Christian writers support and encourage one another by letting readers know about other writers. We do this through blog tours. Andrea Merrell invited me to answer four questions and then point you toward three authors whose work I support.
What Am I Working on Now?
I’ve often said, “Don’t ask, you’d never believe me,” but I love what I do. Professionally I’m managing three websites –www.christiandevotions.us, www.inspireafire.com, and www.writersadvancebootcamp.com. But writing wise, I’m finishing up the second novel, Coal Black Lies, in a series of three Appalachian Mountain Novels. Mercy’s Rain, (Kregel Publishing) is available for pre-orders now on Amazon.com, but it actually releases January 27, 2015. Needless to say, I’m more than thrilled to have this dream come true. I love my Appalachian heritage and it’s a joy to take bits and pieces of our past and weave them into intriguing stories. I want folks to know the mountains of Appalachia like I know them. I want them to walk the river banks, smell the breeze, and see the sunrises that crest the summits of the mountains where I live. The Appalachian Novel series are stand alone novels, but they take the reader into the richness of the mountain people, their hardships, and their survival. There is this deep underlying faith in the mountains – something you must experience to understand and in these novels, you don’t just read about it – you live it with the characters. The Appalachian Novel Series walks to the river and baptizes you into the thick of the culture here in the late 1800’s to early 1900’s.
Otherwise, I spend a great deal of time reading devotions for ChristianDevotions.us and traveling and teaching at writers conferences across the country. Part of my position as Executive Editor is to provide encouragement, mentorship, and assistance to new writers who want to take their skills to the next level. I love working with new writers and seeing them spread their wings.
Among other things, I am the acquisitions editor for Straight Street Books and SonRise Books, imprints of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I am a devotion writer and I understand the call to teach through a devotional book or inspirational non-fiction, so I love this position with Lighthouse.
Outside of these things, I work part-time for Comfort Keepers as their office manager. My second love, is that of the elderly. My job at Comfort Keepers allows me the opportunity to help place caregivers into the homes of aging so they are better able to remain steadfast in their homes over institutional living.
In between all that “stuff” my family spurts through. We’re planning a cruise to Nova Scotia in the fall. (Excitement).
How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Writing wise – my work pretty much stands in a field all by itself. Or that’s what publishers tell me. My voice is strong in the mountain dialect and it washes over everything I write. This passion makes my work very transparent and vulnerable.
This is one of the things I try to teach new writers – to find your voice. Find what you are rich in and then scratch the scabs of your heart until you bleed all over the page. Readers can smell fake a mile a way, but when they sense genuineness and vulnerability, they dive into the words.
Why do I write what I write?
That’s easy. It’s what come natural to me. I am who I am and I am blessed. That comes through into my writing. I want people to take their hardships and turn them into valuable life lessons that enrich their lives and help them understand how God works through these things. I write what I write because within it lies the difficulty, the path through, and the success of having been passed through the fire.
How does my writing process work?
I crank up Whisperings Piano then close my eyes. What happened yesterday or a week ago that stung my heart? Then I start to wrap around it. I have to dig into my soul, search deep into the compassion of my being to find the emotion that needs to hit the page.
I work best in the early morning. It’s quiet, I’ve rested through the night. My mind is clearer in the morning before the day starts to bite away so this is my most productive time. I aim for 4000 (two chapters) words a day, but if I only hit 1900 I consider that a successful writing day if the words are good.
For me, I write to the halfway point in a novel. Then stop. Go back and re-read the entire first half. Round two is rewrite, tweak, highlight those spots where the reader needs to “feel,” and embellish those spots. I have three writing critique pals who stay on top of the work, and these folks are unique. One is NOT a writer. She’s simply an avid reader. She reads everything with a very critical eye. Because she is an avid reader, she’s quick to find holes or little things that act as stop signs for the reader. I have a female critique partner who is wonderfully loving yet, very honest. She’s great to help me get it right but encourage me as well. Finally, I have a guy critique buddy who guides with his head not his heart. Between these three, my work process gets tweaked a lot. But the finished product speaks for itself.
I always pay a professional editor to go through my manuscript when it’s complete and this is a practice I recommend to every writer before your manuscript leaves your desk to be shopped. It’s an investment in your career. And as tight as the market is, this gives you a leg up over other work going into publishers and editors.
Outside of that, the fuel is chocolate – Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge. HUMMM.
Meet three of my friends:
Terri Kelly is the First Grade teacher at The Mountain Community School. She has a Masters Degree in Education and nineteen years classroom teaching experience. Her passion in education is to make a positive difference in the life of her students.
