Kathleen Friesen Author Headshot

Kathleen Friesen

Welcome Kathleen Friesen, Tell us how long have you been writing, and when did you become serious about the craft?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. Doodles, poems, and many, many story beginnings filled notebooks throughout my earlier years. I was in my late forties when I decided it was time to get serious and learn how to write properly. Through a friend, I found Jerry B. Jenkins’ Christian Writers Guild. At the time, It offered a two-year online course that covered all of the basics. That course changed my life. (CWG no longer exists, but Mr. Jenkins recently started a new online writing course.)

What did you find appealing in this course?

First, the fact that it was online. That meant I could continue with my assignments even while we moved across two provinces and lived, for a while, in our RV. Second, each student was assigned a personal mentor. That one-on-one communication made all the difference to me.

Do you work outside the home?

Not unless you count working in my garden! My husband and I retired almost two years ago, so I don’t have many interruptions—as long as he has a project to keep him busy.

What is your best time for writing?

I’m an ease-into-the-day kind of gal, so mornings are my favorite time to sit with my laptop and write. But if necessary, I can continue through the day, especially if the story is being particularly stubborn.

What particular challenges do you face as a writer?

It would be easier to list challenges I don’t face. But learning new technologies is a real challenge for me, as is learning all about marketing. I’m considering dipping my toes into the indie field with my newly started series, and the learning curve there appears as steep as the Matterhorn.

How are you working to resolve them?

Read, read, and read some more. And, because I’m female, I ask for help! Seriously, there is a LOT of information online, and I keep working at it a little at a time.

What advice would you give to an older person who dreams of becoming a writer?

Write! Take courses as you can—there’s an abundance of online writing aids and information. Join a local writers’ group if you can, and be sure to join an online group that offers critique groups. That has improved my writing and understanding of the craft in a unique way. Do not assume that your age disqualifies you. You bring your life experience to your work, and that’s priceless. Go for it!

If want to learn more about Kathleen Friesen’s books or purchase them, you can find them below:

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Kim Louise Clarke, Author headdshot

Kim Louise Clarke

Kim Louise Clarke, Welcome! Tell us when did you decide to become a writer?

About five years ago, after reading two mystery novels, and finding these well-known authors to be disappointing, I flippantly thought: “Even I could write better than that.” I began to write my own and realized how difficult it was. I never did finish it. But I realized that I liked to write. This began my journey into the writing world.

What is your favourite genre to write?

Eventually, I came to enjoy writing creative non-fiction short stories.

How do you connect with God best?

I like to connect with God in the morning, in a quiet place with a cup of coffee, reading my Bible and in prayer. Wherever I am in my Bible reading schedule, the chapters of Scripture I read that morning, I believe God can speak to me to my particular circumstances. Some days I’ll journal from that time with God, but not always.

How long have you known the Lord and what brought you to a relationship with Him?

I’ve known the Lord for almost thirty-seven years. My Mom wanted my sisters and me to attend a Christian seminar when I was in my early 20’s. After the seminar, I began to attend church and it was then I understood that I needed a relationship with Christ.

Are you a member of any writing groups?

I’m a member of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship and enjoy the spring and fall conferences. I’m also a member of Calgary Crime Writers and although not as involved as I used to be, I still attend a few events during the year. In both groups, I have met wonderful friends and have great resources to access.

What do you consider the best piece of advice you can give to novice authors?

Note the things that strike you as interesting throughout a day, even the smallest thing. They strike you for a reason and from those, ideas can emerge that may work well in your stories. Also to read Scriptures slowly so that you notice new things. Basically, take time in life to slow down, quiet yourself so that treasure isn’t bypassed.

[Tweet “Take time in life to slow down, quiet yourself so that treasure isn’t bypassed.”]

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I like to travel and since my husband and I have recently retired, we are looking into doing more. I like to connect with my daughter, son and stepsons and grandchildren. Walking/hiking, reading, photography, and quilting are some other interests.

What does your office look like?

In one word my office can be described as ‘full’. An ‘organized full’ is made up of my desk, two full book cases, file cabinets and sewing machine. A ‘chaotic full’ is when my office also holds boxes to recycle, bags of clothes packed and ready for charity, or stuff tossed in to make the house tidier before company arrives.

If want to learn more about Kim Louise Clarke’s book or purchase it, you can find it below:

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Christine Lindsay Author Headshot

Christine Lindsay

Christine Lindsay, welcome! Tell us, what made you decide to become a writer?

Ever since I could hold a pencil I’ve wanted to be a writer, but not until my heart was broken did I have anything to write about. Good writing—even if it’s comic—needs the depths of despair as well as the heights of joy.

Back in 1979 I relinquished my baby girl to adoption because I was unmarried and wanted my child to have a mom and a dad. Twenty years later when my birth-daughter and I were reunited I began to relive the original loss of her as my child. My husband found me crying one day and went out, returning a while later with a brand new pen and journal and said, “Here honey, write it.”

My true-life account about adoption and reunion wasn’t picked up by any publishing houses. But a few years later I felt the Lord urge me to put the emotional and spiritual healing I had received into Christian fiction to encourage others. That was the start of my writing career. However, 16 years later, after the publication of 6 multi-award-winning novels comes the release of my true life story. Finding Sarah—Finding Me: A Birth Mother’s Story releasing August 15, 2016.

