Interview on Dystopian and YA Literature with Author Nadine Brandes (+Giveaway!)

Back in April of this year, I was privileged to attend a Christian writers’ conference where Nadine Brandes led a workshop (one of the main reasons I registered for the conference).

Nadine_Brandes_InterviewI’d been following Nadine for a while before the conference. I noticed how she was personal and sincere with her readers, wrote fun blog posts, and was becoming well known for her Out of Time series (which I didn’t read until after the conference, and now I’m a fan). She seemed to hold some secret to being an author that I wanted to know.

Thus, I went to the conference with eyes and ears wide open. My expectations were not only met, but blown out of this galaxy.

I was amazed by her workshop, which gave me a vision for where I should take my writing, and I was flabbergasted by her enthusiasm to talk with me one-on-one. Somewhere in that conversation, I asked if she’d be interested in doing an author interview for Kingdom Pen, and she readily agreed. I was doing a happy dance on the inside!

So, without further ado, I hope you catch a glimpse of who Nadine is and are encouraged by her words of wisdom to aspiring authors.

Being an Author

KP: What led you to become an author?

Nadine: The imaginary voices in my head! [wink] Actually, I’m not sure I can narrow it down to just one thing. It’s a mixture of God’s prompting, my dad’s storytelling, my mom’s reading, my big sister’s playacting, and my love of reading. I’d always loved the concept of story and being able to affect someone’s life with it.

Only once I attended my first writers’ conference did I realize I wanted to pursue publication.

KP: At the writers’ conference, you said in your workshop that “being an author is more than just about writing, but about the ministry.” Can you explain what makes writing a ministry? [Read more…]

Profile photo of Rolena Hatfield
Rolena is a country loving girl who wears cowgirl boots and has dreamed of being Cinderella since she was four. She has an explosive imagination that leads her on crazy adventures in other worlds, yet she somehow always ends up back at her desk with a pencil and cup of coffee in hand. Beside writing at late night hours and devouring books, she has a tremendous love of music and musical theater. She blames them both for not being able to stay off a stage since age eleven, becoming a vocal teacher and now directing dramas. Her favorite places to be are up in her library (yes, she has a special room in her house just for books), outside for a romp or any place with people. On her shelf of favorite books you’ll find The False Prince, Once on This Island, Princess Academy and Bella at Midnight. Her favorite thing to do is laugh. Though she has tried to stop writing, she’s never been able too and has no intentions of doing so in the near future. Or ever for that matter.

KP Spotlight: Charis Etter

We are delighted to be presenting our fourth KP spotlight! In this installment we are featuring the lovely Charis Etter. Enjoy!kpspotlight

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

Charis Etter: The community and ideas from different writers like me. Also the picture prompts.

KP: How did you find out about Kingdom Pen?

CE: A friend told me about it.

KP: What is one thing you’d like to see added or expanded at Kingdom Pen?

CE: More picture prompts…

KP: Can you share three interesting facts about yourself?

CE: One, I am an American, but I grew up in northeast Asia. Two, I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember, but only started writing them down about five years ago. Three, one of my hobbies is horseback riding. [Read more…]

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…]

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:

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:

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 and if anyone would like to write to me, I can be reached at Thank you for the chance to share my heart with your readers.

Interview with Daniel Schwabauer

We at Kingdom Pen are here to announce that our upcoming issue (May/June) will include an exclusive interview with Daniel Schwabauer.

Daniel Schwabauer is an award-winning author, teacher, and creator of the One Year Adventure Novel, the Amazing Gospel, Amazing True Life Stories and College Boot Camp.

His professional work includes stage plays, radio scripts, short stories, newspaper columns, comic books and scripting for the PBS animated series Auto-B-Good. His young adult novels, Runt the Brave and Runt the Hunted, have received numerous awards, including the 2005 Ben Franklin Award and the 2008 Eric Hoffer Award. He graduated from Kansas University’s Masters program in Creative Writing in 1995. He lives in Olathe, Kansas with his wife and daughter.

Here are previews of a few of the questions Kingdom Pen asked Mr. Schwabauer:

   [Read more…]

N.D. Wilson Interview: Advice for Young Writers

During a live interview hosted by Classical Conversations’ founder Leigh Bortins, Kingdom Pen asked N.D.Wilson, “What advice do you have for young writers who want to get published?”

Here’s what he said:

“This is one of those things where I can give everyone the magic bullet, or give everyone the trick that will make it happen, and then like all good magic bullets it’s not actually that easy. So, the way to get your books published is to make them very, very good. That’s what it comes down to. [laughs] Get really good – which is another way of saying control what you can control, and don’t worry about what you can’t.

“What can you control? You can control the words on the page in front of you. You can control how hard you work to improve in your prose craft, in your description, in your character work and dialogue. You can go through exercises. You can write whole novels and throw them away, and start on the next one. Really try to get good, until you can walk through a Barnes & Noble, and without arrogance say, “Here’s this book, here’s this award-winner, here’s this one,” and not out of any cockiness or arrogance, actually just say honestly, “I think I’m as good as these people in my craft. I am as good or better.”

“Then the publishers actually do want to find you. They want good books. It’s their job to find good books and to print them. There are so many people trying to get published, because it’s a fun job.  There are so many people pursuing it, literally hundreds of thousands of people trying to do this every year. The best and only way that you can try to insure success is by making sure that you are getting better every time you sit down to write. God has made the world in such a way that he who is excellent in his work will stand before kings. Cream will rise. I’m really grateful, by the way, that my first attempts at novel writing weren’t published. I’m really happy about that!

“Shape it, work on it, grind on it. Love criticism; embrace criticism. Every time someone criticizes your stuff, and criticizes it harshly and rigorously, you get better: either because they’re right, and you need to learn to listen to them and then go and make changes, or you get better because they’re wrong and you have to think through why they’re wrong, and what it is about your book that does actually account for that criticism. So get good!

“I would say I’m really grateful for the path I took. New St. Andrew’s College was the best preparation I could have possibly been given to go on and write professionally. If I had gone somewhere to get an undergrad in creative writing, I wouldn’t have gained nearly the advantage that I was given. I’m grateful for that because it was really accidental; it wasn’t like I planned it that way.

“Also, read other stuff. You know, when you read, read, read, hopefully if you read my stuff (like Dragon’s Tooth), you’ll see things you like, things you’d like to imitate, and you’ll also see things that you’ll say, “Yeah, I know that’s not for me. That’s not my taste.” Or, “I would do that differently.” But never turn your brain off when you’re reading. Never turn it off and just receive. Always think like an author and a creator, even when you’re actually a consumer.”

Listen to the full interview here:

For more from N.D. Wilson, check out his website and blog, and find his books online here.