Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What's God's Will for My Life??

"And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect."
Romans 12:2

"How can I know God's will for my life?"  Theologian, Dr. R.C. Sproul says this is the number one question he is asked by his students. It is probably the one question most Christians have asked their pastors, friends, mentors, and parents once in their life in Christ.

So, what's the answer?

Well, Dr. Sproul often leads his students to this verse in 1 Thessolonians 4:

 "For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality..." (verse 3)


Isn't this verse about abstaining from sexual immorality? What if I want to know where to work or what to study in college? How does this verse help me out?

Easy...what Dr. Sproul tells his students is that no matter what decision they make in life, they must always remember that God's will for their life is their sanctification: That they be set apart from the world. 

In other words...will the career you choose make it hard for you to abstain sexual immorality? Will you be working with non-believers? Will you have to compromise your faith? Will you be able to be open about your faith in Christ? What about the college you want to attend? Will co-ed dorm rooms, parties everywhere on campus, heavy drinking, and drug use make it hard for you to abstain from sexual immorality? What about the friends you hang around with? What about the apartment building you live in? Will you be able to abstain from sexual immorality while living there?

These are all very important questions to ask yourself before you make a commitment. And this is Dr. Sproul's point. 

God's will for your life is your sanctification. No matter what decision you make in life, you are to be set apart from the world. 

I once spoke to a Christian young man who wanted to be a tattoo artist. When I asked him if he felt that that career was the will of God, he explained that he would tell his customers about Christ while tattooing them. 

Really? Is that sanctification? Is that a young man wanting to be transformed or conformed to this world?

This is what Paul was telling the Romans when he exhorted them to transformed (changed from...) and not conformed (formed with...) the world. 

So, God's will for your life is very like Christ who always did the Father's will. Pray hard and ask the Lord to reveal where He wants you to live, study, work, who He wants you to marry, etc. Be in God's word daily. 

He will speak to you through others around you and through His word.

 Just be prepared to obey His will no matter what the answer is!


Thursday, February 23, 2012


"For a few days, I set aside my comfortable life-my business concerns, my life in Rye, New York-and made a pilgrimage to the other side of the world, to a primitive flyspeck island in the Pacific. There, waiting for me, was the mountain the boys had climbed in the midst of a terrible battle half a century earlier. One of them was my father. The mountain was called Suribachi, the island, Iwo Jima."

-Opening from "Flags of Our Fathers"


On February 23, 1945, six young men raised the flag of the United States of America on top of Mt. Suribachi  once for symbolism of victory, then a second time for photographer, Joe Rosenthal. 

What makes a person a hero?

If you ever learn anything about me, you will learn that my favorite era in history is WWII. I have ready many books about the battles in the Pacific, but none moved me like "Flags of Our Fathers".

For me, what sets this book a part from others is that it's about the Marines who fought on Iwo Jima. My husband was a Marine and so was my dad, so the USMC has a special place in my heart. But the reason the battle of Iwo Jima sets this book a part from so many others is all the historical background the author, James Bradley, provides the reader.

I had never known much about Japanese history prior to WWII before. I don't know why my history teachers never delve into that part of history before when teaching about WWII, but Bradley not only informs the reader, he paints quite the graphic portrait of just who our enemy was at the time.

Ordinary Men

The most moving part of this book is how the author introduces you to the flagraisers on Mt. Suribachi, including his father. 

He does this with care and dignity making sure you never forget that these were ordinary boys thrust into extraordinary circumstances that forced them to come to terms with the cost of war at its ugliest. 

February 23, 1945. The iconic image of the flagraising on Mt. Suribachi. You can view this flag at the
Marine Corps Museum at Quantico, VA.

These young men fought for days on a volcanic island against an enemy they couldn't see. It would be days before Naval intelligence revealed that the Japanese lived in tunnels dug inside the mountain complete with oxygen pumped in and a hospital. 

Once this was discovered, the Navy and Marines knew how to battle the enemy and win the very important Japanese territory. It has been said that this victory proved to be a psychological blow to the Japanese leading to the end of the war. 

But what makes this story so special is the bond between father and son as James Bradley writes about how he never knew his father, a Navy Corpsman, was one of the famous flagraisers. He writes about how his father suffered nightmares every night of his life after returning home from the war. He details what each of the flagraisers endured when they returned as "heroes" only to be used for government propaganda to sell war bonds. 