[Tweet “Good writing—even if it’s comic—needs the depths of despair as well as the heights of joy”]

Where does the inspiration for your books come from?

Like most people, my own lineage fascinates me. For Sofi’s Bridge (May 2016), the inspiration for the riveters of bridges in 1913 came from the fact that my paternal great-grandfather and his son Richard (my grandfather) were both riveters on the building of the Titanic. In fact, the Titanic was my grandfather’s very first ship as he began his apprenticeship at 14. However, as a family we accept no responsibility for the sinking of that infamous vessel.

Another family tidbit on my mother’s side is that of my great-great grandfather who died of cholera when he was serving in the British Army in Colonial India, and his wife’s return trip to Ireland where she gave birth to their son on the Island of St. Helena where Napoleon was originally buried. That inspired my multi-award-winning trilogy: Shadowed in Silk, Captured by Moonlight, and Veiled at Midnight.

And continuing my bragging, another great uncle served as an officer in the British Cavalry at the time of Lord Louis Mountbatten (Queen Elizabeth’s cousin and the last Viceroy to British India). We’ve got family photos of my uncle being inspected by King George VI and later again by the Queen Mother. That fluffs up our feathers of family pride, I can tell you, and inspired more of that trilogy set in British Colonial India and my trip there in 2010.

Dipping into my family’s archives has kept the fires of my imagination stoked for years, but I also enjoy the ordinary folks in my lineage, like my great-aunt Maggie and her delightful Irish farm, set on rolling green hills and dotted with sheep and lambs. Ireland really is a magical place. I’ve stood on majestic cliff tops in gales overlooking the North Sea. I’ve walked around medieval walled cities like Londonderry, had tea in thatched cottages, and breathed in a peat fire burning in an Irish fireplace, all so evocative in my contemporary romance Londonderry Dreaming, and the books that I’m currently writing.

This ancestral history combined with the fact that I live just across the border from Washington State’s gorgeous Cascade Mountains, the Lord has provided settings galore for my fictional novels.

Why do you write the genre you do?

I love history, but I also love a contemporary story braided with the past. The past affects our future. More importantly to me, is setting. Books are all about conveying an emotional experience, and escaping for a few hours or days to a different place or era, somewhere exotic, beautiful and exciting, can give my readers that extraordinary experience I want to give them. Because I was born in Great Britain I am more familiar with British history. Keep in mind that Colonial India to the British people is as exciting as the Wild West is to Americans. Talk about romantic swashbuckling cavalry heroes, beautiful Indian women in saris, or British/American woman in flower-laden tropical gardens or vast ochre colored deserts, with danger lurking at every side, and toe-curling romance !!!!

How does your faith and spirituality work in your writing?

If it weren’t for my faith and spiritual life I simply would not be writing. I love books, but it is my prayer that by entertaining readers I can give them an emotional experience that will encourage them and strengthen their faith.

My books, while they may have a great deal of historical detail and romance, they all have strong spiritual takeaways.

For example:

Shadowed in Silk: God sees and hears you in your emotional pain. You are not invisible to Him.
Captured by Moonlight: Dying to your own agenda to be obedient to God’s agenda, and being blessed by His choices for you.
Veiled at Midnight: Teaches that nothing can separate us from the Love of God, absolutely nothing, not even our own sin.
Londonderry Dreaming: Encourages us to speak the truth in love.
Sofi’s Bridge (May 2016): Is about not trying to save our loved ones, but leaving them to Christ.
⦁ Finding Sarah—Finding Me: A Birthmother’s Story (August 2016)—is my personal story about finding my own face in the face of Christ while I was searching for my birth daughter.

What do you promise your readers?

As my readers turn the pages I want to fill their mind with fear sliding down their spine like ice, suspense keeping them on a razer edge, toe curling romance, inspiration that gently whispers and doesn’t preach. I want my readers to cry and to laugh, and maybe even learn something fascinating from history.
And I always promise my readers a happy ending, because I believe in the ultimate happy ending people can have by surrendering to Christ.

[Tweet ” I believe in the ultimate happy ending people can have by surrendering to Christ”]

What stories are on the horizon for you to write?

Currently I’m starting a brand new series set in Ireland (where I was born) and in parts of the US. I want to write what I call braided stories, one point of view from current day, and another from that of the hero or heroine’s ancestral past. I am weaving those stories together to create novels with an old family mystery to be solved, romance present day and from the past, and how God oversees us from His timeless perspective. In other words, how the past affects the future.

How can readers help you spread the word about your books?

Write a short paragraph review on Amazon about why you liked the book. Amazon reviews are so important to writers. Your review doesn’t have to be professional, and the shorter the better actually. Just a paragraph about why you liked the book, what kind of reader you would recommend it to. That sort of thing, and of course 4 and 5 star ratings. I for one would be eternally grateful.

Where can readers contact you for your upcoming releases?

Subscribe to my quarterly newsletter. Each quarter I send out a newsletter with draws for giveaways of books, etc, and also the news of upcoming releases and speaking engagements.

I also do a fair number of book giveaways on my weekly self-titled (.org) blog where I feature guest authors.

