Author Chat: Marissa Shrock


A chat with author Marissa Shrock 

Welcome to this online chat with author Marissa Shrock. Jesus has given Marissa a part in His own story. He’s made her a character who tells of His goodness through writing.

Recently Marissa’s The First Principle placed as a finalist for ACFW‘s 2016 Carol Award. (Tweet That!) Gather ’round as Marissa responds to three questions: What was your pre-author life? How would you describe your debut novel experience? Where are you on your writing journey? (Add your own question to the Comments section below and qualify for a giveaway.)

Marissa Shrock’s Journey to Publication

Marissa Shrock, middle school teacher and author

First of all, my journey started with voracious reading. When I played outside as a girl, I read on the swing set—while swinging.

As a middle school teacher, I didn’t consider writing until I’d taught a few years. I toyed with the idea of a novel but had no idea where to begin.

Later, I signed up in 2008 for the Christian Writers Guild’s Apprentice course. I wanted a mentor who would hold me accountable.

In addition, I took the Journeyman and Craftsman classes while I wrote the story that eventually became The First Principle. The skills I learned and the people I met paved my way to publication.

Publication for Marissa Shrock

thefirstprinciple_author_Marissa Shrock
Marissa’s debut novel, a Carol Award finalist and the first novel in The Emancipation Warriors series

The First Principle is the futuristic story of a teenager who refuses to comply with her country’s pregnancy termination law. (Tweet That!) In time, she seeks the help of the Emancipation Warriors who are plotting a revolution. They plan to restore a government that protects its citizens’ rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

The First Principle debuted as the first in my three-book Emancipation Warriors series. The Liberation released in February, and The Pursuit will be released in October. The Agitator, a companion novella, presents a different perspective of the Warriors’ battle for liberty.

liberation_author_Marissa Shrock
Marissa’s second novel in The Emancipation Warriors series

From the beginning, writing this series has been an adventure. I found an agent and publisher very quickly. But my road hasn’t been easy since. Surprisingly, book blues set in after my books arrived from the publisher. My grumpiness and mild depression shocked me because my dream had come true.

pursuit_author_Marissa Shrock
Marissa’s third novel in The Emancipation Warriors series

However, mounting pressure replaced elation. How would my book be received? How would it sell? For months, this burden crushed me as I prayed and promoted. The First Principle received many positive reviews and was a finalist in the debut category of the ACFW Carol Awards. But sales did not meet my publisher’s expectations. They opted not to publish the other books in the series.

But I wanted to tell my readers the rest of the story. So I published the remaining books independently and am thankful that option exists. 

Marissa Shrock’s Current Journey

Ultimately, God holds my career in his hands. It will be what He wants it to be. Now that the Emancipation Warriors series is finished, I no longer have obligations to a publisher or literary agency. But I’ve arrived at a crossroad.

A companion novella to The Emancipation Warriors series

Presently, God is leading me to a phase of rest. The soil of my creative life has been depleted. It needs to remain fallow for a season. Afterwards, I pray I will emerge restored and ready to face the next step God has for me.

Finally, I encourage every writer to seek God’s will for his or her life and obey it, no matter what everyone else is doing.


Thank you, Marissa, for joining our chat and sharing your story. We pray the Lord will bring a hearty harvest from your work. 

Readers may reach Marissa through her website: Sign up for her newsletter and get a free short story!

Leave a comment and be entered into a drawing for a *free copy of The First Principle, Shrock’s young adult novel in either print or ebook version. (Tweet That!)

*Update: Congratulations to Clarice Gregoire James, winner of the drawing!


Dear Lord, we stand in awe that You would stoop to write faith in our hearts, that You would use us, feeble and crumbling flesh, to tell Your story. Lift us up. Strengthen us. For Jesus’ sake.



13 thoughts on “Author Chat: Marissa Shrock

  1. Marissa, sometimes God has us rest for a season so when we return, we are stronger, spiritually and mentally. I love your writing!

    1. Marissa Shrock

      Thank you, DiAnn! That is what I hope to get out of my season of rest.