We had the great opportunity to visit the National Marine Corps Museum at Quantico, VA a couple of summers ago. The WWII section of the museum has a special tribute to Iwo Jima. We met an Iwo Jima veteran there along with his wife. He was only 17 when he enlisted. It was an honor to shake his hand knowing all they endured on that hellish mountain. 


If you ever want to know why we fought as we did in the Pacific, what sort of men our Marines were back then, and how the wounds of war run deep...this book is for you.  They were the reason the war ended victoriously. A most admirable and touching account of the flagraisers before and after the war. A fine tribute to Iwo Jima Marines and Navy Corpsmen.

You won't be the same after you read this book. 


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Gaining Wisdom

Guest blogging for me today is author Jillian Kent! Please join me in welcoming her....

Jill's newest book comes out this May!

Gaining Wisdom

I started writing seriously about twelve years ago. I made the decision to become a writer after my first daughter was born in 1989. I'm not quite sure why having a baby made me think about becoming a writer. Maybe it was a way of recreating myself. I vaguely remember saying that maybe I'd be published by the time both kids went to college. That worked!

No one is in college yet. Maybe it was because in the back of my mind I really wanted to write and having my first child at the age of 35 made me think I was running out of time and I'd better decide what I want to be when I grow up. I'm not really sure why I chose that time to make my decision. I'd been a social worker for ten years by then and love that aspect of my life, but I wanted more.

I wanted to write.

I faced many blank pages and didn't really know where to start. I joined RWA, eventually joined ACFW, attended many writer's conferences from one side of the country to the other and studied the craft until I thought I had some idea of what I was doing. Of course most of us who write know the best way to learn is to do it, just do it.

I wrote a lot of words that didn't make great stories for awhile, but I did eventually learn. James Scott Bell is a firm believer that writers aren't necessarily born... we can all learn how to do it. I think the main ingredient must be a mountain load of passion and a mustard seed of talent. Hey, if I can do it I know you can do it. Really!

I have more craft books than you can imagine but two of my favorites are:

 1) SteinOn Writing: A Master Editor of Some of the Most Successful Writers of OurCentury Shares His Craft Techniques and Strategies by Sol Stein   

 and 2) WriteGreat Fiction - Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell

You need to invest in your future writing career just like you would in any other career; this is how we gain wisdom. I spent years in college getting a Master's Degree in Social Work. I went to class, paid for those classes, completed internships, did a lot of writing. I can honestly say I spent more time learning the craft and business of writing, which never really ends, as I did getting my social work degree.

Of course even with all that work there is never a guarantee of publication. But in today's economy unfortunately even with a college education there is no guarantee of getting the job you studied for in college, at least not right away. Hopefully, that will improve soon.

Your turn: What have you done to gain wisdom? How have you invested in yourself? What's the number one investment strategy you would recommend? What has worked best for you in whatever career you have chosen to follow?

You can find me at

Click to read the first chapters of my novels and view the trailer from Secrets of the Heart.

Thank you so much, Jill, for sharing your story, all your encouragement, and for guest blogging today! 

Be sure to look for Jill's newest release coming out this May!

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Love of Creating

"God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them..."
Genesis 1:27

Because we were created in the image of God, we share His attributes but on a finite (imperfect) level. He we desire to create as well. 

So, why did God create?  To be known. 

Why, then, do we desire to create?   ....Exactly.

The Love of Creating

As an artist, I am new to this business of writing. But the more I write, the more I see some similarities in the creation process. 

First, with painting, you should start with some rough sketches. You should have a general idea of what it is you want to paint before you ever touch the canvas with brush and paint. 

With writing, it is the same: you should have some sort of structure (outline) that explains exactly what it is you plan on writing. As with painting, the final product may have changed during the process, but that structure helps the writer stay on track.


Sometimes an artist can spend too much time on a painting or drawing without "stepping back" and looking at the piece from a different perspective. 

In writing, this is called revising. It helps to step away from the work even if for a few hours. When you come back to it, you will read your work with fresh eyes...or a different perspective.

A critique from an editor or writing group can also help in this revising process. I know with me, I have had to rework endings, add more details to chapters, and more all because of a new perspective. 

In painting, sometimes you need to turn the work upside down in order to see mistakes in composition or in details. The same goes for writing!

A good quality editor may come in and completely turn your work upside down! Yet this may be the only way for you to see that the structure, the composition, of your work is lacking and needs to be rewritten.

The Critique

Rewritten??!! Yes, rewritten.  

