Wednesday, July 25, 2012

William D Burt Interview with Mary Nichelson

William D. Burt is an author who understands what interest’s young readers. With the latest market of vampire books exploding, Christian readers are left with little on the shelves that provides competition. Burt knows the young mind needs inspiration and has figured out a way to provide it while remaining true to Godly standards. “What makes my storytelling style unique is that I scrupulously avoid the use of magic in my series. Instead, I introduce a God-figure who specializes in working miracles, especially those of the heart and soul. My characters actually pray for wisdom, guidance and divine assistance. By contrast, most modern fantasy authors create imaginary worlds and settings that are cosmologically humanistic. That is, there is no room for God unless it is a pagan god. Characters in these humanistic fantasies must rely upon their own wits and resources, sorcery, and/or their unique super-powers in order to resolve conflicts. My characters are at their best and strongest when they trust the God-figure to help them.”

Burt is the author of seven young adult/adult Christian fantasy novels that are part of the King of Trees series. Not only is he in touch with his audience but he is honest about what motivated him to begin writing, the writing journey itself, and the one thing that is most important to him regarding his readers.

MN-Tell me something about yourself.

WB- I spent most of my teenage years living in the Middle Earth-I’m an avid Tolkien and C.S. Lewis fan. While still in high school, I began my writing career editing my 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, I served as a successful grant writer and program coordinator.  I have also served as a short-term missionary with YWAM and Campus Crusade for Christ overseas, as a lay preacher and as a sign-language interpreter.

MN- The genre you mostly write in would be….

WB- Fantasy, because it offers limitless possibilities plot-wise. It gives me greater freedom to create alternate worlds, creatures and characters. However, I do adhere to consistent natural laws in my stories, enhancing the realism factor. I also am enjoying dabbling in Creation Science Fiction, which may seem like an oxymoron.

MN- You are referring to your current project?

WB- I’m working on the first book in a new series featuring Creation Science and crypto zoology.

MN- What was the inspiration for this series?

WB- J.R.R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis are the authors that have most deeply influenced me. However, the Author of the Bible has given me the greatest inspiration for writing.

MN- And God represents your passion for writing.

WB- Speaking the truth about God is my passion. That passion infuses whatever project I’m working on. I find that writing has become an integral part of my life, and I would feel lost without this activity.

MN- Your faith is important to you, isn’t it?

WB- I would not be writing if it were not for God’s intervention in my life. He literally saved me from dying of anorexia nervosa when I was in college and tasked me with writing for him. The King of the Trees is actually an extended, Biblically based allegory.

MN- What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

WB- Write from the heart and write what you know.

MN- What you know is fantasy fiction, and your heart?

WB- I feel it is extremely important to provide young people in particular with Christian alternatives to dark, soulless fantasy works currently in circulation. Through my books, I enjoy the privilege of connecting with readers whom I might not otherwise have met. The books provide us with some common ground for sharing and friendship.

KOT BOOKS—offering wholesome, faith-based fantasy for all ages.


SERIES TITLES: The King of the TreesTorsils in TimeThe Golden WoodThe GreenstonesThe DownsKyleah's MirrorsThe Birthing Tree.

KINDLE FORMAT LINKS: The King of the TreesTorsils in TimeThe Golden WoodThe GreenstonesThe DownsKyleah's MirrorsThe Birthing Tree

EPUB (NOOK, etc.) FORMAT LINKS: The King of the TreesTorsils in TimeThe Golden WoodThe GreenstonesThe DownsKyleah's MirrorsThe Birthing Tree


About Mary Nichelson:
More interviews in The Wordsmith Journal with David Vince, Rodney Hennigan and Bryan Liftin.

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

David Vince Interview with Mary Nichelson

All authors have an intent and purpose in writing their book. Perhaps the goal is to entertain, or motivate, encourage or inspire. For David Vince, author of the upcoming release When Life Throws You Curves, Keep Swinging, the objective is heartfelt and authentic. “I hope my story can encourage others who may be facing difficult or trying times in their lives so that they, too, can overcome adversity with proper attitude, faith and determination.” 

If anyone is qualified to write about proper attitude and determination, it is Vince. While a double amputee, he has enjoyed a successful coaching career for many sports, with both men and women. However, his life coaching skills are just as noteworthy and influential off the court and field as his leadership proficiency was during play. Vince writes from raw experience, prompting former Florida State football coach Bobby Bowden to speak for many readers when he says“Read this book and be better prepared for what you will face in life.”

MN- I noticed that over 40 copies of your book were purchased by the Moss Bluff Lions Club to be donated to all Veteran's Hospitals and outpatient clinics in Louisiana. Obviously they see a beneficial message in your book for Veterans. What do you hope these particular readers take away from your book?

