Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Author Behind the Story - Erin Howard

Have you noticed it? The shift in mentality? Ever since the pandemic, people have had time to evaluate things. What seemed so important on February 2020 suddenly were not so much after March 2020. I know, for me, a great many things crystalized. God has used the last nineteen months to sharpen my focus and has forced me to make decisions...ones I am happy I've made.

One of those decisions is to spend a lot more time in His Word...much ore than I was spending before. More time in prayer. More time focusing on His will, as opposed to mine and everybody's else's.

As a result, I've decided to change the format of this particular blog. Instead of having an author featured every month, I have decided to change that to once a quarter, meaning we will feature an author each March, June, September, and December.

Another change is the creation of a new blog which will appear on my website once a month, beginning the third Monday of January. It will be a "devotional" type of blog, wherein I will post a portion of a chapter of a new book I've been writing that I decided to reveal in this way, instead of going through traditional publishing means. You'll see it appear on my website under the "Author's Blogs" section and will be called The King and His Kingdom: Viewing This Life Through the Eyes of the Almighty. Be on the lookout in January 2022.

Therefore, as we shift on this blog from once a month to once a quarter, we welcome our last, but definitely not the least, author to the Florida Front Porch! Please welcome to ABTS, Fellow Scrivenings Press author, Erin Howard!

Erin, in ABTS style, give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Erin Howard?

Hi! I’m Erin R. Howard, YA fantasy author of The Kalila Chronicles, freelance developmental editor, and a small business owner of a retail store where I can fuel my craft addictions. I live in Western Kentucky with my husband and three kiddos.

What educational background do you have? 

I have a BA in Creative Writing/English from Southern New Hampshire University. I went back to school in 2012 after having two of my kids and then opened a retail store and got pregnant with my third child, all while going to school full-time online. It was a crazy, busy, and stressful time, but so worth it.

To help our readers get to know you a little better, what makes you cringe? 

I absolutely cringe at the sound of Styrofoam rubbing together. If it happens while we are in the car (take out boxes or drinks), they will immediately yell, “I know, I know, I’ll get it!”

I think we all have our pet peeves when it comes to noises, right?

If you had your life to live over again, besides being an author (which we guess would be your obvious answer), what profession would you choose? 

A movie director/producer.

Besides storytelling, what talents do you have? 

I love to crochet and do anything craft-related. Before I opened my retail store, I taught cake decorating.

Besides the usual things authors face, has there been an unusual event that changed your perspective about being an author? 

My son was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2016, just two days after Christmas. He was in treatment for almost three years. He is doing well and has been finished with chemo for two years, but this experience changed everything. There was the Erin before he was sick and the Erin after.

I'll bet. And we're so glad to hear about his progress! 

Do you ever receive negative reviews from readers? If so, how do you respond when you see them? 

I have. It’s something that every writer faces because our stories are not going to be for everyone, and that’s okay. It doesn’t make it easier, but I try to remember that when I see one pop up. I think since I write about the supernatural, it’s easy for some people to get upset because it doesn’t follow the scriptures 100%. I am a Christian. However, I write clean fantasy. It’s not going to be theologically sound because it’s fantasy. I write about darker themes so readers can find light in their darkness and know that there’s hope.

Tell us about what project you are currently working on. 

I’m working on a brand-new series called Gates of Deceit. It’s a YA dystopian series about a teenage girl that gets locked out of her community and has to survive out in the forest they are all forbidden to enter. It’s suspenseful and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The first book, Beyond the Gates, releases May 2020.

How do you come up with the names for your characters? 

I love to look up names in Hebrew or Latin that have meanings that pertain to the themes of my story. I also love names that are spelled differently with the letter “K." For example, my main character in The Kalila Chronicles is named Viktor instead of Victor.

If you had one person you could meet (think ONLY Bible characters here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be besides Jesus, and why? 

A long time ago, I dreamed the angel Gabriel sat down with me, and I got to ask questions about spiritual warfare. So I think I would have to go with that.

Interesting choice. Not your typical "person" chosen. :-)

When you are looking for a book to read, what are the things that are important to you? 

I love to read, but I’m always so busy that I have to be very picky at what I pick up. I have a wide variety of genres that I enjoy, but fantasy is my favorite. IF the cover catches my eye, then I will read the back cover copy. IF that sounds interesting, I will turn to the first chapter. IF the opening sentence is a hook, I will keep reading, but it has to keep my interest within the first few pages, or I put it down.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most, and why? 

The verse that carried me through my son’s cancer diagnosis and treatment. A few months before he got sick, Ex 14:14 came up in my Bible reading, and I started studying it in Hebrew/Greek Study Bible. I wrote out everything that God told me that day about learning how to be still to let Him fight for you. When Gabriel got sick, I believe it was my sister, sent me that verse, not knowing that I just spent months studying and thinking about it. It was my confirmation that Gabriel was going to be okay.

How awesome! God is good. What a great way to wind things up! Erin, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover? 

Thank you so much, Kevin, for having me on your blog! I love to connect with and hear from my readers, so I hope that you will check out my website and follow me on social media. I’m most active on TikTok, FB, and Instagram.

You're welcome!

Readers, if you wish to read more about Erin and her writing, you can find her at these cyber-locations:








Crafty Pages YouTube:

Once Upon a Page YouTube:


Readers, thank you for stopping by! And remember, we will continue building this "database" of authors, it will just shift to four times a year.

Mat you all have a wonderful Christmas, a joyous New Year, and don't forget to check out my new blog in January!



Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Author Behind the Story Blog Series - Liana George

What a difference a month makes. Ninety degrees in FLA thirty days ago. Struggling to make sixty degrees with almost forty-eight straight hours of rain the next. Then, a week from now, forecast says it will be back in the low 80s.

At least there's no snow to shovel.

And if you're thinking of moving down here, just know that 1,300 other people a day beat you down here over the summer. Schools in many areas are seeing the biggest enrollments ever. 

But we still have as many "Now Hiring" signs as any other state. So go figure.

A new normal, for sure.

And there's something else new around here...or should we say, someone new. A new author, to be exact. Let's welcome to the Florida Front Porch Scrivenings Press author, Liana George!

