Friday, August 28, 2015

An Interview with Author Ella Jackson

E. C. Jackson

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I’m excited. Finally, the number one goal of my freshman English class has been realized. After a lifetime of wanting to write books, “A Gateway to Hope” is published. This one accomplishment answers many years of prayers.  

Describe the plot of “A Gateway to Hope” in a few sentences.

Neka (Nikhol Lacey) is a beautiful twenty-one-year-old introvert. Without a word to anyone, she leaves home to support a friend when his fiancée breaks off their engagement. James Copley is twenty-nine and every woman’s dream man. Despite his fiancée’s desertion, James still needs a fiancée so he can take control of his family’s business. Neka’s arrival offers the perfect solution to Teri’s defection — until Neka’s father attempts to maneuver James’s scheme into fulfilling the Lacey agenda. 

Who do you think would most appreciate this book?

Anyone who wonders what their life might have been had they made different choices. And those still seeking God’s purpose for their life.  

What inspired you to write a book about a shy, beautiful young woman who has the opportunity to help out her friend in a very unique way?

I believe that there is a little of Neka in all of us, but life has a way of muddying those unique qualities everyone receives from God. Difficulties, missed chances and thwarted dreams obscure our pathway, and then we accept the mundane instead of utilizing our natural gifts and talents. Neka can allow life to lead her into an alternate position or she can make decisions that fulfill her destiny.

Tell us a bit about the protagonists, Neka and James Copley.

Though grief came from different sources, they both suffered hurts while growing up. Neka masked the pain by putting on a brave face and pretending not to notice the exclusion and snide remarks. James harnessed each attack, using them to validate his calculating behavior.  

What are some of the challenges Neka and James face?

Can they embrace a life together without losing themselves in the process? How do they blend two diverse lifestyles into one? And they must decide if it’s worth taking a chance on each other.  

Who was your favorite character to write?

Actually, I liked writing both characters equally. I enjoyed Neka’s optimistic approach to life as she came to terms with reality. And James’s self-styled stage managing of everyone else’s life bumps heads against another master manipulator.

How do you hope readers react to “A Gateway to Hope”?

A Gateway to Hope

I hope they relate to the characters as believable and see the story as a real slice of life. That is part of the slogan on my website. The write way – a real slice of life. 

Are there any authors who have influenced your writing style?

Jane Austen. I’m pulled into her stories, especially my all-time favorite book, “Pride and Prejudice.”   

Tell us about your creative process, from initial idea to published manuscript.

The story flowed once I placed my fingers on the keys. Yet, I learned a lot through writing this first book. It’s hard to believe that I rewrote each chapter several times before moving on to the next one. However, I wised up halfway through the first draft and wrote the last 15 chapters before critiquing them. Many scenes were removed during the editing stage. No more overwriting. 

While writing “A Gateway to Hope,” did you ever use personal experiences as a reference?

On occasion, I identified with certain aspects of both characters.

How do you feel about the increasing popularity of eBooks?  

Publishing the e-Book was simpler than publishing the paperback.

What are your goals as a writer for the next ten years?

Writing one bestseller per year that adds purpose to the reader’s life.

Is there any aspect of writing you don't like?

Book promotion is difficult. The introvert in me shies away from exposure.

What do you have in mind for your next project?

Another standalone book following the hope theme.

Is there anything else you'd like potential readers to know about your book?

“A Gateway to Hope” was a labor of love. I hope everyone enjoys Neka and James’s story just as much as I enjoyed sharing it with them.

The interview was featured on:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Interview: Dennis Kreiss - The Evidence Locker and The Resurrection Files

The Resurrection Files
Pastor Dennis Kreiss became the most recent pastor of Pine Grove Community Church  in Roseburg, Oregon, the first of January 1992. Pine Grove has a combined background of the circuit riding reformed tradition of the Brethren Church and the Sunday School revival movement of the Baptist tradition.  

Pastor Kreiss was raised in the reformed tradition. His favorite part of growing up in a large family of six boys and two girls were the yearly summer month-long camping trips in the Redwood forests. There he learned to love the Creator and his Creation. During his most mischievous years, Dennis began to wonder if he was going to heaven or hell and when he asked his mother, she had the pleasure of leading him to Christ.”He says, “I am amazed that I grew up stone-bored in church and came away believing in God.” 

This God-consciousness was nurtured between his junior and senior years in high school when a young man  from the  Moody Bible Institute interned with his church and befriended him. During their many walks and conversations, Dennis was “immersed  in the need to serve this God he barely knew."

Pastor Kreiss went to Western Bible College in Salem, Oregon (now Corban College). While there, he heard Warren Wiersbe talk. From that experience he carried away what became his true faith in Wiersbe's words: "You can have as much of God as you really want, and as little of God with which you are satisfied." Pastor Kreiss went on to finished his education at Cascade Bible College in Bellvue, Washington.

"The real work of discipleship is in the teaching," says Pastor Kreiss. "If you are going to impact the world, you have to teach. One important way to measure your maturity is whether or not you have graduated from learner to teacher, from apprentice to disciple-maker.” In addition to being an intentional disciple, Dennis is pastor to a vital and lively congregation of disciple-makers. He is also a husband, a father, a grandfather, and a self-published writer.

All of his books have come out of his role as disciple-maker. The Evidence Locker, his most recent title, is in
many ways his research for The Resurrection Files. In both books he mixes his understanding of the chronology and study of the disciples and their natures to create books that are part fictionalized accounts and part teaching.  They back-fill the stories of the appearances of Jesus to the disciples over the forty days following the Resurrection. Each story brings the emotions that must have rolled over the disciples like a shock wave. Pastor Kreiss sees these forty days as the hinge of history.

"If people could just grab hold of the Resurrection it would revitalize the church in America. It was the rocket fuel that impelled the first century believers to spread the gospel, and could do the same today.” Pastor Kreiss says the disciples with greatest impact on his faith surprisingly are the women. "They had to deal with incredible disbelief from the apostles. What a diverse group they were – women who had lived in deep poverty and rejection and women of wealth and position. Nowhere else but in Jesus could they be bound together.” 

He hopes to have found a publisher interested in perusing these books in a combined form by the end of the year. Just writing these books and sharing these stories has revitalized his life and faith. “Faith is an incredible battle full of personal and emotional distraction. I hope someday someone will be able to say, ‘He finished well.’”

Article based on telephone interview conducted 6/20/12