Contact me; I love to hear back from readers.

If want to learn more about Christine Lindsay’s books or purchase them, you can find them below:

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Kimberley Payne Author Headshot

Kimberley Payne

Kimberley Payne, Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m an author who is reinventing herself as an authorpreneur. I’m venturing into sharing my books in other formats such as podcasts (Health Matters – Healthy Body, Healthy Spirit), webinars (How to Stop Stress Eating/The Call to Care for our Bodies/Getting Started with Strength Training), and teleseminars. I have many interests including walking/hiking, biking, and photography.

What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block?

A prayer walk. Getting out into the great outdoors, moving my body, and getting my blood flowing while talking with God is the best way for me. God never disappoints to clear any blocks I’m experiencing.

Have you always wanted to write a book?

I’ve kept my goal-planning records from many years ago and one of my “bucket list” goals was to write a children’s book. I’m excited to report that I’ve surpassed that goal with three children’s activity books pubished in the last few years: Trees of the Book-Learning from God’s Creation, Adam’s Animals – Fun Facts about God’s Creation, and Super Simple Animal Crafts.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Never, never, never give up. Some days, weeks, and even years can be discouraging but if you keep moving forward one step at a time, you will reach your goal.

[Tweet “Keep moving forward one step at a time, you will reach your goal. – @FitForFaith”]

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever had a great writing idea?

I actually get a lot of devotional thoughts when I’m snowmobiling with my husband. Last year, I collected a number of these articles together into a short devotional called Think Snow.

What epitaph would you like on your tombstone?

“Well done good and faithful servant.”

What is your mission in life? How did you arrive at your current mission?

I believe that prayer & Bible study are to the spirit what exercise and healthy eating are to the body, and I want to share this with women. My story is included in the Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider – A Personal Makeover: Inside and Out.

Your signature book is Fit for Faith. What is involved in the 7-week program?

The Fit for Faith program starts with developing an action plan that includes exploring benefits and success strategies of exercising, feeding, and stretching the body and the spirit. Then, the reader moves into implementing the plan through a daily program of prayer, Bible study and tracking of healthy habits. Each week is capped with a review that is a natural lead into the next week.

What are the benefits of the program?

It’s like having your own personal trainer, without the cost. There is a ton of useful information that helps the reader wade through the myths and misconceptions that are out there.
It’s an awareness program. The reader is accountable to record their activities, and this helps to recognize where their strengths are and what areas they need to improve. It’s a lifestyle change. Over the 7 weeks, the reader will gain habits that last a lifetime.

I’ve designed three online courses to help women change their daily habits to feel better about themselves physically and spiritually.
Fit for Prayer: exercise strategies to get in shape and prayer strategies to connect deeper.
Food for Thought: expert advice on healthy eating and simple strategies to study the Bible.
Flex your Spirit: stretching techniques toescape stress and journal writing to achieve a sense of health.

If want to learn more about Kimberley Payne’s books or purchase them, you can find them below:

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Janis Cox Author Headshot

Janis Cox

Janis Cox, Tell us a little bit about your church background. How did you come to faith in Jesus?

Raised in a denominational church I was baptized as a baby and as a child attended Sunday School, and belonged to youth church groups. However while in university I stopped attending services. My husband and I were married in a church and returned to attendance when our son was born. For the next few years I faithfully joined groups, helped with Sunday school and even did the treasurer’s job for a couple of years. But through all this something was missing. There was no passion; no understanding of Jesus. I just did everything out of habit.

Around 1999 God led me to a different church where I came to know Christ and gave my life to him in 2001. My quest to find Jesus led me to read many Christian books and join in Bible studies. God fueled my love for reading and opened a brand new life for me.

When did your interest in writing start? Can you look back and see God working through and with you in your desire to write. If so, explain your thoughts.

As a student I always did well in writing essays. I took a BA in English in university and actually enjoyed writing reports on what I studied.

I am a former public school teacher. I have written reports, report cards, planned workshops and created poems for bedtimes stories. But I had never written in a journal. Starting a journal was the best writing exercise I could have done. From 2001 until the present I write almost every day. During the first 2 years of being a new Christian I wrote 150 poems to help me interact with God, ask questions and find answers from His Word.

How and when do you spend time with God? Do you have a favourite devotional? What version of Bible do you use the most?

I spend the first hour or two in the morning with God – in prayer and in study. I have read through Oswald Chambers at least 3 times. Now I am studying Charles Spurgeon and A.W. Tozer. I use the NIV text as I find that the easiest to understand. However, I use Biblegateway to find other translations. I very much like The Message.

What is your favourite scripture or scriptures and why? What is your thinking about memorizing Scripture? Do you have any tips for our readers on ways to memorize that work the best for you?

My two favourite scriptures are: Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Since I had such a fear when I met Jesus this is the scripture He gave to me. It is the first scripture I memorized. Now instead of fear I have peace. Thank you Jesus.

[Tweet “Now instead of fear I have peace. Thank you Jesus – @AuthorJanisCox”]

John 1:1-2

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

I struggled at the beginning of my faith walk to understand the Bible. Now that I know His Word better I know Who Jesus is and I can see God’s plan. While I read the Bible I become better connected to Jesus.

