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Walking and Talking by Gay N. Lewis

My latest book, Mattie’s Choice is now available. Mattie’s story unfolds over several decades. Her marriage wasn’t a happy one to begin with, but as she made wiser, decisions, it grew better. Mattie had seen her parents in a satisfying marriage and assumed hers would be also.

Mattie’s relationship with her husband grew as a result of honoring her faith and commitment to the Lord. If she’d been wiser to begin with, she would have saved herself heartache. Before you marry, take time to know the guy. Does your family have reservations about him?

The choices we make in life bring consequences.

Let’s look at a lady from Scripture. Ruth is one of my favorite women in the Bible. She became a young widow and eventually remarried. Boaz, her second husband, was familiar to her mother-in-law and well-respected in the community. His actions proved him a good and Godly man. The consequences of Ruth’s choices led to the birth of King David, and later on, Jesus.

After the death of her husband and two sons, Ruth’s mother-in-law, Naomi, decided to return from Moab to Bethlehem. Ruth, her daughter-in-law chose to go with her.

Here’s a devotional I recently posted on my blog.

As we think about Naomi and Ruth taking that forty-mile journey from Moab to Bethlehem, what did they walk and talk about?

Ruth must have asked, “What’s it like there? Will your people accept me? Any idea where we will live? What will we eat? Does my clothes look okay?”

Ruth was walking into the unknown. Courage joined her faith for the journey. She had no idea that one day she’d be King David’s grandmother.

She was clueless that she’d be an ancestor to Jesus.

Hang tight. God blesses faith and courage.

Don’t you know Ruth was surprised and thrilled when God gave her a husband? Can’t you imagine amazement today as her good deeds continue to follow her?

We may not know how wide reaching our influence is until our earthly road takes us to heaven. Our deeds and actions will bring results far into the future that we’ll never see down here.

When Ruth began her journey with Naomi to a foreign country, she left her comfort zone. She couldn’t sense the bend around the road. So why did she leave the familiar and branch out into the unknown?

  1. Love for her mother-in-law.
    The obvious reason is love. Marches for women’s rights hadn’t begun back in those days. Such a thought would never cross a female’s mind. Social Security and Medicare didn’t exist either. Men in the family were to take care of the widows and orphans. Naomi had no husband and no sons. Naomi had a faithful, loving daughter-in-law who shouldered the responsibilities. Ruth was willing to take on duties that should have belonged to her husband. She loved Naomi.
    Hmmm. She sounds like a modern lady, right? Many women these days are assuming men’s responsibilities. Is that good or bad? Remember, Ruth wouldn’t have stepped in if she’d had a husband.
  2. Faith in her new God.

Ruth’s previous Moab god, Chemosh, was not real. Through the testimony of Ruth’s new family, Ruth came to believe in the One and Only God.  In Ruth 1:16, she tells Naomi, “Your people will be my people and your God my God.

Wow! What did Ruth see in this Jewish family that made her want what they had?

Would your lifestyle bring someone to your faith? Do you have someone willing to give up parents, country, and privilege to move away with you?

  1. The Commitment is Certain. The Decision made.

Ruth tells Naomi, “Where you die, I will die. Where you are buried, I will be buried”

In other words, Ruth says to Naomi,

“I’m not going back. I’m staying.”

FAITH MOVES FORWARD. NEVER BACKWARD.

Hebrews: 11:1 says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” KJV.

Ruth hoped and had faith in God that she and He could take care of Naomi. Even though Ruth couldn’t see around the bend in the road, or what was over the mountains, her faith kept her plodding forward. One step at a time. Doing what she needed to do.

Ruth set a good example for us, didn’t she?

Take heart dear woman or man of God. Even if you don’t know how to get across the hardship, God already knows.

We can see multiple lessons in this story, but the one I want to focus on today is this:  These two widows had no idea I’d be talking about them today. They’d be shocked to read their names in Scripture. And they’d be more amazed to how see Ruth is in the genealogy of King David and Jesus.

I don’t know if I’m touching lives as I go about my day daily existence, but God knows. Maybe one day from on high, I’ll be flabbergasted to see some of the choices I made down here helped to transform a life. I believe if my fictitious Mattie were real, it would be the same with her.

Choices, good and bad, make a difference.

You don’t know the influence you have either. But like Ruth and Naomi, make the journey. Even if you can’t see the road you’re on.

BUT USE A GPS IF YOU HAVE ONE!

Follow my blog for faith and humor insights. http://gaynlewis.blogspot.com/

About the Author:

A native Texan, Gay lives in Fulshear, a small town west of Houston.  She loves to travel and engage in artistic ventures. Two videos she produced —The Canadian Rockies, English and Japanese translations, and Psalms from the Mountains, sold well in international markets. Graphic skills kept her busy as a portrait photographer, and for over ten years, she used her imaginative insight in the interior design field.

As a pastor’s wife, she writes Faith Features for various church periodicals. She also writes articles for Texas Hill Country.  Gay is also a published author for Pelican Book Group in romance and fantasy fiction. Her current series is about a dyslexic angel who comes to earth to help humans, but Sarah, the angel, is more like Lucy Ricardo with humorous antics and bumbles.

All of the Sarah books have appeared on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List. The Sarah series is available in eBook format as well as print at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Pelican Book Group, and other book sellers. Some additions are available in Amazon Audible. Each book in the series is a standalone novel.

Her latest books, Mattie’s Choiceand Clue into Kindness are not fantasy and romance. These books are women’s fiction. The stories are about abusive men and women who are addicted to an unhealthy relationship.

The books are available in print, eBook, and audio.

For more information, please go to http ://gaynlewis.com/

Gay would love to have you see her video trailers and become a follower of her blog.

http://www.gaynlewis.blogspot.com

https://www.amazon.com/author/gaynlewis
www.facebook.com/GayNLewis and also on Twitter @GayNLewis2.

Sarah has her own Facebook page. Follow Sarah on Facebook@ Sarah Wingspand

About Mattie’s Choice:

It’s 1925 in rural Oklahoma. A naïve seventeen-year-old Mattie chooses to elope with Jesse, leaving behind an ideal life with her wealthy and loving family. With hope for a happy future, she vows to stay with her husband through good times or bad, but the wonderful life Mattie dreams of is shattered by Jesse’s abusive nature and his refusal to allow her to see her family.

When Jesse’s brother, Joe, brings home his new wife–the vivacious Ella–Mattie believes Ella is living the life Mattie prays to have with Jesse. As the years grow harder and Jesse and Mattie’s growing family struggles to survive The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl and illness, Jesse’s abuse worsens.

Life also unravels for Ella and Joe as he begins to abuse his wife. Ella makes the choice that Mattie has never considered.

Will Mattie keep her vow to stay with Jesse at the risk of her own life and the life of her children or will she leave him despite the vow?

 

 

Interview with Gay N. Lewis, Author of Mattie’s Choice

Today’s guest on Inner Source is Gay N. Lewis, the author of Mattie’s Choice. A native Texan, Gay lives in Fulshear, a small town west of Houston.  She loves to travel and engage in artistic ventures. Two videos she produced —The Canadian Rockies, English and Japanese translations, and Psalms from the Mountains, sold well in international markets. Graphic skills kept her busy as a portrait photographer, and for over ten years, she used her imaginative insight in the interior design field.