Liana, in ABTS style, give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Liana George? 

I’m a wife and mother turned professional organizer and author who loves to read good books, travel extensively, vacation at the beach (so I can scuba dive), and watch tennis. I like to think I’m a curious curator of life’s less notable, yet note-worthy, stories.

Besides storytelling, what talents do you have?  

I’m good at organizing spaces and projects, can clip a chicken’s wings so it doesn’t fly away, and have a knack for finding things my husband can’t.

Well, to be honest, isn't that last one kind of an "every wife" superpower? :-)

If you had your life to live over again, besides being an author (which we guess would be your obvious answer), what profession would you choose? 

I would have been a professional tennis player. I’m fairly athletic and fell in love with the sport at an early age, but my parents felt it would be better for me to play soccer and softball. I played tennis quite a bit as an adult, but by then it was too late to pursue my dream of being a Wimbledon champion.

Based on the different personality profiles out there (Meyers-Briggs, etc.), what profile was the latest one you took, and what were the results? 

Enneagram, and I’m a 6, the Loyalist. I find that to be very consistent with my personality as I value truth, loyalty, and honesty, and I don’t like chaos, being judged, or feeling abandoned. I’m extremely dependable, caring, and warm (in my opinion!).

What makes you cringe?

Reptiles - particularly snakes - politics, and lemons.

Interesting trio. All slimy in some form or fashion. Ha!

What’s the craziest thing you have ever done? 

Rode a donkey up Mt. Sinai (Egypt) in the middle of the night to see the sunrise!

Tell us about what project you are currently working on. 

I just finished the rough draft of the second book in my Hopeful Heart Series, Perfectly Placed and will begin editing it in the next few weeks. Excited to continue my protagonist’s story!

What surprised you the most during the research for the book you are currently working on? 

That if you are a foreigner arrested in China, you can request that a pastor or priest visit you in jail (but no one else other than an Embassy liaison or your lawyer).

Tell us about your writing day. How do you go about writing? 

I’ve found my best writing times are between 10 am and 5 pm, so those are the times I set aside to write. The first few hours I do freelance writing for an organizing company which jumpstarts my brain to get into the writing mode. After lunch I work on my novel writing, which I do all in long-hand. My goal is to write Monday-Friday, but I’m not rigid with my schedule.

Has your writing crossed over into other areas? If so, how? If not, will it? 

Yes, it has. I’ve always wanted to write a devotional about being organized and what the Bible has to say about the topic, but I put it on the backburner for years. I was recently introduced to another writer who had already self-published a book along the same lines, and we’ve decided to team up and write a book of organizing devotions that we hope to present to agents in the spring. I think being a fiction writer really helps with this project as sixty percent of a devotion is storytelling, so I’m able to use my fiction experience to crossover to non-fiction without too much trouble.

If you had one person you could meet (think outside the Bible here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be and why? 

Lin Manuel-Miranda (creator of the Broadway hit, Hamilton). I think he’s a creative genius, and I’d love to see him in action, ask him where gets his inspiration, and observe his work routines to see if I can learn anything from him that I could apply to my own life.

If you had one person you could meet (think ONLY Bible characters here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be besides Jesus, and why?

Sara. Like me, she spent a lot of time following her husband around the globe and wandering around. I’d like to know if all that moving was hard, what did she learn from it, and what would she have done differently.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most, and why? 

Acts 18: 9 – 10, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking; do not be silent for I am with you.” For me, this verse was God’s confirmation to me concerning my communication talents (speaking and writing), and to be bold in using them. This was especially helpful when I was doubting myself as a writer early on. But as He can only do, He spoke this truth into my heart, and I’ve claimed this verse as my own and as my motivation for what I do.

Liana, it's been a pleasure. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover? 

My goal is to write stories which are full of humor and heart. When a reader finishes my debut novel, Perfectly Arranged, I hope they will feel as if I kept that promise to them.

Readers, if you'd like to get to know Liana better, here are soe places on the web where you can find her: 

Connect with Liana at: or through any of these social media platforms:




YouTube: (organizing videos)

YouTube: (writer videos)


Amazon Author page:

Goodreads Author page:

BookBub Author page:

Newsletter signup:

Until next time!







Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Author Behind the Story Blog Series - Brett Armstrong

I saw a meme recently. It showed a beautiful, serene photo of a country road traversing through a canopy of trees that displayed all the colors of fall. The caption read: "It's Officially fall!" Then, in a smaller font at the bottom, it said: "Offer not valid in Florida."

Isn't that the truth.

It's been in the low 90s. It's humid. Orlando almost set a record a few days ago, which would have broken the record set back in 1919.

Therefore, if you have any fall-ish weather you want to send our way, please do.

Our next guest on the Florida front porch may welcome this warmer weather, as he hails from West Virginia, which, if memory serves, if a little farther north than Florida. :-)

Please welcome fellow speculative fiction and Scrivenings Press author, Brett Armstrong!

Brett, give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Brett Armstrong? 

I’m a Christian, thirty-four-year-old husband and dad from small town West Virginia who works with infectious disease data by day and write novels across multiple genres by night. Though lately I’m centered on fantasy and sci-fi. I like gardening, sketching, and race a mean Mario kart.

Brett and I have talked about this before. Being a person who works with infectious disease data for the state, you can just imagine how his last eighteen months of life have been, right? Our hearts go out to you, man.

I’m going to give you a shotgun list of favorites. List your favorite in each category and then tell us in one sentence why it is your favorite.  

Favorite Song of All-Time: "Amazing Grace"—Of course the spiritual context and beauty of the song would be enough, but it’s also a stark memory I have from every family funeral I’ve been to (and that’s been quite a few) and because of that the song keeps me grounded in remembering how much more lies after all our senses offer us now.

Favorite Non-Fiction Book (other than your own & besides the Bible): Not a Fan by Kyle Idelman— Idleman is very to the point and puts things into perspective really nicely, in terms of the kind of sincere devotion Christ deserves compared to what is often encouraged in western believers.

Favorite Bible Verse: John 10:27-30—I know that’s three, but together they offered me a lot of comfort as a young Christian and so much more as the years go by.