It may sound harsh, but a good quality critique can save your work. Critiques may be tough to endure...I have had my artwork taken apart by the very best...but it is worth it in the end. As long as the criticism is constructive, the critique is most valuable. 

Remember, it isn't personal. Your work is not YOU. Never let it be. You have to be willing to part with it. I have worked many days on a painting or drawing for a client only to never see it again. I have a photograph, but that's it.  Watching a piece of work depart is very hard on the creator. We have that attribute of God, that desire to create, so we tend to connect to our work. But I never lost a part of me when I sold a painting. I am still intact!

Your writing isn't YOU. You have to be willing to let go...and give it to the Lord. You have to be willing to make changes and even, sometimes, move on to something else. 

In His Image

Yes, we are created in the image of God. He is a God of remembrance. He commanded His people to erect memorials in His name, to write things down in a book of remembrance, to set aside days to remember. 

We long to do the same. We create in order to be known. We long for our work to endure. And it will matter in the long as we give it to the Lord in the here and now. 

So, go on creating!  Just make sure what you create brings God glory. And then He will bless it. Not as the world blesses (which is flawed and temporary and lacks fulfillment...) but with spiritual blessings. 

But most importantly....just write!


Your turn:  How difficult is the critique for you? Has an editor, teacher, or critique group told you to rewrite part of your work? 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Writing to Inspire

"In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit.  Telling an unforgettable story of a man’s journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit."  -Amazon book description


I love to read World War II biographies and autobiographies. The WWII era is my favorite because a nation...the world...came together to stop evil. And they did this even before they knew just how evil the enemy truly was.

But I was completely taken aback when I read Unbroken by Hillenbrand.

I knew nothing about Louis Zamperini when I started the book. When I finished the book, I not only knew about him...I wanted to be like him!


"All he could see, in every direction, was water. It was June 23, 1943. Somewhere on the endless expanse of the Pacific Ocean, Army Air Forces bombardier and Olympic runner Louie Zamperini lay across a small raft, drifting westward..."  -from the Preface.

Louis Zamperini went from a troubled childhood of deliquency to harnessing all that energy into running. His running took him all the way to the Berlin Olympics where he almost beat the 4 min. mile. As a result of his running capabilities, he is asked to shake the hand of one Adolph Hitler.

Then, WWII broke out and Zamperini joined the military as an airman, was shot down over the Pacific, and became stranded in the ocean. He and his fellow crewman fought off leaping sharks, thirst, and starvation.

It is here that Zamperini makes the solemn vow to God that if He saves them, he will spend the rest of his life serving Him.

The Vow

How many of us have made a similar vow to God? Did we keep it when God made good on His promise?

The rest of the book describes how Zamperini's resolve, both physical and mental, is tested beyound compare. I have read many books about WWII, but this author does an impeccable job chronicling the torture and suffering Zamperini endures. I found myself asking how much more can a human being face and still live?

But that vow lingers and it forces Zamperini to survive another day.


As writers of fiction and non-fiction, we have the ability to inspire people to keep going, break free, or endure to the end with our words. This is what Hillenbrand accomplishes beautifully with her words. Hundreds of hours of interviews with her subject along with searching through photographs paid off. Unbroken will go down in history as one of the best inspirational biographies of a WWII veteran ever written.

If you want a young person to be inspired by the endurance of the human spirit, by the honoring of a vow, or by the discipline of an athlete...this book cannot be recommended enough!

Louie carried the torch for the 1984 Olympic games

Put it in the hands of someone who needs their spirits lifted. They will not be disappointed.

Your turn: What non-fiction book has inspired you? In what ways?


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What More Could You Want?

"Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am." -Philippians 4:11


So how much is really enough?  

I remember when I finished my book, The Dragon Forest, I prayed for it to be published. 

When it was published, I prayed for it to sell copies. 

When it sold copies, I prayed for it to sell even more copies and be picked up by an even BIGGER publisher!

And on, and on, and on....

I can see how frustrated God becomes with His children. He gives us what we desire and then we ask for more and more and more! 

Charles Spurgeon wrote in his book Morning By Morning, "When our Father does not give us more, we should be content with His daily allowance."

But how many of us even think about that? How many of us are content with just what we have and nothing more?

We get that job we prayed about then want a raise. We get that new house we prayed for, then want new furniture. We get what we want...then ask for more. 

