When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer or to write a book?
To write a book, probably not until after the accident…but writing in general, I love journaling—I’ve always loved pen and paper. I wrote songs and poetry as a teenager.
When I woke up after the accident—once I came out of the coma, I would spend every night putting my thoughts on paper because there was no one else to talk to. I would pour my thoughts out to the Lord, but I still needed writing because it was an action that I could do—I don’t sit still very well. That was good to be able to express myself…and the more I wrote, and started sharing through blogs, people kept saying to me “Write a book, write a book, write a book.” People enjoyed my style—whatever that is.
Did you have a writing routine?
I had 600 pages or more of journal entries over at a four- or five-year timeframe. Much of it was chronological, and that helped me to go back and recreate the story. I would also free flow and tweak it, and make it deeper and more personal. Probably three-fourths of the book was written on the Florida panhandle. I go there quite frequently…I would sit at a condo where I could hear the sound of water. Water is very soothing for me.
Is the Florida Panhandle where your book cover picture was taken?
Did you take that picture?
How did the book come about?
Many people kept saying write a book. I would say, “I’m working on it, I’m working on it.” I would get a few paragraphs but I never got a full chapter. I threw a temper-tantrum and walked away. A year later, after hearing the Holy Spirit tell me three times to move my large tote of journals to the living room and pray over them for 30 days, I began to pray.
A week later at church, the message was about how God uses ordinary people for extraordinary things. I came home that day, and I picked up a pen, and I wrote for nine hours straight! I didn’t have a cramp in my hand, and I use my hands for a living—it was joy from then on.
From the day that I started writing until the day I finished was exactly 40 weeks. That’s gestation of life—and a new life was born in One Foot in Heaven.
It’s very incredible. I could have never done it. God did it. I know nothing about the writing industry. I met all these people. The manuscript was finished in March, and six months later, we had a product on the shelf—that doesn’t happen without divine intervention.
Why do you write?
It’s therapeutic for me…I like to surround myself with inspiring stuff…I want to give back
What are maybe three of your favorite books out there that you recommend to others?
The Bible, I like anything that’s going to inspire someone. I like devotionals too in our crazy busy world.
Are there other authors who inspire you? If so, who?
I like to read…but for almost four or five years after the accident, I couldn’t read and comprehend what I was reading, so I struggled with that. I had to read things that were very short that I could just pull away a sentence, or a quote.
The Bible has taught me so much. Four years ago, I so wanted so badly to ready the Bible chronological, but I couldn’t get anywhere with comprehension. Someone suggested to use a children’s version…I did a chronological version of a children’s bible and read it that way for three years.
I learn different now, post-accident. If I create it into a story, I can retain it more. The last book I finished was Whatever the Cost by David and Jason Benham. They’re biblically sound, they’re twins, and it’s their journey of business and family and life and standing up for what’s right…whatever it costs.
One quote from that book (Whatever the Cost) that I love is: “When we focus on God’s stuff, he will handle our stuff”
Do you have any favorite quotes by others, verses, or sayings that get you through?
One verse seems to keep me grounded is Romans 12:12 (NIV)
“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
What are three Sheila-isms you’d like readers to remember?
“Choose happy, not crappy”
“There’s no shame in being broken…what matters is what you do with the pieces”
“Grit, grace, and gratitude”
What do you like to do for fun?
I love to entertain…I love people. I love to love on people…entertaining in my home, going to community events, or fundraising benefits. I love the fellowship in any type of church activity. I enjoy reading. I like to escape with a good encouraging movie. I try to be deliberate in the choices that I’m making. I choose to surround myself with good quality people. I am involved in things that are beneficial for me and for others…I do my best to avoid the icky stuff in the world.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I have learned so much in my journey. God chose me to walk this journey. It took a long time for me to appreciate that He chose me. But I’m grateful. My situation has forced me to be still. He’s training me. He’s teaching me how to be still and to listen, and to not be so reactive. I’ve learned so much in the quiet time. I was raised in an environment of always get-er done. I still have that personality, but I’m learning a healthy balance of how important quiet time is.
What advice would you give to other aspiring authors?
Write…just write. Whatever it is, just write. Don’t try and make a plan. Just do. Pick up a pen a paper. I always have pen and paper handy—always. If I hear something, if I’m in an environment where I hear something, see something, experience something and it gives me a creative thought, I write down that thought. You keep telling yourself you are going to remember it, but you don’t, so I write it down.
Which social media site is your favorite and why?
Facebook, because I understand it and I know how to use it. I have all of them.
How can readers best interact with you?
On my Website: onefootinheavenonline.
I love to interact with the readers. That’s one of the biggest joys of having had a book published. You get some incredible messages. It’s great to know that your story—no matter how hard it is—does make a difference. It’s important that we share. That confirmation that comes from people out there around the country.
Not everyone wants to share on social media. The men will come share out in the hall after I speak…I tell people that they can ask me anything…I’ve had some tough questions asked. There was a father, and their child went to heaven. He asked, “Do you think we get a last second choice to choose Jesus?”
I said “I love that question, because I’ve often thought that myself. Based on my experience I would say yes. The heart of Jesus is beyond what we can comprehend, so I believe that anything is possible.”
Did I answer his question, I don’t know, but I gave him hope…
What are your future project(s)?
I have two projects in the infant stage…one is pure comedic…And I’m not sure about the title, but it may be Geriatric Dating in the New Millennium…it’s based on my experiences online dating. I have at least 10 stories…
The other is One Foot in Heaven—Encounters with Jesus…that’s more of a devotional about the encounters that I have with people.
When I’m out in public, it’s incredible some of the stuff that people will tell me. I joke with people that I have a bumper sticker on my butt that says tell me your story, but something about me just lets people know that they are safe to share. There’s usually a story in those meetings. God’s always got a purpose in what He’s up to as a result of One Foot in Heaven…