Posts Tagged ‘Manly Man Interview Blitz’



““Steven James gives us a captivating look at the fine line between good and evil in the human heart.” – Ann Tatlock”


“When I was young, I grew up on a steady diet of stories. Whether it was my uncle telling us ghost stories around a campfire or the short story collections I devoured in my early teens, or the Stephen King books I later found myself engrossed in, stories have always been a huge part of my life.”



rem:  Hello, Steven, welcome to my little nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

STEVEN:  I’m a husband, father, author, storyteller. I love coffee and trail running and science fiction movies. I hail from the great white north where I was born in Wisconsin, but now live in and love my home in Tennessee.

rem:  Tell us three things about yourself.

STEVEN:  I love Cheetos, I write standing up, and I’ve never been to Liechtenstein.


rem:  Cheetos, check; writing standing up—what???; and Liechtenstein? I don’t even know where that is… Cookout—steaks or burgers?

STEVEN:  Burger with cheese, mayo, and ketchup. Medium rare is the only way to go.

rem:  Gimme some tomato on that bad boy! Beatles or Rolling Stones?

STEVEN:  Beatles. My elementary school music teacher was in love with the Beatles, so all the songs we sang were Beatles songs. It became part of the fabric of my childhood.

rem:  Love me some Beatles. If you could have any super power what would it be?

STEVEN:  I’d love to be able to walk through anything.

rem:  Save a lot of time not having to go around everything. Fishing or hunting?

STEVEN:  Fishing.


rem:  My grandmother LOVED fishing! What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

STEVEN:  I think it’s hard to define Christian fiction, just as it would be hard to define Christian photography or Christian sculpture. I think that if fiction tells the truth about the human condition of the world, then it’s honoring to God. Writing has helped me to explore many facets of my faith, especially the ideas of forgiveness and justice.

rem:  Steven, this may be the best answer ever! (‘specially since I don’t write Christian fiction, but I write my faith into my fiction) When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

STEVEN:  Believability. As soon as something happens that I don’t buy, I tune out the story. Also related to this, when things happen without proper motivation, it annoys me and I eventually put the book down.

rem:  Rhyme and reason, right? Which is more important: plot or characters?

STEVEN:  A character with a meaningful pursuit is always the most interesting. Plot is the map that a character takes, so there will always be a journey, but a journey without a character can’t exist, and a character without a quest isn’t interesting.

rem:  Oooh, I like that—“plot is the map…” What would you do if you weren’t writing?

STEVEN:  I think I would be a family entertainer and tell stories for a living.

rem:  When the stories is there they finds a way out. What are you reading right now?

STEVEN:  The next book on my pile is the Marsh King’s Daughter.

rem:  Looks so intense—and it’s in my TBR mound also. What do you munch on while you write?

STEVEN:  Cheetos. Or Kit-Kats.


rem:  Both yummy choices but gimme the chocolate and no one gets hurt. Tell us a little about your writing journey.

STEVEN:  I started writing for magazines and then nonfiction books in the late 90s, but eventually found my wheelhouse when I began writing novels in 2006.

rem:  And never looked back! You spent time in Kazakhstan. Tell us about that experience.

STEVEN:  Over the years, I’ve had a few opportunities to teach ministers and children’s workers around the world on principles of creative teaching and storytelling. My visits to Kazakhstan have always been positive and I love the enthusiasm of the pastors and educators I’ve met there.

rem:  Gotta admit I’m a little envious, combining the two elements of storytelling / creativity with teaching and ministering! What is the strangest or most peculiar research or interview you’ve ever done for research?

STEVEN:  For my book The Pawn, I consulted with one of the three people who was still alive who had survived the Jonestown massacre in the 1970s. That’s one interview I’ll never forget.

rem:  Color me duly impressed! What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

STEVEN:  Mostly, I write in my basement listening to electronica or trance music. I work from a printed page, typically stand, and do most of my best writing in the morning or late at night.

rem:  Late into the night here, every time! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

STEVEN:  There are so many obligations to being an author that have nothing to do with storytelling. For instance, marketing or social media posting. All of these end up distracting me and making it harder to focus on my work-in-progress.

rem:  Oh.my.goodness.YES! (like this interview?) Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

STEVEN:  Creating. At my heart of hearts I’m a storyteller, not an editor. I like coming up with and expressing ideas, and while editing is important, it’s definitely not my passion.

rem:  Without a good story (created) there’s not much point to editing is there? What do you mean by “Story Trumps Structure,” the title of your book on the craft of writing?

STEVEN:  Story actually trumps everything—grammar, structure, all of the rules that we’re taught about plotting or outlining. Every great story breaks at least one of them. Rather than teach people formulas that might not work, I like to teach storytelling principles that always do.

rem:  My motto is, I know the rules—and I know how to break them. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

STEVEN:  God made me to be a storyteller and I can’t imagine feeling fulfilled doing anything else.

rem:  A to da MEN! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

STEVEN:  Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with many editors, some who were excellent but many who were not. Fixing the mistakes of poor editors is the most exasperating thing for me in the world. The easiest thing about publishing is coming up with ideas for books.

rem:  So.many.ideas. So.little.time. What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

STEVEN:  1) Keep everything believable. 2) Don’t fall in love with your first draft. 3) Tell stories that explore moral dilemmas. Three things I would recommend not doing: 1) Plotting out or outlining your story. 2) Joining a critique group. 3) Publishing your work before it’s ready.

rem:  Pantzer here! (don’t think anyone has ever said to NOT join a critique group before!) How do you choose your characters’ names?

