Traci Wooden-Carlisle began writing poetry and short stories as soon as she was able to form words on paper. She used that as a way to creating worlds, as well as, to communicate with God. A native of Los Angeles, California, she grew up attending United Methodist Church under the leadership of a pastor whose heart was for youth. Once she finished college at Humboldt State University she found herself at a loss. She felt caught in the transition between childhood and adulthood. She received a great deal of her answers through a Tuesday night Bible Study. As she continued to attend classes, the Bible became real to her and the scriptures were more than just words on a page. They came to life and she was able to identify with the teachings. She was filled with the Holy Spirit one November evening in 1995 and soon found that when she wrote to God, the Holy Spirit would respond; at times in the form of poetry and other times in conversation. She was amazed, awestruck, and humbled to know that He had not only been listening, but also wished to have a more intimate relationship with her. As she continued to write she joined a smaller church closer to her home in the San Fernando Valley and became an intercessory prayer, volunteered at the juvenile hall in the area, participated in door-to-door evangelism and shared her first love of dance by creating a praise dance team. She surrounded herself with saints and volunteered her services as a graphic artist. Through the early-morning prayer, all night Friday prayer and 3-day shut-ins she started on her journey toward her most desired gift, an intimate relationship with God.
Today, Mrs. Wooden Carlisle lives in San Diego with her husband, David Carlisle. She serves as a church Office Manager, teaches fitness classes, continues to praise the Lord through dance, and is currently writing her third book in this Christian-fiction series.
Traci, tell us about your book?
My Beauty For Your Ashes is about four characters, Elder Paige Morganson, Mason Jenson, Victoria Branchett and Elder Brandon Tatum who live completely different lives, but due to one nearly fatal accident are brought together. They work to build relationships that others, behind the scenes, are plotting and scheming to extinguish.
How did you come up with idea for this book?
The ideas came as I wrote. I began with one line: ‘It all began with one lone tear,’ and one deep emotion of sorrow. From there, as I wrote, pieces of the story were revealed. There was an underlying feeling of loss, surrender and renewal, but that only helped me connect with my characters’ emotions.
What was the most difficult aspect of writing this book?
I wanted to make sure I didn’t get off the subject God wanted me to write about. That applied to each piece of dialogue and each scene. There were great emotional highs and deep emotional lows and I had to make sure I didn’t get addicted to the emotions and miss telling the story.
Why do you write?
Writing is freeing. It has always been a way of expressing my feelings to God. It has always been my clearest form of communication with Him when it is just the two of us. Writing this novel was very much a collaboration between God and myself. He would give me the scene and I would do my best to relay it in word and emotion. As I write my soul is fed.
What valuable lessons do you want readers to learn from your book?
Let go. Let go of the people and things you believe you can’t do without. It’s hard to receive God’s blessings when your hand is fisted tightly around things in your life you should have surrendered.
Who are your favorite authors?
Dee Henderson, Max Lucado, Wm. Paul Young, Charles Swindoll, Nora Roberts an Gary Chapman
What book(s) are you reading now?
The Clay Lion by Amalie Jahn and Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole by Angie Smith
What books have most influenced your life?
The Bible, The 5 Love Languages
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Write your story or your passion. The rest will come after.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Though they hail from backgrounds that are worlds apart, it only takes one fateful accident to rearrange their priorities and set them on roads that intersect, forcing them to acknowledge the relationships they can’t do without.
Elder Paige Morganson has worked hard to overcome the anger, hate and abuse of her past. With God’s help she believes healing and wholeness is within her grasp when she is propelled into a world of secrets and lies that threaten to unravel the very thread of hope she’s clung to in her struggle for peace.
Mason Jenson is a self-made man who has been able to create his own fortune and build a home life with his wife and child void of God’s help…so he thinks, but as the world he knows balances precariously on the edge of destruction, who will he turn to?
Elder Brandon Tatum’s, new in town, has prided himself on not making a move until he’s heard God, but even as he accepts his new position in ministry, he is faced with decisions of the heart; a whole new territory for him.
Victoria Branchett has ruthlessly survived the death of her only daughter by fierce determination, but is the strength she has relied on enough to see her through a failing marriage and an ailing grandchild?
This novel merges colorful characters facing one untimely circumstance after another, and mixes in a serious spin on how one views God, both inside and outside of His will. Of course, this is just the beginning. More people emerge from behind the scenes; some to help and others, to hurt. With everything happening simultaneously, one would almost question if God is able to truly fix and heal everything, and the readers will see just how far each person’s faith (or lack thereof) will carry them. As they sift through the debris of past dreams and hopes left by the wayside, they are offered a lifeline and given an opportunity to receive God’s Beauty for their ashes.