Favorite Movie: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade—This is a tough call between Last Crusade, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Return of the King, but the dynamic between Indy, his dad, Sallah, Marcus, and the message woven into it put Last Crusade over the top for me.

Favorite Actor or Actress: Harrison Ford—He’s been in Star Wars and Indiana Jones and I’ve enjoyed pretty much every movie I’ve seen him in, plus he does his own stunts.

(Did you know he was a set worker as a carpenter in the making of the first SW Movie, trying to break into show business? He was given a chance to read the Hans Solo part and wowed Lucas.) 

Favorite TV Show: The Chosen—This was tough, because I’ve seen a fair amount of TV shows and liked quite a few from Psych to Star Wars: Rebels to The West Wing, but The Chosen pushes me to mull things over for far longer than any other show to date.

Favorite Novel (other than your own): The Silver Chair—I kind of surprised myself with this pick, but there are moments in the story that I carry with me into life and I could read or hear this book a thousand times and not grow tired of it.

Favorite Author (other than you): I fail…it’s a five way tie between CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Timothy Zahn, HG Wells, and William Shakespeare—they’ve all impacted me so much as a writer and for such diverse reasons that I can’t choose.

Favorite Sport: Basketball—I played soccer for my high school, but there were a lot of after school pick up games and church league seasons that forged memories I still treasure.

Favorite Team (Can be any sport, any level): WVU Mountaineers—I grew up a WVU fan and after spending six years at WVU I’ll always pick WVU to win, no matter the sport.

Favorite Subject in School Growing Up: History—I’m an English and Math lover, but I’m a take-the-history-textbooks-home-to-read-for-fun level History nerd.

Favorite Subject Now: Apologetics—I’m cheating here, because it incorporates history, language, math, science, philosophy, theology, and more into one nice category.

Favorite Teacher in School: I had too many great teachers from elementary school through college to pick and I realize that’s a true and rare blessing.

Favorite Time of the Year: Fall—I used to hate it as a kid, but now I revel in that crisp chill and the building excitement of the holidays spent with family from Halloween to Advent in anticipation of Christmas.

(Then, don't move to Florida - fall gets cancelled every year in favor of an extended summer) 

Favorite Place to Vacation: This is another non-answer I suppose, but anywhere I can be with my family—We’ve been blessed to travel to the Smokey Mountains, several beaches, historical sites like Williamsburg/Jamestown/Yorktown, and others, but what makes all of the most special was the people I shared each experience with.

Favorite Drink: Water—I’m so uninteresting, I only drink water and orange juice really, and of the two one is essential for life.

Favorite Food: Pumpkin anything—I don’t understand why people think they have to wait for the fall to eat pumpkin dishes; it’s a super food, sold year-round, and makes things delicious.

For all the pet lovers out there, answer this question: Do you have any? 

We have the world’s chattiest cat. Like Rambo-machine gun-rapid fire meowing-chatty. But he’s also perhaps the most mild and agreeable cat I’ve ever seen. And we’re pretty sure God sent him to us for a purpose.

For years a gray cat would come to visit our house. Our neighborhood is pretty rural so most people let their pets wander freely so we never thought much about him other than he was a nice cat and really liked hanging around our house (especially since we started feeding him). Late last year he showed up at our house over the course of several weeks looking matted and with a bloody ear. We asked around and found out no one knew to whom he belonged. But after seeing him bleeding with no care, we decided to adopt him. Little did we know that once he got in he’d never stop talking (he regularly says what sounds like, “Hello!” and he doesn’t stop until we respond with, “Hello, Kitty.”). When he wants something, he determinedly chatters at us till he gets what he wants, particularly his treats. One night though he was particularly vocal. He came in my bedroom and wouldn’t stop meowing till I got up and followed him. My son was asleep so I definitely didn’t want the cat’s noises to disturb him. I started to get him some treats and head back to the bedroom when I noticed he wasn’t paying any attention to the treats. He was looking at the door to my son’s room, which was shut (ironically to keep the cat out) and he meowed at me a couple times. I’ve seen dogs do this, well in TV shows at least, and thought I would check it out. It was a good thing I did. My son had a lamp with incandescent bendable lights that he wanted on when he goes to sleep and that night, they had been bent away so they wouldn’t shine in his eyes. The lamp’s bulb houses were melting and smoke was rolling off them. I turned off the lamp and unplugged it right away and went back outside without my son stirring. The cat was just sitting there expectantly, like he was saying, “I told you.” If we hadn’t chosen to adopt our new kitty friend and the lamps had been left alone, I could see how they could have readily started a fire. And being in my son’s room, by his door that would’ve been terrible. I don’t know that our cat was intentionally being heroic, but when I explained to my wife what happened she agreed that our chatty little friend was a gift from God at just the right time.

What a cool story! My grandson would agree. Cats are the best, he would say.

Of all the stories/books you have written, which one is your favorite? And what compelled you to write this story? 

This is a really tough question, because as cliché as it sounds, I do prize each story I write equally. The themes and beats of the stories vary and that means that no one of them speaks more loudly to my heart than the others. Though if I’m really getting into slight diminutions in value, my first published novel, Destitutio Quod Remissio, does feel a little different from the others. It’s the most openly artistic book I’ve ever written, because it started as a short story in a college fiction writing course. I was nervous sharing it in my secular course because it is the most spiritually direct of my stories. It’s about a 4th Century Roman Senator who is a Christian in secret during Diocletian’s persecution and his secret is betrayed, so he loses everything.

To my astonishment my classmates embraced the short story version enthusiastically and encouraged me to turn it into a novel, even offering to help however they could. So, when it came time to choose my capstone project, I knew that DQR needed to be it. Most of my books are sci-fi and fantasy, because that’s the kind of stories that usually come to me, but DQR just flowed. I love history and historical fiction, so it shouldn’t surprise me, but even with genres I enjoy the stories don’t always come that readily. It’s probably the most impactful of my stories because it’s about persecution, loss, and choosing to forgive as Christ does. Most of my books address the notion that Christians must remain faithful to Christ in the face of opposition. The world and the teachings are Christ are on opposite courses and at some point, all cultures reach a place of hostility to genuine Christianity. In that respect I wrote it to encourage believers in the west like me who have never faced that sort of persecution. But there are places across the globe where following Christ is incredibly and immediately dangerous. The Bible instructs to pray for those who are suffering for faith in Christ as though we are suffering along with them (Hebrews 13:3). So, DQR is also meant to encourage us in the west to do that for our brothers and sisters abroad.

