Today we are delighted to feature The Shepherd's Song, written by Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers and published by Howard books!
Betsy and Laurie, welcome to Found a Christian blog.
Thank you both for seeking me out to be a reviewer, and for giving me an interview. I love telling the world about meaningful stories and discovering new favorites for my bookshelf!
Shepherd's Song is both a keeper for my library and a story I'm eager to share.
First, you are "The Writing Sisters," and you're really sisters, aren't you? That is so neat.
Yes, we are sisters - not just spiritual sisters, but real biological sisters too. We grew up in a writing home. Our mother wrote children’s books and our father was a college professor who wrote books about aviation. We were surrounded by books and have always valued reading and writing.
How and when did you first team up to write together?
We wrote independently for twenty years, but we had collaborated on four books with our mother. We loved collaboration - writing can be a lonely endeavor. We enjoyed the excitement of sharing the writing, sharing the pain of rejection and also sharing the joy of successes. When our mother decided to retire, we decided to form the Writing Sisters, specifically to show about the power of God’s word to change lives.
Where did the inspiration for Shepherd's Song come from?
The inspiration came straight from God. We were not even thinking about writing for adults. We had been writing children’s novels for twenty years so when we moved to the Christian market we thought that’s what we’d be doing. But God placed the idea before us and we were shocked. We had great doubts about whether we could do it, but we knew we had to try it. God doesn’t call the capable. He makes you capable.
We were intrigued with the idea that without any explanation the Word of God could change a life. In fact one character doesn’t speak English, and only recognizes one word of the Psalm - water. Is that enough to find the one true God? We loved that thought.
I think it is a reassuring story, because it reminded me that God can take a simple act and use it to change the world. When one person receives the news of God, who knows how many people they will touch in turn? You really can set off a landslide. I think from time to time we all ask: "Is anything I'm doing really making a difference?" Was that question part of the spark behind the story?
Yes, we all want to make a difference - and the things we do don’t have to be big to make a difference. In fact, little things prompted by love that can make the biggest difference of all.
I so enjoyed following the Psalm around the world, and meeting the people who received it one by one. Their individual stories were each compelling. How did you come up with them as characters?
Characters come from all different places. Physical traits can come from someone we know, or a stranger we spot on the street. Personality traits can also come from people we knew when we were children, or someone we read about in the paper. And sometimes characters come straight out of our heads with no connection to anyone. The feelings of the characters come from our own experiences. Grief, pain, love, shame, fear all are in some way and at different levels common experiences for everyone.
I want to ask this question… you can laugh if you like! When you are out and about, do you look at people and think that they belong in your story? Do you imagine their past and their fears and their motivations?
Ha - occupational hazard of writing. It doesn’t happen often, but yes, sometimes in an airport or on a street you’ll see someone intriguing, and wonder about them - what’s their story, what makes them tick.
And another thing that really stood out to me was the way each person found a special meaning in the Psalm. For one, it was the anointing of the oil. For another, it was being led in the right paths of life. You must have meditated over this Psalm often to absorb each meaning. Which meanings meant the most to you at the time of the writing?
That’s such a hard question. The all-encompassing role of the shepherd is significant to us and we saw that when we visited the sheep farm. The shepherd is everything to the sheep. What a great picture of the role of Jesus in our lives.
If we had to pick individual lines from the Psalm if would probably be the first and last lines - “The Lord is my shepherd” that opening line where God is confirmed as completely in control. And the final line with that remarkable promise of dwelling with Him forever.
Thank you again for visiting, and for my copy of Shepherd's Song.
I hope to visit with you again sometime, Writing Sisters!
This book begins with several scenes from the perspective of Kate McConnell, and the scenes are made up of her impressions.
Sounds: sirens and then doctors telling her to "Stay with them," and sights: worried faces of nervous paramedics and then hospital walls, and feelings: pain, and fog, and trying to fight her way up through it...
Kate had just been freed from her car after an interstate pile-up.
It had been a busy, snowy, yet happy day for her. True, life had been a bit difficult recently: Kate was worried about her college-age son, and her husband wasn't able to help her in that department. So Kate had taken the time to sow yet another good seed in Mark's life.
She had written out Psalm 23 and slipped it in his coat, praying that he would find it at an unexpected moment and be touched by it.
For Kate, that was a characteristic action, to reach out to someone with a word and a kind gesture.
Yet she still wondered if what she did really made an impact. Did those ordinary little acts leave any lasting marks on the lives around her?
And then the focus zooms out, as it were, and we leave Kate while she is being prepped for surgery.
It is time to follow that folded piece of plain white paper with the eternal words penned on it in a hopeful mother's handwriting.
Kate's "ordinary little act" is about to travel the world and invite everyone who reads it to come closer to God.
Psalm 23 moves from dry-cleaner-destined-coat to envelope headed overseas. It is passed hand-to-hand, blown by a sand-storm in the desert and thrown out a hotel room window. The men and women that it comes to are in an olive grove on the Gulf of Naples, a military base hospital, running in a marathon in Italy and waiting their turn in a tattoo parlor in Barcelona, just to start with. Psalm 23 found one man in the valley of the shadow with a suicide plan. It found a young woman who had always feared the evil that had abused her so thoroughly in the past.
For one recipient, the Psalm was about the peace offered in the green pastures.
For another, the Psalm spoke of a Shepherd who cared for ALL the sheep with tenderness. For another who was deep in grief, Psalm 23 was about the restoration of the soul.
And each of these short stories-within-the-story is beautiful. This isn't a fluff book at all, the characters, even in the brief glimpses we get, are solid and rough around the edges. And the insight is deep. The authors crushed the grapes of Scripture here and pressed out new wine from the beloved Psalm of comfort. This story makes you sad and happy at once. The Shepherd's Song is a pleasure to read.
Thank you Howard books for my review copy!