Wednesday, December 12, 2018

The Author Behind the Story - Dan Walsh

We are less than two weeks away from Christmas. Seems like Christmas was just about two weeks ago. They say time flies when you are having fun. I'm finding as I get older, time flies if you're having fun or not.

We are in the Christmas season...my favorite time of year, and in the words of Tiny Tim, "It is the best time of the year!" So, who better to showcase this month than a dear friend, fellow author, and Christmas novel guru, Dan Walsh!

Dan, welcome to my Author Behind the Story series! Give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Dan Walsh? 


I’m first off, a committed follower of Christ, married to the only woman I’ve ever loved for 42 years. 2 kids, 4 grandkids, 2 Dogs. I was a full-time pastor for 25 years then began writing full-time in 2010. I have 20 novels published. Love what I do.

Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?


I knew I wanted to write novels from the 11th grade. But I experienced a radical conversion to Christ in my senior year. Life took me in a different direction (called to become a pastor at 19), but I never left my love of fiction. In 2008, more as a hobby idea, I took up fiction writing with a Christmas novel. After submitting The Unfinished Gift to a few agents for publishing, one of them instantly signed me and had a book deal with a major publisher within 2 months. My writing career kind of took off after that. That book went on to win some major awards and led to more writing contracts.
After my 3rd book, my publisher made me a deal I couldn’t refuse, and I left pastoring to write full-time. This year I released my 20th novel.

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: You Are So Beautiful (I always think of Cindi)
Favorite Non-Fiction Book (other than your own & besides the Bible): There’s a tie with at least 2 books about WW2.
Favorite Bible Verse: Isaiah 26:3 “Thou will keep him in Perfect Peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”
Favorite Movie: It’s a Wonderful Life (watch it every Christmas)
Favorite Actor or Actress: Jimmy Stewart
Favorite TV Show: Treasure of Oak Island (a sucker for buried treasure adventures)
Favorite Novel (other than your own): Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (a perfect book to me).
Favorite Author (other than you): Probably Jeff Shaara (written some amazing history novels)
Favorite Sport: Oddly MMA (like UFC). I know I shouldn’t like this.
Favorite Team (Can be any sport, any level): Sadly, I’ve long since shed having favorite teams (too many spoiled millionaires with bad attitudes). (Agreed)
Favorite Subject in School Growing Up: Creative Writing
Favorite Subject Now: History
Favorite Teacher in School: Mrs. Longnecker (Creative Writing teacher in 11th grade)
Favorite Time of the Year: Christmas, hands down
Favorite Place to Vacation: Charleston, SC (we’ve probably visited this city 20 times).
Favorite Drink: Egg Nog
Favorite Food: Pizza (though I love the occasional grilled steak, medium rare. (My kind of guy...my two favorites as well, although I like my steak medium well with a bit of a char on it)


If your life was a story, and you were the lead character, what kind of role would you play?


I would be the best friend of the great looking leading man, who winds up getting the best girl in the movie, because she realizes what she really wants is a relationship with a guy she can grow old with, who actually has some depth. And besides, he’s not terrible looking.

Besides storytelling, what talents do you have?

I’m pretty good at a lot of things, but seem to only excel at writing. I am (or was) pretty good at basketball, surfing, golf, graphic arts, public speaking and singing (not a half-bad crooner).

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

Yes. After serving faithfully at the same church for 25 years, a young man I had been training to take over for me in a few years came up with a scheme to get rid of me, pulled a coup after his scheme was complete and sprung it on me. We were heartbroken over this betrayal, but I wound up choosing to resign quietly rather than fight his corrupt ambition (which would destroy the church). Fortunately, around the same time my publisher was almost begging me to write full-time (and willing to pay enough for us to live on). Suddenly, God had made a “river in the desert.” We now look back at all this as mostly a good thing (“What men meant for evil, God meant for good”). I LOVE what I do now and, really, have never regretted the decision to start writing full-time. Had this terrible thing not happened, I’m not sure I’d have ever left the ministry and would have missed out on all the fascinating things that have happened since.

And we wonder why people are leaving the church...But God is bigger than all that, as your story has proven.

Do you have a crazy, interesting, behind-the-scenes story about the publishing world you’d like to tell your readers without boring them to death with industry gobbledygook?

Maybe it’s this…I’m surprised at how often when authors/writers are depicted on TV or in movies, they’re almost always wealthy beyond measure. They are ALL full-time, treated like big-time celebrities, have book signings with long lines of people, own beautiful cabins where they write on a lake or river. To my great shock, after getting my first publishing contract (with a big name Christian publisher), I couldn’t believe how small the advance was. My agent said it was actually pretty high for a first novel. People in my church kept asking, “So when are you going to buy that yacht.” I’d tell them, the truth is, we didn’t get near enough to buy a yacht or even a small boat. Really, just enough to remodel our kitchen (with us doing half the work). Readers have no idea that these “TV/Movie Authors” only represent about 1% of all published authors. 95% don’t earn near enough to write full-time.

Now you tell me...Could have used this information about ten years ago. I was hoping for The Muppets' "Right and Famous" contract. Ha! 

What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?

Truthfully, I am nothing like some of the brave, courageous characters I write about. I wouldn’t do MOST of the crazy/scary/dangerous things they do. For example, I LOVED surfing when I was young. But I’d never go out in some of these crazy big way locations myself. On a trip to Italy in 1998, we were on the autobahn (highway) in a car that could easily go 120-130 mph (and we wouldn’t get a ticket). The fastest I felt comfortable driving was 100 mph. But if I have to choose something (and I’m not proud of this), in high school before I got saved, on a drunken dare I went streaking on the beach at night (streaking was a big thing back then).

