Tag Archives: author interview

Interview with Stephanie Macniel, author of Parker

ABOUT PARKER


ParkerTitle: Parker
Genre: Young Adult
Author: Stephanie Macneil
Publisher: iUniverse
EBook: 226 pages
Release Date: November 20, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-47596-038-9

The secret came out a few years ago: Parker Knight is gay. Now Parker is sixteen, and everyone has either embraced it, does not care, or has forgotten—everyone except for Dylan Baker. He is determined to make Parker’s life miserable. Parker really thought killing himself would make everything better. If he was dead, he would not have to get kicked around by Dylan and his friends anymore. He would be free. Now, after a failed suicide attempt, Parker just wants to get through the last few months of tenth grade and stay as far away from Dylan as possible. What’s worse is Parker is secretly in love with his best friend, Liam Eriksson. But luckily, Liam doesn’t know this. Parker does not want to risk losing the friendship by telling him his true feelings. But as a tragedy overshadows his already complicated life, Parker soon discovers that the truth has a habit of surfacing in unexpected ways. Parker is the poignant story of one boy’s struggle for acceptance as he reaches out for hope, life, forgiveness and Liam.

iUniverse

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about? 

Parker is the story of a 16-year-old boy being bullied at school by an old friend Dylan because he’s gay. He faces torment and hate every day and that eventually led to attempting suicide. Parker is deeply in love with his best Liam, but must keep it a secret so he doesn’t lose him. Parker is a coming of age about a boy who learns to be strong.

How did you come up with the idea? 

I didn’t intend to write Parker, it just sort of happened one night at 2 in the morning. But I wrote down the first thought that Parker ever said in my head to me, which is still the first line of the book, and then I just took it from there.

What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book? 

Not a lot of research had to be done. I think the only thing I did research was about comas. I’ve been the introverted, scared kid who doesn’t feel like they belong or fit in anywhere. That was the easy part.

Can you give us a short excerpt?

This excerpt comes from when the Knights and Liam visit Parker’s grandparents in Kelowna. Parker is feeling overwhelmed by not being out as gay to his grandparents, and continuing to hide his feelings from Liam.

 

When I walk back into the room, Liam is sitting on the bed. I sit down beside him. “I’m sorry about before,” he says.

I look down at the floor. “I’m sorry, too.”

“It’s just that we don’t really talk about it.”

“What’s there to talk about?”

“I don’t know. You never talk about anyone you like, or stuff like that.”

“That’s because there is no one.”

“Okay, well if you ever want to, you can.”

I want to. I love you. I dream about you when I’m awake and sleeping. I watch you from the corner of my eye. I need you. When you’re gone, I miss you. I want to touch you. I want you to touch me. You’re the only one. I can’t breathe around you. I can’t speak around you. I can’t think around you. You captivate me. You thrill me. You fascinate me. Love me back. Don’t leave me. You make me feel alive when I’m dying. You save me.

I don’t say any of these things.

“Okay, thanks.”

I hate lying to him. I want to tell him it’s him and it’s been him forever. But I want him to feel the same way, and that is a dead dream. I might as well save myself the humiliation and awkwardness and hope that I just get over him.

“I’m gonna take a shower,” he says, standing up and grabbing his bag.

“Okay.”

 

ABOUT STEPHANIE MACNEIL

 

Stephanie Macneil was born in Ottawa, Ontario, but now lives in Edmonton, Alberta. Her goal is to become a screenwriter. Parker is her first book.

 

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Interview with Jermaine Gadson, Author of Tactics, Trends, and Traits of the Enemy

Jermaine Gadson headshotJermaine Gadson is the Senior Pastor of Faith Ministries, Inc., a non-traditional church located in Birmingham, AL. Prior to starting Faith Ministries, he served as an associate minister, youth minister, and pastor for local churches and ministries in the greater Birmingham area.  While, growing up in the Baptist church, he gave his life to Christ at an early age, and is a third generation minister of the Gospel. 

He holds a B.A. in Religion with a Concentration in Congregational Studies and a Minor in Classics from Samford University, and a Master of Divinity from Beeson Divinity School of Samford University.  He is currently a Doctor of Ministry student at Beeson Divinity School.  

Gadson enjoys reading, writing, sports, outdoors, movies, and spending time with his family. He is happily married to his wife Kristy and they have one beautiful daughter, Khloe. 

Visit Pastor Gadson online at www.JermaineGadson.com.

Thank you for this interview, Jermaine. Can you tell us what your latest book, Tactics, Trends, and Traits of the Enemy, is all about?

Yes, Tactics, Trends, and Traits, of the Enemy is about equipping people with the knowledge and wisdom to overcome various struggles in life that are a direct result of spiritual adversity. This book takes the spookiness out of spiritual warfare by exposing the Enemy’s strategies that present themselves in struggles that people face every day, that they may not be aware of as demonic attacks.

How did you come up with the idea?

The idea for the book came from reflecting on my own life and some of the experiences that I have had, thinking about questions and concerns that I have encountered in providing pastoral counseling to others, as well as gleaning from a Bible study series that I taught at my church.

What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

Most of the research for the book came from studying the Bible, and looking at various stories, passages, and illustrations that dealt with the various topics that are dealt with in the book.  A person who is interested in the Bible or who enjoys Bible study material will enjoy this book.  Those who are familiar with the Bible, as well as those who are not as familiar, will be challenged to look at certain passages of Scripture in a new way.  The material in this book is not what you would find in a typical Sunday school lesson. You will be inspired, encouraged, enlightened, and even surprised by what you will find.

If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

One valuable message that a reader can come away with is the understanding that knowledge is power.  People are destroyed because of a lack of knowledge. The more we know about the Enemy and his strategies, the better we are equipped to identify his tactics, and ultimate defeat him.

Can you give us a short excerpt?Tactics, Trends and Traits of the Enemy Cover

As human beings, we are not just flesh and blood. We are spirit beings also. Our lives are shaped and impacted by the reality and intertwining of two realms: the spirit and the natural. The natural realm is the one that we are the most familiar with. However, our lack of familiarity with the spirit realm does not negate its existence, nor render powerless its influence in our lives. The spirit realm is just as real and impactful as the natural, and even more so. For everything that you see and experience in the natural, there is something that corresponds to it in the spirit.

With that being said, we have to understand that we have an enemy: a real enemy, a spiritual enemy. This enemy is an adversary against God, humanity, and everything that God has created. His name is Satan. He and his army of countless devils will stop at nothing to destroy God’s great creation, namely the human race.

In this book, I am sharing insights that I have gained from my study of the Bible, personal experiences as a believer, and nearly ten years of experience as a pastor and fifteen years as a minister. God’s people are being destroyed from a lack of knowledge. It is not God’s will for His people to be ignorant of Satan’s devices. It is God’s will that His people be equipped to stand strong and boldly against the Enemy and his devilish schemes. The purpose of this book is to equip the body of Christ to be prepared to recognize demonic tactics and attacks, resist the Devil and his forces, and stand firm in the victory that is already ours in Jesus Christ.

In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

This is my first book, and it is self-published.  Self-publishing is hard work, but if you are willing to do the work to get your message out it won’t seem so bad.  Trying to get published by a traditional publisher has different dynamics, and may be more difficult for some than for others, depending on the topic, genre, publisher, and current market.

What’s a typical day like for you?

A typical day includes getting my family ready to leave home in the morning, spending time in prayer and devotion, writing, blogging and posting for my social media sites, preparing the media presentation and message for Sunday service, run errands or attend to business affairs, picking my daughter up from school, preparing and eating dinner with my family, enjoying some downtime or playtime with my daughter, debrief the day with my wife, and finally, get ready for the next day.

What’s next for you?

Next, I plan to work on a curriculum to accompany the book.  I am also preparing to write a second book to be released later this year or next year.

Thank you so much for this interview, Jermaine.  We wish you much success!

Thank you, so much for this interview. I appreciate it!

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Interview with RL Keller, Author of Man’s Rejection of God: Who’s Responsible?

Rich Keller

Richard Louis Keller was born in Newark, NJ in 1955 and grew up in Middletown Township (NJ). He graduated from Montclair State College in 1978 with a degree in Broadcasting. Rich gave his life to Christ in 1979. Since his conversion he has spent time ministering for the Lord in various capacities. God gave Rich the gift of communication. He uses that gift by writing a daily devotional blog and has had two other books published.

Visit Rich online at www.breadoflifemin.net and his blog at www.minidevos.blogspot.com

 

Q: Thank you for this interview, Rich. Can you tell us what your latest book, Man’s Rejection of God: Who’s Responsible?, is all about?

A:  It’s a book that has a little bit of everything in it.  I define various groups, such as atheists and agnostics; delve into the cult of personality and the psychology of minimalism and individualism; it compares the three main world religions to Christianity and much more in an effort to determine whose fault it is that people reject God.  Since Christians believe man has been given a free will, we can’t take all the blame; however, the inconsistency with which we live our faith provides a convenient excuse for non-believers to turn away from God.  In the end, I call all Christians to take a hard look at themselves in the mirror to determine how much like Jesus they really are.  We must assess and continually reassess our walk with God so that we become less of a reason for others to walk away.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

A:   I see Christians all around me struggling with their faith.  This is my way of allowing God to use me to encourage and edify them so that they can re-energize their walk with Christ and be everything God intended them to be.  In all my books I attempt to educate believers in areas where they may be lacking, show them how much they are loved by God and give them something important to think about in the process.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

A:  I get an idea of what I want to write and fill in the blanks as I go.  What I mean by that is that I add quotes, scripture verses, and background information as I am writing the text of the book.  Any research I might have done in the past has been saved on thumb drives so I can draw from it as I go along.  I use the Internet to access just about any research tool I might need, from online dictionaries, encyclopedias, bible text or any other historical information. Before I know it the book is complete. Man's Rejection of God Cover

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

A:  I wish my readers to realize that our walk with Christ isn’t meant to be a struggle, but rather an exciting adventure.  If we can step back and take a look at who God truly is and who we are in light of that, we may just get the jump-start we need to revitalize a sagging relationship.  And that’s what this walk with God is, a personal relationship with a living God.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

A: [From Chapter 11 – Consequences; p.113, par.2 thru p.114, par.2.]

There was a purpose for each event in history that has taken place just as there is a reason for what takes place now. I don’t pretend to know the mind of God in all matters; I just know that things happen in life and we don’t know all the details. There are facts that are unknown to us. All we know is what the history books tell us and the media spoon feeds us. I do know this though: it’s a messy, bloody world we live in. Things that are wrong are made to seem right and vice versa. Sins are committed against God every day and the ultimate consequence of those sins is death unless a blood sacrifice is made on behalf of the offender. That blood sacrifice was made when Jesus Christ willingly shed His own blood to cleanse all of mankind of their sins. It must be understood that forgiveness isn’t freely doled out to everyone arbitrarily; we must ask for forgiveness in faith believing to be cleansed.

There is no doubt that Christ was a lightning rod for controversy during His life and still is today? Could it be because His teachings contradicted the teachings of the religious leaders of His day? When you deal with people you are dealing with egos, control and power. Jesus was stripping some of that away from the religious leaders and they took exception to it; so much so that they wanted Him dead. That seems like an extreme way to rid themselves of their perceived problem. They didn’t think about the consequences that would result from Christ’s death. Christ knew exactly what the consequences were as a result of His obedience to God’s plan. They spelled death for Him. The disobedience of all mankind was to be removed by the obedience of one man. Man’s disobedience resulted in millions of sins down through the ages past and present. The weight of these sins must have been enormous. I feel heaviness from the weight of conviction for one sin that I haven’t sought forgiveness for; can you imagine the heaviness Christ felt when He hung on the cross?

The life that we choose to live on this earth is essentially what we make it. We can take a good path or a bad path. We can skate along the fine line that differentiates legal from illegal, right and wrong. We can live Godly lives or follow the path to who knows where. Each decision we make in this life comes with consequences.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

A:  I had my book self-published, which means I paid Westbow Press to publish the book for me.  It is my hope that I will someday be picked up as a contract author for a publishing house such as Thomas Nelson or Zondervan.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

A:  I rise in the morning, have breakfast, tend to the dogs, write my daily devotional for my Bread of Life Blog, post an entry on my Author Blog, then either touch up a teaching, write on my new book, design marketing items, change up the home page on my ministry website, or numerous other things that need to be tended to.  I’m at the laptop much of the day.  I might take the dogs for a walk if the weather permits or watch a documentary on an important event in American History.  In between all that I eat lunch and make sure I’m not forgetting anything.

Q: What’s next for you?

A:   I have book signings coming up in NJ at all three Jesus Book & Gift Stores in May.  Consult my website’s Scheduled Events page for details.  I am putting together a speaking tour for the churches of New Jersey for 2014-15 and have just begun writing my 4th book tentatively titled Stark Raving Obedience.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Rich.  We wish you much success!

A: Thank you for the opportunity, I appreciate it very much.

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Interview & Giveaway with Donna McDine, Author of ‘A Sandy Grave’

Donna McDine Headshot

Donna McDine is an award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader, Readers Favorite 2012 International Book Awards Honorable Mention, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books ~ The Golden Pathway.

Her stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. Her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Donna’s 2013 releases of Powder Monkey and Hockey Agony and the 2014 release of A Sandy Grave will be joined by an additional book to be published by Guardian Angel Publishing, Dee and Deb, Off They Go. She writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, and Family Reading Partnership.

Visit Donna online at www.donnamcdine.com or her blog at www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com

Connect & Socialize with Donna!

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About the Book:A Sandy Grave cover

Title: A Sandy Grave
Author: Donna M. McDine
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Pages: 24
Language: English
Genre: Tween chapterbook
Format: Paperback, hardcover & eBook

The anticipation of summer vacation can put anyone in a great mood with the excitement of adventures to be had–especially at the beach. But what is a group of friends to do when they discover mysterious men poaching whale teeth at the beach?

amazon

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

Can you tell us what your book is about?

While three young girlfriends are vacationing with their families they discover a dead washed up whale on the beach. The realization that poachers often times attempt to steal whales’ teeth, sets a mystery into motion.

Why did you write your book?

While reading the newspaper I came across a story about a dead washed up whale on a California beach and what the authorities had to do to protect the whale before being able to bury it.

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

The trio of girlfriends is a curious bunch and enjoy their friendship immensely. They often times tease each other, but respect and love is apparent in their friendships.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

I typically start with a story outline and character profiles and then the plot evolves during my writing process.

Your book is set at the beach. Can you tell us why you chose this setting in particular?

The topic of poachers and the Endangered Species Act and the Mammal Protection Act are directly related to the beach and ocean.

Open the book to any page.  What is happening?

After discovering the washed up whale and hearing what the authorities were doing to protect the whale, the main character, Leah, immediately gets a creepy feeling about two filthy men, looking on from a sand dune.

Is it hard to get a children’s book published?

In my experience, the road to publication with any genre is not an easy path. We often hear write what you love, but it’s important to study the markets to learn what publishers are interested in and make your best attempt in creating a manuscript that adheres to their guidelines.

Is it hard to promote a children’s book and where do you start?

An author wears many hats and promoter is one of them. Even before one’s book is published it is imperative you market yourself and your writing on at least a weekly if not daily basis. I’m not saying, you should be jumping up and down and saying hey look at me. I feel it’s more important to become involved with online and in-person writer’s groups and become an active member of discussions and not just tooting your own horn. Visit libraries and schools through author visits, with a combination of volunteer opportunities and select events profiling you and your books.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

If I feel a block I often times go out for a walk, meditate, or make a hot cup of tea and read the paper or the book I’m currently reading.

What would you do with an extra hour today if you could do anything you wanted?

Visit with my parents and father-in-law and have a nice leisurely chat without having the world intrude.

Which holiday is your favorite and why?

Memorial Day. It’s a time of renewal of our gardens and everything green. The weather is usually at a terrific temperature for getting that first barbeque off to a great start with friends and family.

If we were to meet for lunch to talk books, where would we go?

The Barnes and Noble café at our local mall or Panera.

What do you like the most about being an author?

Engaging with students in lively conversation during school or library visits. Since children are becoming more and more visual with all the technology around them, I find that starting off with a brief introduction and then the showing of my latest book video trailer gets the conversation going faster.

What kind of advice would you give other fiction authors?

Fiction writers need to conduct their research so that their stories are accurate. For instance, if your story is based around a particular sport, you need to make sure anything involving the sport is accurate.

Donna McDine is giving you a chance to win a $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card.

Terms & Conditions:
• By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
• One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $50 Barnes and Noble Gift Card
• This giveaway begins March 3 and ends on April 25, 2014.
• Winner will be contacted via email.
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Interview with Ronald W. Kirk, Author of Thy Will Be Done

RonKirk-photo-SAM_1429

Jesus Christ graced Ron with salvation late in his college career at the University of California, Berkeley, graduating in 1974. In entering his first church ministry, a lack of a Biblical material on education led him to the Christian History Movement and the works of R.J. Rushdoony. Since 1980, Ron has studied and taught the Biblically and historically identified applied-faith theology and philosophy outlined in this book.

God gave Ron a voracious appetite for learning about everything. Ron studied math and physics in college, and then pursued professional landscape architecture—design is a central component to his calling. He gained a passion for education after finding that a full-orbed Biblical treatment of education was nowhere to be found in contemporary literature.

Ever since about 1977, Ron devoted his life to understand God’s earthly and eternal purposes for mankind, to help others know them, and to derive and spread a thoroughly Biblical system of education aimed toward God’s ends for His people.

Ron’s success in pioneering day and home schools has long proven the effectiveness of systematic Biblical thinking. His work has been published internationally and translated into Spanish. Gloriously married since 1971, Ron and Christina have five children, five more sons- and daughters-in-law, and eleven grandchildren, all walking with Christ. American Heritage Christian Church ordained Ron in 1984.

Ron’s educational and worldview ministry website is www.getwisdom.us. He’s also on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GetWisdomMakingChristianHeroesOfOrdinaryPeople.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Ron. Can you tell us what your latest book, Thy Will Be Done: When All Nations Call God Blessed, is all about?

A:  Some might consider the book an earth shaking premise. What if the Father answered Jesus’ prayer and mankind obeyed God on earth as all do in heaven? What would we see? We all want to go to heaven, but what if God gave us a substantial glimpse of heaven in our earthly lives, not to replace the eternal goal, but to encourage us by His real grace of blessing?

This is no utopian dream. Thy Will Be Done is an eager, popular speculation on the answer in terms of Scripture, best expressions in history and personal experience. It is a culmination of a lifetime of research and thought upon the potential of life in Christ, in every area of life.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

A: God planted the seed of this book early in my life. As a new believer interested in child education, I could not believe that God wanted Christians to base their views on evolutionary psychology, which was all I could find in the mainstream literature. Discovering God’s providence in what Verna Hall called the chain of Christianity moving westward, prompted learning from the best examples of history tested in light of the Word of God.

My life’s work has been to share the notion that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is far more comprehensive, exciting and real than accepted. Christian life should be an adventure of faith.

In the end, my publisher suggested this particular expression of those ideas.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

A: The draft of this whole book came as a kind of stream of consciousness writing, though it covers many topics important to us all. We have collected over several decades what I like to call a Biblical body of wisdom.

This effort, then, flowed out of long held, ever refined and corrected understanding, based upon long Biblical and historic research and study, crafted and corrected educational activity, and other personal experience. Jesus says you know a tree by its fruit. We have been quite encouraged by the fruit we have seen.

For some topics, I needed to go back for a bit of new research to fill in gaps. But I tried to stay with a presentation of Biblical ideas in an accessible manner. I tried to avoid overly technical or academic language.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be? TWBD larger cover

A: In the last two hundred years or so, Christianity has suffered increasingly from a severely shriveled vision for this life. We have settled far short of God’s intent, merely holding out for eternity until we die or are raptured. Church leaders have told believers not to get involved in the world except merely to get people saved because it belongs to Satan. We have been very pessimistic regarding the power of God so often revealed in His Word.

On the other hand, the mainstream of the historic faith, reflecting the whole counsel of Scripture, speaks of an optimistic redemption of the world “as far the curse is found!” At the least, the church has been somewhat derelict of the foundations that support the Gospel work, namely a prosperous economy with generosity, and civil justice and liberty. Jesus bought back the world on the cross. While there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, I believe it is time to return to the big view of the Gospel where the government is on His shoulder, and the ministry of the Holy Spirit is successful. 

Therefore, I hope the reader will take away a sense of individual purpose and vision for a heroic Gospel life, along with some fundamental educational tools for learning to live it in reality.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

A: From Chapter One:

God gave man an imagination. The imagination provides a faculty for conceiving of things that do not exist or go unseen. Using this imagination, we can envision and design new things as if they already exist in reality. We call this creativity. The fact that the Bible denounces vain imagination (Genesis 8:21)—the selfish, sinful, God-usurping, human one—does not mean that the imagination is solely evil. In fact, the great evangelical, Yale University president Timothy Dwight (1752-1817), claimed that the Bible does not primarily appeal to intellect or emotion, but to the imagination. Consider the lilies…. The Kingdom of God is like….Accordingly, this essay seeks to pique godly imaginations to conceive and formulate a fulfilled Biblical Christianity in the world. We wish to reach every serious Christian, to encourage stirring up every gift, upon obedience, toward the fulfillment of Christ’s instructive prayer.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

A: Yes, it is very difficult to publish on traditional terms. Jerry Nordskog established Nordskog Publishing to fill a needed niche in Christian thinking at the urging of our mutual friend and my pastor the late Chris Hoops. My dad worked for Jerry Nordskog’s dad from the time I was baby. He is thus a life-long friend, and has long supported my educational ministry work. We share the Christian worldview to a very high degree. For the past six years I have served as Jerry’s theology and manuscript review editor. Jerry actually suggested I write this book. I have worked and am working hard to honor his investment.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

A: Oh, you really don’t want to know…

Just kidding. Long work days are the norm. Aside from Nordskog Publishing duties on behalf of other authors’ work, contractual design obligations as a practicing landscape architect—no joke—and sharing the fruit of my labors in Thy Will Be Done, I am working on developing personal missionary support for an incredibly important and far reaching educational work in Uganda.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I consider the success of this book a most important, however small, contribution to the redeeming of Americans and others to Christ. The reintroduction of the ideas represented in Thy Will Be Done are critical to the restoration of Christian societies and the foundations for the Gospel work worldwide. The Psalmist asks, if the Foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? I have devoted my life to restoring the foundations. I hope to spend considerable time and effort to the book’s success.

For the same reason, I hope to answer the call to the work in Uganda. To expand a little, the work of the Master’s Institute for Education is capable of redeeming the entire country and its culture. It is sponsored primarily by Ugandan Christians themselves. A group there, New Hope Uganda, has used my educational system for the past 25 years. It is catching on because of its success and an increasing number of people, including educators, business people and government officials, wish to reproduce the same good fruit of true Biblical education—relational, character-, faith-, wisdom- and skill-based—and see it become the mainstream in the nation.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Ron.  We wish you much success!

A: Thank you for the opportunity to share! If I have piqued interest you can read more about Thy Will Be Done online at Nordskog Publishing and at Amazon.com. The book should be in regular bookstore distribution soon. Ask for it! If the message moves you, please share it!

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Interview with Beverly Stowe McClure, Author of ‘A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat’

Beverly Stowe McClure photojpg

Beverly Stowe McClure, a former teacher, is now enjoying a second career: writing. She never planned to be a writer, but in the classroom she and her students did such fun activities in art and science that she decided to write about some of them. Luckily, a few magazines liked what she sent them, and her articles have appeared in Humpty Dumpty, Jack and Jill, Ladybug, Focus on the Family Clubhouse, Jr., and others. Nine of her stories have been published as books, the latest one a MG/Tween eBook: A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat. She also has two stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies.

Beverly enjoys discovering her ancestors in her genealogy research. She plays the piano. (Thank you, Mom, for making encouraging me to practice.) She takes long walks where she snaps pictures of wildlife and clouds, and of course she reads, usually two books at a time. She teaches a women’s Sunday school class. Watching baseball (Go Rangers) is another of her favorite activities. Retirement is fun.

You can learn more about Beverly Stowe McClure at http://beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com or her blog at http://beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com.

Friend Beverly on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/beverlysmcclure

Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/beverlymcclure

Become one of Beverly’s fans on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/11462.Beverly_Stowe_McClure

Q: Thank you for this interview, Beverly. Can you tell us what your latest book, A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat, is all about?

A:  Yes, the book is about three thirteen-year-olds that decide to help three ghosts find rest so they don’t have to wander forever between this world and the next. Along the way, they survive a hurricane, a ninety-plus-year-old lady who may not be what she seems, and a seasick pirate.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

A: Erik Burks is a typical thirteen-year-old, who loves baseball, his friends, and doesn’t understand girls. When he discovers a lace bra in the glove compartment of his dad’s car, his mom freaks out, leaves his father, and moves Erik and herself halfway across the country, where Erik goes from being the king of the hill in Texas, to the bottom of the pits in South Carolina. No Dad, no baseball, and no friends, except for the twins.

Starry and Stormy Knight are not your typical twins. Star can read minds. She calls them “mind dreams,” and she’s not shy about giving a person her opinion of their thoughts.

Storm is border-line genius. He’s funny and caring and tries to make Erik want to stay in SC.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?pirate-blockade-runner-cat-200x300

A: My characters are mostly from my imagination. A couple of the ghosts in this story, Major Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard, are historical characters that really lived. I researched the pirates to make their roles in the book accurate and the events that happened to them are true, with a bit of extra excitement that I added for fun.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

A: I usually have a general idea of the plot in mind, but it often takes twists and turns as the characters show me their ideas of what should happen. So I go with them. After all, it’s their story.

Q: Your book is set in Folly Beach, SC, and up the Carolina coast.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

A: I love the Charleston, SC, area. So much history is there. So many tales of ghostly residents living in some of the old homes. Their stories are just waiting to be told. This is my second book about SC ghosts. The idea came to me while visiting with my son and daughter-in-law, who live on James Island, SC. One morning, we went to Folly Beach to watch the sun rise. Across the inlet stands the Morris Island Lighthouse. Boy, did images appear to me that morning. A ghost had to be living in the lighthouse, right? Who was he? Why could he not rest in peace? This was the perfect setting for my next ghost novel.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

A: Yes, it does, because not only does a ghost, who turns out to be a former navigator for a blockade runner, live in the lighthouse, a phantom ship cruises the inlet, with a clear image of a pirate, wearing a tricorn hat, a cutlass at his side, on board, telling me I had a pirate ghost, as well. A big part of the novel takes place aboard the Revenge, Stede Bonnet’s ship. My ghosts made for a perfect tale. 

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

A: The teens are on Major Stede Bonnet’s ship, the Revenge, discussing Blackbeard’s fate years ago and why Bonnet wants to find Blackbeard’s wandering spirit.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

A: (This is from p. 69.)

Storm grinned as he described the grisly scene in more detail. “They tossed Blackbeard’s body into the water.” He chuckled. “It gets even better.”

“Umm, we’ve heard enough,” I said.

Storm grinned even wider and went on. “Legend says Blackbeard swam around for days, in search of his head. Some people believe his ghost, minus a head, can still be seen today. Searching, searching, searching.”

“Wait a sec.” A disturbing thought had occurred to me. “We have a problem.”

“You’re right,” Star said. “No head, no brain, no logical pattern of action, no mind dreams to read to help us locate his remains.”

I tried to wrap my thoughts around this new idea. A headless ghost would be a challenge. I would not give up so easily, however. “Don’t worry. We’ll think of something.”

Storm shook his head. “Doubtful. Do you know how many people and scientists have tried to find Blackbeard’s head? And treasure?”

“You and your treasures.” Star almost snapped his head off. “More important things are at stake here.”

Storm shrugged. “So what’s the plan, Ek?”

I shrugged. “I’m thinking. I’m thinking.” 

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Beverly.  We wish you much success!

A: Thank you for letting me talk about my latest book for tweens. It’s been fun.

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Interview with Tim and Debbie Bishop, Authors of Two Are Better

Two Are Better new cover

About Two Are Better

From an engagement to a cross-country trip in just ten weeks? And with no experience in bicycle touring—or marriage? While Tim left behind a 26-year corporate career and familiar surroundings, Debbie was about to enter a “classroom” she hadn’t seen in her 24 years of teaching. Was it a grand getaway or a big mistake?

Purchase from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Two-Are-Better-Midlife-Newlyweds/dp/0985624825/

Purchase from Open Road Press: http://www.openroadpress.com/store/

Q: Thank you for this interview, Tim and Debbie. Can you tell us what your latest book, Two Are Better, is all about?

A: Two Are Better: Midlife Newlyweds Bicycle Coast to Coast is the true story of two lifelong singles who come together in marriage at age 52, and then cross America on a self-supported bicycle tour on their honeymoon. Issues surrounding midlife courtship, marriage, and other life changes—and the lessons learned along the way—make Two Are Better more than just a travelogue.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

A: We decided to share our unique story of finding true love in our fifties and celebrating with a bicycling odyssey to beat all because we believe our testimony is a gift that can benefit others. We waited many years for companionship and intimate love, and had become entrenched in the grind of daily living. We think our story of breaking free will encourage, motivate, and bless people who are struggling with unfulfilled dreams and desires. And most people have them at some level. Sharing deep personal matters in the context of an adventure that others may fantasize about provides a perfect setting to engage readers with powerful and lasting impact. A dual narrative from the seat of a bicycle, as well as some captivating photography along the way, will also provide a fresh perspective on the beauty of America, and an entertaining read.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?

A: We had the benefit of writing a memoir, so much of the content is based on our own personal experience. We learned how to blog during our trip, which became a valuable aid in the writing process. Our photography, trip log, and payment receipts helped to stir the memory and fill in the gaps. Since we shared this adventure together, each of us remembered unique aspects and reminded the other. And a GPS, along with downloadable capabilities and the power of the Internet, allowed us to retrace our steps when necessary.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

A: The strongest underlying message of Two Are Better is that it is NEVER too late to realize your dreams—and to fulfill your desires. There is always hope!

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

A: “There they were: three big ones. I could see them from afar as they began barking and sprinting down their owner’s driveway, launched like a triad of missiles at the prospect of fresh meat. The driveway was about the size of a football field, so I had some time to gather my thoughts. They seemed on pace to intercept me when I arrived at the end of what had become their racetrack. And Debbie was several feet behind me. Surely, no one on this isolated stretch of road would be investing in invisible fence technology, but I could hold out hope. Since Debbie had our only can of pepper spray, it would do me little good. And another troubling thought occurred to me: If I get through this pack in one piece, what about Debbie? She’s lagging behind and sure to encounter these snarling canines. Nevertheless, I wasn’t inclined to stop and serve up lunch on a silver platter to these mutts.”

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it?

A: We had a choice to make going into this project. Would we seek a traditional publishing solution, or venture out on our own? Swayed by the primary motivation to share the story, we decided to start our own publishing company, Open Road Press. In effect, we traded in one set of challenges for another, but we remained in control of our message and our destiny, at least until readers were to weigh in.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

A: Our days no longer seem typical. Since “retirement” from long-term jobs, we are both feeling our way along as we discover our new life together, and our new work models. Each day comes with its own unique challenges. Such is the nature of adventure in life!

Q: What’s next for you?

A: We’re in an exploratory stage and we have several options. Tim is considering a few ideas for another book. He also consults for two small businesses, and may seek to build upon that. Debbie wants to write a program on learning to read, using the Bible. She also has a few part-time teaching opportunities. Both of us continue to serve as volunteer hope coaches for TheHopeLine, an organization spotlighted in Two Are Better. TheHopeLine has made a difference in the lives of many young people, aged 13-29, who came to them in crisis. We count it a privilege to be involved with that organization.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Tim and Debbie. We wish you much success!

A: Thank you for this opportunity to share our thoughts with your readers. We hope that our words have encouraged them to pursue their dreams anew.

About Tim and Debbie Bishop

Tim BishopTim Bishop

Originally from Maine, Tim Bishop has over thirty years of experience in business, first as a CPA, then for many years in various roles in the corporate world. In addition to consulting for small businesses, Tim serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine, a nonprofit organization that seeks to reach, rescue, and restore hurting teens and young adults.

Debbie BishopDebbie Bishop

Debbie Bishop has taught for over twenty-five years, for the past ten years as a literacy specialist in Framingham, Massachusetts. She has a passion for reading and seeing that young people do it well. She also has high interest in recovery issues and encouraging others with her own triumphs over struggles earlier in her life. Debbie also serves as a Hope Coach for TheHopeLine.

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Interview with Joe Sergi, Author of Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures

Sky-Girl-Front-CoverABOUT SKY GIRL AND THE SUPERHEROIC ADVENTURES

Being a teenage girl is hard enough, but for DeDe Christopher, it is proving impossible.

In addition to cliques, books, and boys, she has to worry about capes, apes, and aliens. Last year, DeDe discovered that she possessed fantastic abilities that were strangely similar to those of a comic book character named SkyBoy.

With the help of her best friend Jason, a self-professed comic geek, DeDe accepted her legacy and became Sky Girl. Now, DeDe must learn what it means to be a heroine as Sky Girl faces the all too real enemies and allies of SkyBoy, including the clever Quizmaster, the beautiful Penny Pound, the enigmatic Jersey Devil, and the magical MissTick.

DeDe must also face personal challenges as she discovers the secrets of her late father and his connection to Skyboy–secrets that will affect Sky Girl’s destiny.

Purchase paperback from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Superheroic-Adventures-Series-Volume/dp/1625530277/

Purchase digital version from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Superheroic-Adventures-Series-ebook/dp/B00D4FHE7U/

Purchase paperback or digital from Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sky-girl-and-the-superheroic-adventures-joe-sergi/1115472264

Q: Thank you for this interview, Joe. Can you tell us what your latest book, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, is all about? 

A: Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures is the sequel to Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy. In the first book, readers met DeDe Christopher, an ordinary teen with an extraordinary destiny to become Sky Girl. Being a teenage girl is hard enough, but for DeDe, it is proving impossible. In addition to cliques, books, and boys, she has to worry about capes, apes, and aliens. When we last left DeDe, she had just adopted the mantle of Sky Girl at the end of her sophomore year of high school. This book opens the day before she starts her junior year, so she’s had the whole summer to practice and train with her best friend and self-professed comic geek, Jason. She’s actually gotten quite good at being a costumed adventurer—except for her banter, which still needs work. Now, DeDe must learn what it means to be a heroine as Sky Girl faces the all too real enemies and allies of SkyBoy, including the clever Quizmaster, the beautiful Penny Pound, the enigmatic Jersey Devil, and the magical MissTick. DeDe must also face personal challenges as she discovers the secrets of her late father and his connection to SkyBoy–secrets that will affect Sky Girl’s destiny. 

Unlike the first book, which took place over the course of a week, this book covers the whole school year and allows for more diverse adventures. For example, Sky Girl faces off against Shadow, Jason faces off against Quizmaster, and they both have to face an angry horde of zombies. Each adventure stands on its own but is also part of a larger plot and expands on the mystery of what happened to DeDe’s father and Evil Brain’s plot for world domination. 

I guess the most important thing to note is that you don’t really need to read the first book to enjoy the second. 

Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters? 

A: I love the relationship between the two main characters, DeDe and Jason, and enjoy writing scenes between them. DeDe is emotional and free spirited and Jason is analytical and restrained. I had a similar relationship growing up. And much like I was, DeDe is very different when she is with her best friend than when she is out in public because, with Jason, she actually gets to be her true self. (Of course, her Sky Girl persona helps DeDe overcome some of her shyness.) But, in order for the characters to grow as individuals, in the second book I split them up for some of their adventures. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and love the chemistry between R2D2 and C3PO in the first movie. Despite this, or maybe because of it, George Lucas decided to separate them in the second film and the results were pure genius movie making. I used that as an example in the second book and decided that Jason and DeDe should have their own adventures to realize how important they are to each other and to prove that each can be independent from each other. I always call Jason the sidekick, but they are really partners and I hope Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures helps establish that. I also wanted to ratchet up the tension in the second book, so I moved DeDe’s rival, Nicole, a little closer to DeDe’s inner circle. 

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination? 

A: It’s interesting how many people I went to school with say to me that they have figured out that, “Nicole is so and so, or Jason is based on so and so.” Popular theories are that DeDe is based on an ex-girlfriend from high school and that Jason is based on me. Actually, I wish I could have been Jason. I was never comfortable flying my geek flag until I was much older. In that way, I relate much more to DeDe/Sky Girl. She’s trying really hard to be the cool kid on the outside, but really she’s almost as much of a geek as Jason on the inside. Instead, I base a lot of these characters’ traits on my nieces and nephews. Jason is actually an amalgam of several people I know in the comics industry. A lot of people, editors and reviewers mostly, have a real problem with the formal way Jason talks, especially the fact that he never uses contractions. They think it sounds stilted – but that is the point. There really are people that talk like him in the real world. I can think of four off the top of my head. There is a lot of Adam that comes from one of my best friends/neighbors growing up. And, although I generally like everyone, Nicole is based on some people (men and women) who sadly have gotten under my skin. Of course, because she’s so evil, this also makes her the most fun to write. And, much to DeDe’s and my dismay, I frequently give Nicole the best lines. 

A lot of people ask for me to put them in my books. I think those people will be quite happy with Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures as I have managed to hide many Easter eggs in each adventure. 

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write? 

A: I usually have a general road map of where I want to go and an ending in mind. In the case of Sky Girl, I mapped out the entire trilogy. I knew exactly where I wanted to end, and how I was going to get there. Of course, when I started writing, I realized that my characters were taking me in a different direction than my road map and the ending of the third book. So, I had to go back and rework a lot of the earlier parts so they were consistent. Additionally, some things just didn’t work as well as I thought they would. For example, in the first draft, DeDe’s mother was remarried and DeDe had a little brother who was instrumental to the resolution of the plot. However, as I was writing, I realized that the brother wasn’t adding anything to the story. In fact, having DeDe’s mother being happily remarried prevented me from exploring how DeDe would react when her mother gets a new serious boyfriend. DeDe views this new guy as trying to replace her late father and must come to terms with that. So the brother vanished, which required a lot of restructuring. 

Q: Your book is set in New Jersey. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular? 

A: The first book was set in my home town of Colonia, New Jersey. And while Colonia still continues to be the primary setting in Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, I also was able to explore more locations. However, given that this book is a series of interrelated adventures, as opposed to an origin story, I was able to include a lot more locations outside of Colonia. A number of locations in New Jersey are featured in the book, including an attempted robbery of the First Bank of Colonia; a secret portal located at The Edison Memorial Tower and Museum in Menlo Park; and a hunt for the Jersey Devil in Jenny Jump State Park. I should also mention that there are cameos and references to many of the unique NJ places from my youth, like Merrill and Roosevelt Parks, the Menlo Park Mall, and the Krauzers convenience store where I used to buy my comics, as well as some imagined places, like the Colonia Memorial Cemetery. 

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story? 

A: I’m from New Jersey. My family still lives there and I visit the state as often as I can. New Jersey, and especially Colonia, is the perfect setting for this book. The fact that it isn’t New York (but close to it) makes it perfectly plausible that super villains would want to hide out there. It also allows Sky Girl to have a small town upbringing, while still being able to face big city challenges. New Jersey was Hollywood before there was a Hollywood and Las Vegas before there was a Las Vegas, and still has the best pizza in the world. The fact that two-thirds of the state is wide open space allows the potential for knock down drag out fights with no property damage or injuries in later volumes. Not to mention that New Jersey has its own cryptozoological creature, the Jersey Devil, which was a great character to play with in the Sky Girl story. 

Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening? 

A: Good choice. This was an interesting page to write. Sky Girl has just arrived in the Mutardi Dimension in inner space. True to character, DeDe just rushed into the dimension without thinking. But, she isn’t really ready for what happens when she gets there. It was a challenge to write because I wanted to create a sense of peril while still being fun. 

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts? 

A: I don’t know if it’s my best excerpt, but my favorite villain to write was Alexander–he is a security guard that finds some of Professor Z’s equipment and decides to become a supervillain. He is horrible at it and it really lets me poke fun at the comic genre that I love. For example, in this short scene, Alexander tries to rob a bank, but is delayed by Jason, who engages him in a debate as to what makes a great villain. 

EXCERPT: 

Jason turned toward the tunnel, watching with a mixture of fear and excitement as the figure emerged from it. DeDe had run up against several villains in her short career as Sky Girl, but this guy was the big one: Professor Z. He was the cream of the crop, the greatest at being the worst. After all, Professor Z was the villain that had beaten SkyBoy. Jason squinted as the villain stepped into the bank from the tunnel.

An overweight, masked teenager dressed in black spandex and a black cape exited the Z-Gate. The ill-fitting spandex failed to fully cover his mid-section, and his stained white undershirt poked through. The tunnel vanished as quickly as it had formed, causing the villain to trip over his cape and sprawl out on the bank floor. As the villain regained his footing and tried to stand, Jason noticed that the fiend’s cowl-like mask had shifted and sat askew, so that one eyehole was blocked.

“Aw, man!” exclaimed the villain.

Jason cleared his throat, and the teenager in spandex turned to look at him. He smiled as his eyes met the villain’s uncovered one. ”Um, hi. Are you a super villain?”

“Hi. And why, yes, I am,” he said as he readjusted his mask.

“You know, they never mention in the movies how hard it is to keep the mask on.”

Jason nodded knowingly as he remembered DeDe’s many complaints over the summer during their mask trials. “I know what you mean. You know, a little spirit gum will hold that thing right in place.”

“Really? Spirit gum? Like the circus guys use? I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks.” The man smiled and then looked over at the wall.

“Well, okay then. Nice meeting you. I have, you know, villainous work to do.” He moved toward the vault.

Jason threw up his hands. “Wait!”

“Yeah, what?”

Jason stared at the overweight spandex-clad teen. “Um, you cannot just rob the bank.”

The villain stared at him. “I cannot? I mean, I can’t?”

Jason rolled his eyes. “Duh. First you have to announce your fiendish intentions and tell everyone your name.” Jason looked around the bank. Only the old woman remained.

The villain appeared to think for a moment. “Well, okay then. I guess there is some merit to that.” The villain took a deep breath and attempted to sound menacing as he spoke. “I’m Alex, and I’m here to rob this bank.”

Jason stared at him with an annoyed look.

“What?”

“Alex? Really?”

“What’s wrong with Alex?”

Jason glanced at his watch and hoped the police would be there soon. “It is a little plain. You want a name that invokes fear, like Professor Z, or Evil Brain, or Commander Chimp.”

Alex pursed his lips in thought. “I know—my mother always wanted me to be a doctor. So call me Doctor Doom!”

Jason shook his head from side to side. “That name is taken by a Marvel Comics villain. Trust me, you do not want them coming after you for infringement. They are owned by Disney now.”

“What about Doctor Destiny?”

“Nope. DC Comics.”

“Doctor Midnight?”

“No way.”

“Doctor Horrible?”

“Joss Whedon used that one. Neil Patrick Harris played him.”

“You mean that Doogie Howser kid?”

“Yeah.”

“I loved that show. How about Doctor Strange?”

“Marvel again.”

“Doctor Evil?”

“Oh, come on. You are not even trying now.”

The duo’s debate was cut short by the sound of sirens. Alex peered out the bank window. “Aw man, now the police are here. I didn’t even get to rob the bank.”

Jason smiled. “You had better go. You do not want to face them without a name.”

Alex, the nameless villain, pressed a button on his gauntlet and the tunnel reappeared. “Yeah, I don’t really have any weapons either.”

Jason chuckled. “Going back to your evil villain’s layer?”

Alex looked confused. “You mean my evil villain’s lair.” He stressed the last word. Jason pointed into the tunnel, and Alex read his spray-painted sign. “Darn it! You know, I thought I might have spelled that wrong.” Alex raced down the tunnel as the police broke into the bank. Jason watched as the glowing lights of the Z-Gate shrank away and vanished.

Jason threw up his hands as the police approached him. He could hear the security guard began to groan his way back to consciousness. “He is gone now. I do not think he took anything.” “Did he say who he was?” one of the officers asked.

Jason smiled. “Not really.” 

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Joe. We wish you much success! 

A: Thanks for having me. If you want to find out more, My author site is www.joesergi.net; Sky Girl can be found at www.SkyGirlNovel.com, and the official site for Great Zombies in History is www.GreatZombiesinHistory.com; my monthly column can be found at www.cbldf.org.

 

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Joe Sergi photoABOUT JOE SERGI

Joe Sergi lives outside of Washington, DC with his wife and daughter. Joe is an attorney and a Haller Award winning author who has written articles, novels, short stories, and comic books in the horror, scifi, and young adult genres. Joe is the creator of the Sky Girl series of novels and the editor of Great Zombies in History. His first novel, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy was selected Best of 2010 by the New PODler Review. Joe is a life-long comic fan who regularly writes on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. A complete list of Joe’s titles is available at www.JoeSergi.net. When not writing, Joe works as a Senior Litigation Counsel in an unnamed US government agency and is a member of the adjunct faculty at George Mason University School of Law.

Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures Tour Schedule

Tuesday, September 3rd

First chapter review at The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

Wednesday, September 4th

Book spotlight and giveaway at My Devotional Thoughts

Thursday, September 5th

Interview at As the Pages Turn

Monday, September 9th

Interview at Examiner

Wednesday, September 11th

Interview at Blogcritics

Thursday, September 12th

Book review and giveaway at Mommynificent

Friday, September 13th

Book spotlight at Literarily Speaking

Monday, September 16th

Interview at Literarily Speaking

Thursday, September 19th

Guest post and giveaway at Freda’s Voice

Friday, September 20th

Guest post at Paperback Writer

Guest post at Lori’s Reading Corner

Monday, September 23rd

Book spotlight at The Writer’s Life

Tuesday, September 24th

Guest post at The Writer’s Life

Friday, September 27th

Interview at Pump Up Your Book

Tuesday, October 1st

Guest post and giveaway at The Busy Mom’s Daily

Wednesday, October 2nd

Guest post at The Story Behind the Book

Friday, October 4th

Interview at Between the Covers

Monday, October 7th

Book spotlight at Review from Here

Tuesday, October 8th

Book review at Library at the END of the Universe

Wednesday, October 9th

Interview and giveaway at Tribute Books Reviews and Giveaways

Thursday, October 10th

Interview at Straight from the Author’s Mouth

Monday, October 14th

Book spotlight at YAdult Review

Tuesday, October 15th

Interview at The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

Wednesday, October 16th

Interview at The Story of a Writer

Thursday, October 17th

Interview at The Dark Phantom Review

Monday, October 21st

Interview at Broowaha

Monday, October 28th

Guest post at Authors and Appetizers

Monday, November 4th

Book spotlight at Literal Exposure

Monday, November 18th

Book review at Mary’s Cup of Tea

Tuesday, November 26th

Book review at The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection

Wednesday, November 27th

Book tour highlights at The Book Rack

More tour stops coming soon! 

 

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A Conversation with Gary L. Doman, Author of Vinland Viking

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Gary L. Doman, whose (pen-)surname rhymes with “roman”, the French word for “novel”, was born in Syracuse (New York) and has spent the majority of his life in Connecticut.  He has degrees from Fairfield University and the University of Connecticut.  He has developed an interest in just about everything, especially history, geography, religion, language, and the natural world.  He began writing as a child and has never really stopped, although he does periodically need to eat and sleep, and also devotes considerable time to his other creative and intellectual endeavors; these include his “weblog” the Doman Domain and one of the items of interest found there, namely, “The Best Comic Strip Ever!”.  Further, he has taught himself to sing and founded his own political philosophy.  His greatest accomplishment may be remaining humble despite the preceding! 

Visit Gary online at http://domandomain.blogspot.com/

Q: Thank you for this interview, Gary. Can you tell us what your latest book, Vinland Viking: An Original Saga by Gary L. Doman, is all about?

A:  Vinland Viking is an “epic novella” and a “Christian historical fantasy-adventure” set at the time of the conversion to Christianity of Iceland and Greenland.  The protagonist is a young Northman who longs to lead the storied life of the pagan Vikings. His opportunity comes with Leif Ericsson’s exploration in North America, but his fortunes change in a way and by a means that no one could have anticipated, and which lead him ultimately (in a surprise ending) to the one true god.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters? 

A:  The protagonist, Yngar (later Brand-Yngar) Magnusson, is a native of the Orkney Islands.  He’s basically virtuous but also young and obstinate. He resents the fact that the Scandinavian world is accepting Christianity, which is putting an end to the practice of going “Viking,” that is, raiding.  Like me, he admires character in women at least as much as he does beauty, and he finds both those qualities in Asny Svansdottir, Vinland Viking‘s leading lady (or, to use a silly coinage of mine that does not appear in the book, “Viqueen”).  She’s even younger than Yngar, being just 16 when she first appears. Unlike him, she’s a devout Christian.  These two are really the only main characters.  The supporting cast consists largely of giants, dragons, other monsters, dwarves, and even some gods.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

A:  Only the monsters are based on “real people.”  Actually, I create characters from my imagination, since, for me, the ability to do that is one of the greatest rewards of writing.  I cannot say, though, that no actual human beings have any influence on them.  As I stated in my answer to the previous question, Yngar shares my taste in the opposite sex; he’s also obstinate, and I think that at least the potential for obstinacy exists in my personality.  It ought to be noted here that Vinland Viking is just one tale in what I regard as an “epic cycle” built around several protagonists of a common ancestry, who live in different periods of history (over a total span of 13,000 years) and together represent all mankind, and that I’m trying to give each a different prime character trait that I deem present in myself.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write? 

A:  The plot can evolve somewhat as I write, but my policy is to map it out with as much detail as I can before starting one of this fella’s novellas.  A nightmare of mine is writing a large portion of a story and then realizing that it just won’t work as planned, because of something that I’d failed to consider. (I’ve always succeeded at whittling down the edges of a square peg so that it fits into a round hole, but I’d rather that everything just proceeded smoothly.)

Q: Your book is set in lands that border the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean.  Can you tell us why you chose this place in particular? 

A:  Yes: The reason why my story is titled “Vinland Viking” is that Yngar Magnusson, who has just settled in Greenland, flees to the part of North America that Leif Ericsson has explored and named “Vinland;” in my novella, it’s part of Newfoundland.  This gives him the opportunity to fulfill his dream of becoming a true Viking (one who goes “Viking”, or raiding), although, as I hinted in my answer to the first question, his life takes an unexpected turn. 

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story? 

A:  It does.  One of my chief interests is geography, and so I try to make the most of the location of a scene.  Local weather phenomena such as blizzard and fog, and even local wildlife, play a very significant role in advancing the plot. 

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening? 

A:  If you mean page 69 of the print version, the answer is “nothing,” because that edition is only 67 pages long.  Since the revised, electronic Vinland Viking is readable on various techno-gizmos that allow one to change the font size and so forth, which page is number 69 is largely a matter of one’s preference, but, let me look at the manuscript in “reading view;” this yields 110 screens.  On number 69 of those, I see that Brand-Yngar is examining weapons that dwarves have just given him so that he can fulfill a certain mission. I provide a detailed description of the weaponry, rather as Homer did for the armor and shield of Achilles in the Iliad

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts? Vinland Viking cover

A:  Only if you promise to give it back!  I don’t want to excerpt material that gives away too much of the plot, and I like to think that every part of Vinland Viking is the best part, but I’ll provide the following:

Long after they had left the sight of the Kraken, Brand-Yngar and his cohort could see nothing in the bleakness except an occasional skua, ptarmigan, or arctic tern, all of which were too adept at flying to be caught by a party of such limited resources.  Nonetheless, since snow did not currently cover the ground, the trio considered that they had a good chance of locating whichever animals had already donned their white winter fur or plumage.  They also remembered to examine the nearby shore, knowing that the ocean might provide what they needed.

Later they spotted another avian, but one that seemed to hold out more promise of being caught: a beautiful, black-barred female snowy owl, roosting in a depression in the treeless tundra.  On Brand-Yngar’s advice, he and the others flattened themselves on the frozen earth and inched toward the bird.  As they did so, Brand-Yngar felt hypocritical, for he had recently admonished these same charges of his that “A Viking never crawls!”

The men continued to slide and grind forward on their bellies; if this part of the island had been frosted by snow and ice, they might have resembled oversized penguins.  They had approached their quarry within a few score of yards, never knowing whether it failed to detect their presence, merely bided its time before taking flight, or perhaps had to stay put to protect eggs or owlets, when abruptly its mate winged to the attack from a heretofore unseen post on the summit of a boulder.  In silence the golden-eyed, nearly pure-white partner repeatedly and fearlessly swooped upon the hunters, each time wheeling away to strike from a new angle; the flustered Northlanders sought to down the large bird with their weapons, but it manoeuvred around the flailing steel, getting its talons so close to their eyes that they thought it very capable of gouging them from the sockets.  In frustration they conceded victory to the owls, and swiftly circumvented the area.

As the group trod further along, the air grew noticeably chillier.  This did not alarm anybody until one observed that the very storm that had forced the dragon ship ashore was moving northwest.  Worse, it now qualified as a blizzard, for the winds were beginning to dust Helluland with snowflakes.  Death was merely a possibility to those staying with the Kraken, whereas it was a certainty here in the midst of a snowstorm; Brand-Yngar therefore instructed the other members of the triad to attempt to retreat to the longship, even though this meant going straight into the powerful and blinding air currents.  They saw several animals hiding from the atmospheric fury; to catch these would have been easy, but all their attention was now dedicated to their own immediate survival.

Brand-Yngar felt his legs growing heavier with each step, and he had no doubt that the rest were growing similarly exhausted; the fact that they had to lift their feet steadily higher to extract them from the swiftly accumulating snow didn’t improve matters.  During particularly strong gusts it seemed to the comrades that they were barely progressing, for the might of the wind was nearly equal to their remaining determination.  Brand-Yngar would have offered words of encouragement, but the frigidity had numbed his lips.  He couldn’t avoid marveling that he was experiencing a worse blizzard than any that he could recall as an Orcadian, where his home had lain at 59 degrees North Latitude, yet this was not yet autumn!  Being ignorant of the Gulf Stream, which brought warm water to his birthplace, and of the Labrador Current, which carried cold water south in the Western Hemisphere, he wondered in his distress if this might be a stage of the Fimbulwinter, the severe winter or winters that the sages had foretold would precede Ragnarok.

Hours passed.  His associates faltered, first temporarily, and then permanently.  Their leader wanted to give them a proper burial, but he knew that to expend the necessary time and energy would merely expedite his own demise.  He could only unsheathe each dying man’s sword and place it in each man’s hand, so that the pair would, in Norse belief, be granted entrance to Valhalla.  Brand-Yngar himself continued onward as long as he was capable of movement, and prayed, as long as he had consciousness, to the deity who, as the creator of storms, had the power to calm them: Thor.  Then, he blacked out. 

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Gary.  We wish you much success! 

A:  You’re welcome, and thank you.

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A Conversation with T.J. MacLeslie, Author of Designed for Relationship

MacLeslie photoT.J. MacLeslie has been involved in a variety of Christian ministries since 1990, including pastoring, church planting, leadership development, prayer, and spiritual formation. He currently lives in the UK with his wife and two children where he leads a team focused on prayer and spiritual formation. You’ll often find him walking the fields with his dog, reading a book, or enjoying a warm cup of coffee.

Visit the author online at http://about.me/tj_macleslie.

Q: Thank you for this interview, T.J. Can you tell us what your latest book, Designed for Relationship, is all about?

A:  There are so many ideas about God floating around in our world today. Many present God in terms that are uninviting, and frankly, inaccurate. I grew up with a view of God as a distant and forbidding king and judge. I have joyfully discovered that while God is the King of kings and Lord of lords, He is also much more. The God of scripture is relational at His core, Father, Son, and Spirit, constantly loving and interacting. God decided to expand this community of love and created humans to be partakers of the divine nature and little images of His relational self. This is very different than the picture I received as a kid growing up in church.

The book invites you to rediscover the relational nature of God and humanity in two parts: Part One examines ancient truths in the Bible to renew our vision of God and humanity; Part Two applies these truths to our lives, using the Five Circles, a practical tool to understand what it means to be human and provide a framework for growth. All of this has come as a result of my own search for God in the confusion and chaos of the real world.

Q: How did you come up with the idea?

A: This book is a summary of the lessons I have learned in my search for truth and meaning. Along the way, I have met wonderful people who challenged me and encouraged me in my pursuit. Now, I have the opportunity to help others. It was in the process of listening to and serving others on their journey that the idea for this book came up. Some of those I have journeyed alongside kept asking me to write something down so they could share it with others. While the message of the book is ancient, the way it is assembled is unique, particularly the paradigm I call The Five Circles.

Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book? Designed for Relationship cover

A: I spent a lot of time studying the Bible and checking everything against this unchanging standard of Truth. I also studied those who have walked similar paths through the years: from St. Augustine and St. Patrick, right through to Henry Nouwen, Dallas Willard, and David Benner. The book is heavily referenced and has an extensive bibliography, but above all this is a practical book. The lessons gleaned from others have been tried and tested in the laboratory of the real world. In a sense, my whole life has been research for this book. I draw on my own experiences as well as those of people I have worked with through the years, to share the principles and tools that we have found helpful for our journey.

Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?

A:  When we fail to understand who we are and who God is, we are missing out on the very core of what is available to us as people. There actually is an amazing, abundant, eternal kind of life available to us. Don’t give up hope! Keep searching along the ancient paths.

Q: Can you give us a short excerpt?

A: Here is a short section from Chapter 5:

People are incredibly diverse and our backgrounds are so varied that the problems we face deserve more than a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Whether we are working on our own issues or helping someone else, we need to ask questions and listen carefully to the answers. The Five Circles can guide us in asking questions, gaining insight, rightly understanding problems, identifying potential solutions, and suggesting practical steps toward healing, wholeness, and intimacy with God.

We need to be careful to remember that our relationship with God is the core pursuit. God is the One who heals and frees as we draw near to Him. If we make our goal wholeness, healing, or freedom, those goals can subtly become our idols. It is not that freedom is a bad goal, but it is not the ultimate one. I have found that as we grow closer to God we become more whole and free. We become like the thing we behold, the thing we exalt, the thing we worship. He made us for relationship with Him, and each aspect of who we are is important to that relationship. We cannot be content just to do what comes easy to us. Growing in relationship with God means embracing all of who God made us to be, and striving to become who we are. As we do that, freedom results.

Only human beings have to struggle to become who we are. Other creatures do not have a choice about what they become. Trees grow without making conscious choices. Only humans think about what we would like to become. We make decisions that affect the direction of our lives. The flip side of this is our capacity to stunt ourselves. We have the capacity for denial. We can choose to move into or withdraw from relationship. Sometimes these are conscious decisions and other times we choose them without realizing why. By pursuing God, we can cultivate awareness. We can choose to love God with all we are, leaving nothing out and holding nothing back. When we fail to love God with our mind, our will, our emotion, our spirit, or our body, we are failing in the most basic, the most central command – the command to love God with all we are.

Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today?  How did you do it?

A: I think it is easier than ever to get a book published, particularly with digital printing and print-on-demand as options for the self-publishing author. I was fully intending to go this route for both of my books, but it seems that God had other plans.

I create in community, and invite people to read and respond to the manuscript, throughout the creative process. My goal was to hone and improve the book by getting a variety of perspectives, but an unintended consequence was the buzz being generated, and in both cases a small publisher asked to print the book.

This is my second book and my second small publisher. I feel like a small publisher has a lot of the benefits of self-publishing without the complications and loss of control that comes with a major publishing house. I like that the small publishers are responsive and are invested in marketing and selling the book, the parts that I find most difficult. I wrote the book because I wanted to help people and I believe in the message. I find the creative process to be a joy, but the publishing process to be really draining. I am happy to let someone else take the lead in the design, printing, distribution, and marketing of the book.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?

A: I lead a team for an international missions organization, Pioneers, providing prayer and soul care for pastors and missionaries serving around the world. It is such a joy to get to listen to, pray for, and share with people who are experiencing God and helping people each day. Most days I pray with the team for people around the world, and then correspond  and talk with people that I am involved with in mentoring and spiritual companionship relationships. We live in a small town in the UK that provides some great places to walk through the fields and along the coast, so most days I take walks in the fields with my dog to connect with God and talk with Him about the people I love.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I love my primary job, helping people to grow and experience God more day by day, and I see writing as an extension of that. I plan to explore the issues of faith, culture, and personality in fiction next. But one of the really interesting parts of living connected with God is the adventure of letting Him lead you into what’s next. I have my plans and ambitions, but if the past is any indication, my plans will have little bearing on what comes next.

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, T.J.  We wish you much success!

A: Thank you for interviewing me. I pray that you will be successful in all you set your hand to, and that you will become ever more who you truly are.

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