STEVEN:  In a sense, I feel like while I work on the book the names reveal to me. Some names just feel right for some characters and there’s no logic or specific process that I know of behind it.

rem:  My [main] characters “introduce” themselves to me. Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

STEVEN:  Absolutely not. I write completely organically. I typically don’t even know how a scene will end when I start writing it, and I’ve never started a book that I’ve known the ending for beforehand.

rem:  And it works very well for you. Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

STEVEN:  Every Deadly Kiss released this summer. FBI special agent Patrick Bowers grapples with a baffling series of murders in Detroit—and discovers a terror plot with roots that stretch back centuries.

rem:  Interesting enough—and then there’s that hook, “… with roots that stretch back centuries.” What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

STEVEN:  The plot twists and turns are one of my favorite aspects of Every Deadly Kiss. If readers like suspense and enjoy a story that they can’t predict the end of, I think they’ll really dig Every Deadly Kiss.

rem:  Go ‘head, readers, go get your copy! Tell us about why you wrote this book.

STEVEN:  I was intrigued by placing a story in Detroit and one of my trips overseas helped me see the bigger picture, and the geopolitical storyline emerged.

rem:  Love how seeming random, disconnected things come together [in our brains] to form a story. Please give us the first page of the book.

STEVEN:  Here’s a link to the first chapter:




rem:  Even better! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

STEVEN:  That redemption and hope are available but they are not cheap. They always come at a cost.

rem:  Nothing worth having is cheap, maybe especially hope, and definitely redemption. Anything you’d like to add?

STEVEN:  Thanks for taking the time to meet with me. I hope that all of your readers will have a great summer full of great books.

rem:  Steven, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us at my little nest today!










“Some people outline their books and go through dozens of drafts; some people write organically and hardly have to edit the manuscript at all. Some of it is skill, artistry, intuition.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Manly Man Interview Blitz, Steven James, Every Deadly Kiss, Story Trumps Structure, Troubleshooting Your Novel, Checkmate, Opening Moves, Curse



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I like to see the story unfold, picture it in what I like to call “the movie screen of my mind.” Write it as if someone could easily transform it to the “big screen.” That’s what good novels do, right?”


“As with any good fiction, the story must be rooted in truth, fact, and details verifiable by someone. Then, with those facts developed and substantiated, the rest of the “story”-however unbelievable it may appear-will at least seem believable, even possible.”


rem:  Hullo Kevin, welcome to my blog! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

KEVIN:  I was born and raised in central Florida where I presently live. But I haven’t always lived here. We had a 13 year hiatus from living in this neck of the woods from 1983-1996. Seven and a half of those were spent in western New York where I attended college (not the whole time, mind you J). Then we lived for three years in Jackson, Mississippi, where I attended seminary. During that three years, we spent six months of it living in the Fort Worth, Texas area (Watauga, Haltom City). Then, we moved to Des Moines, Iowa and spent two years there before moving back to FLA.


rem:  That’s a bit dizzying… LOL Tell us three things about yourself.

KEVIN:  #1: I am self-taught on the drums. Can’t read a lick of drum music, but if I can listen to a song, I can pretty much figure out how it’s played and have it down rather quickly. I’ve played in a couple of church praise teams over the years. For a guy who doesn’t own his own set anymore (haven’t for about 20 years), I do okay. J I’d love to play with some group like Third Day or Downhere someday. Not forever, just a jam session. (rem: how cool is that)  #2: I had a chance to go to Taylor University in Indiana on a wrestling scholarship out of high school, but I told my coach no because I didn’t know anyone in Indiana at the time. Silly me.  #3: I’m painfully shy and a bit of a loner. If I have to be in large groups or family get togethers, I can handle it, but I am sure drained after it’s all over. I guess that’s why writing feels so comfortable to me. I could cloister myself for days, look like a beach bum, and get a great deal of writing done…and be perfectly happy. I have guard against that, though. Marriage and family are not fans all the time when you do that.


rem:  Cookout—steaks or burgers?

KEVIN:  Why do you have choose? Why not steaks AND burgers?

rem:  Your cookout, your menu, Dude. Beer in a bottle or a can

KEVIN:  Bottle. Everything’s better in bottles. Beer. Wine. Coca-Cola.

rem:  I agree! What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?

KEVIN:  Favorite movie? Hopscotch with Walter Matthau (If you can get by Ned Beatty’s mouth). It’s a funny movie, and I love all the classical music in it. Better than the book by the same name, yet both the novel and the script were written by Brian Garfield. (The very first time I saw this movie, it was on TV. They cut out all the scenes with language. So imagine my surprise when I finally received the DVD as a gift and watched it for the first time!)

Favorite TV Show? Wow, that’s a tough one. I’d have to say 24 (The Jack Bauer version), although The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds are a close second, third, and fourth.

rem:  Haven’t seen the movie but will have to check it out now; and Criminal Minds¸YES!!! Beatles or Rolling Stones?

KEVIN:  Beatles, although I like much of what the Stones have produced. I love the “dig” The Beatles made about the Stones in their song, I Dig a Pony. They made fun of the Stones by saying they imitated others, which is very true.

rem:  The things I learn in these interviews! Ha! Vacation: beach or mountains?

KEVIN:  Beach. I love the mountains, too, but there are no mosquitos or black flies at the beach.

rem:  Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

KEVIN:  Romans 12:1-2. Just like Paul was attempting to do when he wrote it, it sums up what the Christian life is all about in two verses.


rem:  YESSS!! 12:2 is my signature verse! What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

KEVIN:  Jesus was a storyteller. He wasn’t a theologian. He wasn’t a scholar. He wasn’t a teacher of the law, like the ones living in His day. He used story to convey truth. He used imagery to convey meaning. He always used the things of everyday life so everyone could understand (the birds of the air, the flowers of the field, plants, wheat, weeds, mustard seeds, fish, bread, oil, lamps, money, family, etc.). His stories have resonated with people for over two thousand years in the bestselling book of all time. That’s not a coincidence. When you marry story with eternal truth, life happens. rem: emphasis mine  So being a novelist, I try to do the same thing. When I write stories, there is always an overarching spiritual truth, like an umbrella, spreading over the story. Because of this, it has helped deepen the meaning of truths in scripture in my life as I wrestle with them on the page.


rem:  YES and AMEN!! When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

KEVIN:  What makes a story for me? One that grips me. Makes me care about the characters. One that has a storyline I can believe in. One that has purpose. A story that I think about long after the last page is turned. One that is realistic, but stretches me. What breaks a story for me? Pretty much all the opposites. A story that doesn’t grip me. One where I don’t like or care about the characters. A story that has a storyline that seems forced or has no real purpose for existing, or characters that seem too perfect, or too trite, or too religious.


rem:  All of the above, especially too religious. Which is more important: plot or characters?