Paul reminds us that no matter what our or poor...we should be content no matter what. I have learned this lesson over the years. I have lived in base houses, small apartments, larger apartments, nice houses, even nicer houses, and now a mobile home. 

Yet, through it all, I have learned to be content. Got that? I have learned through the years how to be content. It did not happen overnight, trust me. There were tears and crying and gnashing of teeth! But the Lord has shown me that what He gives us He can take away in a moment. So I am grateful for what I have. 

Oh, I still stumble sometimes and ask for my next book to be published...and sell copies...and sell more copies...and sign a book deal...and on and on! Sigh. When is it enough? 

So, take some time today to look at what your daily allowance is. Thank God for that portion He has given you no matter how big or small. He knows it is enough for you. 

Then, be content with what you have and stop asking for more!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Edgy Fiction

OK, so what is meant by Edgy Fiction anyway?

When I attended the YA Fiction conference last month, I sat in on a discussion about Edgy Fiction lead by two authors who write edgy fiction.

Since I am venturing into YA Fiction, I thought I would post about what I learned from the discussion...

Writing About Taboos

Writing edgy fiction pretty much comes down to writing about taboos. What are some of those taboos out there? Here's some:

Pre-marital sex
Homosexual tendencies
Self destruction

These are just some of the ones mentioned in the panel discussion. I tend to agree with the list especially when it comes to writing Christian fiction! The list isn't even comprehensive!

But what the panel of authors was trying to explain was that a writer picks one of their own taboos and writes it into the story...and that's what makes it edgy fiction. Doing this forces you out of your comfortable box and changes the direction of your story. 

Why Add Edginess?

When writing for a teen audience, you must add some sort of edginess to it since teens today are dealing with so many issues. Having a protagonist dealing with difficult issues can draw your readers in because they can relate. 

Of course, with most teens, just getting up in the morning is melodrama! Bad hair days, acne, weight gain, lost homework all can ruin a teen's life...we know, we've all been there. So maybe add some teen angst to your character so your readers can say, "Hey, I know exactly what you're going through!"

Right Here, Right Now

Adult fiction tends to be nostalgic. The protagonist is mature and self aware and tends to look back on life. 

With YA fiction, everything is immediate or just happened. Readers are put in the action right from the start. Think The Hunger Games. We meet Katniss and are immediately placed in a dangerous situation with her. That grabs the reader and takes them for a ride. The situation you put your protagonist in must be dangerous and edgy. Katniss must kill or be killed in the arena. That's some situation for a teen girl!

Don't be nice to your protagonist. Put some tough obstacles and challenges in her path. Give her internal and external conflict that she must deal with. In Lisa McMann's book, Wake, her protagonist is able to be inside other people's dreams. This can be embarrassing when she is inside a teen boy's dream! But she must deal with this obstacle and come to terms with why she has this ability. 

Stay True to Yourself

But you mustn't add edginess just for the sake of adding it. For instance, in The Warfare Club, my character is a Christian teen dealing with some pretty big issues. If I suddenly have her go out and get a tattoo one night, well, that's not adding edginess, that's just plain silly. Readers can spot fake edginess and it turns them off. 

Instead, perhaps my protagonist meets a girl who does have tattoos all over her arms and neck along with piercings. Perhaps this girl befriends my protagonist and confides that she once had an abortion. Now my protagonist has to deal with this BIG issue. I've added edginess without compromising my main character. 

You must stay true to yourself. I don't use profanity (well, unless I stub my toe...) in life. So writing profanity makes me uncomfortable. If I did write it into my book, my readers would be able to spot the insincerity a mile away. If writing profanity comes natural to you, maybe add a character who feels the same way. Some YA writers don't hesitate to add many of their taboos into their stories, while others consider their books to be G rated. Both books sell!


So, now you have some tips on how to add edginess to your YA Fiction and when not to add it into your story. I hope these tips help you as they have helped me. I have added some edginess to my book and feel it does add some realism and depth. But I stayed true to myself and to my characters. 

Give it a try! Try adding some of your personal taboos to your story. Force yourself out of the box and see how it feels. You can always use the delete button!

But most importantly....just write!

Your turn:  What are some of your personal taboos? Ever thought of adding them to your story? Why or why not?


Friday, February 10, 2012


Ok, so what's YOUR favorite romantic movie you will watch on Valentine's Day with the one you love?

For me, I usually enjoy "Love Actually" (the television version where they cut out all the nudity and language...) even though it is really a Christmas movie. It is filled with bittersweet romance. The kind that makes you sigh. But it also champions true love for all ages! 

