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Liz Curtis Higgs On Reaching Readers Through EBooks And A Word About What Mary Magdalene Has To Do With Her Latest Release


As we gear up for Easter, I thought it would be nice to feature a novel that follows that theme. MERCY LIKE SUNLIGHT by Liz Curtis Higgs is a contemporary retelling of the Biblical story of Mary Magdalene. I started reading MERCY LIKE SUNLIGHT the moment I saw it had appeared on my EReader, and I can already tell you it is a wonderful read. Another cool feature of Liz’s latest book is that it is available exclusively as an EBook, so there is no waiting. You can read it as soon as you finish reading this post!

I am so excited to share my interview with the author of MERCY LIKE SUNLIGHT, Liz Curtis Higgs. Enjoy!

It’s a pleasure having New York Times Bestselling novelist Liz Curtis Higgs here with us today to talk about her latest book from Waterbrook, Mercy Like Sunlight.

Me: What is MERCY LIKE SUNLIGHT about?

Liz:  A little history first. Back in 2001 I wrote a nonfiction study of Mary Magdalene called Mad Mary A Bad Girl from Magdala, Transformed at His Appearing. For the other three books in my Bad Girls of the Bible series, I created modern counterparts for all the biblical Bad Girls, opening each chapter with a short story that paralleled the one in Scripture. So, Delilah became Lila, a hairdresser from Dallas, who cut the hair of Judge Sam Nazar—you get the idea. The fictional stories, only about 2,500 words long, prepared readers’ hearts for the nonfiction studies that followed.

Since Mad Mary (later retitled Unveiling Mary Magdalene), explored just one woman, her contemporary story turned into a 42,000 word novella—half the nonfiction book!

As a novelist, you know how we fall in love with our characters and want to introduce them to as many readers as we can? Well, all these years I’ve longed for my fiction readers to meet Mary Margaret Delaney from Unveiling Mary Magdalene. An eBook exclusive with just the novella seemed the best way to do that.

So, faithful readers who own my nonfiction book on Mary Magdalene don’t need to purchase Mercy Like Sunlight—they’ve already read it! But for fiction readers, who might easily have missed this story tucked inside a nonfiction book, Mercy Like Sunlight offers an easy way to meet this unlikely yet remarkable heroine, who completely captured this storyteller’s heart.

Now, to the story itself… 

Mary Margaret Delaney hides in the shadows, her arms scarred, her heart wounded by grief and weighed down with regret. Adrift on the streets of Chicago, she is surrounded by strangers and hounded by demons, both real and imagined. Her neighbors in Lincoln Park call her Mad Mary—until a fearless young pastor dares to call Mary his friend. Just as winter slowly turns to spring, Mary gradually warms up to Pastor Jake and his ragtag congregation in Lincoln Park, an eclectic neighborhood along the shore of Lake Michigan. Through the course of the novella, Mary moves from darkness to light, from lost to found, from rejected to redeemed. It’s a journey many of us have made, especially this Former Bad Girl! Especially as Easter draws near, Mary Margaret’s story gives us a fresh way to look at the Resurrection. 

Me: How does this story differ from your previous novels?

Liz: Well, it’s not set in Scotland, for starters! :>) Nor is it set in the 18th Century. But just as I based my Scottish historicals on biblical characters, in Mercy Like Sunlight the parallels are as close as I could make them without twisting the plot in a convoluted knot. My novels tend to have a good bit of drama, with the occasional need for a tissue. Mercy Like Sunlight definitely includes some dramatic scenes, and I found myself teary at several points in the story. This is women’s fiction, rather than a romance, but the ending is definitely joy-filled!

Me: I already know you have an EReader, so how has your EReader changed your reading habits?

Liz: I never imagined myself saying this, but I love my eReader! When I’m buying books simply to enjoy reading themnovels, devotionals, inspirational booksI usually go the eBook route. If I’m purchasing a book for research, then I need a physical book because it’s easier to work with and I can footnote the page references properly. Of course, I adore the feel of a book in my hands, so you’ll still find tons of them lining the shelves around my house and writing office, and I never come home from a bookstore without a bagful.

Me: Some authors worry that the digital age is a threat to traditional publishing as we know it (or maybe I should say as we ‘knew’ it), while others are excited about the change. What are your thoughts about the new ways published authors have to reach readers?

Liz beside red door CROP 300 Square
Liz Curtis Higgs, Author

Liz: Whatever way we can meet the needs of our readers works for me. I love learning new things (well, most of the time), and I especially love the immediacy of digital publishing. It doesn’t change the writing process one bit. It simply changes the delivery method. The key for writers is to invest just as much energy into our manuscripts, just as much editing, just as much passion, so that however the book is produced, it’s worthy of our readers’ time and resources.

I’m grateful my publisher, WaterBrook Press, said “Yes!” when I suggested offering Mary Margaret Delaney’s story as an eBook exclusive. At $3.99, it’s less than a Starbucks Chai Latte, and will stay warm longer too!

Thanks for this visit, Tina, and continued blessings on your own writing efforts!

Me: Thank you, Liz. I am starting to love EBooks, too. I appreciate your words to writers about meeting the needs of our readers and how EBooks do not change the writing process. Also, giving up a Starbucks for a good book sounds like a good trade. I think some of us could do without the extra caffeine. I know I can! Thank you so much for sharing with us. I’m already loving MERCY LIKE SUNLIGHT.

About the Author: Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of 30 books, including her nonfiction bestseller, Bad Girls of the Bible, and her newest fiction release, Mercy Like SunlightAs a speaker, Liz has presented more than 1,700 inspirational programs in all 50 United States and 14 foreign countries. You can get to know Liz better at her website, blog, and on social media.


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cropped-baseball-049.jpgby Tina Ann Forkner

Tina Ann Forkner is a freelance writer, blogger, owner of It Is What It Is and the author of the novels Ruby Among Us and Rose House. Learn more about her at

“I dwell in possibility,” wrote Emily Dickinson. I don’t know exactly what she meant by those words, but as a fellow writer and lover of gardens (sometimes I don’t dare call myself a real gardener), I have a few ideas.

For me, the words “I dwell in possibility” encompass a host of dreams, ideas, and that very special place where I used to be poised to write a story. I still go back to that place when I’m ready to write a new story, but now that I’m published, married, and have kids it takes more effort to clear my mind and, to be frank, my schedule in order to go back to dwelling in possibility. I like to tell aspiring writers not to rush ahead in pursuit of publication, lest they lose the magic of dwelling.

Sometimes, the words “I dwell in possibility” define other parts of my life, as well, not just writing or gardening. When I look at my children, I see that they constantly dwell in possibility and it enlivens me to think of the wide open road before them. So much possibility.

Then there are older people who make me see that I’m dwelling in possibility right now. Just when I think my marriage has reached its sweetest point (or sometimes most difficult), I see an older couple holding hands or dressed in twin shirts at Wal-Mart, their history together lined across their faces, and I realize that my marriage dwells in possibility. So much of our story hasn’t even been written yet.

I don’t know if I would enjoy the strict solitude that Emily Dickinson chose in her life, but I do think she discovered something that the rest of us take for granted. As we relentlessly pursue goals, make ourselves heard on Facebook, and try to keep up with our peers, we find we are finally where we wanted to be only to find it feels empty.I suppose that winning the prize doesn’t mean much if we (I) forget the passion that first spurred us (me) to pursue it. Whether we are talking about art, writing, career, or even finding our identity, it can be good to dwell in possibility for just a little while, and sometimes, even longer if that’s what it takes.

In so many ways I’m glad God hasn’t shown me my story’s ending. I’m glad for the free will to dwell in possibility. In life and on paper, so much is unknown and I get almost as excited thinking about the story I’m about to write as the one I’m about to live.

Image: Tina Ann Forkner (That’s my dad’s typewriter and Lucy’s tea cup!)