Friday, October 8, 2010

LETS CHAT FRIDAY with PATTY HICKMAN

I loved interviewing Ms. Patty Hickman!! She is absolutely one of my favorite authors. Not just because I love her writing, but there is something special about this sweet lady. She is just so kind and open to share her wisdom. She isn't afraid to share and she is inviting. You can feel the warmth of her heart even through her words. I have yet to read The Pirate Queen, but it is on my list. If you have picked up one of Patty's books then you too know what a talented lady she is. As her books carry us into the south, they leave us feeling as though we have just been washed with hospitality. Her characters are rich and true. Characters we can relate too and that makes a book even more special. We leave that book feeling as though we have just taken a journey.

I pray you too are blessed by our chat today. She is one of those ladies you just want to keep inviting back for more!

(Robin) Patricia, tell me a little about yourself:
(Patty) I’m currently promoting my seventeenth book, The Pirate Queen, including a fun sweepstakes called The Pirate Queen Treasure Trove. I developed the give-away project by first laying out some personal values. The give-away grew out of the values. I wanted the “treasure trove” to be generous and also fun. I’m married and have two great sons who are both in arts colleges. I’m about to adopt a morkie puppy. That is one of those hybrid dogs, part Maltese and part Yorkie. Maybe my readers would like to help me decide on a name. I’ve thought of Flannery if a girl and Pip if a boy. Guess why.


(Robin) Since you have walked with the Lord has there been a time you struggled in your faith? If so, would you please share?
(Patty) I don’t remember a time when I didn’t. I wish that my formative years in the faith had included a truthful education on the struggles of a life of faith instead of the Holly-go-lightly faith sold to me. However, what sustained me was the fact that Jesus Christ wooed me to Him, and he never gave up on me. He was relentless and that has been the biggest example of both grace and mercy in my walk with Him. He did not give me what I deserved (mercy), yet he lavished undeserved grace on my wounded soul as I sojourned and stumbled under his patient guidance.


(Robin) Has there been an "aha" moment in your life that has changed your perspective?
(Patty) Many. The first to come to mind, though, was when I was struggling through deep loss; there were people who, sure, said the wrong things. But what I remember best were the ones who had experienced loss and therefore had a deeper understanding of things like the “vigil of presence”, knowing when to simply go ahead and be helpful even though the suffering person is saying, “Oh, no, I don’t want to be a bother.” We’re taught in this culture not to let people into our lives when that is exactly what we need. So I learned when to let in, who to let in, and how best to be available to a friend in need.


(Robin) Do you have a favorite bible story, verse, song or hymn that gives encouragement when struggles come?
(Patty) “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness!” Lam. 3:22,23

My sixth grade teacher led us every morning in “He Walks With Me,”. The other students hated it and thought it was corny. But that old hymn has been such a balm during times of suffering. I think that teacher has certainly gone to be with the Lord, but I hope to thank him some day for not being afraid to show his faith to his students.


(Robin) What is one thing you look for in a close friend and what is one quality you hope others see in you?
(Patty) A close friend is different from an acquaintance because you’ve probably made the decision at some point to stick with one another no matter what. So the answer is universal in that a close friend loves you enough to overlook your flaws. And the same is true of me if I’m reciprocating properly; a close friend should be aware that I’m extending the same grace to her that she extends to me. I hope that my close friends see in me mercy and grace because I need so much of it from them.


(Robin) What are a few of your favorite books you have in your collection you would share with a friend?
(Patty) I have recently read Abide With Me, a novel by one of my former writing teachers Elizabeth Strout who won the 2010 Pulitzer for fiction. I like to recommend this novel to pastor’s wives or anyone who wades into church culture because the pastor’s wife in AWM is so vulnerable and lives her life “mask off.” That’s an unusual posture for a pastor’s wife, thus, a unique novel. It’s both beautiful and tragic and has some surprises as well as a gorgeous, spare voice. I often recommend a list of books to emerging writers when I teach. Just pulling one out of Patricia’s mix: My Name is Asher Lev by the late Chaim Potok. If you have qualms about presenting your worldview through fiction, look how Potok handles a treatment of religion and fiction, a crisis of faith, and life-changing decisions—masterfully.


(Robin) When life seems to go crazy, what is one thing you do to bring comfort and peace?
(Patty) Eat the Word. I would like to say for the sake of vulnerability, though, that there are seasons where your mind is swarming under the weight of crisis, loss, anything that turns your world on its ear, that even Bible reading seems to do nothing. And that’s fine, because we’re all human and sometimes the neurons are so fried that nothing goes in. Those are times when we have to rely on the power of God’s Word to sustain us due to prior deposits. Secondly, I took quite a few sabbaticals about every six months following the loss of our daughter Jessica. I learned about whole facets of faith that were missing from my disciplines such as meditation and solitude. I found great reflective strength in journaling, waking and going to bed with the sun, living by candlelight, no electronics, cell phone off, eating simply, and taking long walks. God allowed me to ask anything I wanted and never judged me. Those times deposited within me a deeper canyon of grace that I had not known until I suffered.