"Pride & Prejudice"  because it never gets old watching these two lovers finally come together. Even the hubby and teenage son thought it was a great movie. Ok, well, maybe they didn't say great, but they said they liked it!

"Sense & Sensibility"  is my ALL TIME favorite!! Gorgeous cinematography. I swear almost every scene could be a painting.  The music is wonderful and the acting...well, superb! I swoon when lovely Kate whispers, "Willoughby, Willoughby..." . Sigh.

"When Harry Met Sally" (TV version takes out all the language...) is also another great movie. Funny, silly, romantic, fall in NYC. Ahh...perfect combination.

"Sixteen Candles"  A classic 1980s John Hughes film about high school angst. I was in high school when it came out and LOVED it!!  Still do...

Your turn:  What movie will you watch this V-Day and why?


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Let No One Despise Your Youth

Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the
 believers in word, in conduct,
in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity." - 1 Timothy 4:12

So, when did we stop expecting great things from our youth? 

When exactly did this happen? The 1960s?  The 1970s?  I honestly do not know.

But one thing I do know, is that our nation is worse off because we stopped expecting greatness from our youth.

And why? Why did we stop? Why did we start telling our young people that they will contribute once they are adults?

Go back in history with me for a moment...

King Edward the VI

Did you know King Edward ascended the throne at age 9? Because he was so young, he sought out wise counsel to help him rule. He loved to journal and in his journals he wrote that he hope he could be a good king. He also loved geography and ordered maps and charts made of the kingdom. He died at age 15 from Tuberculosis. 

George Washington

George Washington was home schooled. At age 12, he was already learning geometry and trigonometry. At age 15 he owned his own successful land surveying business. He wrote journals about how to act with civility in public. You can read these journals today at the Library of Congress. At age 21, he was Commander-in-Chief of the Virginia Militia. 

Alexander Hamilton

At age 12, Alexander Hamilton helped his mother run a successful trading business in the West Indies in 2 languages. After his mother died, he moved to New York with his step father. He helped his father run his business as well. The neighborhood respected Alexander so much, they gave him money to send him to King's College (now Columbia University) at age 16. He dropped out to join the American Revolution and the rest is history. 

Jonathan Edwards

Perhaps the greatest American theologian, Jonathan Edwards was home schooled. At age 13, he wrote a research paper on the flying spider. The paper was so good, his parents sent it to Yale University where he was admitted as a student. He graduated at age 16 as Valedictorian. He continued on and earned his Masters of Arts at age 19. After teaching at Yale, Jonathan Edwards was co-founder of Princeton University.

Booker T. Washington

Born into slavery, he was freed at age 9 after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed. He learned to read and write in school. He then went on to the coal mines in West Virginia. There, former slaves gave him money to go and study at a school for Negroes in Virginia. The money ran out during the journey, so the young man was forced to walk the rest of the way sleeping on sidewalks and working odd jobs for food. He finally made it to Hampton Institute where he asked to be admitted in exchange for working as a janitor. He was 17yrs old. He graduated and taught at the school and then, at age 25, he co-founded the Tuskegee Institute in 1881.  In 1901, he became the first black man to dine with the U.S. President in the White House. 

These are just a few examples from history that reveal how young people were motivated to do great things. No one despised their youth. 

But perhaps the greatest example is our Lord Jesus Christ....

At age 12, He was accidentally left behind by his family during the Passover Feast in Jerusalem. Three days later, his family returned to find Him. That means in those days alone, Jesus had to find Himself food, a place to sleep, and stay out of trouble all at age 12. When they did find Him in the Temple, He wasn't cowering in a corner, He was teaching the elders about the Scriptures. They were amazed at His teaching!

As adults, we would be most wise to tell these stories to our youth. Like Paul encouraged Timothy, we need to encourage our young people not to let their youth keep them from accomplishing great things. It is up to us to expect greatness from them. We are the ones who can teach them that they do not have to wait until they are adults to have an impact on the world.

No, we would be fools to let all those years pass without empowering them to make a difference. It isn't too late. Take a moment today, and inspire a young person to go out and dare to dream...take a chance....and be an example to the world!


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Running on Empty

I find that most people are running on empty. Work, school, family, ministry….all tend to use up all our “fuel” and leave us with an empty tank sputtering along the side of the road barely able to move. Like the metaphor so far?