Memorizing scripture makes it come alive to me. I love recalling a verse when I need to encourage someone. I love to paint what I see in verses. I write out the scriptures on cards and when I dry my hair I review the verses.

As a writer, time is important; quiet is important. How do you find that quiet time to reflect and write?

Thankfully I am retired now. I have such a passion and respect for moms who faithfully find time to read His Word. When I visit my grandkids I don’t seem to have the same discipline that I do when at my own home. At home I arise early – usually between 5-6am. That gives me 2 hours to pray and study before my husband awakes.

What new project/s are you working on? Why do they seem important to you?

I am working on many projects. That’s one problem with a mind that likes to go in different directions. This year I joined Hope Stream Radio and I prepare and tape a weekly podcast. I blog 2 or 3 times a week on Growing Through God’s Word. I’m beginning my publishing venture for my second children’s book called The Kingdom of Thrim. This year God led me to use my creative abilities to not only paint in books but paint in my Bible. I run a Facebook Group called Word of God Speak Community Facebook Group where we study and attempt to memorize a scripture a week through art. In addition I am working on adult colouring books with a Bible study and journaling. In the works, too, is a second in the Tadeo Turtle series.

These activities are very important to me because I believe all Christians should be reading their Bibles regularly. In the colouring books I help the reader to study a passage and reflect on it through writing and praying. I believe if we study His Word we will hear His Voice. My children’s books are made for children to Grow with God too.

Are you compelled to write or do you need to find inspiration? How do you deal with interruptions?

I am compelled to write after reading the Bible or a devotional. That’s how I am inspired. I see the picture in my mind before it becomes words on the page. I’m interested in so many things that I do become scattered in knowing how to focus on one thing at a time. So interruptions can really pull me off course. I am best left alone to write, no music, no phone, no Internet.

Do you have hobbies, or sports that you are interested in? What is it about these activities that you like? Looking at your personality are these activities ones that God has brought to you?

I have trouble sitting still unless I am writing. For that reason I love to tap dance and also attend community dances with my hubby. I also love to walk and we do at least 2 walks a day with our little Maltipoo dog, Snowball. I love art. My favourite media is watercolour although I have started to work with watercolour pencil crayons lately. And I can say “yes” God brought these activities to me because I didn’t do them seriously before I gave my life to Christ.

What is one important lesson that Jesus is teaching or has taught you that has changed your worldview, your outlook, and/or your relationships?

Jesus has taught me to control my anger. I have found a peace that I did not have before. I needed to be in control – of my life and everyone else’s. I felt compelled to fix, help and control everyone around me. If that didn’t happen, I became angry. Fear of everything ruled my life until I learned I had nothing to fear. Love casts out all fear. And I found the love of Christ. This new peace changed my relationship with my husband. Instead of trying to change him, I changed myself.

What is one deep desire that you would like God to fulfill for you? What Scripture could you find that could help you accomplish that goal?

I would like other Christians to join me to make reading the Bible a first priority. I would like to spread this as far as I can. God wants us to know Him. And to me that means we have to read, study and pray for revelation. I can see revival if we would turn to Him by reading and studying and obeying His Word.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:115).

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

Prayer:

Lord my heart is towards You. I desire for You to be first and foremost in my days. I want to ask You for everything. I want to rely on You for everything. But I also want to work hard to spread Your Word to others so they can know the peace and love that only You can bring into their lives. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

[Tweet “Lord my heart is towards You. I desire for You to be first and foremost in my days.”]

If want to learn more about Janis Cox’s books or purchase them, you can find them below:

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Anna Sklar Author Headshot

Anna Sklar

So Anna Sklar, when did you first notice you had a passion for writing?

I have been writing ever since I can remember – in childhood it began with silly poems and funny short stories. Over the years the writing has grown to include articles, newsletters, books, and presentations.

How did you choose the topic for your first book?

My first book was a long labour of love. Discovering Hope looks at a decade of healing after the stillbirth of our middle son, Caleb. I felt I needed to get that first book written before I could clear my heart enough to move on to other topics.

What is the next writing project for you?

I have many ideas in all sorts of stages of completion. It is hard to focus on which one to finish up next. I believe this year will see me publishing small books that focus on family devotionals I’ve written for the Lent and Advent seasons. The Lent devotional, The Jesus Tree, takes families through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The Advent devotional,The Jesse Tree, takes families through the lineage of Jesus starting with Creation and Adam and Eve.

Where does your best inspiration for writing come from?

I have always felt called to share my own moments of life, faith, marriage, and motherhood. In being transparent, the hope is to relate to my audience and encourage them on their own journeys.

[Tweet “The hope is to relate to my audience and encourage them on their own journeys. – @anna_sklar”]

What are some of your hobbies?

Reading, weaving, playing piano, walking and hiking, bicycling, watching my sons play all kinds of sports, camping, and cooking and baking.

Do you have a favourite scripture verse or passage?

Matthew 6:33 is my life verse – But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

What would you say are your top 3 favourite books to read, and why?

I don’t have any particular favourites – there are too many books to list that I’ve gleaned wisdom and encouragement from. And I love to read quite a wide variety of topics – I usually have 2 or 3 books on the go at once!

