When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with a full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure, out-of-print history books. There is nothing she likes better than digging into the rich, ancient world of the Bible and uncovering buried gems of grace that point toward Jesus. Although a Pacific Northwest native, she now lives near Dallas, Texas.
Connect with her at www.connilyncossette.com.
Welcome to the blog, Connilyn. I’m so happy to have you here today. Congratulations on your debut release, Counted with the Stars. It looks and sounds amazing!
Thank you for having me here Savanna! I think what I love most about this story is that I didn’t actually set out to write a book, it all came out of my own personal study of Exodus. In fact, one verse stuck out so much in my mind (A mixed multitude also went up with them… Exodus 12:38) that I just could not stop thinking about it. I kept wondering: Who were these other people? Were they Egyptian? What would make them pack up and go with the Hebrews? My wheels started turning and suddenly I had a vivid picture in my mind: an elderly Egyptian woman, standing on the east bank of the Jordan River, waiting to go into the Promised Land—and voilà! Kiya was born and refused to go away until I wrote the story of why she chose to turn her back on her gods to follow Yahweh into the wilderness. Since I was forced to really dig deep into the historical context of the Bible, I fell more deeply in love with The Word and became passionate about writing a story that would inspire others to do the same.
What’s one of the strangest things you had to research for this series?
I would have to say that the strangest thing I’ve researched would be Ancient Egyptian medical practices. Some of it is really fascinating, like the fact that the kohl eye-makeup that they wore on their eyes wasn’t just for looks; the ingredients actually protected their eyes from infection. But some of it is just plain weird and stomach-turning. In the Ancient Egyptian mind, medicine and magic went hand in hand, so a lot of the prescriptions used pretty gross things to ward off evil spirits. If my doctor ever said, “Let’s try slathering you with some crocodile dung, or perhaps some goat’s blood and smashed tadpoles,” I might think about choosing a different physician. And yet, these were some of the treatments recommended by the medical papyri. However, although we may remember the Ancient Egyptians for the strange practice of mummification, but they were actually very advanced in many ways, performed complicated surgeries, and utilized things like wild honey to treat wounds, which modern science has proven has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. But still, no crocodile dung for me, thank you very much.
Haha! I’m with you there. 😉 How fascinating, though! I never would have guessed.
You’ve entered, finaled, and won several writing contests. Do you have a word of advice for other writers entering in contests?
As an aspiring author, I had a great many fears about releasing my “baby” into the world. But every leap of faith I took, every time I pushed SEND and surrendered my story into God’s hands, was preparation for sending to agents and editors, and ultimately for putting my story into the hands of readers. Feedback from a variety of judges will hone your skills, thicken your skin to criticism, and make you realize that reading is ultimately a subjective thing. I had judges that raved about my story and some that thought it was awful. I learned that I could not please everyone and needed to write for the glory of God, instead of man—which was such a freeing thing. My advice? Do it! Enter contests, take the criticism with an open mind and a teachable spirit, and don’t ever get discouraged. You never know what God has in store for your writing if you are willing to lay it down at his feet.
I read online that you are a homeschooling mother. I was homeschooled and hope to teach my own kids someday. 🙂 Do you have a particular favorite subject you enjoy teaching them?
How cool! I love homeschooling my kids and am grateful for the privilege (even on those days when I wonder how fast I’d have to run to catch up to that yellow bus!) Since I am a history nerd, I enjoy learning alongside my kids and sharing some of my own research with them. I also am very excited that both my kids are learning French this year. I was a French Major in college (at least for awhile, since I only recently decided what I wanted to be when I grow up and changed majors a thousand times) but I was pretty fluent at one time. So I enjoy dragging all that dormant French out of the far recesses of my brain and speaking a language I love with my family. Since my husband is passionate about helping the Haitian people, he is learning along with us as well, so that makes it extra special. Both my kids also participated in NaNoWriMo last year and love to write stories, which of course is right up my alley! So, basically I like teaching everything, except for math. Math and I aren’t friends.
Name a book that really impacted your life.
That is a tough one. Being a voracious reader from the beginning, there have been so many books that influenced me over the years. Jane Eyre is my favorite book, but I have to say Gone with the Wind impacted me the most personally. I read the entire book, in one day, when I was home sick from school my eighth grade year. I still remember the sun coming up and the birds welcoming the dawn as I turned that last page. Gone with the Wind awakened my curiousity for history, as well as a passion for historical fiction. In fact, I was so inspired that when I found out Margaret Mitchell had died before writing the sequel, I pulled notebook paper out of my Trapper-Keeper (which dates me), uncapped a green pen, and started writing it for her. I can still see that first scene in my mind—Scarlett sitting on the porch at Tara with her head in Mammy’s lap, bemoaning the loss of Rhett. I consider that first page (which I dearly wish I still had) the beginning of my writing career.
Wow! How neat, Connilyn! I love hearing stories like this. 🙂 Thank you so much for being with us today. Is there anything else you’d like to add? Any upcoming projects you can share with us?
I have just finished writing Book Three in the Out from Egypt series, which I cannot wait to share with you all. My Canaanite heroine is a little bit Mulan, a little bit Merida, and all ready to avenge her family members killed by invading Hebrews—even if she has to shave her head and marry her enemy to do it! I am now in the process of researching and plotting out my next series and am excited to see where God leads me for inspiration! I’d love to hear which stories in the Bible readers might be interested in exploring in a fresh new way, so tell me in the notes below for a chance to win a copy of Counted with the Stars! And don’t forget to stop by www.connilyncossette.com and sign up for my email list for exclusive content and giveaways and to hear more about upcoming projects.
Thanks again to Savanna for having me here today, I’ve so enjoyed answering these fun questions!
Thank you, Connilyn! I can’t wait to read Counted With The Stars!
Connilyn has graciously offered a copy of Counted with the Stars to one lucky reader! Enter below and it could be YOU!
Thanks for entering! Contest is open to US residents only and ends March 22, 2016. The winner will be notified by email. Happy Reading, everybody!