KEVIN:  Neither. Both are equally important, in my opinion. I know books have been written on this subject. Wars have almost been waged at writers’ conferences. But for me, you can have the most amazing story, with conflict galore, but if I could care less about the characters, the story suffers. On the contrary, I could have the best, lovable, likeable character ever created, but if he or she is in a boring, lifeless story, who cares? For me, as a thriller writer, plot tends to overshadow character, but I try to make sure my characters are ones people can love, hate, and empathize with, depending on the character’s arc. I try not to get lost in that argument of which is more important. To me, it’s like the chicken and egg. Which came first? Who cares? Let’s eat!

rem:  Yup, and DiAnn Mills has a lovely little book on that, The Dance of Character and Plot.  What would you do if you weren’t writing?

KEVIN:  Good question. Probably more yard work. Ugh.

rem:  That’s neverending, isn’t it? What are you reading right now?

KEVIN:  The Killing Floor by Lee Child. It’s the first Jack Reacher novel.

rem:  What do you munch on while you write?

KEVIN:  Depends on if I want to be healthy or not. Chips or fruit or candy or ice cream…


rem:  Sooo… mood driven, eh? Tell us about “In the News” feature on your website. What is the strangest discovery you have found in your research?

KEVIN:  When I conduct research for my novels, I like to give the readers a glimpse into some of that background. I post things I have found and used in my novels I think they will find interesting or challenging. The strangest “discovery” I found was when I was writing The Serpent’s Grasp, it seemed the scientific world was working for me. Article after article, new discovery after new discovery was being published in this journal or that news site. They were proving the point behind TSG every time. Still are, by the way.

rem:  Life imitating fiction! You have teamed up with World Hope International. What prompted your interest in their work and mission and how much does this topic show up in your stories?

KEVIN:  As I was writing my Blake Meyer series, I knew where it was heading (into the world of human trafficking). I felt led to pray about what I could do about this problem. Besides exposing it within the story, I found out about WHI. They have a HT arm of the organization that helps women and children (primarily), who have been victims of HT, rehabilitate and get back on their feet while sharing the message of Christ with them. I prayed about it, and decided to give a portion of what I earn as a writer to WHI. I feel like it’s so small, but it was something I could do to start. Who knows where it will lead from here. And also, each year, the monies given are matched through a government grant up to a certain amount. Even more good news.

rem:  Sometimes it’s those small actions and gifts that manifest the most. Tell us a little about your writing journey.

KEVIN:  I’ve been writing seriously since I was college. While in seminary, I had several articles published in a denominational Sunday School curriculum as well as some other articles in missions magazines, pastoral journals, and even a local newspaper. Then, in the mid-90s, I decided to try my hand at fiction. I wrote a novel called A Case of Déjà vu. It involves some characters I am now developing into a young adult series. (Eventually, I plan to work my way back up chronologically to that time period of their lives with adult fiction. I foresee many novels in this entire journey.) Then, I wrote another novel for my oldest daughter. It was strictly a labor of love and never intended for it to be published. My third novel was a young adult novel, as I tried my hand at such. All the while, I was learning the craft and never too serious about getting any of it published. In 2006, I started writing the beginning pages, by hand, of The Serpent’s Grasp. Four years later, it was done. It was published in 2012 and won the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction. I’m pretty proud of that accomplishment. (rem: as you should be!)  It has since been republished in a second edition (it’s in pre-order status as we speak!). Since 2012, I have written three more novels, all part of the Blake Meyer Thriller Series: Book 1 – 30 Days Hath Revenge, Book 2 – Triple Time, and Book 3 – The Tide of Times. The first two are available. Book 3 will be out in late August. Books 4, 5 & 6 will be out just as soon as I write them. J I also have another manuscript in the hands of a publisher right now, being considered for publication titled The Letters. It’s a Christmas novel about a woman who receives some letters in the mail in the most interesting way. The byline of this novel is: The world is a crazy place when the living are dead and the dead are alive.

rem:  What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

KEVIN:  It varies. I work full-time as an assistant principal at a middle school. That’s my day job. So when school is in session and it works out, I like to get up about 4:00 a.m. and write for a couple of hours before the day gets rolling. If I can, I also write for about half of Saturday. Then there’s holidays, summers, etc. Writing at night is not always the best for me. I’m usually too tired and create a bunch of deleted scenes when I try to write at night. J


rem:  Wait! What??? There’s a 4:00 in the A.M. too??? What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

KEVIN:  Time management. Keeping everything in perspective. It’s a daily fight. As far as how I handle it? One day at a time. Some days, I win. Some days, not so much.

rem:  No.kidding! and yeah, best way to tackle it (or be tackled… ) Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

KEVIN:  Creating. Editing is a bear, but it’s worth it, because what you put on the page the first go around (and second and third…) usually says something, but sometimes it’s not what you meant it to say.

rem:  What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

KEVIN:  The creative aspect. Developing stories readers marvel at is fun. I’ve been told by people they are glad I’m on their side. I’d make a scary terrorist, I guess.

rem:  I have a CSI-worthy story that scared a coworker once! I told her I write this stuff, I don’t do it!  What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

KEVIN:  The hardest thing about being published for me was being good enough to get published. As I stated earlier, The Serpent’s Grasp was my 4th novel. And there had been a great deal of non-fiction writing before that. A close second is building a readership. What’s the easiest? I’m not sure there is anything easy about this business.


rem:  True, but it’s still so fun!  Love me my networking!! (and yes, my interviews are work! but I wouldn’t trade them for nuthin!) What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

KEVIN:  1. Keep writing with an eye on improving and never think you have arrived. (ouch) 2. Read good writers in your genre and learn from them as well as books on the craft. 3. Attend a writers’ conference. What you learn and who you meet will be invaluable.