As a writer, if you had one thing you would do over again, what would it be? 

I’ve done so many things wrong in my publishing career it sometimes feels like it would be easier to point out the few bright spots of things that I did right. Among the things that traditional publishing wisdom frowns on is my choice to write two series at the same time. It breaks the established publishing model for a series having quick yearly (or even semi-annual) releases to keep reader engagement and interest high. It also divides your interest and effort and depending on how different the series are can force you to make some giant leaps back and forth between the two. Which if you’re writing different genre series like I happen to be, you’re also going to be breaking the publishing rule about sabotaging reader expectations, because I can attest that not every reader enthused for a dystopian sci-fi series will happily pick up an epic fantasy one. Which is probably what I would change. So, bear with me, because this might not make a lot of sense at first.

I wouldn’t go back and change the series I’m writing or doing them at the same time or even how far apart the books were published. Quest of Fire has met the book a year pace so far, but my dystopian sci-fi Tomorrow’s Edge series had a three-year gap between book one and book two. Book two and book three will be at least two years and if my day job doesn’t relent from its added pressures, I may be doing well to get the final entry to readers in three years as well. What I’ve discovered is that anytime the Lord allows me to take longer with composing a book there are elements that enhance and enrich the book far more that wouldn’t have made it into the story if I had kept the schedule the publishing world and I would like to adhere to. So, it’s not the what or the when or the how I would change in doing two series at once, but the who. And by that I mean, I would change myself. If I could go back, I would go into it without the naiveté. I wouldn’t presume that all readers who like anything I write will like everything. I wouldn’t assume that everyone who read and reviewed one book would do so for another and be more proactive in branching out and forging new publishing world relationships. I’d be conscientious to market the two series differently, focus less on cross marketing my two series together and rather find others marketing like books to work with so each series would get the best chance to succeed respectively. A lot of publishing and how you view your career is colored by how much pain it took to get you to where you’re currently at. I think with a bit of knowledge I could’ve avoided a fair amount of pain, but still produced the books in each series each of which has been a blessing.

Tell us about what project you are currently working on. 

Based on some guide points from my Quest of Fire publisher, I’m realigning my writing schedule around getting the fourth entry in the Quest of Fire series completed. At present the plan is to have it ready for release this time next year. The overall series is meant to be seven books, four novels and three novellas in alternation. Each novella is meant to complement the novel that precedes it. Being a small press author, I’m not really allowed to write books that are six or seven hundred pages long, but the conflicts and characters for Quest of Fire really need space to develop. The next novella, which I call Quest of Fire: Devastation, is telling a story around one of the main characters from the novels who goes in a different direction from the other protagonists and puts him on a path that will help establish the primary conflicts and villains of the next novel. World building is extremely important to me and Devastation will give me the chance to better build out the Commonwealth of Ecthelowall during the Middle Era of the Lowlands. I also enjoy foreshadowing and being able to tell sweeping narratives in the novels and then step back and do focused character building and offer additional perspectives around the events in both the preceding and succeeding novels is super exciting. It might be another of my publishing mistakes to think that readers will embrace this approach to storytelling. But it’s one I’m very much enjoying and the best way I can think of to tell such an expansive story with the constraints of where I’m at in my writing career applied.

As a writer, what is “success” to you? And has that “definition” changed over time as you have traveled down the writer’s path? 

This has definitely changed over time. At varying points I have and still do look at critical success (reviews and contest wins) or financial success (plentiful sales). The problem with those metrics is that often enough I don’t experience what I’m expecting or wanting in those categories and that leaves me feeling like a failure. Yet every time I want to quit and go the Lord and say, “Okay, does this mean I should stop?” the Lord has given me a reason to keep writing or the peace to stay the course until the sting of whatever has laid low my self-esteem. The more I stay in writing and keep going without being sent away from it by the Lord, the more I look to different measures for what constitutes success. Early in my publishing career I prayed that I would write what the Lord would have me to and how and when He lead. I often say I want to be a brush in the Master Artist’s hand. To that end, if He wants to use me for little things which do not garner critical or financial success, then I want to be wholly committed to realizing what He envisions for the projects that I’m given. It isn’t easy to remember that, because I’m a little competitive by nature and the commercialized world we live in really wears at you because it very much offers up success as an intersection of critical and financial wins. Which as I learned from a keynote by best-selling author Brent Weeks, is something of a moving target. The higher you climb, the more aware you become of how many others are higher still on that ladder than you. Keeping a healthier attitude for me then becomes something akin to keeping the lyrics of the Casting Crown song “Nobody” in mind:

“And if they all forget my name, well that's fine with me; I'm living for the world to see Nobody but Jesus”

It’s still a regular struggle, but when I align that to be my metric of success, then I find myself much less stressed and much more grateful for every opportunity I have, however big or small. It lets me treasure when readers say a story challenged them and stayed with them long after finishing or encouraged them in their faith. It isn’t an award or best-seller status, but it is a blessing and privilege and success for me.

If you had one person you could meet (think ONLY Bible characters here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be besides Jesus, and why?

I would love to meet the Apostle John. Like nerdy, fanboy level excited to get to talk to him. John’s Gospel has touched me the most deeply of the four. It would be fascinating to get to talk to him about what it was like starting out as a young man following the Messiah and going from someone who wanted to call down fire from Heaven to consume those who mocked Christ to writing in his old age about love being what defines us as believers. To have been the only member of the twelve at the foot of the cross. To have seen Christ personally and been so close as to name himself the beloved disciple and yet be so consumed in awe-filled terror that he collapsed at the sight of the glorified Christ in the revelation on Patmos. The breadth of his experiences and their uniqueness and how it impacted him and how some things like the threats from his people’s leaders, his brother’s execution, and seeing all those who walked closest with Christ in His first coming perish—most martyred—while he lived…that would be truly something incredible. If we are permitted speak with the Apostles in Heaven one day, John is most certainly the one I’ll be making a beeline for.