Terri is also a writer and is the acquisitions editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in the children’s division, Staff Writer for ChristianDevotions.us, and assistant director of Writers Advance BootCamp. A featured faculty member at conferences, she is published in Spirit and Heart, A Devotional Journey and Faith and Family, A Devotional Pathway for Families. Terri’s first middle grade novel, Mary Slessor – Missionary Mother (Journeyforth Books) released in early 2014.
Aaron Gansky is an author, teacher, and editor.
His first novel The Bargain (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas) was released in December of 2013. His YA Fantasy series can be read free here. He has written two books on the craft of writing fiction; Firsts in Fiction: First Lines and Write to Be Heard (with Diane Sherlock). To find out more about his books click In addition to being a loving father and husband, Aaron Gansky is an author, novelist, editor, mentor, teacher, and podcast host. In 2009, he earned his M.F.A in Fiction at the prestigious Antioch University of Los Angeles, one of the top five low-residency writing schools in the nation. Prior to that, he attained his Bachelor of Arts degree in English with an emphasis in Creative Writing where he studied, in part, under Bret Anthony Johnston, now the Director of Creative Writing at Harvard University.
As a Creative Writing teacher in California, he brings his expertise on the craft to several writing conferences around America where he speaks on a variety of topics.
In 2009, he began an online literary journal to publish poetry and flash fiction. Since that time, The Citron Review has grown in reputation and prestige. It is now one of the premier publishers of the internet’s best flash fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.
In 2013 he began his Firsts in Fiction Podcast with Steve McLain. Shortly after, Heather Luby joined the line up. Together, the three dispense practical, in-depth analysis of how to write powerful fiction.
As a writing mentor, he prides himself on taking new writers and teaching them the craft and skills they need to succeed.
Although Martin has a long list of accomplishments as an actor, author, storyteller and a standup comedian, he prefers to use his gifts for laughter, writing and entertaining to bring serious messages to audiences through the softening blows of humor. After telling a typical “Torry Story” revolving around his own blundering and misfortune, Martin pulls in the spiritual lesson in a sometimes subtle way. “If I can keep them laughing while they’re learning it doesn’t hurt their brains as much.”
Martin was a standup comic and actor in Los Angeles before he became a Christian. After finding the Lord, Martin moved to Alaska and lived in a remote cabin with a friend who was studying for ministry. He gave up acting and comedy for two years and studied the bible while becoming grounded in his faith. After being encouraged by some friends at his church, Torry began writing comedy sketches which he entered into the national competition sponsored by the Gospel Music Association called Christian Artists, now called Seminar in the Rockies. He won the grand prize two years in a row and now returns annually as an instructor. Martin has written for “Adventures in Odyssey”, a children’s radio series produced by Focus on the Family. For this self-proclaimed “hippie-for-the-Holy-One,” the melding of talent and faith have also resulted in the release of several books, including “Under the Circumstances,” and “What a Character,” both are collections of comedy sketches about Christian life.
Published by Lillenas Drama, the books are available in Christian book stores worldwide. While the sketches rely heavily on comedy to convey their messages, they also harbor moments of drama, often pulling no punches to get the point across. “I like using comedy in my writing because we need to be able to make fun of ourselves,” Martin says. “We take ourselves too seriously, but we don’t take God seriously enough and that needs some fixing.” Martin says he hopes his material will help and audience focus more on their relationships with God and place less emphasis on the technicalities of differing denominations or outside appearances. His blend of hilarious personal experiences, human observations and spiritual applications have made him one of the most entertaining and comical speakers around. From churches to corporate functions, banquets to biker rally’s, or prison’s to praise gatherings, the appeal of Torry Martin’s material makes him a perfect choice for groups and gatherings of all kinds.
The Heart of God
2/14/2020 7:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Writing in a Pickle
1/30/2020 3:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Homonyms – Did You Sea/See Them Their/There?
1/27/2020 3:52:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Adult Day Care Alternative
1/23/2020 5:09:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Social Media Blitz
1/19/2020 11:20:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
The Joys of Aging
12/30/2019 7:53:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
A Christmas Saga - Joy in the Season
12/25/2019 7:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
The Reality of Who We Are?
12/22/2019 7:53:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
11/30/2019 8:16:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Be Thankful ANYWAY
11/28/2019 7:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Who Really Sells Your Books
11/22/2019 3:47:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Writing Your Mission Statement
11/19/2019 7:38:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Perseverance to Write
11/16/2019 12:00:00 PM by: Cindy
The Good, The Bad, and the Memoir
11/13/2019 10:59:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Common Sense Tips for When You Write
11/9/2019 10:26:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
The Battle is Fought
10/15/2019 7:00:00 PM by: Cindy
Scratch It Till It Bleeds
10/8/2019 7:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Twelve Tidbits of Wisdom from Top Christian Writers
10/5/2019 7:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Pray with Fire
10/3/2019 7:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Present Yourself Approved and Professional
9/28/2019 7:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
The Easy In
9/24/2019 8:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Art of Self-Editing
9/10/2019 10:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
9/6/2019 10:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
15-Minute Appointments - Important Networking
9/3/2019 7:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Permission to Quit - No Way
8/30/2019 9:55:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Don't Close Your Eyes - Bob Hostetler
2/5/2019 by: Cindy Sproles
Love Your Faculty
10/17/2018 3:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Immeasurable Power in You
10/14/2018 2:37:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Forging Ahead after Rejection
7/17/2018 8:12:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
6/4/2018 8:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Closing Up Shop - Guiding Seniors to Letting Go
4/9/2018 10:56:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
3/16/2018 1:30:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
In Prayer - I Write
3/3/2018 9:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Keep Them Reading
1/12/2018 11:23:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Encouraged - Even When . . .
1/2/2018 12:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
12/18/2017 12:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Holiday Elder Care - Be an Elder Elf
11/12/2017 7:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Grateful for a Dream I Didn't Know I Had
11/9/2017 6:30:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Keep Them Reading
11/1/2017 7:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Chicken Soup for the Soul - Writer Call Out
10/27/2017 10:05:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Five Ways to Assure Your Work will Find the Slush Pile
10/24/2017 7:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
23rd Psalm Revisited
10/21/2017 7:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Contentment in Writing
10/19/2017 9:30:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
5 Common Sense Tips to Better Writing
10/10/2017 7:00:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
8/21/2017 10:05:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Chicken Soup for the Soul Callout - Stories about Love
8/21/2017 7:54:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Five Keys to Overcoming Rejection
8/12/2017 7:00:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Writing Call Out - Chicken Soup for the Soul
8/10/2017 8:47:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
When Words of Encouragement Wane
6/28/2017 10:54:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Writing Truth with Love
1/13/2017 11:05:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
Oh To Be A Writer
1/4/2017 11:12:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
1/1/2017 11:16:00 AM by: Cindy Sproles
6/21/2016 3:48:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Pain of Unsolicited
3/9/2016 3:51:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Frozen in Place – Icey Self-Talk to Freeze Your Writing
2/9/2016 3:58:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for Those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage
11/21/2015 3:02:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Thankful Despite . . .
11/20/2015 3:04:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Stepping Up to Na-No-Wri-Mo
11/16/2015 3:08:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Gift of No Gifts
11/2/2015 3:11:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Writers Be Encouraged
10/15/2015 3:17:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Keep ‘Em Reading – It’s the Writer’s Responsibility
8/13/2015 3:26:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
7/17/2015 3:31:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Overcoming the Fear of Writing Failure
7/8/2015 3:38:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Making the Move – Home to Assisted Living
6/17/2015 3:41:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
I Kid You Not
6/6/2015 3:44:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Hearing the Call to Foster – Renee McCausey
1/13/2015 3:54:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Throw Out the Crutches
1/10/2015 5:02:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
So You Were Asked to Be A Beta Reader?
1/10/2015 3:59:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
REJECTIONS – Aaughhh!
1/5/2015 5:04:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Bachelor – Stephanie Reed
12/14/2014 5:06:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Making of a Servant
11/30/2014 5:10:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Miracle in a Dry Season Review – Yvonne Lehman
8/27/2014 5:12:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
8/26/2014 5:17:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
World Blog Tour – Catching Up with Cindy Sproles
7/22/2014 5:19:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Progression of Life
7/17/2014 5:23:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Instrumental Writing Helps – Aaron Gansky
7/4/2014 5:27:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The Question Saga
6/29/2014 5:28:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Defy the Night – REVIEW
4/28/2014 5:30:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
When the Work is Hard to Do
4/1/2014 5:31:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
My Heart Belongs to Him
2/14/2014 5:32:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Review of The Vicar’s Wife
2/2/2014 5:44:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The In on Self Publishing – Part 2
12/29/2013 3:44:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
The In on Self Publishing – Part 1
12/26/2013 3:47:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Divorce My Words? Never!
10/25/2013 3:50:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
In a Pickle
10/1/2013 3:52:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Bigger and Better
9/27/2013 3:54:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Putting SOCIAL back in Media
8/10/2013 8:08:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
After the Conference Ends…
8/8/2013 8:13:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Here a Tweak, There a Tweak, Everywhere a Tweak, Tweak
8/2/2013 8:15:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Can You Hear Me Now?
7/23/2013 8:18:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Golden Years, Cherished Moments
3/20/2013 7:47:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Broken Heart Syndrome
9/26/2012 7:56:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
What About Our Elders
8/24/2012 7:57:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
A Minute – A Lifetime
8/10/2012 7:58:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles
Water, Water – Who’s Got the Water
7/31/2012 7:59:00 PM by: Cindy Sproles