(Robin) What is one thing about yourself you admire?
(Patty) Admire is a word I don’t like to use regarding myself. I admire big things, like how a sunset is astoundingly stage-grabbing, yet different every evening. I suppose sometimes I’ll marvel at the handiwork of God in things like how my fingers work or how my mind continues to grow and develop just when it seems like not one more thing can be stuffed into it. But that would be more of an admiration of the Creator.


(Robin) What are a few of the things you love surrounding you?
(Patty) Besides my wonderful family? If you mean on a material plane, I love my gardens. They were first established when so many publishing friends sent a massive offering of plants and trees following Jessica’s death. They seemed to come endlessly, so much so that the front porch overflowed. There were plants everywhere. I could not let one plant die. So my husband and sons resigned to help me plant them in flower beds around the house we were moving into when Jessica had her fatal accident. I still think that it was important that we did that as a family, even though it was brutally hot outdoors. It unified us into a single act of love that became a metaphor of the love we had for Jessica. The gardens can be viewed on my FB page in the albums. But when I look at them, I see the love of precious friends poured out on a grieving family. And the love of God poured out through them.

(Robin) What are your deepest passions?
(Patty) Even though I’ve been a full time novelist for nearly two decades, I allowed my writing to suffer until the day my youngest went off to college. I determined that my children could come to me any time they needed me, and that my writing came second to my family. And now that they’ve turned out pretty well adjusted, I consider them an investment well made. Now I’m writing and marketing like mad and connecting much better with readers. I thank them for their patience and for understanding my heart, that my family is more important to me than anything on this earth. And though it seems impossible to love anyone else more, there is first place given to my Savior, the Lover of my soul. Those two things define me, I believe. Especially my writing. I write stories about family life and the emotional lives of women. What would I write about if I had never immersed myself in the subject of my books?


(Robin) What is the best advice ever given to you?
(Patty) I’ve been given a lot of good advice, especially from writing teachers and mentors, friends who are more successful than me. But when I was going through an especially hard season, a writer friend pointed me toward a wonderful international bible study fellowship. Through the guidance of teachers much smarter than I am about the Bible, I did not simply learn how to study it, but found that it deepened my understanding of God’s connection to humans. But it also healed me, a benefit I did not expect. And it solidified in me that I did find the right path to fullness of life. If I had not have discovered the right group, who knows how things would have turned out?


(Robin) In the legacy you leave, what is one thing you hope out shines before all others?
(Patty) I don’t know. Sometimes I wonder what my epitaph should say. She struggled, But She Made It, or Grace Sustained Her, Maybe You Should Try it Too. I guess that’s too long. But I love stories and how they affect me. I hope I leave behind some Jim-dandies that people tell about me, no-holds-barred, you know? I don’t want anyone making me out to be something I wasn’t or embellishing because they have to, because my choices and actions weren’t enough. Some people will be glad I’m gone and the ones who understood me will mourn. A legacy is a deposit made in the heart of another, so I hope I’ve left a bankroll in human resources stretching from this earth to eternity. In that case, only God can see it. It isn’t for us to lay claim on it.


(Robin) What are you currently working on?
(Patty) A novel set in modern times, coming-of-age. It’s set in the South, like all of my novels. I hope that in this WIP I can create some thoughts in the readers mind about the people around us we might overlook, to cause the reader to realize the human ore that sets parked at their own back door waiting to be mined. In one sense, there is that subtext embedded within The Pirate Queen too. But this current WIP is completely different. I hope that the readers find every story I write unlike the others.


(Robin) How do you define success?
(Patty) Success is the love I pour into another that fills their sails like a great, refreshing wind. And I stand quietly watching them go off on their journey, just like the people who filled my sails watched me.

If you try and hang on to as much stuff that you can collect materially, you will sink. Travel light and give away everything, everything so that when you leave, nothing is holding you down. If you do that, you will be known by all as a successful person.

One of my favorite questions to ask others is, "How do you define success?" Many define by the worlds standards and for me, that is so sad to try to measure ourselves against this world. I love Patty's answer to this question. I think she illustrated it beautifully. I always try to carry away a gem from each interview and I believe this is one I can carry away and hold as a treasure. I pray you too walk away with a nugget more valuable than gold.
 
Thank you so much Patty. Blessings and prayers of success to you sweet lady. Grab one of Patty's books. I promise you will find yourself blessed indeed!! Please leave Patty your thoughts and questions. I know she would love to hear from you!!

Patty is having a contest right now!! Follow this link to find out all the information!!
http://apps.facebook.com/sweepstakeshq/contests/60761


Follow this link to follow Patty!!
http://www.facebook.com/?sk=messages#!/pages/Patricia-Hickman/34010447810

Follow this link to Patty's website: http://patriciahickman.com/
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