I met Penny through our mutual alliance with a writers' organization that we belong to. We instantly hit it off, realizing we have a lot in common. She has a ready wit, loves to laugh, and is a delightful, down-to-earth person. Penny Cooke is a new president of a chapter of Word Weavers, the internationally acclaimed Christian Writer's critique group. Her Jensen Beach, FL chapter opens this fall. She belongs to the American Writers and Speakers Association and the Biblical Coaching Alliance.
Penny is also a certified biblical life coach, Bible teacher, and writer who switched careers as a decorator for women's ministry and writing. Formerly a sewing instructor, she would now would rather sow into people’s lives and see their hearts decorated with Jesus. She's served in women’s ministry for over 30 years where she taught numerous Bible studies and seen God move through many prayers. Penny has seen God’s power work through her own marriage, her son’s addiction, and many other prayers large and small.
Whether teaching, writing or coaching, Penny strives to encourage, inspire and equip believers with the Word of God and see them empowered by His Spirit through prayer for this battle we call life. Her passion now is to see women (and men) rise up (or kneel down) and pray more often and more fervently. She desires all believers have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t know exactly when it started, but I have always loved writing. I have always written things and I have thought about writing a book since my early twenties. I’ve joked for years that I’m a word nerd and I’m hooked on phonics. Ask my kids – I was always editing their school papers. Anyway, the opportunity arose about ten years ago when an author friend asked me to write for her on-line magazine.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It took about six years to write my book, Pursuing Prayer – Being Effective in a Busy World, but that was a lot due to life circumstances that kept getting in the way – you know, just some small stuff like a few medical issues and finding out I had an autoimmune disease, both my parents’ medical issues and deaths, my husband’s open-heart surgery (with complications), and a hurricane that resulted in a flood that required all our floors to be replaced. I guess the enemy does not like when we write about things like prayer!
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I am most productive in the morning. I don’t make appointments in the morning so I can write when I’m fresh. But you also may find me curled up in my favorite chair writing late at night.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I guess what I said above – even though the mornings are my scheduled writing times, you may find me in my chair with my laptop way beyond midnight. Spontaneous writing times are the best.
Where do you get your information and inspiration for your books?
So often my morning devotional time will lead into writing. Something will spark an idea and I grab my laptop and start researching and/or jotting things down. I write nonfiction – Bible study, devotions and an inspirational blog, so the Bible is my inspiration many times, not to mention life itself.
When did you write your first book?
I was able to contribute to a couple of compilations in 2016 and 2018, but my first book, Pursuing Prayer, was released in November, 2019.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I love anything creative – decorating, crafts, sewing. I also do a bit of gardening but my thumb is not very green.
What does your family think of your writing?
They have been very supportive. My husband has been a huge encouragement, and my son who is a pastor has bought my book for many people in his church.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Not so much surprising, but to me awe-inspiring, is how God guided and walked with me through the researching and writing. Especially, I had only a couple of weeks to finish the manuscript by its due date after my mom, who lived with me, passed away from cancer. Those last couple of months with her were quite difficult to write. Someone suggested I contact my publisher and let them know what I was facing and ask for an extension, but I felt God knew what my circumstances would be when He gave me the contract and that He would help me finish it. He was (is) so faithful! He gave me just what was needed for those last couple of chapters and I was able to submit it on time.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Pursuing Prayer is my first book, other than the two compilations, so of course it is my favorite. The topic of prayer is so vital, especially in the days we are living in. So it’s very near and dear to my heart to help people better understand prayer and realize the power of prayer, as well as motivate them to pray more.
Do you have any suggestions to help others become better writers? If so, what are they?
Patience is a must. Writing is a journey with twists and turns, bumpy roads, and detours. But the destination will be worth it to you and your reader.
Remember that someone needs your encouragement, your story in your voice, which they will not hear any other way. Even though your book may be like one of millions of shells on a beach, there’s someone out there that will be drawn to your exact shell, put it up to their ear and hear the magic of your message.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they have to say?
I love reading the comments on my blog, and the reviews of my book on Amazon have been a great encouragement. Things like: “practical and powerful,” “lights the spark,” “genuine and real.” Those things were my heart’s desire, so hearing them is a big “Praise God!”
Also, Pursuing Prayer has also won several awards, so that has been a huge encouragement.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about yourself?
My passion is to encourage believers in their battle of life and faith; for them to be in the Word and pray more, including our country. If anyone would like ideas on how you can be praying for our country, you can check out my blogs of the last year or so, many of which deal with praying for America and the world (non-partisan), as well as prayer in general.
If you’d like to subscribe to my blog (see below), you can receive my free ebook, Pursuing Prayer Devotion and Coloring Page.
Also, I invite you to join my private Pursuing Prayer Facebook page. (See below.)
Pursuing Prayer group page
BIO: Penny Cooke is an author, Certified Biblical Life Coach, Bible teacher and speaker. Her multi-award-winning book, Pursuing Prayer – Being Effective in a Busy World released in November 2019. She is a contributor to Worthy Inspired’s Let the Earth Rejoice Devotional and Lighthouse Bible Studies’ Heart Renovation Bible study. She has written articles for CBN.com, Thoughts-About-God.com, and Blessed Living Women’s E-Magazine. Penny also enjoys encouraging her blog readers at pennycookeauthor.com.
Penny and her husband live in sunny Florida and have three grown children and seven fun grandchildren.