Thursday, January 17, 2013

Nona Mae King Interview (with Mary Nichelson)

Author Nona Mae King admits that writing is her passion.  At the age of 16, she began penning her young adult fiction series Changing Scenes as “the only safe way for a shy girl like me to experiment with the choices and actions that came with life.”  In college, she began writing skits, songs and full-length plays for her church which enabled King the opportunity to direct, act and sing in front of an audience. Today, she is celebrating the release of her novel Searching For Sara and looking ahead to the release of two sequels in the series. King shows no sign of slowing down and concedes that retiring her pen is not in the plan. “I adore the spinning of the unwritten tale – that lesson waiting to be divulged to others. What tale will this day reveal? I have but to open my heart and mind and listen.”

MN- You've written five books now including historical/medieval romance. Is it safe to say you are a romanticist at heart?

NK- Oh, definitely! Even my paranormal fantasy books have a smattering of a love story woven into them. In fact, one of the best aspects of writing a new story is how to weave a hint of the romantic, whether that is a main ingredient or not.

MN- Your latest novel, Searching For Sara, is the first in the Heart of the Blessed series. Tell me a little about the series.

NK- There are two more books in the series, Releasing Yesterday (Dec. ‘13) and Broken Angel (Dec. ‘14). I have a vague idea for two others, but I’m not certain, yet, if they’re going to make it to the list. My goal is to be able to cover each of the Beatitudes with a novel (Matt. 5:3-12). Searching for Sara covered v4 ‘blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted’, and v5 ‘blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.’ Releasing Yesterday will focus on v7 ‘blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy’ and v9 ‘blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called sons of God.’ Finally, Broken Angel will target v3 ‘blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’ and v6 ‘blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.’ 

It’s a daunting prospect, and I find I have more success when I don’t TRY to make the novel fit the mold but, rather, let my heart and spirit DO. Prayer and patience are key, of course. To be honest, I had no idea the series would be based on the Beatitudes until the project was well underway. That is one of the things I love about writing, the revelations that blossom throughout the path of a project.

MN- An interesting tidbit regarding Searching for Sara is that you created it during NaNoWriMo. Tell our readers what that is and how the novel came into existence during this month.

NK- Actually, I utilized NaNoWriMo to write a possible alternate beginning when I was entertaining the idea of another complete rewrite. This idea was later discarded, although I might use pieces of the NaNoWriMo portion in the sequel, Releasing YesterdaySearching for Sara was written in its entirety, and finished, well before I even knew about this addicting contest.

MN- II Corinthians 5:17 is important to you as an author. What is it about the concept of the old passing away and all things becoming new that has sparked such passion?

NK- One of the greatest challenges for me as a Christian is to overcome the Enemy’s daily reminder of my past failures. From relationships to story lines, if there is an aspect that did not fall in line with my idea of a Christian theme, it is used against me. 2 Corinthians reminds me that we are a new creature in Christ. He allows us these precious moments to begin anew. To grow in our faith and in our witness for others, so we can attest to His great mercies. His patience. His unending devotion to us, His children. In that promise there is hope, each new day, for me to once again craft my heart to fulfill His desire for my future.

MN- Happy New Year! What is on your writing agenda for 2013?

NK- May of next year I hope to release Silver & Iron, the sequel to my paranormal fantasy To Save A Soul. December of 2013 and 2014 I will release book 2 and book 3 of the Heart of the Blessed series. Once those are released, I will weigh the responses and see if I should write more for the series, or if I will move onto my suspense romance, Myth of Reality.

MN- Do you have any New Year's resolutions?

NK- Not really, no. I make goals each year, yes, because that helps keep me motivated and moving forward. I find that goals are easier to hold to than resolutions. :) Perhaps that’s semantics, but it works for me.

MN- Complete this sentence. When no one is looking, I love to........

NK- I’m not that mischievous. If anything, I would pull out a little notebook and start writing.

Author Bio-  Nona King was born in Oregon City, Oregon, and grew up on a 30-acre homestead in historic Aurora, population 540. She has been writing songs, plays, and romance & adventure novels since the age of sixteen. Her first paranormal fantasy series, The Soul Cycle, is a winner of the National Novel Writing Month and based on adventure modules written by her husband, Michael King. Her inspirational romance, Searching for Sara, won Honorable Mention in the 2011 Deep River Books Writing Contest.
Nona started her own publishing company, Angel Breath Books, in 2008. ABB publishes novels focusing on faith, honor, justice, and the importance of communication in our relationships with others.

You can learn more about the book and author Nona King through Angel Breath Books website, the book's website, Nona's personal website and her Amazon Author Page. Be sure to friend and follow her on Twitter  and facebook!
Other interviews featured in this issue: Kathy Brace, Darrell Huckaby, & Peggy Flowers Taylor.
About Mary Nichelson:
This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine .

Monday, November 26, 2012

William D. (Bill) Burt Interview (with Mary Nichelson)

William “Bill” Burt spent most of his teenage years reading fantasy novels. Perhaps this explains the success of his popular series, King of the Trees, which is based on time travel, fantasy, imagery, and allegorical characters. It has been so successful, in fact, that Burt’s reviews include one written by an eleven year old. He has connected with readers of all ages, but capitalized on the familial element; parents often read to their children and then discuss the story together. Burt’s gift of communication carries over into multiple facets of his life, including his proficient use of American Sign Language, Russian and Welsh. It is interesting that an author who began his writing career editing his father’s plant guidebooks, would go on to effectively capture an audience of his own through faith-based fiction.

MN-Your King of the Trees series is now in its 7th book in the sequence. How many sequels do you think will ultimately be included in the series?

BB-The series is definitely not finished. I would like to see at least three more titles published. I actually have completed plot narratives for Books 8, 9, and 10. I am also embarking upon an entirely new fiction adventure series called "The Creation Seekers." It's aimed at the same target audience (pre-teens and teens) and is based upon Creation Science principles.

MN-The target age group for the series is 8 years and older. Why write for the young adult audience?

BB-I didn't initially set out to write for that particular audience, and as it turns out, adult readers enjoy the series as well. I simply wanted to communicate Biblical truth in a way that would reach the young and the young at heart. I also wished to create a book series that I would have enjoyed reading as a boy. (C.S. Lewis responded similarly when asked why he had written the Chronicles of Narnia.) Furthermore, I didn't feel God was leading me to address the adult themes that invariably surface in novels for mature readers.

Speaking of young adults, although girls love my series, I have been surprised and gratified by the enthusiastic response from boys, whom book publishers have historically neglected. (Publishers target girls as an audience, knowing that girls will read boys' books, but boys will rarely read girls' books.)

MN-Let's talk about the second installment in the series, Torsils in Time. What adventures await Rolin and Marlis?

BB-Torsils in Time is a bit of a cautionary tale about what happens when leaders let their guard down. In The King of the Trees, King Rolin and Queen Marlis have just decisively vanquished their enemies. In Book II, the main characters assume the land of Lucambra is about to enjoy a protracted spell of peace and quiet. Indeed, Rolin and Marlis are enjoying a leisurely picnic in the mountains when disaster befalls them. Unbeknownst to them, Felgor, Lucambra's mortal foe, has not died but has merely passed into a world-between-worlds known as "Limbo." He succeeds in trapping the king and queen in Limbo, where they become invisible and encounter many other unexpected challenges and perils. In the end, Gaelathane delivers them out of all their predicaments.

As in all the titles in my series, the Gospel is presented allegorically in a subtle yet unmistakable fashion.

MN-Is there a character trait or value you would like for the reader to learn while reading Torsils in Time, or did you write it for entertainment purposes only?

BB-Probably the most important character trait that Rolin and Marlis develop in this book is the ability to trust and obey Gaelathane (God) even when it seems He has utterly abandoned them. I would be pleased if my readers learned to trust God as implicitly.

MN-Your books have been A) labeled "The Christian Alternative to Harry Potter" and B) compared to the Chronicles of Narnia by reviewers. Do these statements adequately represent the King of Trees series?

BB-A) Yes. As your readers know, young people today are being exposed to a vast array of dark, occult and soulless fantasy works—including the Harry Potter series. (My first series title was released just months before the first Harry Potter title came out.) For years, I have been very concerned that young readers and their parents do not fully appreciate the potential for spiritual harm posed by books and films that glorify the occult. One of my purposes in writing the King of the Trees series has been to counteract and expose this dangerous societal trend toward dabbling in the so-called magic arts. I decisively debunk the occult in my books by demonstrating that God's power is far superior to any puny human efforts (i.e., magic) intended to supersede His natural laws. In my books, when unusual events take place that appear to be magical, readers learn that these are merely the result of different natural laws at work, as ordained by Gaelathane (God). There is no place for magic in any of my books. I have been encouraged by the positive responses from young readers and their parents (Christian and otherwise) who have found in my series a refreshing alternative to occult-oriented juvenile literature.

B) Yes again. I believe reviewers often (favorably) compare my books to the Chronicles of Narnia for several reasons: 1) The King of the Trees series and Lewis's Chronicles are both written as extended, Biblically-basedadventure-allegories; 2) Both series appeal to adults as well as to younger readers; 3) Both series are primarily set in a medieval-like era; 3) Both series feature mythological creatures and noble characters locked in good-versus-evil struggles; 4) C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors, so it is natural that something of his style might rub off on me. (I should mention that the allegories I employ in my books are unique to me.)

I might also mention that after I had finished reading and re-reading the Chronicles of Narnia and Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, I felt called to create a series combining C.S. Lewis's allegorical richness with Tolkien's cosmological depth and realism. Whether I have succeeded in attaining that goal I leave for my readers to decide

MN-With Christmas on the horizon, parents may wish to purchase books in the series as gifts. Are they readable as stand alones, or do you suggest reading them in order?

BB-All my books stand alone; my plots don't leave the reader hanging at the end. That said, I would strongly recommend reading Book I--The King of the Trees—first. The sequels won't make sense otherwise. I would also recommend reading the sequels in order, although it's not as critical as reading the first book first. I like to say that we "grow with our readers." That is, books in the series become progressively more advanced as well as more polished in respect to the prose, poetry, allegories and illustrations.

MN-As parents, how can we encourage the proper use of childhood imagination and creativity?

BB-I think it's as simple as the old "GIGO" ("Garbage In, Garbage Out") computer adage. What children feed upon through their eyes and ears—the windows to their souls—will be directly reflected in their imaginative and creative lives. The corollary to that principle is what I call "PIPO"—"Purity In, Purity Out." If we supply the proper raw materials—the Bible, classic Christian literature and videos, a solid Christian education, etc.—we can rightfully expect that our children will become creative forces for God and righteousness in this world.

MN-There is compelling research that points to a steadily declining literacy rate in America. Is the answer really as simple as parents reading to their children starting at an early age?

BB-I agree: Reading aloud to children (and to young adults as well) is one of the best solutions to our literacy crisis. (So is turning off the television!) Apropos of that topic, all my titles come equipped with glossaries and pronunciation guides at the back for easier reading and/or reading aloud. Many parents have told me they make a family activity out of reading my books aloud together. To that end, I purposely have avoided incorporating nightmarish scenes in my books. (I road-tested Book I on my own children by reading the manuscript to them before bed when they were younger. They loved it!)

May your leaves never wither! (Ps. 1:3)

Author Bio- William D. "Bill" Burt is best known as the author of the "King of the Trees" Christian fantasy series. Having spent most of his teenage years adventuring in Middle Earth, the author is an avid fantasy fan. His first allegorical fantasy title, The King of the Trees, came out in 1998 (WinePress). Bowing to reader demand, he has expanded the series to include a total of seven titles to date, with more to follow. He has also embarked upon a new young-adult adventure series featuring prehistoric creatures in a modern setting.

While still in high school, Burt began his writing career editing his father's popular identification guides, Edible and Poisonous Plants of the Western/Eastern States. As an Assistant Professor in the Special Education Department at Western Oregon University, he served as a successful grant-writer and program coordinator.

