Welcome back, everyone. This week, I’m delighted to have as a guest, Eva Marie Everson, author of the Cedar Key series. I met Eva Marie when I attended Write to Publish Writers’ Conference in Wheaton, Illinois. I read one of her earlier books, This Fine Life, which I reviewed in this blog. And of course, I was hooked and knew I’d have to get whatever she wrote. And I did.
It’s always nice to learn about the authors we read, to get to know them a little more. So now, I’ll let her tell you–and me–about herself.
I came to Cedar Key because of the 2004 hurricane season, which hit Florida like … well, a hurricane. Four of them. Most of the places I went to “getaway” along the east coast had been destroyed or badly damaged. When I lamented to my hairdresser about it, she mentioned that another of her clients raved about Cedar Key, Florida, which is located on the west coast of Florida.
I called a writer-friend, award-winning author Janice Elsheimer, and asked if she would like to go with me to “check it out.” She said she would. And so we set out …
Along the way we stopped at antique shops and thrift stores and little cafes for coffee. But when we turned down the long stretch that calls itself Highway 24, we realized we were leaving all “civilization” behind. And happily.
The road is bordered on both sides by foliage. Miles and miles of it. Then, marshland that stretches to the open water of the Gulf of Mexico and on to the horizon where the sun either rises or sets. Because of its location, Cedar Key boasts the morning sun easing itself out of the water and, at night, that same sun exploding in color as it sets on the other side of the island. Early birds often gather at the docks to watch it ascent, but it seems that nearly the whole island–locals and visitors–gather on the west side to watch it set.
So, I fell in love with Cedar Key. On our third trip, I opened a magazine for a little afternoon reading and came across an ad for Liz Claiborne Spring Whites that showed five women dressed in white and sitting in a beach house. A complete story line flash across my mind, seriously, just like that. I held up the magazine and said to Janice, “Do you see the story here?” And then I shared it with her. These were the Claybourne (yep, I sorta stole that!) sisters … all but one. They live in Orlando, vacation in Cedar Key in a home owned by their father that rises along the marshes.
I took the story to my editor at Baker Publishing Group (Revell imprint) and three books later, we have not only the Cedar Key, but the multiple-award winning Cedar Key Series–Chasing Sunsets; Waiting for Sunrise (which finaled for a Christy); and Slow Moon Rising.
Writing the novels was, for me, almost cathartic. I’ve been writing professionally since 1997 when I started writing for a children’s ministry. At the same time I started penning my first novel (the third book I had published), which took most of 1997 into 1998. In 1999, with a little nonfiction book idea, I ventured into what was then called “CBA” (Christian Booksellers Association Convention), where I met with Susan Schlabaugh of Barbour Publishing. We hit if off immediately and, 9 days later, she called and offered me a book contract.
In 1997 I also went to the very first meeting of what would become Word Weavers International, Inc., of which I am now the president. WWI, which started with only five wannabe writers meeting around a dining room table, is now 35 face-to-face chapters, about 3 Online Chapters (and constantly growing), in both the United States and Canada. In about 1999, as our little group of 5 which had become 25 floundered, I formed “Word Weavers,” served as their president for six years, then in leadership as it became more than just an Orlando-based group, then continuing in leadership when it was acquired by Jerry B. Jenkins’ Christian Writers Guild, then took the presidency again when Jerry turned the organization back over to us.
In 2013 Word Weavers acquired Florida Christian Writers Conference and I became the director along with Mark Hancock (who will be very happy if I mention his brilliance here … LOL). Mark also serves as WWI, Inc. Vice President.
My writing life has blessed me. I have always written. Always wanted to be a writer. For various reasons I went into another field after high school. Married. Had kids. But the writing was always there. It was something I always did.
I’ve learned, more than any other lesson, that God’s timing is beyond perfect. Had I done things “my way,” I would have gone to college and studied creative writing or something like it. I would have moved to NYC and become an editor … or something like it. But God said, “Just wait. Just wait and you can do not something like it. You can do it.”
And so I have.
Thank you so much Eva Marie for sharing your story. It’s been a blessing having you here today and I trust many will also be blessed by your story.
Until next week, be blessed.