Ava Pennington is an author, Bible teacher, and speaker. She has written One Year Alone with God, co-authored Faith Basics for Kids, and has published numerous magazine articles and short stories in anthologies, including fourteen Chicken Soup for the Soul books.
Ava is also a passionate speaker and teacher, and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. Learn more at www.AvaWrites.com.
When did you decide to be a writer?
I dreamed of writing from childhood…literally! I’d have the most vivid dreams, and I thought they’d make great stories. I kept pen and paper on the nightstand, and recorded as much as I could remember when I awoke.
At what point did you stop juggling suggestions and critiques and trust yourself (as a writer)?
When I finally started writing as a serious pursuit, I had a passion to write non-fiction. However, the advice I received was that without a significant platform I had little chance of being published. I had also developed a children’s picture book series, but was told that there was no longer a market for picture books. I dropped both projects and switched to writing fiction, but my heart wasn’t in it.
After more than three years writing fiction, I heard a keynote speaker at a writers conference speak about writing your passion. I realized I had been listening to everyone except the quiet voice that had been speaking to my heart.
I began a new non-fiction devotional project on the names of God, and revived the children’s project with a co-author. Within a year, both projects were under contract!
Are you a disciplined writer or do you just write when you feel like it?
Both! I subscribe to the exhortation “BICHOK,” also known as “butt in chair, hand on keyboard.” However I’m usually juggling multiple projects—short stories for anthologies, magazine articles, blogging, and the current book manuscript—so if the creative juices are not flowing for one project, I switch to another.
What kind of activities do you like to do that help you relax and step away from your deadlines for a bit?
I love to read and teach. Reading broadens my world, and teaching broadens my relationships (and usually gives me great illustrations!).
How do you think reading the work of others helps you as a writer?
I love how reading helps me see life from different perspectives. And I grow in my craft as I expose myself to the work of gifted writers who create vivid mental pictures using combinations of only twenty-six letters!
Tell us a little about your latest release:
One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God (Revell Books) has been a project very close to my heart. This guide to the names of God provides 366 life-changing, personal devotions for new Christians and longtime believers. Readers will explore 122 names and attributes of God from three perspectives, discovering something special about who God is, who they are, and how they relate to others.
Where did you get your inspiration for One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God?
The first time I heard a teaching on the names of God was through a sermon series on The Lord’s Prayer when I was a new Christian. When the pastor reached “Hallowed be Thy Name,” he took a detour into a list of some of the Hebrew names of God found in the Old Testament.
A few years later, I read Lord, I Want to Know You by Kay Arthur. Once again, I was touched by the personal applications of each of the names of God. And I’m excited to say that Kay Arthur has endorsed One Year Alone with God!
Your book deals with the names of God. What is your personal favorite and why?
This may sound like a cop-out, but I don’t have any one personal favorite. The more I’ve studied the names and attributes of God, the more personal He has become to me. Different names speak to my heart depending on my circumstances. One thing I can attest to: I have never been in a situation where I haven’t been able to draw on a particular name or attribute of God to touch my spirit with healing, hope, or encouragement.
What is the main thing you hope readers remember from this book?
God is not an impersonal force “out there.” He is real, He is personal, and He desires to be in relationship with each one of us. The more we get to know Him through the names and attributes He has revealed in His Word, the easier it is for us to trust Him in every circumstance.
What kinds of things have you done to market this book? Have you found anything that works particularly well?
Since One Year Alone with God released October 2010, I’m still learning what works and what doesn’t. I’m using social media (Facebook, Twitter, ShoutLife) and I’m participating in a blog tour. I moved my blog from WordPress to my website (www.AvaWrites.com) to increase traffic to the website. I’ve scheduled a launch party and book signing, with other book signings planned as well. Since I’m a speaker and teacher, I’ve also arranged to speak at different churches for women’s events.
Tell us what new projects you’re working on.
I’m dividing my time between two new book projects – a solo adult book on prayer and a co-authored picture book series for children, Faith Basics for Kids. The first two books in the children’s series will be released by Standard Publishing in January, 2011.
Do you have any parting words of advice?
If God has placed a writing project on your heart, then write! Keep writing, but also keep learning. Read as much as you can in your genre. Listen to the editors, agents, and published writers who offer their expertise through websites, blogs, conferences, and books. The only sacred words are in the Bible, so be willing to consider that maybe…just maybe, there’s room for your work to improve. Don’t give up!