Tag Archives: Christian authors

Interview: Christine Dillon

Author Christine Dillon
Author Christine Dillon

Author Christine Dillon’s third novel, Grace in Deep Waters, released in July, and I caught up with her for a few questions. You’ll find her author bio and the details of her book below, but first, let’s hear from Christine herself.

Janet: You’ve lived in a number of countries. Where are you based now? And what’s something you love about where you live?

Christine: I’m currently back in Taiwan where I’ve worked as a missionary for the past twenty years. As my parents were also missionaries, I have also done most of my schooling in Malaysia and the Philippines. However, my passport country is Australia.

I love using my life to tell people about Jesus. People here are friendly and hospitable.

Janet: You’re a Bible storyteller, verbally recounting events from Scripture. How did writing novels come about?

Christine: As a Bible storyteller I couldn’t fail to be impacted by the response that people had to stories and the fact that they often learned far more than they would if I’d taught them the main points. The stories lingered.

I had also been strongly impacted by certain stories like the Narnia series and Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. However, I didn’t think I could ever write a novel. Non-fiction yes, but novels were well beyond me.

It seems that God has other ideas because he literally dropped the initial ideas and title into my head for the first novel which went on to start a series. It was kind of Him not to give me too much up front because I would have been overwhelmed. I spent nearly five hard years learning to write fiction. Some things get easier but it is still the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

Janet: Grace in Deep Waters is book 3 in the Grace series, each one tackling some heavy issues in a character-driven, thought-provoking way. Do readers need to begin with book 1, or can they dive right into the “Deep Waters” of book 3?

Christine: I’ve written each book as a ‘stand alone’ story but it would be much more beneficial to read from book 1.

Janet: Each book in the series features a different member of the Macdonald family. Do you have a favourite character, and if so, why?

Christine: You spend so much time with the characters so they grow on you. Most of my favourite characters are the minor characters. I loved Joy from book 1 and Dr Paul Webster. I am planning a separate book for him. In book 2, I loved Josh and Dirk at the plant nursery. Throughout the series I also love Naomi, Esther’s grandmother. In book 3, one of the main characters is quite hard to like. I am thankful God doesn’t give up on him because most of us would have. The side characters of Reg (modelled a bit on my grandfather) and Davy are my favourites. Writing an eight-year-old was fun.

Janet: I know you’re here to talk about fiction, but could you give us a quick intro to what Bible storytelling is?

Christine: Of course, I love to talk about Bible storytelling. It is a way of simply telling Bible stories so that people not only hear God’s word but can then interact with it. I mostly tell stories to adults and most often with non-Christians. Storytelling has a unique ability to get under people’s defences and allow us to communicate with people who wouldn’t usually listen. I have two non-fiction books on storytelling and you can find out more at storyingthescriptures.com. There are many training posts/videos and video stories there, plus testimonies of people using storytelling around the world.

Janet: Christine, thanks for taking time to chat today, and all the best with your writing!

More about the book:

Book cover: Grace in Deep Waters, by Christine Dillon

William Macdonald is at the pinnacle of his career. Pastor of a growing megachurch and host of a successful national radio programme. Clever and respected, he’s a man with everything, including a secret. His wife has left him and he can’t risk anyone finding out.

Blanche Macdonald is struggling. Her once rock-solid marriage is showing cracks. She promised to love her husband for better or for worse, but does loving always mean staying? Blanche desires to put God first. Not William. Not her daughter. Not herself.

When is a marriage over? When do you stand and fight?

Buy links for Grace in Deep Waters:

More about Christine Dillon

Christine never intended to become an author. The only kind of writing she wondered if she might do was biography. However, it was a surprise to her to write poetry, non-fiction and now fiction.

Christine was a physiotherapist but now she writes ‘storyteller’ on any airport forms. She can legitimately claim to be this as she has written a book on storytelling and spends much of her time either telling Bible stories or training others to do so from her base in southern Taiwan.

In her spare time Christine loves all things active – hiking, cycling, swimming, snorkelling. But she also likes reading and genealogical research, as that satisfies her desire to be an historical detective.

Visit Christine’s website: storytellerchristine.com

Subscribe to Christine’s newsletter: subscribe.storytellerchristine.com

Author Interview: Jessica Kate

Author Jessica Kate

Preparing for the release of her debut novel, Love and Other Mistakes, on July 30, author Jessica Kate somehow squeezed in time for one more interview—provided we kept it to three questions. You’ll find her author bio and the details of her book below, but first, let’s hear from Jessica herself.

Janet: On the internet, we’re citizens of the world and often don’t know which country people call home. So for those who don’t know, I want to celebrate that you’re an Australian author. What’s something you love about where you live?

Jessica: Oh, great question! I love Australia’s weather (visiting the USA I’m often surprised at how much more extreme the temperatures are), beaches and relaxed vibe. The more I visit beaches overseas the more I realize how ours really are among the best in the world.

Janet: How did an international author catch the attention of an American publisher?

Jessica: I guess the story starts with first getting an agent. I met Chip MacGregor at a writing conference in 2015. While I didn’t have an appointment with him, I went to his class on book proposals and used the question time at the end to show him mine and ask what he’d improve. He looked at it and liked it, and long story short he wound up my agent.