I suppose Ray Stevens would have been proud (Boogety-boogety). :-) However, for me, I'm having trouble with the mental pictures (as he shakes his head like an Etch-a-Sketch).

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

It’s a toss-up between my first The Unfinished Gift and my fifth, The Reunion. But I also seriously love at least 4-5 more almost as much. I wrote the first book because this wonderful idea for a story came to me one Christmas (just days after once again watching It’s a Wonderful Life and Dickens’ A Christmas Carol). I wanted to write a story that at least had the potential of affecting people the way those Christmas stories affected me. I think I achieved that with The Unfinished Gift. With The Reunion, I knew I was writing a very special story almost from the first page. I even cried numerous times while writing and re-writing it (but a good cry). It’s a book that seriously honors military vets (especially Viet Nam vets) and is a great family reconciliation story.

All of those are awesome books. As a writer, if you had one thing you would do over again, what would it be?

I would have left my publisher in 2012, not 2014 (when I did) to write full-time as an indie author. I had thought about it, but was afraid to make the leap. I almost had to make the leap in 2014, and after I realized, it opened up some wonderful doors (even financially), and I quickly regretted not doing this sooner. And…I’d go back to those early contracts with my agent and publisher and insist we get the e-book rights back to each book within 5 years.

Tell us about what project you are currently working on.

I’m writing what will become Book 1 of a new suspense series, something of a spinoff from my very successful Jack Turner Suspense Series (which has 4 books). This book, If These Walls Could Talk, could almost be Book 5 of the other series. Has many of the same characters and style and even located in the same location (mostly). But in this new series, we will more heavily feature Sgt. Joe Boyd, the homicide detective in the first 4 books. He’s been assigned to create a Cold Case Squad in the Culpepper PD. Jack Turner (and his wife, Rachel) will be helping him solve a case from 1964 (rather than Joe helping Jack, who was the main character in the first series). I’m about 20,000 words into it and hope to release it mid-March 2019.

Sounds interesting, not to mention an interesting twist on the main characters. 

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

I usually write 5 days a week. Get up around 7-8 a.m. Start work about 9 a.m. I mostly do non-creative writing tasks and marketing stuff till around 12:30. Then I take a short break and shift gears to writing the next chapter in my book. My goal each afternoon is to create one “keeper chapter” a day.

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?

Maybe it would be Major Dick Winters, the true life WW2 hero of the Band of Brother series. Loved that series and read several books about him. What a fascinating guy. Don’t make them like him anymore.

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?

Either David or Paul. Probably Paul. I’ve always loved the epistles he’s written and what is said about him in Acts. In some ways, I relate more to him than the other apostles, because he wasn’t there during the 3 years of Christ’s ministry. His whole walk with the Lord, like mine, was dependent on the Holy Spirit and he accomplished so much, and suffered so much, for no other reason than being faithful. I’d want to ask him dozens of questions about his walk with the Lord (and what he meant by a dozen things he didn’t elaborate on in his writings).

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

Hmmm, not sure. Maybe it’s this…if you love to read, DON’T just buy discounted or Free books. I get why they’re popular. But if that’s ALL you ever buy, you are literally dooming the authors you love from being able to keep writing the books that you love. The Bible says “a workman is worthy of his wage.” It takes me, for example, about 5 months to write a book, edit it and get it ready to release. I can only do this because MOST readers are willing to pay $3.99 to $4.99 per book. Authors and publishers offer books for Free (or 99 cents) as a way of introducing readers to authors new to them. If lots of readers ONLY read books at these discounted prices, very simply, the best authors will have to stop writing and do something else to pay their bills.

I'm thinking of the Ghost of Christmas Past here: Truth Lives! Thanks for that piece of advice. Isn't it sad that we (and I'm included in this) are willing to pay places like Starbucks three, four, five dollars and more for a cup of coffee or specialty drink, yet to pay that much for a book is somehow considered highway robbery because "once I've read it, I'll just give it away, or it will just sit on my shelf." (Compared to what happens to the Starbucks coffee after you're done with it, isn't a book a better deal????)

Dan, it has been a pleasure having you on my Author Behind the Story Series! We wish you the best on your writing endeavors. And keep us updated in the comments section on how your book being turned into a screenplay is coming along (I won't spill the beans here!).

Also, Dan, is readers wish to connect with you and your writing, how best can they do that?

Readers can connect with me the best by going to my website homepage. From there you can sign up for my newsletter, or look toward the bottom for Buttons that will take you to my Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads pages. That link is www.danwalshbooks.com . If you want to check out my books, click on the Books tab on the Homepage.

Also, here are the Amazon links to my two Christmas novels pictured above:

Keeping Christmas - https://amzn.to/2ovEhCQ

Remembering Christmas - https://amzn.to/2wAzOT4

Oh, and one more thing. My book, Unintended Consequences, is free today and tomorrow (Dec. 12-13) on Kindle as part of a holiday giveaway! So, don't miss out on grabbing Book 3 of my Jack Turner suspense series.

Awesome! 

Until next time, Merry Christmas, and have a Happy New Year! 

Kevin




Friday, November 23, 2018

It's Never Too Late (A Seriously Write Blog)


I just celebrated another birthday. I have to admit that as I check more of those boxes, the realization of having more behind me than before is an ever-present thought.

