Exclusive Author Interview: Lisa T. Bergren

Kingdom Pen’s own Sarah Spradlin had the opportunity to ask a few questions of the best-selling, award-winning author Lisa T. Bergren. Read the elusive interview below!

KP: In the end, our goal, as Christian authors, is to further the Kingdom for Christ and glorify Him. But it had to start somewhere. How did you come to know Christ as your savior and how has that influenced your writing?

LB: I was raised in the church and feel like I’ve always known Him. But I dedicated my life and work to Him after a personal reformation RemnantsSeasonexperience I had when I was a tending bar in Utah! You never know when and where God will summon his people…

KP: When we first think of Christian authors, our first thoughts may be more along the lines of Max Lucado or Andy Stanly, who are better known for non-fiction based material. How big of a place do you think Christian fiction has in the overall Christian media? Has this influence grown in recent years, or is there still room for lots of expansion?

LB: I don’t know if there’s room for a lot more expansion. I’d like to see more Christian voices in the mainstream, rather than segregated out, which is partially why I wrote the “crossover” series, River of Time (WATERFALL, etc) and now REMNANTS.

KP: Speaking of River of Time, the main plotline isn’t hinged on Christianity. Despite this, you have woven a lot of lessons and moral thinking into your novel. Characters such as the priest and many of the main characters speak about their faith throughout the series. How did you find the right balance in plot and Jesus, and how can young authors today find that for themselves?

LB: For that series, specifically, I was attempting to write for anyone in my daughter’s high school class. I wanted a faith aspect to be present, but to present it as a seeker might consider such matters (which Gabi is), rather than from a clearly Christian perspective. For me, the faith element always has to be natural to the characters—how they’d realistically think/believe (or not), rather than what the author WANTS them to think/believe. That’s just good characterization tactics. If other authors seek to do the same, I think they’ll find that same balance.

KP: River of Time also features many elements of fantasy, namely time traveling. Finding the right balance between fantasy and reality can be difficult, especially when writing from a Christian perspective. What were some ways you made sure things remained in good boundaries and what are some suggestions you have for other Christian authors endeavoring to write their own fantasy novels?

LB: Oh, heavens, I’m pretty liberal on this front so maybe I’m not the best person to ask. My own thought is that God gave us a creative mind, and Jesus told stories to get his ideas across, so that gives us a pretty broad platform. That said, I strive not to write anything that pulls people away from their faith or morals.

 

“God gave us a creative mind, and Jesus told stories to get his ideas across, so that gives us a pretty broad platform.”

 

KP: The River of Time series can accurately be labeled as a romance novel. And while some people may not be all out for the mushy-mushies, others may want more. Have you ever been pressured to put more romance into your novels—perhaps even parts that are more adult in nature? If so, how did you respond to those pressures and what advice do you have to authors who are trying to write clean, Christian romance.

LB: I’ve never been pressured to write more and I don’t think I’d write for a publisher who demanded it. I’m already pushing the physical attraction angle as far as I’m willing to go. As it is, I consider my writing pretty edgy for the Christian market. So I’ll draw the line there.

KP: It’s very clear what the stereotypical Christian romance book is: guy meets girl, girl has ton of faith, guy is sketchier, she brings him to Christ, there are some struggles, and they live happily ever after. Or at least some variation thereof. The River of Time series was not at all like that. What methods did you use to keep your romance from becoming cliché and unoriginal?

LB: Hmm, I guess I just always seek to tell a new story, about unique characters, and it emerges from there. 

KP: Publishing is often the hardest thing for an author to accomplish. What was the first book you submitted to be published? Was it rejected or accepted, and how can young authors best brace themselves and be okay with being rejected?

LB: I was in the right place at the right time. Christian fiction was young and I had a new concept novel drafted (contemporary romance) when there wasn’t much competition. The same day I got a job with a publisher, they gave me a contract for my novel, and that novel did crazy-well. So….God smiled. I was incredibly blessed. And have been ever since. * ducks now to avoid flying plates from other authors * I know it doesn’t come down for many that way and am grateful. That said, if you believe God has called you to be a writer, keep at it. Set aside the novel you’ve rewritten 10 times and try another. Go to a writer’s conference where the publisher you dream of pubbing your book attends. Get a meeting with the editor. And then get a meeting with the series-publisher who accepts many more newbie writers. Gain some experience wherever you can and then go after the dream-publisher again. Any and all experience in publishing helps.

KP: Remnants: Season of Wonder, the first of a new dystopian series, was released on April 8 of last year. Tell us a little bit about it and what your outlook for it is.

LB: I’m jazzed to be writing for the YA market again. I love writing for teens (and their moms!). I’m antsy about the reception, because once again, I’m cutting into new territory. To my knowledge, there haven’t been many fantasy-romance-spiritual-suspense-dystopians out there.

KP: Seeing your book in print for the first time must be one of the best feelings in the world. If you could pick only one word to describe the moment when you held your first printed book in your hands, what would it be and why?

LB: Glory! Totally stunning, overwhelming, is-this-real moment. 

KP: Authors can do some crazy things. Whether it’s talking in character, pulling all-nighters to make deadlines, or dressing up in full costume and storming libraries and bookstores everywhere, it can be pretty exciting. What is the craziest or most memorable thing you’ve done as an author?

LB: Nothing truly crazy from this author. Most memorable? Research trips to England, France, Italy, Alaska and Maine. Love that part of the job…

 

LTB_author_picLisa Bergren is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 40 books, with more than 2.5 million copies sold. Recently, she has published a YA series called River of Time (Waterfall, Cascade, Torrent, Bourne & Tributary) and Remnants: Season of Wonder, with a sequel soon to follow. Hailing from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Mrs. Bergren balances both managing home base and writing. She and her husband Tim have three kids–Olivia, Emma and Jack.

Maker sure to check out her website and books!

Profile photo of Sarah Spradlin
If you’ve ever emailed us at KP, you’ve probably “met” Sarah—a passionate storyteller with a huge heart that loves Jesus and everyone she meets. Sarah grew up in Georgia with her mom, dad, and little sister, Merry, where she attends the University of Georgia, majoring in International Affairs and Agriculture Communication. When she graduates, Sarah wants to help people all over the world succeed in the agriculture industry and tell the all-important story of the farmer. She joined the Kingdom Pen Team as Secretary in September 2013 and now serves as the Director of Community Happiness. Sarah has been homeschooled, private-schooled, and graduated from Madison County High School in May 2015. She attended Summit in July 2015. She’ll read pretty much anything (if she had to pick, though, her favorite author would be Frank Peretti) and has tried her hand at pretty much every kind of writing out there, though she likes writing fiction and poetry best. But because writing bios is a struggle, if you really want to get to know Sarah, shove some words in her general direction via the Forum, on one of the many social medias down below, or through the KP e-mail: kingdompenmag@gmail.com.

Happy Birthday: Kingdom Pen Turns 4!

I can hardly believe that I started working for Kingdom Pen 4 years ago! It has really been an incredible 4 years, and I know that with support from you, and the rest of the Kingdom Pen community, the future will be even better!KP Birthday

Last year, when Kingdom Pen turned 3, I talked about Kingdom Pen’s past, and posted a link to our very first issue. This year, I want to talk about the future.

What do you want Kingdom Pen to be?

You may or may not have noticed that we have added a “roadmap” to our website. The roadmap shows you our “penciled in” goals for the next year. We are planning on holding more contests, getting the forum back up, starting up the eMag again, and much more!

We want your feedback though! Tell us what you think. Would you like to see us accomplish the goals we have? Do you have other ideas for how Kingdom Pen can improve? What do you want Kingdom Pen to be?

[Read more…]

Hero Of The Empire

I wasn’t the hero. But I had to act like one.

The squadron leader watched helplessly as the over-sized Malaesian fleet ripped through their carefully planned formation.  Moving quickly, she gave orders over the comm even as she grasped her ship’s controls.  As she turned, her squadron turned with her, cycling around in a tight spin to join up with the other ships in their group.  She quickly focused in on the situation. Their group was barely holding up their side of the battle; for the fifth time already, the alien squadrons had broken up their formation.  They had lost one valuable ships already and several more were severely damaged.  And with so few ships, every ship counted.  She looked forward to where the rest of their group was and gritted her teeth as she moved her ship forward to join them.

Hero of the Empire - editLieutenant Corson’s voice came crackling in over the comm.  “Change of strategy,” he said as she glanced outside to see his ship cycling back around toward the Malaesian mass.  There was a wave of static.  “They’re ripping us apart.  We need to regroup.”  She brought her squadron around to meet up with the others as Corson’s squadron raced to try to meet up as well.  “We need–”  There was a note of hesitation in his voice.  “We need to-”  Suddenly, his voice broke off.  Horrified, she looked up to see, across the black void of space, the mass of Malaesian ships slam into his small squadron.  Shots were ringing out as she watched dismayed.  If Corson–the Hero of the Empire was killed…  If the plan utterly failed…  

Corson didn’t know what he was doing.

And if he didn’t do anything now, everyone would be massacred.

She paused for a moment, on the brink of making a decision, before resolving herself.  She had to save his face.  “New orders from Lieutenant Corson,” she barked out over the static-filled comm.  “We need to regroup behind the rest of the other fleets.  We can’t lose any more men.  We need…  We need to retreat.”

[Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

Magic, Fantasy, and the Christian Writer

When you think of the fantasy genre, three things probably quickly come to mind: swords, elves, and magic.  And it’s the latter that can become a problem for the Christian writer.  We’ve all probably read, or are at least familiar with, the passages in Leviticus and Deuteronomy that condemn magic and warn God’s people not to practice it.[1]  Yet, we’ve also read fantasy novels where magic is used, whether it be in The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, or The Inheritance Cycle.  And while perhaps it may be fine to read books with elements that you disagree with, when it comes to what’s okay to write as a Christian, the fantasy writer may have a more difficult problem with this issue.

Magic, Fantasy and the Christian Writer courtesy of sattvaThere are many different positions taken and answers given by Christians on this issue, ranging from those who say any “good magic” in fiction is wrong, to those who say that anything is permissible in a fictional universe.  My hope is to not gravitate to either extreme.  Given that, in this article, I’d like to present a defense of magic in fantasy from a Christian worldview.  I’m not going to try to defend every instance of magic in fiction; rather, I wish to provide a perspective from which magic in fiction can be understood.  To do this, I’ll begin by looking at what magic actually is, before moving onto when it may be appropriate to use magic in fiction.

While we all know what magic is when we see it, actually defining magic is difficult.

As we seek for a definition of magic, we quickly run into a problem.  While we all know what magic is when we see it, actually defining magic is difficult.  Is magic simply a disruption of the natural order?  If that’s the case, the question must be asked about what the natural order is.  In addition, this definition would also seem to define many of God’s miracles as magic, which may very well make us uneasy.  Another problem arises when we look at how far technology has brought us in the past four hundred years.  If you were able to time-travel to the Medieval Ages, and you showed people an object that could listen to someone talking hundreds of miles away, you may very well have been burned at the stake for being a witch, even though it was just a phone.  Often, magic is simply that which we can’t explain; thus, not all magic systems really deal with the supernatural.

[Read more…]

Profile photo of Josiah DeGraaf
Josiah DeGraaf is a high school English teacher and literature nerd who fell in love with stories when he was young and hasn’t fallen out of love ever since.
He writes because he’s fascinated by human motivations. What causes otherwise-good people to make really terrible decisions in their lives? Why do some people have the strength to withstand temptation when others don’t? How do people respond to periods of intense suffering? What does it mean to be a hero?
These questions drive him as a reader, and they drive him as a writer as well as he takes normal people, puts them in crazy situations (did he mention he writes fantasy?), and then forces them to make difficult choices with their lives.
Someday, Josiah hopes to write fantasy novels with worlds as imaginative as Brandon Sanderson’s, characters as complex as Orson Scott Card’s, character arcs as dynamic as Jane Austen’s, themes as deep as Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s, and stories as entertaining as Wayne Thomas Batson’s. In the meantime, you can find him writing articles here or short stories at his website (link below) as he works toward achieving these goals.

Begin Your Novel Writing Contest Is Open!

Begin Your NovelThe contest is open!

 

The opening of a story is one of the most important parts of any novel. Readers today are impatient and if your story doesn’t grab them right from the start, they might not stick around for when “it starts to get good.” We need our stories to engage the reader right from the beginning. This contest is meant to not only be fun, but to also provide some clues for how to create a great novel opening which hooks the reader.

 

Follow the rules below when you submit and you could win up to $100. I can’t wait to read your entry!

 

“I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.”
—Roald Dahl

 

Basic Guidelines

Your submission must be the opening of your novel, and should be between 75 and 200 words in length, and written in English (my favorite language is probably Icelandic…but I can’t read it. Sorry.)  The contest opens today, February 9thand you must make your submission by 11:59:59 on the night of February 23rd, 2015. Entries must also be provided in proper submission format (please refer to the list of details below for information on this formatting).

The rest is up to you!

This contest is open to writers within the age range of 13-19.

 

Judging Process

Judging will take place in two steps. Two KP staff members will narrow down the pool of submissions to the top 10, which will then be forwarded on to two independent judges who will determine the winner. To eliminate the possibility of bias, the judges will not know the authors of each story.

The judges will scale your story on each of the following categories, with a potential of between 1 and 10 points, with 1 being lowest and 10 being the best quality in that category. These points will then be added together (with a max of 60 possible points each) for each submission to determine the leading three stories from all submissions. These stories will then be submitted to our final judges, who will pick between them for first, second and third place winners. The categories are as follows:

 

First sentence (does your first sentence draw the reader into the story) -10

Style and structure (how readable and captivating your actual writing is) – 10

Main character (how active and real the main character is) – 10

Setting (does your opening paragraph clue us into where we are, and what genre the story is in?) – 10

Desire (does the main character want something right away? Do we know what it is?) – 10

Do we want to read more? (does your story opening entice your readers to want to read more?) – 10

 

Judges

Kingdom Pen’s editors, Josiah DeGraaf and Reagan Ramm, will scale all of the submissions, and narrow them down to the top 10. These finalists will be ranked, 1-10, by Kingdom Pen’s guest judges.

 

Braden Russell

avatar4-279x300Braden Russell is an aspiring author and music instructor who writes weird speculative fiction from his wilderness home in Oklahoma. Once a regular columnist for Kingdom Pen, you can now find him blogging about writerly things at his website The Storymonger.

He has been telling stories with words for as long as he can remember. Somewhere along the way, he grabbed a camera and started making stories with that. He have a YouTube channel where he posts comedic videos. You can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/brokenlensprductions

 

If you want to gain some insight into how Braden will grade your novel opening, click here.

 

Jacki Crooks

Jacki2 - editJacki grew up on a 40-acre farm in southern WI where she was homeschooled and worked for her dad’s tower company. When she was in high school, her mom discovered The One Year Adventure Novel writing curriculum. Over the next few years, Jacki worked on several novels while maintaining her life on the farm. After graduating, Jacki spent the better part of the next year and a half embroiled in a heated battle with cancer, and the subsequent recovery.

Now 21 and cancer-free, Jacki lives and works in Kansas City, MO and was recently promoted to management at her day job. In the evenings, she maintains several websites for friends and family. In what free time she has, she enjoys going shooting, hanging out with friends once in a while, and has a very solid relationship with her Netflix account.

 

Prizes

First place:

The winner of the contest will receive $100 (Payable via check or paypal) and the option of an interview with Kingdom Pen.

 

Second place:

$50 (payable via check or paypal)

 

Third place:

$25 (Payable via check or paypal)

 

Additionally, the top three finishers will all have their submissions published on the Kingdom Pen website, and will receive comments from the judges on their submissions. The remaining 7 finalists will receive honorable mentions.

 

How to Enter

As we mentioned above, the only requirement to enter the contest is that you be a Kingdom Pen subscriber, and are between 13 and 19 years of age. If you’re not subscribed, we’d love to have you! You can sign up for free right over here.

To submit your story beginning, email it as an attachment to kingdompenmag@gmail.com by February 23rd. If you are unable to attach your story for whatever reason, please contact us at the same address and we’ll work something out so that you can still submit.

In your email, please include your legal first and last names (you may include a pen name if you wish), age, and a brief message about how you found out about Kingdom Pen. If you win, you will also be asked to include a short bio.

 

Details

Writers retain full rights to their stories. All stories must be the original, previously unpublished works of the submitting author. No story that fails to meet these requirements is eligible.

To claim prizes, the winner must submit their mailing address and/or paypal email. If they are unwilling to do so, they will retain their place in the contest but will forfeit their prize. Only the winners need submit this information.

By submitting to this contest, you give us permission to publish your story opening on our website, should you be a first, second, or third place finisher. Once again, you will retain full rights to your story.

Story openings should be submitted in Submission Formatting, with the exception that we want all words of emphasis in underlines instead of italics. All text should be in Courier New font, double spaced. Paragraphs should be indented at the beginning. Write your legal first and last name in your submission email, but please do not put it in the header or footer of your document. These formatting instructions will be included under the “Strength of style and structure” grade (See above).

A minimum of 10 submissions must be received by February 23rd in order for the contest to be eligible. Only one entry per-subscriber.

After the deadline, the initial judges will be given one week to review the material, and the final judges will be given an additional week to make the final ranking. Following this, the winners will be announced via email and the Kingdom Pen website.

Any content in any story which could be judged as objectionable or offensive (cursing, extreme or inappropriate violence, adult content, ect.) will disqualify a story without further question. If you have doubts about whether or not your story would be disqualified on this point, please email KP’s main address with a detailed description of the content of concern and we’ll let you know.

Have any questions? Easy solution. Email us at kingdompenmag@gmail.com and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Happy noveling! We can’t wait to read your entry!

Begin Your Novel Contest Coming Soon!

Yes! Kingdom Pen is back with another writing contest! This time, you could win up to $100! The great thing is, you probably have your contestBegin Your Novel entry already written!

This is a “Begin Your Novel” contest, where Kingdom Pen will be choosing the best novel openings. If you’ve ever written the opening paragraph of a novel, you have an entry! We will post submission details next week, February 9th, when the contest opens and we begin accepting contest entries.

To enter, you must be 13-19 years of age and a KP subscriber. Not a subscriber? You can sign up here.

If you haven’t already, make sure to “like” us on Facebook and follow our Pinterest page to receive writing tips, new posts, and details about upcoming KP events.

I hope you are as excited as we are to kick-off this new era of Kingdom Pen. Prepare your novel opening, and get ready to enter!