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The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read

Years ago, as an elementary teacher, I attended a reading conference in Toronto, Ontario. I enjoyed the privilege of hearing keynote speaker, John Corcoran. At the conference, I bought his book, The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read and today treasure my autographed copy. It has graced my bookshelf for quite awhile, but when the idea for my novel Misty Hollow came about, I ran to my shelf, grabbed the book, and gave a victory cheer. His book was the perfect reference in creating my illiterate Appalachian hero, Joel Greenfield.

Corcoran describes an unbelievable story about how he graduated high school and college and actually taught history for seventeen years. At around fourth grade, he began to fall behind and compensated for his handicap by acting out. In high school, he excelled in athletics and was admired by faculty and friends. So how did he get by as a functional illiterate?

He devised clever ways of deception including cheating and lying. With his charismatic personality, he charmed others into reading books and documents to him. Once in college, he actually passed his test out the window to another student who took the exam for him. A favorite deception was claiming he forgot his glasses at home.

While teaching high school, he utilized discussions and debates where texts were never used. He even asked a student to read the morning bulletin to the class, though at the bottom it read “Please don’t let a student read this bulletin.”

He eventually married and had a daughter. He would “read” her bedtime stories by looking at the pictures and making up his own version.

Corcoran doesn’t place blame on the educational system but on his circumstances. Since he went to school in the 50s, educators have discovered more ways to help students with reading disorders. In his thirties, Corcoran finally found the courage to sign up for an adult literacy class and learned to read. He now supports literacy through the John Corcoran Foundation.

In writing Joel’s character, I borrowed some of Corcoran’s methods of compensation. Joel uses the glasses excuse, asks others to read for him, and employs deception such as taking his Bible to church and pretending he’s following along. Most valuable in writing his character were Corcoran’s descriptions of his emotional journey—the shame, frustration, and fear of being exposed.

For all readers with a heart for literacy, Corcoran’s book is a must read. In any case, it’s a fascinating tale. Thanks, Mr. Corcoran, for sharing your story with American. Like my fictional character, Joel Greenfield, many have profited by the telling of your journey.

About the Author:

An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. June’s book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC’s eBook awards and a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan’s Father was one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. Deliver Us was a finalist in COTT’s Laurel Awards. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan’s Father is published by WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from Amazon.com. The Almond Tree series, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, What God Knew, and Almond Street Mission are available at Amazon.com. June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. Recently June has seen publication of Christmas at Raccoon Creek, Lavender Fields Inn, Misty Hollow, and Restoration of the Heart. Visit June at junefoster.com.

About Misty Hollow:

When two people are cultures apart, only God can bridge the gap.

Molly Cambridge arrives in the tiny Appalachian town of Misty Hollow intent upon bringing literacy to the area’s uneducated women, only to be met by opposition at every turn by the headstrong, unbending mayor. When she asks for use of Town Hall, he refuses her offer to teach without pay and turns her down flat saying he only allows village business conducted there.

Joel Greenfield, son of a poor dirt farmer, is illiterate. When he admits to his passion to turn the family farm into a dairy business, the obstacles are insurmountable. He couldn’t even read the manual on how to use farming machinery, much less generate the necessary capital. His father’s objections further frustrate his desires.

When Joel offers Molly use of the old barn on the Greenfield property, they discover an irresistible attraction for each other. But the mayor has plans of his own to break them up, send Molly back to Nashville, and seize the Greenfield farm for himself. Can Molly and Joel overcome the hurdles to fulfilling their dreams and find their way to each other? Only God has the answers.

Interview with June Foster, Author of Misty Hollow

Today’s guest in June Foster, the author of Misty Hollow. An award-winning author, June is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. June’s book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC’s eBook awards and a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan’s Father was one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. Deliver Us was a finalist in COTT’s Laurel Awards. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan’s Father is published by WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from Amazon.com. The Almond Tree series, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, What God Knew, and Almond Street Mission are available at Amazon.com. June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. Recently June has seen publication of Christmas at Raccoon Creek, Lavender Fields Inn, Misty Hollow, and Restoration of the Heart. Visit June at junefoster.com.

June, you and I have known each other for a while now, and I’m delighted to have you back with us. I have watched your career grow as you work hard to bring your stories to life, and I know that your books are the favorite of many readers. So, tell us the secret of being a prolific author.

Thank you for inviting me to your blog today and for your kind remarks. Indeed, we have known each other for quite a few years. I first met you through Scribes at ACFW when you were the moderator. I’ll always appreciate your patient instruction.

I am prolific in the sense that I’m presently working on book number fifteen and have only been writing since 2010. I credit any success to the Lord Who sent me on this journey. I didn’t write my first book until I was in my early sixties. I laugh and explain that God must’ve put me on the fast track to writing and publishing because He knew my time on earth wasn’t as long as my many author friends.

Misty Hollow is your newest release. Will you tell us a little about the story and about what led you to write it?

Misty Hollow is the story of a young teacher, Molly Cambridge, from Nashville who has a heart for teaching adults to read. She takes a position in the elementary school in Misty Hollow, but her primary goal is to open a learning center to teach adults to read. Misty Hollow is her ancestral home, and Molly had witnessed her paternal grandmother struggle with illiteracy, another motivation to teach adults.

Joel Greenfield is a dirt farmer who longs to turn his unproductive land into a thriving dairy farm. Only thing, he can’t read the manual on how to operative a milking machine.

When Molly and Joel meet, they find an immediate attraction, but Molly can never learn Joel’s secret—he’s illiterate.

Before I began writing, I taught elementary children and, of course, reading was a big part of their curriculum. As Molly told you, I attended a reading conference and had the privilege of hearing John Corcoran speak. His story of how he didn’t learn to read until his thirties touched me. So my author’s imagination set to work asking questions like what if an illiterate young farmer from the Appalachians fell in love with a teacher from the big city? Another theme I explored was Christian maturity. Joel and part of his family, though they couldn’t read the Bible, still loved the Lord. Christianity isn’t about how smart or rich we are, but about a life of humility. The Greenfield family in their small town of Misty Hollow typifies that quality.

Misty Hollow is a fictitious town in Tennessee, and I know that you visited the Smoky Mountains because you’ve been there with me a couple of times. Tell me what led you to the Appalachians as a backdrop for Misty Hollow?

I can remember a couple of adventures we had. Especially when we made a wrong turn and ended up high in the mountains. Only thing, we found a great place for lunch.

Oh, yes, we found our way from Atlanta, Georgia, to Waynesville, North Carolina, via a very sharp turn that I couldn’t remember ever being on my road home–because I’d read the sign that said “Highlands” as “Franklin.” After said curve we headed up one side of the mountain to Highlands, and back down the other side past Glennville Lake and into Sylva, North Carolina. But we had a good laugh and a great meal. So back to the question after my little reminiscing …

Yes, I’ve read articles and seen documentaries of how reading illiteracy is prevalent in the Appalachians so I figured this might be a good location for a story about illiteracy. Though the number of farms have dwindled in recent years, I decided to make my hero a dirt farmer. One only needs to look at photos of the Smoky Mountains to see the hazy, smoky mist that settles over the hills and valleys. Often those valleys or hollows feature a river or stream running through. Thus Misty Hollow came to life.