Why do you live where you live?

Family. I’m an only child of two parents who were coming to a close of their potential window to have children. I was a surprise to them and they most definitely made me feel treasured and loved growing up. Being the youngest member of my familial generation, I’ve also been to a lot of funerals. Some for family members I never really got to know, some for those that hurt deeply to lose and it seems unfathomable to think of the world without them in it. In particular I wish I’d gotten closer to my grandparents.

Small town West Virginia isn’t a bustling metropolis. I went to undergraduate school at West Virginia University in Morgantown, and that’s about the closest one could find to a multicultural and thriving area in the state. Innovation and expansion abound there and I often miss it and realize my day career would likely be doing far better by worldly standards if I had stayed there after graduating. Though it would likely have already led me out of state, because a lot of the opportunities presented to me during my final semester was for companies offering jobs in other states and countries. I won’t lie and say that when I look at my state pay check and think about all of the skills and things I’ve learned that will likely never get used now, I don’t start thinking about the proverbial greener grass. But every time I see my son with my parents that grass looks much less verdant.

We know “Readers are leaders, and leaders are readers.” Is there a book you’ve read in the past five years or so that has helped you become a better you? If so, which one was it, and how did it affect your life?

I’m ashamed to admit it given I’m a fantasy writer, but until five years ago I had only read The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe from The Chronicles of Narnia series. Reading The Silver Chair and The Last Battle in particular have made a huge impact on me. I’ll never forget the first time I completed The Silver Chair. I had just found out that one of my closest friends growing up who had gone forward to accept Christ on the same night I had as kids had become an atheist. In college I saw him reading apologetics books, including CS Lewis’s works. I contacted him right after seeing it and asked if he’d be willing to talk to me about it because I couldn’t believe it.

As it happened, I had been reading through the Narnia series finally and finished up The Silver Chair the night before I was supposed to see my friend for the first time in years. He looked and sounded just like himself. We saw a movie together, had lunch, and talked for most of the time as we had in years past. Then the conversation turned to his decision to renounce the Faith. His reasons didn’t seem as surprising or compelling as I had expected from someone who had no doubt read the counterarguments to those he presented. Which seemed to underscore the sequence from The Silver Chair I’d read in which Puddleglum the Marshwiggle after being browbeaten by a witch who tried to convince him and the other heroes that everything they believed in was a lie proclaims, “I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia.” It’s all about faith. After every argument is heard, every evidence examined, there is still that choice like unto the beginning in the Garden of Eden. We either choose to believe God or not and The Silver Chair articulated beautifully for me so many things that I was sorting through at that moment in my life. I pray that someday my stories can do the same and put to words what someone is thinking and needs at an important moment in their life. That those words will help them to stand firm in the Faith and press on to lay hold of “the prize of God’s heavenly call in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14)

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most, and why? 

The verses that have most impacted me over the years would have to be John 10:27-30. Early on in my walk with Christ I was really concerned that there was something, anything, I could do to sabotage the new life I had been called to. Whether spiritual forces or my own weakness and foolishness (the latter being my primary concern), I worried I might make a wreck of everything. Before I encountered the encouraging words of Romans 8:38-39, I was directed to Christ’s words in John’s Gospel by an uncle who I respected very much. In some ways though less direct and explicit than the hope-filled promise found in the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Romans, I find Christ’s words here far more comforting. Perhaps it is because the Creator of the Universe is speaking them Himself. Or the tender imagery of being in the hands that were nail-scarred for my healing and redemption protectively holding me. The notion that I a sheep, given to wandering and utterly without defenses of my own, am securely held in the hands of the One Who formed me and knows every misstep I will take and every trial and tribulation ahead and yet assures me I cannot be snatched out of His holy, holy, holy hands. On the days when I give this passage serious consideration, meditating even for a while on it, I have to admit that the comfort makes facing each step ahead in life easier.

Brett, we're so glad you agreed to be a part of our growing family here at ABTS. Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover? 

Just that I sincerely appreciate you having me on your blog and those who have made it this far reading what I had to say. I know I’m a small-time author and not the most socially vibrant among many by far, so any time I have the chance to connect with other readers and writers like this, it means a lot to me. It’s a tall order in our busy world where finding a quiet moment to read anything seems tricky, but I hope some of you gentle readers will try one of my books, particularly my most recent release, Quest of Fire: Shadows at Nightfall. And I hope it encourages and enlivens your faith and sense of adventure. Whatever the case, it would be great to hear from those reading this and have some conversations and learn what some of your answers to these questions would be.

It's so rewarding when someone reads our stories, isn't it? Time is precious, and for them to take the time to obtain and read one says a great deal to an author. And when they like it (because let's face it, not everyone is going to like everything we write), and they share that with others, it sends an author over the moon.

Readers, if you want to learn more about Brett and his writing, you can find him at these online locations! 

Good Reads:






Most Recent Book:


Until next time,





Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Author Behind the Story Blog Series - Kimberly Russell

Well, school is in session for much of the country. Both K-12 and colleges. There are a great deal of debates happening too. Masks? no masks? Vaccinations? No vaccinations? Social distancing (I guess COVID knows to stop at six feet), wash your hands (apparently, we weren't doing this before???), and sneeze or cough into your elbow (and then do elbow bumps so you don't use your hands - SMH). 

I do believe that historians will look back on this time in human existence and determine it to be one of the strangest, most confusing times in human history. Just the amount of conflicting information and data alone will be enough to make any honest historian say, "What were they thinking? It must have been a very mind-boggling and challenging time to live in, for sure. And this estimation doesn't even take into account all the venomous attacks on social media."

It makes me think of the comic strip, Frank and Earnest, published August 14, 1990. Frank and Earnest are standing in front of an alien spaceship, and the alien is standing next to them. Frank asks, "What do you think of civilization on our planet?" To which the alien replies, "I think it would be a good idea."

If the comic writers saw it years ago, surely historians will in the not-so-distant future.

