When she is not homeschooling her two sweet kids (with full pot of coffee at hand), Connilyn Cossette is scribbling notes on spare paper, mumbling about her imaginary friends, and reading obscure, our-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, TX. Counted With The Stars is her first novel.
Connect with Conni at www.connilyncossette.com.
Sold into slavery by her father and forsaken by the man she was supposed to marry, young Egyptian Kiya must serve a mistress who takes pleasure in her humiliation. When terrifying plagues strike Egypt, Kiya is in the middle of it all.
Choosing to flee with the Hebrews, Kiya finds herself reliant on a strange God and drawn to a man who despises her people. With everything she's ever known swept away and now facing the trials of the desert, will she turn back toward Egypt or surrender her life and her future to Yahweh?
- What inspired you to write Counted with the Stars? Counted with The Stars was inspired by a study I was doing on my own into Exodus and the roots of my faith. I ran across the verse in Exodus 12:38 that said "a mixed multitude went up with them." I thought to myself - who were these people that went with the Hebrews on the Exodus? I wondered whether some of them might be Egyptian and what would have inspired them to follow an invisible God into the wilderness when all they had ever known were the gods of Egypt? Kiya's story began as a product of my own curiosity about the motivations by those we would call "Gentiles" who journeyed with the Hebrews.
- How has the book affected you? One thing i never considered when I began to write a book was how much it would affect me personally. Due to a number of circumstances and the choice to be a stay-at-home mom, I did not finish my teaching degree. I love being at home with my children and began homeschooling them when my son was in Kindergarten. But honestly, i had labeled myself "just a housewife" and figured that my family would be my only sphere of influence and ministry. But pursuing the dream of being an author has changed my perspective on many things, not the least being that my dreams were not too big for God. I have found new confidence in myself and my God-given talents. I have opened myself up to new exciting ways that the Lord is leading me in developing a platform to minister to women. And I have discovered that although there were valleys that I waled as a young woman, God is using all my experiences and trials in my writing to speak truth and life into other people's lives. And most of all, I have realized that God is using my writing to refine me spiritually, in ways I never could have predicted.
- Why did you decide to write biblical fiction? I grew up reading some wonderful and inspiring Biblical fiction but it was not a conscious decision to write in this genre. Kiya's story simply came out of my own personal study into Exodus and the foundations of my faith in the Hebrew Messiah. Kiya's story began with an image in my mind of an Egyptian woman standing on the eastern bank of the Jordan River, waiting to enter the Promised Land. Kiya would not leave me alone until I told the story of how she turned away from the gods of Egypt to follow Yahweh to that place.
- What makes Counted with the Stars different from others of the Biblical Fiction genre? Kiya's story spilled onto the page in a first person point of view. Since the majority of historical fiction and biblical fiction novels are written in third person, this makes it different from most. Although I struggled over the decision to change the POV, I decided that I really wanted readers to immerse themselves in Kiya's story, to feel as though they are actually going along this journey from slavery to freedom with her. I think that we have a tendency to look at the Old Testament through the filter of our modern Western lenses and relegate it to dusty old stories that have little meaning to us. But the bible is a vibrant account of the foundations of our faith in Jesus and without an understanding of the front of the book, the back of the book has little meaning. The people who lived out the stories on its pages were not flannel-board characters; they were living, breathing people and if we understand the Bible for what it is, a record of not only the past but of the future, then we too are living between Genesis and Revelation. I want the reader to understand how the Exodus and its lessons and prophecies are absolutely relevant to our lives today.
- What do you want readers to get out of Counted with the Stars? Kiya's story is, in many ways, the story of all of us who were once in bondage to sin. Like Kiya, there is a point where God confronts us with a choice, will you accept the free gift of salvation and turn away from your idols? Or will you cling to the world in which you are comfortable and refuse to surrender to God? As we all do, Kiya struggles with laying aside the idols she has long held in esteem and allowing the Lord to speak love into her life. When we hold tightly to the world we cannot receive the abundant blessings God has for us. And above all, I hope that the reader will see the marvelous grace that Yahweh shows his people from Genesis to Revelation and on every page in between.
- How does the Out From Egypt series continue after Counted with the Stars? The next book in the Out from Egypt series is Shadow of the Storm, which is a continuation of the Exodus journey, but from the point of view of Kiya's Hebrew friend Shira.
(Releases October 2016)
As I wrote Counted with the Stars, Shira became one of my favorite characters and I was eager to discover more about her, and her journey in the wilderness. Shira will be forced to deal with the wounds of her past and take steps toward an uncertain future, while learning about who she is and who God created her to be. The third book in the series, Wings of the Wind, brings us forward in time to the year before the Hebrews enter the Promised Land. This book is from the point of view of Alanah, a Canaanite woman, who is determined to avenge the family killed by the Hebrew invaders by stepping onto the battlefield herself. When she is captured by a Hebrew warrior and her deepest fears become real, Yahweh will reveal himself and his plan for her life in a mighty way -a way that will affect not only the Hebrew conquest of the Promised Land, but the very bloodline of the coming Messiah.
I always find it exciting to discover a new author and even more thrilling to find that I love that author's writing. Connilyn Cossette with her debut novel Counted with the Stars has earned a place on my "keeper shelf" and will be someone I follow closely. Cossette walks readers through the Exodus through the eyes of a young Egyptian slave named Kiya and provides a perspective on the Exodus I've never considered previously. I didn't get but a couple of chapters into the book and I had already fallen in love with this character and new I was emotionally invested in the remainder of her story.
Cossette's character development is phenomenal and her lyrical descriptions of people and places transports readers to another time. The research and study involved in the writing is evident on every page. Cossette captures emotions and draws readers into the story very early and sustains that emotive effect until the very end. As a matter of fact, the intensity is almost palpable at times and I felt like I was there with Kiya and Shira on their journey. I felt what they felt and saw the things they were seeing. The plagues were really brought to life.
I think what I appreciated most in Counted with the Stars was the way Cossette portrayed the transformation that the grace and mercy of God can bring about even in a doubting and confused heart like Kiya's. Cossette also does an exceptional job of showing how God desires to be known and reveals Himself in simple and extraordinary ways. Connilyn Cossette has knocked it out of the ballpark with this first installment in her Out From Egypt series! Order your copy today and be prepared to encounter the Exodus and the One True God who leads us all out of bondage.
*I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Happy Reading Ya'll,