If want to learn more about Anna Sklar’s books or purchase them, you can find them below:

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Janet Sketchley Author Headshot

Janet Sketchley

Janet Sketchley, Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m thankful to have been raised in a Christian home, and that God gave me a believing heart at a young age. It doesn’t mean I haven’t struggled, but Jesus has kept me out of a heap of trouble that I’d otherwise have created.

The tenacity of God is one of my themes in writing, because it’s something I’ve experienced in my own life. I’m married to my high school sweetheart, and we live in Atlantic Canada. When I’m not writing, I can often be found reading, with a cup of tea close at hand. Worship music is an important part of my life.

How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?

As a child I pretended to be a writer (complete with “author” badge), and I started a truly horrible imitation of Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion. Then I got interested in romances, and made some equally bad attempts at those. I guess whatever genre I was reading at the time influenced me. It was science fiction by the time I hit creative writing assignments in school, and then life got too busy and I stopped.

Years later, God led me back into writing with personal experience stories. The fiction started again when an idea took root in my mind that I didn’t want to daydream. I thought writing would get it out of my head, but instead it became my first published novel, many revisions and many more years later. What’s kept me writing? When I quit, I feel miserable. When I write fiction, I feel alive.

What do you write?

I’m the author of the Redemption’s Edge Christian suspense series, with another series in the works. Non-fiction-wise, I share weekly devotionals on my blog, as well as book reviews and other posts.

What special something do you try to bring to your work?

Whether I try or not, I write about God’s tenacity—how He never gives up on us. And I write to encourage our own tenacity, in not giving up on Him, on others or on ourselves. Naturally, this looks very different in a novel, where there’s no room for overt “preaching,” than it does in a devotional post.

How would you define a successful writer?

There are different aspects to that, including, one would hope, some level of earning more than one spends. No matter how many people read our work, or what our bank accounts look like, I think what marks genuine success is this: are we true to our calling as Christians and as individuals? Are we speaking with integrity and love, from the heart, with thoughts informed by our faith, with a desire to serve other people rather than to push anything on them? Whether we’re writing news articles, technical pieces, poetry, fiction, songs, notes to shut-ins… the list is endless. Are we using the gifts God has given us in the way He’s leading? In the end, will we hear His “Well done”?

[Tweet “In the end, will we hear His “Well done”? – @JanetSketchley”]

What would you say to an aspiring writer?

The only way to know you won’t succeed is to quit, so persevere. Connect with other writers, attend conferences if you can. Be teachable, and don’t turn getting published into an idol.

[Tweet “The only way to know you won’t succeed is to quit, so persevere. – @JanetSketchley”]

Make this one more facet of your life with Christ. Write prayerfully, and cultivate an enjoyment of the process. Don’t be in a hurry to “arrive,” whatever that means for you at this moment. You have talent and interest, but we all need to learn the craft as well. Be diligent, and grow toward excellence because what you’re writing is for the Lord. Give Him your best.

If want to learn more about Janet Sketchley’s books or purchase them, you can find them below:

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Sally Meadows Author Headshot

Sally Meadows

Sally Meadows, Tell us about the season of life you are in.

After careers of scientific editor, children’s entertainer, teacher, science outreach educator, and technical editor, I left the corporate world three years ago to work full time on my writing and music ministry. I recently celebrated 20 years in music ministry. My husband and I have been empty nesters for about a year; we have two adult children, and a lovely daughter-in-law who is a singer too.

In what genre(s) do you write?

Although I believe there is great wisdom in finding and focusing on your “niche”, I like the challenge and variety of writing in a few different genres. I write:
* mainstream and faith-based children’s picture books
* mainstream and faith-based non-fiction short stories for adults
* faith-based songs
* faith-based articles

[Tweet “I like the challenge and variety of writing in a few different genres. – @SallyMeadows”]

Tell us briefly about your most recent publications.

In 2015, I released two children’s picture books for ages 5 to 9. The first one, The Two Trees, was written to help raise awareness about the challenges—and foster acceptance—of families that include a child on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum. It is intended for a mainstream audience. The book is told from the perspective of the non-autistic sibling, giving a much-needed voice to those kids who need support too. I am proud to receive funding from the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild to travel all around my province doing interactive presentations for grades K-4 school children, as well as various autism events. Over 1000 children have heard me talk about the importance of being a good friend to those who are “different.” This book is available as a fundraiser for autism services and other interested organizations.

My second children’s book, Beneath That Star, was released in advance of the 2015 holiday season, but it has a faith-based message that resonates no matter what time of the year it is. It is dedicated to family members, especially the younger generation, who have not yet accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. This book is available as a fundraiser for churches, Christian schools, and other faith-based schools.

What do you believe is your strength as an author?

I believe my strength is my ability to write stories that are both simple and profound. My stories tend to be heart-tugging with a depth that might be missed on surface glance. While children’s and general audience stories may seem easy to write, my pieces have in fact been carefully thought out, and have undergone many, many edits (by me). I am pleased with my ability to write in different genres; diversification has really paid off for me!

What moves you?

Heartfelt stories. Thoughtful movies. Powerful songs. Watching dancing. The touch of the Holy Spirit. Children who are hurting.