In an effort to bring some hint of civilization to an otherwise spiraling out-of-control world that wishes to set itself ablaze for cause after cause, we welcome another author you may not know yet to the Florida Front Porch. It's balmy here in F-L-A in September, and the peak of hurricane season is three days away. So, grab a cold beverage, pull up a chair, and welcome author Kimberly Russell!

Kimberly, kick us off with our traditional lead-in question: Give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Kimberly Russell? 

I’m from Michigan, retired four years from the Department of Corrections after 30 years of service as a Warden’s Secretary. Yes, I have stories. I have the best life ever, grateful for the peace and freedom that
comes from walking hand-in-hand with God along His exciting path. It’s a journey, not a destination.

Oh, corrections. I too spent four years in a state prison. As a C.O. and C.O. Sergeant, not an inmate! 

Are you married? Single? Have kids? 

I’ve been divorced for over twenty years and am happily single. My three step-children have remained in my life, and I’m Nana to ten. I have an amazing extended family-small but mighty-and we gather often, keeping in touch even as the generations have spread across the country. Ah, the beauty of Facebook, right?

I spend my days creating literary magic in my favorite place on earth, the She Shed, wading through marketing, and pursuing my fiendish passion, pickleball. It’s a marvelous tennis-like sport that can be played by any age (usually I’m the youngest at 60 and the oldsters are really, really good.) The sport fills many areas in my life that were lacking after I retired: great exercise, a community of friends, and the maintenance a competitive edge I never knew I had. If you’re not familiar with the fastest growing past-time around, Google it and you’ll soon be hooked.

I’m going to give you a shotgun list of favorites. List your favorite in each category and then tell us in one sentence why it is your favorite. 


Favorite Song of All-Time: Old Time Rock and Roll (Bob Seger)

Favorite Non-Fiction Book (other than your own & besides the Bible): Divine Romance

Favorite Bible Verse: Matthew 11:28-30

Favorite Movie: Sound of Music

Favorite Actor or Actress: Kevin Costner

Favorite TV Show: America’s Got Talent

Favorite Novel (other than your own): Gone With The Wind

Favorite Author (other than you): Ginny Dye

Favorite Sport: Pickleball

Favorite Team (Can be any sport, any level): American Ninja Warrior (I know, weird, right?)

Favorite Subject in School Growing Up: English (of course)

Favorite Subject Now: English still.

Favorite Teacher in School:  Ms. Culy (English)

Favorite Time of the Year: Spring

Favorite Place to Vacation: I’d rather stay home

Favorite Drink: COFFEE!

Favorite Food: Carrot chips, cherry tomatoes, & hummus


For all the pet lovers out there, answer this question: Do you have any? 

I’ve always had critters, but they were just part of my world more than something I was attached to. After many years of pet parenthood, I’d come to a place where I was going into retirement and through attrition, had downsized. Then Facebook happened… A post popped up from our local Humane Society, (that I never should’ve seen, by the way—a share of a share) and I knew he had to be mine. A week later, Toby, the Shih Tzu came to live with me. We immediately bonded, and he has been the light of my life for eight years. When I’m invited anywhere, I know better than to show up without him and often the invitations are for Toby with a disclaimer of, ‘Oh, you can come along too.’ I may have rescued him, but he totally rescued me.

If you could go back and have a “do over” concerning something in your life (we’re thinking about something non-writing related here), what would you have done differently?

There are several things I’d like a do-over on, but since they are all interconnected, I’ll start with the fact that I wish I had gone to college. It was never presented as an option, and after high school, I got lost for a while, which brought me to the bad choice of marrying an abusive alcoholic. While those years were difficult, I found the Lord, and they brought me to my second marriage. I won’t qualify that as a poor decision since I would have missed becoming a step-mother, but the marriage ended after ten years. Divorce is never something you want, but it happens. I’ve come to a peaceful place in my life, and despite all the heartache, I can honestly say I wouldn’t change any of it because without all that, I wouldn’t be where I am (or who I am) today.

Besides the usual things authors face, has there been an unusual event that changed your perspective about being an author?

I’ve always considered myself a contemporary fiction writer, but God had other ideas. It happens, right? I had three full-length manuscripts to work with, yet, He downloaded a story that took over my soul. I couldn’t walk away because it was about me. Through my own experiences and His miraculous emotional healing, He gave me an allegory that I would never have considered writing. Me? A fantasy writer? No way. I argued with Him, finally got on board, and Journey to ChiYah was released July 1st.

Check out the back cover blurb:

Jade Pepperdine has a problem: Her life is crumbling beneath the weight of the past, events of the present, and fears for her future. Things need to change, but she doesn’t know where to start. Answers come in the form of an unexpected opportunity when Jade finds herself stuck in a mythical land. She meets Mayor Dudley, who insinuates she is emotionally broken and in need of repair...a fact she’d just as soon ignore. He offers to help her get home if she is willing to face her issues through a process of restoration. Frightened and skeptical yet out of options, Jade grudgingly agrees. And soon figures out that change is a journey, not a destination. Come along on the adventure of a lifetime, and maybe you’ll find someone you never knew you lost: Yourself.

As a writer, if you had one thing you would do over again, what would it be?

Being an Independent Author was a whole new world for me. So much to learn. So many unknowns. And then there’s marketing. Whew. In November 2020, I had reached a point where my manuscript was with beta readers, and it was time for me to jump into the learning curve of Indie publishing. I spent several months exploring every resource I could get my hands on and, as I tend to do, researched myself into such a frenzy, I was paralyzed, unable to figure out which way to go. I finally came to a point where I sifted through the material and began to implement what I had discovered. Here’s a few highlights:


Everyone has a different opinion about Alpha and Beta readers. I used several Alphas prior to editing, when the manuscript was in its rawest form. While I can see the advantage of gathering opinions about the story line, sharing an unedited project isn’t for me-I would rather work with an editor on content. As for Betas, be sure to send to them before a paid editor or their input (and your output of cash) will be wasted. (A lesson I learned the hard way.)


Start early. I had many learning curves, and it was slow going to get it all set up. Plus you need to do lots of research to see what works for you (not just copy others or take every piece of advice thrown your way.) Be sure to evaluate ROI, (both time and money) and if something doesn’t work, make changes balanced by the fact that marketing is an investment that needs to be paced over time in order to experience gradual, steady returns.