  2. Kudos to you, Marissa, for your perseverance and your faithfulness. Publishing is such a tough business. Your willingness to be still and wait upon the Lord will be rewarded. Prayers going up!

    1. Marissa Shrock

      Thank you for the prayers!

  3. Katie Briggs

    I am excited to read The Pursuit soon! It has been really cool reading along with you and watching your stories and characters grow so much. I’ve always enjoyed seeing that in authors. It encourages me. Thank you for the reminder to seek God’s will in our lives, not looking aside to anything else. And for your example of determination and humility. I needed that. It reminds me so much of a keynote Brandilyn Collins gave, one of the most powerful I’ve heard. A season of rest is probably great but really hard, but you’re wise to follow God’s lead in that. He definitely knows best, and it helps me to look back on even really little ways He’s blessed that. Not enough of us do that, bowing to productivity instead, and then suffer from it :(. Which means it is time to grab a book you’ve been wanting to read, get a chai latte (or your equivalent!) and sit outside in the hopefully awesome weather to rest and enjoy. And we’ll be ready for your time to start a new writing season!

    1. Marissa Shrock

      Thank you for your wise words and encouragement. I do have a big pile of books I’m looking forward to reading! I’m excited to have my readers experience The Pursuit and know the end of the story.

      1. I get goosebumps when I think about that week in 2012 with you and the other Craftsman students in Manitou Springs, especially being in the small group with you two and Lizzie and Given, our little group of “4 young ones + 1 young-at-heart” 🙂 You inspired me then and you inspire me now. So thankful God grouped us together!

        1. Katie Briggs

          Those are such great memories. God knew what He was doing!

  4. Hi Marissa, your journey through the publishing process has been colored by both success and heartache. Many of us experience the blues, especially in our highest points. During this period of rest, give it all over to the Lord. He’s gifted you, and he will not let your talents lay dormant forever.

    “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” ~ Dt. 31:8 (NIV)

    1. You have lifted up me, too, Clarice. Thanks for commenting. Marissa is busy teaching middle schoolers at the moment 🙂 but I’m sure she’ll reply later on. Bless you, friend.

  5. Teresa Brooks

    I am grateful you persevered and published independently! If one person is changed for the better and drawn closer to Christ, your efforts are not in vain! You may never know (until you get to heaven) how your words impacted lives! May God meet you in your rest, hold you close, and renew your spirit and give you more words to share in the future!

    1. So true, Teresa! Marissa simply is a sterling example for Christ. Her middle school teaching experience led her to write for young adults. Such a blessing to young readers.

    2. Marissa Shrock

      Thank you for the kind and encouraging words!

      Thank you for sharing the verse and the encouragement!


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Author Chat: Christy Brunke

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11

Award-winning debut novel by Christy Brunke

The plans of the Lord are perfect. Aren’t you thankful? We’re chatting today with Christy Brunke, an author who has experienced God’s perfect planning in numerous ways, not the least of which is the publication of her debut novel, Snow Out of Season

Gather ’round. And thank you for joining our circle.

Award-winning novelist, Christy Brunke


Hi, Christy! Thank you for participating in today’s author chat.

You were at the Writer to Writer conference when the Jerry Jenkins’s 2014 Operation First Novel award winners were announced. How did you feel when you heard your name called for 3rd place? With whom did you first share the news?

Winning Operation First Novel had long been a dream of mine. However, my second daughter was born three months before the deadline for the 2014 contest, so I wasn’t able to hone my manuscript as much as I would’ve liked before submitting it.

When I discovered I was a semifinalist, I was thrilled. With tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, I shared the news with my husband, parents, and mother-in-law.

Then I learned the winners would be announced in January at the conference in Hershey, PA. I assumed I couldn’t go, because I was still nursing my daughter, but my aunt and grandmom graciously offered to go with me to help care for her.

Part of me assumed I wouldn’t make the top three because I knew my novel needed more editing. But part of me had a hunch I’d win third place.