Anyway, I know for me it is best to STOP and refuel.

I decided last week to take a break from writing/revising my YA novel so that I could refresh and come back to it next month with a new perspective.
I also know my God and how He works. I know He will show me things in the next month that should be in my book. What I mean by that is, when we take a break and just STOP striving…that’s usually when the Lord speaks to us in His wonderful voice.

We read in scripture that Jesus rose early in the morning and went up a mountain to be closer to His Father.  In Luke 6, we read that He went up the mountain and stayed there all night praying to His Father.
Obviously, the Lord was teaching us something about prayer and seeking time alone with our Father. If we want to enrich our relationship with the Lord, time alone in prayer with Him is most important to the Christian. This is when we engage in conversation with Him about every aspect of our lives. He is that personal. Which leads to my next point…

I suppose the word meditation means many things to many people, but to me it means time alone with the Lord listening to Him.  So often we are used to talking, and talking, and talking…that we forget to listen. I mean, really listen. Meditating goes with prayer. Once you have worshipped the Lord, laid your cares at His feet, spend time being still and quiet. Wait for Him to talk to you. He will not disappoint you during this time alone with Him.

I must admit, I don’t fast as often as I should! Fasting isn’t just about going without food or water. Fasting should be about denying oneself of something in order to focus on the Lord. For instance, perhaps you enjoy a big lunch each day. Maybe you spend time with friends during lunch. Take one day and skip lunch. Instead of eating and socializing, spend that entire time alone with the Lord in prayer.
Better yet, sometimes in order to show the Lord our intent, we need to deny ourselves food for the whole day. When hunger pangs happen, spend time alone with the Lord in prayer. Not only is this a valuable way to spend time with the Lord, but it is also a good way to “cleanse” your body. As Americans, we are constantly eating. Believe me, one day without food will not harm us! We have so many stored calories to use up…and just think of it as a wonderful way to devote time to the Lord in prayer!
I resolve to fast this year.

And of course, one of the things we can learn from our Lord is how he taught, prayed, and spoke God’s word. As I always tell my son, “You cannot teach what you do not know…”
If we Christians long to teach God’s word and be alone with the Lord how can we not be in His word daily? Reading God’s word is vital to the Christian’s refueling of the soul. This is where we get our strength, our sustenance, our vigor to carry on in this crazy world.
Spending time alone reading the words of our God leads to greater power because we are reminded of who we are in Christ: A child of God, an heir to the throne, a citizen of heaven!
What better way to spend an afternoon than alone at the feet of the Savior reading His words?

As I take a break from writing this month, I vowed to do something else with my creative energy: artwork. Painting or drawing uses a part of my brain that I had ignored these past months. Tapping into that part will only add fire to the creative fuel already burning. But I will also spend time in God’s word, prayer, and meditation to hear from Him what He wants to do with my life. I want to just let go....and just be.

I strongly urge you to take a much needed break from the everyday life that might be draining your tank. Stop striving, even for a day, and just….be still.


Sunday, February 5, 2012

Meet & Greet: Author Shawn Lamb

Today I introduce my readers to author, Shawn Lamb!  Shawn writes fantasy books (like me!) and YA historical Christian fiction. 

So, tell my readers about yourself and your books!
My name is Shawn Lamb and I write in 2 genres: The YA fantasy series Allon and Christian historical fiction The Huguenot Sword. I used to write for the children’s animated series BraveStarr. The show was produced by the same studio responsible for He-Man and She-Ra. I won several awards for screenwriting, including a Certificate of Merit from the American Screenwriters Association. Last year I was named one of 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading 2011.


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember; short stories, poem, scripts, anything. In fact, The Huguenot Sword is the first novel I ever wrote and I was 16 at the time.

What genre(s) do you write and why? 
YA fantasy and Christian historical fiction.   Fantasy was not my choice, in a way. I’m a die-hard historical fiction lover, but when my daughter was in high school she asked to write her a fantasy. She didn’t like anything too dark, rather the good old fashion stories like Tolkien or Lewis.  As her friends learned about “mom” writing her a big epic fantasy, they became very interested and came over to talk about the book.  

What started off as character and story discussions, turned more personal. They began asking me life questions. The planned single book became a series in response to their questions, but more importantly, to answer their need for hope.

With Allon established, I returned to my first love – historical fiction.