DV- I wanted to reach out to Veterans because many of them have disabilities or loss of limbs. I have a heart for other amputees. I want my story to encourage others that even if a person is disabled or has experienced an amputation ,that they can still live an active happy life in spite of it. Never give up, don't listen to the naysayers. I was told I'd never walk without crutches.I put the crutches down at age 8. I was told I'd never have children. I have 3. I also included a patriotic chapter from my overseas travels in the book that Veterans especially can relate to. We take so much for granted in this country. Anybody who's ever traveled out of the country recognizes how blessed we are to live in the U.S. and will come back home with a better appreciation for the U.S.

MN- Let's talk about your book, When Life Throws You Curves, Keep Swinging. Coaching was a dream come true for you-something you feared a lack of experience and being a double amputee might prevent. Why did you continue to pursue it in spite of your limitations?

DV- As a child, I had parents and grandparents that never let me use the word "cant" until I had first "tried "and failed. They never let me use my handicap as an excuse. I accepted Christ at the age of 8 and discovered the scripture verse Philippians 4:13  " I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me". This gave me confidence and enabled me to have tremendous faith that I could accomplish my dreams with God's help. I also loved the Robert Frost poem I read in high school, The Road Less Traveled. Two roads diverged in the woods, and I took the road less traveled. Certainly becoming an athletic coach despite being a double amputee could be considered taking "the road less traveled"

MN- You remind me of the popular little person, Matt Roloff. You both have this huge appetite for life and bring dreams into reality although physical challenges could have limited you in many areas. What do you attribute your passion for life to?

DV- Proving naysayers wrong became my motivation. I developed a mantra "Vince's are Tough" . I have passed that mantra along to my children, especially my daughter Sierra who is also a double amputee.  It's like most children, as soon as you tell them don't or cant do something, that's the very thing they become determined to do. Early in my coaching career I came up a with a slogan :  3 D's  Desire, Determination, and Dedication Keys to Success. That aptly describes me. I had the passion or desire to succeed, the determination to keep trying even if I experienced failure along the way, and the dedication to read ,study, attend clinics, talk with championship coaches, and be a sponge to learn how to teach the game and overcome the fact that I'd never played the game by being a student of the game.

MN- In the book, you share a touching story involving your daughter, Sierra. When she was born prematurely and with deformities, you admit that you felt a tremendous amount of guilt and blamed yourself for her problems. You also admitted that your faith allowed you to see the situation in a larger context. Parental guilt can be paralyzing with or without faith, but at least a manageable, temporary paralysis when you practice a lifestyle of faith. What advice do you have for readers going through parental guilt-or any guilt for that matter-right now?

DV- Many times we are harder on ourselves than others are on us. Sierra has been so accepting. She is a Daddy's girl. I did experience guilt and anguish at first because I was told I carry a defective gene. We didn't know that until after she was born. After the initial guilt and shame, God showed me and I came to the realization that who better to be a role model for her than someone who has already experienced much of what she will be facing in life. None of us are perfect and we all make mistakes. God promises however, that He never gives us more than we can handle with His help. If we've made mistakes in the past, all we can do is ask God's forgiveness, and start anew today. We have to get rid of the emotional bitterness of the past and embrace the future beginning from this day forward.

MN- Your life verses are Romans 8:28 and Philippians 4:13. Why are they so important to you and how do they motivate you?

DV- Romans 8:28  "All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose". This verse eliminated my pity party. To me it doesn't mean that everything that happens to me in my life time is going to be good but it means that God can and will bring good out of bad situations. My family has experienced tremendous adversity  so I can personally testify that everything that happens to a person is not always good. Instead of griping and complaining about my circumstances, I took the approach of adapting to my situation and trusting God to bring about the good even when we don't understand why certain things are happening to us.

Philippians 4:13, as mentioned earlier, gave me the confidence and courage that with God's help I could be a successful coach. This verse along with strong encouragement from family emboldened me to "try". I also memorized the old quote," It's better to have tried and failed than to have never have tried at all"

MN- I love your closing chapter titled "Retirement Reflections". It was interesting to read your narrative on having a child later in life, leaving coaching to become a stay at home Dad, and the accompanying emotions. How has retirement been for you so far?

DV- I retired from coaching in 2010, 30 wins shy of 500 career wins.Attaining 500 wins was a very important goal that I personally wanted to achieve.Before I learned that my wife was pregnant with our third child, I had in my mind what I thought was a reasonable 5 year plan. I would retire in 5 years, ( It would have probably only taken two more years to reach the 500 win plateau), 5 more years would give me 34 years in the profession, and my uniform number I wore was 34, so that would be a Cinderella story. However, Scripture clearly tells us our ways are not always His ways. At age 50 and my wife at age 47, we had our third child. I guess God has a sense of humor. I decided to retire at the end of the 2010 season. At the time, I thought I was going to sorely miss coaching because I still had the passion to continue coaching. However, I was very surprised that I didn't miss it as much as I thought I would. I got involved with the Gideon International ministry which raises funds and distributes bibles in hotels, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and prisons. I also got involved with the local Lion's Club which aids handicapped children. Retirement also gave me the time to write the book.The purpose of the book is to inspire, encourage, and motivate others. These activities along with being a stay at home Dad with a two year old has taken the place and filled the void vacated by my coaching career. I'm also taking advantage of speaking engagements every chance I get to share more story

MN- We all have the potential to coach each other, in one sense of the word or another. How do we recognize those opportunities of influence and mentor others in a way that is helpful and not hurtful?

