lord and Redeemer hung on that cross, after enduring unimaginable agony, He said, “Forgive them Father for they know not what they do.”

Now step back for a moment and consider the parent, Heavenly Father, who had to watch this and could not step in and stop it. As His bled from every pore He couldn’t rush to His side, cradle Him in His arms and whisper, “It’s okay, Son. I won’t let them hurt you anymore.” No, in order to save us all, He had to allow Jesus Christ to suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane and then die in a cruel and excruciating fashion. His Father’s heart must have torn from the sheer agony of not being able to protect the Son He loved so much.

And it was all because they love us. Oh yes, I do believe that is my mission.

How has the creation of Forged in the Refiner’s Fire differed from other books that you have written?

It was so exciting to literally let the Gospel of Jesus Christ flow out of me. It was an incredible experience and one I am anxious to repeat. But I am a lover of fiction and my first book, Out of the Shadows . . . Into the Light, was a page-turning romantic suspense, which is my favorite genre. It was so much fun to write and I am loving writing fiction again.

My second book, 13 and 0: Reflections of Champions, was one I was approached to write by my publisher. Never in a million years would I have anticipated writing a sports biography. Not in any parallel universe or any period in history. But it turned out to be a wonderful experience. I count it a privilege and a blessing that I was able to bring the story of these young men who achieved the perceived impossible to the written word. A university nestled in the Rocky Mountains took the national title in football in 1984. Wow, it was a blast to write and I love having young athletes read it and realize the characteristics of true heroes rather than those we see in the media.

Is Forged in the Refiner’s Fire available in stores? Where can my readers buy a copy?

It is available, but the numbers are dwindling. Forged is in another print run, even as we speak. But in the meantime, to insure your readers can continue to purchase copies until those books hit the shelves, they can go to my website:

Are there any parting words you would like to share with my readers?

Hope. The Gospel of Jesus Christ brings hope to the most faint-hearted of us. And with that hope comes an understanding that we are not alone and were never meant to walk this thorny path of mortality alone. Jesus Christ stands as our Lord, Savior and Redeemer and through Him we can gain the strength to get up and keep moving forward, keeping our eye single to the glory of God and He who waits to welcome us home. You are not alone, you’ve only to look to Him.