As a pastor’s wife, she writes Faith Features for various church periodicals. She also writes articles for Texas Hill Country.  Gay is also a published author for Pelican Book Group in romance and fantasy fiction. Her current series is about a dyslexic angel who comes to earth to help humans, but Sarah, the angel, is more like Lucy Ricardo with humorous antics and bumbles.

All of the Sarah books have appeared on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List. The Sarah series is available in eBook format as well as print at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Pelican Book Group, and other book sellers. Some additions are available in Amazon Audible. Each book in the series is a standalone novel.

Her latest books, Mattie’s Choiceand Clue into Kindness are not fantasy and romance. These books are women’s fiction. The stories are about abusive men and women who are addicted to an unhealthy relationship.

The books are available in print, eBook, and audio. For more information, please go to http ://gaynlewis.com/ Gay would love to have you see her video trailers and become a follower of her blog. http://www.gaynlewis.blogspot.com. Also catch Gay at https://www.amazon.com/author/gaynlewis and www.facebook.com/GayNLewis and also on Twitter @GayNLewis2Sarah has her own Facebook page. Follow Sarah on Facebook@ Sarah Wingspand

Gay, I’m so glad that I have this opportunity to interview you. Mattie’s Choice is an historical novel which deals with a difficult issue, one that has troubled Christians and even divides Christians. I believe that the story is a true example and an outreach for women in a similar situation as Mattie.

First of all, let’s get to the heart of the matter. Would you share the issue you deal with in Mattie’s Choice and tell us why you wrote it?

With my newest book, Mattie’s Choice, I’ve departed from my sweet, whimsical, fantasy genre about a dyslexic angel. Oh, Sarah is still up to her bumbles and antics, but I’ve put her in time out for a while.

Mattie’s Choice is a Christian women’s fiction book about two women married to abusive brothers. This story was inspired by my mother-in-law and an aunt by marriage. The book is not biographical, but many of the events in this book actually happened to these women.

Here’s an example. One of Paul’s (hubby) older brothers had to be hospitalized many times. Paul’s dad wouldn’t let his mother be with a five-year-old during multiple surgeries. Hard to believe, right? Most of us ladies today would say, “No way, buster. Out of my way.” On the other hand, too many women live with a controlling man and are forced to do as they say. Choices are not easy in these circumstances.

My father-in-law wasn’t physically abusive but emotionally cruel. Paul’s mom wasn’t allowed to visit her twin brother or any family members. She couldn’t go to her dad’s funeral. My mom-in-law was a strong woman who managed to live with this claustrophobic existence and reared eleven children. All of whom are emotionally healthy—none took after their dad’s controlling ways. They are successful and respectable citizens.

I’ve met women who live with abusive husbands. I’d hoped this book would give them courage to face up to the danger and find alternative ways to deal with it. I believe we often see ourselves by looking at others. One woman I know was actually awakened from a deep sleep when her husband pulled her from her bed by her hair. Another one was forced to sit up all night and read Scripture. Women shouldn’t feel threatened. Scripture tells husbands to love the wife as Christ loved the church. I hope men will read this book, too, and understand how a woman feels. If he is controlling, I hope he sees the need to change. If a woman is in an unhealthy situation, I hope she’ll get help. It’s out there these days.

The title of the novel strikes me every time I hear it. Mattie, like everyone, has choices to make in her life, and the choice she makes reveals her courage and her faith in keeping with her promises, although those promises come at a great cost to her. Your novel actually has two choices. Mattie’s sister-in-law’s way of dealing with the problem is much different and more quickly remedied than Mattie’s. I’m going to step aside, and I’d love for you to provide your thoughts on the choices set before your main character and your secondary character.

Thanks for asking that question. The original title of the book was Choices. The story is about the choices all the characters made. Mattie eloped and chose to keep her promises. Jesse, the husband, chose to control his wife’s thoughts and actions. Mattie’s father chose to decline help. Maury, Mattie’s brother, chose to support from afar. Society chose to ignore a woman’s circumstances. Joe, Ella’s husband, chose alcohol. Ella chose to stand up to her man. Pelican Book Group, my publisher, already had a book titled Choices. My title had to be changed, and I chose Mattie’s Choice since she is the central character.

What would you tell someone who is embroiled in a situation such as the one that Mattie faces?

Get help. Leave. Protect yourself and your children. Secret shelters exist today where abusive men can’t find you. The best possible scenario is to avoid a marriage with a controlling or abusive man. Find out about him. Hire a detective if necessary. What are his parents like? How does he treat others?  If investigation pulls up nothing alarming, and a fearful situation emerges, get out as quickly as possible. God wants a wife protected, loved and cherished. Not fearful for her life.

Mattie’s family loved her, but they made some tough choices themselves. I think about what I would do if someone I loved was in a relationship like Mattie’s. What do you think a family should do when someone they loved is being harmed by the one person who should love and protect them?

We had this situation with a daughter. We were on vacation when we learned that our son-in-law had taken all monies from a joint account. Our daughter had written checks for bills and they were destined to bounce. We quickly put money into her account, and then my husband called the father of our son-in-law. He was a reasonable man. These two older men spoke about the situation and agreed our daughter and his son needed to end the marriage. The couple agreed. They separated and locks were changed. The son-in-law broke into the house. Our daughter called us and the police. We got there before the officer did. The officer said he couldn’t make the husband leave. The law was on his side because his driver’s license had the address on it. This guy came from a lovely home, and he had parents we liked and respected. In divorce court, we learned the son-in-law had a history of abusing women. He’d kept it a secret even from his parents. Why? I have no idea, but if an investigation had taken place before marriage, that detail would have emerged. As parents, we were active in supporting our daughter and protecting her.

Thank you for sharing your heart. I know that it takes a lot to share family troubles, but your words could help someone who is going through something similar.

Will you let our readers know what you’re working on now and what is in store for them in the future from the pen of Gay N. Lewis?

I have two Sarah books ready for publication to add to the existing series. My dyslexic angel comes to earth to help humans and she bungles each mission. God gave Sarah empathy for humans. Jesus was the only Divine/Man on earth, but Sarah is given a few earthly traits while she visits us. That’s how she relates to us and our doubts, baubles, and bumbles.

I also have a sequel to Mattie’s Choice. It’s going by the title, Rebecca’s Family Secrets. Mattie’s daughter, Rebecca, is the star in this book. It’s pure romance with a great deal of suspense. It’s also historical. There’s no domestic violence in this one. Just pure fun.

Thanks for having me. You asked me soul-searching questions, and I enjoyed answering them.

Thank you, Gay. I don’t believe I said this to you through our work on this story, but I have, from the start, admired your heart and your tenacity for making sure that those who are suffering from spousal abuse know that there is hope for them.

More About Mattie’s Choice:

It’s 1925 in rural Oklahoma. A naïve seventeen-year-old Mattie chooses to elope with Jesse, leaving behind an ideal life with her wealthy and loving family. With hope for a happy future, she vows to stay with her husband through good times or bad, but the wonderful life Mattie dreams of is shattered by Jesse’s abusive nature and his refusal to allow her to see her family.

When Jesse’s brother, Joe, brings home his new wife–the vivacious Ella–Mattie believes Ella is living the life Mattie prays to have with Jesse. As the years grow harder and Jesse and Mattie’s growing family struggles to survive The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl and illness, Jesse’s abuse worsens.

Life also unravels for Ella and Joe as he begins to abuse his wife. Ella makes the choice that Mattie has never considered.

Will Mattie keep her vow to stay with Jesse at the risk of her own life and the life of her children or will she leave him despite the vow?

Character Interview: Mattie Colby from Mattie’s Choice by Gay N. Lewis

Today’s guest is Mattie Colby from Gay N. Lewis’s novel, Mattie’s Choice. Welcome to Inner Source, Mattie. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself, about your life, and anything else you feel is important for us to know?

Thanks for asking me to introduce myself to your readers. I’m a little shy, but I’ll try. My name is Mattie Colby. I grew up in a loving home in rural Oklahoma. My father is English and my mother is Cherokee. My dad is a builder, and he patterned our home after Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Most of Osage Country admires and envies it. My father acquired land in Oklahoma Territory during the land rush of 1893. My mother’s ancestors endured the Trail of Tears. I have a twin brother, Maury, and three sisters. Maury and I are the first born. By intuition, we know what the other thinks and feels. Maury is my best friend. We were looking forward to graduating high school together, but I eloped with Jesse Colby and quit school. Maury is grieved over it.

I love my family and I love my husband. I’ve wanted to be is a wife and mother for as long as I can remember. Maury tells me I shouldn’t have quit school to elope with Jesse, and thinks I should have waited to marry. He even wanted me to go to college with him, but in my day and time, women didn’t have many opportunities. Careers? Those were unheard of. Heavens to Betsy! In 1925, our goal was to become wives and mothers, and that suited me just fine. What about you in your modern day? Have times changed much? Do women have careers in your day?

Yes, women have many more opportunities in this age to become anything they want to be. We even have women serving beside men in the battlefields. Not all charges are good, though. For a while, a stay-at-home mother was considered inferior to those who were out in the work force. Along the way, especially in America, we have lost our way. Our children are sometimes not the most important commodity for parents. Slowly, though, some are beginning to realize that raising children is an important task.

Your author placed you into the center of a very controversial and difficult subject for an author to tackle. You’re a stubborn lass, Mattie Colby, and you’re made of stronger stuff than I am. You were offered choices to make, but you stayed the course. Tell us why that was important to you.

My father taught his children to keep our word. I made a vow to God and Jesse that nothing but death would separate us from our marriage. I was a naïve, seventeen-year-old when I married. My parents had a good marriage and I thought I would too. I didn’t believe anyone’s tales that Jesse had a temper. Looking back on it, I should have investigated more about him. Courted him longer, too. I might have chosen differently if I had, but what was done was done. I gave my word, and that was that.

Your sister-in-law, Ella, made a different choice. I got to know you well, and I know that the two of you stayed friends, but I want to know what you were thinking about her choice deep down inside?

Now that’s an interesting question. Ella and I are lifelong friends, and we’re opposite in personality. She chose a nursing career while she lived in Galveston, and she continued to work in a hospital after she married Jesse’s brother and moved to Oklahoma. She’s outspoken and opinionated. You always know where you stand with Ella. When she left Oklahoma to move back to Galveston, I admired her. Truth be told, I wished I could escape my life and move far away., too. We had different ideas on commitments, and to this day, I can’t say which one of us was right. In some ways, we both were.

I agree with your assessment. You were clearly a victim of historical precepts and interpretation of Scripture. This is something your author, Gay, and I spoke of quite a bit. Shh, don’t tell her, but I agree that there was a time in history where the theological thinking concerning the protection of women, especially in a marital relationship was skewed. In the end, though, I think that your choice took a lot of courage, but if you had to do it over again, would you make the same choice?

Your comment about Gay makes me giggle, and I won’t tell her you asked this question. I’m pretty good at keeping secrets. As you know, I kept many over the years. Thank you for saying I have courage. That means a lot to me. Early on in marriage, I was stubborn to a fault. I think my pig-headedness was what kept me going. I didn’t believe my dad would help me, and I learned too late that he would have. I had too much pride to ask for help. Courage? I think I developed it as I grew older. Courage comes with self-confidence, and as I became confident, I became courageous. Does that make sense? If I could do it over, I’d have chosen to become assertive much sooner than I did. Keeping my beliefs and standing up for myself turned out to be the best choice in the long run.

Mattie, everyone who reads this blog understands that the verse I stand upon, even when it hurts to grasp hold of it, is Romans 8:28. That does not mean that I approach others who are hurting and declare this truth. I feel that, for the hurting, this verse’s truths can be very hard to grasp, but that very God declared the depth of it when He sent His Son to the cross. That verse tells us that all things work to good to those who know God … So, as a woman who has had a life of extreme hardship I’d like to ask two difficult questions: what good do you see coming from the choice you made, and 2) what good do you believe came from the choice Ella made?

Heavens to Betsy! I have to ponder that one. Yes, I had hardship. My husband was not easy to live with. In fact, he was downright awful at times. Life circumstances were difficult, too. The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, all the world events made life unbearable at times, but my faith grew stronger through the trials. That was a good thing. Some, like Jesse, grew angry with God. I chose to stay close to Him and trust. Another good thing. My marriage with Jesse brought me eight children. Eight blessings. And guess what? Every one of them are productive, successful, God-fearing adults. Four are in the ministry. Like a rock thrown into water, the circle grows bigger, and in my case, a lot of good is in the circle.

Good came from Ella’s choice too. After seeing the way most of us women lived in our day, she started women’s shelters in Texas and became a crusader for women’s rights. I think all contemporary women owe Ella and women like her a debt of gratitude. Their lives are easier, thanks to Ella and others like her.

You are so right about Romans 8:28. I can look back on my life now and see the good God brought about with Ella’s and my choices. I believe I won’t see all the good until heaven. Scripture tells us our works follow us. Revelation 14:13 says, “…Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works follow them.” KJV To me, this means that what we do here continues to influence, bad or good, to those who come after us—like that rock thrown into water, impact lasts, good and bad. What I began with my children carries on to future generations, and most of it was good. Same with Ella. Women will continue to be helped with better lives as a result of her influence. I believe we both did more good to follow us than we did bad.

Mattie, thank you for being with us today. On Wednesday, your author, Gay, will be sharing a little more behind the inspiration for your novel.

About the Author:

A native Texan, Gay lives in Fulshear, a small town west of Houston.  She loves to travel and engage in artistic ventures. Two videos she produced —The Canadian Rockies, English and Japanese translations, and Psalms from the Mountains, sold well in international markets. Graphic skills kept her busy as a portrait photographer, and for over ten years, she used her imaginative insight in the interior design field.

As a pastor’s wife, she writes Faith Features for various church periodicals. She also writes articles for Texas Hill Country.  Gay is also a published author for Pelican Book Group in romance and fantasy fiction. Her current series is about a dyslexic angel who comes to earth to help humans, but Sarah, the angel, is more like Lucy Ricardo with humorous antics and bumbles.

All of the Sarah books have appeared on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List. The Sarah series is available in eBook format as well as print at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Pelican Book Group, and other book sellers. Some additions are available in Amazon Audible. Each book in the series is a standalone novel.

Her latest books, Mattie’s Choice, and Clue into Kindness are not fantasy and romance. These books are women’s fiction. The stories are about abusive men and women who are addicted to an unhealthy relationship.

The books are available in print, eBook, and audio.

For more information, please go to http ://gaynlewis.com/

Gay would love to have you see her video trailers and become a follower of her blog.

http://www.gaynlewis.blogspot.com

https://www.amazon.com/author/gaynlewis
www.facebook.com/GayNLewis and also on Twitter @GayNLewis2.

Sarah has her own Facebook page. Follow Sarah on Facebook@ Sarah Wingspand

More About Mattie’s Choice:

It’s 1925 in rural Oklahoma. A naïve seventeen-year-old Mattie chooses to elope with Jesse, leaving behind an ideal life with her wealthy and loving family. With hope for a happy future, she vows to stay with her husband through good times or bad, but the wonderful life Mattie dreams of is shattered by Jesse’s abusive nature and his refusal to allow her to see her family.

When Jesse’s brother, Joe, brings home his new wife–the vivacious Ella–Mattie believes Ella is living the life Mattie prays to have with Jesse. As the years grow harder and Jesse and Mattie’s growing family struggles to survive The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl and illness, Jesse’s abuse worsens.

Life also unravels for Ella and Joe as he begins to abuse his wife. Ella makes the choice that Mattie has never considered.

Will Mattie keep her vow to stay with Jesse at the risk of her own life and the life of her children or will she leave him despite the vow?

Interview with Deborah Dee Harper Author of Misstep

If you know me, you know that today’s guest is one of my favorite authors of humor. Deborah Dee Harper writes laugh-out-loud mysteries with characters that will never leave you. In between the laughter, there are a couple of tears, well, because Deborah knows how to take the reader on an adventure of mishaps and funny moments.

The following is the blurb for Misstepwhich captures the mischief of the story.

Winnie and Sadie are still fighting, and I’m still living in the strangest town on earth. 

It’s December in Road’s End, Virginia, a tiny town long forgotten by anyone but its residents, where Colonel Hugh Foster and his wife, Melanie, have chosen to live-for better or worse. The jury’s still out on that one!

Road’s End is comprised entirely of senior citizens whose kids have grown and left for greener pastures. Hugh, Melanie, and Bristol (one of the few sane people in town) are faced with a crumbling church in desperate need of repair and renovation, a dwindling congregation of opinionated, ornery senior citizens, and a camel-yes, a camel.

And if that’s not enough, the trio and the rest of the Road’s End residents, are soon mired in danger and intrigue when a group of gun-toting drug dealers arrive in town, bent on killing the church handyman, and conspiring to ruin the doggonedest record-breaking blizzard the town has ever seen.

Poor drug dealers.

Deborah Dee Harper currently resides in Alaska where she writes inspirational and humorous books for both children and adults and takes thousands of photographs. When she isn’t writing or taking photos, she stalks moose and other wildlife, survives earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, endures the long, dark, frigid winters, revels in the endless summer days, and is awestruck by the rippling northern lights of the Alaskan night skies. She also leaps mountains in a single bound and wrestles grizzly bears along hiking trails. (Not really. Just making sure you were paying attention.) Whenever she can, she loves being with her daughter, son-in-law, and three grandsons in Kentucky, and her son, daughter-in-law, and two more grandsons in Michigan. (For real.)

She can be reached at deborahdeetales@gmail.com, at her website www.deborahdeeharper.com, and her three blogs: www.deborahdeetales.blogspot.com, www.deetrails.blogspot.com and www.laramieonthelam.blogspot.com.

I have been wanting to ask this question to an author with a sense for comedic exploits, and you so exhibit that sense in Misstep. Does writing humor come easy to you or do you have to work at it?

Fay, I can honestly say that (for the most part) it comes easily to me. And that’s not necessarily a good thing or because it’s some special skill. It’s mostly because I can be a smart aleck at times J. I love to laugh, and I love to make others laugh. I firmly believe God gave us a sense of humor for several reasons—to enjoy the humorous things that happen around us every day of our lives, to defuse situations that might become volatile if we don’t look at the funny side, to help us enjoy others who might be different from us (but still beloved children of God), and lastly, a way in which to understand aspects of human behavior we can’t quite explain any other way.

I think many writers could easily write humor because all you do is get in the zone, i.e., enter the personality of your character, and let the thoughts flow. Once I established who the characters were in the Road’s End series, they sort of took over (what I call a “character coup”) and hijacked the whole darned thing. There comes a point in every writer’s book when it no longer belongs to them. The characters have banded together and taken over. That’s when it gets interesting J .

Ah, we are sister authors. My authors initiate successful coups as well.

Because I’m so fascinated with your ability to bring such joy to your story, and because when I do write comedy, the humor replaces something dark or something that troubles me, almost a coping mechanism that my brain brings to characters in my work as well. Many times my characters will cope with darkness with humor—at least I laugh at them. I don’t know if anyone else does.

(Fay, I’ve read plenty of your humor! I don’t know if you even realize what you’re writing is hilarious. It’s just a part of you, and I love it!)

Thank you. Sometimes I don’t even see what I’m writing as funny until I sit down and see what I’ve written about. I laugh best at myself. I do know from personal experience, that people laugh during your stories. From a reader’s perspective, it seems as if you must overflow with happiness to bring such pleasure to others. It’s hard to imagine that you write with perfect comedic timing with anything but perfect peace, but as a spectator in life, I sense that this is a misnomer. Life isn’t always rosy. So, how do you cope with writing humor when life for you at a given moment might be anything but humorous?

Actually, Fay, writing humor when I’m down is a great way to pull myself out of the pit. After all, when I write I’m “becoming” one or more of my characters, and since they’re such goofballs, I have no choice but to succumb to their silliness. I don’t mean to say that it’s always easy; sometimes writing is the last thing I feel like doing, and writing humorously seems impossible. But if I’m on a deadline, I have no choice. And oddly enough, being down in the dumps brings out the sarcasm in me, and sometimes humor is nothing more than veiled (and hopefully, good-hearted) sarcasm. Once you get rolling, it comes easier with each keystroke. Sometimes it’s all I can do to type fast enough to catch my characters’ goofiness. Humor is a great medicine for me, and I’ve relied on it my entire life.

One more question on writing humor only because I’ve seen so many try to accomplish it and fall short. Even a born jokester finds it hard to pull off the punchline, or as in writing, the setup and the payoff. If there is a budding author out there who wants to write humorous stories, is there any element of craft or any other advice that you can give them for honing that skill?

I honestly feel that a person who wants to write humor can write humor because it’s in their very essence, i.e., you won’t want to if you can’t. You don’t want to write humor unless you have it within you. Think of it this way (and try not to cringe like I’m doing as I type this): people write porn—yes, it’s a horrible thing, yet there it is. But a person who wants to write it can find it within themselves to do it. Those of us who wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole couldn’t do it anyway. It’s just not in us. It’s the same with mystery, romance, historical, horror, sci-fi, paranormal, or any of the zillion other genres and sub-genres that exist nowadays. There’s a part of us that can conjure up whatever it is that’s required in that particular genre. Now don’t get me started on how a person who can write porn should fight that desire to do so because it’s from the devil, because I could talk about that all day and that’s not what I’m here to do. Nevertheless, if a writer wants to write humor it’s because God has put that desire and ability into their make-up.

Okay, enough of that. I find that I look for the humor in situations—everyday, run-of-the-mill events that we all experience. For instance, we’ve all gotten behind the person in the checkout line who argues every price the cashier rings up then can’t find their debit card, and when they do, it’s declined, and they decide to write a check and have to dig to the bottom of their luggage-sized purse to find their checkbook, then ask the date, slowly write out the check, their pen runs dry, the woman behind you goes into labor, then delivers (twins), the milk in your cart sours … and still, that customer is up there clogging up the line without a care in the world. You’re furious, they’re oblivious. You can either laugh it off for the ludicrous situation it is, or let it bring you down.

I think most, if not all, humor writers find themselves looking for the laughs in their lives rather than the tears. Besides, humor is oftentimes taking a situation and exaggerating it, as in the example above. Another good example would be the relationship between Dewey Wyandotte and George Washington of Road’s End. Yes, they serve as one another’s BFF (best friend and enemy), but it’s an exaggerated association between two old men, both opinionated and obstinate. The humor comes with the embellishment of that behavior—and anyone who tries to do that with their humor will find it becomes much easier with time. Give it a try.

With regard to exaggeration and the example above in the checkout line, obviously everything I wrote didn’t happen. But because we’ve all been there, using exaggeration makes it funny. The purse is luggage-sized, the pregnant woman had time to finish her pregnancy, go into labor, and deliver twins, the milk sours. It all points to a ridiculously long wait in line, and while that in itself isn’t particularly funny, using it in a piece of writing and exaggerating the circumstances does two things: it gives you a funny scene, and it relieves your white-hot anger at that person at the head of the line.

To make an already long story short, look for humor and you’ll find it. I try not to read in my genre (against all the advice) because I want my humor to be fresh and entirely my own. I don’t want to accidentally latch on to someone else’s ideas or methods. That’s not to say reading humor is completely out of the question. As long as it’s not similar to what I’m writing, reading humor can get me in the mood. Surround yourself with it, look for the humor in the day God has given you, and make it your own!

Okay, about that lady in the checkout, are you sure you’re in Alaska? Or maybe you visited Florida and got in line behind my dear mother-in-law? That wasn’t an over-exaggeration of being in line behind her. *Smiles*

And now, I have to know how you came to meet these lovable misfits who live in Road’s End. Is there somewhere that you’ve visited that brought them to mind or do you actually know a couple of eccentrics like the residents that Pastor Hugh shepherds?

This is going to sound hokey, or worse yet, coming off as though I think I’m special to God (which we all are), but most of the characters were almost planted in my brain. Psychologists and psychiatrists would say, with good reason, that my subconscious conjured up everything, but I can’t help but feel that God helped me tremendously. It’s as though once I came up with a character, say, George, and he introduced me to Dewey, and they turn out to be perfect at playing off one another. Then came the wives who had to be a little nuts in their own right to be married to those men. It turns out they’re a little eccentric all by their lonesomes.

I’ve visited Virginia’s Colonial Williamsburg about twenty times, so I’m in love with that time period—the homes, gardens, the beauty of Virginia in all seasons. So using my love for all things colonial, I put my characters in fictional Road’s End in Virginia, and made it a little village filled with history and historical buildings like The Inn at Road’s End and the Christ Is Lord Church. Road’s End has played a role in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and everything in-between, so the stories those buildings and grounds could tell are endless!

While I don’t have anyone in particular who matches the personality of any one of my Road’s End characters precisely, I think George and Martha, Dewey and Winnie, Sadie, Frank, Leo, Perry, and the rest of the gang are probably mash-ups of people I’ve run across during my lifetime. I think that’s true of most writers. People they’ve known, worked with, grown up with, or gone to school with end up in their books in one fashion or another. Humor’s no different.

Lastly, I think if I’d actually known someone with … say, Sadie’s personality, I’d have lost my sense of humor altogether! J

I don’t want to give away Sophie’s identity, but when she stepped into the story, I actually did fall on the floor laughing. Really. And as the exploits with Sophie continued, I found myself unable to breathe. My sides hurt from all the abdominal exercises that a true belly laugh can give to you. How in the world did you think of bringing Sophie to Road’s End?

Sophie was one of those characters who just happened. When Sherman DeSoto came to town, he was such a strange character I just knew he’d have someone like Sophie with him. Besides, the town was preparing for the live Nativity, so it just made sense. Sophie shows up in all the books of the Road’s End series. I think she’s here to stay. In my experience, the less planning I do and the more I let the characters take over, the better it turns out! When one idea pops into your head, somehow it leads to how that character can do something outrageous with it, and that leads to another and another, and pretty soon you have an entire scene or chapter or perhaps an entire thread in your plot–all from the addition of one crazy character.

I would be so disappointed if Sophie didn’t show up in each of the stories. But nothing will ever trump her first introduction. I’m laughing right now as I think of her.

I happen to know that there is a second “Mishap” which is about to overcome the Road’s End residents, and I can guarantee the reader it is as hilarious and as heartwarming as the first. Can you tell us a little about the next release? Also, you have a book in a different genre that will be out in the future. I’d love to hear about it as well.

You’re right, Fay, the second book in the Road’s End series, Faux Pas, is on the way, and thanks so much for your kind words about it J. It’s being released on July 4, 2017, and I’m really excited about it. A few months have passed since the incidents in Misstep, and Hugh and Melanie Foster are thrilled to find out their only daughter, Amanda, is getting married! The only problem (the first of many), though, is that the wedding is a mere two months away, and Mandy has asked Hugh to officiate the nuptials at the Christ Is Lord Church right there in Road’s End. Sadly, the church is threatening to collapse into the dirt floor basement and is in need of immediate repairs. Right off the bat, Hugh is faced with getting permission to repair the pre-Revolutionary War era building. And that’s just the beginning. The Fosters are unaware that Mandy’s fiancé, Jonathan Sterling, is the only nephew of Stuart Thomas Rogers, the President of the United States. And he’s coming to the wedding.

As if that isn’t enough to drive Hugh into the Witness Protection Program, the cranky residents of Road’s End have it in for the president for not coming through on his campaign promises to bring God back into the government and to the forefront of the nation. When they find out he’s coming to the wedding, all heck breaks loose as Sadie Simms prepares to give the president what-for and present him with a Constitutional amendment, while the men of Road’s End prepare to honor him with their version of a parade. A wedding, a president, an antagonistic senator, a new son-in-law, brand-spankin’ new grandson, a church under repairs, cranky senior citizens, and Sophie. What more could a man ask for?

The other book, Sin Seeker, is the first book in my Sin Seeker series. It’s darker than the Road’s End books and deals with sin and the very real battle we’re in every day of our lives with the forces of darkness. Graves (Gray to his friends) Hollister is a discouraged social services employee tasked with the thankless job of keeping children safe from parents who don’t deserve them in the first place and who neglect and abuse them regularly. He starts hearing demonic voices shortly before a hideous tragedy occurs, after which he quits his job and sinks to the bottom of a bottle of anything he can find that’ll put him in an alcoholic stupor. He spends two months trying to obliterate his memories. Finally, he realizes he can’t; he must face them, so he enrolls in seminary and becomes a pastor. With his new role as pastor and his newfound ability to actually see the sin on the people God has tasked him with helping, Gray finds himself thrown head-first into a world of evil and demons, angels and miracles.

Deborah, thank you for joining me here today. I will be so thankful if you’ll return in July to discuss Faux Pas. I’m thinking I’d like to interview Sophie. 

Here’s more about Deborah’s July release, the next story in the Road’s End series, Faux Pas:

What would you do if the President of the United States was attending your daughter’s wedding?

Panic. You’d panic. Add in a severe storm, crazy senior citizens who believe the POTUS lied his way into office, a crumbling, but historic church you happen to pastor, a cranky Secret Service agent, a four-year-old grandchild-to-be you know nothing about, and a son-in-law-to-be whose faith in the Lord has waned, and you’ve got yourself a humdinger of a wedding. Not to mention that same future son-in-law is a University of Michigan Wolverines fan (not a Michigan State Spartans fan) and prefers sweet tea to unsweetened. My gosh, what is the world coming to? Talk about a faux pas! Well, good luck with all that, Pastor Foster.

And Heaven help the president.

If you missed Monday’s interview with Hugh Foster, the hero of Misstepyou can find it here.

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.

Who Wrote Whom: Meet the Authors of Unlikely Merger: Raelee May Carpenter:

Raelee May CarpenterMeet Raelee May Carpenter, one of the winners in the novella contest. Raelee entered her chapter about ex-rock star, Reuben Miller and was one of the two authors chosen to work on the collaboration. Raelee is a Christian and an author of contemporary fiction, inspirational essays, and modern mythology. Her work is passionate, descriptive, and just a little edgy. Raelee’s three lifelong passions are faith, people, and words. She’s a tone-deaf music fan and “Mumma” to a young-at-heart, rescued Beagle mix. She has ADHD and ASD, and she is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Her favorite thing to write about is the force that saved her life: Grace.

Raelee likes to connect with readers. You can find her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Here’s what she has to say about her chapter and her hero.

The main theme of all of my work—the very reason I write—is grace. I believe God’s grace applies to everyone, and anyone who lets it in to their life and lets it win in their heart can become someone who will make a huge positive impact on this world. Rube Miller’s a rock star, complete with copious tattoos, tabloid attentions, and broken hearts. In him, I created a redeemed man out of someone a lot of people would see as beyond redemption. I hope readers who meet Reuben can remember how BIG our God is, so they can learn to love like He loves and know the Truth—that no one is beyond His reach.

~Raelee May Carpenter

Unlikely Merger CoverMore About Unlikely Merger:

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

liberation songRaelee is the author of Liberation Song:

When we first meet Aili MacIntyre, she’s doing what she’s been doing all her life: running in fear. She flees through a foreign jungle with two young girls and tries to save them from the forced prostitution ring that has held them in a virtual hell-on-earth. But tragedy meets them under the trees, and only one child escapes.

Three years later, Alexandra Adelaide has acquired a new identity and a radically different scene: the metropolitan jungle of Greater Los Angeles. She, though saved by Grace, has invented what she believes is the appropriate way to suffer for her own sins. Alex is raising the child who was orphaned by her insecurities. And she never, for a second, lets herself forget the pain caused by her mistakes.

Then the real tragedy strikes: she falls in love.

Matthew Gold is everything she needs and a lot more than she could’ve imagined. Bright, attractive, generous, and with his own vested interest in Grace, Matt works hard to earn Alex’s trust and a place in her life. He even loves and seeks to protect her daughter, who is the key to breaking open the biggest human trafficking case in recent history.

But Alex has lived in fear since she took her first breath. So how does she let Love start a new day? How does she choose courage even as very real dangers draw closer to her barred doors?

Raelee is also the author of The Lincoln High Project and Kings and Shepherds.

Interview with Mary L. Hamilton, Author of See No Evil

Mary HamiltonInner Source welcomes a return visit by Mary L. Hamilton, the author of the Rustic Knoll, young adult series. Mary’s latest title, See No Evil, has recently released. Mary grew up at a youth camp in southern Wisconsin, much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. While raising her own three children, she was active in her church’s youth ministry, including serving as a camp counselor for a week. She decided once was enough.

When not writing, Mary enjoys knitting, reading and being outdoors. She and her husband make their home in Texas with a rescued Golden Retriever.

Connect with Mary at her website, on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Welcome, Mary. I have to tell you that I have enjoyed this series, and I have been waiting for the story of Steven Miller. I love the way that you weave the issues of one particular camper into a story of a week at summer camp. Steven’s story has a twist that I will not spoil for the reader, but Steven and his friend, Dillon, both have a serious issue to face. My question to you as the author is why you decided to bring this issue to light in this story?

Originally, I’d planned to bring Steven back in this book having had a corneal transplant that would allow him to see. As a teenage boy with the sudden ability to see, he’d face new kinds of temptations he’d never had to deal with before. However, my research into regaining sight after many years of blindness led me to decide I needed to let Steven remain blind. But I realized that just because he’s blind doesn’t mean he’s immune to the hungers and desires of normal boys. Our media today saturates the world with sexuality that’s hard to ignore, even for someone who can’t see the visual images.

In the story, Steven has a goal, a very big goal. After I finished the story, I began to mull over just why his goal was so important to the story. I wondered if Steven’s goal and the lengths he takes to accomplish that goal, and even the reason for the goal, aren’t a picture of how we, as God’s children try to lean upon our own strengths. We don’t look to the Father to help us finish the race or to sooth those things that hurt us rather than leaning upon Him when He is always ready to help us cross the finish line and will always bandage our hearts when we are hurting. Did I dig something out of the story that you mean for the reader to find or do you have a different reason for this plot of the story?

No, I think you hit the nail on the head. Shame and guilt are powerful emotions that we would rather hide than admit to anyone, even to God. We try to fix it on our own, make everything right by our own efforts, so we don’t have to admit what we’ve done wrong. Steven’s pain over his dad’s death was so tied in with his shame that he couldn’t separate the two. He couldn’t admit his guilt to anyone, which made it impossible to deal with the pain of his father’s death. Once Steven realized God’s accepted him as a sinner and provided a remedy way in advance of his need, then he was able to let go of his guilt and shame and deal with the grief of his father’s death.

Steven has a handicap that I have never faced. I’ve really known no one who has faced this particular challenge. Is Steven based on someone you know or did someone explain to you the difficulties that Steven might have?

Steven’s character was inspired by a blind teen who attended the camp where I lived while I was growing up. This was back in the days before there were any handicap accommodations, and it seemed so odd for someone who was blind to come to camp. But we were all amazed at what he was able to do, even going off the diving board! As for understanding the difficulties, I’ve not been close to anyone who is visually challenged, but my research for Steven’s story included a book called Crashing Through by Robert Kurson. It’s a true story of Mike May, a man blinded at the age of three who refused to let it hold him back. It made me think about how someone who is visually impaired would find solutions to the challenges they face. (By the way, the book tells the fascinating story of how Mike May received a corneal transplant at the age of 43 and the challenges that created for him. It formed the basis for my decision to keep Steven blind.)

Nurse Willie is a character we see in each of the three novels in the series. I love the way that Steven is able to return the kindnesses that she has given to him in the past. I’m just going to say it: when we first meet Willie in this story, she is living in defeat. Have you known someone who loves the Lord but suffered defeat in the face of adversity? In actuality, both Steven and Willie are facing adversity. Are there any words of wisdom to aid someone who might be living in total defeat at this moment in time?

A couple of close loved ones occasionally struggle with depression, and that can really be the depths of defeat. Sometimes, medical intervention is necessary to bring people out of that defeated attitude. But I think we all go through times when we’re tempted to just give up, because the fight seems too hard, too insurmountable. In those times, we really need others to gather round and strengthen us with encouragement.

There are some practical things we can do. One is exercise. Just move as much as possible. If you can get out and walk, that naturally tends to lift the spirits. Another suggestion is reading or listening to audiobooks. Find stories about people who overcame great odds, and use them as inspiration. The Bible, of course, contains many who suffered defeat, plenty of people we can identify with, as well as psalms of praise and lament. Use them as prayers, asking God to show you the way out. Lastly, as difficult as it is, try to do something nice for someone else. It’ll take your mind off your own problems.

One last question: with the kids of Rustic Knoll moving on, what is next for Mary Hamilton, the author?

I’m sad to say good-bye to the kids and the camp, but I’m looking forward to trying my hand at more of an adult novel. I’m playing with an idea that’s kind of an odd couple story, where a soldier returns from deployment and is forced to live with his free-spirit younger brother. It’s only in the planning stage now, so I’m not sure it’ll actually make it to print. But I’ll be sure to let you know if it does!

It’s always fun to visit with you, Fay. Thanks for letting me chat with you today!

Likewise, Mary. I hope to talk to you again soon.

SeeNoEvilFrontDropCrop copyMore About See No Evil:

Steven Miller guards a dark secret. Dad drilled into Steven that blindness should never be used as an excuse. So when Steven finds an old triathlon medallion among Dad’s belongings, he’s inspired to follow in his footsteps. Maybe it’ll quiet the guilt he’s carried since Dad’s death three years ago. While Steven continues his triathlon training during his final summer at camp, a serious illness keeps Rustic Knoll’s beloved Nurse Willie from managing her clinic. When Steven teams up with his friend Claire to encourage Willie’s recovery, his feelings for Claire grow beyond friendship. But his buddy, Dillon, has started down a dangerous path that Steven knows all too well. Can he keep his friend from falling into that sin without exposing his own past?

The Rustic Knoll series has two other outstanding novels:

HearNoEvilModifiedFront5-5x8-5Hear No Evil:

Summer camp is no fun for Brady McCaul. The girl with the cute dimples thinks he’s immature and childish. The camp bully targets him with cruel taunts, and flips Brady’s canoe to keep him from winning the race. But worst of all, his mom won’t let him come home. She doesn’t want him living with her anymore. Brady wonders if even God cares about him. Can Brady figure out what he did to earn Mom’s rejection and change her mind by week’s end? Or will he have to live with his workaholic dad, the guy who left when Brady was seven? All seems lost until a surprising secret changes everything.

SNEfinalcoverSpeak No Evil:

Taylor Dixon knew having his younger sister at camp would be a pain, but he never expected the pain to go so deep.

At 15, Taylor dreams of getting his driver’s license and driving race cars when he’s older. His sister, Marissa, is the only one who believes in his dream, but her adventurous spirit keeps landing him in trouble. Consequently, Dad won’t let him get his license and predicts Taylor is heading for the same jail cell as his once-favored older brother.

Taylor returns to Rustic Knoll Bible Camp expecting softball, swimming and sermons. Then he finds a classic Mustang in the camp’s garage and jumps at the owner’s invitation to help restore it. But when Marissa falls for his snobbish cabin mate, the war of words and pranks escalates until it threatens both the car and his dreams for the future.

Will Taylor fulfill Dad’s prediction and end up in jail? Or will he finally learn the Truth found in the old car’s engine?

 

Character Interview: Steven Miller from See No Evil by Mary L. Hamilton

SeeNoEvilFrontDropCrop copyToday’s guest on Inner Source is Steven Miller, Author Mary  L. Hamilton’s young hero from See No Evil, the third novel in her Rustic Knoll series. Steven, I have had the pleasure of following you through three years of camp at Rustic Knoll, and I was so glad to get the chance to learn more about you. Please take a moment to tell our readers a little about yourself.

Well, I’m seventeen, going into my senior year of high school and, for those who haven’t read the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp books, I’m blind. But I don’t let that stop me from participating in most of the activities. My parents first brought me to camp when I was five, and I’ve been coming back every year since then. So I’m pretty familiar with the camp. It’s one of my favorite places in the world. Not that I’ve been to many world places, but—I’ll just leave it at that.

You had a very special relationship with your father and your mother. They both handled your special circumstances very differently. How do you think that has helped or hurt you as you have matured?

Dad never let me get away with anything just because I was blind. In fact, he made me work hard to overcome my limitations. I appreciate what he did now, even though most of the time it wasn’t much fun. He encouraged me to be as independent as possible. Sometimes, his methods were a little scary, but Mom was always there to comfort me and sorta pick up the pieces afterward. And she let Dad know when he crossed a danger line. But she never really tried to undermine Dad, so I knew she supported what he was doing, even if she didn’t always agree with how he did it. Since Dad’s death, I’ve tried really hard to live up to what I think he’d want me to do. Sometimes, Mom tries to hold me back, and that bothers me. But I hear other kids complaining about their parents, and I guess it’s just a teenage thing. Anyway, I’m glad I had both Mom and Dad. Without Mom, I might have grown resentful and angry. Without Dad, I wouldn’t have the confidence I do today.

The title of the novel is a play on words based upon your special circumstances, but your novel has an excellent message with regard to what we allow ourselves to see (and to hear). You deal with an issue that today’s teens face that many in my generation couldn’t fathom. What do you think of the information age and how it can be abused by anyone of any generation, not just yours?

I think the temptation is really nothing new. Dad once told me he sneaked a look or two at a girly magazine when he was my age. But all the electronic gadgets we have make it easy for anyone to find. I think most things have the potential for good or evil. It’s how we choose to use them, and that makes it even more important to guard ourselves against whatever entices and tempts us. Like Joseph of the Bible, we need to run the other way when temptation hits us. But that takes a lot of self-control. Believe me, I know!

What advice would you have for a young man or a young woman who has gotten themselves addicted to those things that are available to them via the Internet or other devices?

The best thing to do is put filters on your phone and your computer. And confide in someone you trust, someone tough enough to cut through your phony excuses and rationalizations, to challenge you to rise above where you are. If you don’t have someone like that, it’s going to be really hard to break the habit. The next time you’re tempted, challenge yourself to go one hour without looking. If you make it that hour, give yourself a high five and try to go another hour. Keep adding the time. The longer you go, the more you’ll want to keep it going and not look, not indulge. If you fail, don’t beat yourself up. Just start over and try again. If you keep trying, you’ll make it, especially if you pray and ask God for strength to overcome.

Now that your time as a camper at Rustic Knoll has come to a close and you look back on the years you spent there, what was your favorite moment as a camper—even if it wasn’t shared in the series?

Wow, that’s a hard one. I don’t know that I can pick just one. The friends I’ve made, the staff, the water carnivals, Zeke’s lessons, cabin pranks… My favorite moment? Okay, this probably sounds weird. Maybe it’s because being blind makes me rely on my other senses, but my favorite moment every year was when I first arrived at camp and caught the scent of the lake on the breeze. I can’t even describe how it smells because it’s so different from other smells, that mix of water and sand and fresh air. I know some kids think it stinks, but to me, it’s heaven. I always waited for that first breeze, that first scent. I’d take a deep breath, pull in as much as I could, and it always made me smile. Because I knew then I was back at Rustic Knoll, and the fun was about to start.

I don’t think that’s weird at all. I’m not blind, and I make associations with smells. I get a hint of a certain scent and a person or place comes to mind, and if your friends think the lake stinks, they need to visit my hometown at certain times of the year when the algae is blooming in the river. Thanks for being with us, Steven, and I look forward to the interview with your author, Mary L. Hamilton on Thursday.

More About See No Evil:

Steven Miller guards a dark secret. Dad drilled into Steven that blindness should never be used as an excuse. So when Steven finds an old triathlon medallion among Dad’s belongings, he’s inspired to follow in his footsteps. Maybe it’ll quiet the guilt he’s carried since Dad’s death three years ago. While Steven continues his triathlon training during his final summer at camp, a serious illness keeps Rustic Knoll’s beloved Nurse Willie from managing her clinic. When Steven teams up with his friend Claire to encourage Willie’s recovery, his feelings for Claire grow beyond friendship. But his buddy, Dillon, has started down a dangerous path that Steven knows all too well. Can he keep his friend from falling into that sin without exposing his own past?

The Rustic Knoll series has two other outstanding novels:

HearNoEvilModifiedFront5-5x8-5Hear No Evil:

Summer camp is no fun for Brady McCaul. The girl with the cute dimples thinks he’s immature and childish. The camp bully targets him with cruel taunts, and flips Brady’s canoe to keep him from winning the race. But worst of all, his mom won’t let him come home. She doesn’t want him living with her anymore. Brady wonders if even God cares about him. Can Brady figure out what he did to earn Mom’s rejection and change her mind by week’s end? Or will he have to live with his workaholic dad, the guy who left when Brady was seven? All seems lost until a surprising secret changes everything.

SNEfinalcoverSpeak No Evil:

Taylor Dixon knew having his younger sister at camp would be a pain, but he never expected the pain to go so deep.

At 15, Taylor dreams of getting his driver’s license and driving race cars when he’s older. His sister, Marissa, is the only one who believes in his dream, but her adventurous spirit keeps landing him in trouble. Consequently, Dad won’t let him get his license and predicts Taylor is heading for the same jail cell as his once-favored older brother.

Taylor returns to Rustic Knoll Bible Camp expecting softball, swimming and sermons. Then he finds a classic Mustang in the camp’s garage and jumps at the owner’s invitation to help restore it. But when Marissa falls for his snobbish cabin mate, the war of words and pranks escalates until it threatens both the car and his dreams for the future.

Will Taylor fulfill Dad’s prediction and end up in jail? Or will he finally learn the Truth found in the old car’s engine?

Mary HamiltonAbout the Author:

Mary L. Hamilton grew up at a youth camp in southern Wisconsin, much like the setting for her Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. While raising her own three children, she was active in her church’s youth ministry, including serving as a camp counselor for a week. She decided once was enough.

When not writing, Mary enjoys knitting, reading and being outdoors. She and her husband make their home in Texas with a rescued Golden Retriever.

Connect with Mary at her website, on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Transhumanism: Did I or Didn’t I Make This Stuff Up? by Victoria Buck

Human like faces covered in text  Text is from HG Wells The TImeI read an article this week called “10 Amazing Superpowers Humans Will Be Able To Get From Brain Implants.” (I posted it on Facebook and Twitter.) My first thought was that I shouldn’t have set Wake the Dead twenty-something years into the future. Maybe ten. Maybe next week.

My second thought was that my brain is already connected to cyberspace and I just didn’t know it. I ruled that out when I tried to check my bank balance without using the app on my phone.

But some of the stuff on the Top Ten list really does happen to Chase Sterling (the transhuman I wrote about). One: super hearing.  Two: night vision. Of the ten superpowers examined in the article, the only one that wasn’t used to enhance Chase or some other character in the book was number three: the ability to zoom in and focus on a faraway object. I’m sure Chase could use that. I’m writing the sequel—maybe he’ll get it.

So I wonder after reading the article, even more than when I first began plotting this story in my head, what the world will be like when a growing percentage of us can leap a tall building in a single bound, so to speak.

Leaping isn’t actually on Top Ten list, but a leap is what it’s all about. Will we voraciously take the evolutionary jump that Chase was forced to make? Will we understand it? Chase just doesn’t get it. He’s a game show host, for crying out loud, not a scientist. He finds the hearing enhancement and night vision a bit of a joke.  Even the doctor who implanted the superpowers calls them gimmicky.

But soon it may be more than fiction. No joke. Motivation exists for aiming toward the transhuman. Health, comfort, convenience, safety. Money. Utopia.

More than anything: power.

More than power: eternal life.

The everyday consternations of the human being might very well meet a new world and claim new victory. But real power belongs to God. And eternal life is a gift from God. And He gives it freely. Don’t look to the superpowers coming soon to offer thin hope in winning the war against death. Instead, behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Victoria BuckAbout the Author:

Victoria Buck is a lifelong resident of Central Florida. She clings to the Gospel, serves in the local church, relishes time spent writing, and curiously contemplates the future. Wake the Dead is her first novel.

You can connect with Victoria at her website, at Author Central on Amazon, on Twitter, and at Pelican Book Group.

More about Wake the Dead:

What if the first man reborn of an evolutionary leap doesn’t like his new life? Is escape even possible?

WakeTheDead_h11557_300The 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.