DV- Regardless of how tough we have it or how bad we believe our personal situation is, we don't have to look very far to find some one that is worse off than we are. It's important to keep the proper perspective and attitude. Nothing is too big for God to handle. Sometimes we lose sight of that. God has our back and because of that we can be a positive example to others just by how we handle our adversity. It's not what happens to us but how we react to it that's important. If we can respond in calm way demonstrating our faith and trust in a God that is in control even in the most trying and difficult circumstances, we can minister to others. It can be as simple as sharing your own personal circumstances and sharing how God was there the whole time and brought you thru it. Maybe it's making a visit, or a phone call, or sending a card. It's important for Christians to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.The Holy Spirit will guide you how to and when to minister to others and in what specific way.If we take advantage of our opportunities, not only are we being a blessing to others, but many times we too are blessed because we were sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit and made ourselves available.

Author Bio- David is the author of the forthcoming book,When Life Throws You Curves, Keep Swinging. He is an inspirational speaker with a truly unique story of overcoming hardship, living life to the fullest and motivating young men and women to achieve their full potential in sports and in life. As a baseball coach in the collegiate and high school ranks for 29 years, David earned 470 victories – despite the fact that he walks on two prosthetic legs and never played the game of baseball himself. David also coached as an assistant football coach for eight years, girls weightlifting for seven years, girls basketball three years and boys cross country for three years. He is a former head coach of Campbellsville University in Kentucky, where he led the team to a Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship in 1987 — the first baseball conference championship in the history of the school. David has had 10 district champion teams, eight district runner-up teams, two state final four teams, and one state runner-up team. He was a 10-time coach of the year recipient in various divisions. He has also coached baseball in Holland, Spain, Czech Republic, Sweden, Australia, Puerto Rico, Italy, Curacao, and Hawaii. David has worked as an associate scout for the Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians and Tampa Bay Rays.

David, who recently retired from coaching, lives in Louisiana with his wife, Susan, and their three children.

To learn more about author David Vince and to order your copy of his book, visit his website at

About Mary Nichelson:

Other interviews in The Wordsmith Journal this month: William D. Burt, Rodney Hennigan & Bryan Liftin.

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rodney Hennigan interview with Mary Nichelson

Rodney Hennigan’s sole mission in writing My Father’s Giftis simple;  join (him) in the outdoors and be prepared to embark on adventures of a lifetime. While it does sound less complex than pitching a tent, nothing is simplistic about this memoir. When Rodney invites the reader along for adventure, he extends a meaningful proposition to live vicariously through him as he parents with purpose and sets a humble example of making the most of each day. He never exactly went looking for the incidents he writes about, but neither does he shy away from what each experience taught him. “Consider these facts: The book is truthful, so the stories happened. Folks, you can’t make up the stories contained in the book. I know I couldn’t. So what I did write down was a simple chronological accounting of the events as they had occurred in real life, using my storytelling ability, in my own words, as if I was telling the story to my sons.”

I was honored to be able to discuss My Father’s Giftrecently with Rodney and learned that the author is as animated and passionate about life and fatherhood as is represented in his book.

MN- I was very impressed with the press kit that accompanied your book, My Father’s Gift: A Louisiana Outdoor Legacy. From an author’s perspective, what is harder, writing or marketing your book?

RH- Mary before I begin to answer the question I must also thank you for the kind words regarding the press kit and your generous support. You caught me by surprise when you used it for your Press Kit 101 example in your website, Mary’s World. (

You played a large part in its creation by asking if I had one available. You caught me unprepared; I did not. Your prompting resulted in the brain storming sessions involving me and Ms. Pat Fox and Mrs. Stephanie Young-Ryder. Pat and Stephanie are two very talented special ladies.  Pat was the first on board after reading the book.  She was the first to volunteer to offer her precious time, public skills, and personal finances free of encumbrances to help promote the sharing of the stories contained in the book with other readers. Stephanie followed her example soon after. I had no knowledge of this wonderful woman at all until I had the privilege to meet her for the first time during my first book signing/speaking event held in in Crossroad’s, a local Christian book/gift store. It was just before last Father’s Day and my first public speaking engagement. I didn’t think I was doing well, my nerves were shot, but she ended up purchasing two of the books to give as gifts for the upcoming day of celebration. It was quite an honor.  However, she read the book and soon contacted me afterward to say how much she loved it and wanted to volunteer her services/time to promote it and help share it with others, as Ms. Pat had. I am extremely grateful to all of these precious readers, but you must know there is something very important to me all must understand, it is a God thing with me, as Pat and Stephanie likes to often point out. So all of the honor, glory and praise I personally receive is passed onward to Him, for it is He I am most grateful for.

