A bit over a week ago, the winners of the 2013 Fiction Page Turner Winners were announced (check out the announcement here). Over the next several weeks, watch the blog to learn a bit more about each of the winners and their manuscripts. The first interview, with Page Turner Champion Theresa Santy, is below. Come learn more about her writing journey, her winning manuscript At The Water’s Edge, and a very interesting hobby she has!

Joanne Sher: First of all, congratulations on your win! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?

Theresa Santy: Thank you!

On the night before Page Turner winners were to be announced, I received a call from my FaithWriters challenge buddy Tracy Nunes. It was unusual for her to call December 2013 bnwme. We met in person at the FaithWriters conference in Oregon, but most of our communication has been through email and text. “What’s up?” I asked, not having any idea why she was calling. She asked if I’d looked at the FaithWriters website lately. “No. Why?” I replied, still having no clue. It didn’t dawn on me that it was already past midnight on the east coast and that the results could already be posted. Then Tracy squealed. Oh my gosh. She was kidding, right? I had seen the list of finalists…and I realized what people mean when they say that they are honored just to be nominated. It was an amazing group.

I made Tracy wait on the phone while I logged onto FaithWriters to see for myself. By then, my husband and daughter were hovering over my laptop, too. And there it was—my name flashing across the banner! Then I squealed. The rest of the night was a blur because my head was spinning so fast. But I do recall having a five-minute dance party with my daughter on my bed.

JOANNE: Oh, if only I could have been a fly on the wall! When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing?

THERESA: I’ve enjoyed writing from the moment I could hold a pencil, but my passion for writing came in the summer of 2008. It happened at an outdoor wedding. The message of the ceremony told the love story of my uncle and his bride: the couple’s journey had been rough, but through Christ, they persevered. There wasn’t a dry eye in the park. At the end the pastor said, “Surely, there is someone here who can tell this story. A writer, or producer…” I gasped. The sun spotlighted my face and everybody else seemed to disappear.

“But I’m not a writer,” I protested.

A few days later I was minding my own business, when a red book glared at me from deep inside an alcove. I pulled the book out–The Power to Write, by Caroline Joy Adams. A dear friend of mine had given it to me months back, because I used to throw out comments like, “I like writing, but I could never be a writer. Perhaps in a different life…”

From the moment I started reading this book, I could not stop myself from writing and learning about writing. The story of my aunt and uncle has yet to be told, by the way, and it remains in the back of my mind.

JOANNE: Wow – so inspirational. I hope you DO write that story about your aunt and uncle! Is writing a hobby or potential career for you?

THERESA: When I was first struck with the passion to write I would say, “I don’t know what I will write, but whatever it is, it will be to the glory of God.” I later discovered that writing to the glory of God is not an easy target to define.

To answer your question, I’m not sure where my writing life is headed. But I do know that my focus must first be turned to God. My whole heart, my soul, and my mind must be given to Him. Then no matter what I write—or say or do, for that matter—will naturally be to His glory.

JOANNE: Now THAT is the proper attitude to have! Share a bit about At The Water’s Edge. Where did you get the idea for it? What’s it about? How far along in it are you?

THERESA: Once I’d read The Power to Write and several more books on writing, no one could stop me from talking about writing. One day near the end of 2009, another dear friend said, “You should start a blog and write a story on it.” I searched the internet and found tons of serial fiction written online. So I dove in.

Beginning January 2010, I started writing a blog fiction called KristenAC the ManiAC. I knew that my main character, Kristen Addison Craemer, was an interior design specialist who lived by the beach. I knew she had a messed up past, but was determined to move forward. And I knew Kristen was a non-believer but somehow that would change. And that was it. I wrote the story like a diary blog, by the main character, in the present time. So if there was an earthquake (which there was), Kristen felt it too. Also, anyone who commented on the blog was speaking directly with Kristen. It was weird—talk about writing on the fringe! Of all the serial fiction written online, only a small percentage was blog fiction. And of all the blog fiction written, only three were Christian blog fiction. So my story was like a speck of lint on the tip of the nose of Cindy Lou Who. It wasn’t a great way to build a fan base. But it was a great way to build a story, practice and learn the art of writing, and understand my main character.

I wrote one or two posts each week, based on whatever inspiration struck me at the time. I rarely knew what was going to happen next. I wrote a lot of plot threads that went nowhere, but after two years, I ended up with a decent core plot. I’ve since deleted the blog and have been re-working the story into a manuscript. The story is written from beginning to end, but I still have some character and plot strengthening to do.

JOANNE: Definitely a unique way to come up with a story. I want to read it! How did you find FaithWriters and what made you stick around?

THERESA: I don’t remember how I found FaithWriters, but I know why I stick around. FW is like a wing of spiritual protection for me. Like most FW members—I’m sure—my writing life and my spiritual life are bound together. FW is the only place I’ve found where I can safely express myself in both of these areas.

Fun Fact: For the forums, I chose the username WriterFearNot because when I first became a member, I was afraid of writing for public consumption and I was afraid to mention God in my writing. Thanks to FW and the love and support of dear friends, those fears have diminished.

JOANNE: FaithWriters is definitely unique, and special, that way, isn’t it? Glad you’re sticking around! What are your other passions besides writing?

THERESA: I love reading, taking long walks with friends, and studying the Bible. I love watching plays and shows produced by high schools and small production companies. I love listening to my son play his trumpet and my daughter play the piano. I love being surrounded by my husband’s blooming orchids. I also love to shoot guns. Yikes! Did I really say that?

Four years ago, I was terrified to even look at a firearm. So I threw guns into my story to force myself to face my fear. Recently, as I was fine-tuning some details in my manuscript, I decided to find out what it’s really like to hold and shoot a gun. When I arrived at the outdoor shooting range to begin my “research,” I kept ducking at the sound of gunfire, even though everyone else appeared calm. Before long, I was lining up the sights and shooting my first rifle. I tried a variety of firearms, including a .357 magnum revolver and a rapid engagement precision rifle known as the Reaper. I hit the bullseye three out of five shots on that one!

JOANNE: Remind me to stay away from you when you’re armed 😉 Is there anything else you’d like to add?

THERESA: Yes. I would like to say thanks to you, Joanne, and to the entire FaithWriters staff for all you do. You pour yourselves into FaithWriters and it shows in the glittering path being paved toward the Kingdom of God. You all rock.

JOANNE: You are VERY welcome – and I couldn’t agree more about the FW staff. And YOU, Theresa, also rock. Thanks so much for sharing a bit of yourself with us – and congrats again on your win! Can’t wait to see your book in print some day!

Watch for interviews with Kevin Ingram and Jim McWhinnie, the Page Turner runners-up, in future blog posts! And the 2014 Page Turner opens January 1, 2014 – this year is nonfiction.

What part of this interview was most interesting? Inspirational?

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