About Cris Pfeil
During my teaching career I worked with students from kindergarten through college. I also taught adults in writing workshop settings. After these wonderful teaching years, I retired when several crises threatened to destroy my family and me.
During this long and difficult period I have kept my sanity the way I have always kept it during moments of trials and sufferings, by turning to God for help and by writing. I could tell you many dry facts about my professional background, but let me share a story instead. It will make you smile and tell you more about me than anything else you could read.
When the day came for my middle school students to award accolades to teachers in my building, I was voted “The Youngest at Heart.” Was it because I became Egor, the monster elf who dragged his leg across the floor saying, “Yes, master, yes, Egor does it this way,” to make my students smile while I imparted lessons? Was it because the kids knew I loved them enough to want to make them happier while I taught? I am sure it was. No matter how many times I became Egor, my students never tired of him or of the key points he imparted. They always wanted to learn more whenever the lessons were entertaining.
From this tale about Egor, about me, and about my students, you can see that my audiences have taught me a vital rule that any writer can learn to obey. It is simply this: If you want to help people by communicating a critically important message, do it by entertaining them whenever you can. If you can tell readers something that will impart vital knowledge, that will inspire them, and that will provide them with an escape, they will love what you write and love you for writing it. I was trying to do these things in my classes when I began my first book, but the process of writing this first adventure was interrupted when God spoke to me after I read the Biblical story of Exodus. The conversation went something like this:
“Hey,” God said. “That was a pretty cool snake battle between Moses and Pharaoh’s magician. Did you love the way Moses’ rod became a snake that devoured all of the magician’s serpents?”
“Yeah, it was awesome,” I replied. “I love good dramatic stuff.”
“Me too,” God replied. “Think how dramatic it would be if someone told the story of what happened to the sorcerer who failed against Moses, especially about what happened to the magician’s daughter. No one has ever told the story of Exodus from that point of view before.”
“Yeah,” I said. “It’s spectacularly unique. It would be an unforgettable story.”
“For sure,” God replied, “so why don’t you tell it? It’s too good an idea to pass up. You have to do it.” That conversation was the spark that ignited A Shepherd’s Rod, my first published book.
Not too long after that first conversation with God there was another. This one took place after A Shepherd’s Rod had been published but while the adventure novel that I had first worked on remained rejected. It was also after the hard things that I had been through, and seen other people go through, taught me to care deeply about what was happening to others who were hurting. Painful experiences changed my focus from going “somewhere” with my writing to going where God wanted me to go.
“God,” I said, “A Shepherd’s Rod hasn’t gone anywhere yet.” As I sat myself down on a couch that wasn’t filled with a pile of laundry to fold, I decided to keep on talking. It felt better than silent discouragement. “I put so much effort into it, and what about my very first book, the one that’s been rejected. The story is so good. I thought for sure it would be a best seller.” I wasn’t expecting an immediate reply. I was surprised when I got one.
“Don’t be sad about the first adventure not being a best seller,” God said, “or about A Shepherd’s Rod. “There’s always hope. Why don’t you give up fiction for now and write non-fiction? You know how bad you felt when terrible things happened to you and how good you felt when I came to your rescue. You also know about some hard things that other people have gone through and about some unusual things I’ve done to help them. Why don’t you write these true stories? A book about miracles will let people know that I care and that I will respond to their cries for help. Even if you don’t make the best seller’s list, you’ll help somebody.”
“That’s true,” I replied. Although I realized and still do realize that other people have been through far worse things than I have, I knew that I had been through things that were tough for me, through things that scared me, and through things that made me cry. I had also seen other people I cared about suffer. I was ready to write about the extraordinary methods God had used to help me and to help others in ways that were uniquely personal to each need.
In order to tell how these uniquely personal needs were met by God’s extraordinary interventions, I stopped writing fiction and wrote Outside the Box. I had no plans to write a second miracle book, but miracle stories started coming my way again right after I mailed it.
The first new miracle story arrived when I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of a bank on a warm day. There an older lady who was talking to me about her trips through my open car window told me that the most fantastic thing that she had seen wasn’t a place. That story, The White Rose, was the beginning of Miracles Happen: Outside the Box. Before I knew it this second miracles book was done. When my mother died on Feb. 9, 2012, and other miracles began to happen, I started my third non-fiction project. I am at the beginning of that project now. And what about my fiction?
My fiction is alive and well. Ironically, that very first book, the story that was my “baby” when I first took up a pen and a legal pad to write it, an adventure called The Right Blood, has become my fourth published work. Another adventure will follow it next year. There is no doubt in my mind that I will continue to write both fiction and non-fiction as long as I live. I love both! Now that I’m not teaching school anymore, writing books is the only way I can talk to people at length, and God knows I love to talk!
I was born to talk. I have always enjoyed it—even when I was a little girl. My mother used to tell me how amazed she always was the way I used to go up to complete strangers in the grocery store and begin conversations with them. Some things never change. I still do it. I love chatting, I love people, and I love communicating with them any way I can.
When you are communicating with people face to face, you can often tell when they are anxious to end the conversation and get away from you, or when they are really glad you are sharing your thoughts. When you are communicating with readers through a book, you cannot see their reactions, but I hope my books will hook my listeners. I hope they will understand what I am trying to say and that they will always want to keep turning the pages.
I think I told you the key things you might want to know about me. In a biography you could write many things that would make you appear to be like other people, but I don’t think readers want to know what makes you like other people. I think they want to know what makes you different. What makes me different are the miracles I have been blessed to witness and the wild imagination God gave me when He sent me here. I hope you love those things about me as much as I have loved having them in my life and in my written works.