MN- You are a gifted storyteller as you create pictures in the mind of your readers. I am sure you have been told that a few times along the way, am I correct?

RH- Yes, you are. Readers with whom I have had the privilege to have personal contact with all tell me the same thing. Each inform me they had the experience of immediately becoming a part of the story in the book and joined in the grand adventures filled with the same emotions as I and three of my seven sons, literally. I was kind of glad to hear this, for it is true, ‘misery does enjoy company.”

Meanwhile, other readers (some considered professional) have often compared my writing skills to the likes of Mark Twain (Samuel Clemons) and Patrick F. McManus, perhaps the greatest outdoor writer of humor. Another reader, Roger, enlisted the aid of an editor to help me with the commas for free. The editor’s name is Chick. He said pages flowed like a river and recommended I read Ernest Hemingway. What all of this means or what it will lead to, I do not know. But I could never have imagined being mentioned in the same company of these great writers before, but nevertheless it is the judgment of readers. Two have sent me copies of Patrick’s work to read and make their case. Although I know it shouldn’t have, it surprised me to learn I had broken Patrick’s golden rule as for as the writing of humor is concerned. I learned this by reading one of the books sent to me by a reader, Mr. Booth. The title of this piece of fine literary work is: The Deer on a Bicycle: Excursions into the Writing of Humor. It’s a well written/informative how-to-write-humor book. I really enjoyed reading it and would recommend it to everyone, but I’ll quote what rule number one is for you. It is short and succinct and gets right to the point, something I cannot do. Rule number one is this,‘Never write about real life humor.’ I almost quit reading his book and quit writing after reading rule number one on page forty. Thank God, the readers have my back.

MN- I have always believed we need to be more vigilant about passing down stories to our children from our lives and even our parent’s generation. I love to see that you have capitalized on this concept as well. How can parents who are not artistic or creative enough to pen a book do so?

RH- Thank you for asking this question Mary. It is a good one and I couldn’t agree with you more. I believe it to be everyone’s duty to bear witness to help others learn. A direct result of my taking the giant leap of faith to write and publishMy Father’s Gift is that I continue to receive the privilege of meeting several good and interesting people. One of which is the Red Chief Bud Dark Cloud Grimes of the Cherokee American Indian people. Dark Cloud had read the book, contacted me and asked for an audience and I drove to meet with him. He placed me in front of him and peered deeply into my startled eyes. What he was doing was this; he penetrated my soul, to the core. And I knew it. He began speaking words and promptly sent me into shock. The words coming from his mouth and entering my stunned ears to be deciphered by a scrambled brain informed me that he, the Red Chief Bud Dark Cloud Grimes, by reading My Father’s Gift: A Louisiana Outdoor Legacy had determined I had, ‘Done a good thing for man and God. By writing down this true family story and having the heart to share it with the people, so they may be thus inspired to serve the Great Creator of all things good and thus, all people.”

He presented me with a beautiful feather to wear in my hair so, as he further stated, ‘so all of the Indian people will recognize you as a person who has done a good thing for man and God.’

The point is: This is a family historical event for the Hennigans and people of races other than American Indian. For a white man to be thus honored by a Red Chief in this way is a rarity. A Red Chief is the spiritual leader of his people. If this story is not told, the feather I wear today is simply that, a feather. Now however, it represents a great honor and an inspirational story with staying power. I can pass the feather to one of my children upon my demise and it will have meaning for him, perhaps all the boys will take turns wearing it and sharing the story of their dad and what he did. Who knows?

The beauty of this is you do not need to worry about being creative enough to pen a book or even worry over how to spell properly or in my case, those dad blasted commas. Just tell the stories and preserve the all-important family history, which is often the history of the world, for future generations. The roots become thicker and life through memory continues. Witness, witness, witness, I can’t say more.

MN- It is obvious in your writing that you love being outside and fully embrace God’s creation as some of your stories include nature-tornadoes, fires, and canoeing. Do you think that you have successfully passed this love of nature to your sons?

RH- You are right, I do embrace God’s wonderful gift of the great outdoors. He and His Precious Gift to mankind have blessed me tremendously while I’ve spent time witnessing nature in action while in solitude. A day came where the pursuit of game awakened a part of me that drove home the point He really does have a unique plan for each of us. My life journey of faith through acceptance and believing filled with hope took a giant leap to one of knowing and being secure. I don’t think I’m telling you anything new here, but there is a huge difference between believing and actually knowing. Consider every species of plant, animal, insect, bird, or fish. Each has a delicate role to play in the balance of nature and thus, life and the delicate balance of the world. Every interaction provides a small piece of the beautiful mosaic puzzle of the circle of life as we know it, in its entirety. And as glorious as this exhibit of nature is, there is one more beautiful waiting on those of us who choose to make the right choice to accept the Truth.

My son Daniel  joined the Louisiana National Guard. Before leaving for boot camp he had to spend a weekend in the field with the unit. I drove the nervous new recruit to the pick-up point. He had stayed up all night and his nerves were shot. He didn’t know what to expect. The bus filled with soldiers and at least one green recruit left me alone in the parking lot. I watched it leave in the early morning darkness and wondered how he will do and praying for the best. The phone rang a day later. I answered and was surprised to find it was my new guardsman calling. His voice was filled with excitement.

“Hey Dad, you’re not going to believe this!”


“I was worried over nothing. They’re paying me two hundred and fifty dollars this weekend to camp out in the middle of the woods with a bunch of cool guys and outdoor girls. And we’re all shooting some awesome guns! Dad, I can’t believe they’re paying me to have this much fun!”


“What is it?”

“The paymaster may be nearby listening. He may sense a weakness and try to dock your wages. Now hang up and get back to work. Time is a wasting. Calm down, the torture will be over before you know it and you’ll be able to fill in the horrible details for me when you get home.”

We both hung up laughing and I felt much better. My other boys aren’t much different.

MN- You are an accomplished communicator and successful writer and speaker. You have made many contributions to magazines and have been written about in publications including USA Today. When did you realize this was something you wanted to do?

RH- I find some folks have difficulty accepting this fact when I try to relate it, but to do otherwise would be a grave disservice to everyone, especially my precious readers, and most importantly to the One who caught my undivided attention in the woods one day, long ago, six-and-a-half years ago to be more precise. When the incident I’m talking about concluded I knew I had to start writing. It was/is that simple. I never had the desire to write before that moment occurred and struggled with the realization I must afterward. Nor did I ever want my name to be shared in public discourse or on the cover of a book. When it became obvious I would be forced to make the attempt to become known as an author, I struggled with what I termed “The Doubting Thomas Effect.”

I constantly asked myself and others if I was in my right mind. Really, who in their right mind with a high school education would willingly and knowingly throw his precious family out there, to risk burdening them with embarrassment, and perhaps come under negative public scrutiny or criticism. I was perfectly content with my station in life and in who I am. The Lord has blessed me mightily. There is nothing else I need.  I certainly did not want to do this writing thing. But after receiving the privilege of witnessing a prayer in the act of being answered before my very eyes through the loving actions of a complete stranger in the heart of the great Atchafalaya Delta, the world’s largest swamp, miles from civilization and the most unlikely of places, I knew I had to start the writing process.

MN- You are very involved with your family. Not all families are as traditional and many fathers experience road blocks in being an ideal role model. Young fathers are gone many hours a day trying to bring in enough money to take care of their family, while other fathers only get to see their children on weekends due to divorce. How can they be involved fathers that can still make a positive impact on their children with limited time?

RH- Oh dear Mary, please don’t take this the wrong way, but I think you might have made a common mistake I used to make all the time and still occasionally do. You see, it is true, we do have a traditional family and we do give thanks for it and ask for guidance on a daily basis to keep it so, but the road has not always been easy. I must take issue with any perception I may be the “ideal role model.” God help us all if I am. Being a father is a constant work in progress. There is always much to learn. If I am successful at the end, maybe at least one of my boys will declare I am ‘good.” Oh, to be so blessed!

What I have done is try to keep in mind the fact anything worth having is worth working hard for and doing your best at it. When times are tough it’s good to always remember commitment is the key to building a good and healthy relationship, whether it is personal or spiritual. No one said it will be easy. It takes a conscious loving willfulness to remain committed to and/or dedicated to building a solid relationship with anybody. Discard selfishness and stay rooted in the Cornerstone of God’s love and soon you will discover you have unwittingly enlisted the aid of your precious child and/or family. Others, perhaps former strangers, will soon be stepping up to lend a helping hand and you will soon be on your way to a glorious adventure!  Ponder the following and I assure you, life will become much more bearable and you can come to expect to receive everlasting rewards.

Talk to God in prayer multiple times on a daily basis, whether troubled or not. Now we recognize He is working for us. So try paying on your debt to Him by allowing yourself to be used to do something good or loving for another.   Allow your offspring the gift of seeing your ability to love others in action. They’ll often offer to help.   I pray continuously for the inner strength, the help to become ever more determined to endure character building trials and to accept His will. We all have them.   I strongly recommend one to read or listen to the gospel and try to learn to place your trust in Jesus, all of it. Focus. Find a nice quiet place outdoors, perhaps a park under the shade of a tree near a pond and open your heart in preparation to receive Jesus’ truthful words. Pause to ponder and listen to the silent wind whispering through the leaves. Before you know it hours will have passed in a blink of an eye. Always ask questions while seeking the Truth in all things.   Give everything and everyone you encounter what I call the “God test.” Start by asking yourself if what you are encountering at any given time is a good thing for everyone. If it isn’t, reject it. Remember sometimes trouble can’t be avoided and is necessary for us to learn and grow.    Be prepared to stand your ground and never willfully lie.

Sometimes it helps to recall the “lessons” of the past to gain strength. You know the ones, those long ago forgotten difficulties designed to crush us in their time. Yet we survived and then we promptly went to work trying to forget the pain, do so, and then are doomed to repeat the same mistake. Stop! Forgive the offender (it may be one’s self) and hold onto the memory of the pain. It reminds us not to play with “fire,” what not to do. And they serve as reminders to teach how to recognize His constant good presence and workings.  Keep in mind He is gracious and good. He often allows other people with good hearts to be vessels do His Will for Him. Oh, to be so blessed to be one of these. Become proactive. There is no gain in any relationship with a child by remaining sitting on the high fence separating one from the other. Leave your worries behind with Him and jump off to continue your wonderful journey, climb down if you must and go play. Just get moving; for what we do know is precious time is short. The children will be grown before you know it and they will begin their own journey with what you have taught them.

Always put your priorities in order. There are times the earning of money must take a back seat. The purchase of new things can wait. Other things can’t. Some things must be given the highest priority. Our children are one of these “high priorities.” They need our time, our love, and our personal displays of affection more than a new game console of distraction, more than any material thing. Especially when they are young and impressionable. We need their loving attention as well. Each of mine have taught me a lot.  To sum it up: The best thing we can invest in our children is our personal time. There is a time to do good work, a time to play hard, a time to expose the heart to love. Time spent with a child combines all three of these and is well spent. It’s up to the individual to discover the balance.  I have found the best legacy to give your children is one with no end, one filled with joyful life rooted in a Good Memory.   I cannot stress the following too much. Always spend as much time as possible with the family and/or child: Focus. Focus. Focus. Keep God first. And stay focused. Continuously search for the proper balance with everything.

MN- Complete this sentence. “This Father’s Day, more than ever, I would like my sons to know……..”

RH- I thank God each day for the privilege of being your dad. Each one of you is a fine example of the best a man could hope to have as a son. You have brought great joy and pleasure into my life, never trouble and provide my life meaning. THANK YOU, ALL OF YOU. You know I love each and every one of you and want nothing but the best “life” for you, whether you choose to dig ditches or become president. It’s your choice. I’ve done my best to teach you to follow your heart and not become entrapped by the false demands of the world. And I hope my tendency to get into trouble has not caused you too much discomfort and you have not inherited it. If you have, feel free to blame me. And if so, I beg forgiveness, but you know it’ll continue. But don’t worry, I’ve been grabbing that ol’ bull by the horns for so long, we’re actually starting to like it and have some fun. May God bless you all!

My Father’s Gift: A Louisiana Outdoor Legacy can be ordered online by visiting:

If you wish to place a mail order or would wish to discuss a speaking engagement please contact Rodney via email. The address is:

Please visit My Father’s Gift on facebook (!/pages/My-Fathers-Gift/228740593813128) to keep up with recent activities of the book and/or Rodney.

Author bio: Rodney is a husband, father, a natural Louisiana outdoorsman and now, an exciting new author. He is also a railroad conductor nearing retirement and realizes he has indeed been blessed to be the father of seven wonderful sons, all of which have been a tremendous joy to raise.

Rodney remains humbled by the written and unwritten adventures he has experienced. He willfully and truthfully acknowledges each one as a gift from our God of love, and he thanks all of you who have offered prayers of support on his effort to spread the good news. Rodney has had many of his stories recognized and published both locally and nationally in newspapers and outdoor magazines. Rodney's prayer for you is simply this: May you soon reach the waypoint in your spiritual journey of faith to receive the same surprising joy he has found with the discovery there is a real difference between the active desire to believe and knowing that God is a very real, loving and attentive Father, from whom all good things come.

About Mary Nichelson:

Other interviews featured in The Wordsmith Journal: David Vince, William D. Burt, and Bryan Liftin.
This interview is courtesy of  The Wordsmith Journal Magazine.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Bryan Liftin Interview with Mary Nichelson

When Mark Elfstrand, Executive Producer and Host of the radio show Morning Ride, asks the question, “Ever wonder about a world with an almost-absence of God?”, author Bryan Litfin rises to the challenge and provides the answer in his action-packed, adventure and romance laden series The Chiveis Trilogy.

Litfin, a theology professor turned weekend writer, has penned an addicting fantasy series that has readers comparing him to Stephen Lawhead and anticipating each addition to the trilogy. With the release of The Kingdom, the final installment in the series comes enthusiasm for some, melancholy to see the series end for others. Understandable in that Litfin has successfully engaged his readers into the plots of each book, and some reviewers have admitted to thinking about the characters long after the last page was turned. I recently asked Litfin about the basis of The Chiveis series, what it was like to get an endorsement by Jerry B. Jenkins, and if his readers could expect another Chiveis-like series in the near future.

