1. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in North Carolina and raised in Virginia. I’m married to a pastor so we’ve lived in many different places but are now back in North Carolina which has been like coming home. We left traditional church ministry to start an innovative coffee shop ministry in Hickory called Java Journey. It’s been the most exciting and difficult thing we have ever done because our mission is to reach hurting and broken people who might not otherwise set foot in church.
I’m also an artist and a writer and that thread of trash to treasure….something broken and undervalued being valued and beautiful permeates the writing, art, and ministry aspects of my life.
2. When and why did you begin writing?
That’s a bit like asking a bird why it flies. It’s just a part of my nature to need to write what I learn and share it I think because it helps me work through figuring things out and dealing with pain and life. I can remember shutting myself up in my room when I was in junior high writing poetry and fiction stories. In school I always excelled at creative writing. I became really serious about it after my dad died and I received a small amount of money from my inheritance and took a course through the Institute of Children’s Literature. It wasn’t long after that I got my first article published.
3. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I am a story and illustration collector because I love a good story, so even in my non-fiction writing, I always incorporate interesting stories and short illustrations to bring home the point of each chapter and I think I excel at that. Having those in there helps keep people turning pages instead of just feeding them dry information.
4. How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have five published books out now. They include The World’s Easiest Pocket Guide to Money and Marriage (co-written with my husband, Jeff, and Larry Burkett). Then my first solo book Successful Small Groups which was a compilation of many articles. The others include Benevolence: Ministering to the Poor & Needy; and the two that recently came out, Mothers & Daughters: Mending a Strained Relationship and this one, The Treasure Seeker: Finding Love and Value in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Father. As far as which is my favorite, hmmm, I guess the Treasure Seeker because the message means so much to me and I loved compiling all those treasure stories.
5. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Probably the chapter on gemstones because I not only learned about the characteristics of gemstones, I learned their history, and also found connections with other people, in some cases who shared the name and attribute with those gemstones. I also enjoyed it because it helped me see how we each are different and unique and like certain gemstones in a way and how that gives us both strength and areas of growth.
6. What books have most influenced your life?
Well the Bible of course, but as for others, it would be those that have powerful Christian messages without preaching that it’s Christian. A Christmas Carol (a short story, not a book by Charles Dickens), The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (J. R. R. Tolkein) which illuminates the power of good against evil and that even seemingly insignificant people can be called to do seemingly impossible things for God, and, most recently Les Miserables (Victor Hugo) which is all about mercy, the law, and transformation. The greatest message of all in in these books. It permeates them.
7. What are your current projects?
I’ve written a romantic suspense and am working on its sequel. My agent is still shopping the first one around.
8. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
Before I ever published my first solo book I got raked over the coals at a writer’s conference by an editor who lacked tack. He found my manuscript had too many errors but he was very insensitive in how he approached telling. It pretty much crushed me and I was devastated. I laid my writing aside for nearly a year. Then I realized that I needed other people to help me polish my work and get it to the next level. When I took this approach it did help me to become a better writer and it was after that that I began to land book contracts.
Teena Stewart is an author and artist whose work reflects the spiritual message of being broken and yet valuable in God’s eyes—a message incorporated in her book The Treasure Seeker: Finding Value and Love in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Father (Wine Press). When she isn’t creating up-cycled treasure (artwork and jewelry) from discarded and found objects, she is writing articles and books or leading ministry for Java Journey, an innovative coffee shop ministry in Hickory, NC.
Teena understands firsthand what it means to go from something of seemingly little value to a beautiful and valuable treasure in God’s eyes. Teena created a Treasure Seeker jewelry line to go with her book and those who purchase the book can receive a 10% discount on the jewelry line by showing proof of purchase. Her art website and jewelry line can be viewed at http://serendipitini.com/
Where to Purchase the Book
The Treasure Seeker: Finding Love and Value in the Arms of Your Loving Heavenly Father comes in paperback or ebook version and is available on Amazon and www.teenastewart.com and most bookstores.
How to Contact Teena
Her website www.teenastewart.com
Her blog http://nearly-brilliant.blogspot.com/
Personal Facebook http://www.facebook.com/teena.stewart
Facebook Author Pages http://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Teena-M-Stewart/216334111720519