KP Interviews – Tosca Lee

Last year at a writer’s conference I had the pleasure of hearing this creative woman give a few talks on the subject of writing. Given that she is a New York Time’s best-selling author I had to get an interview with her. I introduced myself after one of the sessions and through times of procrastination and several emails later here is the fruit of said interview. I found her answers quite interesting, very informative, and humorous. toscaleepinterest

I think I’m going to try her crazy stunt she pulled. 😀

Kingdom Pen: If you could only give one piece of advice on how to go about writing a book, what would it be?

Tosca Lee: Read a lot of good books that YOU like, and take notice of what works in it. And then start writing your own. Don’t go back and redo the beginning over and over—that is death. Write through to the end, even if it’s a shorter novel.

KP: Many authors have at least one embarrassing story to share about their first novels, short stories, or attempts at either. What was your first “big” writing adventure? Do you look back on it as something to be proud of, or is it something you tuck away into dusty corners and try not to talk about very often? [Read more…]

Interview and Giveaway with Daniel Schwabauer

Hey Kingdom Pen! We are excited to bring to you our very first book giveaway!  DSinterviewpinterest

I think it is very appropriate that our first giveaway is “The Curse of The Seer” by Daniel Schwabauer. For those who don’t know, Kingdom Pen, in a way, owes it’s existence to him, as the original founders of Kingdom Pen met through the curriculum he developed called The One Year Adventure Novel. With the addition of John Stonestreet, you could say Daniel Schwabauer is to Kingdom Pen what John Locke was to the American founding fathers.

If you’d like to be eligible to win a FREE copy of his book, “The Curse of The Seer,” then follow the directions below. But first! Check out this synopsis of the book:

Everyone thinks Eli is afraid of the dark, and they’re right. But it’s not because he can’t see in the dark; it’s because he can. After his father is murdered by kingsguard mice, Eli is tortured and condemned to death.
With the help of Tira-Nor’s old seer, AlBaer, Eli escapes his executioners and discovers that his mother, who was sold into slavery in Cadrid years before, may still be alive. Finding and saving her becomes his passion, but can he survive slavery, cruel taskmasters, foreign armies, the hatred of his own people, and even death itself? AlBaer can’t—or won’t—protect him from the supernatural evil that stalks him, and Eli must try to unravel the seer’s curse alone.

We are also excited to bring to you an interview Mr. S was so gracious to provide us. We hope you are enlightened and inspired as much as we were by his words.

 

Kingdom Pen: What compelled you to be a Christian author and teacher?

 

Daniel Schwabauer: I fell in love with stories and began writing in grade school, long before I became a Christian. I started teaching writing because I wanted to help young writers. It had taken me years to see that I needed to learn the fundamentals of storytelling, and I didn’t want anyone else to experience the same frustration of not knowing what their writing lacked.

Christianity is the defining trait in my life. It informs and shapes my view of life, humanity and all of reality. In that sense, I can’t help but be a Christian writer and a Christian teacher. But I didn’t set out to become these things. I determined to follow Christ, and also to write and to teach.

 

KP: Who has influenced you the most in your writing?

 

DS: This is very hard to answer because there is more than one crucial element to any writer’s journey. James Gunn’s classes at KU were extremely helpful, but I was also inspired by G.K. Chesterton and C.S. Lewis.

 

KP: What makes a dynamic character?

 

DS: Short answer: whatever makes them truly human, or helps the reader to connect with their humanity.

Characterization techniques taught in writing classes often fall flat because they aren’t implemented in a way that resonates with readers. Writers try to push characters to the extremes of humanity in order to create a fascinating person, as if what we care about is someone’sedgy and unusual characteristics. This doesn’t work. Extremes don’t connect character and reader. Understanding does.

A high school quarterback character who bullies the hero is a cliche. You can’t humanize him by giving him purple hair and a love of ballet. These traits might look interesting on a character sheet, but very few readers will recognize him. He won’t resonate.

Instead, we need to see ourselves in him–or see him in ourselves. Why is he a bully? What made him dye his hair purple? What kind of ribbing does he take from his team when they discover he likes ballet? These are the things that will make him human: not the traits themselves, but the reasons behind them.

 

KP: What or who inspired the idea for your book series, The Legends of Tira-Nor?

 

DS: At the age of four my daughter was bitten in the face by a dog. It took two plastic surgeries and 39 stitches to fix the damage. Afterwards, I sat by her hospital bed reading the story of David and Goliath as she slept. She had frequently asked me to tell her stories about mice, so I decided to write a mouse version of David’s story that would embody the courage I saw in her. I meant to finish the novel in a few months, but it took me four years. The series grew out of that.

 

KP: In a novel, is it better to have more showing than telling? Why?

 

DS: Every novel uses both, but yes, showing as a mode of fiction is more effective for most scenes than telling.

Showing involves creating images in the reader’s imagination. Those images are evaluated by the reader’s reasoning faculties as they unfold.

If I write, “Sweat trickled down his brow,” you will see a concrete image in your mind, but your brain will interpret the sweat to mean something else (i.e., “that guy feels hot”). Thus, showing gets both sides of the brain involved in the story.

Telling, on the other hand, is purely conceptual. It doesn’t activate the reader’s imagination, so only one side of the brain is really “awake.” If I write, “he felt hot,” your brain doesn’t create any images on the screen of your imagination. You get the concept, but nothing else. Too many concepts and your readers will grow bored.

 

KP: With so many differing opinions on the subject, why do you strongly advise against using adverbs? Is it ever OK to use them?

 

DS: I advise against them because they are almost always used as a crutch. Most of the time, especially in the work of young writers, adverbs are there to strengthen a weak verb. It’s better to replace the weak verb/adverb pair with a stronger, more vibrant verb.

But yes, it’s sometimes okay–and even right–to use an adverb in fiction. Whenever you can’t get across the same meaning with a more active verb, use an adverb. But this is not as common as we like to think. Most of the time when I use adverbs it’s out of laziness.

 

KP: What is the key to writing a great novel?

 

DS: I don’t know.

 

KP: In my experience, I have found the editing process of a novel to be quite daunting; what do you suggest to be the best way to proceed?

 

DS: Plan for it to take twice as long as you expect. Most novels need more revision than their authors want to give.

 

KP: What would you consider to be the most difficult part of writing a novel?

 

DS: For me it’s getting the rough draft written. But I know people who have no problem cranking out words. Their issue is making those words readable.

So perhaps our universal struggle is against mediocrity. I think the truly great novels are a combination of an inspired idea and a depressing number of rewrites.

 

KP: What are your writing essentials?

 

DS: An inspired idea and a depressing number of rewrites.

Also:

Scrivener

A quiet room (my office)

Background music

Hope

The irrational conviction that my story is worth telling

 

And now, the giveaway!

 

To be entered in the giveaway, click the widget below and login with either Facebook or your email to see all the possible ways to enter. The more options you choose, the more entries you get, and the greater your chances of winning! Additionally, some entries you can make once a day to further increase your changes of winning.

This giveaway will run the 8th-15th, so enter while you can!

May the odds be ever in your favor!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Kingdom Pen Interviews Wayne Thomas Batson

Kingdom Pen’s own Sarah Spradlin had the amazing opportunity of interviewing Wayne Thomas Batson, and we are so excited to bring it to you today! We hope you find his words as encouraging as we did!

 

Kingdom Pen: Deciding to follow Christ is one of the biggest moments as Christians. When did you firstWayne_Batson_Interview_Post accept Christ as your Savior and how has that decision influenced you throughout your life?

Wayne Thomas Batson: Which time? LOL Sorry, couldn’t resist. I think the first time I recognized Jesus as Savior was in 7th grade at an all nighter tennis tournament. The teaching pro was a Christian, gave his testimony, and led us in a prayer. BUT, that said, I’m not certain when the old-to-new transformation happened. The nature of saving faith has always been a little elusive for me. I mean, these altar calls, sinner’s prayers, and 100 other practices have only been around for the last 200 years, so how did people get saved prior to that? Probably just what the Bible says: they believed. And even that faith was a gift from God. So, I don’t worry about the day. All I know is that, within me, there is a great desire to know and experience God. I want to please Him. I want to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

KP: Many authors have at least one embarrassing story to share about their first novels, short stories, or attempts at either. What was your first “big” writing adventure? Do you look back on it as something to be proud of, or is it something you tuck away into dusty corners and try not to talk about very often?

WTB: Well, The Door Within was originally entitled “The Door Without Hinges.” ROFL Whew, glad God gave me a better idea.

KP: Every author has heard the whispered tales of the horrendous behemoth called “Writer’s Block.” How do you deal with this monster when it comes knocking, and what measures can authors take to avoid a confrontation with the beast to begin with?

WTB: Don’t hate me, but I don’t get writer’s block. Ever. Seriously. God floods my mind with so many ideas that I can’t even keep up with them. There are times when I make my own blocks, spending hours laboring over just the right character or place name, that kind of thing. The worst obstacle for me is mindless surfing on the Web. If not for that, I’d likely have three more novels written. For those who have what we traditionally refer to as Writer’s Block, I’d suggest becoming more of an Outliner. Sketch out the whole plot, chapter by chapter. You’ll always know where you’re headed.

KP: Christian allegory is a growing genre in the book store, particularly in the medieval fantasy area. For those aspiring to be authors in this genre themselves and since you have considerable experience with it, what are some tips and tricks to writing convincing, original, and meaningful Christian allegory?

WTB: Number 1: Don’t FORCE IT. If you dress up a Bible Tract in fantasy trappings and try to pass it off as a story, you are going to infuriate readers and dishonor God. Write the story that is on your heart. Work hard at it. Craft it. Make it sing. If Christ is in your heart, He will shine through. If God gives you a story, tell it well.

KP: Each of your series have a repeated phrase, generally a command or motto, that highlight a significant message that is in the book. For example, in The Door Within trilogy, the knights of Alleble encouraged one another by saying, “Never alone!” Would you encourage other authors to do the same thing, and for authors who do want to put something like this in their books, how would you advise they pick out a phrase that is meaningful but not clichéd or awkward?

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WTB: Two answers here: 1) It allows readers to rally around the story world. After all, you can text someone “Never Alone,” and that will bring to another reader’s mind the whole story experience. Endurance and Victory! Hold Fast!—these are things that allow readers to more easily remember the heart of the series. 2) Reason number two: having a “catch phrase” makes it easy to write something during book signings! LOL

KP: Even if we’re always told not to judge a book by its cover, a lot of times that’s the only reason that a potential reader picks up a book. Since you’ve written quite a few novels and even self-published, what are some things that an author should consider when either creating their own cover or picking out of a publisher’s provided selection?

WTB: The Cover is HUGELY important, especially now. My biggest advice here is: be professional. Use a pro artist (Like Caleb Havertape!) and don’t skimp. Also, make sure that the composition of your cover looks good at small scale too. Think: thumbnail pic. In today’s ebook market, that little pic may be the only thing the reader sees. If it looks cool small, readers will click to see it big. If it looks cool big, reader may just buy it.

KP: Tell us a little bit about your new book series, Dreamtreaders. Can we expect to see some more of your familiar medieval fantasy flair, or will this series take a new direction like your new GHOST series?

WTB: Dreamtreaders is a modern dream fantasy, so it’s not medieval per se. The central thought is: what if dreams were more than they seem, that we could travel into them and have control over certain elements? And what if there was something sinister in our dreams, the dark force behind nightmares? What if that force wanted into the waking world, what then? Who would defend us? Seriously, the Dreamtreaders series will blow your mind with imagination. Book 3 in the series, War for the Waking World, will release this October. Get all three at the same time so that you won’t have to wait!

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KP: Late last year you wrote The Black Wood for your readers for Christmas that included an epilogue to the final book of The Door Within and also a short story about Nock and Mallik. What was it like getting back into that universe after writing so many other stories since The Door Within trilogy had been completed?

WTB: Very nostalgic. I love those old characters. It’s fun to roll with them once more and, honestly, they have so many more adventures. There are always more adventures…

KP: How has your career as a teacher influenced your writing? Is there any insight that you have gained especially from being around kids and working with them daily that has helped you with writing?

WTB: 25 years of teaching middle school has given me immeasurable insight about the way kids think, their motives, hopes, fears, dreams, etc. One thing I’ve learned is that kids are MUCH MORE perceptive than most adults give them credit for being. I won’t ever dumb down a novel. Kids are smart. Kids are deep. So I need to write that way.

KP: Authors have been known to do some crazy things, not limited to staying up all night to meet deadlines and dressing up as characters and reading to kids. What is one of the craziest things you’ve ever done in the name of writing, and what is one of your most fond memories related to writing?

WTB: I would need to write a novel to answer this question. But I will share this anecdote. When Christopher Hopper and I were writing the Berinfell Prophecies series, we often met for what we termed “Writer’s Bootcamp Weekend.” We book a hotel and just write all weekend long. That can get a little silly at times. At one point, we were both BURNT TOAST mentally. I was flummoxed over a character name, and I think Christopher had revised the same paragraph about 90 times. I began searching “fantasy name generators” online. These are sites that take 1000s of random name or traits and shuffle them randomly. Occasionally, you’ll get something cool, but most of the time, you get hilarious nonsense. I kept clicking the “shuffle” buttons to get new combinations, and it seemed like the more I clicked, the more ridiculously funny the combinations became. Christopher and I were quite literally rolling around clutching our stomachs with the pain-of-laughter. But the crescendo came when once I clicked and the generator gave me: Flatulent barrister gnome! That just killed us. We kept imagining these garden gnomes cutting the cheese and flying around in circles. I know, I know: real mature, right? But you have to understand: 1) we are guys 2) we were completely exhausted and 3) that stuff is funny!

Check out Wayne Thomas Batson’s books on audible.com!

wayne-thomas-batson-300Wayne Thomas Batson has spent the last fifteen years teaching Reading and English to middle schools students. He pioneered the active instruction of Strategic Reading in Anne Arundel County and has written Reading and English Curricula for Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, and Howard County Public Schools. Most recently, he helped develop the Challenge Reading Curriculum for advanced readers in Howard County, Maryland.
Wayne Thomas Batson lives in Eldersburg with his beautiful wife of eleven years and his four wonderful young children. Besides dividing his time between family, teaching, and writing, he likes to read, golf, play PS2, travel to the beach, play electric guitar, and create 3D artwork.

Wayne Thomas Batson is the Bestselling author of five adventure novels including the fantasy epic Door Within Trilogy and the pirate duo Isle of Swords and Isle of Fire.

 

KP Subscriber Self-Publishes Her First Novel!

Kingdom Pen thanks Hailey for this insightful interview! Hailey recently completed and published her first novel, Jaded: The Silent Whisperer. The first in the Jaded trilogy, you can find this book on Amazon for print and in an Ebook edition.

Kingdom Pen: Kingdom Pen’s motto is “Write for the Kingdom.” What first inspired you to follow Christ and write for His Kingdom?Hailey_Woerner_Interview

Hailey Woerner: That’s a good question to start with. I’ve always loved to write, and it’s been my dream ever since I was nine to write and publish a novel. I think the one thing that inspired me to write for Christ was the realization that many books labeled under “Christian” are, obviously, tailored towards Christians.

But If there’s anything I’ve learned from the bible, it’s that God wants to be heard by those who are broken, and don’t know him. That’s why my books won’t be put in the “Christian” category. I want to reach those who aren’t Christians, and maybe God can speak to them through the theme of my story. My goal is to reach as many people as possible, and to do that, I will be putting more and more hints of the Spirit as I write each book. Less in the first, then work my way up. That make’s sense, right?

KP: We’ve all received the trademark “You do what now for fun?” looks when we tell others we love to write! What part about writing do you love the most and why?

HW: Oh, my. There are a lot of things I enjoy about writing…but I guess my favorite part would have to be creating the characters. The reason being, it’s an awesome feeling to create this whole new person. One with goals, struggles, and real feelings. There’s just something special about creating a new character—choosing the perfect name for them and giving them values. My novel is very character driven, so that might be part of it as well.

[Read more…]

KP Spotlight! Mary P. Johnston

We are very delighted to be presenting with you our third KP spotlight! In this latest installment we are featuring Mary P. Johnston. Enjoy!

 

Kingdom Pen: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What are three interesting facts?  KP Spotlight

Mary P. Johnston: Hello! Three interesting facts, let’s see…

  1. I am 6’2” tall.
  2. I am really passionate about the Myers-Briggs theory. (INFJ here!)
  3. I wrote my first novel in crayon. I was seven, I believe. It was called the Captain over the Seas, and, as the title suggests, it was about a pirate.

KP: If you could have any vocation, and money was no object, what would it be?

MPJ: I think I would work two jobs, if that’s allowed— I would be a writer by day and an astronomer by night. 

KP: Homeschooled? Public-schooled? Tell us the tale.

MPJ: Homeschooled! I went to pre-school and kindergarten as a child, but after that my mom and dad decided to homeschool me since I wasn’t learning in the classroom very well. I have dyslexia, you see. Or maybe you can’t see, because I was able to learn how to read and write proficiently under my mom’s teaching! Thank you, Mom!

KP: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment? (It’s okay to brag a little on this one!)

MPJ: The first accomplishment that comes to mind (and the one that I think I am most proud of) is that I have successfully completed six years of NaNoWriMo in a row! And I intend to keep up that streak, so bring on November! 

KP: What is the best part about writing for you?

MPJ: Dialogue! My scenes always flow better when the characters have something to say.

KP: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

MPJ:  My dad once gave me a piece of advice when I got horribly stuck in my writing: “Creativity is like a snowball. It starts out small, but once you begin rolling it down the hill, it gets bigger and goes faster all on it’s own. But you have to begin.”

KP: What is your favorite thing to write—poetry, fiction, nonfiction, blog posts, etc.?

MPJ: Fiction! Specifically fantasy, though I’ve dabbled in science fiction as well.

KP: What is your biggest struggle as a writer? Biggest fear?

MPJ: I struggle with world building disease, which basically means that I spend so much time shaping the culture, history, geography, etc. of my story world that I almost never get to writing the actual story. As for my biggest fear, well, honestly? My biggest fear is that I will never finish my series. It terrifies me more than anything else, as cliche as it sounds.

KP: What are your goals as a writer?

MPJ: To finish writing my story, which is a series of books. Finishing it is my goal; publishing it is my dream.

KP: If you could give one piece of encouragement to other writers your age, what would it be?

MPJ: To the boys and girls who are struggling to find time to write in the madness of growing up— Dont ever fall for the lie that your story doesn’t matter. Keep dreaming, keep writing, and keep seeking the Creator, whose creative Spirit is in you.

KP: What do you like the most about Kingdom Pen? If there was one thing you’d like to see added, expanded, or changed at Kingdom Pen, what would it be?

MPJ:  I like the Kingdom Pen. Period. Need I say more? You guys rock! You’ve been encouraging me for the past three years, and I couldn’t thank you enough. And I honestly can’t think of anything you could add or change… You have contests, do critiques, post articles, have an awesome website and forum— what more could I ask for? The only thing I can think of is the e-magazine. If you ever have the resources to begin doing that again, you can count on me to be a consistent reader! 

KP: How did you find out about Kingdom Pen? How long have you been a subscriber?

MPJ: I’ll be perfectly honest: I don’t remember how I found Kingdom Pen. I think it might’ve been Pinterest, but I’m not entirely sure. However, I saved the email that I sent to my dad three years ago next month, asking him if I could subscribe. Rereading its contents makes me smile because I was so enthusiastic about the Kingdom Pen! I still am, by the way. 🙂

KP: What was your favorite Kingdom Pen article, short story, or poem?

MPJ: I am a huge poetry enthusiast, because it is a beautiful, beautiful form of writing that I cannot do myself. I am also very passionate about music, so when Carolyn G. wrote a poem about music— there was absolutely no way I couldn’t love it. It’s kind of old now, I realize… but that’s part of the glory of writing. It doesn’t change with age.

KP: If you could say one thing to the Kingdom Pen community, what would it be?

MPJ: This is a wonderful and rare community we’re in. Writers are rare enough in the world, but Christian writers? The Kingdom Pen is something special. I hope you realize this and take advantage of the advice and encouragement available to you here.

Just ‘cause we really want to know:

KP: If you were a genre of literature, which genre would you be?

MPJ: I think I’d be science fiction, because I am future-oriented, unbelievably strange, and a lover of space.

 

unnamedMary P. Johnston is a seventeen-year-old storyteller who lives in the rainy state of Oregon. She is the second oldest of seven siblings, is obsessed with music, and wishes to travel the world someday. She graduated high school early and is going to Boise Bible College in the Fall to study Psychology.

My blog, the Dreamer’s Pen: https://thedreamerspen.wordpress.com/

KP Spotlight! Dani M.

Kingdom Pen is so excited to release our very first KP Spotlight! It is so neat getting to know you better! We hope you enjoy this feature as much as we are! Thank you Dani M for agreeing to share a little bit about yourself with us.

Kingdom Pen: Tell us a little bit about yourself. What are three interesting facts?KP Spotlight

Dani M: Well, my siblings tell me that I stick my tongue out when I’m concentrating. Especially on piano or violin. Flute would be a little hard to do that on, though.

I think in a British accent. I talk in a Northern accent, but my Southern accent comes out a lot. And occasionally, a word or two slip out in English pronunciation. Especially ‘process’. I can also talk in Scottish, Irish, and Hindi accents.

I seem to not be able to construct a sentence without mentioning the Bible Bee at least once. My mom hosts our locals, and I’ve participated in it since the beginning, so that’s probably why.

Bonus: I lived in eleven houses before I was five. And three of my siblings and I have been born in different time zones.

KP: If you could have any vocation, and money was no object, what would it be?

DM: Singing across Europe. Or running a tea shop/craft shop/animal rescue. Something crazy like that, to be certain. Most people think I’m crazy.

KP: Homeschooled? Public-schooled? Tell us the tale.

DM: I’ve been homeschooled all my life. Nothing extra exciting, except maybe that I was in Algebra one for five years- from ten to fifteen. I finally finished, though, and I’m looking forward to geometry! Science and algebra tie as my most difficult subjects, and music is my favorite.

KP: What do you consider your biggest accomplishment? (It’s okay to brag a little on this one!)

DM: Honestly, probably making it through nineteen months of traveling across the Lower 48. Nevermind, it was making it to the National Bible Bee semi-finals with one of my best friends!

KP: What is the best part about writing for you?

DM: Being able to be creative, probably. Getting to invent worlds and people.

KP: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

DM: Well, I have been told over and over not to edit- get it written down and then edit, but, unfortunately, I have never followed it.

KP: What is your favorite thing to write—poetry, fiction, nonfiction, blog posts, etc.?

DM: I like to write fiction. I’m sort a fantastical person who walks around with my head in the clouds, so I invent a lot of things. Some of them have been written down, and some not.

KP: What is your biggest struggle as a writer? Biggest fear?

DM: My biggest struggle is portraying feelings without actually stating them. That’s kind of weird, because I’m very expressive, and you’d think I’d be able to. As for fear, I really don’t have any so far.

KP: What are your goals as a writer?

DM: I don’t really know. I just started writing because I have too many ideas. I never had goals. And that’s kind of how it is still. Hopefully, I can get one or two books published. But if not, I’m fine with that as well.

KP: If you could give one piece of encouragement to other writers your age, what would it be?

DM: If your writing isn’t what you want it to be, and you can’t get it right, set it aside for a bit. I’ve set things aside for up to a year, and when I come back, I see what was wrong and am able to fix it. It also helps if you have great friends who are so much better at writing than you are and can just tell you what’s wrong.

KP: What do you like the most about Kingdom Pen?

DM: The articles are great! They’ve been very helpful.

KP: If there was one thing you’d like to see added, expanded, or changed at Kingdom Pen, what would it be?

DM: I think I’d like to see more music, from other Christian writers. After all, we musicians write too. We write music!

KP: How did you find out about Kingdom Pen?

DM: I read on the Boyer Family Singers blog about this Christian website that was hosting a Begin Your Novel contest, and the prize was a hundred dollars. I thought, “Christian? Begin Your Novel contest? A hundred bucks! Sounds good!” Ironically, I had just begun another novel. And the beginning has changed drastically since.

KP: How long have you been a subscriber?

DM: Since then.

KP: What was your favorite Kingdom Pen article, short story, or poem?

DM: I really liked ‘Of Parallels and Perpendiculars’. It seems like my life is like that a lot.

KP: If you could say one thing to the Kingdom Pen community, what would it be?

DM: Thanks for making Kingdom Pen happen!

KP: A movie is being made about your life. What are three songs that would definitely make the soundtrack cut and why?

DM: Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’, because that’s what made me want to play violin. Probably also ‘In Dreams’ from the Fellowship of the Ring. I daydream a lot. And… Um… ‘In Every Trying Hour’, which is an original song that we sang at the National Bible Bee. I’ve participated in it every year, so it’s a big part of my life.

 

Dani, MDani M is a crazy sixteen-year-old in the heart of the 49th state in the Union. She enjoys knitting, crocheting, spinning, and any number of crafts! And singing and playing one of her many instruments. She is an older sister to two brothers and two sisters. Her two goats, unfortunately, are not at her property, and she wishes to add rabbits and various poultry to her farm. She and her sister have run a magazine for girls for four years, which you can sign up for at: MillersInAlaska.org

Her favorite authors and stories include J.R.R. Tolkein, C.S. Lewis, and fairy tales that merge Alaska with British literature and Scandinavian themes.

 

KP Interviews BYN Contest Winner: Brenna Stross

Back in March we announced the winner of our Begin Your Novel Contest, Brenna Stross. She agreed to allow us an interview, and here is what she has to say on her entry and being a writer!

BYN Winner Interview PostKingdom Pen: So, just who is Brenna Stross? Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you discover Kingdom Pen and the Begin Your Novel contest?

Brenna Stross: I’m a thirteen year old girl just doing life in good ole’ Lakeland! I love reading, writing, singing and playing the guitar. I discovered Kingdom Pen through the Begin Your Novel contest, and I discovered BYN through this blog: Our Crazy Adventures In Autism Land 

KP: You’ve shown us that you have a great opening paragraph; is there a great novel to go along with it? If not, are you in the process of writing it?

Stross: This contest sparked the interest to begin this novel, and I am currently in the process of writing it.

KP: How long did you spend writing your opening paragraph? What was the most difficult part?

Stross: After researching ideas, contemplating, and praying, it was clear what I was to write, and it took me ten minutes to write my opening paragraph.

KP: Have you won any writing awards or contests before, or is Kingdom Pen your first?

Stross: Kingdom Pen is the first writing contest I’ve ever entered, so I was beyond excited and surprised to have actually won. My goal was to get feedback on how to improve my writing.

KP: Are you home schooled, public schooled, private schooled, or a mix? Has writing been a big part of your education?

[Read more…]

Kingdom Pen Interviews: Israel Wayne

Kingdom Pen thanks Israel Wayne for this exclusive interview! Israel Wayne is a homeschool graduate, writer, and speaker. 

Kingdom Pen: When did you start writing? What motivated you?

Israel Wayne: I began writing a column in the Home School Digest magazine in the Fall of 1994. I have always been a communicator at heart. I don’t write because I enjoy the process of writing, per se, but rather because I feel that I have something to say. The first two essays I wrote for the publication were (in my late teens): “Establishing Right Relationships,” and “Making Moral Choices.”
Israel Wayne Interview Post Graphic
I have always felt that if you could get those two issues correct (Ethics and Relationships), rest of life will run much smoother for you. Ironically, those two themes have been a constant thread throughout the body of my work. I tend to write a lot about family and worldviews. I always cycle back around to that.

KP: How did you become a writer? Did you have to go to college?

IW: It may provide some readers a sadistic comfort to know that I flunked every writing course I ever took. I purposefully avoided college, which I felt that I did not need, and so far have not. I am not the best writer. I think the British have a notable advantage over us Americans when it comes to writing (consider G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, T.S. Elliot, etc., not to mention Shakespeare and Chaucer!). They invented the language after all. That hasn’t caused much of a problem for me though because most Americans are pathetic writers, even the published ones. So, by comparison, I appear to be a decent writer, even though I am not.

KP: How old do you have to be to write non-fiction books? Is non-fiction writing something you can only attempt when you’re an adult and more experienced?

IW: I have always written non-fiction. I write non-fiction mainly because I rarely ever read fiction, and you must read a good deal of good fiction if you are going to be able to write good fiction. The struggle I have is in finding good fiction. Apart from the Classics, which are so for obvious reasons, I find most modern fiction to be the domain of the banal and obtuse. I have no use for most of it. So I read a good deal of non-fiction, across a variety of genres.

I think more than age, it is important to know how to create good outlines. I think in outline form. For both fiction and non-fiction, it is essential to make an outline on which to hang your narrative or prose. You need to be able to tell people your idea in a logical sequence and not get sidetracked with rabbit trails. You also need to learn economy of words. Being concise is a lost art. This world needs far more pith, and far less droning.

KP: How do you deal with criticism?

IW: Criticism, if it comes from someone who knows something, is invaluable. I always invite it with all of my books. I send the manuscript to various experts in the field on which I am writing, as well as to professional editors, and welcome them to tear it to pieces. I want them to find every flaw because if they don’t a reader who paid money to buy the book will (and it’s too late to correct it then!). If you can’t handle criticism, don’t become a writer. A major goal in writing (in my mind) is to challenge the conventional thinking of your reader. If you are doing that, you are also very likely offending them as well. People don’t like to think that their preconceived notions may be false. So if you are getting no criticism, you are a dull thinker and are probably not saying anything worthwhile.

KP: If you could only give one piece of advice on how to go about writing a non-fiction book, what would it be?

IW: Know your topic. I try to avoid writing on anything that I don’t know intimately. If I write it, it is usually because I own that concept in my own life and experience. If you write about what you know deeply and personally, you can’t go wrong.

KP: How do you get other people to read your books? What is the best way you’ve found to market your work?

IW: I used to give a lot of advice about how to get published and how to market your book. Now I just tell people to read a book by Michael Hyatt (an executive at Thomas Nelson Publishers) entitled, Platform. He says all the things that I have told people for years in a clear and concise manner.

KP: Is writing a best-selling book the only way to make a living as a writer?

IW: Very few authors write best-selling books. I saw a statistic recently that said that the average sales of a non-fiction Christian print book is only 250 copies per year, and 3,000 over the course of its life. So, if you are with a traditional book publisher and you are only getting paid $1.00-$1.50 per book, you’d better have a back-up plan.

For most authors, you write because you have a story or idea in you that needs to get out. You obviously write for the benefit of others, but if you don’t sell a lot of copies, writing is still good personal therapy. If you are going to write professionally, you either need to be the best in your craft, or you need to combine writing with a brand package that includes public speaking, events, product packages, consulting, teaching and a host of other endeavors that all work together to provide adequate income and support. You can also write for various periodicals that pay their writers, but again, you are probably looking at a couple hundred dollars a month, at best, through those channels, so you really need to diversify and take whatever work you can to make a living until your craft finally takes off.

My view is that we need to be faithful to say what God has given us to say. We should present it to the best of our abilities. In the end, however, it is God who gives the increase. If it is His will for us to write on a full-time basis, then He will provide the means. If not, we can enjoy writing as a very fulfilling hobby or part-time endeavor.

Israel Wayne is an author and conference speaker who has a passion for defending the Christian faith and promoting a Biblical worldview.2015-Israel-new-pic-for-web-240x300 He is the author of the books Homeschooling from a Biblical WorldviewFull-Time Parenting: A Guide to Family-Based DiscipleshipQuestions God Asks and Questions Jesus Asks. He is a former regular columnist for Home School Digest and the Old Schoolhouse magazines. He is also the Director of Family Renewal, LLC. and site editor for ChristianWorldview.net.

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.

Interview with Chuck Black, author of the Kingdom Series

Kingdom Pen is privileged to feature an interview with Chuck Black, author of the Kingdom series, originally hosted by Miss Leah Good on her personal writing website, Leah Elizabeth Good. Miss Good was very generous to share the interview with us and we’d like to extend our thanks to her and also recommend her website as a resource for novel reviews and writing content of all sorts. Swing by and check it out!

Chuck Black is the Christian author of both the Kingdom series and The Knights of Arrethrrae series. The following biography is taken from his website, Perfect Praise Publishing, where his novels are available for sale:

 

Chuck Black first wrote Kingdom’s Edge to inspire his  children to read the Bible with renewed zeal. This captivating expanded parable led him to write the Old Testament allegories, Kingdom’s Dawn and Kingdom’s Hope. Chuck added three more titles to the series, Kingdom’s Call, Kingdom’s Quest, and Kingdom’s Reign which were released in May of 2007. Chuck’s current works include The Knights of Arrethtrae series.

    Chuck is a former F-16 fighter pilot and currently works as an engineer for a firm designing plastic consumer products. He has a degree in electrical and electronic engineering and served eight years in the United States Air Force. Chuck and his wife have six children.

    It is Chuck’s desire to serve the Lord through his work and to inspire people of all ages to study the scriptures in order to discover the hope and love of a truly majestic King and His Son.

 

And now, Leah Good’s Kingdom Pen featured interview with Mr. Black.

LG: How long has it been since you started writing the Kingdom books?

CB: I began writing the Kingdom Series books in 1999. I started with Kingdom’s Edge, the third book in the series. My inspiration for writing that first book was to find a way to help my children get excited about their faith, and to help them understand the spiritual warfare that the Bible talks about so often. The story of Jesus was the best place to start. All of the other books, including the Knights of Arrethtrae, flow out of Kingdom’s Edge.

LG: Do you have a favorite book out of the Kingdom Series or Knights of Arrethrae Series?

CB: That is a difficult question to answer. I like different books for different reasons. Kingdom’s Edge because it was my first and purest work. It felt as though God specifically gave it to me to write. Beyond that I don’t think I could pick one of the Kingdom Series books over the other. For the Knights of Arrethtrae series, it would probably be a toss-up between Sir Dalton and Sir Quinlan with the other four coming in a close second J.

LG: Tell us about your journey from self-publishing to traditional publishing.

CB: I self-published four of the Kingdom Series books because I did not want to take the long and usually unfruitful path to traditional publishing. We stumbled into a market in the homeschool community with the books that gave us an indication that there was a real need for a series of wholesome, exciting, Christian novels. After five years of watching the interest and the sales double each year, I came to a place where I was exhausted and could not keep up with the growing demand for the books. That is when I asked God to really bless the books, if it were within His will to do so. A few months later, Multnomah Publishing signed on for the books and we expanded the series from four to six books. Once those proved to be successful, I signed another contract with Multnomah for the Knights of Arrethtrae series. It has been an unusual journey all testifying to God’s hand working it all out.

LG: What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

CB: I would encourage aspiring authors to read a lot and to learn the techniques of their favorite authors. For example, how does the author develop the characters, is the story plot driven or character driven, how does he handle dialog, and how much detail is necessary to make a scene feel real. I would also recommend getting the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. It is an excellent resource for beginning writers. Finally, I recommend practicing your writing and having people give you honest and objective feedback. Before I decided to print 500 copies of Kingdom’s Edge, I printed five copies under a pen name. I then asked people for feedback. Be prepared for both the positive and the negative feedback and then adjust. Constructive criticism is the best tool for learning, if the receiver is willing to accept it.

LG: Do you have any new books in the works?

CB: Actually, I just signed a contract for a trilogy with Waterbrook Multnomah. I can’t give too much a way but it will be a modern-day spiritual warfare series. I’m excited about it, and I pray that God will use it to inspire people to serve Him with all heart, soul, mind, and strength!

LG: Is there anything else you would like to share with readers?

CB: The central theme of all of my books is this…God is looking for hearts that are completely devoted to Him so that he might strongly support them (2 Chronicles 16:9). Find your passion for God through the talents and abilities He has given you and then say “yes” to the call and the adventure He has waiting for you. It will be the thrill of a lifetime…I guarantee it!

My website is www.KingdomSeries.com and if anyone would like to write to me, I can be reached at kingdom@perfect-praise.com. Thank you for the chance to share my heart with your readers.