MN- One reviewer of The Chiveis Trilogy wrote, “Entertaining, but not highly realistic.” For readers that do not fully understand the premise, can you explain what The Chiveis Trilogy is?

BL- I definitely wanted to write an entertaining series with lots of swashbuckling adventures that will keep the reader turning of the pages. The premise of the Chiveis Trilogy is that there's a terrible virus in the year 2042, which leads to a global nuclear war that wipes out most of earth's population. But that's just the prologue, the setup. The story itself is set four centuries from now--yet it is neither futuristic science fiction nor post-apocalyptic dystopia. Instead, the novels read more like sword-and-horse adventure stories set in a chivalrous context. There are no magical devices or mythical creatures--it's all happening in our real world. This isn't fantasy fiction. A noble kingdom has developed in the Swiss Alps (Schweiz is the German name for Switzerland, and in my imagination the word has evolved to be pronounced "Chiveis"). The people have gotten back to a medieval level of technology. However, the Bible has been lost and the Christian religion is forgotten. So the central story question is, "What if there were a people who had no knowledge of Christianity, and then suddenly a Bible were discovered...what would happen?" The hero and heroine find a Bible and strive to bring the message of its God to their land.

MN- It must have been an amazing moment for you when you got the endorsement on the series by Jerry B. Jenkins. Did that surprise you or did you have a sense going into this that it would be well received?

BL- It was indeed an amazing moment because I respect Jerry so much as a writer, and even more so, as a spiritual leader. He is the chairman of the Board of Trustees for Moody Bible Institute (the college where I teach) so I know him a little bit in that capacity. A few years back I had the privilege of going on a small church history cruise in the Mediterranean, so I got to know Jerry and his wife in that setting. He is such a hilarious guy, he always keeps everyone laughing. And we all know he is a great writer. But what stands out about Jerry Jenkins to me is that he is a godly man who is providing strong leadership for my school. I was very grateful that he would endorse a novel from a new fiction writer like me.

MN- The third book in the trilogy was just released, and obviously that means it is the final in the series. Does The Kingdom neatly tie up all of the storylines with closure or will there be any left that will cause the reader to presume their own ending?

BL- I really hope that I tie up the story lines. I don't want the reader to have to make up an ending. It seems unfair to do that to someone after he or she has journeyed so far with the characters. So I would suggest that all the plot points raised in the story do find their resolution in the third book. Writing The Kingdom was challenging because it not only had to conclude its own self-contained story, but also the macro story of the trilogy. I hope the reader will feel I have done that. I believe I owe this to the reader who has come to love Teo and Ana (the central protagonists). However, what is left open-ended is the expectation that they didn't quit having adventures together after the story ends. They are just not that sort of people. "Happily ever after" for them could not be some kind of settled and tame existence. They are both boundary-pushers, so the novel leaves you with the sense that new horizons will open up to them after you turn the last page. However, I don't have any plans to actually write those stories. I think the trilogy tells one grand narrative from beginning to end -- the return of the true God and his eternal Word to Europe.

MN- Sometimes when you have a series this popular with readers, it isn’t long before you see it on the small or large screen. Any word on whether the series will be made into a movie of sorts?

BL- I would love to see this made into a movie, but I can't imagine it happening because the production values would be huge. You'd have to have all kinds of costuming and props and so many characters and lots of locations in castles and cathedrals and so forth. The trilogy is sort of epic as it sweeps you from the highest alpine mountains to the Black Forest of Germany to the Italian Riviera to the grandeur of Rome to the fiery slopes of Mt. Etna on Sicily to the cities of Marseilles and Geneva and then back to the Swiss Alps again. Really, the cost would be prohibitive. The publisher did, however, make a cool video trailer which might provide a hint of what a movie could be like. It is available on the web at Just click on the banner that says "Watch the New Chiveis Trailer." I suppose if anyone wants to make this into a full length movie, they could contact Crossway.

MN- As a professor at Moody Bible Institute, you have said that your greatest joy comes from investing in your students, especially when you can take them on study tours. Where have you been able to travel with your students, and what is a typical tour like?

BL- I just returned a few days ago from one of those tours. It was fun to get Facebook messages that the third book was starting to move on Amazon, even as I was sitting on a balcony looking at the actual snow-capped peaks of Chiveis! Moody has fantastic students, and it is both my responsibility and my privilege to teach them theology and church history. Over the years I have taken students on academic tours to places such as Italy, Switzerland, Germany and France. These lands are layered into the narrative. As we traipse around the continent exploring the history of our faith, I also look for fascinating story settings. Whether or not every reader picks it up, the Chiveis Trilogy is absolutelyloaded with historical and theological references. The ancient and medieval landscape of Europe is such an important part of this series. In fact, the third book provides an appendix that explains the real-world locations behind the made-up place names.

Perhaps I might also add a word here about the dedication that I make in The Kingdom. My dear friend Dr. Jeff Ligon died of a brain tumor a few months ago. Jeff was a big part of this trilogy because twice he met me in Europe and we struck off on our own as I did research for the books. He drove the car while I imagined the plot. So many of the story locations in the three novels are places we visited together. Sometimes we even happened on a place by chance, and those spots were so cool, they had to go into one of the books! All of this is to say, it is a hallmark of the Chiveis Trilogy that its locations are real places in Europe which can be visited today.

MN- You are a history buff as it applies to world history and church history. How can past events influence the world view of the modern generation?

BL- This is a great question, and the answer to it is what I try to do in my "real" job -- which is not to be a novelist, but a professor. I very much believe our modern generation needs to have a greater sense of connection to the past, and in particular the ancient past. What I mean is that contemporary Christians (especially Evangelicals) need to rediscover their roots in the ancient church, that is to say, the "early church fathers." Evangelicals today are extremely untethered to the catholic church (by which I don't mean Roman Catholicism, but simply the orthodox faith passed down through the ages). In our churches today, anything goes. Churches and their pastors make up stuff as they go along. Where's the sense of rootedness in the ancient past? Where is true, historic Christianity as expressed by the church fathers and encapsulated by the Apostles' Creed? Why do our churches feel more like shopping malls or movie theaters than sacred spaces? Where has all the mysterygone? The problem is, we have lost our ties to the forefathers -- and foremothers -- who have made us who we are. If someone wants to read more about this subject, my bookGetting to Know the Church Fathers was written to provide a helpful introduction to our spiritual ancestors from the ancient period.

MN- It was interesting to me to read that you helped open a Christian school in Wheaton using the classical model of education. Can you define what a classical model of education is and why it is so important?

BL- My interest in classical education goes hand in hand with my appreciation of the ancient past. Helping to start Clapham School in Wheaton was a privilege that my wife and I had a few years ago. Classical education is simply the way people were educated during the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans, continuing through the Middle Ages, and indeed, it's the way many Europeans are still being educated today. Unfortunately, many American schools have abandoned the world's great ideas--as expressed in art, history, poetry, philosophy, politics--so that today it seems what matters most is a kid's self-esteem. In contrast, classical education is an approach that leads a child not into himself, but toward an encounter with the great minds that have shaped Western society. The model uses the "Trivium" -- grammar, logic and rhetoric. In other words, it first teaches fundamental building blocks, then teaches you how to think logically about them, and finally teaches you to express yourself beautifully and persuasively. This works fine as a secular model, but it works even better as a way of bringing all culture under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The name ‘Clapham’ comes from a group of Christians associated with the British evangelical politician William Wilberforce who fought for the abolition of the slave trade. The members of the so-called Clapham Sect used their wisdom and eloquence for the glory of God and for justice on earth until the Savior returns. To me that is the true purpose of education.

MN- Are there any more writing projects on the horizon that your fans can be looking for?

BL- Fiction fans might have to wait a little bit. My next project is a non-fiction book in which I will provide easy-to-read translations of several ancient Greek and Latin texts written about the martyrs of the early church who died for their faith in Jesus. However, I do hope to return to fiction in the near future, if God allows it. And if I do, the novels will be like the Chiveis Trilogy -- full of action, adventure, romance, and best of all ... theology!

Author bio- Bryan Litfin was born in Dallas, Texas, and raised in a Christian home as the son of a seminary professor, pastor, and college president. In addition to Texas, he has lived in Memphis, Tennessee, and Oxford, England.

Bryan earned a bachelor's degree in print journalism from the University of Tennessee as well as a master's degree in historical theology at Dallas Theological Seminary. From there he went to the University of Virginia, taking a PhD in the field of ancient church history. He is currently professor of theology at Moody Bible Institute in downtown Chicago, where he has been since 2002. He teaches courses in theology, church history, and Western civilization from the ancient and medieval periods. He is the author of Getting to Know the Church Fathers: An Evangelical Introduction (Brazos, 2007), as well as several scholarly articles and essays. Bryan has always enjoyed epic adventure stories as well as historical fiction, but most of his reading these days is taken up by academia.

Today Bryan lives in downtown Wheaton in a Victorian house built in 1887. He and his wife Carolyn are parents to two children. For recreation Bryan enjoys basketball, traveling, and hiking anywhere there are mountains. The Litfins attend College Church in Wheaton, where Bryan has served on the Board of Missions and as a deacon. He also helped start Clapham School, a Christian primary school in Wheaton using the classical model of education.

To learn more about author Bryan Litfin or for ordering information, visit

About Mary Nichelson:

Other interviews featured in the July edition of The Wordsmith Journal: Rodney Hennigan, David Vince, and William D. Burt.

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine