By KRISTI ALBERTSON
The Daily Inter Lake
A Whitefish author has been named Writer of the Year by a national association.
Christy Bower received the award from the American Christian Writers Association at the group's annual conference in Spokane in September.
The association holds 24 separate conferences across the nation, Bower explained, and gives out a Writer of the Year award at each. But sharing the title with 23 others doesn't diminish it in Bower's eyes.
"It is an honor to get the award," she said.
The association, a well-known group among Christian writers, chooses Writers of the Year who inspire others, Bower said.
"In this case, I earned the award because this is my first year launching into full-time writing. They chose me because that is something that would be inspirational to other writers," she explained. "Most writers aspire to be full-time writers, but few can actually do it."
Although she always had enjoyed writing, Bower, 42, never planned to make a career of it. After earning a bachelor's degree in business administration, she became a corporate ladder-climber in the Seattle area, working long hours and dedicating most of her life to retail.
"I was home long enough to sleep and shower and do it all over again," she said.
Eventually she grew dissatisfied with her life. Bower quit her job and took a low-paying position that only required her to work 40 hours a week.
"I was like, ‘Wow, what do I do with all my time?'" she said. "I had all this extra time in my week now, so I started doing some writing."
She got hooked on writing after magazines started publishing her stories. In 2002, Bower released her first book. She wrote "Abundant Life" after being diagnosed with a neurological disease in January 2000.
"The experiences I learned out of that prompted the material for my first book," Bower said. "That was what got me started on the book path."
A couple of years later, after graduating from Multnomah Biblical Seminary in 2004, Bower moved to Whitefish to pursue her writing career.
"I got a job at Whitefish Mountain Resort so I could work part of the year and write part of the year," she said.
Bower would work eight or nine months for the resort and take off a few weeks in the spring and fall to write.
After a while, her position started getting cut back. She worked on the mountain for seven months one year and six months the next. But her writing income always increased just enough to make up the difference.
That experience helped her avoid something that intimidates many writers: the idea of quitting her day job to launch into full-time writing.
"I found a way to do it progressively, one step at a time, so it wasn't so threatening," she said.
She continued to write for magazines but also wrote more books. Her self-published "Abundant Life" helped attract attention from Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Discovery House, which published her next two books.
"Devotion Explosion: Getting Real with God" is in its fourth printing after its initial release in 2007. "Best Friends with God: Falling in Love with the God who Loves You" was published in 2010.
After her third book came out, Bower felt she had generated some momentum but still wasn't making enough to support herself as a full-time writer. Then her position at the ski resort was eliminated.
Bower took another job with the company, one she says she "was totally unqualified for." After six miserable weeks in that position, Bower quit, determined to give full-time writing a try. Within about six more weeks, she was contacted by a client who was looking for someone to write daily content for a website.
Bower accepted the job and marveled at God's provision.
"It was one of those God things," she said. "If I'd still been working full time, I wouldn't have had time to pick up the daily Web content. It just worked out perfectly. It was just enough to supplement my income needs."
Since then, Bower has started her fourth book, "Sweeter than Chocolate: Developing a Healthy Addiction to God's Word." She has also launched a new website, Faith Adventures, which explores the idea of the Christian life as a sort of choose-your-own adventure opportunity.
"A lot of people read the Bible and think, ‘I believe that, but I don't know what would happen if I did that. Will that work in real life?'" she said.
"I look at those as faith challenges. God is giving us the opportunity to step out of our comfort zones, to try to live life God's way and see what happens."
Follow Faith Adventures at faith-adventures.com. Bowers' books are available at online retailers such as Amazon.com and at her website, christybower.com.
Reporter Kristi Albertson may be reached at 758-4438 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.