Burt holds a B.S. in English from Lewis and Clark College and an M.S. from Western Oregon University in Deaf Education. In addition to writing novels, he works as an RID-certified American Sign Language interpreter with over thirty years' experience. His interests include reading, foreign languages and mycology. He is married with two grown children.

To read more about William “Bill” Burt or to order any of the books in his King of Trees series, visit his website and/or friend him on FaceBook!

Torsils in Time
William D Burt

Picture Book II in the "King of the Trees" fantasy series by William D. Burt.
WINEPRESS PUBLISHING: JUNE, 2001. (Softcover; 288 pages. Illustrated by Terri L. Lahr and Rebecca J. Burt.) Includes glossary and pronunciation guide at the back for easier reading and for reading aloud.

In this sequel to The King of the Trees, King Rolin and Queen Marlis are enjoying a carefree autumn picnic when they are trapped between worlds. Too late they learn the connections among a silver starglass, a handful of black pearls and five ravens. Cut off from friends, family and each other by a mysterious malady, they learn to survive in a savage land where unwary travelers fall prey to strange and terrifying creatures. To save Lucambra and many other worlds from a devouring darkness, they must join forces with some unlikely allies. Only in losing all they have ever known and loved do they discover the faithfulness of Gaelathane.

Ideal for ages eight and older, Torsils in Time is an inspirational fantasy tale filled with adventure, riddles and mystery.

Purchase Links: 
Torsils in Time -Softcover, Autographed 
Torsils in Time -Kindle Format 
Torsils in Time -Epub Format (Nook, etc.)

About Mary Nichelson:

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine. 
Other author inteviews featured in the November issue of TWJM: Karen Kilby, Liz Curtis Higgs, and Tim Redmond.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Tim Redmond Interview (with Mary Nichelson)

Tim Redmond is a successful speaker, coach and author whose name alone is synonymous with ideals such as power, growth, innovation and wealth. That was not accomplished through hard work alone, though.  “(He) grew a leading high-tech company from 2 employees to over 450, and generated more than $120 million dollars in pre-tax profits. After the sale of the business to a Fortune 1000 company, Redmond founded Redmond Growth and dedicated his life to helping people discover their God-given path to personal purpose, passion and meaning in life.”  

His program works not only because of his strong business leadership skills, but by incorporating faith-based guidelines as well. It takes the foundation of education, knowledge, and yes, hard work to a new level. Or could a strong foundation in God-given truths alone insure success?  It all depends on how you define success-especially as it relates to wealth.

MN-You have been a leadership coach for over 25 years within churches, businesses and government venues. With so many coaches now available, what is your niche that has kept you in such demand all of these years?

TR-Though coaching is highly competitive with scores of people pouring into this profession every year, it is also highly relational. Success hinges on the ability to connect with the heart and mind of the organization and individuals you are helping. That has been my focus and has allowed me to enjoy a level of success in the business coaching arena (helping leaders of all kinds of organizations create personal and organizational success). When I can connect deeply with my clients and unleash their God-given creativity and confidence resident within them, positive change begins to happen.

Please note in the first 18 years, I coached leaders within the organization I worked and mentored selected leaders (I live to mentor and be mentored!). This provided me with a solid foundation of practical and extensive experience with which to build my current coaching business/ministry.

MN-Congratulations on the release of your new book, The Power to Create. Critics may say that you promise too much according to the wording on the back cover as it guarantees that your book is "a revolutionary way to redefine wealth, creativity, and your amazing purpose." However, unlike just another get rich quick book, you really do delve into truth regarding wealth. You say that from God's perspective, "there is much more to wealth than just obtaining possessions and pursuing money. Money is a result; it should never be our pursuit." Can you elaborate on that affirmation?

TR-“Guarantees” sounds like too strong of a word but that line on the back cover of the book was worded to grab the attention of the reader and reflect the heart and intent of the book. In light of the manipulation, wickedness and abuse commonly connected with “wealth,” it is a radioactive, dangerous word to many Christians. Yet if Deuteronomy 8:18 NIV (But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth…) applies in any way to us today, we need to look at “wealth” from a different, more positive perspective.

Whatever one pursues, she serves it in some way. I saw in the name of need, greed, and even what some felt was a divine destiny, people justifying their pursuit of more money and possessions. Where is God and our intimate relationship with Him in all of this? Shouldn’t our primary pursuit be God and his kingdom? What did God have in mind when he gave us the power to create wealth? Instead of allowing the world and its tendency towards corruption to define wealth, what if we could redefine wealth from a Biblical perspective? Answering these questions is the focus of the book.

MN-If no other statement in your book qualifies you as a successful leader, this will become your calling card. "Relationships are God's obsession."  Only someone that sees the value of money-or lack of-can make such a claim. The most valuable possession a leader has is the group of people working with him, but there are some leaders who refuse to see this particular worth in their employees, or church congregation, or civic group. They will not work at making that connection because they do not see the association between the two. Where is the starting point, the launching pad, for someone who might not understand this concept?

TR-I am so glad this line stood out to you and like you naming it my calling card! Nurturing life-giving relationships IS the key to success in any endeavor. God’s kingdom is built on his nature of love and abundance (notice in the Gospels how Jesus responded to needs with abundance). God’s nature in us releases us to be other-centered rather than self-centered. It is the only way we can enjoy life in a deep and lasting way.

It is through the collaboration and cooperation of people that value is created (which is the heart of any business). Whatever you appreciate, appreciates, especially people.

For those who look at people (especially their employees) at objects to buy, use, and throw away, they are probably missing the peace, and joy commonly associated with success. I have observed with these people, the productivity, excellence and loyalty of their organization are shallow at best. I would ask them to honestly evaluate their inside and outside world. Are they enjoying life and their work? Are they connected with people they work with or do they feel isolated and empty? Is their work and organization a reflection and avenue to express their God-given purpose? Sometimes the pain of the present acts as a friend who nudges (or shoves!) us to see what is working and what isn’t and make changes as needed.