Enter Stanley Martin Lieber, better known as Stan Lee. Unless you have spent the last few weeks climbing K2, then you have probably heard about the founder of Marvel Comics/Marvel Studios passing away at the age of ninety-five.

Born in 1922 to immigrant Romanian parents, Lee spent his twenty-something years stateside, writing training manuals for the Army Signal Corps during World War II. In his free time, he moonlighted as a comics writer. It would be another seventeen or so years before Lee’s first comic book hit, The Fantastic Four, took center stage. Followed by The Incredible Hulk and Spiderman in 1962, Marvel Comics was well on its way to rival competitor DC Comics for the hearts and minds of “kids” worldwide.

Live action versions of these series didn’t hit televisions until the CBS series, The Incredible Hulk, starring Bill Bixby, appeared in 1978.

The movie versions didn’t appear until May 3, 2002, with the first being the version of Spiderman with Toby Maguire. Since then, Marvel Studios has amassed in upwards of fifty billion dollars worldwide from all of the films since that time.

What’s the point?



Click HERE for the remainder of the blog!




Friday, October 26, 2018

Eternal Chances (A Seriously Write Blog)


I recently read an article about the movie Gosnell. It seems Hollywood—and the theater companies who are married to the driving forces behind Hollywood—have an issue when someone makes a movie about the truth…especially when the writers shine a light into the darkness and expose the ugliness of sin. And if that exposure tackles a political hot potato, then look out!

If you’re not familiar with the story of Kermit Gosnell, all you have to do is Google it. It’s a sad and sickening commentary on the nature of humankind and how man justifies sin (cf. Genesis 6:5; Proverbs 6:18; Matthew 15:18-19).

But this blog isn’t about Gosnell. It’s about the world in which a person like Kermit Gosnell could prosper to the tune of two million dollars a year during the height of his heinous medical practice. It’s about a world wherein writers, like the ones who crafted the screenplay for the movie that recently hit theaters, could be blackballed and run out of theaters, even though the movie grossed earnings beyond expectations, placing it in the top twelve during its opening weekend, according to Box Office Mojo.


To read the remainder of this blog, click here!




Friday, September 28, 2018

I Can Only Imagine Now (A Seriously Write Blog)

I know we were just a little late to the party (okay, really late), but we just watched the movie, I Can Only Imagine.It was definitely inspirational. First, as a Christian. Knowing that God can forgive the worst of the worst is encouraging when I walk amongst so many monsters. And to make it even more encouraging, to sum up the words of the Apostle Paul, we were all part of that unpopular throng at some point, whether we choose to admit it or not (1 Tim. 1:15). We may not have been a domestic abuser like Arthur Millard or an accomplice to murder like the Apostle Paul, but through the lens of Scripture and what “the kingdom of heaven is like,” sin is sin is sin. Here on Earth, we have a tendency to categorize sin. Some sins are viewed to be more heinous than others. But according to the Ten Commandments, serving other gods and dishonoring your father and mother made the list alongside murder, adultery, lying, and stealing.

Now do you see why I’m encouraged? God can forgive us…all of us.


To read the remainder of this blog, click here!





Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Author Behind the Story - Lena Nelson Dooley


Just watched the movie, I Can Only Imagine. Now, that song has a different meaning for me. Not so much about what we will do in the presence of God when we finally arrive before Him, although that is a question I ponder as much as anybody else, I imagine (pun intended). That's why I wrote my manuscript, The Letters. There is a spiritual world around us now that will culminate in Heaven. And I believe that "scene" will be literally "out of the this world" and something we cannot fully describe on this side of it. The marriage of the physical and spiritual worlds will be something unforgettable, like Jesus walking through a door as if it wasn't there and showing His disciples his nail-scared hands and pierced side.

In the same way, this blog series is meant to help readers see the author behind the stories they pen. To have a new appreciation for the story lines, the themes, the truths, contained within its pages.

To further that journey, I welcome a fellow author who has written many a book, Lena Nelson Dooley!

Lena, welcome to the Florida front porch! Pull up a chair and give us a description to the reader who may not know who Lena is. Who is Lena Nelson Dooley? 

I’m a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother. My family is the most important thing in my life. And I have loved Jesus for over seven decades. God blessed me by choosing me to write stories whose  characters will grip the reader’s heart.


Seven decades. Wow. What a blessing! Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?

I have written all my life. I came from a family of writers. However, I’m the only one with that profession. In May of 1984, God used events in one week to let me know He wanted me to be a professional writer. Your readers can read that testimony by going to my website, http://www.lenanelsondooley.com and clicking on the About Me tab.




What educational background do you have?

My father paid for my brother, older by 16 months, to go to college. He told me he’d pay for secretarial school or something like that for me because I wouldn’t be the breadwinner for a family. That’s how older people felt in the early 1960s. I wanted to go to college, so I worked my way through, working full-time in the summer and holding an on campus job and an off campus job during the school year. I chose Ouachita Baptist College (its name at that time), because my brother and many of my friends went there. When my family moved to Texas during my college years, I transferred to Howard Payne in Brownwood. Later I did graduate work at Abilene Christian College. It was the only one with graduate classes in Drama, my major.
  