What challenges have you faced since becoming a writer?
Oh, by far marketing and promotion. I was stunned when my published sent me a long list of things I needed to do for promotion. I thought this was part of what the publisher did.  After all, they have the distribution, sales teams, connections, etc.  Authors just show up for books signings and events. Not that I expect the royalties to come pouring in, but I never thought I would be doing ALL the marketing and promoting.  Although I was surprised again at my publisher passing on the rest of the Allon series, I learned enough that I wasn’t too fearful of being on my own as a self-published author.

What sort of workshops do you teach and why?
This year I’ll be teaching a workshop on using Spiritual discernment in choosing fiction. I’m doing so in a response to requests from parents at various homeschool conventions I attend. In fact, I just published the Parent Study Guide to Allon Books 1-4 as part of fulfilling their request.  Many homeschool parents use fiction as part of their lesson plans.  So the study guides includes an overview of the Biblical themes in each book, how the main characters portray those themes and suggested questions to reinforce the themes.


How important is it that you have the Christian worldview in your stories?
Very important. As a Christian I do not compartmentalize my life. Writing is a talent God has given me and I use it as an extension of my life and Christian walk.

Why have you written Christian historical fiction? 
If we forget our past and those who sacrificed for the faith we will lose a part of our Christian heritage.  We enjoy our freedoms today and the easy access to Bibles and preaching due to the unwavering commitment to the Truth by our forefathers and foremothers in the faith. I feel I owe them respect and gratitude, for I could not imagine suffering what they did for Christ.

What is your favorite Bible story and why?
There are so many. But one person who stands out to me is David, a man after God’s own heart. He was such a paradox of faith and failure. No one should pattern a life after his bad side, but David’s life shows God can work even when people fail. God both chastened and forgave David. He blessed David, but didn’t shield him from the consequences of his failures. I take comfort and warning from David’s life.


How do you utilize your blog to help market your brand?
Branding isn’t just about getting the word out about my books, so I don’t push my books too hard on my blog. I do make announcements, etc. But branding is also about building a reputation. People know I’m a Christian, as I don’t shy away from that. However, to become credible as a knowledgeable author, I use my blog to give tips and insight into the world of publishing and writing.

How important is it for a writer to create a brand?
I think it’s critical, and for the reason of reputation. When someone first gets published they launch into marketing and promotion, either singularly or by hiring a publicist.  But what some fail to recognize - or even consider - is what reputation or image they need to create as an author. I write in 2 genres, so which am I? A YA fantasy or historical fiction author? Neither, I’m Shawn Lamb, award-winning author, speaker and authority on my subjects.

Due to my blog, I’m constantly fielding requests from agents about their clients, questions from publishers about book to movie options, scriptwriting, which producer to contact, and aspiring authors wanting tips or asking about the difference between traditional and self publishing. This ‘branding reputation’ gives an impression about me even before a reader picks up any of my books.

Why should writers use social media to market themselves?
They need to learn to use it wisely, not just scatter shot and hope people will buy their book. Think about how to use FB or Twitter effectively.  What is theme to their blog? 

For example, when I started the FB fan page for The Huguenot Sword, I decided to post snippets from history about the Huguenots and life in 17th century France. I include a picture or illustration with each post. This encourages people to visit the page on a regular basis for interesting updates and generates discussion, as told by the analytics on the page.

What are your predictions regarding the eBook craze and the impact it will have on traditional publishing?
E-books are having a dual effect, positive and negative.  The negative first: due to the ease of the format, anyone can publish a book, and at no cost if they do the formatting and upload to Kindle or Nook. However, the recent rush to join Select put tremendous pressure on the industry as a whole in the fact of making ‘free’ downloads a standard. Such a glut of unsupervised e-books by new authors with little to no experience makes it more difficult for established authors to market and present their e-books. The competition has turned into a feeding frenzy, and one I don’t believe is good in the long term. In fact, it has already proved damaging to traditional publishing, and isn’t good for readers or authors. E-books and e-readers aren’t proven technology, as told by all the recalls by Amazon of Kindle Fire.

The positive is the format makes books available to others in various countries where the print version either isn’t available or costs too much. The idea of e-readers replacing print books is not one I believe will happen, or be good for the industry.  We shouldn’t lose our publishing heritage simply to advance technology. I think a happy medium needs to be struck.

Thank you, Shawn Lamb, for visiting my blog and telling us about yourself, career, and writing process. I wish you the best of success in all your writing projects!  


You can visit Shawn at her web site:

And you can purchase her books at: Amazon: