Martha Hook’s first book of fiction has been 25 years in the making. Through moves, marriage, motherhood and friendships, Hook wrote short stories in spare moments and placed them in a file. Her recently published book, Acts By E-mail: The Story of a Church…With a Twist of Lemon, is a compiled and revised version of these efforts.

Neighborhood resident Hook grew up in the Park Cities, graduated from Highland Park High School, attended the University of North Texas and earned her master’s at SMU. After several relocations, she moved back to Dallas in 1998. As a child, she remembers hoping to become a writer.

“I remember riding down Inwood Road with my mother, and there were a bunch of my girlfriends in the car. I was probably 10 or 12 years old at the time. We were chattering about what we wanted to be when we grew up, and I can remember saying: I want to be a writer like Louisa M. Alcott,” Hook says.

The novel centers on the varied experiences of a church congregation, as conveyed through e-mails sent by the church’s pastor to his brother.

“What grows out of the stories is a meta-plot about the life of a church and a minister who cares deeply about the people he shepherds,” Hook says.

Acts may surprise readers expecting a sugarcoated story about good Christian people.

“The book is a story of small-town church members and what happens to them in the course of everyday life. How do they handle the ups and downs? How do they handle crisis? What are their relationships like on a day to day basis?” she says.

Hook, who has had stints as a radio book reviewer for religious publishers, says, “I became very weary of the story line that was always so predictable: Person has problem, reaches out to God, problem is solved in miraculous ways. Or, person has faith, has problem, walks away from God, but returns to God and has a wonderful life.”

In her book, Hook says, “the believer has to gut it out in the trenches. The miracle is that God joins us in the trenches!…I hope my stories reflect this more realistic approach on how people of faith go through life.”

Acts By E-mail is self-published and can be requested at bookstores or ordered online through or For phone orders, call 1-866-909-BOOK (2665).

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