  1. Don’t give up when you get a rejection. It won’t be your first or your last. The only people who don’t get them anymore are people who gave up on writing. 2. Don’t get all caught up in making huge plans “once you get your first book published.” Thinking big is okay, so long as it is tempered with a huge dose of reality. 3. Don’t compare yourself to other authors. It’s never a fair fight because God called you to write something. He also called the other author to write something else. You’re comparing apples and oranges when you fall prey to this.


rem:  That’s some good stuff there, Kev! #RevKev How do you choose your characters’ names?

KEVIN:  I try to make the name fit the character. I know who the character is going to be, so finding the proper name is important. Also, sometimes, it’s about cadence. Blake Meyer was designed to be like most of the other thriller, espionage, murder mystery names out there. Most of the popular ones have one or two syllables in the first and last name, but no more. James Bond. Jack Reacher. Jack Bauer. John Ryan. Sherlock Holmes. Not too many famous FBI or MI-6 agents out there called Englebert Kadiddlehopper. In young adult fiction maybe, but not adult fiction.


However, I do have a little Thomas Kincaid in me. Like he did with the letter of his wife’s first name appearing in all his paintings, I have used my family member’s names in various ways for character who have bit parts. For example, in The Serpent’s Grasp, there are two characters with the last names Wiggins and Higgins, the married last names of my middle and oldest daughter, respectively. I also have used my grandchildren’s names. In the Blake Meyer series, there is a Wichita County Deputy Sheriff whose last name is Landon, a Texas Highway Patrol Sergeant named Colton Lee, a Coast Guard commander named Addisyn Rylee, and a paramedic named Evyn. In upcoming books, I have a Brantley James planned. These are little things that are cool, in my opinion.

rem:  So cool! I’ve done this too, in different ways—and use my own name, robin, in some form or spelling variation. Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

KEVIN:  I know where I want to start, and I know how the story ends. I also know several high points in the middle. For me, though, the fun part is the writing journey from point A to point B.

rem:  Sounds rather Pantser-y to me…. Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

KEVIN:  Well, that’s a tough one because I have two books coming out a month apart. The Tide of Times is Book 3 is a series that will have six books when completed (Blake Meyer series…think 24 with a Christian twist). The Serpent’s Grasp is Jurassic Park in the ocean. If you’d like more details, I’ll just say, head over to my website at www.ckevinthompson.com, and have a look!

rem:  Yes! Always more details! You hear the man, peeps, head over to the website already! (just don’t forget to come back… ) Tell us about why you wrote this book.

KEVIN:  I wrote The Serpent’s Grasp to delve into the topic of Truth from a scientific viewpoint. It seems many in the scientific community no longer wish for truth to be known unless it jives with their beliefs (namely, evolutionary theory). I knew this book would be polarizing, and the reviews have borne that out. But when you are attacking the gates of hell with the truth of scripture, battles abound!


rem:  Truth tends to do that, though, doesn’t it—polarize, or maybe crystalize, those very differences. Please give us the first page of the book.

KEVIN:  (I gave you the first two, but unfortunately, the serpent shows up on page 3…)


Wednesday, 1:57 a.m.

Atlantic Ocean

Approximately 11 Nautical Miles East/Northeast of Fort Pierce, Florida


Tethered to the ocean floor for hours, an eighty-five-foot schooner floated in rhythm with the gentle swells of the Atlantic. The masts, standing vigil in the shadows of the night sky with their sails battened tight, rocked back and forth as solitary sentinels. Under a veil of thin cirrus clouds, the moon beamed a brilliant but dispersed glow upon the vessel whose white underbelly glistened against the backdrop of the watery depths.

A soft breeze, mixing with the smell of salt and sea life, wafted across the deck, carrying the mounting sounds of a quarrel that emanated from the quarters below.

“I don’t care about all that. But obviously you do,” the woman said, putting on her clothes.

The man flopped over onto his back and sighed. “Why does that bother you?”

“It’s becoming clear that our relationship is important when we can have our little trysts, but when it comes to disrupting your cash flow, then whoa, wait a minute. You’ve suddenly got to think it through.”

“That’s not fair, Regina, and you know it. If I divorce Evelyn, she’ll want half. Do you know what that means?”

Regina crossed her arms and shrugged.

“I’d have to sell the business. That’s what it means. All that I’ve worked for would be gone. I’d be left with our rental in Fort Lauderdale, this boat if I’m lucky, and a whopping alimony payment.”

Regina closed her eyes and dropped her chin to her chest. “So our relationship is based on your financial future? Wonderful.”

David Sims sat up on the edge of the bed and snatched his polo shirt off the floor. “Look, this is not what I had in mind.” He thrust his arms through the sleeves. “If we’re gonna fight, I might as well go home.”

“I’ve got to know this is going somewhere.” She lifted her gaze and watched him get dressed. “If you’re not willing to leave your wife, then all I am is a plaything, and I can’t live like that.”

David sat for several awkward moments before speaking. “What about your husband? Is it that cut and dry for you? Don’t you feel a little remorse when we’re together?”

“Sure, I do.” Regina unfolded her arms and slipped her hands into the pockets of her shorts. “You know, you’re not the only one destined to lose something in this.”

“But you’re the woman. You should get a healthy chunk of your husband’s money.” David chuckled. “Maybe that would help make our lives easier after the dust settles.”

“Well, I hate to paint a bleak picture for you, Dave, but I won’t.”