MN-Hypothetically speaking, someone walks up to you in the grocery store and states, "Help me identify my purpose because I don't know what I am here for." What do you tell them?

TR-Most people think of purpose as a “what” and a “where.” They feel pressured to have to know what their exact vocation and where they are going to do it. Some have known exactly what and where of their purpose since the seventh grade. The rest of us either celebrate or are jealous of them while condemning ourselves for not having a clue of our “what” and “where.”

What if purpose had more to do with how and for whom we worked? The advice I would give to my fellow shopper is to bloom where you are planted. Even if you are unclear about your future and your purpose-related desires, be present where you are. Define your purpose in 3 simple words, “to help others” and get busy doing so!

Do your work heartily (how) as unto the Lord (for whom). Let your work be an expression of your purpose right now. Pour all of your heart into your current assignment instead of half-heartedly working while wondering where you’d rather be. Doors of opportunity and promotion usually follow someone who is fully engaged.

As your desires of the “what” and “where” become clearer, continue to fully engage in your current work while taking some of your free time to begin learning and moving in the direction of your desires. With your God-given power to create (e.g., creating value to serve others) and excellent work habits you have developed where you currently are, you will be in a much better position to move on to your next assignment.

MN-I am a perfectionist and appreciated the section on procrastination due to perfectionism. It's hard to jump right in sometimes when the weight of your decision affects several people; for some leaders, thousands of employees. What is the secret to making an informed decision on the spot when it's your nature to think-or over think-the situation?

TR-Decision making can be daunting even for the best of leaders. To help make better decisions and enjoy the process of doing so, I recommend leaders create a system for making decisions. Gather the facts and perspectives from various people. Evaluate their recommendations. Take time to pray about and weigh the options. Create a multitude of counselors including people not involved or benefitting from the decision to give you feedback. Make the decision and evaluate the results (not honestly evaluating the results is one of the most common mistakes leaders make). Make adjustments as needed.

Sometimes, decisions are demanding a response “right now” and don’t give you the time to go through your decision-making system.

Realize decision making is a process. In most cases, it is not final but can be adjusted, if needed, along the way. Decision making gets stalled when we equate decision making to failure “if we don’t the perfect decision.” Perfect is an illusion that generates paralyzing fear and distracts us from the process. Decision-making is like a muscle you develop (and don’t develop if you avoid making decisions). Start conditioning your decision-making muscles out by celebrating progress rather than demanding perfection.

MN-What would be your recommendation for someone needing to get out of debt?

TR-Read Chapter 14 – Start Creating Now, in the Power to Create book; especially Principle #7 that outlines how and why to get out of debt. It begins with a strong, clearly defined and emotionally held “why” you want to get and stay out of debt and setting up a system that you and your spouse (or an accountability partner) can know if you are on or off course. 

MN-Let's talk politics for a moment. Whether President Obama assumes the position for another four years, or Republican nominee Mitt Romney is elected into office for his first term, I am sure you would have at least one nugget of leadership advice you could offer either candidate for their impending four year term.

TR-Realize that each and every person you are entrusted to lead has a God-given power to create that needs to be encouraged, developed and activated. Use this premise as a guideline in making decisions, establishing policies, and creating programs, especially when helping those in the harshest conditions. Countless studies have shown that unless people get involved in playing an active role in creating their solution, the desired results don’t last or are never achieved.

MN-I would love to see a whole library of books written by you on the topic of leadership. Are you just beginning your writing career, or will Power To Create be a stand alone?

TR-Thank you, Mary! I have written a few books already (Discovering Your Greatness and compiled theWords of Promise for Men & Words of Promise for Leaders). I also wrote the Power to Create Interactive Workbook and Journal along with the DVD/CD sessions for the Power to Create Curriculum (available here at my website – At this time, I am in the beginning stages of writing books related to the Power to Create and the Power to Lead. I am excited about the current book I am writing which will be my foundational book regarding leadership.

Author Bio-Using over 25 years of experience in growing multi-million dollar organizations, coaching leaders, and intensely studying leadership, business, and the wealth creation process, Tim Redmond brings powerful, positive change to individuals and organizations through his innovative, insightful and entertaining training approach. He earned his CPA while working at PriceWaterhouseCoopers before joining Tax and Accounting Software Corporation and Intuit, where he served for over 15 years.

A gifted author and speaker, Tim has published a multi-media curriculum, numerous books and training program designed to strengthen and expand the leadership and wealth creation capacities of leaders and teams worldwide.

Tim with his wife Sandy, founded Redmond Growth Initiatives to focus on coaching leaders to significantly grow their organizations and fulfill their amazing purpose without sacrificing relationships that matter most to them. Tim and Sandy also operate the Redmond Leadership Institute (RLI), the NGO/non-profit aspect of their work which is focused on reaching, restoring and releasing leaders in via seminars, conferences, and providing training materials in the US and overseas; particularly in developing nations with huge potential.

Tim and Sandy are raising 4 "leaders in training" - Matthew, Robert, Joshua, and Andrea.

For more information, please visit Tim's Website, the books website or connect with Tim on FaceBook!

About Mary Nichelson:

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine
Author interviews also featured in the November issue: William Burt, Karen Kilby, and Liz Curtis  Higgs.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Liz Curtis Higgs Interview (with Mary Nichelson)

What would an author who has penned thirty books with over three million in circulation desire for her readers? For Liz Curtiss Higgs, that is an easy question to answer. “I confess I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with Scotland, having traveled there fifteen times, often for several weeks at a go. If time and money were in limitless supply, I’d whisk (the reader) away for a fortnight and escort you around bonny Scotland in person.” When pressed on why Scotland of all places, she simply states, “Perhaps because when I’m there, I have a sense of rightness, of completion, of belonging.”

That same passion carries over into her writing where many of her fans would acknowledge that her novels have had that impact on them. There is a strong connection with the fragility of humanity and the complications of the emotions involved throughout her books. Life has a sense of completion, whether a happy or sad ending, when the reader finishes each book.

Not surprisingly, her newest release is no exception. A Wreath of Snow has arrived just in time for Christmas and Liz Curtis Higgs was excited to share about it-explaining among other things why she chose to briefly step away from her favored Scotland as a backdrop and instead, went Victorian.

MN-With over 30 books written, it would seem that you would run out of ideas for novels by now.  Where do your ideas come from for new writing projects?

LCH- Many things press on my heart, but the fear of running out of story ideas isn’t one of them! This snippet of poetry says it all:

O Reader! had you in your mind, Such stores as silent thought can bring,
O gentle Reader! you would find, A tale in everything. —William Wordsworth

“Everything” is right. It might be a photograph in a history book, a brief mention in a documentary, a side comment by a lecturer, even a word in the dictionary that prompts me to dig deeper. Before long, scenes begin to take shape in my mind, dialogue fills the air, and I’m off on another adventure. Many story ideas never travel beyond that first spark, but the ones that continue to prod my imagination are the ones that eventually end up in print.

MN- I have read several of your books and one common consistency in all of them is that you have no problem forming believable characters. I think about them long after I finish reading the book. Does that come easy for you; is it as strong of a writing trait as it appears?

LCH- I’m so grateful my characters continue to live in your heart, because they certainly do the same for me! Even years after meeting them on the page, I find myself thinking about them, wondering how they are doing, and in some cases, wishing I might have written a happier ending for them. Even if a story closes on a redemptive note, a few characters are inevitably lost along the way. Those are the ones I miss the most.

For me, I don’t so much create my characters as discover them. I often compare it to boarding a cruise ship. You meet people one at a time, see them interact in different situations, day in and day out, until you know them quite well and are reluctant to say farewell when you reach the final dock.

I often completely rewrite the opening pages of a manuscript after I’m well into the story and know the characters better. Names may change, physical descriptions may be altered, back story may move in new directions, until the moment comes when the characters say, “Enough! On with the story.”

MN- Let's talk about your most recent novella. You're well known for your Scottish historical novels, yet the Victorian era in A Wreath of Snow is positively modern compared to your previous books. Why did you choose this time period?

LCH- It all started with an enormous resource book—World Railways of the Nineteenth Century. Turning those pages, looking at all those pen-and-ink drawings, I began envisioning a novella set on a train. Since the Victorians loved Christmas, that season of the year was a natural fit. Then it started snowing—at least, in my imagination!—Margaret Campbell walked onto the set, and A Wreath of Snow was born.

As it happens, I actually took the train from Edinburgh to Stirling one wintry day in December 1998, so I had that experience to draw from. I also spent a week in Stirling when I began writing the story and another week when I was finishing it, so the railway station, the winding streets, the Victorian neighborhood, the Wallace Monument, and the Ochil Hills were all firmly etched in my heart.

MN- Francine Rivers, author of Redeeming Love endorsed A Wreath of Snow by saying it is a "wonderful story of redemption and restoration." Why did you choose those themes to write about in a Christmas themed novella?

LCH- Sadly, Christmas is not always merry. For those who are estranged from their families or from the Lord, it can be a very difficult time indeed. I wanted to explore that aspect of Christmastime through the eyes of two people who are filled with regret. I loved watching them work through their issues, past and present, even as they slowly move toward each other and toward a more hope-filled future.

The challenge as a writer is to add some surprises and turns along the way, so the journey is interesting and not predictable. This is, after all, a Christmas novella, so a redemptive ending is to be expected. The interesting bit is how we get there. One of the secondary characters in A Wreath of Snow became much more central to the story than I’d originally planned. What happens to him may be quite a surprise for readers. It certainly was for me!

MN- I love the forgiveness aspect in the story. To me, that is what Christ's birth embraces. With Christmas being so commercialized, what are some practical ways we can reintroduce the true meaning of the holiday season while remaining relevant to our generation?

LCH- Here’s the good news: the story of Jesus’ birth truly is relevant to every generation. If we can focus on that babe in a manger, rather than on the expensive gifts the magi brought, I think we’ll come closer to the true meaning of Christmas and the greatest gift of all: God’s grace. To that end, I’m trying to take our family’s shopping and gift-giving efforts down a notch each year, focusing instead on being together and on shared experiences.

MN- The holiday season means different things to different people. What does Christmas look like at your house?

LCH- Our traditions are simple, even silly, but we love them. Trimming the tree is a family affair, with a particular holiday CD to put us in the mood, chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, and our grown daughter running through the house with the tree skirt tied around her neck like a caped superhero—something she’s done since she was three.

Certain holiday items are placed around our old Kentucky home—a Christmas quilt here, a grouping of candles there. I also display a dozen Christmas novellas I enjoy reading each year. What fun to add A Wreath of Snow this season!

None of us are any good at wrapping gifts, so the same decorative bags and tissue paper are recycled year after year. Christmas morning begins with stockings, then breakfast, then gifts are opened one at a time, amid much laughing and hugging. Christmas dinner comes next, with a traditional Kentucky menu: honey ham, corn pudding, green beans, flaky biscuits, cooked apples, and an assortment of pies for dessert.

By evening the house is quiet again and we’re curled up on the couch, grateful not for our gifts, but for one another, and for the One whose birth changed everything.

MN- As you look back over the year 2012, what is one way Liz Curtis Higgs the author has changed?

LCH- I’m editing myself more. Holding my tongue when I might be tempted to gossip or say something unnecessary or unkind. Typing words in an email, then taking them out, rather than risking offense. It’s not only what we do and say that shows the world what a follower of Christ looks like; it’s also what we DON’T do and say. This year especially I’ve been asking the Lord to still my mouth, stay my hand, keep me humble, make me outward focused. To any extent that I’ve managed that, it’s by God’s grace and mercy alone.

MN- Your vision for 2013 is to......

LCH- Choose wisely and well, seeking God’s direction at every turn. There are only so many hours in the day. I’d like every one to count for his Kingdom, even in small and seemingly insignificant ways. It truly all matters to God!

