Today, I’m privileged to host guest author Nikki Arana on widgetwords. Nikki is an award-winning author of women’s fiction, essays, poetry, and magazine articles, whose work has been published in the United States and Canada. She’s won several national awards, including the American Christian Fiction Book of the Year for Women’s Fiction – twice, and the Beacon Award. Her novel, The Winds of Sonoma was named “One of the Top 20 Books of the Year” by Christianbook.com. You can visit her website here.
Outside of writing, Nikki, what are your greatest passions?
My greatest passion is helping persecuted Christians who are under the threat of death. I have a ministry called A Voice for the Persecuted that connects to them in a very personal way through avenues we’ve developed. We assess their needs and seek solutions tailored to their situation. Our goal is to provide all resources necessary to sustain life until a safe refuge can be found. It is all about developing resources. I’m trying to raise public awareness about this through my upcoming novel, The Next Target, which is scheduled for a June 1st release.
What’s your worst nightmare?
This is easy because I’m having it now. Being asked if I’d like to appear on national television. I’m pretty fluffy and the thought of being in a situation where I look at least 10 pounds heavier is truly a nightmare.
A national television appearance – very exciting! I hope it’s a great experience for you. Another question for you: What makes you laugh?
Of course there are lots of things, but one in particular is a cat named Channo. We had a persecuted Christian living with us and he got a cat. A free barn cat. The cat was part Siamese and part human. I’m sure of it. He did everything he saw us do. If we opened a cabinet. He would watch and then do it. If we got our medicine out of it. He would wait until we left the room then open it and knock the pills off the shelf to the counter. Really! He would hide around corners and when we passed by he’d leap out and grab our legs. Mean both front “arms” locked around our calves. Then tear down the hall and out of sight. He was a four-legged human. He’d used his front paws like hands to eat. One day we watched him sit at his food bowl. And instead of crouching down to eat . . . he took his left paw and scooped up some food and put it in his mouth!! It was hysterical. We loved him so much. But he moved with his owner and helped him start his new life.
Do you write daily, with a set schedule?
My life has been very difficult for the past two years. I am the only caregiver for my 90-year-old mother who has Alzheimer and my 94-year-old father, who is in heart and kidney failure. It is hard to set a schedule. I typically get up at about 4:30 AM to write, and I stop when I get called to help them in some way, or have to take care of my husband’s landscaping business, or go to the bank, etc. Then I return to my desk and work until about 10PM on my WIP, interviews, promotions…you get the idea.
But I am not complaining because this has been a wonderful time of intimacy with Christ. The pressure just makes me lean on Him more and He provides for me in extraordinary, miraculous ways. Just this past month, my mother had a massive stroke that left her unable to speak or use her right side. When she was in brain surgery to drain the fluid off, the surgeon saw a tumor and biopsied it. Two weeks later they called and told me it was cancer. I didn’t tell her or my father. I just couldn’t bear to add to their burdens. She was recovering use of her right side and beginning to speak. They were feeling hopeful. Last week the doctor did a second scan. I went to meet privately with him to find out how long she had to live. Before I went, I felt so overwhelmed and discouraged. How much longer do I have to struggle through the days to be strong for her? How much longer can I? I prayed just two words to the Lord before leaving the house, “Help me.”
When I got there, the doctor reviewed the scan . . . There is no tumor. There is no cancer. I will never forget the tremendous weight I felt fall from my shoulders. The surgeon said he can’t explain it. But there is no cancer there. And as I stood just looking at him, God whispered to me, “Your help is at hand.”
Wow! What a miracle, for your mom and for you. PTL! One more question: Have you ever written yourself into a corner? If so, how did you remedy the situation?
I can’t remember the specifics, but once in The Winds of Sonoma, and once in The Fragrance of Roses, I got stuck. It was like having writer’s block. I couldn’t think of anything to move the plot forward. I tried to figure something out for hours. I finally just took a break and read my Bible. After a short time I returned to my computer. I went back about 20 pages and read through the text leading up to the problem spot. And as I read, I realized I had missed a great opportunity that would improve the story. First the idea came, then as I looked back in the manuscript, I saw that everything I needed was already written in! It was as if I had been writing to create the plot twist from the beginning. That was the case both times I got stuck! It taught me something very important. For me at least, it isn’t writer’s block. I believe it is the Holy Spirit stopping me. trying to show me something that He wants me to do. Now, when I get stuck I immediately go back and review the chapters leading up to the problem. It works every time!
Anything else you’d like to say?
If God has called you to write the books of His heart, rest assured, He will prosper what He ordains. Face your writing future with excitement and anticipation for what He is about to do. Watch for the opportunities that are surely before you. My life experience has taught me that He never performs His will in the way I expect, and it is always a thousand times better than anything I imagined.
You can learn more about me and my books by visiting my website, or by following my new blog, Words for the Journey. If you would like to help raise awareness about persecuted Christians here in America, you can get the code to put a banner about The Next Target on your website, Facebook, or any place you think is appropriate, from the Media Kit on my website.
Thank you, Nikki. May God richly bless your writing and your wonderful ministry to persecuted Christians.
If you’d like to sample Nikki’s writing, she’s offering The Winds of Sonoma free on Kindle May 16 through May 20. Just click here.
Go to Nikki’s Facebook Author Page today through June 4 for a chance to win a free Kindle. And while you’re there, “like” her page for her. 😉