Thursday, April 19, 2018

My Author Interview with Lena Nelson Dooley


I was fortunate and honored to be interviewed by Lena Nelson Dooley on her blog.

Here's an excerpt:

Welcome, Kevin. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

I’ve been told some of the phrases I use come out in the dialogue of characters. “I hear you say that,” my readers will tell me. But overall, I try to use certain things from time to time to help make the character more authentic. I remember putting into the manuscript of The Serpent’s Grasp a description of a car Micah Gregson used to own that caused him to purchase the car he owned now, a red Mustang Cobra. The car he “used to own back in the day” was a red 1971 Mach 1 Mustang with a 351 Cleveland. That was the car I had in high school and when we were first married (boy, do I wish I still had it now). Unfortunately, that recollection of Micah got axed in the final edit. However, he is driving the Mustang Cobra when he gets followed by the FBI agent, trying to find a news station that carries late, breaking news, and wishing he hadn’t allowed his satellite subscription to expire (another personal piece of info about me, by the way).

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

I’ve sat here for ten minutes, and I can’t think of much. I even asked my wife, who’s known me since we were 15. She can’t either. So, I guess I’m not a very “quirky” person. More on the conservative side when it comes to my actions, I guess. However, I suppose it depends on who’s watching, too. Some people would say becoming a writer is a little quirky. “How can you sit at a computer for hours on end?” Ever heard that one? I’ve also had others “say”—not with their words so much but more with their looks and actions—that becoming a follower of Christ is quirky, if not borderline crazy.

When did you first discover you were a writer?

I had an inkling when I was in middle school. Creating stories was an interest, for sure. However, I really didn’t have anyone around who noticed or encouraged it growing up, and there weren’t the opportunities available back then like there are now for young writers (which maybe answers why I wasn’t encouraged?). I finally got more serious about it in my mid-thirties, got more serious about it in my mid-forties, and now, here I am, wishing I’d gotten serious about it way sooner.

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.

With fiction, I enjoy mysteries and thrillers and wander around that section of the bookstore the most. That doesn’t mean I won’t pick up something else and give it a try, like a speculative fiction work or a science fiction piece. As for non-fiction, that’s all over the map, depending on what I’m doing. Christian spiritual growth books, if I want to read something for personal edification. Books about education, which are related to my day job as an assistant principal at a middle school (that job choice may qualify as quirky, too). Books about the subject I am researching for a novel I am writing. If you look at the bibliography in the back of The Serpent’s Grasp (and yes there is one…I put it there for a reason…), then you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about here.


Want to read the remainder of the interview? You can check it out HERE!





Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Author Behind the Story Series - Ward Tanneberg


Hello, Everybody! We've had a couple of month lull in our series, but it's picking back up again with a great author who has an interesting story. That's one of the things I love about this job - getting to meet new people. And although it's through the cyberspatial realms of blogs, social media, and the like, we eventually get to meet face to face at writers conferences, as well as other events.

So, welcome to the Florida front porch! Pull up a chair. The iced tea is ready (it's already been in the high 80's here). Sit back, relax, and let's have a chat with my next guest, Ward Tanneberg!

Hi, Ward. For those readers who do not know you yet, why don't you give them a quick bio. In fifty words or less, who is Ward Tanneberg?


I’ve been in active ministry for 58 years, beginning as a young evangelist, serving as a denominational youth director, college public relations director, pastor in three churches, lecturer, adjunct professor, writer, blogger, novelist, and nonprofit organization executive director. I have spoken in hundreds of churches, adult retreats and ministry conferences, and meet with Christian business leaders, active and retired, in my living room on Wednesday mornings. I currently consult with Ministry Resources International and serve on the board since the very beginning of Assist International, and continue to speak in churches, retreats, and conferences. I’ve visited over 50 foreign countries, some several times. For example, my 11th visit to Israel leading a group will be in 2019.

Wow. That's a rich, full life, and one part of that has been writing. Of all the stories/books you have written, which one is your favorite? And what compelled you to write this story?

My favorite story/book is always the one I’m writing now that has yet to see the light of day. Book manuscripts are to me like embryonic children still being formed, yet unnamed, and hoping for parents that someday will love and nurture them to success.

The memoir, Sacred Journey, is my newest true story. In fiction, I keep trying to make the next one better than the last. In that regard, it would be Redeeming Grace, a thriller that won a 2015 Bronze Jerry Jenkins Illumination Award.

Congratulations! It's always a great feeling to have others validate your writing with some type of award or recognition. 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 was the lead (only) pastor, in my early 20s, in my first church when I wrote an article for Pulpit magazine (now non-existent). It was accepted and they even paid … 10 cents a word! I was on my way. They published several more of my articles. I like to think it wasn’t my work that drove them out of business.

That's funny, and I'm sure it wasn't. You mentioned you were a pastor as well as how you have held numerous positions, etc. What educational background do you have?

I graduated with a class of 17 from Coulee City HS, a farming community in eastern Washington state; 2 yrs Central Bible College, Springfield MO; B.A. in Bible/Theology, Northwest University, Kirkland WA; graduate studies at Western Evangelical Seminary (now George Fox Theological Seminary), Portland OR and Seattle Pacific University, Seattle WA; Ph.D., California Graduate School of Theology, La Habra CA; additional: Core Coaching Skills; graduate FBI Citizens Academy; Stephen Ministries LTC.

FBI Citizens Academy, huh? Didn't know they had such a thing... Are you married? Single? Have kids? 

Dixie changed her address to heaven on 04 Aug 2015. We met while I was a 17-year-old Bible college student traveling with the King’s Ambassadors Quartet. We were married in Tulsa OK and soon after moved to the West Coast. We were married just over 59 years. We have two married children, 3 grandchildren, 4 step-grandchildren, and 2 great grandsons. 

I'm sorry to hear about your wife's passing, but the hope we have as believers of it not being the end, but instead a new beginning, is joyous. And congratulations on 59 years. That's becoming more and more of a rarity. 

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: The Prayer tops the list of many favorites
Favorite Non-Fiction Book (other than your own & besides the Bible): Falling Upward by Richard Rohr is probably my most recent favorite; again it’s hard to pick just one.
Favorite Bible Verse: Philippians 1:6 my mother sent me off to college with this verse.
Favorite Movie: North by Northwest (1959); Hidden Figures (2016)
Favorite TV Show: Blue Bloods (That is one of our favorites as well)
Favorite Novel (other than your own): Vicar of Christ by Walter F. Murphy
Favorite Author (other than you): Henri Nouwen
Favorite Sport: golf (I loved football, baseball, racquetball, tennis and played all of these at various stages, but I’m down to golf now. My dad taught me the game and I never ever beat him.
Favorite Team (Can be any sport, any level): Mariners baseball team
Favorite Subject in School Growing Up: PE
Favorite Subject Now: theology reflected in maturing adults
Favorite Teacher in School: Mrs. Neff, a no-nonsense elementary school teacher
Favorite Time of the Year: Autumn, Spring, Summer, Winter in that order here in the Pacific Northwest
Favorite Place to Vacation: the California desert
Favorite Drink: Water, coffee
Favorite Food: Cheese and onion enchiladas and other things Mexican


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

I like to think I’d be John Cain, the lead pastor in several of my novels.
 
For all the pet lovers out there, answer this question: Do you have any?

I have a 9-month-old, 54 pound, muscular Labradoodle named GAGE. He’s been the amusing topic of a couple of my ‘almost’ weekly Perspective blog posts. He’s near or on my feet while I am writing this.

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?

The Apostle John who managed to do his best and most lasting work while in his late 80s, early 90s as an apostolic writer. I hope the same can be said for my work as well.

What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?

Mmm...Does sitting at a freeway crossroads with suitcases packed and flipping a coin to see which direction we would go (north or south) for our vacation qualify? How about kneeling by the side of a busy highway, watching an ant attempt to cross without getting run over? We were on a family bicycle ride from San Francisco to Mexico at the time. The ant made it. So did we.

I feel a song about high hopes coming on...

Why do you live where you live?

I like ‘extreme’ weather locations, for example, I’ve lived on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state (144 inches of rain annually); the California desert (very little rain and extreme heat in summers); and the Pacific Northwest (clouds and rain) where I now live in a low-rise condo surrounded by people in the heart of downtown Bellevue, WA.

There seem to be a great many writers in the Pacific Northwest...Does that have to do with the fact that you all have to stay indoors so much because of the rain? Just curious...

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?

When I find a fiction author I like, I read as much of him or her as is possible, studying writing styles as I go. Catherine Coulter would be one. Lee Child, Joel Rosenberg, David Baldacci, John Grisham and others I read in the thriller environment.

In non-fiction, I find Roman Catholic writers, like Joan Chittister, Henri Nouwen, and Richard Rohr to be some of the very best. 

When you look for a new home, what are the things that are important to you? 

In the city I prefer a condominium lifestyle; in the desert I like a gated community like Sun City. Lawns may be the most beautiful curse man brings upon himself, so I enjoy the beauty, but haven’t mowed one in 40 years.

Oh, I like how you think. Can I use that line next week when I have to mow again? I'd hate for anybody to curse me.

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

Back cover copy and word of mouth are the two things catching my attention. Also a familiar author’s name that I like.

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

My most difficult day was Valentine’s Day, 2014, when my wife received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. Without therapy she was given 3-6 months. She chose therapy, wanting to hold her yet unborn second grandson in her arms. She lived 18 months. She was always a “teaching moment” to those whom she served as a pastor to women in two churches. That being the case, she agreed to let me write her story, filled with “teaching moments” that has since been published as the memoir book, Sacred Journey.

That is awesome. Tell us about what project you are currently working on. 

My current embryonic project is about “Life InBetween,” where we discover it’s not the high notes that thrill us, nor the mountain peaks that define us. A faith that transforms, that counts as right standing with God, is a faith bringing us straight to the heart of Jesus, who says, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” This kind of faith is shaped in the “InBetweens.”

So I pick the man who was “called a friend of God,” and have begun unpacking the story of Abraham, whose greatest moments were not high points of success, but rather his “Life InBetween” such moments that shaped his faith journey. I’m using a combination of fiction, historical and biblical narrative, and life application. Not heavy, but meaty enough. When I write, I write for persons who were once broken, as well as persons who are broken still. Both are always at the very core of how and what I write.

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

I usually write in the mornings. I’m the freshest during morning hours. If I awaken in the very early hours, I may sit in bed and write.

I compose blogs one day a week, targeting living, learning, leading in life’s second half. My blogs touch on humor, pathos, marriage, family, leadership, church, retirement, anything that people in life’s so-called second half must face. Personally, I no longer speak or write about life in halves, but in thirds, but this is another subject matter.

In fiction, I am more of a pantser, with loose outlines that permit lots of things to “happen” rather than be tightly held together. However, I continue to learn as a storyteller, always seeking fresh approaches and insights. Currently I am enrolled in Jerry Jenkins’ online novel writing course and learning a good deal.

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 you really are a writer, you will face discouragement, rejection, whatever, but you will keep learning and growing. And you will not quit.

Great advice, Ward. Starting is hard enough. Completing a book is even more difficult. But seeing it through to publication and beyond, well, that's an entirely different matter altogether.

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

I have written several inspirational thriller novels; a memoir of particular interest to caregivers of those suffering with cancer is Sacred Journey, my most recent work. I have lived 81 years. It is important that those of us in life’s “final third” share, with young and maturing adults, what life while being followers of Jesus has taught us.

Amen. As I get older, my perspective has changed. I used to dislike mornings. Now, they're not so bad. Time spent on seemingly worthless endeavors (like mowing the lawn!!!) are now "hours I'm not going to get back." It's so true.

Thank you, Ward, for taking time out of your writing life to spent some time with our readers. May God continue to bless you and your ministries.

Dear reader, if you wish to learn more about Dr. Tanneberg's writing ministry, check out the links below and the book descriptions.

Facebook: @wardtann
LinkedIn: Ward Tanneberg
Twitter: @WardTanneberg

Sacred Journeya memoir (2016)
From an Amazon customer: What a privilege to be invited into this very personal “sacred journey”. Life lessons abound! Be prepared to feel the pain and suffering of Dixie’s “Enemy Cancer.” The Enemy was brutal. Be prepared to encounter true love and commitment in action. Rare these days. Be prepared to experience genuine faith lived out and see hope penetrate throughout the “journey.” An incredible woman of substance and faith. Beautifully honest. Full of hope.
 
2) Redeeming Gracea novel (2015 Jerry Jenkins Illuminations Bronze Award)

From the back cover: Seven years ago, Grace Grafton died in a boating accident while partying on the Georgia, South Carolina coast. Was her death the result of alcohol and drugs or something more sinister? Nobody knows: her body was never recovered. Now years later, a woman reads in disbelief the note addressed to her: Hello Grace, did you think we wouldn't find you?

Those nine chilling words end Grafton's self-imposed sanctuary of witness protection. Now she and everyone she loves are in grave danger. Long believed dead, she has a secret that can change the future of America. She knows the man running for president is guilty of a double murder! But who will believe her?


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

Kevin
www.ckevinthompson.com







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