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: “Love Me Tender” I think it’s the most romantic song ever written.
Favorite Bible Verse: Jeremiah 29:13
Favorite Movie: I love Christmas movies and princess movies
Favorite Actor or Actress: Tom Selleck
Favorite TV Show: I love game shows and cooking shows
Favorite Novel (other than your own): Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Favorite Author (other than you): I have so many, and they are all Christian novelists
Favorite Sport: America’s pastime, baseball
Favorite Team (Can be any sport, any level): The Texas Rangers
Favorite Subject in School Growing Up: I loved all the literature classes
Favorite Subject Now: My grandkids and great-grandkids (KEVIN: Bet you get schooled often in those classes!)
Favorite Teacher in School: Mrs. Hater (that was her name, and she saved me from completely dropping out) (KEVIN: Glad she didn't live up to her name!)
Favorite Time of the Year: The holiday season including Thanksgiving all the way to Christmas
Favorite Place to Vacation: On cruises. I’ve only cruised in the Caribbean.
Favorite Drink: Iced Green Tea (year around)
Favorite Food: Lobster



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

One of the books I’m featuring here was a miracle from God. The publisher contacted my agent with what she wanted to publish this year. My agent told me that as she told my agent each thing, my name came to her with each one. So she didn’t offer it to the authors in her group. Because there had to be a short turnaround, I wasn’t sure I could do it. But God gave me the story, and He assured me that I could do it. I always pray about what I’m writing, but with this book I had to remain totally plugged into God to be able to get the book done in time. It was an amazing experience.

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

I’ve often been asked this question, and I answer, “The one I’m writing right now.” It’s the one I’m pouring all my writing ability into, and it’s the one most present in my thoughts. I loved writing the McKenna’s Daughters series. A Heart’s Gift was a book of my heart. I could go on with a long list The 12 Gifts of Christmas that released on September 4th is the book I was talking about in the other answer. Right now, it’s my favorite, both because of the story and because of how closely I was connected to God during the writing.
and why I loved that particular book.

Tell us about what project you are currently working on. 

Right now, I’m working on filling out the details of a book that I dreamed about a few weeks ago. It’s working title is The Small Green Cottage, and it’ll be what they are calling a time-slip story, where there are two time periods and two sets of characters but happens in one place.

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?


My mother. She died when I was seven years old. I’d love to know her as an adult. Learn the wisdom she would have passed on to me, had she lived.

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?

I’ve always been fascinated by Queen Esther. I’ve studied her at length. I even wrote a dramatic monologue of her that I’ve shared with women’s groups and at women’s retreats. Her situation was unique, emotional, and intense. She could share a lot of wisdom with me, too.

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?

Adventures in Prayer by Mary Jo Pierce. This book has meant a lot to me, and I’ve used it when mentoring other women.

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

I love my readers. They are the reason I work so many hours writing. I want to entertain them. I want to make them think … and feel. And I like to connect with them on many levels.

They really bless me when they write reviews of my books. I love hearing from them on social media. They are the reason I’m there. Nothing pleases me more than knowing how one of my books changed a life. I’ve been known to sit and cry before the Lord, because He used me to do that very thing.

What a great way to end our interview! With the readers!

Lena, thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule and stopping by the Florida front porch. Many blessings to you and your writing ministry!

Dear Readers, if you wish to learn more about Lena and her writing, you can visit her at these sites listed below!

Blogtalk Radio, The Lena Nelson Dooley Show: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/along-came-a-writer/


Until next time, May God bless you all, and may you bless God!

Kevin











Friday, August 24, 2018

Empathy for the Dark Side (A Seriously Write Blog)


We’ve all heard it said, “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.” In other words, have some empathy. Try to understand how that “someone else” lives, what they deal with on a regular basis, and why that person comes to the conclusions he or she does, whether you agree with those decisions or not.

For us, the author types, there is no position we should have more empathy for than an editor.

That’s right. I said it. In some of your minds, I just slipped on my Darth Vader helmet and asked you to come over to the dark side. But hear me out first before you rally the rebel forces.

Imagine yourself sitting at your desk. You’re the new editor for XYZ Publishing, in charge of making this new division not only solvent, but profitable. You have six months to a year to make that happen. It’s week four, and in your e-mail inbox are two hundred query letters, each complete with a synopsis, a marketing plan, an author bio, and the first few chapters of the work. About sixty pages each, give or take. And these are just the agented but unsolicited manuscripts that have arrived in your inbox. More arrive each day.


To see the remainder, click HERE!





Thursday, August 23, 2018

A Chat with MaryAnn Diorio (A CAN Blog)



School is back in session here in Florida. That means there are thousands of mothers out there either breathing into paper bags (because they are first time school parents) or breathing a sigh of relief, looking forward to hours of quiet time with a book, a cup of coffee, and a house filled with silence (because they’ve been there, done that with the whole school thing). So, for those ready to read, I introduce to you novelist MaryAnn Diorio!

To see the remainder of the article, click HERE!














Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Author Behind the Story Series - Molly Noble Bull


It's August now. We're nearing the time of year when the humidity and daunting hurricane forecasts are at an all-time high. However, there is one thing soaring higher than anything else: the frustration levels of parents waiting for school to start again. If you have kids, you know exactly what I'm talking about. So, over the next ten months, send your child's teacher a gift card every month. Vary it. One for coffee. One for lunch. One for dinner. One for a department store. One for a movie. Be creative. Trust me. It's the cheapest babysitting fee you'll ever pay.

Okay, enough of the Teacher Appreciation advertisement. :-)

We're here to meet authors, and I have another one you need to meet. So, without further ado, please welcome to the Florida front porch, Molly Noble Bull!

Hi, Molly! Give us a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Mary Noble Bull?


My name is Molly Noble Bull. I am a Christian wife, mother, and grandmother. I write novels. Some have won contests for published authors, and my one and only non-fiction book explains a lot. It’s titled, The Overcomers: Christian Authors Who Conquered Learning Disabilities.