“You won’t what?”

“Get anything from my husband.”

“You didn’t.”


rem:  That packs a bunch in them thar words! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

KEVIN:  Good writing that gets you thinking, i.e., “smart fiction.”


rem:  Where can we find you online? (provide links)









rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

KEVIN:  I am also a regular contributor for Seriously Write: http://seriouslywrite.blogspot.it/


Also, Reader Poll: Should I start a Pinterest Page? Yes or No? I’ll let the readers decide! 

rem:  Ooohhh, fun, Reader Poll!!  Aite, ya’ll, there it is! Whatcha’ll think? Pinterest for #RevKev, yes or no? Kevin, thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!



I’ll go first n I say GO FOR IT! And share your Pinterest link in comments below!


“He believes the Bible is not the best-selling book of all time for nothing. It’s about storytelling, and it’s about truth. And when you couple those two things together, it makes for powerful reading. (Of course, divine inspiration puts the Bible in a class by itself!) There’s nothing like a good story that brings home something concrete which a reader can take with them long after the last page is turned.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Manly Man Interview Blitz, C. Kevin Thompson, The Serpent’s Grasp, 30 Days Hath Revenge, Blake Meyer Thriller, Triple Time, World Hope International




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“One verse penetrated the deepest part of his soul. Hebrews 13:5. Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”


“Peter Leavell’s love of history began in bed. Reading late into the night, he devoured the past. In the fourth grade, his teacher told stories of settlers and Indians. Oh, how he hated the recess bell!”



rem:  Hello, Peter, welcome to my little nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

PETER:  I was raised in a small town in South Dakota where, as a pastor’s kid, I did what I could to cause a reasonable amount of trouble. We moved to Walla Walla Washington when I started high school, which is about the most fun town name to say, ever. I tried college in Iowa, tried business in Colorado, and finished my university degree in Boise, Idaho, and decided to raise the family in Boise. Here I stay.

rem:  My cousin lives somewhere (Orem) near there, in Idaho at least… Tell us three things about yourself.

PETER:  As much as I try, I don’t like oatmeal for breakfast. Even worse, putting raisins in oatmeal cookies. Who thought of such a thing? I’m off the charts (clinical studies) in two areas—introverted and imagination. I’ve learned to gain mastery over both. I’m a baseball junkie. Love the sport. To me, it’s perfect.


rem:  Have I got the recipe for you—oatmeal pancakes with apple butter! Oh, n I might match you on imagination….. Cookout—steaks or burgers?

PETER:  Steaks. Medium rare.

rem:  Perfect! Beer in a bottle or a can?

PETER:  *Reaches past the beer and takes the glass of wine. Checks viscosity. Sniffs. Hmmm. Takes a sip. Yep, it’s red.

rem:  Me, gimme a nice Chardonnay. What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?

PETER:  Favorite TV show is Get Smart. I can quote everything 86 said. All of it. Favorite movie, Casablanca.

rem:  I loved that show! The shoe phone! All the secret doors! Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

PETER:  Gen 1:1a. In the beginning, God….  What a beautiful way to start The Book.

rem:  He is always and ever… If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

PETER:  Condoleezza Rice, to talk political theory. Oh, yeah. Good times.


rem:  Seems like a good choice for an introvert… What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

PETER:  Christian Fiction’s significance has been the drawing out of Christian writers from the general market and created a place for readers to find safe, clean reading material. It’s debated whether that’s good or not for writers and readers and the general fiction market, but the main significance is that a block has been created where Christian writers and readers can hang out together and eat BBQ and discuss writing. Just rubbing shoulders with profound Christian writers has moved me greatly toward Christ.

rem:  I want BBQ… And yes, Kristen Heitzmann (among so many) comes to mind, addressing issues that people face, believers and non-believers, and weaving her magic around that into a story with deep impact. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

PETER:  Bad history makes me chuck a book across the room.  But I love breaking apart a character, finding out what makes them tick. Without character development, I have a hard time getting into the plot.

rem:  Good thing I’m OCD about my research, historical and otherwise… Insert anecdote—once upon a time when I was writing my own story a la saga, I was describing my mother’s childhood. She was playing with her Barbies and baby dolls—SCREECHING HALT. She didn’t have Barbies. There were no Barbies in the 1940’s. There was no Barbie til the year I was born, 1959! Which is more important: plot or characters?

PETER:  For me, plot, despite the previous question, because first we must have a relatable action, then a relatable character. Our imagination must be triggered by the world the character lives in and what they’re doing before we can like or hate them.

rem:  True, we might love Sam and Ethel but if all they’re doing is sitting on the front porch watching the world go by, not much reason to read. What would you do if you weren’t writing?

PETER:  I’ve no idea. I’ve been writing since kindergarten on my coloring sheets and never looked back.

rem:  I know your fans are glad to hear that. What are you reading right now?

PETER:  ‘Road to Character’ by David Brooks, Aristotle’s Poetics, and almost done with everything CS Lewis ever wrote.

rem:  What do you munch on while you write?

PETER:  Trail mix!


rem:  But, um, doesn’t trail mix have (ahem) oats in it? jus’ sayin’

“One day he ran fifteen miles. The next, he could barely make three. And a week after that, he lay in bed without the energy to get up. His muscles shriveled.” Tell us about that horrifying experience.

PETER:  I stopped making testosterone, but before we had the diagnosis, we thought I had cancer in the final stages. I learned through the trials that my journey wasn’t to be published, or to be great for God, but simply to grow closer to Him. The rest of life? Details. I took treatments and got back on my feet. A few years later, my younger brother was weak, couldn’t get out of bed, and it was cancer. When he died, it once again confirmed life is about loving God, discovering His wonders, and living every moment with grateful hearts for all He’s done and given us. When we have no strength, how can we still have joy? Only in Christ.

rem:  Peter, I’m so sorry about your brother. Such a tragedy. You’re so right, only in Christ. What’s the most unusual or unexpected historical factoid you’ve discovered?