Operation First Novel winners: Christy Brunke, 3rd; Clarice James, 2nd for DOUBLE HEADER; and Jerry B. Jenkins, sponsor of the contest. Not shown: Linda Brooks Davis, 1st place winner for THE CALLING OF ELLA MCFARLAND.

When Jerry called my name, I was delighted Snow Out of Season would finally be published, but a little disappointed it would only be available in Nook, Kindle, and other eBook formats—the reward for winning third.

I first shared the news with my aunt, who was waiting out in the hall. Then my husband, Mark, called, eager to hear the results. Over the next couple of months, Mark and I thanked God for this dream come true and prayed we’d also see my book in print.

In March, Jerry announced Mountainview Books would be publishing our winning entries. On April Fool’s Day, Mountainview Books announced they’d print mine in paperback as well. But they weren’t joking. ☺ The Lord was paving the way for this book, making the crooked straight and the rough ways smooth.

That spring, in-between moving, buying and selling a house, and starting ministry at a new church, I honed my story and then worked with Mountainview’s Carol Kurtz Darlington to improve, tighten, and polish it even more. Then my manuscript was off to the copyeditors and typesetters.

In October, bestselling authors endorsed Snow Out of Season. In November, Library Journal gave it a starred review and named it their Christian Fiction Debut of the Month.

Snow Out of Season had arrived at last!

Words can’t express the feeling of finally holding my published book, the result of six years of prayer, perseverance, and birth pains. I can’t wait to see what the Lord does with it next.

Please tell us the gist of your award-winning novel, Snow Out of Season.

Two pregnant women, separated by time, each face a decision that may alter both the future and the past forever. (Tweet that!) 

From where did your idea come?

As a teen and young adult, I longed for a God-scripted love story and devoured books like Passion & Purity by Elisabeth Elliot and When Dreams Come True by Eric & Leslie Ludy. Realizing my Creator knew me better than anyone, and knew every man as well, I asked Him to choose my husband.

And He did. Mark complements me perfectly and has been an incredible blessing not only to me, but to so many others.

However, when my mother-in-law was pregnant with him, her circumstances would’ve led many women to have an abortion. I started wondering what my life would’ve been like if she’d made a different choice.

From thence sprang Snow Out of Season, the dual stories of two women of two generations who struggle with the same problem: Is the child each carries worthy of life? What will it cost to keep the child? What will happen if each decides not to?

Brandy Vallance, Operation First Novel award-winning author of The Covered Deep, described her impressions in part by saying, “Once in a while you have a moment with a friend that feels like a gift. Maybe over a cup of coffee, or at a kitchen table, you get to see their true heart and the deep questions that are weighing them down. Snow Out of Season felt like such a moment for me.”

Can you tell us about the “deep questions” Vallance is referring to?

My heart goes out to women facing crisis pregnancies and their unborn babies—each a unique person—whose lives hang in the balance. (Tweet that!) 

On your website you tell about moving to China to study Mandarin and teach at a university. From where did that dream arise?

Some people have imagined traveling to the Far East since they were little, but I never had that desire until college. At a Christian retreat, students who had ministered in Asia, England, and the U.S. shared their experiences and invited us to apply to go the following summer.

I had my summer planned but committed to take an application home and pray about it. As soon as I did, I knew the Lord wanted me to go, and China was where He was calling me.

After I served on two short-term trips, He led me to live there for two years and then lead four short-term teams back. My overseas adventures could fill a book of their own and have inspired several ideas for future novels set in the Orient.

In addition to being a novelist, pastor’s wife, and mother of two, you write articles for and What kinds of topics do you cover?

Adoption stories and news about pro-life events and pregnancy help organizations.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us today, Christy. Where can readers learn more about you and your women’s fiction?

Parents, fiction fans, and aspiring authors can sign up for my monthly newsletter and find my blogs, bio, and a synopsis of Snow Out of Season at They can also connect with me on Twitter using @christybrunke and at

Dear Lord, we praise You for Your wisdom and love toward us. Thank you for devising perfect plans for Your children. Teach us to trust Your perfection, even into the hard, dark places where we cannot see Your hand. Raise us up when we are broken and set our feet on the solid ground of faith. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.


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