Once we’d worked on the book for a while (quite a bit of re-writing and polishing which really strengthened the book) Chip sent it out to multiple publishers. I met many of them, either in formal meetings or again stalking at writing conferences, and then they got the book proposal.

I think it helped that I have an Aussie accent and was wearing a bright red dress at the time. It meant they could remember me more easily. 😊

After a long wait, Thomas Nelson made an offer! I was so excited!!!

Janet:  Love and Other Mistakes looks like a light-hearted read, perfect for summer. What do you hope readers take away from the story?

Jessica: Hope! The book combines humor with a lot of family and romantic drama, and some messy situations. But at the end of the day, God is bigger than our messes.

Janet: “God is bigger than our messes” – that gives hope, all right. Jessica, thanks for taking time to chat today, and all the best with your writing!

Jessica: Thanks Janet!

More about the books:

Book Cover: Love and Other Mistakes, a novel by Jessica Kate

There’s a fine line between love and hate…. And for the last seven years, Natalie Groves has hated Jeremy Walters.

Natalie Groves was meant for great things. But soon after her fiancé left, Natalie’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Suddenly her grand plans evaporated…and God felt very far away.

Fast-forward seven years, and an internship presents Natalie a chance at her destiny – but she needs a job to work around it. And the only offer available is worse than a life sentence. Her ex Jeremy, now back in town, is desperate for help with his infant son and troubled teenage niece, Lili. And Natalie may be just the one to help Jeremy…provided they don’t kill each other in the process.

When Jeremy and Natalie join forces, sparks fly. But will either of them get burned along the way?

Book Cover: A girl's Guide to the Outback, a novel by Jessica Kate

Kimberly Foster needs help from the last man in the world who would give it.

She and Samuel Payton fought so much during their three-year stint as colleagues that they now reside in different halves of the globe. She’s still the business director of the Virginia-based youth ministry that Sam founded, while he’s back at his family’s farm in rural Australia.

But Kimberly can’t find a suitable replacement for Sam, and the ministry is in trouble. She needs him back. What she doesn’t know is that the Payton farm’s finances are scarier than statistics on Australian spider bites.

She and Sam strike a deal: if she can use her business savvy to save the farm, he’ll return to Virginia and recruit and train his replacement.

Soon Kimberly’s on the edge of the Outback, working more closely with Sam than ever before. Can she protect his family’s legacy, the ministry, and her heart?

About Jessica Kate

Australian author Jessica Kate is obsessed with sassy romances.

She packs her novels with love, hate, and everything in between—and then nerds out over her favorite books, movies and TV in the StoryNerds podcast. When she’s not writing or discussing fiction, she’s hunting the world for the greatest pasta in existence.

Her debut novel Love and Other Mistakes releases July 2019, while A Girl’s Guide to the Outback hits shelves in January 2020.

Receive her sassy short The Kiss Dare FREE when you sign up for her newsletter at jessicakatewriting.com.

Book links

Love and Other Mistakes – https://books2read.com/u/3L06gJ

A Girl’s Guide to the Outback – https://books2read.com/u/b570Dl

Social media

Facebook and Instagram: Jessica Kate Writing

StoryNerds podcast: Available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts and at www.storynerds.podbean.com.

Author Interview: Christine Dillon

Author Christine Dillon Christine Dillon was born in Australia but grew up in Asia. She now works in Taiwan as a Bible storyteller. Her book Telling the Gospel Through Story was voted 2013 Outreach Magazine Resource of the Year in Evangelism, and continues to inspire innovative and engaging Bible storytelling. Believing in the beauty and power of story prompted her jump into fiction. She loves reading, and keeps sane by cycling and swimming.

Janet: Welcome, Christine. Let’s start with some fun facts about you: Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or tea? What’s your favourite season?

Christine: Vanilla. Tea. Any but winter.

Janet: As a Canadian, I’m curious what your winters are like, but I guess that’s another conversation! Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.

Christine: The incredibly generosity and friendliness of Taiwanese people.

Janet: Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Christine: 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 – God chooses the weak to shame the strong … so that no one can boast before him. If you feel weak then you qualify to be used. Grow close to Jesus and learn to rely on his spirit and you will be used (but probably not in the way you’d expect).

Janet: “Not the way you’d expect” – that’s practically a given! Your website says you didn’t intend to be a writer. What got you started?

Christine: I wrote my non-fiction to save myself having to answer every question one by one. I wanted to share what God had taught me and writing it down was the best use of my time. For Telling the Gospel Through Story we also set up a Bible storytelling website (www.storyingthescriptures.com) and that has become a ministry in itself with 7 languages and growing.

Janet: Congratulations on the release of your first novel, Grace in Strange Disguise, in October 2017. Was moving from non-fiction to fiction easier than you’d thought, or harder?

Christine: Much, much harder. Part of my life is facilitating seminars and so non-fiction is relatively easy. It took me nearly five years to write two practice novels and then plan, draft and edit (? 30 times) the final novel. I chose Biblical for the practice novels because I am a Bible storyteller and I thought it might be less of a jump. There were so many times that I thought, “It’s ready” and then a professional would show me it wasn’t.