I'm sure you are going to enlighten us later as to which learning disabilities you mean exactly...besides the obvious "writers are crazy and need therapy." :-)

Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?

As a young child, my mother copied down made-up poems that came to my mind. So, at that time in my life, I attended kindergarten.   

Wow. That's pretty young. What educational background do you have?

As with all dyslexics, school, especially elementary school, was hard for me. But I tried harder, and harder, and harder. I completed four years of high school, and graduated from a local Texas college with a degree in elementary education, a minor in art, and a specialization in early childhood education. I’ve taught in public and private schools, but all these locations will remain private.

If your life was a story, and you were the lead character, what kind of role would you play?


I’d be the heroine, of course. I’d get the handsome prince, and live happily ever after. Despite some bad times during my early years in public school, I married my prince. Though I once had trouble learning to read, now I write books that other people read. Is this happily ever after, or what?   

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

I write because it’s what I do, and my favorite novel is always the one I am working on at the moment. I’m writing three novels now. I work on one for a time; get stuck, and move on to another, It keeps me busy writing even when writers’ block comes to call. This works for me.  

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

I write under the name Molly Noble Bull. Noble is my maiden name. I used Noble to honor them. But if I had it to do over I would be Molly Bull. It easy to remember and has a funny ring to it. Don’t you think? 

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

I have a blog, but don’t use it much anymore. However, I have been posting one Bible scripture or more a day at my page at Facebook since August 30, 2017. That anniversary is coming up soon. I’ve spoken in front of groups on writing, and some time ago, I was a guest on a Christian television station for a grand total of two days.

Why do you live where you live?

I was born in the cattle ranching country of South Texas where my husband and I live today, but we lived in Germany when we first married. He was in the U.S. Army then, and we also traveled to France, Switzerland, Austria, and Italy. We also lived in the Texas hill country. But as they say, there is no place like home.   

Those are beautiful countries. Hard to beat that part of Europe. When you look for a new home, what are the things that are important to you?

My father and my grandfather were ranch foremen, real Texas cowboys, and I spent part of my growing up years on a sixty thousand acre cattle ranch in South Texas. Is it any wonder that I like to write Christian westerns? I like country roads, open space, and the sound of cows mooing in the distance, birds chirping, and dogs barking, if not too loud. But I also like to hear the haunting whistle of a train, calling out—breaking the silence on a dark night.

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

For me, the first sentence is the most important sentence in the entire book. Dyslexics are easily bored. If the first sentence doesn’t catch my interest, it is unlikely that I will read sentence number two. However, if the first sentence grabs me, I’ll read the first paragraph. If I am still not bored at the end of page one, there is a good chance that I’ll buy the book.

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

I love to read the Bible, and look forward to reading it every night. I talk to the Lord when reading the Bible, and during that time, we grow closer together. But it would be hard to choose a favorite verse because I love them all. As readers get to know characters, inside and out, from reading novels, I get to know the Lord better and better from reading the Bible. I would never want the Lord to turn me away because he never knew me.

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

I am a born again, spirit-filled Christian, but you already knew that. Some people say I am a funny lady, and some of my books might make you smile. Cinderella Texas and one of the books I am writing now comes to mind. But I might also be called a genre smasher because not all my books are funny. Well, maybe a little amusing via the dialogue, but mostly serious.

Today, I am posting the covers of When the Cowboy Rides Away and Gatehaven because they are two of three books that won contests for published Christian authors. The third is titled, The Secret Place


Sounds like you've been a busy writer of late. Molly, thanks for stopping by and letting our readers get a glimpse of the Author Behind the Story!

Readers, if you wish to learn more about Molly and her writing, you can visit these locations on the web:

Her book: Gatehaven


Until next time, May God bless America, and may America bless God!

Kevin





Friday, July 27, 2018

A Twist of Hope (A Seriously Write Blog)


I was browsing around the internet the other day, looking for some things screenplay related, and I ran across a blog by a British screenwriting bloke. In the upper, right-hand corner of the blog, it said something like this:

It’s not the rejection I’m afraid of. I can handle rejection. It’s the hope that drives me mad and has me up at night.

Ever been there?


“Oh, I hope that agent calls me back. She was so excited about my WIP.”

“I think my novel could easily be made into a movie.”

“Just imagine my non-fiction book stacked up five high, multiple stacks, just inside the doors of Barnes & Noble, displayed for all to see. Right next to all the big authors.”

“I’ve submitted my book into the awards contest. I hope I win.”


Hope can be a funny thing. 



Want to read the remainder of the post? Click HERE!







Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Author Behind the Story Series - Deborah Harper

It's summertime in the south! Cicadas buzzin'. Humidity hummin'. And so are the air conditioning units! Oh, and did I tell you...we have two hurricanes in the Atlantic already. I still have dead branches falling out of my oak trees from when Hurricane Irma bulldozed her way through our fair state last September.

Yet, despite the three H's (heat, humidity, hurricane), we have Hope. And that leads me to our next guest in the Author Behind the Story series here at ckevinthompson.com!

Please welcome to the Florida front porch, fellow author, Deborah Harper!

Deborah, I want you to pretend you are in an elevator. The door opens, and Jimmy Fallon is standing there. He gets on with you and says, “Hi, I’m Jimmy Fallon, and I’m looking for average Joes & Janes with not-so-average lives to interview for my new show segment airing next month. And you’re name is? Ding! The door just shut. You have twelve floors until you reach the lobby. Go! 

Hi, Jimmy. I’m Deborah Dee Harper, recently relocated from Alaska to Tennessee. I write inspirational and humorous books for both children and adults when I’m not chasing grizzly bears or moose for a picture, climbing on glaciers, or hiking rugged mountain trails—slowly, and usually in great pain.

Okay. Got my attention. And I'll bet Jimmy might ask some clarifying questions as well! Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?

I believe I was in elementary school when the writing bug bit me. I must have been about seven years old when I came up with the title The Mystery of Castle Dawn. That’s as far as I got—the title—and I’ve often thought I should just write the darned thing so it’ll quit bugging me. (And you know, I might just do that.) My writing back then consisted of half-page book reports, handmade Christmas cards, and lists for Santa. I picked up the pace in high school during a creative writing class and was encouraged by my teacher to continue writing but didn’t do so, in earnest at least, until my children were born and I was in my mid-20s. My writing was wretched, but I didn’t know enough about writing to know it was, so I blindly continued trying. That was the most important thing: I kept trying. I learned and read and studied and wrote and wrote and wrote. Eventually I began to learn what I needed to know.

That's the key isn't it? Keep writing and keep learning. Haven't read or met the perfect author yet. When the words aren’t flowing, what is your favorite comfort food and why?

Oddly enough, I find that a glass of wine and some cheese (or chocolate) helps relax me enough to get those creative thoughts flowing again. (Or maybe I just don’t give a rip what I’m writing after a glass of wine J.) Sometimes I even have to resort to two glasses of wine and both cheese and chocolate. Scandalous, I know, but it works! If none of those are available, I tend to gravitate toward pizza.

Ah, pizza...Thanks. Now, I'm hungry...I'll be back in a little while...they just opened a Little Caesar's down the road...

Okay, I'm back (excuse me...let me wipe the sauce off my chin). For all the pet lovers out there, answer this question: Do you have any?

We have/have had a wide variety of pets. At the moment, we have two cats, three birds (two canaries and a parakeet), and two hermit crabs. In the past, we’ve had a black lab, yellow lab, three rabbits, about a dozen other cats through the years, several other hermit crabs (who have a disconcerting way of dying on us), and three other birds. My daughter is a licensed medical veterinary technician, so we love pets, and I have the added benefit of living with someone trained in sticking pills down animals’ throats so I don’t have to. Our plans include a couple of goats and a small flock of chickens, but that’ll have to wait until we have a place in the country.

Besides cramming pills down animals' throats, what makes you cringe?

I have a fairly simple and probably common cringe-inducer: spiders and snakes. I detest them.  My daughter (the lover of all types of living things that she is—creepy or not) urges me to “re-home” them by taking them outdoors and releasing them, rather than the “smash, grind, and sweep up” method I use. I tell her I am re-homing them by sending them on to their next life. Snakes are not as easy to smash and grind into the ground, so if it were up to me I’d use fire power and explosives. But they’re bigger and easier to spot, so I don’t often have to deal with them. 

Good thing you don't live around here. You'd never have any time to write. You'd be spending your days grinding and smashing and blowing up your cringe-inducers. Everybody seems to have a bucket list. Do you? If so, what’s on it? If not, why not?

Yes, I certainly do. I’d love to someday visit the Holy Land and Italy—not necessarily on the same trip, though. I’ve wanted to visit Israel for decades now, and I might just do that one of these days now that I’m retired from my full-time job. To walk where Jesus walked, see the places of the Bible, experience the weather and scenery, to simply touch the buildings of Old Jerusalem and the Wailing Wall—well, it all boggles my mind and quickens my heartbeat.

I think my desire to visit Italy came about even earlier—I remember wanting to be a “stewardess” (back before they were called flight attendants and when Pan Am Airlines still existed) on an international run to and from Italy. That didn’t work out for a couple of reasons: I hate flying and I
don’t speak a lick of Italian. But given the opportunity, I’d bite the bullet and fly over there since the only other way would be by sea, and I’m scared to death of water. There’s something about that part of the world that intrigues me.

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

Funny you should ask … One of my books is titled Faux Pas. J I think my worst writing mistake was made early on when I thought everything I wrote should be etched on stone and prominently displayed everywhere books were sold and in front of courthouses and government offices across the country. Some of it embarrasses me so much I can’t even read it. I’ve even gone so far as to burn it so no one runs across it after I die. I’d hate to be humiliated in my grave; it’s bad enough being dead without being embarrassed too.

An even bigger mistake was sending my early work to so many publishers. It not only wasn’t ready for the eyes of professionals, but the whole process was time-consuming as well, and my propensity for over-submitting didn’t help any. Back then you submitted to publishers through the U.S. Postal Service, waited six months for a reply (which was always, always a rejection), then started all over again with another publisher because simultaneous submissions (sim-subs) were usually not allowed. Another six months passed, I added another rejection letter to my pile, and did it over and over and over again. I must have improved as time passed because the acceptances started rolling in. 

I remember those days. Lots of printing and lots of stamps. And postcard rejection notices. Ahhhh, the good old days. So, all authors have writing days. Tell us about yours. How do you go about writing?

I’m retired from my long-time job at a school district in Michigan, so I have more hours in the day to devote to my writing. I’m also divorced and my three children are grown and have families of their own. In fact, I live with the oldest of my daughters (and middle child) and her sweet little girl—my precious and only granddaughter. It seems as though I should be rolling in leisure time to devote to my writing, but I don’t. That’s because I watch Molly while her mother works, and my other children and grandchildren live out-of-state. That means traveling whenever I want to see them. On the other hand, we currently live in an apartment so taking care of our home isn’t as time-intensive, and Molly is six and in school most months of the year. My other grandchildren are also in school, so that limits their availability for my visits to those times they’re off.

I try to write as often as I can, although I’ve fallen out of my routine of getting up and writing first thing in the morning, because my morning hours are filled with getting Molly off to school and starting the laundry, etc. My daughter works long hours at a vet clinic an hour or so from here, so many of the things she’d normally do falls to me, and I gladly do them. But that means my writing has to be done when I find the time. As soon as Molly is back in school this fall, I’ll have a more regular routine—get up, freshen up, get her to school, and return home to a cup of coffee and my computer. It’s amazing how much writing you can get done when you don’t have all the time in the world to do it! My mind works faster, the ideas flow more easily, and as a result, I’m more productive than I would imagine I should be. It’s a hectic life, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

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?

If I’d known back when I first began writing what I know now, I might not have pursued it. Fortunately, I didn’t know, and I think that’s a good thing. As they say, experience is the best teacher, and I can’t put a price on the things I’ve learned either from other authors or through trial and error. It wasn’t always easy, but it was effective in turning me into a writer.

I think the most important thing I could pass along to others is what so many others say: Don’t give up. Granted, there are people out there who think they can write and perhaps have great ideas, but just don’t have the skill, imagination, time, whatever, to pursue it successfully. But if you do think you have those things, please don’t be discouraged. For every person out there who’s achieved fame and fortune with their first or fiftieth book, there are thousands and thousands of us who have not and never will. But not everyone can be at the top of the heap, and I can’t imagine the pressure of being a #1 bestselling author, anyway. (I might want to explore that option, but even so, I still can’t imagine what it feels like. J) That said, please don’t give up. There’s more to writing books than fame, and who knows who you’ll influence by your words?

Another point I’d like to pass along is to get yourself as much training and education in writing as you can. Creative writing classes in high school or college can cut your “trial and error” period by years. I joined the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writing Guild early on and learned so much about different kinds of writing—fiction, non-fiction, essays, poetry, short stories, newspaper, etc. It’s not fun having your work critiqued by professionals, but how do you think they learned? They too were critiqued, and I can’t imagine it was much fun for them either. None of us emerged from the womb experienced writers. We have to learn, study, make mistakes, try again (and again and again), get better (and better and better) until we feel confident enough to shoot for an agent or a publishing contract. Even then, your studying and learning isn’t all behind you. Great writers learn all the time. As writers, we’re never finished; we’re just on different points in our journeys.       

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

Although I have plans to try turning my fiction into a screenplay, I haven’t yet done so. In the meantime, I’ve combined my photography with my writing and found it to be an effective way to use both. Having lived in Alaska for six years, I have thousands of pictures of mountains, glaciers, wildlife, and flowers. I’m also a sky-lover. I consider the clouds precious gifts from God that are never the same—not one day since He created Earth and the heavens have the clouds been the same. Each and every day we’re treated to an entirely new masterpiece by the Master himself. I have a semi-regular “column” that I post on Facebook entitled Laughing with the Lord. It’s a humorous look at my life and how God protects, guides, loves, and rescues me from silly things that happen to me—usually due to my clumsiness or lack of common sense. If any of your readers are interested in reading it and seeing my photographs, they should check out https://www.facebook.com/deborah.harper.33 . I’m also writing a devotional using many of my pictures taken over the years.

Why do you live where you live?

I grew up in small towns, as did my parents. While we weren’t farmers ourselves, my grandparents on both side had strong ties with the land. I learned to love the smell of hay, freshly-cut grass, and gardens. I now live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a town not far from Nashville. While it has a hometown feel for me, it’s growing by leaps and bounds and it saddens me to see so much of the green space being sold and converted to apartments or businesses. Perhaps we’ll move to another town or state and I can renew my love for all things country. 

What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?

This one’s easy. I lived with my son-in-law and daughter for four years on Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska. (This was prior to my recent move to Alaska.) We saw an incredible array of wildlife—moose, black bears, whales, Dall sheep, eagles, puffins, wolves—the list goes on and on. But up to the very last month we were going to be there prior to my son-in-law’s retirement and our move to Tennessee, we had yet to see a brown bear—a grizzly.

One evening my daughter Darice, my 10-month old granddaughter Molly, and I embarked on a serious expedition to look once more. There was a road around the perimeter of the base that we often drove to find wildlife, so that night we bought a good supply of candy bars and headed out. We weren’t very far into our ride when I spotted a brown bear. We couldn’t believe our eyes. I screeched at my daughter to get closer, she did, and I jumped out. I had to get a picture. I left my door opened a couple of inches so my entrance back into the car would be a bit easier if he turned on me. But Darice yelled, “Shut the door! You’re letting in the mosquitoes.” Not “Be careful, Mom” or “I love you!” Nope. She wanted to keep those helicopter-sized mosquitoes away from Molly, and looking back on it, I don’t blame her.

I dutifully shut the door, walked behind the car, edged alongside it to get closer and closer to the bear, who was now aware of my presence, and … Darice drove off. Not just a few feet, either. She headed right on down the road. She didn’t want mosquitoes getting into the car, but she left her mother in the middle of Alaska on a gravel road with only a grizzly bear, a half-eaten Hershey bar, and mosquitoes for company? Go figure. As I watched her drive off down the road, I thought to myself, “Okay, I’m going to die right here, so what should I do? Put my camera away or get myself the best darned grizzly bear pictures ever taken in the history of the world?” I got to work.

Coughing on the dust Darice was kicking up, I turned my attention to the bear. He didn’t seem to care one way or the other that the GGBS (Great Grizzly Bear Stalker) was on the loose, so I upped the ante a bit and walked toward him. He might have been twenty feet away from me by that time.

Closer and closer and closer I approached, emboldened by the fact that he didn’t seem to care one way or the other if he killed me then or a few seconds from then. As I drew perilously near … that darned bear started to lope away from me, and the big chicken hoisted himself over a wire fence to get to a small indentation in the landscape that probably held a drain or something to keep the road from washing out.


To her credit and my relief, Darice returned to pull up beside me so I could get into the passenger’s seat without going around the car. Turns out the road was a dead-end, and in my astonishment at seeing her drive off, I didn’t notice that. But all’s well that ends well. At least I can say a grizzly bear ran away from me. Not many people can say that. (I must be pretty scary-looking.)

God thing he didn't get a sniff of that candy bar. They love candy bars, I hear. When you look for a new home, what are the things that are important to you?

I’m big on coziness, ambiance, and family togetherness. Ideally I would build a house on no fewer than ten acres (need some goats and chickens, you know) with four bedrooms and a den for my office and books, three full baths (because the fourth bedroom would be for guests), a fireplace, beamed ceilings, a country kitchen (and by that I mean shelves in lieu of some of the cupboards, no “sleek” cupboards or ultra-modern design, a large separate pantry room, and enough space for a big kitchen table), a wrap-around porch, lots of light, and enough space to accommodate guests, but not so cavernous or empty that it feels hollow when it’s not filled with friends or loved ones.

On the practical side, I want a spacious home, but utility costs rise with the addition of square footage, so clever use of the space available to me is mandatory. I want an herb garden outside my kitchen door, a chicken coop and a second out-building to house our goats, a fenced-in pasture, a room for a large garden close to the house. Perhaps this house will eventually come to pass, perhaps not. But in any event, I can still use whatever home I’m in at the moment to welcome visitors and shelter my family. 

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?

Saul of Tarsus. When I think of the atrocities he was responsible for in his past and the guilt he must have felt, I’m amazed he could function in the ways he did. I realize he knew he was forgiven, but still, it’s human nature to feel regret. Paul was so eloquent, yet straight forward and plain spoken in everything he wrote, that as a writer myself, I envy his ability to get his point across (clearly the most important point ever made) in the ways he did. Also, his writing wasn’t done in an air-conditioned office with a computer, printer, and the internet. (Actually, he had it better because he had God inspiring him!) He was either traveling, hard at work to support himself, or in prison because of his preaching much of the time, so his life was neither leisurely nor easy. But I must admit I’m envious of his encounter along the road to Damascus with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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

I’d have to say Philippians 3:13-15 has impacted me the most. “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

There have been many times during my writing career (as I’m sure it has with lots of other writers) when I’ve been ready to throw in the towel. It’s not always easy to find the time, inspiration, and inclination to write, let alone edit, market, blog, write a newsletter, and try to balance it all with other family/work/church obligations.

Nevertheless, I do continue. I feel God has gifted me with not only the ability to write, but also my sense of humor, so I do my very best to stay focused and busy doing those things He wants me to do. I’m not quite sure my work makes the difference I would like it to, but that’s not my decision to make. It will make a difference in the life of whomever the Lord wants it to. It’s my job to write it; it’s His to use it for His purposes.

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

I firmly believe God gave us a sense of humor to help make sense of this world. He knew it wouldn’t be an easy row for us to hoe, so a sense of humor definitely helps. I’m talking of wholesome humor and nothing directed toward a person, group, race, religion, or other part of our world that would divide rather than unite us. I think humor brings us together, shows others we don’t take ourselves too seriously, and helps us get to know one another. I write a lot of self-deprecating humor, but I’m careful not to imply that God’s creation is anything less just because I mess up once in a while. I write humor in my novels because I want non-believers to know that believers are imperfect and often do things that are silly, dangerous, or downright dumb. Nevertheless, we are God’s children and owe everything we are or have to Him alone. Humor, to me, is just another way to bond with others. 

If someone wanted to check out your writing more, where can they go?

All of my blogs and my website are undergoing renovation at the moment, so the best way to get in touch with or learn more about me or my writing would be to either visit the Facebook page I mentioned earlier (https://www.facebook.com/deborah.harper.33) or https://www.facebook.com/authoredeborahdeeharper/ , which is my Facebook author page.
My Amazon page can be found here: https://tinyurl.com/y7mqlhv3 and my email address is deborahdeetales@gmail.com .

Pictured above is the second book in my Road’s End series, Faux Pas, a hilarious story whereby the President of the United States visits Road’s End, Virginia, a tiny town forgotten by all except those who still live there—a crazy bunch of senior citizens and a retired Air Force chaplain and his wife who purchased The Inn at Road’s End and had no idea what they were in for.

Also pictured above is the first of the six books in my Laramie on the Lam adventure series for kids. If your kids love adventure, humor, wildlife, good guys, bad guys, dogs, mystery, great locations, and learning about America along the way, Laramie on the Lam is great for their summer reading. 

Deborah, thank you for taking the time and visiting with us today, and we wish you all the best in your writing career!


To all our readers, thank you for stopping by! And remember, our Author Behind the Story series appears every second Wednesday of the month (unless I don't have somebody to highlight).


In this time of July 4th, May God bless America, and may America bless God! 

Kevin

(And if you wish to join Kevin's newsletter to keep up with his writing announcements, go to www.ckevinthompson.com and scroll down to the bottom of the home page and sign up!)