Welcome to “The Cross & the Pen,” Crosswalk.com’s author-to-author interview column!

Marita Littauer is a dear friend and someone to whom I give credit for my writing and speaking career. A few months ago, we “bunked” together at a Christian writers’ conference held in a most picturesque setting at a campground in Oregon. She handed me a copy of her latest book, "But Lord, I Was Happy Shallow" (Kregel Publications) and then listened as I (along with friend, Kathleen Jackson) read from the pages. We laughed together and I told her, “M!” (I often call her “M.”) “I’ve got to interview you about this!”

Recently we caught up with each other while online in an IM chat. We talked about how busy we both are (Marita is getting ready for a HUGE writers’ conference — Glorieta — she directs this time of year) and about how fun her new book is to read.

Wanna listen in?

Marita:  Hello!

Eva Marie:  Well, hello, Miss M! Bet you're busy as all get-out about now, huh?

Marita:  My whole office is frantic [right now].

Eva Marie:  I'm going to ask you a few questions about your book, "But Lord, I Was Happy Shallow."

Marita:  OK. I do not have to worry about typos/spelling do I?

Eva Marie:  Nope! Just "chat" with me and I'll take care of the rest

Marita:  PTL.

Eva:  (Laughing) Here we go!

Marita:  OK.

Eva:  Shallowness … Marita, that's not a word you'd expect to see on the cover of a Christian book! But, your "tagline" intrigues me. "Lessons Learned in the Deep Places." Talk to me about that for a second.

Marita:  I had the title for the book long before I had a book. Many years ago, when I was teaching at one of my first writers’ conferences, I ran into a colleague that I had not seen in many years. As we chatted, the colleague said to me, "I don't know, there is something different about you. You seem deeper."

Knowing why -- I have just been through a particularly difficult phase of my life -- in my head, I raised my hand toward heaven and said to the Lord, "But Lord, I was happy shallow."

Meaning, I did not need these tough times to create depth.

Eva Marie:  Oh, how I understand. ...

Marita:  Ever since them I have used that phrase repeatedly when tough times hit. People have responded to the little mantra so well, that I had to make a book out of it

We all know tough times produce character. But when they hit, we often -- as I literally did many times in 2003 -- hid our heads under the pillow and cry out why me God?

Eva Marie:  So, you're saying that even Christians can understand being shallow ... on a personal "I've experienced it" kind of way"?

Marita:  Yes, most definitely. On the flip side, when we are going through those tough times -- and generally I am referring to the daily hard knocks stuff, not the big tragedies like so many in Florida have faced this fall -- what we most want is a friend who will come along side us put their arm around us (even if only figuratively) and share our pain. The stories in “Happy Shallow” are like that for the reader who is in the midst of a tough place. They say, "I've been there. I understand."

Eva Marie:  M, you're listed as the general editor of this book, which is a collection of stories. What made you decide to allow others to tell their stories rather than just telling yours and then giving expository teaching? In other words, letting the stories teach the lesson?