What is your favourite Scripture?

Every year or so the Lord gives me a new Scripture. For 2016, my Scripture is Isaiah 61:1-3:

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.” (NIV)

The last sentence in this Scripture ties in very strongly with my “word of the year”—GLORY— and the theme of my blog, “Butterfly’d: Unfurling Glory In An (Extra)Ordinary Life.”

This Scripture was also on my heart for 2016, Philippians 4:8-9:

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (NIV)

What’s coming up for you in 2016?

In 2016 I plan to:

* continue to do school presentations to support my book The Two Trees (I have a number already booked)
* return to songwriting (I have a few songs I need to complete)
* finish up several children’s picture book manuscripts that are at various stages
* continue to write and submit short stories to publications
* continue to blog with the intention to publish a book, called Butterfly: Unfurling Glory In An (Extra)Ordinary Life
* develop and present one or more workshops
* Christmas concerts!
In addition, I plan to explore:
* writing articles for a mainstream market
* new income streams for my photography and paper crafts

What advice do you have for beginning authors?

Start small. Plan big. Pray continually. God will do immeasurably more than you could ever ask or imagine when you keep your eyes focussed on Jesus.

[Tweet “Start small. Plan big. Pray continually. – @SallyMeadows”]

If want to learn more about Sally Meadows’ books or purchase them, you can find them below:

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Lynne Collier Author Headshot

Lynne Collier

Lynne Collier, Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m a lay pastoral counselor and Kingdom Purpose coach. That is – I coach believers about their purpose for God. I live in the country with my husband, Stephen, and our cat, Smokey, surrounded by a forest with a river running through it. I was born in England and spent my first fourteen years there before coming to Canada. I love to take walks in the forest here and sit and watch the creatures scurrying and flitting by.

Have you always wanted to write?

Actually, my passion as a child was to draw more than write, but I always loved to read about fantasy places. My favourite books as a child were The Secret Garden and The Magic Faraway Tree. In school I enjoyed writing poetry most and got into trouble when I wrote a poem from the point of view of someone who had taken mind-altering drugs. I was fourteen at the time, living in a small town, and writing purely from my imagination. I didn’t know anyone who’d taken a drug, but I’d seen the portrayal on TV and drew on that. I caused quite a stir!

So, what made you decide to sit down and write a book?

I wrote my first book on the encouragement of friends who saw I had a story to tell about raising my autistic son. When a friend who’s a clinical psychologist told me the same thing I agreed to give it a shot. So that was my first book.

What have you written so far?

My first published book in 2013 was called Raising Benjamin Frog – A Mother’s Journey with her Autistic Son. My next published book was in 2014 and called Hosting a Shire Party and included ideas for food, games and costumes. It’s something we do annually at our home, being huge fans of Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit. Our home made for a great backdrop for the pictures. Last year I wrote an online course for novice writers, Your Write Voice for His Kingdom, to help new writers discover if and how God has called them to write, which incorporates coaching and beginners’ writing in one easy course.

What was or continues to be your biggest obstacle in writing?

Definitely trying to multi-task! I find it difficult to focus. I need to unplug, switch off and otherwise disappear into my own world while I write. Then, of course, I find it difficult to break away and I lose track of time and forget to eat and do housework. I recently bought a huge wall-mounted day planner for my office to keep me organized.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

WRITE! Just get those thoughts on paper, get them on the keyboard, dictate, do whatever you need to do, but get those amazing thoughts out of your head and start to share them. Especially if you’re a believer in Christ. He didn’t put those spectacular words on your heart to keep them hidden. Share them with the world!

[Tweet “WRITE! Get those amazing thoughts out of your head and start to share them. – @LynneCollierAu1”]

What is your mission in life?

My mission has changed over the years – yes, I’ve had a few – but a constant has always been, no matter what stage of life I was at or the circumstances I was in, I always and continue to be driven by the needs of others who don’t have what I am blessed to have. My heart breaks for the starving and homeless, the abused and neglected. I have been richly blessed and search for ways to make a difference where I live and where I can. Through my work right now I have to say my mission statement would be ‘To help the hopeless find hope in Christ, and the believer find their purpose for His Kingdom’.

How did you arrive at your current mission?

As a child I wanted to make people feel happy, as a teen I felt compelled to study as a psychiatric nurse (but we emigrated, so I had to leave the program), as a young adult I volunteered at my children’s school and taught Sunday School, then trained as a Lay Pastoral Counselor with a view to opening my own business. As I realized my son needed more care, I home schooled him through the early grades and set aside my other goals. Now he’s an independent and successful adult, so I’ve returned to where I left off. I added coaching to my career path and had two offices until recently. Now I’m excited to write about what God has put on my heart to share, and to be part of the writing community. I can reach more people with a single book than I could ever help one-on-one in an office. Plus, that imagination that got me into trouble as a fourteen-year-old is quite acceptable now at this stage of life for writing fantasy – which is a lovely segue into the next question…

What are you working on now?

I’m excited to be collaborating with my son, Benjamin, to write my first fantasy book! I’m also in the final stage of my first draft of a book about realizing God’s place for us in His Kingdom on Earth. Both books should be in print by the end of this year.

If want to learn more about Lynne Collier’s books or purchase them, you can find them below:

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Benjamin T. Collier Author Headshot

Benjamin T. Collier

Thank you for joining us Benjamin T. Collier, What inspired you to become a writer?

I suppose the catalyst for that was the Lord of the Rings films. Up until that point my interests were in the development of movies and video games. But when I saw the first LOTR film and remembered that it was based on a book, I read through the trilogy and realized that the kind of stories I wanted to tell could work in a book format.

You’ve written an auto-biography as well as a number of novels. Which do you find easier; fiction or non-fiction?

Fiction is easier to organize. I know that within a plot certain events need to happen before others. Non-fiction (what I’ve written so far) is a bit trickier when it comes to deciding what information needs to go where. When editing my bio, a number of sections got moved around because my editor and I realized some things fit better in different places, but when I was actually writing it I was just jotting down information as it came to mind over a span of a few years.

Although I find non-fiction easier when it comes to knowing what to say. Because I know the reader knows that it’s coming from me as my own thoughts, so I just need to be honest about my experiences. In fiction, a character’s words may be something I agree with or something I don’t, and the reader doesn’t always know which is which, so I have to be more careful with how it comes across.

What lead you to write about your experiences with Autism?

I suppose it was time. I had been secretive about my condition during my teen years and early twenties, because I functioned more or less like the average person but with a few odd quirks. I needed to know that I could make friends and have people accept me as I was without needing to explain myself. Once that was fulfilled, I started sensing a tug from God that this was something He wanted me to be more public about. I realized that I actually had a story that would be an encouragement to a lot of people, and I needed to share that testimony.

Has it had any effect on the way that you write?

Not that I’m specifically aware of, but it’s possible. There are traits associated with autism that can come in handy for this kind of work. I know many individuals on the autism spectrum have vibrant imaginations, an ability to focus on things they’re passionate about, and great attention to detail. I like to think I’ve got those traits.

What encouragement would you offer anyone also looking to write about their own personal challenges?

Be honest. Anyone who picks up a book about another person’s struggles is looking for a glimpse into someone else’s dark times as well as their triumphs. They will lose interest if the author only talks about the good times or paints everything rosy.

I think this is a particular temptation for Christian authors because we worry more, not just about how we make our faith look but we worry about making God look bad if some aspect of our life is unresolved. But based on books I’ve read, and feedback from people who have read my own story, people are actually encouraged by us speaking honestly about the struggles and the dark times. It lets them know that they can go through struggles too, without knowing the answers, and still come out alright on the other end.

[Tweet “People are encouraged by us speaking honestly about the struggles. – @benjaminfrog”]

What would you say is the most challenging part of writing?

The editing. Lol.

Not editing my own work, but going over another person’s edits of my work. It may be linked to an insecurity thing, or fear of exposure and judgement. Even if they love my work, the process of dealing honestly with what needs fixing and how to resolve it is especially strenuous for me. I’ve actually had to allow myself more time than the average author when going over an editor’s work. Not sure if it’s a common autistic scenario or if I’m the only one with that difficulty. I haven’t heard of many other autistic authors yet.

Have you found it easier to work through this challenge the more books you get edited?

It doesn’t seem to have gotten easier yet. It’s probably a tough-skin thing that most authors (and other artists) are supposed to acquire but that hasn’t happened to me yet. I’ve gotten better at managing it though. I’ve learned to better pace myself and tackle things a little bit at a time. It makes for a slow, steady progress, but it’s better than being repeatedly daunted by a ton of work and then procrastinating. I find, in the end, I get projects done quicker that way. I’ve been blessed so far to work with editors who don’t mind my unusual schedule.

How does your faith feed into your writing?

It changes depending on the project, and how direct I want to be about it. A lot of my work is allegorical, meaning it won’t use specific Christian terms but have fictional scenarios that parallel real world Christian struggles. Other novels, like Singularity, don’t really deal with faith issues, either directly or allegorically, but my personal beliefs will inform how I think the characters should interact with each other without being jerks.

In either case, I’m not keen on shoving my faith down people’s throats. I know how I feel as an audience member when someone does that to me. When writing anything about my personal life, I am of course very open about my faith there, as it is such a big part of me. But I am open about my struggles as well as my joys, and I think that’s why my readers don’t feel like I’m being preachy (even when I’m basically preaching).

Where do you go for inspiration?

That also changes depending on what I’m working on at the time. For fantasy, unfortunately, the inspirational material is fairly shortlisted apart from Middle Earth. But as a gamer as well, I’ve spent a lot of time in Skyrim taking in the people and environments of that world. A number of games will also let you play through the world as a character of your own design, which allows me to throw these characters into different situations and see how they handle it.
Singularity involved watching a lot of Star Trek. I had to learn common terminologies for different futuristic tech. but it also helped to get a feel for the environment I wanted to create.

What are you working on now?

I have a fantasy book scheduled for release in May, set in the same world as my first published novel The Kingdom. The writing and editing is already completed; it is just formatting work to be done now.

I have a number of other works-in-progress, but what I’m currently working on is another fantasy story set in a more classical fantasy world involving elves and wizards and dragons. Quite a lot of time was spent just putting together the history of that world, before I decided on an actual story to use it for. My current plan is to use it as a template for future works and possibly springboard other stories off of it.

That’s my current plan. Not sure if God has something else in mind. But as any project nears completion I will keep everyone informed. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2016 will hold.

If want to learn more about Benjamin T. Collier’s books or purchase them, you can find them below:

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DISCLOSURE: SOME OF THE LINKS IN THE PAGE ABOVE MAY BE “AFFILIATE LINKS.” THIS MEANS IF YOU CLICK ON THE LINK AND PURCHASE THE ITEM, WE WILL RECEIVE AN AFFILIATE COMMISSION. WE ARE DISCLOSING THIS IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION’S 16 CFR, PART 255: “GUIDES CONCERNING THE USE OF ENDORSEMENTS AND TESTIMONIALS IN ADVERTISING.”

Steph Beth Nickel Author Headshot

Steph Beth Nickel

Steph Beth Nickel, Have you always enjoyed writing?

I remember how thrilled I was when a flipbook I’d created was displayed in the library of my elementary school. I also remember writing poetry by candlelight as a teen. And like so many others, I’ve poured out my heart in journals for my eyes only. I think writing has always been part of who I am.

[Tweet “I think writing has always been part of who I am. – @StephBethNickel”]

What did you enjoy about coauthoring Paralympian Deb Willows’ memoir, Living Beyond My Circumstances?

It was incredible getting to know this amazing woman and her family. I deeply cherish the friendship that developed between us. Plus it blows me away when Deb says, “Sometimes I forget you weren’t there with me.” All glory to God that I was able to help her express her memories in such a way that it was as if she was reliving them. And when I hear that someone has been blessed by the book, I am humbled and honoured to have been part of this project.

Were there any challenges?

I was working as a personal trainer when Deb and I began on her book. It took quite a while to get into the rhythm of things, but Deb was incredibly patient and amazing to work with.

At first it was odd writing in first person, relaying events I hadn’t experienced. But when Deb read a scene and got teary because it “took her back,” I knew we’d gotten into the groove.

Is this the kind of book you thought you would write?

It really isn’t. I’d never imagined myself helping someone else tell their story. A mutual friend and fellow author, Ruth Waring, introduced us. Deb and I proceeded with the project step by step and I am so very glad the Lord allowed me this privilege.

What are your writing plans for the future?

This year Deb and I hope to make significant headway on Still Living Beyond My Circumstances, a follow-up to her first book. We are in the process of working on the proposal.

Beyond that, these are my long-term writing goals:

Devotionals and book reviews for the podcast HopeStreamRadio. Posts for my blog and website. Guest posts for others. Quarterly newsletters and bonus materials for those who sign up. eBooks. A novel (or a series of novels). Dozens of picture books.

What is the ultimate purpose of your writing?

This year the Lord has challenged me to make it the Year of Outward Focus. I want to listen more than I speak—which will be a sure evidence that God is at work in me. I want to be more aware of my readers and listeners, consciously thinking about them as I write and speak.

In the ESV, Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” I want to keep this verse in the forefront this year—and beyond.

And at the end of the day, everything a Christian does is to be done for God’s glory as it says in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (ESV).

What advice would you give to a novice writer who’s just starting to write their first novel?

Read novels. Make note of what you love—and what you don’t. Learn from published authors, but always remember you have your own unique voice and that’s a very good thing.

[Tweet “Always remember you have your own unique voice and that’s a very good thing. – @StephBethNickel”]

Read skills development books and blogs. As soon as possible, apply what you’re learning to your own work.

But—and this is crucial—don’t wait until you feel ready to get down to the business of writing. There is always more to learn, and if we wait until we think we’ve got a handle on things, we’ll never write. Set aside time for research, sure, but also set aside time to write—ideally, every day.

If you can, attend one-day writing workshops and writers’ conferences. There’s nothing like being surrounded by writerly folk to inspire your creativity.

I am a member of COMPEL Training, a branch of Proverbs 31 Ministries. I absolutely love it. It is worth far more than the monthly fee. It is primarily for those writing nonfiction, but there is lots of wonderful information for Christian writers and speakers no matter what they’re writing.

Join FB groups for writers. Follow your favourite authors on Twitter. Check out writing-related topics on Instagram or Pinterest. Etc. Etc. Etc. This can inspire your own writing—or it can distract you. It’s important to know yourself well and limit your time on the Internet, especially on social media.

What has inspired your writing the most?

What a great question!

I’d have to say my writing is the result of my self-named condition, the Butterfly Syndrome. I flit from one thing to the next to the next. Because I am an extrovert (on steroids—no, not really), I love to hang out with people, other writers in particular. I do so in person and online. Being around other writers inspires me to write for sure.

Plus, I’m eclectically interested and eclectically involved. So that gives me lots of fodder for my writing.

I know conventional wisdom says to focus on one or two forms of writing, but I can’t see that happening. The title of Barbara Sher’s book Refuse to Choose sums up my writing endeavours.

While I allow the inspiration to come at me from all sides, it’s important that I don’t have too many partially completed projects on the go at once.

If want to know more about Steph Beth Nickel’s books or purchase them, you can find them below:

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Photo Credit: Stephen G. Woo

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