With over twenty-five years of publishing experience as a writer, ghostwriter, and editor, over the course of her career, bestselling author Tama Fortner has been blessed to work with some of the biggest names in Christian publishing to create inspirational books for children, teens, and adults. She has more than forty titles to her credit, including the ECPA Christian Book Award Winner How Great Is Our God with Louie Giglio. Her bestselling titles include Easter Is Coming! and Christmas Is Coming!
Tama and her husband live in the hilly suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee with their two children and an incredibly lazy dog who doubles as a foot warmer.
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What sparked your writing journey?
I have always loved books and words — for as far back as I can remember. I was mesmerized by the way words could “click” together to share a message and to create a story. Then, when I was in third grade, my elementary school librarian — Mrs. Margie — led me to Little Women and I “met” Jo March. That’s when I realized that I could be a writer of those books and words I loved so much. And in one way or another, I’ve been writing ever since.
Has God ever sent an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be the better path?
God is the Master of Divine Detours! When I graduated from college, I was expecting to be a high school English teacher. But I graduated in December, which is not the best time to be looking for a teaching job. Also, while I loved (and still love) teaching, and that’s what I’d trained for, I’ll confess that it was in large part because so many people told me that it would be next to impossible to land my dream job in editing or writing. Thankfully, I serve a God who specializes in impossible things! Want to guess what my first “big girl” job was? Editor for a children’s book company!
That first job gave me the experience and connections I needed to later become a full-time writer. I am now blessed to spend my days writing about God — all because of a “divine detour” He laid out so long ago. Isn’t He amazing?
How does your faith play into your writing?
Faith is essential to me — and not just in writing. One of my favorite Bible verses is Acts 17:28. It reads, “For in him we live and move and have our being” (NIV). That is how I try to live, filtering every word, every experience, and every moment through God. (Of course, I mess up often and in huge ways, which makes me so grateful for His grace and kindness to me!) Everything I write is prayed over. And I am always asking God to guide my words and to defeat anything that isn’t His will.
Let’s talk about your new book, Simply Christmas: A Busy Mom’s Guide to Reclaiming the Peace of the Holidays: A Devotional (Ink & Willow, October 2021). Please tell us about it.
Simply Christmas is the book I wish someone had written for me when my own kiddos were little. Because when I was starting out as a mom, it seemed as if everywhere I looked, there was perfection. Perfect clothes, perfect kids, perfect meals, perfect homes. And I tried to keep up with that. (With two littles, less than two years apart. Can we all just laugh now?)
I now realize that much of the pressure I felt was self-imposed. That realization didn’t happen overnight, though. I had to grow into feeling comfortable in my own role as a mom . . . and that happened as I grew in my faith and my understanding of who I am as a daughter of God.
So with Simply Christmas I offer 31 short but meaningful devotions to give mom an opportunity to pause and reflect on that long-ago first Christmas and all that it still means to our lives today. I’ve also included some of my favorite tips and tricks for kicking perfectionism to the curb, along with plenty of encouragement for making our Christmas celebrations what we truly want them to be for ourselves and those we love.
What inspired it?
My own experiences (and insecurities!) as a mom, along with my desire to focus on the true meaning of the Christmas season, served as the inspiration for writing Simply Christmas. This whole motherhood journey isn’t easy, and I’ve often felt that I was traveling it alone, bumping along, dodging some potholes and crashing through others. It’s taken time and prayer and plenty of mistakes to realize that I don’t have to compete or be perfect, that it’s okay to pause and soak in holy moments with God and those I love.
With Simply Christmas, my hope is to offer other moms a sort of shortcut in their own journeys, to share the words I wish someone had shared with me.
A few fun questions in celebration of the season…
What’s your favorite Christmas song?
Oh, that’s a hard one! I’d say it’s a tie between “O Holy Night” and “Mary, Did You Know?”. I can’t help but worship whenever I hear one of these songs!
What’s your favorite Christmas comfort food?
Pretzels covered with white chocolate — they just make me smile all over!
Which is your idea of a perfect Christmas tree: a lush blue spruce decorated with the latest couture; a shaggy cedar covered in homemade ornaments and strung with popcorn; a vintage aluminum tree with shiny glass bulbs; or a palm tree adorned with pink flamingos?
I love our Christmas tree. It isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect for me. It’s artificial (the real ones kept falling over!) and filled with twinkling lights. But the thing I love best about our tree is its ornaments. The branches are filled with the popsicle stick creations of my kiddos, ornaments gathered from family trips (like the saxophone playing gator from New Orleans), and ornaments my kids have picked out each year. Decorating the tree each year is like a wonderful trip down memory lane.
If you had been one of the “wise men,” what would you have brought the Baby Jesus?
I’m thinking my gifts would have been a bit more practical — said every woman, everywhere! Things like a soft blanket, diapers, and burp cloths. And a teddy bear. I firmly believe every baby needs a teddy bear to snuggle.
Thanks, Tama! It’s great to have you as a guest at Divine Detour.
Thank you for having me! It’s always wonderful to visit Divine Detour!
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