Janet: We’ll have a full description of Grace in Strange Disguise at the end of this interview, but would you give us a few hints now?

Christine: It’s an Australian story about a physiotherapist who has a ‘golden’ life. And she expects to because her father has always preached ‘trust Jesus and you’ll be blessed.’ But what happens when ‘golden’ disappears? How do you make sense of it? Where is God in such times and what is he doing?

Janet: You’re tackling some very real issues in this novel. Readers may not face the same situation as Esther, but struggles are part of life, and God doesn’t always work the way we want Him to. What do you hope readers will take away from Esther’s story?

Christine: That God can be trusted. If he allows us to go through tough times it is not because he doesn’t care or has gone to sleep. It is part of his sovereign plan.

I also want to challenge us to know our Bibles and be able to stand against the lies that our world tells.

Janet: We do need to knowing our Bibles! Because you’re a Bible storyteller, I wonder… is Esther’s name significant?

Christine: I don’t even remember why that name was chosen. But actually when I think about it there are some similarities to Queen Esther. Both had to stand up and show courage in front of strong men.

Janet: Where did the story idea come from?

Christine: I was having a ministry half day of prayer in about 2007 and suddenly two ideas for novels dropped into my head – titles, main idea and setting. I was horrified because I knew writing fiction would be incredibly difficult and doubted I could ever do it. But I wrote the ideas down in the back of my prayer diary and said, “Lord, if those ideas were from you, you’ll have to make yourself clearer and give me all the resources I need.”

Over the next years, two non-fiction books were traditionally published. The pressure to start writing fiction just grew, until in 2013 I gave in.

Janet: When God’s in it, we need to do it. Congratulations on persevering! Do you have a favourite character?

Christine: This is a bit like asking ‘which child do you love most?’ I like Esther once she’s matured a bit. But there are lots of minor characters I like. The two men, Rob and Paul – because they are like so many non-Christian Australians I’ve shared the good news with. I love the ‘mentor’ character, Joy for her wisdom and courage. And Gina, because she is like some of the best friends I’ve had.

Janet: What was the best part of the story to write?

Christine: I enjoyed writing Joy’s story although it was tough to edit because it was long. I also loved writing all the dialogue between Esther and her skeptical medical specialist and other patients.

Janet: You’ve lived in so many interesting places, it must have been hard to choose a setting for your novel. What made you decide on Australia?

Christine: I think the initial ideas had this one set in Australia and the other in New Zealand. It wasn’t really a deliberate decision.

Janet: Is there another novel in the works?

Christine: One of my editors said, “This isn’t one book this is one and a half.” It was only 5 months before publication and I didn’t think I had the energy to cut off one third of the book and write a new ending. But she was right and with God’s help it got done.

So at the moment I see two more in this series.

Then there is another idea that was given in that initial prayer time and then the two practice novels could be rewritten. I don’t want to see any further ahead than that!

Janet: That’s enough of a to-do list for now! How do you juggle writing with your other work?

Christine: With great difficulty! Like many people in paid Christian ministry I struggle to know where work ends and what time can be used for writing. My non-fiction was written in intense bursts in my free time. At the moment, I’m trying to carve out one three hour block in a week. It often takes me the first hour to ‘get in the swing’.

Janet: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Christine: Find experienced writers and LISTEN to them. There were so many times when I thought my writing was better than it was. It hurt to listen to some of the feedback and I nearly gave up several times but they were right.

There are also excellent craft books out there. Find a community of writers and ask for their best recommendations.

Janet: Thanks so much for taking time to chat, Christine, and all the best!

===

Grace in Strange Disguise, by Christine DillonGrace in Strange Disguise, by Christine Dillon

Physiotherapist Esther Macdonald is living the Australian dream, and it doesn’t surprise her.

After all, her father has always said, “Follow Jesus and be blessed.” But at twenty-eight, her world shatters. Everyone assures her God will come through for her, but what happens when he doesn’t? Has she offended God? Is her faith too small? So many conflicting explanations.

Will finding the truth cost her the people closest to her heart?

For more about Christine Dillon, her books and ministry, visit http://www.storytellerchristine.com

Online Writing Conference

Write Canada Online 2017Write Canada is online this year, happening on October 21, 2017, with tracks for fiction and marketing.

This means you can attend from anywhere — no travel costs, no accommodations, and you can be there in your pajamas if that makes you happy. Members of The Word Guild get a discount, but anyone who wants to learn is welcome. And you don’t have to be Canadian.

Participate in real time, and you can interact with the presenters in the “virtual classroom.” If the time zones don’t work for you, attend what you can in real time, and catch the rest in replays.

There are four wokshops this year, and you can attend one or all. One advantage of having the option to access the replays later is that if you miss something, or want to hear it again, you can.

Real-time technical assistance will be available during the event, too, so if tech is a bit scary for you, no worries. Someone can help with anything that comes up.