You’re a retired teacher, and I’m going to tell you for the first time, that if someone asked me, without my knowing, what you did before retirement, I would have guessed that you were an elementary teacher. You just have that curious way about you (I still laugh at our Florida alligator misadventure), and you have this caring and nurturing nature. I see that in your heroine, Molly. So, tell us, is there any part of you in Molly?

Yes, authors often see their characters through the own past experiences. Molly loves her eager, rambunctious third graders in Misty Hollow. She’s anxious to see their success as much as I did when I taught my little ones. But like Molly, I taught adults, as well. Not illiterate adults, but grown students who were learning to speak English. I desired to see their success in mastering the language the same way Molly wants her Appalachian students to read. So yeah, Molly is pretty much like me. Only thing, I didn’t fall in love with an illiterate man but a soldier in the Army.

If one of our readers knows someone who needs help learning to read, especially an adult who has struggled, do you, as a retired teacher or through your research for Misty Hollow have any advice or know of anywhere they can seek help?

Yes. There are many tutoring centers in communities throughout the US. Some are paid, but others are manned by volunteers. It’s only a matter of doing a bit of investigating. John Corcoran learned to read with a one-on-one tutor. Some require individual help, like John and Joel Greenfield. A tutor doesn’t always have to be a teacher by profession, but can be trained to help students. Nevertheless, the job requires an infinite amount of patience. If one goes to a reading center, the teaching materials are carefully selected for the appropriate age group. In Misty Hollow, Joel reads a book on a third grade level but a story that would appeal to adults.

One last question for you, June. What new and interesting characters are you writing about that we may soon be able to meet?

My work in progress is set in small town Alabama. Zack Lawrence is a young pastor who’s seen more than his share of tragedy. His pregnant wife suffered a pulmonary embolism, and he discovered her on the floor dead, the baby gone as well. To make matters more difficult, the church he’s pasturing must close the door for lack of parishioners. He blames himself and can’t move beyond the guilt holding him captive.

Ella Harris is a high school counselor with a heart for hurting teens. When Zack returned from seminary with a wife, her heart broke as she’s loved him since they both went to high school together.

This novel leans more toward a character study of hurting people and how God intervenes with His healing power.

That sounds like another excellent June Foster read. I look forward to it!

About Misty Hollow:

When two people are cultures apart, only God can bridge the gap.

Molly Cambridge arrives in the tiny Appalachian town of Misty Hollow intent upon bringing literacy to the area’s uneducated women, only to be met by opposition at every turn by the headstrong, unbending mayor. When she asks for use of Town Hall, he refuses her offer to teach without pay and turns her down flat saying he only allows village business conducted there.

Joel Greenfield, son of a poor dirt farmer, is illiterate. When he admits to his passion to turn the family farm into a dairy business, the obstacles are insurmountable. He couldn’t even read the manual on how to use farming machinery, much less generate the necessary capital. His father’s objections further frustrate his desires.

When Joel offers Molly use of the old barn on the Greenfield property, they discover an irresistible attraction for each other. But the mayor has plans of his own to break them up, send Molly back to Nashville, and seize the Greenfield farm for himself. Can Molly and Joel overcome the hurdles to fulfilling their dreams and find their way to each other? Only God has the answers.

 

Character Interview: Molly Cambridge from June Foster’s Misty Hollow

Today’s guests on Inner Source is the heroine on June Foster’s latest release, Misty Hollow teacher, Molly Cambridge. Molly, welcome.

I’m so glad to have you here with us today. Will you tell our readers a little about yourself and what has brought you to Misty Hollow, Tennessee?

Thanks, Fay. It’s a privilege to appear on your blog. I’m from the metropolitan area of Nashville. I trained to become an elementary teacher, but if I hadn’t allowed my controlling father to dictate my life, I would’ve learned how to work with illiterate adults. My dad insisted I teach little kids, like my mother and grandmother before her. He said it was a Cambridge tradition, and I didn’t argue with him. But truthfully, my heart goes out to the dear people of the Appalachian Mountains, especially those who are limited by their lack of reading skills. I’ve read a lot on my own and feel qualified to teach adults. I’m planning on opening a learning center in the Misty Hollow Town Hall. Only thing—the stubborn mayor doesn’t quite seem open to the venture.

While you are from Tennessee, what do you find different about Misty Hollow from your hometown of Nashville?

The after school and weekend activities of children in Misty Hollow as compared to those in Nashville is the first thing that comes to mind. My students back home used to play with video games, iPads, and watch TV all weekend. Here the children romp in the forests, discovering ways to make up games using sticks and rocks. They go frog gigging, play hide-and-seek, and learn how to milk a cow.

But another big difference is the ethos of the adults. I ran into a group of men who expect their wives to remain at home, cooking, cleaning, and caring for the children. Literacy instruction wasn’t a high priority. Not all Misty Hollow residents hold to this mindset, however.

Another big difference is the availability of groceries. In Nashville, the mega stores sold every kind of food item imaginable as well as providing a hair salon, a fast food restaurant, a floral shop, and financial institution all under one roof. But I’m partial to the grocery in Misty Hollow because my uncle owns it. He sells homemade items Aunt Sue makes like bar-be-que, boiled peanuts, collard greens, and buttermilk bread.

You champion the cause of teaching adults who struggled to learn to read for whatever reason. When you meet someone who doesn’t know how to read, what problems do you see that they encounter that most of us take for granted as simple tasks, and how do they manage to work around their problems?

When we go to a restaurant, we pick up the menu and read the items available to order. We couldn’t possibly comprehend how difficult it is for an illiterate adult. They have no idea what’s offered. My friend, Joel, compensates by sniffing the air and identifying what’s cooking—like fried chicken. Too, he asks what the special for the day is and orders that. Another trick he uses is saying he forgot his glasses and asks the server to read some of the entrées to him.

When we’re driving and need to locate a certain street but aren’t sure how many blocks away it is, we watch the signs. Not so for illiterate adults. People who can’t read are granted the ability to obtain a driver’s license, but they still encounter difficulties in maneuvering the area, especially if they’re driving in a new environment. Again, Joel compensates by observing the country side. If he’s visiting another farm, he can look for houses, barns, etc.

Reading billboards is impossible and only the pictures give a clue as to the nature of the ad.

Joel once described the problem as if a magic carpet had transported him to China, and he had to decipher the written language there.

What would your advice be to a reader of this blog who knows someone who cannot read? What would you recommend they do for this person, especially one who is timid about letting someone know of their illiteracy?

My author, June Foster, once attended a national reading conference in Canada and the guest speak was John Corcoran. She told me what happened. Amazingly enough, John went all the way through college with an extremely limited reading ability. His book, The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read, delves into the unbelievable journey. Finally, in his thirties, with a private tutor, John mastered the ability to read. I would tell the friend who can’t read about John’s story and explain how it is nothing to be embarrassed about. Around 32 million adults in the US can’t read at a functional level, so I’d remind the person they aren’t alone. There are many local literacy centers, and you could ask the non-reader if they’d like you to help them enroll.

One more question for you, this time as a teacher to a parent. What do you suggest a parent do to encourage a child who might be slow to pick up on reading?

My author’s own daughter had a problem with reading, and she told me about it. In third grade, her daughter still couldn’t read, so my author tutored her privately. That didn’t work as her daughter was a stubborn girl, so my author appointed her older daughter as a tutor. That helped and today her daughter is a teacher herself. But not every parent feels comfortable tutoring. So, I’d suggest enrolling your student in an after school literacy center. Another option is to talk to the classroom teacher and request your child be tested for a reading disorder such as dyslexia. Public schools have special classes for these students. I’d suggest parents keep their child in prayer and remain patient. Never under any circumstances belittle your child for not reading on the level with their peers.

Thank you, Molly. Your story has a unique backdrop and message, and I know that the readers will enjoy their trip to Misty Hollow. I look forward to speaking with your author, June Foster, on Wednesday.

About Misty Hollow:

When two people are cultures apart, only God can bridge the gap.

Molly Cambridge arrives in the tiny Appalachian town of Misty Hollow intent upon bringing literacy to the area’s uneducated women, only to be met by opposition at every turn by the headstrong, unbending mayor. When she asks for use of Town Hall, he refuses her offer to teach without pay and turns her down flat saying he only allows village business conducted there.

Joel Greenfield, son of a poor dirt farmer, is illiterate. When he admits to his passion to turn the family farm into a dairy business, the obstacles are insurmountable. He couldn’t even read the manual on how to use farming machinery, much less generate the necessary capital. His father’s objections further frustrate his desires.

When Joel offers Molly use of the old barn on the Greenfield property, they discover an irresistible attraction for each other. But the mayor has plans of his own to break them up, send Molly back to Nashville, and seize the Greenfield farm for himself. Can Molly and Joel overcome the hurdles to fulfilling their dreams and find their way to each other? Only God has the answers.

More About the Author:

An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. June’s book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC’s eBook awards and a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan’s Father was one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. Deliver Us was a finalist in COTT’s Laurel Awards. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan’s Father is published by WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from Amazon.com. The Almond Tree series, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, What God Knew, and Almond Street Mission are available at Amazon.com. June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. Recently June has seen publication of Christmas at Raccoon Creek, Lavender Fields Inn, Misty Hollow, and Restoration of the Heart. Visit June at junefoster.com.

BLIND HATRED: A DEFINITION AND A CONFESSION by Kathleen E. Friesen

My mother would never allow her children to say, “I hate you!” No matter how heated the argument (and with five kids, there were plenty of quarrels), she would remind us that hatred means a desire for death. “Do you really want (brother/sister) to die?” No, of course not. Our heads would hang, and we’d (eventually) make up.

Mom’s definition wasn’t far off the one The Advanced English Dictionary gives for hatred: The emotion of intense dislike; a feeling of dislike so strong that it demands action.

Trevor Hiebert, the hero in Redemption’s Whisper, harbors hatred toward a former foster father and has vowed to exact revenge. His hatred is understandable, but it blinds him and hurts those close to him.

The Bible tells us in 1 John 2:11, “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” That describes Trevor so well.

It also describes me.

I know what it feels like to hate, to wish death upon someone I knew. When I discovered that the father of a two-year-old girl I loved dearly had sexually traumatized her and her equally cherished siblings, my vision went dark and my heart turned to hatred. I wanted this “pillar of the church” to pay. I wished all the evil he’d committed would turn on him and destroy him.

Like Trevor, I could not forgive the culprit on my own. In fact, the only way I could forgive was to step back, admit my inability, and release him—and my anger—to the God who knows. Only He can move a heart to repentance.

Only He could change my heart to the point where I can pray for that man, not for punishment but for healing of the wounds that provoked him to harm innocents. It’s a prayer I have to repeat each time I think of him. May God have mercy on us both.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for Your redeeming grace.

About the Author:

Kathleen Friesen writes contemporary stories of faith that overcomes tough trials and deep heartaches. Her desire is for her readers to see themselves in the characters of her stories, and to realize that Jesus Christ is the true hero. Kathleen spent her childhood in the Pacific Northwest and, after marrying the man of her dreams, survived the first thirty years of married life on the Canadian prairies, where they raised three fantastic children. Now she and her patient husband, Ron, live in the beautiful Okanagan Valley of British Columbia.

More About Redemption’s Whisper:

Desperate to escape her past, Hayley Blankenship flies from Toronto to the Saskatoon home of Pastor Dave and Lydia Harris, the only people who may be able to help her. If she doesn’t find a reason to hope, she may give in to the temptation to end it all. If only someone could love her, in spite of what she’s done.

Trevor Hiebert aces the interview for his dream job in Toronto, but he’s torn. His beloved parents need him, and while he doesn’t want to let them down, he craves the affirmation he hopes to find in the big city. But on the flight home to Saskatoon, he meets an intriguing, gorgeous redhead with dark secrets of her own. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love?

About Nila’s Hope:

Just when her career as a carpenter and a relationship with handsome co-worker Will Jamison are within reach, Nila Black’s abusive ex-boyfriend is released from prison. He’s out of jail, out for revenge, and making promises she knows he’ll keep. Nila will do whatever it takes to save her friends from the evil that will come their way if she doesn’t put distance between them-even if it means abandoning her new-found faith. It will take a miracle and an angelic messenger to show Nila that God is her greatest protector. He has never left her side, and He wants only the best for her and for the man she loves.

Did you miss the Inner Source interview with Hayley Blankenship, the heroine from Redemption’s WhisperIf so, you can read it here, and Monday’s interview with Kathleen can be found here.

Inner Source also previously interviewed Nila and Kathleen regarding Nila’s Hope.

Author Interview with Kathleen E. Friesen Author of Redemption’s Whisper

Today’s guest is Kathleen E. Friesen, who writes contemporary stories of faith that overcomes tough trials and deep heartaches. Her desire is for her readers to see themselves in the characters of her stories, and to realize that Jesus Christ is the true hero. Kathleen spent her childhood in the Pacific Northwest and, after marrying the man of her dreams, survived the first thirty years of married life on the Canadian prairies, where they raised three fantastic children. Now she and her patient husband, Ron, live in the beautiful Okanagan Valley of British Columbia.

Thank you for being with us today, Kathleen.

Thank you for having me!

I so enjoyed your book, Nila’s Hope, and I was thrilled to see that Hayley Blankenship has her own story. We don’t get to read too many novels with Saskatoon as the backdrop. Can you tell us a little about the area and why you wanted to bring to life that setting?

I lived in the Saskatoon area for thirty years, and we raised our children there. I grew up in the lush, gentle climate of the Pacific Northwest, so the Canadian prairies were a shock to my system. To be honest, I never really acclimatized, but it was a wonderful place to raise our family. I wanted to share some of the unique aspects of Saskatchewan life with readers, maybe even entice them to plan a trip to experience the prairies for themselves.

Changing courses here, I know, but Hayley has struggled with the decisions she’s made in her life. Many of us have suffered for our own wrong choices. Can you tell share with us why you think that a character’s struggles are important for a reader to see?

We all struggle for one reason or another; it’s part of what makes us human. Hayley’s issues run deep, but through her journey to forgiveness, I hope my readers will recognize themselves and find forgiveness as she did.

So true. When we struggle against God’s goodness toward us, afraid He won’t love us for what we’ve done, we don’t realize that our hands and our feet are tied by the enemy. When we stop our struggling and understand that the only way to have our bonds broken is to allow God to set us free, we can give our guilt and shame over to Him.

Trevor also has problems, but his seem to be more from his stubbornness toward God. I’d love to know if you ever faced those type of struggles or if you gleaned your knowledge from dealing with someone who fought against God’s goodness in their lives?

Trevor’s story was a tough one for me. I’ve been angry at God many times, but His grace held me close. Someone very close to me, however, continues to resist God’s forgiveness and love. I needed to show that grace is real and God is good, no matter how things appear.

Hayley is a city girl, and she ends up in the unlikeliest of spots? Are you a city girl or a country gal and have you ever had to change your lifestyle? If so, how did that turn out for you? If not, what kind of changes do you think someone who does change lifestyles so drastically will face?

I’ve lived in big cities (Portand OR, Tacoma WA) as a child, but at heart, I’m a small-town girl. Our family had an acreage north of Saskatoon for several years, and I had to learn to handle large animals and help care for sick ones. Sickness and death is part of life, but I never got used to that. I loved the special freedom that farm/acreage life allows, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Any lifestyle change comes with plenty of challenges, but with the right attitude and a patient friend (spouse, in my case), it can boost confidence and strengthen character.

Hayley made a huge change in spite of her worries. I hope her story will resonate with my readers and encourage them to face their own fears.

I’m sure Hayley’s story will do just that. So, are there going to be any new works from Saskatoon or are you on to other settings? We’d love to hear what’s next for you.

My work in progress in the first of a series set in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, where I live now. It features the four siblings of the Rockwell family. Kennedy Rockwell’s story is called Hearts Unfolding.

Someday, I may head back to Saskatoon for more novels. It is a place rich in history, courage, and drama—and full of stories.

Thank you, again, Kathleen, for sharing the big news about your newest release. I look forward to your guest blog post here on Wednesday.

More About Redemption’s Whisper:

Desperate to escape her past, Hayley Blankenship flies from Toronto to the Saskatoon home of Pastor Dave and Lydia Harris, the only people who may be able to help her. If she doesn’t find a reason to hope, she may give in to the temptation to end it all. If only someone could love her, in spite of what she’s done.

Trevor Hiebert aces the interview for his dream job in Toronto, but he’s torn. His beloved parents need him, and while he doesn’t want to let them down, he craves the affirmation he hopes to find in the big city. But on the flight home to Saskatoon, he meets an intriguing, gorgeous redhead with dark secrets of her own. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love?

About Nila’s Hope:

Just when her career as a carpenter and a relationship with handsome co-worker Will Jamison are within reach, Nila Black’s abusive ex-boyfriend is released from prison. He’s out of jail, out for revenge, and making promises she knows he’ll keep. Nila will do whatever it takes to save her friends from the evil that will come their way if she doesn’t put distance between them-even if it means abandoning her new-found faith. It will take a miracle and an angelic messenger to show Nila that God is her greatest protector. He has never left her side, and He wants only the best for her and for the man she loves.

Did you miss the Inner Source interview with Hayley Blankenship, the heroine from Redemption’s WhisperIf so, you can read it here.

Inner Source also previously interviewed Nila and Kathleen regarding Nila’s Hope.

Character Interview: Hayley Blankenship from Redemption’s Whisper by Kathleen E. Friesen

Today’s guest is Hayley Blankenship, the heroine of Kathleen E. Friesen’s Redemption’s Whisper Hayley, thank you for joining us today to share a little about the new release.

So, you’re from Toronto, and you’ve left the big city of Saskatoon. Has the move taken a lot of adjustment?

Oh, yeah. Big time adjustment! But while leaving Toronto was an act of desperation, my move away from the city to the farm was based on hope.

You’ve had a lot of ups and downs due to your own decision making. Without giving away too much of the story, we’d love to hear what you’ve learned through your struggles?

It took some time and many prayers by some special people, but I’m finally learning to leave the past behind and look forward to the future God planned for me.

Your hero, Trevor, walks a line between farmer and doing the unique job he loves, but he struggles with accepting the goodness of God. Based upon your struggles, what would you say to someone else who puts a roadblock up when it comes to accepting God’s grace?

You’re only hurting yourself. No, that’s not true. When you refuse God’s grace, you put up walls of bitterness that keep you prisoner and keep others—even those who love you—out.

What’s the most unique thing you’ve done since you’ve returned to Saskatoon or maybe even since you’ve taken up residence with Franklin and Laureen?

I don’t want to give too much away, but it was incredible. Gross and exhausting, but amazing.

The truth of Romans 8:28 is that God is in the details and that He works all things out to our good. Would you care to talk about how He was in the details of your life, even when you were making bad decisions?

When it came to making bad decisions, I made some doozies. Because I’d become convinced I was unloved and unlovable, I pursued love no matter the cost. Turned out, that lifestyle cost much more than I’d ever dreamed.

But for some reason, God never gave up on me. He sent me to Saskatoon, even though I thought that was my idea. He introduced me to people who changed my life—and my perceptions of Him. He was there, through everything.

Thank you, Hayley. Redemption’s Whisper officially releases today, and this Sunday is Easter. I know that our readers will love your story that shows the awesome power of redemption. I look forward to speaking with author on Monday.

About the Author:

Kathleen Friesen writes contemporary stories of faith that overcomes tough trials and deep heartaches. Her desire is for her readers to see themselves in the characters of her stories, and to realize that Jesus Christ is the true hero. Kathleen spent her childhood in the Pacific Northwest and, after marrying the man of her dreams, survived the first thirty years of married life on the Canadian prairies, where they raised three fantastic children. Now she and her patient husband, Ron, live in the beautiful Okanagan Valley of British Columbia.

More About Redemption’s Whisper:

Desperate to escape her past, Hayley Blankenship flies from Toronto to the Saskatoon home of Pastor Dave and Lydia Harris, the only people who may be able to help her. If she doesn’t find a reason to hope, she may give in to the temptation to end it all. If only someone could love her, in spite of what she’s done.

Trevor Hiebert aces the interview for his dream job in Toronto, but he’s torn. His beloved parents need him, and while he doesn’t want to let them down, he craves the affirmation he hopes to find in the big city. But on the flight home to Saskatoon, he meets an intriguing, gorgeous redhead with dark secrets of her own. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love?

About Nila’s Hope:

Just when her career as a carpenter and a relationship with handsome co-worker Will Jamison are within reach, Nila Black’s abusive ex-boyfriend is released from prison. He’s out of jail, out for revenge, and making promises she knows he’ll keep. Nila will do whatever it takes to save her friends from the evil that will come their way if she doesn’t put distance between them-even if it means abandoning her new-found faith. It will take a miracle and an angelic messenger to show Nila that God is her greatest protector. He has never left her side, and He wants only the best for her and for the man she loves.

Inner Source previously interviewed Nila and Kathleen regarding Nila’s Hope.

Top Ten Things Christians Should Know About Transhumanism by Victoria Buck

Human like faces covered in text Text is from HG Wells The TIme1) It’s a science.

Maybe you were absent the day your high school science teacher addressed transhumanism. More likely, your teacher never heard of it. Where does it fit? Biology? Physics? Yes. As well as computer science—it takes a computer to make a transhuman. And social sciences—it will, if permitted, change the core of culture and society. Scientific study includes:

Cryonics: Preserving the body, or simply the brain, after death with the hope of reawakening in the future.

Gene therapy: Manipulating genetic code for the purpose of improved health and function, longevity, eliminating birth defects, and creating designer babies.

Cybernetics: Technology enhances life in positive ways. No one can deny improved function for a disabled person is a wonderful achievement of modern medicine. A deaf child hearing for the first time brings tears of gratitude to all who witness the amazement on the little one’s face. But how far will a healthy human go in obtaining super hearing, vision, strength, speed, and knowledge? The transhumanist will answer that question.

Mind uploading and AI: Non-biological intelligence may seem impossible. The computer, after all, only puts more information in one place than a person could possibly remember. A computer in a man’s brain might not make him smarter, but it would give him unparalleled recall. But consider this: if a man is enhanced to take on the characteristics of a computer, might the computer take on the characteristics of a man and begin to reason?

2) It’s a social movement.

Social science records and interprets societal movements in the past and the present. Transhumanism, or H+ (humanity plus), is a movement in society past, present, and future. It will affect the interrelational categories of social science: anthropology, economics, politics, psychology, and sociology.

Anthropology: The human being as the subject of varied studies—biology, humanities, and history—will no doubt take on new meaning with the transcendence of the human.

Economics: Cost-effective transhumanism will surely struggle to find validity. Perhaps only the super-wealthy will experience the bounty of the movement. Or maybe the government will choose those worthy, and leave the rest of the human race unenhanced. Imagine the monetary implications of transhuman corporations.

Politics: Already, bioethics is a force governing the present and preparing to govern future technological and medical advancements, and how those advancements can and cannot be used in reaching goals nonexistent twenty years ago. Government funding now pays to research a transhuman future.

The National Institutes of Health has allocated $46 million “to support the goals of the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative.” *1

Professor Thomas Sugar and Jason Kerestes, designer robotic engineers with the iProject: 4MM (4 minute mile) from Arizona State University (ASU) has been granted monies from Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to create a “jetpack to increase a soldier’s speed and boost a PT record to that of a four minute a mile.” *2

Psychology: A massive shift in the perception of humanness will come as cognitive ability increases, motivation and capability for extending life becomes reality, and relationships once required for the continuance of the race are deemed unnecessary. The resulting emotional struggle and moral reckoning will likely be met not with therapy for the mind, but with a tweak to the brain.

Sociology: Social class, law, religion, sexuality will take on new roles, or no role at all.

Government and family structure will be challenged. Belief systems will adjust, or else become channels of open rebellion against the transhuman emergence.

3) Its aim is the Singularity.

If you’re unfamiliar with transhumanism, you’ve probably never heard of the singularity. This is the point in time when the human race can no longer understand or predict the outcome of its own technological advancements. As science fiction would say, the machines take over. In the words of transhumanist frontrunner and author, Ray Kurzweil,

“Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.” *3

4) It has prophetic significance.

This is not too hard to fathom. Some interpret transhumanism will bring posthumans into a position of waging actual war against God. Not in the spiritual sense, but the physical. From end-times-bible-prophecy.com:

… it seems reasonable to assume that humanity will have to undergo some sort of radical transformation in order to plot a war against God Almighty. The arrogant impulse already exists. All that remains is the need for an exponential increase in human power which deludes humanity into believing it can overcome the Lord of lords. And make no mistake about it, the Bible is clear that this is where humanity is ultimately headed – physical conflict with God: “Then I saw the beast gathering the kings of the earth and their armies in order to fight against the one sitting on the horse and his army.” Revelation 19:19 (NLT)

Do not confuse the “war” with a spiritual struggle. According to Strong’s Concordance, the key word here is translated “polemos,” and means:”warfare (lit. or fig.; a single encounter or a series) – battle, fight, war.” The word “polemos” appears at least 16 times in the New Testament, and in each case, it refers to physical conflict, not a spiritual one… *4

5) It has historical significance.

Again, it’s easy to see that transhumanism is yet another attempt at building a tower to the heavens in order to become like God. As addressed by author Britt Gillette:

“Let’s build a great city with a tower that reaches to the skies, a monument to our greatness!” (Genesis 11:4, NLT).

The human race set out to build a monument to its own greatness, exalting mankind above God and extending its tower far into Heaven with the sole intent of usurping God’s glory and authority. This innate human desire did not end with the Tower of Babel. It continues to this day, and soon it will result in one final attempt to usurp the authority of God. *5

6) It assumes both creation and evolution are failures.

The argument that God’s creative power is not good enough is an obvious one. Yet, from a transhuman mindset, it doesn’t exist at all. The transhumanist will deny creation and embrace evolution, but then insist that even the natural process of improving the species isn’t good enough. For all its altering of the fabric of society, the theory of evolution is just as much a lost cause as creation. The transhumanist can do it better. Evolution needs a techno-boost. Humanity will become more than Darwin ever imagined.

7) Intermingling of faith and transhumanism is on the rise.

If considering a future of human life enhanced by technology isn’t quite relevant in your thinking, consider that a growing number of pseudo-Christian organizations believe transhumanism is the actualization of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind.

What it means to be human will change soon and you will probably experience it. So read carefully. In the coming years computer-human interfaces will become so intimate that users may be considered superhumanly intelligent transcendent humans, or “transhumans”. We will have a choice in how to use vast new power. Use it for material gain? Or, aim this power at spiritual growth. In this new era of understanding, most will see the dead end of material gain, and see a better outcome in a life dedicated to spiritual growth. For individuals taking the spiritual path, the lower hierarchy of material needs will fall away and so naturally the transhuman will become a benevolent and self-actualized spiritual being.  Ultimately, life as represented by mankind will shift from consuming material for sustenance to a flow of information. This means that we shift to a wholly spiritual life where truth is the way. As material needs diminish, transhumans will increasingly be sustained by a powerful flow of Word that can be called the Glory of God. In giving up competition and control strategies and turning to God, we grow to be all that we can be; Christ-like.

Essential to Christian Transhumanism is the notion that love is a cognitive process and God expects us to participate in our salvation by learning how to love perfectly. In this way we access the Glory of God, becoming Christ-like (Christian). *6

Other sects and religions embrace the transhuman future as a responsible continuation of faith, and quite possibly the only way organized religion will survive. There exists a Mormon Transhumanist Association. Proponents cross religious boundaries, as might be expected in an increasingly secularized society. As with Christians, people of other faiths also oppose the movement. Atheists and agnostics support or reject. From all walks and factions, it appears there is not one group that stands united. But many in the Christian community who truly understand the ramifications of transhumanism consider it to be the great delusion spoken of in the Bible.

8) It is anti-Christian

Even so, it’s not to say Christians won’t participate, to some degree, in the rise of H+. If you can’t put down your iPhone or if you’re lost without your Bluetooth, then you know dependence on technology is an ever-increasing part of modern life. If your child is the one who can now hear you call his name, you are blessed by God. Technology is not bad. But don’t be misled by the message that our technological transcendence to being God-like is our salvation. The transhumanist goals of ending disease and poverty, of attaining eternal life, of saving the planet from the humans won’t happen. God already set a plan in motion to take care of His creation in the way of His choosing. Any other plan devised in the mind of a created being is doomed. Consider this proclamation in an article by Zoltan Ivstan, author of best-selling novel, The Transhumanist Wager.

One thing is for sure, to the human species, the birth of an advanced artificial intelligence will become far more important than the birth of Christ. Christmas, if it survives at all, will be relegated to just another commercial and cultural holiday that superstores and big business thrive on. Meanwhile, reasonable people will celebrate AI Day, the real moment in history the savior of civilization was born. *7

In response, Gonz Shimura, in his article “The Trials of Transhumanism: An Assault on Christianity,” writes:

First off, it is clear that Mr. Istvan has a tremendous amount of “faith” in not only our own human management abilities pertaining to these developments, but also that any establishment of such a thing as AI would share in its consciousness, the same moral and ethical framework as humans. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, as most know, Antichrist doesn’t mean “against Christ”; it means, “instead of Christ.” It is the replacement of Christ. Therefore, what Mr. Istvan is promoting here is quite literally the Antichrist. My particular views are that AI itself will not be the Antichrist figure as described in Bible Prophecy, but play a role in the establishment of the Image of the Beast. *8

9) You may be helped by it.

Again, technological advancements aren’t necessarily evil. They may be inspired and brought to fruition by the grace of God, whether or not the person who brings about the newest innovation recognizes that fact or not. Christian or otherwise, you may be the one whose paralysis is soon overcome. You may benefit from the use of techno-medical breakthroughs to end dementia. Your grandchild may be the product of reproductive science unheard of when your children were born. Go ahead and love that child, who is no less a creation of God. A human who becomes a transhuman will need the same thing every human needs—the grace of God that leads to salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ. Whether or not your life is improved by whatever God allows, for however long He allows it, there is no other way to eternal life.

10) It is not fiction.

Transhumanism is certainly the subject of fiction. Many novels have been written in recent years from a secular worldview, both pro H+ and con. At least one transhuman work of fiction written from a Christian worldview exists. (Yes, I wrote it.) Some authors believe it will happen. Some simply use H+ to carry their stories. Movies have been bringing us cyborgs and AI stories for years, most without ever referencing transhumanism. There is an H+ TV series (fiction) and an H+ magazine (non-fiction). Some say the thought and goal of transhumanism is ancient, but the word came from Julian Huxley in 1957. He did not intend to describe a fictitious world, but a very real one. Behind each made-up story, and hundreds of non-fiction books and articles, is an ever-progressing scientific and cultural movement intending to redefine the meaning of life. To recreate the human being. To realize God in self. Not a wilder theme exists for a novel. But in the real world, the transhumanist plans to take us far beyond imagination.

Sources:

1  Susanne Posel ,Chief Editor Occupy Corporatism | The US Independent, October 1, 2014
2  Susanne Posel ,Chief Editor Occupy Corporatism | The US Independent September 13,   2014
3 The Law of Accelerating Returns, Ray Kersweil, March 7, 2001
4  http://www.end-times-bible-prophecy.com/transhumanism.html
5  Transhumanism and the Great Rebellion, Britt Gillette
6  Prepare for HyperEvolution with Christian Transhumanism, James McLean Ledford
7  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zoltan-istvan/ai-day-will-replace-     christmas_b_4496550.html
8  http://www.facelikethesun.com/trials-transhumanism-assault-christianity/

 

 

photo (7)About the Author:

Victoria Buck is a lifelong resident of Central Florida. She clings to the Gospel, serves in her local church, relishes time spent writing, and curiously contemplates the future, and she brings that future to life in her novels.

You can connect with Victoria at her website, at her author page, on Twitter, and at her publisher, Pelican Book Group.

 

 

perf5.000x8.000.inddMore About Killswitch:

In the near future, fugitive Chase Sterling evades the transhuman life his creators intended him to lead. He connects with the Underground Church, confident his enhanced strength and intelligence make him the perfect guardian for those forced into a strange and secret existence. What could possibly go wrong? His unimpressed bodyguard is out to get him, his affection for a certain young woman may not be mutual, and a deceitful recruit accompanies Chase on a rescue mission . . . with plans to kidnap him. The leader of the underground is dying and the government is closing in. The super powers Chase relies on are switched off by an enemy he thought he had escaped. It’s enough to make a transhuman give up. Will he find the courage to keep going before all humanity is lost? You can see the trailer for Killswitch here.

WakeTheDead_h11557_300About Wake the Dead:

What if the first man reborn of an evolutionary leap doesn’t like his new life? Is escape even possible? The time is right for introducing the world to the marvels of techno-medical advancements. An influential man, one loved and adored, is needed for the job, and who better than celebrity Chase Sterling? After suffering injuries no one could survive Chase is rebuilt like no one has ever seen before. In the not-too-distant future a man–if he can still be called a man–breaks away from the forces taking over his life and finds new purpose in the secret world of hiding believers.

Interview: Victoria Buck, Author of Killswitch and Wake the Dead

photo (7)Author Victoria Buck is a lifelong resident of Central Florida. She clings to the Gospel, serves in her local church, relishes time spent writing, and curiously contemplates the future, and she brings that future to life in her recent novels.

You can connect with Victoria at her website, at her author page, on Twitter, and at her publisher, Pelican Book Group.

Victoria, what a ride it was to follow Mr. Sterling from Wake the Dead, the first novel in the series, to Killswitch. I know we talked about this before, but I’d love to hear your definition of transhumanism?

Transhumanism proposes to use technology and bio-genetics to enhance the human experience. The potential isn’t simply a better functioning man or woman, but one with a greatly increased life expectancy. Some of the enhancements I wrote about in Chase Sterling’s story could become commonplace in the near future.

The scientist who created the technology and implanted everything into our hero, has a great last name. I was reminded of it toward the end of the story, and my thought was that he is a type of Dr. Frankenstein. I’m curious. Did you think of the doctor in that way at all during your writing of the novels?

Maybe in the beginning. After all, he is a mad scientist. But Dr. Fiender became someone I empathized. He realized the error of pushing the transhuman agenda too far, and he became a great friend to Chase. Of course, Dr. Frankenstein’s motivation to conquer death and become god-like was similar to Dr. Fiender’s initial drive to build the world’s first transhuman.

The story is an adult Dystopian set in the near future. Before I read Wake the Dead I hadn’t really seen many Dystopian novels written for adults, and those written for the young adult audiences, even those written for the Christian industry were filled with blood and gore. My thought was, “I wouldn’t let my children read these things.” Your story was an interesting, riveting, alternative for adults. Yes, things happen, but you managed to transform your story into one for adults of all ages. I’d love your thoughts on other such novels, and I’d like to know whether or not you started out to “transform” the genre.

My intent in the beginning was not to transform a genre, but to write something different for the Christian market. If I can be groundbreaking in bringing more speculative fiction to Christian publishing, I would consider that a success. As for those graphic bestsellers, I’ve read some and enjoyed them. But some go too far. My writing style is different and I enjoy the challenge of subtext. A writer can lead readers to envision something awful, or wonderful, without spelling it out for them.

There is a picture in the novel. I don’t want you to give away too much, but it has great significance for your hero. Could you elaborate a little on that for us?

Blue Sky Field is the painting of a green field under a clear blue sky. Chase dreams of the place and is compelled to find it. Only he thinks he’s looking for the actual place and he’s surprised when he realizes it’s only a painting. But he grows to love it and what it symbolizes. What happens to the painting is only a fraction of the grief he faces in Killswitch.

There’s a sequel, I know. Can you tell us a little about it and other projects that you may be working on?

Yes, the cover for Transfusion is shown on the back of Killswitch and it will be available in a few months. I love Chase’s story in its completion, and I hate to leave him behind. But on to other characters! I’m currently working on a novelette about a girl enduring a post-rapture adventure. As soon as I’m done with that I’ll start a new novel, which is already outlined (something I’ll never look at again) and playing in my imagination. This one is not futuristic, nor does it involve transhumanism. But it will be something different for the Christian market, and a little bit weird.

Well, I like weird. I call it eclectic. So, I can’t wait for you to bring the story to life, and I look forward to reading Transfusion.

perf5.000x8.000.inddMore About Killswitch:

In the near future, fugitive Chase Sterling evades the transhuman life his creators intended him to lead. He connects with the Underground Church, confident his enhanced strength and intelligence make him the perfect guardian for those forced into a strange and secret existence. What could possibly go wrong? His unimpressed bodyguard is out to get him, his affection for a certain young woman may not be mutual, and a deceitful recruit accompanies Chase on a rescue mission . . . with plans to kidnap him. The leader of the underground is dying and the government is closing in. The super powers Chase relies on are switched off by an enemy he thought he had escaped. It’s enough to make a transhuman give up. Will he find the courage to keep going before all humanity is lost? You can see the trailer for Killswitch here.

WakeTheDead_h11557_300About Wake the Dead:

What if the first man reborn of an evolutionary leap doesn’t like his new life? Is escape even possible? The time is right for introducing the world to the marvels of techno-medical advancements. An influential man, one loved and adored, is needed for the job, and who better than celebrity Chase Sterling? After suffering injuries no one could survive Chase is rebuilt like no one has ever seen before. In the not-too-distant future a man–if he can still be called a man–breaks away from the forces taking over his life and finds new purpose in the secret world of hiding believers.

Character Interview: Melody Reese from Victoria Buck’s Killswitch

perf5.000x8.000.inddToday’s special guest is Melody Reese from Victoria Buck’s near-future adult Dystopian novel, Killswitch. Welcome, Melody. You are quite a character. Actually, you’re one that I couldn’t wait to see again. While Chase Sterling might be the hero of Wake the Dead and Killswitch, you are most definitely the true heroine. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Wow, I really don’t feel like a heroine. I feel like I let Chase down when I left him to face everything on his own. Of course, I had no choice. Now, I’m so glad he found me. Found us—me and the rest of my group here in this branch of the underground. I was a Christian living in a society no longer accepting of people like me and so I went into hiding. But before I did, I wrote computer code to help the Underground Church, and I hid it in Chase. It was risky for both of us but I knew God had a plan. With His help, Chase and I will make it all work. But I don’t know how he feels about me. I know what I want. I’m not sure Chase knows what he wants.

In the first novel, Chase was quite a different character. I’d love to have your insight on the changes that you’ve seen in him since everything happened.

When the government sent me away, and Chase went rogue, I missed a lot of the critical moments that helped shape him into the man he is today. I can’t believe he’s so different. So willing to be a servant, instead of being served. I see a hint of that old ego once in a while, but he’s a new man. I’m not talking about him being a transhuman, which is what he is and he won’t let me forget it. But he changed on the inside. His character is different. Still, we’re worlds apart because I’m a Christian and he’s… He’s on his way. I know it. It seems like there’s just no time to get inside his head on this issue. But I believe he’ll come around.

You’re sort of an expert on artificial intelligence. How has that helped you deal with what’s going on inside of Chase?

My education is in AI. I’m kind of a prodigy, but I just couldn’t do it—I couldn’t go down that road that’s so far from the one I walk with Christ. Now I see a purpose for all the training forced on me by the government. The knowledge I have helps me help Chase, of course. But so much is going on inside him that I don’t understand. His abilities are beyond me. God definitely has His hand on this man.

Can you give us an idea of what it’s like to live in the future? How do you hold on to hope? Where do you find peace in the midst of hatred? Do you think you’ll survive and be able to live without looking over your shoulder all the time?

Everything about the world I live in seemed to come in an exponential shift. Technology, society—it all changed. For years—decades—it seemed gradual, harmless. And then all of a sudden it was a different kind of world. As for hope, it’s hard. I know the only solution is Christ’s return and it can’t be far off. Until then, we just have to endure. As for peace, it’s all about what’s deep-down inside because there is no peace left on this planet. I think I will survive the evil rule pressing in on me. I don’t think there will ever be a day I’m not looking over my shoulder. Not in this lifetime.

You’re living in a place and a time where there is much peril. It’s almost certain that the human race is moving in that direction. What advice can you give to the generations that will eventually live through what you and others are facing in Killswitch?

That’s a tough question for someone who’s running for her life. I guess I’d say to remember that good or bad, it’s temporary. Hold on to your faith that God will get you through. Don’t stop loving. Don’t be ruled by fear. Speak up even if Christianity is outlawed. Like a lot of others, I learned to keep quiet. I have a feeling Chase is going to change all that. It scares me, but I’ll be right beside him. I hope we’re never separated again. But I don’t know what my future holds. None of us knows. Only Jesus.

More About Killswitch:

In the near future, fugitive Chase Sterling evades the transhuman life his creators intended him to lead. He connects with the Underground Church, confident his enhanced strength and intelligence make him the perfect guardian for those forced into a strange and secret existence. What could possibly go wrong? His unimpressed bodyguard is out to get him, his affection for a certain young woman may not be mutual, and a deceitful recruit accompanies Chase on a rescue mission . . . with plans to kidnap him. The leader of the underground is dying and the government is closing in. The super powers Chase relies on are switched off by an enemy he thought he had escaped. It’s enough to make a transhuman give up. Will he find the courage to keep going before all humanity is lost? You can see the trailer for Killswitch here.

WakeTheDead_h11557_300About Wake the Dead:

What if the first man reborn of an evolutionary leap doesn’t like his new life? Is escape even possible? The time is right for introducing the world to the marvels of techno-medical advancements. An influential man, one loved and adored, is needed for the job, and who better than celebrity Chase Sterling? After suffering injuries no one could survive Chase is rebuilt like no one has ever seen before. In the not-too-distant future a man–if he can still be called a man–breaks away from the forces taking over his life and finds new purpose in the secret world of hiding believers.

photo (7)About the Author:

Victoria Buck is a lifelong resident of Central Florida. She clings to the Gospel, serves in her local church, relishes time spent writing, and curiously contemplates the future, and she brings that future to life in her novels.

You can connect with Victoria at her website, at her author page, on Twitter, and at her publisher’s site, Pelican Book Group.

Interview with Cynthia T. Toney, Author of 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

Toney, Cynthia- 006 3x5 BW.ret2.cropToday’s guest is Cynthia T. Toney, who is here to discuss her second book in her Bird Face series. I’m a big fan of Cynthia’s work, having had the pleasure of reading the first book in her series before publication, and I have championed her writing since that time. 

Cynthia is the author of the Bird Face series for teens, including 8 Notes to a Nobody and 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status. She’s always had trouble following directions and keeping her foot out of her mouth, so it’s probably best that she is now self-employed. In her spare time, when she’s not cooking Cajun or Italian food, Cynthia grows herbs and makes silk throw pillows. If you make her angry, she will throw one at you. A pillow, not an herb. Well, maybe both.  Cynthia has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and encourages others to adopt a pet from a shelter and save a life. She enjoys studying the complex history of the friendly southern U.S. from Georgia to Texas, where she resides with her husband and several canines. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Storm (The Woodlands, TX), and Catholic Writers Guild.

You can connect with Cynthia on her website, her blog, her Facebook Author Page, and on Twitter.

Welcome back to Inner Source, Cynthia. Wow! Book Two. Tell me how it feels to have Wendy step into high school for the first time?

Hi, Fay. It’s great to be back!

I must admit that Wendy was better prepared for high school than I was at her age. The summer between eighth and ninth grades taught her a lot, and I expected more of her than I did of myself at the start of high school. I loved the thirteen-year-old Wendy but was ready for her to experience new, more mature things, to see how she’d handle them.

I’ve said this to you before, but I have been captivated by the ability of your stories to transcend generations. When I walked into school with Wendy, I felt as if I experienced déjà vu with regard to some things, but other things have changed. I won’t tell you my generation if you don’t tell me yours, but what do you think is different about teenagers and schools even within the last twenty years?

Teenagers now have so much to handle. I first noticed it when my daughter was in high school. I don’t know if, as a teen, I could have juggled all the things some of them do these days. Not only is there more to learn academically, but teens are expected to participate in many extracurricular activities. The pressure to acquire material things seems greater, so many of them choose to work an after-school or weekend job to keep up with new technology products, for example. They have much more worry regarding their safety around strangers. And of course, the drug problem has grown.

I write for teens to show them how wonderful and powerful God made them. In spite of all their accomplishments, teens I’ve known have demonstrated that they don’t feel loved.

The story is about Wendy’s steps to girlfriend status. I’m really interested in hearing how you, as a writer, developed that list. Did anything that went on that list, surprise you?

*Chuckle* Unlike boys, a girl often reads signs of a potentially serious relationship into the most minor kinds of attention a boy might pay her. That idea prompted the list. I don’t think anything on the list surprised me. I just developed Wendy and David’s relationship as I thought it might in real life between two kids with pretty good heads on their shoulders. But I wanted readers to understand how important real friendship with a boy is in developing an emotionally healthy romance. If I had revealed that early in the story, it wouldn’t have made for as much fun.

I had a recent conversation with a friend and her teenage daughter about dating, and particularly about dating more than one person at a time. I’ve noticed that girls fall in love more quickly and easily, and when they develop strong feelings about that first boy, they think he’s “the one.” Boys don’t seem to think that way, and it usually takes getting to know several girls before there’s a special one.

I disagree with some of my friends in that I think a teenage girl should not limit herself to going out with only one boy at a time. If she’s honest with the young men she’s seeing, and she is upfront about what dating means to her (friendship and going out for good, clean fun—not sex), then that’s the best way not to fall into the trap of becoming too quickly attached to one boy. How can she learn what God wants her to learn about the opposite sex and eventually make a choice pleasing to Him if she doesn’t allow herself to meet and date a number of worthy young men?

You introduce a new character who has a handicap. I’ve heard that you’ve been able to make some great connections in this regard, and I’d love for you to share them with our readers in case they might want to make a connection with you.

Right now, two interesting people are reading 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status to evaluate its potential for the deaf community. One gentleman is an educator of deaf students in a mainstream school environment. The other person is a mother who is deaf but has both hearing and deaf children.

I want to find out how deaf readers will respond to my deaf teen character, who is deaf but also speaks and reads lips. He and Wendy do not communicate using ASL (American Sign Language) because she does not have time to learn it before they become friends. I plan to have her try to learn ASL in the next book.

My concern for the book’s acceptance in the deaf community is that the deaf designate as “oral” anyone who speaks and reads lips rather than relying solely on signing. The deaf generally do not regard deafness as a handicap but rather as a way of life, with ASL as the preferred method of communication. But sometimes a deaf person speaks and reads lips in communicating with the hearing if he or she was not born deaf but became deaf later and retained the ability to speak.

There is a lot for me to learn even though I worked among deaf adults for a number of years. I love American Sign Language and think it’s a beautiful and fun language to learn. If anyone who reads 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status would like to contact me to discuss my deaf teen character, is a deaf teen, or has experience with deaf teens, I would love to hear from them.

Email birdfacewendy@gmail.com.

Last question: is there anything coming for Wendy or any other stories on the horizon that you can share with us?

I’m in the process of completing the third book of the Bird Face series, with the working title 6 Dates to Disaster. All your favorite characters from books one and two will be there.

Another project dear to my heart that I wrote while seeking a publisher for my first book is called The Other Side of Freedom. It’s a coming-of-age historical with a young male protagonist. Set in the 1920s within an immigrant farming community, it’s about as different from the Bird Face series as one can imagine.

Thank you, Cynthia. I’m looking forward to reading more of your wonderful YA novels.

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FC MedMore About 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status:

Wendy Robichaud is on schedule to have everything she wants in high school: two loyal best friends, a complete and happy family, and a hunky boyfriend she’s had a crush on since eighth grade–until she and Mrs. Villaturo look at old photo albums together. That’s when Mrs. V sees her dead husband and hints at a 1960s scandal down in Cajun country. Faster than you can say “crawdad,” Wendy digs into the scandal and into trouble. She risks losing boyfriend David by befriending Mrs. V’s deaf grandson, alienates stepsister Alice by having a boyfriend in the first place, and upsets her friend Gayle without knowing why. Will Wendy be able to prevent Mrs. V from being taken thousands of miles away? And will she lose all the friends she’s fought so hard to gain?

8 Notes to a NobodyAbout 8 Notes to a Nobody:

“Funny how you can live your days as a clueless little kid, believing you look just fine … until someone knocks you in the heart with it.”

Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks–until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even the best friend she always counted on, Jennifer, is hiding something and pulling away. But the spring program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. And the more Wendy discovers about the people around her, the more there is to learn.When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer after eighth grade, who will be around to support her as high school starts in the fall?

8 Notes to a Nobody received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. In its original edition, Bird Face, it won a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, bronze, in the category Pre-teen Fiction Mature Issues.