Author Bio- Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of thirty books—fiction, nonfiction, and children's—with more than three million copies in print. Her six Scottish historical novels have won the hearts of readers and reviewers around the globe. Whence Came a Prince received a Christy Award for Best Historical Novel. Here Burns My Candle won theRomantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Inspirational Romance, and Mine Is the Night was a New York Times bestseller. Her latest release is A Wreath of Snow: A Victorian Christmas Novella.

Liz has also presented more than 1,700 inspirational programs for audiences in all fifty United States and fourteen foreign countries, She is happily married to Bill Higgs, who serves as Director of Operations for her speaking and writing office, and they are the relieved parents of two college grads. When she’s not traveling to Scotland for research, Liz can be found curled up with a good book in their old Kentucky home, a nineteenth-century farmhouse near Louisville.

You can connect with author Liz Curtis Higgs on her website, on Facebook, on Twitter @MyScottishHeart or on Pinterest


About Mary Nichelson:

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine.

Interviews with Tim Redmond, William Burt, and Karen Kilby are also featured in the November issue TWJM.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Don Furr Interview (with Mary Nichelson)

Picture It’s been almost a year since we interviewed Don Furr, author of Quest for the Nail Prints. At the time of the interview, he was involved in his media tour for the book and busy with other aspects of promoting it. 

Now, many months later, I wanted to catch up with him and ask how the tour went and what his writing agenda involved. As always, Furr was gracious enough to take time from his busy schedule to discuss his many projects in the works.

MN- The last time we spoke, Quest For The Nail Prints had just been released. How did your book tour, interview circuit and book signings go?

DF- The book tour went very well. Quest has been very well received nationwide and we have sold between 4000 - 5000 copies. That seems to fair well considering I am unknown.

MN- Was there a favorite aspect as it related to promoting Quest that you really enjoyed?

DF- I just enjoyed meeting people all over the country... from several cities in Florida, to Atlanta Georgia, Nashville and Memphis Tennessee to Las Vegas, everyone was very gracious to me and the book was very well received. And the reviewers were so kind with their words. It has truly been an experience I'll not soon forget.

MN- One reviewer wrote, Those that are not "church-types" will enjoy the action and adventure aspect of it.”That would have to make you feel successful as an author; after all, isn’t the goal to write a book that resonates with everyone?

DF- Absolutely. I wanted the book to be appealing to everyone and it seems to have bridged the Christian/secular gap.

MN- I’m curious at to what the reaction has been to your cross themed display.

DF- I'm glad to say that the cross won a gold advertising award with the Memphis Advertising Federation here in February along with the single book stand.

MN- I see you are still working on your version of Back to the Future’s DeLorean. This is more than just a passing hobby, I presume?

DF- Yes it's just a hobby, but it keeps my mind spinning regarding time travel. I was also able to attend a Back to the Future show with my car in Orlando where I met several cast members from the movie, most notably Claudia Wells, who played Marty McFly's girlfriend in the first movie. She is a believer and is reading Quest for a review.

MN- When can readers and fans expect to see the sequel to Quest in print?

DF- Peter's Quest is coming along nicely. I hope to finish it sometime late next year.

You can order your copy of Quest For The Nail Prints at the book's website.

You can stay in touch with author Don Furr on Facebook and his book page

Other interviews featured in the October issue of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine: Tracy Krauss, Gloria Gaither, and Wallace Henley.

About Mary Nichelson:

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wallace Henley Interview (with Mary Nichelson)

Interview with Wallace Henley

Picture Change.  People sense this worldwide event on the threshold that guarantees universal implications far greater than one could ever predicted. With the assurance that something is developing, yet not knowing what it is or how bad it could be, humanity is left with one option, fear. Fear, however, is not synonymous with stability or being an anchor, and that is what author Wallace Henley says we must be during this time of uncertainty. How to get from being fearful to taking control, though, is going from one extreme to the other but not impossible. In his newest book Globequake, Henley reveals the good news that while experiencing uncertainties, we do have one certainty in God. Henley graciously talks absolute truths, ‘spheres’ and hope during our interview, expanding on his wealth of knowledge and demonstrating why this pastor and writer exemplifies true leadership within his church congregation and reading audience.

MN- You went from reporting violence during the Civil Rights movement to working as an aid in the White House , back to journalism and then into ministry proving that life can indeed take us down many different paths. What has been your foundational belief or belief system that has remained constant in spite of your many career changes?

WH- The constant in my life is the Kingdom of God. A person in the political sphere once asked me why I was working there if I am an ordained minister. "I work for the Kingdom of God, and this just happens to be my current assignment." My core calling is to the Church, but all the spheres of our engagement are arenas of God's Kingdom advance.

MN- There are two widely opposing theories regarding life in 2012; we are living in the most chaotic time in history and we are living in the most blessed time in history. I believe both statements are relevant and accurate. Your thoughts?

WH- I agree that both statements are true. I write in Globequake that though we are living in a time of great upheaval, this is a "golden age" for the church. The 1st century Church in Rome was under immense stress, but God used her to impact the entire Roman Empire and change the course of history. Our testimony is established most clearly in the hard times. Isaiah says "the people who walk in DARKNESS have seen a great light." I think you could say, the deeper the darkness, the brighter the light!

MN- In your latest book, you address the cultural Globequake we are currently living in. Explain what exactly the Globequake is.

WH- By 'Globequake' I mean that the changes sweeping down on us are worldwide, not merely local or regional, as in an 'earthquake.' We are living through spiritual, political, economic, family, educational tectonic shifts, redefining the face of the world. Except rather than moving at inches a century as the literal tectonic shifts did, these are moving at lightspeed, and we are try to build lives, churches, families, schools, governing institutions, and businesses on top while everything changes as fast as we think we get it nailed down.

MN- I was impressed with the broad spectrum of information you write on. You explore most social aspects of life-including family, church, government and education-and offer insight on determining and balancing troubled mindsets within each aspect. These are the general areas most would identify as the most stressful and influential, and I am presuming that is why you decided to tackle these key areas?

WH- I write about those 'spheres' (a term from 2 Corinthians 10) because they are the fundamental institutions of society, and the realms of our daily engagements. These are also the zones of Kingdom advance, meaning they are missionary fields as much as geographical points on the planet.

MN- In Globequake, you write frequently on absolute truths. Face it. The greatest challenge for a believer is remaining faithful to absolute truths while being influenced by cultural trends. What is the secret?

WH- The key is not to let style drive theology. Our church has about 15 different worship services each weekend, some of the traditional, but some very contemporary. However, that style does not set our theology, but we bring the ancient truth of God's Word into contact with the culture, in the language of the culture. One must do like Daniel (Daniel 1:8) and set oneself in concrete that he or she will not be 'defiled' by the spirit of the age.

MN- In your opinion, what do people fear most; (a) change or (b) the uncertainty of change, not change itself?

WH- In our day, change is addictive because we all live through it and deal with it constantly. The uncertainty is the problem. In Globequake I've tried to show where the certainty is midst it all--in the Kingdom of God as a theological system (orthodoxy) and the Kingdom of God as a functional system (orthopraxy).

MN- Speaking of fear, one of the reasons you wrote Globequake was to educate the reader on “how to remain fearless in an increasingly fearful world”. With one in four now reporting anxiety, one in seventy-five being diagnosed with a panic disorder, and anxiety disorders being credited as being the most common mental illness in the US affecting over 40 million, I’d say you wrote to a much needed segment of the population. In what ways do you think Globequake will have a positive effect on those suffering from fear and anxiety due to world events?

WH- If people read Globequake they will see that God is in charge of history (a whole chapter on 'time' deals with this), that history is the arena for the outworking of God's overarching plan, that the unshakeable Kingdom of God is the theme of history, and that even in the midst of the chaos there is order and peace. As people receive the Holy Spirit He brings the manifestation of that peace, and as people grow as disciples, developing a biblical worldview, they think about the world differently, understanding Who is in charge.

MN- I see that you are a pastor of a church that currently mentors 60,000+ members. That must be quite challenging! What is the greatest leadership objective you encounter as a role model to such a large congregation?

WH- My aim always before these thousands of people, and others I touch, beginning with my family, is to model a life anchored to the unshakeable Kingdom midst the world's turbulence. That's why I write transparently about the huge changes and turbulence I've lived through personally in 71 years on earth. -

Author Bio- Born just two days prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, author Wallace Henley has spent most of his life learning to deal with a world in crisis. Born to a couple who had survived the Great Depression and were understandably alarmed when their nation was cast into a world war only days after their first son’s birth, Henley learned at an early age that stability could not be found in an unstable world.

By the time Henley reached high school the threat of communism was rampant and the constant threat of a nuclear war made him wonder if his generation might not be the world’s last. A few years later, he was once again called to bear witness to the world in crisis mode when, as a young reporter in Birmingham, Alabama, he was assigned the violence and unrest brought on by the Civil Rights movement. And a few years after that, while working as an aide in the White House, he witnessed the dissolution of the troubled Nixon administration. Returning to journalism following Nixon’s departure from the White House, Henley soon began to feel drawn to the ministry – a career choice he’d once sworn to never make – and within a few months became pastor of his first church.

In the time since, he has traveled the world as a speaker and writer, authored more than a dozen books, served as a Congressional chief of staff and as a leadership consultant and worked in over 20 countries, all the while gaining a keener grasp of scripture and a deeper understanding of human nature.

Today he serves as pastor in the 60,000 member Second Baptist Church of Houston, led by Ed Young and is a columnist for Christian Post. He and his wife of over 50 years, Irene, live in the Houston area. The couple have a grown son and daughter and when not working or traveling, enjoy spending time with their grandchildren.

You can read more from Henley through his blog or connect with him on Face Book!

Order your copy of Globequake through Amazon and Christian  
Also available in Kindle and Audio!

Interviews also featured in TWJM's October issue: Don Furr, Tracy Krauss, and Gloria Gaither
About Mary Nichelson:

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine

Friday, October 19, 2012

Gloria Gaither Interview (with Mary Nichelson)

Picture For years, Bill and Gloria Gaither have reached millions of people through their music. Until now, viewers and listeners have been privy only to snippets of their message through their music and television show. With the release of The Gaither Homecoming Bible around the corner, readers can have a Bible and Gaither scrapbook all in one. It is packed cover to cover with features such as “inspirational and insightful Scripture devotions by the Gaithers and other favorite Homecoming artists; articles on beloved hymns, gospel songs, and Gaither classics and the inspiration behind them; original poetry by Gloria Gaither to enlighten and inspire; and quotes by greats of the faith, reflecting on the importance of music in the life of believers.” And of course, it is surrounded by the gospel in New King James Version (NKJV) format, the same good news that has motivated the Gaithers throughout their career.

With multiple deadlines and tasks looming, Gloria Gaither was still able to take a few moments to speak with me regarding the message within The Gaither Homecoming Bible.

MN- With so many Bibles on the market, what makes the Gaither Homecoming Bible unique?

GG-Parents today are concerned that their children (including adult children) find that the Bible applies to their real lives, every day.  The contributions of the Homecoming Artists reflect in very personal stories how the Word of God speaks to them in the daily of their lives.  Many of these contributors are young families who, though they have a very public life as singers and recording artists, also work to keep their marriages and families in tact and do it on the road on week-ends and also maintain homes during the first part of the week.  This Bible is not a theological commentary; it is a practical interfacing of life with the Word.  We find, too, that parents of all ages (including grandparents) are concerned that their children may not be learning the great common literature of the faith, including the great content-hymns and gospel songs that have rescued generations of believers when life hands them a hard blow or when they need words to express their personal history with God.  This Bible uniquely includes at the site of the text that inspired them, many of these great songs and the stories behind them. The middle generation, particularly, will want to give this treasure of music literature to their children and their families, and also find it a great way to honor and thank older parents who taught them these songs and a love for the Bible.

MN- There are 20 original poems included in the Bible that were written by you. Do you have a favorite and can you tell our readers the story behind this particular poem?

GG-I think my favorite would be "The White Stone," a poem that is a written from the point of view of Mary Magdalene fusing the symbol of the stone rolled away from the grave of the Lord so white with light that Mary couldn't look at it with the symbol found in Revelation 2:17 of the white stone that will ultimately reveal our true identity given us by God himself. 

MN- Readers will love that some of the Gaither friends have contributed by writing articles based on personal experience. Do you believe this will connect the reader with these artists on a whole new level besides just a musical one?

GG-Yes, all too often it seems that audiences view performers and communicators as somehow distant from them and the everyday struggles and simple joys and accomplishments of life.  Sometimes up-front people themselves begin to believe their own press releases.  But there is nothing like the Word of God to reduce or elevate us to our true selves and make level the ground at the foot of the cross.  Bill and I  travel with these artists and on most days we all know that we are just dust with the wonder of having had the breath of God breathed into us.  I think when readers see what these artists have written, they will know that they are amazingly transparent (as I know them to be), hungry for God, and open to growth on a daily basis.

MN- Writing is your life; I mean, whether penning songs or articles, devotionals or poems, you have a diverse gift of communication. At what point did you realize that you had been gifted with writing that connected with others, and at what point did you realize that you loved to write?

GG-I grew up in a home filled with ideas.  My mother was a painter, a poet, a writer, and a speaker.  My father was a pastor with a hunger to connect the dots in Bible and then to connect those discoveries to practical living.  I began writing before high school, wrote my own speeches (oratory) for speech contests, and wrote poetry for my own pleasure and, sometimes, catharsis.  In college I wrote academic papers on philosophy, literature, sociology, etc., which I loved doing, but also wrote for the pure joy of playing with words.  In graduate school I became enamored with the works of John Steinbeck and began writing professional papers for Steinbeck publications and for presentation at Steinbeck conferences.  But always I wrote--in journals, for gifts, for fun.  When I met Bill and fell in love, I found he was writing some songs.  I began giving him suggestions on his lyrics, but gradually, we sort of worked our way into a system that worked for us:  we both got ideas from our lives and surroundings, then he would come up with a musical setting that seemed to fit that idea.  Once that was done, I usually wrote the verses and finished whatever holes were left in the chorus (or theme refrain).  I love writing both songs and books for children, maybe because I am still one myself.  I love writing deep philosophical or theological pieces that, as Bill says, get the idea "on the bottom shelf" where ideas have to interface with the road of life.  I guess there is no genre of writing I don't enjoy, though I have never written long fiction.  I hope to try that, too, one day.

MN- Throughout The Gaither Homecoming Bible you write on the love of music, and in one passage, specifically on the difference between a gospel song and a hymn. The article states, ‘In general, we could think of hymns as those songs of praise and worship we send up to God identifying for all to hear His attributes and thanking Him for His amazing intervention in our world and in our lives.... The other kind of song that we need to sing together is the gospel song....these songs are horizontal, by that I mean that they are the word of our testimony.’ Why is it important to sing both types of song as opposed to just one style?

GG- Suffice it to say that if I read the Word of God correctly, our worship of God should be a balance of vertical (songs, devotion, prayer) that expresses our awareness of who God is and the attributes of his character as  well as an awareness of who we are (and are not).  This includes confession, thanksgiving and honesty about what we need that only God can provide. The second part of worship is a personal testimony to each other of how we know who God is, how we came to have a relationship with him, and, because of that relationship, how, then, should we live.  If our praise is just words and we leave those around us still hungry, without shelter, without clothes, without love and compassion  then our "praise" is worthless.  So in our music, we need a even balance between hymns and songs of praise (the vertical part of our experience and history with God) and gospel songs (songs of personal testimony and commitment to make a difference with our faith in our world.

MN- The story behind the writing of John Newton's Amazing Grace is common knowledge. What song of yours would you like people to be singing 100 years from now?

GG-Only the people who find our songs true in their own personal experience over time and across changing fads of style can choose the songs that will be sung 100 years  from now.  I hope a song like "Because He Lives" might be one of them, because the resurrection (both in history and in our own lives) is so central to our faith.  A living  God who chose to come and walk with us here on this earth and give us an eternal perspective in the "regular" of  our days is the tenet of our faith that changes our lives and how we live them.

MN- I love the fact that you and Bill (Gaither) have not only invested in artists, but generally speaking, in people themselves. We need more of that in a world that seems to be tearing apart at the seams. What are some ways we can connect with others through day to day interactions?

GG-We have a wise friend who says she asks God when she meets people to show her what He had in mind for them from the beginning of time and then to give her the  wisdom and grace to act toward them as if that had already been accomplished.  I love that.  I think the "us--them" mentality is the farthest thing from how Jesus would have  us think.  If we could only see what God had in mind for others and for ourselves, then partner with God to help in every way we can to make that a reality, the world would be a different place.

MN- If you could sum up your purpose in getting the Gaither Homecoming Bible in the hands of readers in one sentence, what would it be?

GG-The Word of God is a living thing, not a club to enforce our point of view, but a living, breathing, trans-formative thing to give us life as it was intended to be lived; if we just ingest it, over time, we will be different and see others differently.  Our purpose is to love people into actually letting the tire of their lives meet the pavement of God's Word.

Author Bio-Bill & Gloria Gaither’s new project that is being published by Thomas Nelson releases Oct. 9, 2012. This wonderful couple met in college, married, started their music career, had babies, and are still going strong with their marriage and career. The Gaither Homecoming Bible is a legacy project for the beloved couple, who have had a tremendous impact on people around the world through multiple media projects. Throughout their career, the Gaithers have successfully accomplished the following: Sold over 20-million video and audio units worldwide, 15 different TV networks carry Gaither programming reaching over 334-million household, Billboard magazine says, “Bill Gaither has done for Gospel music what MTV did rock.”, Bill Gaither has won 6 Grammys and 41 Gospel Music Awards with 127 videos certified by RIAA….9 multi-platinum, 56 platinum, 62, gold.

You can order your copy of The Gaither Homecoming Bible on their website.

Other interviews featured in October issue of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine: Wallace Henley, Don Furr, and Tracy Krauss.

About Mary Nichelson: 

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine.