Author Beverly Lewis in town Friday

Peggy Phillips and two of her friends left Arab in north Alabama at 5:30 a.m. Friday to spend about 10 collective minutes with one of their favorite authors. That meant nine hours in the van.

"I made them leave early so we would be first in line," Phillips said Friday afternoon. The Christian author Beverly Lewis was in Columbus to sign books at The Sanctuary off Airport Thruway.

"I'm a big fan — ever since she's been writing," Phillips said.

Lewis, who grew up in Amish country in Pennsylvania, writes Christian adult fiction, as well as children's books and a cookbook. Many books in her various series are based on her childhood.

Lewis said in an interview that she writes six days a week, for at least eight hours a day. She said she always had two passions in life, writing and playing piano, starting about age 4. "I was always writing," said Lewis.

Her 12-year-old daughter nudged her into writing books after Lewis tried her hand many years ago at magazine writing.

"She said, 'Mom, I think you have a book in you and you have to write about pre-teens.' "

Her first book came out in 1993, "Mountain Bikes and Garbanzo Beans."

Lewis is on a book tour that will take her next to south Alabama. She and her husband live in Colorado.

Rodney Redmond owns The Sanctuary and said he hosts such book signings every few months. Most of them are local or regional authors.

For more information about Lewis, see www.beverlylewis.com.