PETER:  George Washington was freakishly strong. He broke walnuts with his thumb and pointing finger!

rem:  I’m duly impressed. How much of your Biblical Studies and/or Biblical Archeology do you toss in when you’re writing?

PETER:  As much as I possibly can! Then the editors make me take it out. I’ve a few manuscripts on the burner that are using them full force!

rem:  Love this answer. And boo to editors! Have you ever considered writing Biblical fiction?

PETER:  Yes! I’m working with another author on the minor prophets. Wayyyy more fun than I thought it would be.

rem:  Yayyyy…. (It’s my fav-fav genre.) Tell us a little about your writing journey.

PETER:  I wrote newsletters for fun as a kid. My math grade hovered around a ‘C’ and I aced all writing assignments. When I was 25, I told my wife I was going to write a book, then discovered fiction was a bear that needed taming. I went to university, grabbed a history degree and studied English Lit, then studied craft. And more craft. Ten years of writing, rewriting, hiring editors, I finally sat down to write my historical fiction, which won a contest that offered $20,000 and a publishing contract! When you can attach ‘Award Winning Author’ to your business card, lots of opportunities open. Now, it’s learning how to work with those opportunities!

rem:  I have visions of a bear with a ruffled collar, you standing before him with a whip and some trail mix… What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

Peter: Since I work part time and am dedicated to deep, personal study and am raising a family and sending my wife to university, I read and write whenever, wherever I get the chance. On the couch. At my desk. By the side of the road. While the kids are getting ready for this or that. Laptops and iPhone for the win!

rem:  Yes to that! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

PETER:  My day job is my struggle. As a landlord, I’m locked at a desk. When there’s no people around, I get to read. But people are bored and want to chat with a ‘famous’ author (I was writer of the year in my town last year), so they come in and just watch me read and write. It’s bizarre. So, finding time, and people wasting my time, is my biggest mental struggle. I get frustrated too easily.

rem:  Finding time for me too, albeit for very different reasons. Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

PETER:  I love everything about writing. From creating, researching, and editing, to marketing. Every every every bit. Love it.

rem:  Yes to all of the above—marketing is even growing on me, ‘specially this blog gig. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

PETER:  I enjoy reading. Odd, huh. But instead of reading some unknown author’s books, I’m reading colleague’s books. Heady stuff.

rem:  Heady indeed! My best friend pointed that out to me not long ago. What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

PETER:  The hardest part is for me is the author is a business and must move forward with business decisions. I have no clue what’s wise or silly. So, I get advice. The easiest is finding friends and likeminded folks at writer’s conferences. We’re a team, all looking out for each other!

rem:  The networking and camaraderie are invaluable! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

PETER:  Read the masters. Read how to write books. Read what’s selling on the market right now. Read, read, read. Then write. Then edit. See projects through, even if you don’t publish. So the three to-dos…read, write, and finish projects. Don’t panic. Don’t expect any part of the writing process to happen fast. And don’t admit to anyone you write in the bathroom.

rem:  Nope, nothing fast about it. How do you choose your characters’ names?

PETER:  I discover the character’s personality, look into the meanings of names, and try and work in meanings and depth. For me, names are vital. In one of my novels, West for the Black Hills, Anna goes through the process I go through when searching for name meanings.

rem:  I liken it to meeting a new friend, “Hello my name is ___. Please tell me story for me.” Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

PETER:  I wrestle with ‘how am I going to tell this character’s story?’ I grind it, thinking though entire scenarios in seconds (remember, my imagination is off the charts). Then, suddenly, boom. One is right from beginning to end. I change this and that inside the parameters of the original thoughts, but keep to the overall idea.

rem:  I totally get this! Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

PETER:  My latest is smack dab in the center of a trilogy! We’re discovering Philip Anderson’s story as he’s battling the evil Jacob Wilkes in the old west. Will Philip and Anna finally find peace? I’m working book three while editing a few other manuscripts I’ve written.

rem:  What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

PETER:  I love the moral search in stopping evil. How far would you go to save someone? Is love worth fighting for? Justice vs revenge. If you’re looking for a rip-roaring western, this one’s for you. As a side note, Romantic Times gave it raving reviews, too. Every book should be one part action, one part romance, two parts character development, and three parts humor.

rem:  Isn’t that a basic element or premise in all Christian fiction? Tell us about why you wrote this book.

PETER:  I believe we’re struggling to find a balance between standing up for what’s right and just yelling and fighting to be noticed. There are times when we must fight, and times when quiet enjoyment of life is the aim. I’m looking to uncover how to balance both.

rem:  And sometimes the fight IS quiet. Please give us the first page of the book.

PETER:  Argh! It’s in the publisher’s hands. I don’t have access to an e-copy.

rem:  Well darn. What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

PETER: Love is worth fighting for.

rem:  Yes, yes it is. Where can we find you online?







rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

PETER:  Keep reading! Be the best God made you to be!

rem:  I think I will, thanks! Peter, thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!


BONUS: Recipe











“Every night, I sleep with someone different. John Adams. Earnest Hemingway. Napoleon Bonaparte. A pharaoh, king, or queen. I never know who my husband’s bringing to bed with us.



#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Manly Man Interview Blitz, Peter Leavell, Shadow of Devil’s Tower, God & Gun, West for the Black Hills, Gideon’s Call, Passageways, Oatmeal Pancakes



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“God always has a plan, and nothing has ever taken Him by surprise. Every moment of suffering we experience is to benefit others—even to the point of salvation.”


“Christian living is easy in this country—so easy that if we’re not careful we become complacent. And when we ask ourselves if that’s okay with God, undoubtedly we would say no.”



rem:  Hello, Don, welcome to my little nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

DON: I was born and raised in New Jersey, but moved away when I married my wife at age 21. Although I’ve lived in a number of states, I have lived in Alabama since 1993.

rem:  I moved around a bunch too, but have been in the upstate of South Carolina for almost 30 years now. Tell us three things about yourself.

DON:  I’m a doctor, the Medical Director of Alabama. I travel to Africa frequently to provide medical aid in the bush as well as the desert working with Syrian and Sudanese refugees. I love to fly and used quite a bit of my personal experiences in the book, The Ghost of Africa.


rem:  I love how Father puts two things—your medical expertise and passion for refugees—and uses it to reach out to the world. Cookout—steaks or burgers?

DON:  Steaks for sure, preferably cooked on a Green Egg grill, and maybe with a few ears of grilled corn beside it.

rem:  Perfect! If you could have any super power what would it be?

DON:  Flying, for sure. Without the aid of an airplane. I often dream of flying, and it would be amazing to soar on wings like eagles.

rem:  Definitely flying! I’ve loved flying for as long as I can remember—either because my dad was in the Air Force or because my name is robin, although I think I was born loving to fly. Vacation: beach or mountains?

DON:  Beach as often as I can go. I do like the mountains, especially if skiing is involved, but the beach is a must have several times a year.

rem:  And Alabama is an ocean state…  Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

DON:  Psalm 51:10. David, described as a man after God’s own heart, asks God to create in him a clean heart, and renew a right spirit within him. If David had to ask this of God, how much more should I ask every day? I need a clean heart and a right spirit if I am to do God’s will in my life. It’s comforting to know that I can ask for that, and He can help me.


rem:  David is such person—the Psalms are full of how real he was, no pretense, no putting on airs, just humble before Father. What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

DON:  My writing of fiction came on the heels of writing a memoir about my wife’s spiritual journey (and mine) after she discovered she had cancer. (rem: I am so sorry for your loss, Don.) No one has ever been more encouraging about me writing fiction. Christian fiction is often a challenge in that I need my readers to see the journey of a fictional character. If there is no change, no romance, no transformation in my main characters, it’s not true to life. Everything changes us, and if we don’t go to God for our needs, the changes we undergo will be for the worse, not the better.

In my own walk with Christ I’m challenged every time I put my protagonist through a trial he or she can’t possibly endure. My most heart-wrenching scenes are written when I can draw from those painful experiences in my own life.

rem:  So true! I look at some of what I’ve gone through and know that without Him by my side (or me in His hand) I would never have survived. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

DON:  It has to be believable. That is also one of my greatest challenges. But when a plot is moving forward and something coincidental slips in and saves the day, or a character suddenly becomes capable of a power that had never been mentioned, I tend to stop reading. Readers are smart. (rem: so true) If I create a scene where my doctor character needs to land a plane in a field in Sudan, I don’t want other pilots or persons in the know to say, “There is no way that could ever happen.” For that reason, for the opening scene in The Ghost of Africa, I flew the exact plane in the book to the area in question and landed it there. It was a knuckle-whitening experience, but I can stand behind that scene in the book.

rem:  That’s awesome, to live (or pre-live) the story you’re writing. Which is more important: plot or characters?

DON:  Plot is what shows us what the characters are going through, but I don’t like the terms plot-driven or character-driven. I believe that, as Steven James book states, “Story Trumps Structure.” Your story has to be real—that is, believable and important. But if the characters are all strong, or all weak, or all the same, you won’t get much out of your book anyway.

rem:  Or as DiAnn Mills calls it, The Dance of Character and Plot. What would you do if you weren’t writing?

DON:  I would be working in Africa more than I already do. But my writing helps to make my work in Africa possible.

rem:  The, uh, dance of writing and mission… What are you reading right now?

DON:  My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni. Robert is a friend and mentor. He helped me with The Ghost of Africa, and he is helping me with my work in progress. Robert is a gifted author, and My Sister’s Grave has sold over a million copies. If you like mystery, adventure, thrillers, you must read his work, and start with that one.

rem:  I’ll add it to my TBR behemoth. What do you munch on while you write?

DON:  Jelly Bellies. Didn’t even have to give that any thought. If I’m out of them, life (and writing) become very difficult.


rem:  LOL I see large stockpiles of Jelly Bellies! You have a ministry and mission in Africa. Tell us about that. How did that get started?

DON:  After my wife passed away in 2008, I embarked on what we had talked about doing for many years—working in Africa to help the poor and needy. That has blossomed to where I make between four and six trips a year to several different African countries that need medical help desperately. We are not allowed in some of those areas, but we go because they need us.

rem:  And that is the call of God, to go where we’re needed. You are also involved in rescuing victims of human trafficking. Is that connected to your work in Africa?

DON:  My passion regarding helping victims of human trafficking actually began nearly thirty years ago when I worked with agencies in Chicago to recover and extract those who had been taken, and stopping organizations responsible for exploiting those young people. This will be brought out in the next book, and much of it has always been shrouded in secrecy, and for obvious reasons, it must remain that way.

rem:  Don, that’s admirable and astounding. That’s such a dark and depraved industry, so many deceived, and such horror to young girls. I thank you for your part it that. What is the greatest adventure or challenge you’ve encountered on visits to Africa?

DON:  The greatest challenges are those involving men . . . evil men. In my book, the LRA, or Lord’s Resistance Army is a very real entity that kills, rapes, and destroys the people of Sudan, Uganda, and the Congo. In other areas we now must also deal with ISIS. The challenges are to do the work we’ve been sent there to do, but not be discovered.

rem:  And this is not fiction. Tell us a little about your writing journey.

DON:  I began writing on the website caringbridge.org when my wife was ill with cancer. It developed into a daily writing habit through which I expressed my love for the woman I loved. That developed into the writing of Thirteen Months, a non-fiction book about my wife’s journey through cancer. I promised her I would do it, and have never regretted it. I continue to hear from individuals who have been deeply touched by her story and faith.

A literary agent, Jessica Kirkland of Kirkland Media Management contacted me after reading that book, and I signed on with her immediately. She has succeeded in supporting me and propelling me through the industry.

I then decided to write fiction, which my wife had always wanted me to do. It has been successful, and I enjoy it very much.

rem:  Bittersweet success. What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

DON: I wrote Thirteen Months in an apartment in New York City, but I no longer have that apartment. Although many authors I know, write in coffee shops or Panera, I write my best in the quiet of my study. I love having several days during which I can write from morning till night, since I can allow myself to be fully engulfed in my work. And I do just that.

rem:  Ya, I can’t work with ANY noise around me other than life—no music, no TV, and definitely no Panera or Starbucks chatter! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

DON:  When I’m writing a scene about something that has actually happened, but when written that way sounds unbelievable, I struggle with keeping the truth in it while making it fiction. Frank Peretti once told me that when I write fiction, I needed to be certain I was writing it as fiction, and not brown paper wrapping a true story under a fiction heading. It took me a while to truly understand that, but it was great advice.

rem:  Interesting way to put it—I love that! Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

DON:  I prefer the creating aspect. I’m a dynamic writer as opposed to a static writer. I do not use outlines, but write what comes to me onto the page. Sometimes my characters do something wrong that gets them into trouble, or make decisions that don’t play out well. When that happens it’s often a total surprise to me. Writing in that manner is much more fun to me.

rem:  Ah yes, the ever devious characters. I know them well… What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

DON:  I very much enjoy watching readers become interested in a character, and become so tied to him/her that they can’t stop turning pages. If the characters are real, and the reader feels invested in their lives and is concerned about them, I’ve succeeded.

rem:  Agree 100%! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

DON:  The hardest thing was sticking with it when rewrites seemed to take over my life. I’ve said in the past that my manuscripts have gone through fifteen to twenty full edits before a publisher gets to see them. There are times you want to say, “That’s good enough.” But you can never settle. It has to be the best you can do, because you can never resubmit a work to be reconsidered. Once that door is closed, it’s closed.

rem:  Twenty years ago (I was so clueless) I said my story would be published and in its 10th edition and I’d still find something to tweak or edit! LOL What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

DON:  1. Stick with it. That sounds cliché, but it is true. Don’t give up on your work. rem: AMEN! 2. Have others who will be truthful read and critique your manuscript. Don’t ask a friend or relative. They may not tell you how much work is needed. 3. Make sure it’s the best you can do before showing it to an agent or publisher. Polish it. Go over it again. Hire a personal editor (I still do that) and go over it again. Remember, fifteen or twenty times. And turn it in with a well-done proposal (no matter if it’s to an agent or publisher). I strongly recommend Michael Hyatt’s book on writing proposals for fiction and non-fiction.


Do not give up. It bears repeating that. Do not give up.

Don’t trust a friend to tell you the truth. Get professional help.

Never try to represent yourself to a publisher. You need an agent.


rem:  Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

DON:  The current work deals with organized crime, human trafficking, and political espionage. It takes place in Chicago and parts of the Middle East. I’m not allowed to say more at this point, other than it is finished and I’m very excited about it.

rem:  Can’t wait to get my hands on it! What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

DON:  My favorite part of the book is man overcoming impossible odds, and the transformation that takes place when he puts others first. We have all heard that nothing is impossible with God. I believe that’s true.

rem:  Gotta love a good transformation story. Tell us why you wrote this book.

DON:  The book setting is in the location where I have worked extensively. The area is real. The people are real. The villages and chiefs are real. And the enemies and obstacles are very real. I wanted to capture the plight of a people who cannot fend for themselves, and the selfless drive of a man who would not let them down.

rem:  Please give us the first page of the book.


            Twelve men lay motionless on their beds in the makeshift barrack. Charles Manning stood in the doorway in disbelief as the stench closed his nostrils. But it wasn’t death he smelled. It was the chemicals and vomit. He turned in disgust to leave the room, but Quinn’s massive frame blocked his exit.

“You didn’t come to Africa to leave so quickly. So tell me, Doctor . . . how many of these men do you think are still alive?” Quinn gripped Manning’s shoulders with his enormous hands and spun him to face the test subjects as they lay before him. “How many?”

Quinn’s calm voice forced a chill down Manning’s spine as nausea urged him to close his eyes and swallow hard. He rubbed his sweaty palms against his slacks as beads of perspiration dripped from his brow.

“See what you’ve done, Doctor? This, after only fifteen hours of exposure.” Quinn squeezed harder on Manning’s shoulders, radiating pain across his back and chest. Manning imagined Quinn could crush him with his grip alone. “Tell me how your work is coming now. Is your experiment a success?” He pushed Manning into the room with such force he fell to the dirt floor.

From there he saw puddles beside each bed and forced himself to stand when one of the men moved. Manning hurried to his side and reached for his pulse. It was faint.

“He’s alive, Quinn! This man’s alive.”

Quinn walked to the bed unhurried, as if he didn’t care, and looked at the man. “What are you feeling—right now?”

Instead of answering, the man turned to Dr. Manning. “Help me.”


rem:  Wow! That’s jam packed—and a great hook—I’ll turn that page for sure! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

DON:  A single person with God can make a difference that can change not only the lives of others, but of him or herself forever.

rem:  Where can we find you online?

DON:  Amazon is the best way to buy the book. It comes in audiobook, Kindle, and paperback.


rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

DON:  Remember that if writing is not your passion, it’s not for you. But if writing is your passion, no one can make you give up. Only you can do that.

rem:  Very true! Don, thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!










“Don Brobst is dedicated to fighting the indecency’s of the poor and needy children of Africa, the refugees of tyranny, and the victims of human trafficking throughout the world. When not writing, his life is spent on the front lines, fighting the battles, waging the war, refusing to turn his back on that which is most important.”




#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Manly Man Interview Blitz, Don Brobst, The Ghost of Africa, Thirteen Months

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