Archive for the ‘Christian’ Tag

Transcending this Lifetime   6 comments

What do you want people to remember about you?

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We all hope to leave a legacy. It’s sort of a human ambition to leave behind something that has people remember who we were a decade after our deaths or a century. It’s mainly only the infamous who are remembered millennia after their deaths. Alexander the Great is not remembered because he was a good guy who promoted peace and love, for example. Had George Washington not headed the Continental Army during the American Revolution, he would be no better remembered today than Lemuel Haynes or Roger Sherman.

Proverbs 31 womanAt not-quite-60 I probably have another 20 years to forge my legacy (my mother’s family routinely push 90 when they pass to the next realm), so I am thinking more and more of what I want people to remember about me. I don’t do bucket lists, but today’s post calls me to consider this, so, here goes!

I would want people to remember me as an imperfect (that’s actually important) mother who loved her children enough to let them find their own paths, but who imparted saving knowledge of Jesus Christ to them. If our daughter ever fulfills her potential and God’s leading, you will know her name and not because she’s infamous. To say more would sound arrogant, but there are reasons having nothing to do with me or her for why I believe she could light up the world stage … or that she might be one of those people who is not famous in her own lifetime, but whose work will transcend her own life.

When folks stand around at my memorial service, I hope they remember my faith was in Jesus Christ and that I lived that out in my life even when it was sometimes hard and I wasn’t rewarded for it. Yeah, I think I’m on a theme here.

I would like people to remember my books. I put a lot of myself and my faith into them and so, of course, I want them to live on beyond my lifetime.

Last, I hope my blogging is remembered by the people who have read it (or might read it in the future) and that it helped them to see new and better ways of doing things that leads us away from the current vitriol and insanity of our present schizophrenic society. I’m not alone in occupying a 3rd way that is neither Republican nor Democrat, but seeks to align with economic reality and individual liberty and I pray God that people turn more in that direction before the whole mess slides off a cliff.

So, I think that’s about it. A faithful Christian, an effective communicator, an entertaining novelist and a good mom. Basically, I want to be remembered as a humanized Proverbs 31 woman.

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Faith, Hope, Charity   5 comments

Talk about your favorite charity and why it’s your favorite?

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Christians are called the church ministry, giving of our time and resources to the work of the gospel. Sometimes that means helping those in need of physical assistance, but God calls us to spread His good news of salvation more than He calls us to provide food and shelter to the needy. It’s not that those things aren’t important, but that they aren’t as important as salvation, so unless a “charity” has the gospel component in it as a primary focus, I don’t contribute to it.

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaskaYes, the Red Cross, United Way, and other charities do good work at what they do, but they aren’t doing what God has commanded Christians to do, so I put my resources where God says they will do the most good. There are plenty of other people to provide “rice” to those in need while ignoring the more important issue of salvation and evangelism.

The primary recipient of my limited charitable-giving funds is University Baptist Church in Fairbanks, Alaska. It’s a Great Commission Baptist church, part of the Southern Baptist Convention. Being in Alaska, it’s been “fun” (not) all these decades to try to explain the geography of being a member of an Southern Baptist church. We’re Southern Baptist, but only a handful of the members have ever lived in the South. Our pastor is from Oklahoma. One of our deacons was born in Mississippi. That’s as close to “southern” that we get. So saying we’re a Great Commission Baptist church just geographically makes more sense. Besides “Great Commission Baptist” puts the emphasis where it ought to be — on the mission Jesus gave His disciples … to spread the gospel.

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaska*Although this article includes photographs of UBC church members, in keeping with my promise not to invade my family’s privacy, they were taken from the church website and none of them include me or mine.

Brad and I combine our 10% of our net income with the 200+ members of UBC. Some of that money stays in the congregation. Our building is paid for and we are a debt-free congregation, but of course, light bills must be paid and you have to heat buildings in Alaska. Our building is also home to a Chinese congregation. There’s Sunday school materials and children and youth ministries and we have a thriving College and Careers group. Some of our young people are returning to the small-group concept of mid-weekly Bible study and prayer, probably in people’s homes. We’re on the list, though we study with another Sunday morning class. I’ve recently stepped out to teach the teenagers during a mid-weekly time. We’ll be starting that soon. But, of course, there are “rice” ministries that exist and our church gives standing contributions to the local Food Bank and also the Rescue Mission. We also host one of the distribution points for the Food Bank.

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaskaThe Southern Baptist Convention has a great system for charitable giving. It’s called the Cooperative Program. Churches required to give at least 1% of their offerings to CP in order to send delegates to the Convention. Our church gives more than that, but churches across the nation give a percentage of their offerings to CP and it is distributed to ministry needs across the world – some local, some statewide, some national and some international. I know local SB/GC churches that receive pastoral assistance and ministry stipends through CP. The Alaska Baptist Convention is supported by CP. A lot of urban church starts are funding through CP funds. Churches teach English and citizenship to the foreign-born, provide assistance to the homeless, help pregant teens, and many other ministries, depending on what God has laid on the hearts of that congregation. Southern Baptist relief workers are on the ground doing a lot of heavy lifting in Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico right now. I know several agricultural and medical missions internationally that are funded through CP. My friend Sylvia’s parents were part of a mission to Aborigines in Australia, a ministry that continues today under Aborigine leadership. The CP funds also support state, local, national and international offices that help to assist these multiple ministry avenues and coordinate resources going to them.

Additionally, we have four special offerings during the year. Because of the steady flow of CP funds, special offering monies are used in direct ministry rather than administrative costs. So 98% of any offering will go directly to ministry rather than salaries or overhead.

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaskaThis time of year, we do the Valeria Sherard State Missions offering, which goes in support of ministries within Alaska. The $80,000 they hope to raise ends up in some mighty diverse places. Almost as soon as the Valeria Sherard offering closes, we’ll start focusing on the Lottie Moon Christmas offering which goes to International missions. And then there’s the Annie Armstrong Easter offering in the spring, which is used within the United States and Canada with some overlap into Mexico. Finally, the Tanana Valley Association has the summer Harley and Martha Shields offering which goes to support local ministries. For the record, I knew Valeria (pronounced Valera) Sherard and Harley and Martha Shield. Martha led my daughter to the Lord in Vacation Bible School.

Additionally, the North American Mission Board (NAMB is one of the SBC’s arms) made it easy to give to Southern Baptist Disaster Relief to support the cleanup of Harvey, Irma and Marie. Brad spent two weeks after Sandy reconnecting houses to the utilities. I reroofed houses in Appalachia after a big storm there several years ago. (Yeah, you never know what sort of skills this Alaska chick might possess).

Image result for image of university baptist church fairbanks alaskaOccasionally, if we can afford some extra, Brad and I will give donations to Samaritan’s Purse  — we do a Christmas shoebox most years, but we also give cash donations when we can afford it — and my personal happy donation is Heifer International, which provides (mostly) goats to third-world families so they can increase the protein through milk in their diets and, for some, sell milk and cheese to improve their economic conditions. Founded in 1944, Heifer International provides livestock, seeds, trees and extensive training to those in need around the world. The idea is to provide aid that will replicate itself.

All of these charities have three things in common. First, foremost and beyond anything else – the focus in on the gospel. The “rice”nature of the ministry is in support of evangelism, not the other way around. Second, they also all score comparatively well on the administrative versus ministry balance scale. When I see an organization spending tons of money on director salaries and nice office space, I don’t consider them to be a charity. They are a jobs program for people who like to look like they care. So, I give my money carefully to organizations that meet high standards. Yeah, you have to make a living while doing ministry. I don’t have a problem with paying people. But the standard should be modest salaries compared to donations, a lot of volunteers and bivocational workers, and modest office spaces. Administration should always be a minority slice of expenditures, so that food, materials and ministry flow to those who need it rather than to professional “ministers”. Third, their aim is to provide material assistance that moves people out of needing material assistance in the future. That’s why Heifer International is my favorite occasional charity because by providing goats, seeds, chickens, trees, and training, they give people the tools they need to become self-sustaining.

Give a hungry man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man how to fish and he eats for a lifetime.  Anne Isabella Thackeray Ritchie

Announcing “Love’s Legacy”   Leave a comment

My friend Stephany Tullis from the Open Book Blog Hop is publishing a new book tomorrow.

Love’s Legacy

About the Book

GENRE (S)

 Literature & Fiction – Religious & Inspirational Fiction – Inspirational

Contemporary Fiction – Religious – Christian

PUBLISHER

Kindle Worlds

eBook Price: $2.99

Available – 7/19/17 –  Purchase here

Stephany Tullis Love's Legacy

 

Can their marriage survive the loss of one of God’s greatest gifts?

 

 

Can, A list couple, Kevin and Deidre O’Connor’s marriage survive the escalating inter-family turmoil that follows the murder of their three-year-old son? In the midst of their raging storm, car trouble leads them to Sweet Grove, Texas and an opportunity to find the peace that surpasses all understanding.

Interview with Michael Reid, Jr.   1 comment

 

Today’s interview is with Michael Reid Jr. Welcome to the blog. Tell us something about yourself. 

mreid-author-picA native of the midwest, spending most of my life in the Chicagoland area, venturing into Saint Louis, Missouri for graduate school. I received my doctorate in physical therapy from Washington University and practice in a sports rehabilitation setting in the northern suburbs.  I am married to a woman who impresses me every day, and father to a son who is growing too fast.

 

Unfortunately, they do that!

Previously, I worked for the government for 4 years, where I had a lot of conversations with military personnel. I still get to work with service members, as well as first responders on a regular basis as a physical therapist.

 

At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

mreid-w-sonI remember writing as a youth in grade school. It was difficult for me to finish a story, because a new idea, or plot twist would always enter my mind and I’d have to revise.  I forgot about writing until college, where I took some elective courses in creative writing, spurring the desire once more.

 

Tell us about your writing process.

It’s fairly simple really. I get an idea in my mind, and start to develop it. Over the coming weeks it doesn’t leave me alone. I continue to stew over it (mainly because now I’m obsessed with it) and when I finally feel it’s developed enough, I write a rough outline. The outline consists of maybe 20-30 plot points. From there, I write and connect the dots, letting the characters guide the story, and try to keep my own emotions out of it.

 

What are you passionate about?

Family. Everything I do is for my family. Hobbies include writing, furniture building, and exercising. In that order.

 

Have you written any books that made a transformative effect on you? If so, in what way?

mreid-debt-of-fear-mosbrookEverything I put on paper has a transformative effect. I say that because I do the research, I talk to people, I learn their stories. I think writing is markedly easier when you understand the subject matter. It forces me to learn about new things and I’m grateful for that because I love to learn. New knowledge leads to new ways of looking at the world, even if it’s just because now you are capable of seeing through someone else’s eyes.

 

Absolutely. Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

Inspiration is everywhere. From personal tragedy to a joking brainstorm session with friends. I was actually inspired at church once for my current novel, and regrettably, I couldn’t focus on the sermon because my mind did what it does, and thought too much.

 

I’ve been there. What sort of research do you do for your novels?

I prefer to talk to people who know better than I do. You can read all day, but a simple conversation with someone who lives it on the day to day is worth hours of reading. Plus, I find there is too much worthless hearsay on the internet these days which may lead to inaccurate information.

 

If someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

I would say read some of the reviews online. I think it’s difficult to describe your own style, and impossible to critique yourself. People have described my writing as “vivid, feels like watching a movie but you are reading; i loved the character development; fast read; beautiful imagery; “

 
Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

mreid-familyI believe in both. I think that the characters sometimes thrive on the plot and vice versa. I think a lot of times the character’s true self is revealed through a plot line which allows them to explore themselves. That’s what makes a good book in my opinion; you can’t have one without the other.

 

Do you write from an outline or are you a discovery writer?  Why?

A basic outline. Then discovery from there. I don’t like being tied down by a detailed outline. Sometimes the characters need to be allowed to free think.

 

 

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

First, I love this question because it really makes me think. I’d appreciate this opportunity. In this hypothetical scenario, I’m going to take liberties and say my son is also a seventeen-year-old young man. I would bring him. No books, no electronics, a couple camelbaks and a variety of clothes; warm and cold weather. We would each have a sidearm, a knife, and various other survival gear.

We would spend the entire month exploring the wilderness and disconnect with the digital and electronic world. I would show him the beauty of nature, forcing us both to reevaluate what’s important. It would be a great opportunity to show humility, that we aren’t as important an individual as the media would dictate. Seeing how large the Alaskan wilderness is, let alone how large the world is, and knowing we are spinning in space that’s infinitely larger than anything we can possibly imagine, will allow us both to examine how fragile life is.

 

Very good! Sounds like my husband and our son, who is currently 17. Talk about your books individually.

mreiddebt-of-fear-promo-2Debt of Fear-

A terrorism thriller currently available on Amazon in paperback and kindle, and it part of Kindle unlimited program.

This fast-paced thriller will pull you into the story with vivid descriptions. Introducing an ex-recon marine named Logan Falcone, you’ll experience the emotions of war and terror first hand as he tries to hunt down a terrorist cell in America. Each heart-stopping moment forces him to face his deepest fear; losing another person he loves.

Logan Falcone was finally in control, insulated from the world around him. A terrorist attack in Paris prompted a phone call that changed everything. He had finally stopped reliving the events in Iraq but was being asked to make himself vulnerable again. A second attack, this time in Chicago, starts to open a deceitful door into the terrorist cell. Logan uses his old connections, a group of recon marines, and as much assistance as Samantha can give without compromising her job with the FBI. Leads fall through their fingers and it appears there’s a leak in the government. In the end, it comes down to Logan’s intuitive training and ability to read people. Will Logan be able to tap into who he used to be? Or will the thought of another potential loss dictate his actions, causing even more attacks and American deaths?

 

WORKS IN PROGRESS

Height of Fear-

Second chapter in the Logan Falcone Series.

 

The Beyond Experience– At Beta reader and editing phase.

 

A research physician named Ethan Lewis discovers a radical cure for anxiety and depression which sweeps the globe. The treatment is described as heaven by everyone who enters the experience. However, with the help of his assistant Kyle, they find the cure is capable of much more. In secret they push the envelope but Dr. Ethan Lewis decides to shut down the experimenting when Kyle discovers something terrible in Ethan’s past. In the end, the loss of a loved one forces Ethan to enter the experience himself.  He comes face to face with his biggest mistake and is presented with the undeniability of the afterlife.

 

One Soldier’s Kingdom

Work in progress- A historical Fiction novel

A book set in Post WW2 Chicago. Nicholas Ricci, a returning POW,  falls in love with Bella, an illegitimate daughter of a mob boss. He goes to Chicago to follow her and is met by Louie DeLuca, the boss of the family. He tells Nicky he will grant his blessing on the relationship if he helps him by performing a task. NIcki succeeds, but is left barely alive.

As time passes, Nicki becomes more involved with the crime family but is often forced to relive his days at the POW camp. The flashbacks become intense and his charismatic personality becomes more dark and power hungry. He craves the idea of being the boss, but both Bella and Louie DeLuca stand in the way.

 

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

Emotion. Whether something in the plot causes you to reflect on a memory, or you are so emotionally invested in a character that you cry, bleed, scream, laugh with them. That’s the point.

 

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

Rejection. I hadn’t found an agent, and historically I’m not very patient. I decided that three months of waiting and hearing a lot of the same feedback, I should just have a go at it myself. Since doing so, I feel like it was the right decision for me. I have talked to a couple agents, as well as publishers since, and found it to be a very “dollars over everything” sort of feel. I think there is limitless freedom in self-publishing, however, you are on your own which is scary. I’m on the fence about indie versus traditional at the moment. I like the freedom, but would certainly like to reach a wider audience.

 

That’s what I hear from just about every indie I interview … love the freedom, would like a wider audience. What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishng?

The freedom to make every choice along the way.

 

Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

Guidance in terms of which choices would be better. There is literally an infinite number of decisions that are ultimately being made at each step of the way. From internal design, font choice, how to lay out the chapter, the cover art, promotions, who do I sell through etc etc. Publishers also likely have a wider reach, and if you are published traditionally, there is also a sense that your work may be better….maybe.

 
Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

Yes. Take constructive criticism, allow others to read your work and find individuals who aren’t afraid to tell you something sucks. That’s an enormous advantage. You cannot have a bunch of “yes-men” around you. Pay for quality, cover art is what draws people in, so don’t skimp on it, and don’t settle. Also, when it comes to every aspect of the book layout, design, content, listen to the professionals you hire. They are likely reading and looking at way more than you ever will.

 

 

Do you write specifically for a Christian audience? Why or why not?

Yes and no. My most recent work tentatively called The Beyond Experience, deals with a lot of Christian themes, but I wouldn’t say I always write with that in mind. The reason I do place religious views/themes in books is because it’s what I believe.

 

Exactly. It’s who we are. What are some of the special challenges of being a Christian writer?

Difficulty knowing how far to go with the themes, and not push secular readers away. I think it’s easy to turn off a non-christian. As soon as you reveal the Christian or God centric perspective, they are sometimes turned off and the wonderful message may not get to them. No matter how good the writing.

 

Christians are told to be “in the world, but not of it.” As a Christian writer, how do you write to conform to that scripture?

It’s difficult. You try to walk a thin line, but you absolutely have to stay true to a character. Just because you are writing as a character, doesn’t mean those are your beliefs.

 

Do you feel that Christian writers should focus on writing really great story or on presenting the gospel clearly in everything they write? Or is it possible to do both?

It is possible. A good story is a good story. You need to develop the characters, the plot, and the storyline needs to be good as well. Just like any other topic.

 

Where to readers find you and your books?

 

Website: <www.michaelreidjr.com>

Instagram: authormichaelreidjr

Twitter: michaelreidjr1

Facebook: Michael Reid Jr

Interview with Katy Huth Jones   10 comments

 

 

Katy Huth Jones author picToday’s interview is with Katy Huth Jones. Welcome to the blog. Tell us something about yourself.

I grew up an Army brat in a creative family, and being a painfully shy child, books were my best friends during our frequent moves. I dropped out of college and married my husband Keith 37 years ago, planning to finish “some day” but ended up being “self-taught” after homeschooling our two sons and hundreds of others for twenty-five years. Now we have three precious grandbabies, live in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, and I play piccolo and flute in a quality regional symphony.

 

You probably have a better education that 90% of the people coming out of college. At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Although I’d been writing stories since I was eight, I made a conscious decision to “be a writer” at age 28 when I had a four-year-old son, six-year-old foster daughter, and a foster infant on a heart monitor. I wanted to do something “grown up” and since my head was usually full of story ideas, I thought it would be a simple thing to write and sell science fiction stories to magazines. It took seven years and more than 600 rejection letters before I finally sold my first story—a fantasy.

 

Oh, my … 600!?  You’re way tougher than I would be. What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

My favorite genre to read and write is Christian fantasy.

 

Katy Books top row

 

What is something you cannot live without?

My Savior, and my Bible.

 

What sort of research do you do for your novels?

Research is one of my favorite parts about writing. I learned while writing magazine articles and my one nonfiction book how vitally important accurate details are, even to a work of fiction. A reader can’t “suspend disbelief” if he or she is jarred out of the story by an improbable detail or situation. I read books, but also look for as many hands-on opportunities as possible. To write scenes of jousting, I attended jousts at a Renaissance festival and Medieval Times in Dallas. I bought a replica of a 13th century sword to get a feel for its weight and maneuverability. I’ve made (and bought) historical costumes so I can understand how it feels to wear clothing that you can’t put on or take off without the help of a maid or squire. You feel trapped!

 

Katy and harp.jpgIf someone who hasn’t read any of your novels asked you to describe your writing, what would you say?

I only realized this a few months ago, but all of my fiction written since I’ve had cancer has a similar theme: Finding hope and light in dark places.

 

Are you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

Totally character-driven. My stories always begin with a character who is wandering around inside my head. If I start asking him or her questions, pretty soon I begin to understand who this person is, with dreams and fears. Then I ask, “What’s your story?” It took me many years to learn this, however. When I first started trying to write sci fi, it was plot-driven and never worked, because I was forcing 2-D cut-out characters into a plot instead of taking the time to get to know the characters and let the stories flow from who they were and the choices they would naturally make.

 

You’ve got them in your head too? Good to know. This is my Alaska question because I live here. I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

I’ll bring my camera, zoom lens, and tripod, because I’m sure there will be amazing birds and animals to capture. I’ll bring at least ten spiral notebooks to write in, because I prefer writing first drafts by hand. My brain is connected to the pen or pencil, not the keyboard. As for books, I’ll bring my Bible and possibly a field guide to Alaskan wildlife, but no fiction in which to immerse myself, because I’d rather fully experience the beauties of nature in a remote place like that!

 

Katy Butterfly ladyNice. Talk about your books individually.

Since my writing can be divided into B.C. (before cancer first struck in 2005) and A.C. (after cancer), I’ll just talk about what I’ve published A.C. That other writing life seems like it belongs to someone else!

I wrote a MG fantasy allegory of the cancer experience called Leandra’s Enchanted Flute, which was published by Cool Well Press in 2012. It’s the story of a 14 year old flute player with cancer who is taken to a fantasy world by a talking Carolina wren because he believes she has the courage necessary to save them from a growing world-wide “canker.” Although not specifically Christian, it still carries that theme of hope and light in dark places. CWP asked if I would write a sequel, which they published in 2013, Return to Finian Jahndra. Within a month, CWP went out of business. I got my rights back and re-issued them under Quinlan Creek Press (our homeschool was Quinlan Creek Academy) in 2014. This was my first experience with self-publishing.

Another story I tried to write in 1988-1989 was a fantasy novel about a reluctant warrior prince and a pacifist Healer. Even after two rewrites, it didn’t work, so I stuck it in a drawer and went on to actual money-making writing projects, such as children’s books and writing for magazines, both fiction and nonfiction.

Then in early 2011, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer, and to distract me in my grief while helping my Mom (he wanted to die at home, and it took him eleven months because he fought so ferociously), I pulled out the old fantasy manuscript, threw away everything but the opening battle scene, and as a “writing assignment” asked the characters to tell me their story. The words poured out, day by day. It was therapeutic, but also exhilarating. I actually came to know these people, and the story completely changed because it grew out of who they were, not an improbable plot I had thrust upon them.

Once I reached chapter 70-something, I realized this was going to be more than one book. Soon it became apparent it would take five books to tell the entire epic story. My critique group (all trad published authors) read the first one, Mercy’s Prince, and encouraged me to find an agent. I knew that Christian fantasy would be a hard sell, but to humor them I sent out queries, even though I had already paid a content editor and proofreader, planning to self-publish the first book in September 2015, once I was closer to finishing the series.

Then the first of June 2015, my cancer came back unexpectedly and with excruciating pain. My husband and I both expected to hear that it was stage 4 and nothing to be done. I wrote my obit, we went to visit our children (and I ended up in the ER in Kansas City because the pain spiked). I decided to move up the publication date for Mercy’s Prince, since all it needed was a cover, and it would be my “good-bye” for family and friends.  I managed to publish it the first of July 2015, just before chemo started. And since the lymphoma was “only” stage 3, chemo put it back in remission, praise God!

Unfortunately, due to chemo brain I couldn’t concentrate on writing. I had book 2, Mercy’s Gift, edited and proofed, with a lovely cover by Perry Elisabeth, and it was published in September 2015. I was about 80% finished with book 3, but I was scared I would lose the rest of the story.

I signed up for NaNoWriMo last November in order to bring my brain back online after chemo. I managed to finish book 3, Mercy’s Battle, and get a good start on book 4, Mercy’s King. These are long books, each between 125,000 and 139,000 words! Lord willing, and the cancer stays away for a while, I hope to finish the series in 2016.

 

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

I hope that anyone who reads my books realizes that trials and upheavals happen to everyone, even faithful children of God, but through faith there is always hope and light to be found in Him.

 

What influenced your decision to self-publish? If you have experience with both traditional and indie publishing, compare the two.

I never intended to self-publish, since I’d been traditionally published beginning in 1992. But being traditionally published is no guarantee of sales. In fact, the marketing director for my latest trad published book expects me to do what I’m doing for my self-pubbed books, only I have no control over prices, cover, and blurb. It’s a YA historical novel entitled Treachery and Truth, which tells the true story of “Good King Wenceslas.”

 

What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishing?

The greatest advantage is being in charge of all the details and having the ability to “think outside the box.” The worst advantage, for me, is being in charge of all the details. I just can’t think as well as I could before having chemo twice and it takes me a long time to learn technical things.

 

Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

Honestly, the only thing is that great satisfaction when, after pursuing the craft for years and collecting hundreds of rejections, you finally get an acceptance by a well-known magazine or publisher. It’s a validation of all your hard work.

 

Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

Definitely! It’s possible because we’ve invested our heart and soul in this “baby” and want it to be the best it can be. It’s much more difficult without hiring extra sets of eyes to edit and proofread your manuscript. A good editor is worth his/her weight in gold.

 

Do you write specifically for a Christian audience? Why or why not?

Yes, because it’s who I am as a child of God. I can’t separate that from my writing.

 

 What are some of the special challenges of being a Christian writer?

Making sure the story honors God. The temptation is always there to “add stuff” to make the book sell more copies.

 

 Christians are told to be “in the world, but not of it.” As a Christian writer, how do you write to conform to that scripture?

There are lines I will not cross, not in my Christian life, and not in my stories. No profanity, no immorality glorified or justified, and though there is violence in my stories (since I write about the Dark Ages and medieval times) I try to make sure it’s not there to “shock” but only what is necessary to tell the story. The Bible contains a lot of violence, but it’s not “in your face,” so I try to let that be my guide. Potential readers should be warned that they will find blood and battle injuries in my stories.

 

Do you feel that Christian writers are expected to conform to some standards that are perhaps not realistic to the world?

 

If you mean, are Christian writers held to a higher standard, then I agree. I hold myself to the high standard that Christ demonstrated for us.

 

Do you feel that Christian writers should focus on writing really great story or on presenting the gospel clearly in everything they write? Or is it possible to do both?

I personally don’t “preach the gospel” in my stories. I try to show the characters living it through their words and deeds. My goal is to reach those who aren’t Christians, those who are struggling with darkness in their own lives. I honestly don’t know how people get through traumas such as cancer without faith in God.

 

 If you write speculative fiction, do you find that the Christian reader community is accepting of that genre?

There is a small but fervent market for Christian speculative fiction. Many Christian readers won’t read anything that is considered fantasy or science fiction, which I learned long ago in my early homeschooling days. I just keep trying to find the few readers who are looking for Christian speculative fiction. I know they’re out there!

 

Where do readers find you?

Blog: www.katyhuthjones.blogspot.com

Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Katy-Huth-Jones/e/B00700A4DQ

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KatyHuthJones

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Katy-Huth-Jones-Author-318819684805145/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2914315.Katy_Huth_Jones

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/piccolokate/

 

Interview with HL Burke   1 comment

Today’s interview is with H. L. Burke. Welcome to the blog, Heidi. Tell us something about yourself.

Burke.HL.author picI’m the wife of a Marine, Mother of two Super-Hero-Princesses, and guardian to Batcat (my cat’s name is Bruce Wayne. He’s BAT CAT!). I’m originally from Oregon, which means I have a high appreciation for nature and coffee and rain doesn’t scare me.

 

At what point did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

I dictated a short story to my mom when I was five or six. I only remember that it was about rabbits and included the bit of dialogue, “Why is it always snowing at your house?” “Because I’m a snow rabbit.”

Brilliant, huh?

Actually, that’s a great play on words for five.

But I have always wanted to write or been writing. I used to write short stories based on the imagined adventures of myself and my friends. I also inserted us into Star Wars fanfic so we could hang out with our heroes. Ah, good times.

 

Burke.HL Cover MontageI have similar experiences with my friends. Tell us about your writing process.

It starts with a Holla and ends with a Creamsicle … and if there’s time in between, THUNDERCATS!

Oh wait, that’s Shawn Spencer from Psych, not me.

I’m kind of a hybrid pantser-plotter. I used to just start with a general idea of where I wanted the story to go and some “highlights” along the way (like, I want a scene with a sword fight between the brothers … a tearful reunion … then in the end SMORES!), but occasionally whole book plots will pop into my head in surprising details and I’ll write down a long summary and follow it closely. Though I’m always open for a surprise twist or turn. Got to leave room for inspiration.

 

You do, absolutely. What is your favorite genre … to read … to write?

Fantasy and fantasy. I love the limitless. I love to explore possibilities without being confined by real world rules.

 

Burke.HL Cora CoverWhat are you passionate about?

Individuality. People are so eager to cram each other into boxes and categorize people. Probably going along with my need for infinite possibilities which drives me to write fantasy, I need freedom and I want other people to have the same freedom. God gave us a universe full of the strange and the wonderful. There’s no reason not to let ourselves be strange and wonderful, too.

 

Oh, you and I should be neighbors! Where do you get the inspiration for your novels?

I like to ask “what ifs” and work backward from there. For my dragon series, I asked, “What would happen if a knight showed up to save the princess from the dragon and she preferred the dragon?”

Or I’ll take a concept and build out from it. Beggar Magic was based on the idea of how dependent people are on phones and internet, so that if they lose those they have no idea how to complete simple tasks (How do I find my way without a gps? I don’t know anyone’s phone number anymore. All my recipes are on Pinterest.) … except I replaced the Internet with Magic.

Nyssa Glass and the House of Mirrors is based on computer adventure games.

Cora and the Nurse Dragon was inspired by those vending machines that used to dispense plastic eggs with cheap prizes in them.

 

Burke.HL. Nyssa GlassAre you a plot driven or character driven writer? Why?

Character driven. Most plots are fairly tried and true. They have formulas that if you deviate from them, you can actually leave readers dissatisfied. Characters offer a lot more opportunity for creativity than plots do. Several of my books have fairly standard plots, but I put a lot of time into the world building and characters. I want it to be a world you want to hang out in with characters you want to hang out with.

 

I’m going to drop you in a remote Alaska cabin for a month. It’s summer so you don’t have worry about freezing to death. I’ll supply the food and the mosquito spray. What do you do while you’re there and what do you bring with you? If you’re bringing books, what are they?

I would bring a lot of notepads and pens. Does the food you are providing include coffee? (Absolutely!) My cat would be nice … I like my cat. My toy dragon, Theodore … Honestly, I can’t say what books because I’d want them to be books I hadn’t read yet. Bruce (the cat) and I would spend a lot of quality time together and I’d hopefully get some writing done.

 

Talk about your books individually.

I have nine …ish … is it bad that I’ve lost count?

 

Nah, that just means you’re productive.Tell me about the ones you want to talk about today.

Burke.HL.KnightMy four book The Dragon and the Scholar Saga is a story I’ve carried with me from high school and in some ways me retelling my own love story with my husband … but with a LOT of artistic license. My husband is not nearly poetic enough to be a fictional love interest.

I then moved onto YA Fantasy with Beggar Magic, a story set in a world where music is magical …

then a friend sent me a picture of a cat rubbing up against a dragon statue, and I’m like OMGOSH! I have to write a story about a cat who is best friends with a dragon!

Then onto Epic Fantasy with Lands of Ash, and while I should’ve gone right into the sequel for Lands of Ash, I put out a fairy tale novella, a middle grade novella, and a steampunk novella … Did I mention I was easily distracted?

 

What do you want readers to think or feel after reading one of your books?

Depends on the book and ranges from amused to thoughtful. I like to write funny books, but I also like to play with themes that are important to me like family and persistence.

 

What influenced your decision to self-publish?

Impatience. I never seriously tried the traditional route. I mean, when I was in my late teens, I sent out submissions to any publisher I could find online who accepted non-agented submissions, but looking back, none of that was really good enough for them to seriously consider. When I started seriously considering publication, in my late twenties, I thought for a few weeks about submitting things and thought about waiting back to hear from them, submitting to someone else if it was a rejection, over and over and over again … when I was sitting on a book I basically felt was good to go, and I just didn’t want to wait.

So I put out my first book. Now I’m somewhat addicted to being able to get my books from first draft to my readers’ hands in less than six months. My last two novellas, in fact, were for sale on Amazon within three months. Plus I don’t feel I have to write to anyone’s specifications but my own and can chase whatever shinies I want to. Oooh, shiny.

 

With the number of self-published books increasing by such a huge rate, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?

You need word of mouth. That and paid advertising really seem to be the only way to get anywhere.

I’ve been building a fan base who I interact with via social media quite often. “Fan base” seems so egotistical, so maybe I should say “reader base,” but there are people out there who will take a chance on a book just because it is mine and who will tell their friends about my book. To do this, I gave away a LOT of free copies.

I don’t really want to do gimmicks, and I don’t really have the funds to pay for much advertising so for me it’s just been getting books into people’s hands and saying, “Here, this is me. This is my book” and hoping my writing speaks for itself.

 

Who designed your book cover/s?

My friend, Jennifer White. I believe I am her only client, but I can hook people up. She’s a long time internet buddy. We met on a J. R. R. Tolkien fan site and when I told her I was self-publishing and showed her the concept sketch I had for a cover she said, “Hey, I bet I can make that look better …”

She lured me in by giving me my first few covers free, and now I pay her about $75-100 a cover depending on what stock photos she needs to buy and such.

 

What do you find to be the greatest advantage of self-publishng?

The speed. When I  started editing my first book for publication, I joined a critique group. This would’ve been, like, 2012. There was another writer who had an AWESOME space opera. Like Star Wars with a young female protagonist (this obviously being prior to Abrams and Rey) and I adored it … I finished up my edits and put Dragon’s Curse on the market … she shopped for agents. And shopped, and shopped … a year later, she put the book up again in the critique group hoping for another round of edits because it “obviously wasn’t good enough” since she hadn’t got an agent. This book was really really really good. I swear. One of the best Scifi books I’ve ever read. Almost three years later, she’s finally “giving up” and self-publishing. In the meantime, Dragon’s Curse has been on the market for about three years and has had a lot of readers … plus I’ve put out eight other books.

I’m not patient enough to wait on the whims of agents and publishers before sharing my work.

 

Conversely, what do you think self-published authors might be missing out on?