I had planned on formatting myself out of my writing program, Scrivener, but there was quite a big learning curve, and I ran out of time. I ended up learning how to eBook format myself in Word and contracted out the paperback. The problem was, I got in too big of a hurry and sent it to the formatter prior to completion of ARC readers, who caught many typos. I also didn’t read it myself one last time because frankly, I was sick of it. Just being honest. But that decision created a situation where I ended up paying almost as much to fix errors in the paperback as I did for the original formatting. I plan on learning to format both eBook and paperback myself so that I have total control to fix pesky errors that always seem to weasel their way in.

Tell us about what project you are currently working on.

I have returned to my first manuscript written over two years using NaNoWriMo from 2009-2011. I’m still excited about the story that came from a co-worker that went on vacation and found a digital camera then tracked down the owner, which got my creative juices all a dither.

Photo Finish has been through a lot: ripped apart multiple times and put back together, edited once, and abandoned to gather dust on a cyber shelf when life got in the way of writing. I then took a few years to publish Journey to ChiYah, but the time has finally arrived. I believe the project will touch readers with its message of hope, and I can’t wait to share it with the world.

Knowing what you know now about writing, publishing, etc., what piece of advice would you give to the person thinking about writing that novel they have always wanted to pursue since they were young, or the person who believes they have a non-fiction book in them that would be helpful to others? 

NEVER rush to publish. I started writing in 2009 and just released my debut a few months ago. Everyone’s path is different as far as timing, however, with the advent of Independent publishing, I think authors hurry and skip steps that ensure they have the absolute best product prior to release-a lot can be learned during what NOT to do experiences. It’s tedious, but worth the effort. Here are a few highlights from my journey:

Self-editing - This one turned me into a convoluted pretzel as I tried to figure out what worked for me. I did a lot of circling the mountain, over-complicating the process. The goal was to clean up the manuscript as much as possible before a pro editor which saves time on both parts and you dollars in the end.

 Professional editing - I’m a proponent of always hiring an editor. Your high school English teacher or savvy BFF might do a great job, but there is no substitution for someone that edits professionally. Be discerning when choosing an editor. It’s not only about what they bring to the table, but your needs and expectations. Have a frank, open discussion (preferably by phone or in person as messaging/email can lead to misunderstanding) and discuss honest communication, deadlines, payment, and anything else to do with the business arrangement. A contract with clear guidelines and expectations is always a good thing.

Cover - Never scrimp on a professional cover, created by a designer that knows your genre, and is well versed in the process. Fortunately for me, my great-niece is a graphics arts major, and even though this was the first foray for both of us, she researched diligently, consulted with her college prof, and hit it out of the park. Fun fact: The model on Journey to ChiYah’s cover is her younger sister. Yes, we made it a family affair.

As a writer, what is “success” to you? And has that “definition” changed over time as you have traveled down the writer’s path? 

When I started writing, success wasn’t part of the equation. In fact, I was nothing but confused because I knew God was speaking to me, but I had no idea why. For the longest time, I never even told anyone—not even my family. I was so insecure about my skills and what others would think; I couldn’t even broach the subject. After I started entering the Weekly Writing Challenge at, everything changed. It is a writing contest with prompts where you enter 300 words for judging, with recognition in varying levels of achievement. I experienced success, including being published in several of their anthologies, and my confidence grew to the point that I could actually share my secret. Eventually I wrote here and there under a pen name, still afraid to come out to the world, until God told me, "Enough."

Publishing brought out a new level of fear to battle, and in a few weeks I will do my first local book signing—a bit step that has my knees quaking. It’s an on-going process, but I know He’ll help me through.

Success now is all about the assignment He’s given me. If my writing touches and helps others, I have accomplished the goal, hence my brand, “Sharing Hope Through Words.” Profits aren’t important and I have given away many more books than I’ve sold. It just doesn’t matter as long as my CEO is pleased.

What’s the craziest thing you have ever done? 

Three years ago, I got on a plane with my two sisters, and we flew to Minnesota to meet our older brother Bill for the first time after finding him on Ancestry DNA. We knew there was another sibling, but never dreamed God would allow us to find him. He is ten years older than me, never knew he had a single blood relative on the planet, and now has all of us. (Yes, we can be a lot.) I always wanted a big brother, and now I have a Bill plus a bonus sister in his wife, Marsha. It took a few years, but I can finally buy him a birthday card without standing in the card aisle weeping.

Why do you live where you live? 

I live in Coldwater, a small town in southern lower Michigan. It’s smack dab in the middle of the state, five miles from the Indiana line. (Hold your hand up like a mitten and it is easy to find-that’s a Michigan thing.) I was born less than five minutes from where I currently live, raised in the nearby small town of Quincy.

I’ve never felt the need to stray from home as the majority of my family was here even though we have dwindled over the years as the extendeds have spread out. I do detest Michigan winters, but also struggle with heat related issues so the mix of seasons mostly suits me. Besides, I don’t think I could ever leave my little gal’s house that I’ve lived in for over twenty years. My life is perfect. I have everything I want and need. I am content.

We know “Readers are leaders, and leaders are readers.” Is there a book you’ve read in the past five years or so that has helped you become a better you? If so, which one was it, and how did it affect your life?

“The Story of With” by Allen Arnold. It is an allegory about learning to be a Creative Bohemian, creating with the Creator. The story teaches you about how our art (whatever form it may take) needs to be birthed by working in tandem with God and allowing him to open your mind to endless possibilities. It entirely changed my perspective about writing and was the inspiration for Journey to ChiYah.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover?

A big thank you to Kevin for letting me hang out and sharing a little about my world. I leave you with the words the Lord gave me for book signings of Journey to ChiYah: May God hold you tightly as you continue on your own journey.

Kimberly, thank you for being a part of ABTS! And Readers, if you're wishing to connect with Kimberly and learn more about her writing, you can find her in the following locations in cyberspace:

Purchase Journey to ChiYah at Amazon:

Sign up for Kim’s newsletter:


Web Site:




Until next time!



P.S. - And don't forget about Kevin's latest novel, The Letters! If you're looking for a Christmas story for the upcoming season that is not your typical "Hallmark movie" Christmas story, then this one is for you! Winner of two awards, you cannot go wrong. :-)

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Author Behind the Story Blog Series - Cynthia Roemer

Signing a contract for a new book never gets old. Having just done so for what will be my 10th book by the time of the October 2022 release date, I can honestly say I never thought my writer's life would turn out like it has. Trying to predict how such a journey will transpire is about as fruitless as trying to predict the weather.

Instead, I have learned how to sit on the front porch and enjoy the sound of the raindrops falling from the sky. Listen to the thunder off in the distance. Be amazed by the lightning show and the awesomeness of the power it wields. 

And more importantly, be in awe of the One who created it all. For I know this world as we see it now was not what He intended. The wonder and majesty of what we experience with our senses in nothing like the antediluvian world of Adam, Eve, Cain, and Abel. Yet, even that Masterful creation pales by comparison to what's coming (Revelation 21-22). The Law of Entropy doesn't exist there. And for that, I'll be eternally grateful.

This month, I'm wondering if our next guest on our Author Behind the Story blog series feels similarly. For each author has a journey.

Welcome to the Florida Front Porch, where it is raining right now as I "pen" this missive. It's summertime. Humid. And raining. The consequences of invading a swamp, I suppose.

And welcome to the front porch fellow Scrivenings Press author, Cynthia Roemer!

Cynthia, in classic ABTS tradition, give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Cynthia Roemer?

I am a country girl who loves the Lord. I enjoy reading, hiking, biking, gardening, and riding side-saddle with my husband in the combine or motorcycle. I consider writing my main ministry and pray the Lord will use it to for His glory.

You mentioned that you were married. Tell us about your family? 

My husband and I have been married twenty-seven years. He is a grain farmer, and farms our small, three-hundred-acre farm the old-fashioned way rotating crops of wheat, soybeans, and corn. We have two grown sons. Our older son recently married (so I have a daughter now too 😀). Our younger son is currently still at home. Both work in Ag related jobs.

When the words aren’t flowing, what is your favorite comfort food and why?

I would have to say my favorite go-to comfort food is chocolate chips smothered in peanut butter. (This is a little-known confession! LOL!)

Little-known? Not anymore.

For all the pet lovers out there, answer this question: Do you have any?

We have one outdoor cat named Chad. I say “outdoor,” but he pretty much gets the royal treatment come cold weather. We often let him in our mudroom on cold wintry days to sleep in a cozy pet bed. He gets milk every morning and likes to go on walks with us.

My aunt and uncle had a farm in Virginia. They had cats infinitum. She would take the leftovers from dinner and put them in a large pan. Then she'd add milk and other things to it before taking it to the barn. The feline woodwork would come alive. Apparently, they never had any mouse of mole issues.

Has your writing crossed over into other areas? If so, how? If not, will it?

I’ve always wanted to write novels, and did write a rough draft of my first book while in college. Then life hit—I married and had kids! So, my novel aspirations sat on the shelf for quite a few years while I raised my boys. But I never stopped writing. I wrote Christian articles and short-stories, gaining a few publications a year until I topped one hundred in print. I also tried my hand at writing church plays and had three of those published. I also wrote Book Reviews for Christian Retailing Magazine. But now that my boys are grown, the Lord has closed some of those doors and opened the door to novel writing. He knew I would need something worthwhile and time-consuming to occupy me as I settle into the “empty nest” years of life. 😀 I do continue to utilize my non-fiction inspirational writing on my Sowing Seeds of Hope Blog.

How do you come up with the names for your characters?

Since I write historical novels, I usually refer to an on-line list of popular names from the time period—census names. Other times, names just come to me that suit the character and I go with them.

As a writer, what is “success” to you? And has that “definition” changed over time as you have traveled down the writer’s path? 

Like all writers, I dreamed of being signed by a large publishing house and selling thousands if not millions of copies. But now, having signed with a small publishing house where we are like family, I know I’m where the Lord wants me to be. To me, success is being obedient to God’s plan and allowing Him to do whatever He chooses with my writing. Whether He touches the hearts of few or many, the outcome is in His hands.

If you had one person you could meet (think ONLY Bible characters here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be besides Jesus, and why? 

Boy, that’s a toughy. There are so many. But the first one that came to mind was Mary, sister of Lazarus. Jesus told Martha that Mary had chosen what was best, and it would not be taken from her. I tend toward being a diligent, hard-working Martha that has a hard time sitting still. LOL! I’d love to spend time with Mary and learn what it is to really seek quality time with Jesus and get to know Him deeper.   

When you are looking for a book to read, what are the things that are important to you?

It is really hard for me to break away from reading historical/historical romance. I just love the genre. I do, however, enjoy reading a variety of time periods—Biblical, Regency, Prairie, Civil War, WWI & II. What draws me is a great cover along with an intriguing back cover blurb. It’s also a plus to read a sample of the writing. If those don’t grab me, I’ll likely pass it by. I also have my favorite authors and pay attention to the “buzz” and what others say about a novel for my TBR list.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most, and why?

There are so many, but Jeremiah 29:11 is one of the top: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” This was the theme verse for my first novel, Under This Same Sky.

Having recently dealt with cancer and treatments, I’ve had to cling to this verse as well as others. Through it all, the Lord has never left my side, and in the worst of times, this verse reminds me He is in control and has a plan for my life.

Just know that we are (still) praying for you and your family.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about you, or anything we didn’t cover?

I love connecting with readers! The most gratifying aspect of writing to me is positive feedback and gaining a relationship and trust with readers. When I sense the Lord has touched the heart of a reader through something He’s enabled me to write, that brings me joy.

If there is one thing this world needs more of right now it’s kindness. The hero and heroine in my new Civil War novel, Beyond These War-Torn Lands, both face challenges in which they must choose between harboring bitterness or responding with Christ-like love—a challenge each of us face in our daily lives.

Thanks so much for hosting me!

Cynthia, thank you for taking time to share with our readers!

Readers, if you wish to get in touch with Cynthia or find out more about her writing, you can catch up to her in the following locations on the web:




Author Newsletter Sign-up:





Fiction Finder:


Until next time, Bless God.