Author Spotlight: Michelle Dwyer
We are pleased to introduce author Michelle Dwyer. Michelle recently published Fierce Hope, which is now available through the Word Alive Press Bookstore, and everywhere fine Christian books are sold. We asked Michelle to share a little bit about her writing and her new book. But first, a little bit about her.
Michelle Dwyer loves words and sparking hope! When her children were young, other mothers would gather around her kitchen table for coffee while she shared her journey toward greater emotional and spiritual health. She noticed how much hope it sparked and how the principles she was learning applied to their lives. She prayed that God would make a way for her to share this hope even more broadly.
As her children grew and she went back to her vocational work of teaching and leading at church, this desire only grew stronger. She said yes to every opportunity to catalyze hope and began to dream specifically of writing a book. She started by rising early in the morning, but she didn’t made solid progress between working full-time as a pastor, raising three children, and pursuing further education. Her work often took her on the road to speak at retreats and workshops. She just didn’t know how to make a book happen.
In the summer of 2020, she sensed God calling her away from her day job as a pastor. She wasn’t sure what was next except that this would be a good time to finally write that book.
On September 1, she was at her desk at 8:00 a.m. and began writing. Her daily rhythm was to write until she couldn’t anymore—usually about two hours. She finished her first draft in four months! She feels it came together so easily because she had already spent years honing and presenting the material.
Sorting through publishing options was challenging, but she knew she had found the right fit when she started working with Word Alive Press.
But just as it seemed like things were coming together, she received a diagnosis of stage-3 colon cancer. She wondered if maybe it wasn’t wise to release the book in the middle of this crisis. At the same time, she realized that what she had written was absolutely and profoundly true and that people were more hungry than ever for a tangible experience of fierce hope to carry them through every season and stage of life.
She went ahead with plans for the release of Fierce Hope. She had five signings in a row right before Christmas 2021. A church. A quilt shop. A Christian book store. A gym. A coffee shop. She was shocked and delighted at the variety of people who showed up for a copy, hungry for hope.
In Fierce Hope, Michelle invites you into her story of losing and finding hope. It will engage your head and your heart. Also, it’s written in a way that’s easy to read, whether you’ve gone to church your whole life or you feel like you would never darken the doors.
Her resume includes legal assistant, high school teacher, and pastor. She has almost completed an MA in Leadership and Ministry from Ambrose University. In her spare time, she knits, hikes, and cycles. Michelle makes her home in the Peace Country of Alberta with her husband Brian and three young adult kids.
Q: What inspired you to write this book?
A: I can’t remember when I didn’t want to write a book! This book came out of my own personal journey from depression into living an authentically hopeful life. I want everyone to know that this is possible for them too! Whenever and wherever I’ve shared the principles in this book, formally or informally, I’ve seen lives changed. I’ve had people come up to me and tell me how one of my workshops left a lasting impact on their lives and how they wished they had more resources to help them continue living in a new way. I knew a book would be a great resource for them and for all those who might never make it to a workshop or retreat.
Q: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
A: I don’t just want my readers to know about hope. I want them to know how they can live authentically hopeful lives. This book is story and it has practical steps; it’s head and heart. I hope people will engage with the tools and find real hope activated in their lives. Weariness, disappointment, and indifference will no longer define their lives. They too can become catalysts of hope in their sphere of influence.
Q: What is the next step for you as an author?
A: I’m in a really unexpected place in my life as this book is being launched. Between the beginning of the publishing process and the release, I received a cancer diagnosis. This was disruptive, to say the least, but it’s also made me incredibly focused on how I use my resources and time. If I only have one chance to speak to people, I want it to be the contents of Fierce Hope. It’s made me very bold. Also, I’m saying yes to every possible speaking opportunity—and I’m writing another book!
Q: What is your writing process like?
A: First, I live the substance of anything I speak or write. Then I speak, teach, and share with others what I have learned. There’s a refining process in receiving feedback from others. What lands well? What doesn’t seem to make sense in the way I have communicated it? People experience and process things in different ways according to their wiring. I want to communicate in a way that’s broadly effective.
When it was time to write Fierce Hope, the material had already been worked and reworked. It was really fun and satisfying to put it together, leaving space to expand and unpack thoughts in a way you cannot always do in a 45-minute speaking spot.
Every morning I got up at a set time and was at my desk ready to write. Some days were more about prayer than writing. Other days the words flowed easily. After a couple of hours, I would know I was done for the day. I deliberately scheduled physical activity and “people time” into those days as well, as I know I need those things to sustain creativity. For me, writing is a very disciplined process.
Q: What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
A: Write. Just write. Journal, blog, write! Don’t worry about your audience or what next the steps are going to look like. Write as a discipline and write for fun. Take classes. Participate in a writing challenge. Savour words—they’re beautiful. Use a thesaurus. Read different genres and styles. None of this is wasted. And when it’s time to write your book, do it. Your voice matters.
Q: Why did you decide to share this story?
A: Sharing a story like this feels all kinds of risky and vulnerable, but I’m compelled by compassion. Rich and satisfying lives don’t come from perfect circumstances—no one has that. Knowing God, His love, and His redemption in our stories shatters the ties that bind us and blows off the heaviness that oppresses us. I live to see others experience this kind of freedom. I long for people to know the love of God, the friendship of Jesus, and the empowering presence of the Spirit in their lives. This is why I write.
I especially wrote Fierce Hope for those who have been disillusioned by religion—those inside the church and those outside. My goal was to write with scriptural integrity but without a heavy religious tone. I hope people will encounter Jesus in these pages—He’s delightful, winsome, and approachable.
Find and follow Michelle, here:
Her podcast, Further Up & Further In, can be found on most platforms.