Donuts? I like to believe publishers often send you donuts. It makes me feel better about the world in general, believing this.

 

Do you believe that self-published authors can produce books as high-quality as the traditional published? If so, how do you think we should go about that?

I think aiming for traditional publishing standards is a mistake. I think we should endeavor to have our words spelled right and our formatting legible, but who made traditional publishers the “standard?” Basically, they did. They’re on a pedestal they built themselves, and it only has value if you acknowledge it.

Yeah, the homemade brownies your mom makes might not have the slick packaging of the brownies you pick up in a supermarket, but dang, they can taste just as good, and may even be preferable.

Consider Indie music vs highly produced pop music. Yeah, the struggling artist just starting out may not have the tech behind them. They may just be singing into a cheap microphone with a beat up guitar, but artistry isn’t about the tech. It’s not about producers and glitz. It’s about art. Art is not definable, and I think traditional published books often lack soul because they are produced to formats and formulas.

Now this is not EVERY traditional published book, obviously. A lot of art slips in. But I think it’s a mistake to assume “professional” as defined by the industry is always better.

That’s the brilliant thing about the internet age. It’s the age of the gifted amateur. You don’t need permission. Just be brave and authentic and original and go make your art.

Now, you aren’t promised success. The world doesn’t owe you anything, but if your true goal is to make art, success is kind of just a cherry on top of having the ability to do that.

 

Do you write specifically for a Christian audience? Why or why not?

Since I write fantasy, there isn’t a huge market for that. I find that it is very restrictive writing for Christians. They’ve been trained to expect all Christian fantasy to be allegorical (a la Narnia … and I love a good allegory, but I’ve never been given a story to write that IS one. Plus so many authors have already done that better than I could.) and for every story to have a salvation message (as someone who has been Christian since early childhood, I’ve never quite got the hang of writing a conversion scene for adults. For six-year-olds, heck yeah, I can do that.). I also write in “other worlds” a lot that have different history and world building at play. So the faith in my books is pretty dang sneaky. You kind of have to look for it … but I think that gives it sort of a stealthy advantage. I like to think I’m planting seeds for concepts of faith, hope, and virtue in my own small way.

 

Nice! More of Tolkien flavor then. What are some of the special challenges of being a Christian writer?

I find a lot of Christian art gets pigeon-holed. People are afraid to read things explicitly labeled Christians unless they are Christians. I mean, I may not believe the humanistic message in Star Trek or the Eastern spirituality themes in Star Wars of the Last Airbender, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy them as entertainment. Maybe it speaks to the power of the message that people are literally afraid of it.

 

Christians are told to be “in the world, but not of it.” As a Christian writer, how do you write to conform to that scripture?

As a natural rebel, I’ve always kind of taken this as a challenge not to do things the most popular or expected way … which I try really hard to rein that in, so I’m doing things God’s way, and we have conversations in my head where I say, “This is Your way, right?” But He tends to just pat me on my head and let me play with my dragons. He’s a good Dad that way. Occasionally, though, I’ve gotten an idea or a thought that I know I’m not nearly deep enough to come up with on my own, so I figure that’s where that’s coming from.

 

Do you feel that Christian writers are expected to conform to some standards that are perhaps not realistic to the world?

Probably. But I’m big on not caring what other people think. I’ve seen groups get into arguments about what slang terms are too crude, for instance. Can Christian fiction use the term suck? What about “crap”? I tend to not be a “rules” person, so I don’t give it a ton of thought/worry, though.

 

Do you feel that Christian writers should focus on writing really great story or on presenting the gospel clearly in everything they write? Or is it possible to do both?

It’s possible to do both.

However, it isn’t necessary to always do both.

I think the idea of a Christian writer is kind of odd.

Consider the idea of a Christian plumber.

A Christian banker?

A Christian chef?

Being a child of God should be part of who we are and we should be willing to speak when the spirit leads, but I don’t think there are any plumbers who I’d rate down at the end of the work day because, “Well, he fixed my leaky sink, but he didn’t convey a clear salvation message.”

Why should authors have some sort of divine calling that plumbers don’t?

It would be like expecting a painter to only paint Biblical scenes. A picture of a sunset showing God’s creation can be as divinely inspired and as Christian as the Last Supper.

 

Oh, man, I am REALLY agreeing with you! You write speculative fiction. Do you find that the Christian reader community is accepting of that genre?

The younger members, yes. Or at least the trend is growing. I think there is still a painful expectation that everything should be an allegory. My favorite author, Tolkien, didn’t care for allegories, and I’m not a huge fan of them either because you always know how they are going to end. The moment I realize that Aslan is Jesus, I know He’s coming back from the dead. It has to be a really excellent allegory for me to get past the, “But I know this story already … if I want to hear it again, I can just read the Bible.”

 

Where can readers find you and your books?

 

Www.hlburkeauthor.com

www.hlburkeblog.com

www.facebook.com/hlburkewriter

www.twitter.com/typativemamacat

www.instagram.com/burkesdragons

http://www.amazon.com/H.-L.-Burke/e/B00EYQ1HLW

 

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