Workshops:

  • “Six Months to a Full-time Income,” with Marcy Kennedy
  • “Using Character Emotion to Wow Readers,” with Becca Puglisi
  • “Writing Christian Fantasy in a Secular World,” with R.J. Anderson
  • “From Blog to Book Deal,” with Sarah Ball

Here’s the link for more information and to register: Write Canada Online 2017.

Author Interview: Michelle Griep

Author Michelle Griep
Michelle Griep’s newest historical romance is a Dickens Christmas story called 12 Days at Bleakly Manor. Since A Christmas Carol is a regular part of the season in my home, I was eager to have a chat with Michelle and learn more.

Janet: Welcome, Michelle, and thanks for taking time to join us. Where’s home for you?

Michelle: The frozen tundra . . . er . . . I mean Minneapolis, Minnesota. I live in da ‘hood.

Janet: Most of your stories are historical… which time periods and locations most interest you? And what drew you to Dickensian England for a Christmas tale?

Michelle: I adore history and have a special affinity for England. Yep, I’d move there in a flash if I could. While I love the medieval period, you know, all those big beefy knights, I prefer to write during the 1800’s. As for locations, anywhere in England, really. Cities. Countryside. Doesn’t matter.
And if one is going to pen a Christmas tale, what better time than during the years of Charles Dickens?!

Janet: Definitely! Tell us a bit about 12 Days at Bleakly Manor.

Michelle: This story is a mix of Dickens’ Bleak House and Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Both are favorites of mine.

Basically I tossed bunch of quirky characters into a house in the middle of nowhere, gave them limited resources, and sat back to watch and see how they interacted. I figured if I was entertained, readers would be too.

And of course there are a few bruised hearts that need to be healed by the end of the tale.

Janet: Sounds intriguing! Do you have a favourite character? And what was the most fun part to write?

Michelle: Wow. That’s like asking me which one of my kids do I love best? That’s a tough one! Surprisingly, though, I had an affinity for Mr. Tallgrass. He just says whatever he darn well pleases.

The most fun character to write was Miss Scurry. Her pet mice are just so freakishly funny.

Janet: Pet mice… oh! What do you want readers to take away when they’re done?

Michelle: When someone hurts us deeply, it may not be intended as hurt as all. It’s always best to reserve judgement until you’ve had a chance to talk to that person.

Janet: That would solve a lot of problems, wouldn’t it? This is “Once Upon A Dickens Christmas Book 1” – can you give us a hint of what’s coming next?

Michelle: You bet. Book II comes out in September 2018. Here’s a blurb:

Innkeeper’s daughter MINA SCOTT will do anything to escape the drudgery of her life. She saves every penny to attend a finishing school, dreaming of the day she’ll become a real lady—and catch the eye of WILLIAM BARLOW, a frequent guest at the inn.

William is a gentleman’s son, a charming rogue but penniless. However, his bachelor uncle will soon name an heir—either him or his puritanical cousin. In an effort to secure the inheritance, William gives his uncle the impression he’s married, which works until he’s invited to bring his wife for a visit.

William asks Mina to be his pretend bride, only until his uncle names an heir on Christmas Day. Mina is flattered and frustrated by the offer, for she wants a true relationship with William. Yet, she agrees. . .then wishes she hadn’t. So does William. Deceiving the old man breaks both their hearts. When the truth is finally discovered, more than just money is lost.

Can two hearts survive such a deception?

Janet: Ouch! I hope you find a way to bring a happy ending! Any interesting research tidbits from Dickensian times?

Michelle: One of my favorite tales about Dickens is that he used to walk the streets in the wee hours of the night just to be amongst the people of London, those who were down and out. I walked some of those same streets last time I skipped across the pond, and it was easy to imagine him there, strolling about with his top hat and cane.

Janet: I see you’ve also co-authored a cozy mystery, Out of the Frying Pan. What was it like, working with a partner… and in a different genre?

Michelle: Working with my co-author was seriously the time of my life! Kelly Klepfer is a talented author in her own right. She came up with the plot and the characters, and then would simply tell me what scene to write.

Changing genres was a bit tricky for me. I’d never done a contemporary. Now and then she’d have to change the vernacular of one of my words.

Janet: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Michelle: Just four little words: FINISH WHAT YOU START! So many newbies get mired down in working and reworking part of a manuscript that they never finish it. Just finish the dang thing…then go back and edit.

Janet: Those are four wise words! Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

Michelle: Easy peasy . . . my all-time favorite verse that I keep tucked in a virtual back pocket is Nahum 1:7. “The Lord is good; a stronghold in the day of trouble. And he knows those who trust in him.”

Janet: Thank you. That’s powerful, and I can’t believe I’ve missed it all these years. Now, to the less serious: Coffee or tea? And are you a morning person or a night owl?

Michelle: Love coffee, but unfortunately it must now be decaf. And I’m neither an owl or a morning person.

Janet: What do you like to do to recharge?

Michelle: Love to read. Love to travel. Love to take my dog Miss Ada Clare (named after a Dickens Bleak House character, of course) on walks by the creek.

Janet: Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.

Michelle: Minneapolis is awful in the winter, but in the summer, wow. Lakes galore with tons of walking and biking paths.

Janet: Thanks for taking time to chat today, Michelle, and all the best with your new book. 12 Days at Bleakly Manor sounds like a good read.

===

12 Days at Bleakly Manor, by Michelle GriepWhen Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of one thousand pounds. That’s enough money to bring her brother back from America and reinstate their stolen family fortune. But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.

Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar.

Brought together under mysterious circumstances for the Twelve Days of Christmas, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.

For more about the author, visit michellegriep.com.

Author Interview: H.C. Beckerr

H.C. Beckerr writes Christian science fiction. His recently-released novel, Shadow of Tunguska, is the second and final instalment in the Hill of Great Darkness series, “an epic sci-fi thriller that spans two millennia and two galaxies.”

Janet: Welcome, H.C., and please tell us a bit about yourself.

H.C.: Well, Janet, I’m just an old-fashioned farm boy from the midwestern area of the U.S. I grew up in a time where folks sent their children to Sunday School to learn about Jesus and learned the difference between right and wrong.

Janet: That’s not too long in the past, but we’ve sure seen changes. Are your novels set in the near future, or farther distant?

H.C.: The entire story line of Hill of Great Darkness/Shadow of Tunguska is set in the spring/summer of 2037. So, it’s just around the corner and, truthfully, the world isn’t much different then, than it is right now.

Janet: Twenty years from now! Where did the story idea come from? [May not need this one if you were inspired by those locations I ask about next]

H.C.: Here is where y’all will go…WHAT???? Believe it or not, the idea for this story came from The Davinci Code. Yup…. that book. I gotta admit, when I read TDC I was inspired by the writing style of Mr. Brown. Especially since I had just finished a Church History class at Brookes Bible Institute (now College) in St. Louis, Missouri.  I saw how the author took real history and ‘twisted’ it into a lie (a technique I call twistery). You see, fiction is always better when based on truth. And, in my case, I wanted to bring glory to God, not shame.

Janet: Fiction based on truth feels more real, doesn’t it? The Hill of Great Darkness books are science fiction and venture into space, yet they’re tied to real but mysterious locations on earth. What kind of research did that involve?

H.C.: That was the fun part. Book 1 is all about a location here in the Midwest known as Cahokia Mounds Historical Site, an area of earthen mounds built by the Mississippian culture between about eight hundred to twelve hundred AD. Somewhere in the latter years the entire culture disappeared without a trace. Sounds like sci-fi to me (or, as I like to call what I write; Chri-fi…Christian science fiction).

Anyway… Book 2 picks up three months after the end of Book 1. It really is not a sequel so much as the end of the story. I wanted to go somewhere else on Earth that would be just as much an enigma as Cahokia so I (more or less) immediately turned to the Tunguska Region of Siberia where, in 1908, some sort of cataclysmic explosion occurred. We are talking of a blast that was one thousand times bigger than Hiroshima. This event leveled over seven hundred square miles of deep forest. Now, there’s something to lie…um, I mean, write about!!!  

Janet: In your research, what’s the strangest bit of trivia you’ve picked up?

H.C.: That’s easy…. Cahokia Mounds at its zenith was a metropolitan area that was only equaled in size by Paris, France, which happened to be the largest city on Earth at that time.

Also worth mentioning is Lake Cheko in Siberia, which, according to eyewitnesses to the Tunguska Event, did not exist before that fateful morning in 1908.

That’s some cool stuff to think about!

Janet: Indeed! Now, your novels include strong female characters. Are they more difficult to write, as a male author?

H.C.: Not at all. The dynamics are individualized to the point that each character is a joy to create. And, if I may; the story itself is what allowed the characters to come alive. To be real.

Janet: Do you have a favourite character in the books?

H.C.:  That’s easy. Simone Sytte (that’s See-yet-tea). I don’t remember if I have shared this with you before, but Simone is a confluence of three people I have ‘met’. Her lineage as a Ugandan is from a young woman that I had taught alongside in a preschool class at my church. She was, if I remember correctly, from Kenya. I loved to hear her speak English with her deep African accent! Another person who is part of Simone’s soul is another lady from my church who was involve in our music ministry. A very strong Christian with the reality of not always being perfect. And…never hiding that fact. Thirdly… Simone’s physical stature is borrowed from a fictional character from (I know you’ve been expecting this) one of the Star Wars movies; Episode 2, on a planet where clones were being made into an army by a race of tall, slender aliens (and NO… I don’t believe in aliens. Ask me about that one sometime when you can afford the time…. Ha!).

Janet: Simone is my favourite character, too, as a reader, likely in part because she’s exceptional but not perfect – and she trusts Jesus even when there’s crisis all around her. Why is it important to you to include faith in your fiction?

H.C.: That’s probably the easiest question of all, Janet. My faith in the God of the Bible through His Son Jesus Christ is the only reason I write! I want to share the glorious hope of the Gospel message in any way I can.

Janet: Jesus used story, too! What got you started writing?

H.C.: Here is where you will get a laugh; In grade school!!! I can remember writing short little stories in 5th or 6th grade and selling them for a few pennies so I could get an extra half pint of chocolate milk… always an entrepreneur, LOL!!!!!!!

Janet: My friend, Kimberley Payne, would call you an authorpreneur. I love it. What do you like best about the writing life?

H.C.: Creating. That is the plain truth. To sit back, come up with an idea and start writing; all the while letting God have the reins to take the story where He wants it to go.

Janet: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

H.C.: I think the main driving force behind Hill of Great Darkness was the fact that I refused to one day find myself lying upon my death bed wondering; What if I had only just tried? If a person has an idea or the urge/dream to write… write! Don’t worry about whether or not it will sell. Don’t listen to naysayers…WRITE!!!!

Janet: Simple advice, and wise. We never know until we make the effort. Is there a particular song or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?

H.C.: I Can Only Imagine by Mercy Me. One day we will see our Savior face to face and I long/hope for Him to look at me and say, “Well done!” or…in the words of the President of the United States at the end of the movie Independence Day, “Not bad…not bad at all!!!

Janet: I love that song, too. And yes, one day… Now, from the profound to the superficial: Chocolate or vanilla? Morning person or night owl?

H.C.: C.H.O.C.O.L.A.T.E.  And not ‘white’ chocolate…I call that vanilla!  Morning or night, hmmm…that’s a tough one. Try getting back to me on that one after a gallon of coffee…

Janet: Tell us something you appreciate about where you live.

H.C.: Gotta say, the beauty of God’s world where I live. The midwestern United States has a beauty all its own and I am so blessed to live here. Not to mention the fact that I grew up going on picnics to the Cahokia Mounds Site. Always loved that place… the mystery and grandeur of it all.

Janet: What do you like to do to recharge?

H.C.: You know, even Jesus needed some down time to recharge! I like to hike and bike ride out in the great outdoors. There is something ever so precious about being alone with the Lord, outdoors in His creation! Then, there is also worship. Whether alone (in the aforementioned outdoors) or corporately with my brothers and sisters. Life is so good when you are in love with your Creator and God! Amen!!!

Janet: Amen indeed. Thanks for visiting, H.C., and sharing these behind-the-scenes details. All the best with your writing and with life!

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Shadow of Tunguska, by H. C. Beckerr

Shadow of Tunguska: Hill of Great Darkness Book II presents the final chapters of a saga that weaves together the tale of the surviving crew members of the space craft Magellan as they wake up in a top-secret lunar base station. On Earth, tensions mount as the nation’s masses face a worldwide economic takeover. Meanwhile, a small contingent of American explorers braving the Siberian wilderness make a startling discovery at the site of the 1908 impact of an errant black hole.

Shadow of Tunguska website: shadowoftunguska.com

H.C. Beckerr’s blog: shadowoftunguska.com/blog

Are You a Canadian Christian Writer?

That’s Life! Communications, the publisher of the Hot Apple Cider inspirational anthologies, has put out a call for submissions for a new book, to be called Christmas with Hot Apple Cider. If you haven’t seen these books, check them out online (A Taste of Hot Apple Cider is free in ebook format from online retailers).

As a contributor to the second and third books in the series, I can tell you that the editing is thorough and educational, the publisher and the team of authors are supportive and encouraging, and that these are books you can be proud to be part of. They make great gifts, and there’s something in them for everyone.

You need to be a Canadian citizen or landed immigrant, and you need to be able to affirm the Apostles’ Creed (see the publisher’s website for the Creed and for more submission details). Want more information? Click to read the full call for submissions at the That’s Life! Communications site.

The Word Awards

The Word Awards 2016Did you know that The Word Awards, presented each June in conjunction with The Word Guild‘s Write Canada conference, aren’t just about books?

This year’s categories included articles, song lyrics, and script-writing. For the first time, this year also expanded beyond English work to host two French categories. Next year’s awards will see the addition of the Debra Fieguth award for writing addressing social justice issues and Castle Quay’s Best New Canadian Manuscript Contest.

The 28th annual Word Awards Gala was held in Toronto on June 24th, drawing guests, writers and editors from across Canada.

From The Word Guild’s press release:

Debut author Susan Doherty Hannaford’s A Secret Music (Cormorant Books) captivated judges earning the Grace Irwin Prize, a $5000 literary award and the evening’s top prize. The judge’s panel said, “This entry fit well with the pioneering spirit of Grace Irwin whom the prize was named after.” Hannaford also won in the Crossover Young Adult category.

The Word Guild was pleased to have in attendance Dr. James Houston who was the recipient of the Leslie K. Tarr award for a lifetime of achievement. He wound down our evening by reminding us that our God is who we must give all glory, honour, and praise.

Among the Word Award winners was the Global Ambassador for the World Evangelical Alliance, Brian C. Stiller; writing retreat partners Tim Huff and Greg Paul; and co-collaborators Karen Stiller and Patricia Paddey. [Click to view the full release]

WINNER LIST – THE 2016 WORD AWARDS (for work published in 2015)

Short-listed books

The Grace Irwin Prize, Canada’s largest literary prize for Christian writers, celebrates the best book published in 2015. Sponsor: John and Eleanor Irwin

Winner: Susan Doherty Hannaford of Montreal, Que. For A Secret Music (Cormorant Books)

Honourable Mention:

Craig G. Bartholomew of Hamilton, Ont. for Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics:  A Comprehensive Framework for Hearing God in Scripture (Baker Publishing Group)

Greg Paul of Toronto, Ont. for Simply Open (Thomas Nelson)

BOOK CATEGORIES

CHRISTIAN CATEGORIES: NON-FICTION

Book – Academic

Craig G. Bartholomew of Hamilton, Ont. for Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics:  A Comprehensive Framework for Hearing God in Scripture (Baker Publishing Group)

Book – Apologetics/Evangelism

James A. Beverley of Pickering, Ont, and Craig A. Evans of Moncton, N.B. for Getting Jesus Right: How Muslims Get Jesus and Islam Wrong (Castle Quay Books)

Book – Biblical Studies

Stanley Porter of Hamilton, Ont. for John, His Gospel, and Jesus: In Pursuit of the Johannine Voice (Baker Publishing Group)

Book – Children

Paul Boge of East St. Paul, Man. and Faye Hall of Winnipeg for The Biggest Family in the World (Castle Quay Books)

Book – Christian Living

Greg Paul of Toronto, Ont. for Simply Open (Thomas Nelson)

Book – Culture (tie)

Brian C. Stiller, of Newmarket, Ont., (chief editor) and editorial team Karen Stiller, Todd M. Johnson, and Mark Hutchinson for Evangelicals Around the World: A Global Handbook for the 21st Century (Thomas Nelson)

Karen Stiller of Port Perry and Patricia Paddey of Mississauga, Ont. for Shifting Stats Shaking The Church: 40 Canadian Churches Respond (World Vision Canada)

Book – Inspirational/Devotional

Tim Huff of Toronto, Ont. for The Yuletide Factor: Cause for Perpetual Comfort and Joy (Castle Quay Books)

Book – Instructional

David Sherbino of Toronto, Ont. for Renew: A Basic Guide For A Personal Retreat (Castle Quay Books)

Book – Life Stories

Robert Jones of St. Albert, Alta. for Ornament (Word Alive Press)

CHRISTIAN CATEGORIES: FICTION

Novel  – Children

Karen Autio of Kelowna, B.C. for Kah-Lan the Adventurous Sea Otter (Sono Nis Press)

Novel – Contemporary

Valerie Comer of Creston, B.C. for Dandelions for Dinner (GreenWords Media)

Novel  – Historical

Rose Seiler Scott of Surrey, B.C. for Threaten to Undo Us (Promontory Press)

Novel – Speculative

Peter Kazmaier of Mississauga, Ont. for The Battle for Halcyon (Word Alive Press)

Novel – Suspense

Sandra Orchard of Fenwick, Ont. for Desperate Measures (Revell Publishing)

CHRISTIAN CATEGORIES: FRENCH

Fictives

Anne Cattaruzza of Longueuil, Que. for À la recherche de Shéïda (La Maison de la Bible)

Vie Chrétienne

Jean-Sébastien Morin of Saint-Eustache, Que. for Mariés et heureux? (Ministères mult)

CHRISTIAN CATEGORIES: SCRIPTS

Full Length Christian Script

Dennis J. Hassell of Toronto, Ont. for “Shell Game”

CROSSOVER CATEGORIES

Book – Culture

Christina Crook of Toronto, Ont. for The Joy of Missing Out (New Society Publishers)

Novel – Romance

Bryan Norford of Lethbridge, Alta. for The Silent Remainder (Pebble Press)

Novel – Suspense

J.A. Menzies of Markham, Ont. for Shadow of a Butterfly: The Case of the Harmless Old Woman (MurderWillOut Mysteries)

Novel – Young Adult

Susan Doherty Hannaford of Montreal, Que. For A Secret Music (Cormorant Books)

ARTICLE, POETRY, SHORT STORY AND SONG LYRIC: CHRISTIAN CATEGORIES

Article – Blog

Thomas Froese of Ancaster, Ont. for “Fear and Childbirth in Uganda” (http://www.dailydad.net)

Article – Inspirational/Devotional

Carolyn Arends of Surrey, B.C. for “Our “Holy” Sins” (Today’s Christian Woman)

Article – Long Feature

Ray Wiseman of Fergus, Ont. for “Until Death Do Us Part” (Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon)

Article – Personal Experience

Kimberley Parker of St. Thomas, Ont. for “The Mission on My Street – When Love Comes Back Around” (testimony)

Article – Poetry

Stephen Kennedy of Peterborough, Ont. for “Afar Feast” (Presbyterian Record)

Article – Profile/Human Interest

Angela Reitsma Bick of Newcastle, Ont. for “Every moment holy” (Christian Courier)

Article – Short Feature

Lisa Hall-Wilson of London, Ont. for “Violence Against Women – Stories That Need To Be Told and Listened To” (testimony)

Article – Short Story

N.J. Lindquist of Markham, Ont. for “Mary’s Dream” (Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon)

Column – series

Josh Valley of Toronto, Ont. for “Donald Trump and other madness Evangelicals fall for” and “Seeing Jesus as a refugee” (Christian Week)

Column – single

John H. Redekop of Abbotsford, B.C. for “An oppressive ruling” (The Garden Park Journal)

TERENCE L. BINGLEY AWARD FOR BEST SONG LYRICS

Carolyn Arends of Surrey, B.C. for “Just Getting Started” (Running Arends Music/ASCAP)

ARTICLE, POETRY, SHORT STORY AND SONG LYRIC: CROSSOVER CATEGORIES

Article – Long Feature

Christina Van Starkenburg of Victoria, B.C. for “Taming the TV: Turning TV Time into Teachable Moments” (Island Parent)

Article – Personal Experience

Heather Rae Rodin of Selwyn for “Angel At Our Door” (Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon)

Short Story

Bobbi Junior of Edmonton, Alta. for “Chapter Book” (Hot Apple Cider with Cinnamon)

Column – Series

Thomas Froese of Ancaster, Ont. for “Of lions, children and innocence of lives given” and “Life is in the small pleasures, the simple moments” (Hamilton Spectator)

Column – Single

Michael Coren of Toronto, Ont. for “The Real War on Christmas Comes from the Right” (The Toronto Star)

Harvey/Mackey Award (celebrates the best of Canada’s up and coming Christian journalists)

Christina Van Starkenburg of Victoria, B.C. for “Taming the TV: Turning TV Time into Teachable Moments” (Island Parent)

IN THE BEGINNING (for unpublished writers)

Grand Prize Winner:

Ellen Hooge of Calgary, Alta. for Ruth (first three chapters)

First three chapters runner up:

Diana Holvik of Guelph, Ont. for Love in the Storm

Non-fiction short piece runner up:

Beckie Evans of Abbotsford, B.C. for “I did learn something”

Poem runner up:

Mike Bonikowsky of Melancthon, Ont. for “Daughter Songs”

Short Story runner up:

Annie Carpenter of London, Ont. for “Livvy & the Queen Bee”

First fifteen pages of a Short Script runner up:

Nicole Arnt of St.Catharines, Ont. for How about L for Love

FRESH INK (students)

University Category:

Grand Prize Winner:

Carolyn Felker of Brantford, Ont. for The Desert’s Secret

First three chapters runner up:

Heather Shore of Milton, Ont. for Sands of Kemet

Short Story runner up:

Anna-Marina Giurin of Chatham, Ont. for “The Music of Life”

High School Category:

Grand Prize Winner:

Lindsay Evans of Trenton, Ont. for “Forever Love” (poem)

Christian Authors

Christian Authors is a new site featuring Canadian Christian authors. Today, February 4, 2016, they’re hosting a virtual launch party on Facebook, complete with hourly giveaways.

Christian Authors website launch party

Here’s the lineup of hosts (Eastern Time):

Party link: Christian Authors Virtual Launch. You can either visit the link early to sign up for the event, or simply pop in while it’s going on. The key with a Facebook party is to refresh your browser regularly so you’ll see the new chatter. (Windows users: refresh by hitting F5 or the little circle arrow in the top left of your screen.)

Whether or not you’re interested in today’s party, you might want to check out the website. They have interviews with featured authors (mine is here: christianauthors.ca/janet-sketchley/) and their plan is to send monthly email updates to subscribers, with book news, updates on sales, and other newsworthy events. Right now they’re offering new subscribers (it’s free) attractive printable colouring bookmarks and wall art. Link: subscriptions.

Review: Vendetta, by Lisa Harris

Vendetta, by Lisa HarrisVendetta, by Lisa Harris (Revell, 2015)

Missing persons investigator Nikki Boyd brings an extra empathy to her cases, since it was her own sister’s disappearance that led her to this career. Ten years after the fact, logic says her sister can’t still be alive when the other victims have been found dead, but Nikki’s heart won’t give up hope.

When Nikki and her friend Tyler are called to investigate a missing teen girl, it doesn’t take long for similarities in the case to make Nikki wonder if her sister’s abductor is back in action after years of silence. If it’s the same man, he’s grown sloppy. Or he’s playing with them.

Vendetta is a fast-paced, well-plotted novel, as Nikki, Tyler and their team race the clock to find the missing girl. A large part of the chase is set in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

As always, author Lisa Harris gives us lifelike characters with issues of their own. Nikki can’t let her personal pain affect her investigation, no matter what mind games the abductor plays. And Tyler’s still grieving for his dead wife, who’d been Nikki’s best friend. Nikki and Tyler are both struggling to know where God is in their hurts.

Although the novel is a really good read, I didn’t feel as drawn in as I did with the author’s Southern Crimes series. There may be too many flashback scenes, snippets of Nikki’s past, or perhaps it’s the number of characters. I did have trouble keeping the search team and volunteers straight, although the narrative only focused on a few. Nonetheless, Vendetta is the start of a new series I’d definitely recommend.

Award-winning author Lisa Harris has written almost 30 books, including the Southern Crimes series (Dangerous Passage, Fatal Exchange, and Hidden Agenda.) She and her family are missionaries living in Mozambique. For more about the author and her books, visit lisaharriswrites.com.

[Review copy provided by the publisher.]