Friday, September 28, 2007

Guest Author: Travis Thrasher

I’m excited to host our next author: Travis Thrasher. His first book, “The Promise Remains” is still one of my favorites. Since then, he’s gone on to publish several books with two more releasing next year.

His book “Sky Blue” released this summer and I contacted Travis to see if I could host him here.

One exciting, non-writing development in his life, was the birth of his daughter Kylie Shea, who will be one in November this year. I’m thrilled for him and Sharon.

Here’s our interview:

Hi Travis, I just finished reading “Sky Blue.” You use a creative approach. I haven’t seen this approach before your work. Tell me about that.

I think that every novel I write is handled with a different approach. It’s not that I necessarily try to be different. It’s just that I hate doing the same thing and I hate when authors repeat themselves. I look at ways to try something else “out”. That might be a point of view or time frame or the story itself. Every novel is a chance to do something unique and different. Sky Blue morphed its way into publication, which is one reason I’m so close to the story.

Let’s talk about your history. How long have you been writing? What got you started?

I wanted to be a writer in third grade and I wrote my first novel in ninth grade (it’s still in my closet thankfully!). My third grade teacher encouraged me in my writing and also read from the Narnia Chronicles during lunch. Those two things made me decide that I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. I still do.

Who are your favorite Christian authors? and what do you like about their work?

I love Francine Rivers. I know it’s cliché to say that (everybody says that). The thing I respect the most about her is that she writes what she wants to (and feels led to) write. She could do Redeeming Love Parts 2-10 but she won’t. She doesn’t stay in one genre.

I feel that Sigmund Brouwer is a very talented writer—he is very good at the craft of writing fiction.

I like Susan Warren because I feel she continues to grow as an author and has such a great future ahead for her.

What’s next for you in fiction?

I’m trying to write a book in every known genre I can. Okay, that’s a slight joke. But next year, I will have an adventure novel (think Raiders of the Lost Ark) published in spring and a horror novel (think Stephen King) published in the fall. There are lots of stories on the horizon. That is why I made the big leap of faith recently to write fulltime. I will also be selling my books at local gas stations, flea markets, and prisons everywhere (okay, another joke).

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

My hope is that I will still be supporting my family with my writing. I always dreamed of writing novels but I also strangely believed that I would one day have a shelf of published books. This isn’t arrogance. I feel there are many other better writers out there. But I’ve known one thing since third grade—I’ve been writing and my goal was always to be published.

My hope is that I will continue to grow and that one of the books I’m fortunate to publish will be the one. The one that defines me and my career.

What is your biggest dream?

I have many big dreams, but in terms of my writing, the biggest was to become a fulltime writer. Now I’m praying that the dream doesn’t become a nightmare! My biggest dream is to write a book that truly has an impact. And when I say impact, I mean impacting people in lots of different ways.

Okay, let’s talk about “Sky Blue.” You have said this book is a bit autobiographical. In what ways? (Also, how much of Colin is you?)

Only those that won’t get me in trouble! Yes, Colin is very much me in a lot of different ways. It was good to make him an agent because they sometimes can be cast as the bad guys in the publishing world. Having worked in the publishing industry over 13 years made me quite cynical about many things, and I hated this. This is Colin’s journey in rediscovering why he loves writing and publishing. The stuff in his marriage is fiction (except their journey in having a child) but so much of his thoughts and feelings about publishing are mine. That’s the beauty of fiction—some of it is deeply personal, and some is entirely made up.

Describe the journey you’ve made in fiction from “The Promise Remains” to “Sky Blue.”

What a journey it’s been! I had written seven dark, ambitious novels that never made it to publication before sitting down to write a simple, heartfelt love story. That story was the first I got published. There are still probably people who feel like it’s their favorite. Fiction is so subjective. I continued on that track with a deeper book (one of my favorites) entitled The Watermark. But even then there were so many stories I wanted to tell.

I’m fortunate that Sky Blue saw light of day. When all is said and done, it might not be my strongest seller or fan favorite, but at least for me right now it’s the most important work I’ve had published. My next book is entirely plot driven and it’s light (when someone is eaten by piranha and the main character is cracking jokes, you definitely have a lighter tale). I’m very fortunate I’m still being allowed to tell these tales.

“Sky Blue” is published by Moody, a long-time Christian publishing house. Your lead character’s realm as an agent was the general market. Tell us about this crossover strategy. Will Christian authors/agents find themselves somewhere in this story?

There was really no strategy here. I feel this—I’m not a Christian novelist. I am a novelist who happens to be a Christian. I’m not striving to write in the box of Christian fiction. I hate boxes. Look at all the genres I’ve done—obviously I fight being put into a box. With Sky Blue, I wanted to write a story that was somewhat of a metaphor for the Christian faith. I wanted to do it and not be blatant. I feel that I did the best job I could in telling that story. Some of my stories are blatant in their faith content. Right or wrong, I try to do what I feel is best for the story.

As for Christian authors/agents finding themselves in this story, no—of course not. I write fiction. 100 percent fiction! :)

As a Christian writer myself, yet with far less experience, I’m curious about the purpose behind a project (i.e. ministerial value and/or theme, etc.). Explain your purpose in penning “Sky Blue.”

Well, I just told you my thoughts about writing fiction/Christian fiction. Sky Blue has a lot of angst in it, and I don’t necessarily feel that angst is a good thing. I struggle with knowing God’s timing. I did when my wife and I were trying to have a child and couldn’t. I’ve struggled being in the publishing world (the Christian publishing world) and being so confused about faith versus business. My struggles and my faults and my failures all come out in my work. Writing is very cathartic.

I’ve heard many writers call their writing a “ministry.” This term has been abused and I can’t rightfully say that my writing is my ministry. I don’t want to dishonor God in my writing. I want people who would never in a million years pick up a Christian novel to read my work and enjoy it. And find themselves thinking, wondering, asking questions.

Finally, tell us about your experience of becoming a father. How has Kylie changed your life? What about your previous understanding of God’s fathering or heart has changed?

Kylie has changed my life in a million different ways. Wow. The term God the father means so much more to me. I’m humbled that God blessed my wife and I. I love Kylie with a love that scares me, that I cannot fathom. And I know it truly pales in the love God has for me. That knowledge humbles and terrifies me too.

Thanks for visiting and sharing “Sky Blue” with us. God bless you and your family.

Thanks for your interest and your time! TRAVIS

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Just for Michelle

I'm having too much fun now. Here's a photo which includes Michelle Sutton with me in the group of women. We didn't get one with just the two of us, but this is fun.

Just for you, Michelle. :)Pictured here are Michelle Sutton, Trish Perry, Cara Putnam and myself at the ACFW conference banquet.

Michelle hosts the chocolate party at the conference every year and had 10 pounds of chocolate to carry home with her this year. Bummer.

Tamera Alexander

Couldn't help myself. I had to add this picture of me with Tamera Alexander. She recently emailed us a copy of her workshop notes from conference. Thank you, Tamera!!

Look for other guest authors to visit soon.


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Visiting my Agent's Blog

Terry Burns of Hartline Literary Agency has invited me over to his blog for a visit. The post is up. So head over and find a pic of us at the awards banquet at the 2007 ACFW conference and a little blurb about the writing side of my life. Check it out at (musings archive) (link:

He's going to feature his clients one by one, a great way to learn about other writers in the business of writing, pitching, waiting and hoping.

Monday, September 24, 2007

ACFW Conference 2007

I've been busy through September preparing for conference. Last week, I spent 5 days in Dallas with 500 other Christian writers, agents and editors. We just got back last night. What a fantastic time! Dawn Kinzer (local writing buddy and crit partner), Gail Sattler (Canadian writer friend) and Ocieanna Fleiss (also a local crit partner) were my traveling companions. Check out the pics below.

I can't tell you how wonderful it was to sing between these great ladies during worship. What fun! Dawn Kinzer and Cynthia Ruchti are singers and writers with hearts for God. Cynthia also led the choir. I joined in, though without much practice. Didn't matter that we could only squeeze a couple of practices in. The Lord blessed our efforts with the kiss of His Spirit and those who listened as we sang on Sunday morning approached us afterward with positive feedback. Also, Cynthia won the "Member Service" award for her volunteer efforts. Wahoo!

Dawn Kinzer, myself and Ocieanna Fleiss (my local crit buddies). We have so much fun together, critiquing, laughing and getting each other's feedback on our work. Since we're all writers, but in different genres (with some overlap) we can help bring a fresh perspective from a writer who understands the techniques of crafting a good story.

Myself with Gail Sattler and Dawn Kinzer. Gail is from BC, Canada. She's a playful person. I love teasing her about her "hey" and "gerahje" (garage). All of us Pacific Northwesterners were in for another culture shock, though, hearing the Texans call us "y'all" and the plural "all, y'all." I love accents. I started to blend my speech patterns a little too well before we left. :)

DiAnn Mills recently (September 11th) appeared as a guest on my blog. Here we are at conference. Such a blessing to meet this gracious author face to face.

I love Susan May Warren's work! She led a bunch of workshops and late night chats during conference (how-tos on writing dialogue and layering heroes). As we were on our way out, I stopped to suggest she teach a romance track next year. So we chatted with Cara Putnam (board member) and we'll see. Here's hoping. She has a lot of wisdom about writing Christian romance and writing in general. Our name badges have the picture from her next Noble series book "Taming Rafe." What a great title, huh? It's a cowboy story--romance, a touch of suspense and romance and western themes. Did I mention romance? Can't wait 'til January, 08. Susie ran around during conference putting these Rafe stickers on whomever she could find.

Here's Rachel--
Rachel Hauck leads worship at conference. She is so great. I love her bridal understanding of Jesus' love for His people. I love that she has operated in the Harp and Bowl model of worship (International House of Prayer in Kansas City). We have a Harp and Bowl worship and prayer time every Friday night of conference from 8-9 p.m. Such a blessing to be a part of the worship team and participate in the prophetic songs of that night.

Okay, there's some fun stuff. I have more pics but I should probably get to making dinner for the fam.

Hugs to you and thanks to God for treasured moments.


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Guest Author: DiAnn Mills

I'm pleased to welcome back DiAnn Mills for a visit regarding her new book "When the Nile Runs Red."

The back cover copy:

Paul Farid was once a member of the royal family who openly persecuted any Sudanese who failed to practice Islam. Now he’s a Christian who puts his life on the line to aid the persecuted Sudanese. His wife, Larson, is a doctor committed to giving her life for peace.

Colonel Ben Alier has fought for twenty-one years against the government’s mandates to control the oil, religion, slavery, and politics of Sudan. He neither trusts nor rests any hope in the newly formed government.

Ben's health deteriorates while Larson finds out she is going to have a baby. Their worlds collide, and as the relational tensions escalate so does the physical danger.

Her proceeds from the book will go to help the Sudanese people.

Here's an interview with DiAnn around this newest project:

What inspired you to write this novel?

I had previously written a nonfiction book about the Lost Boys of Sudan – Lost Boy No More. From that research, I wrote the novel When the Lion Roars, but the story would not let me go.

Through numerous interviews and extensive reading, I grew to love and admire the courageous Sudanese people and was burdened by their incredible needs. I had to bring them back in When the Nile Runs Red.

Why Sudan?

This country went through nearly two decades of civil war strife. In 1983, the northern government launched a holy war against the south. This grew out of the views of the Islamic north against the mostly Christian black African south. The war had three aspects: religion, politics, and oil. The atrocities committed against the southern people are too many to list, but the war was fought in the south through genocide.

How did you conduct your research?

I grabbed my backpack and sun screen and traveled to Juba, Sudan, the southern capital. There I stayed at a Christian compound and met with southern Sudanese from all walks of life: refugees, political leaders, and church leaders. I talked to as many people as I could, snapped pictures, and listened to what was being said.

Regarding your trip to Sudan, what touched you the most?

The incredible faith. I could look into a Sudanese’s eyes and see the pain of persecution and the hope of Jesus. Here, we say we love Jesus while we live in our huge homes, drive our fancy cars, are well-fed, are not hunted down for our faith, or are concerned about medical care. The Sudanese understand that all they have and need is Jesus.

Can you give us a brief description of your characters?

Paul Farid was once a Muslim who actively persecuted the southern people, but now he’s a Christian who flies dangerous missions into war-torn areas to deliver food and medical supplies.

Dr. Larson Kerr Farid risks her life to bring healing to the Sudanese. Just like her husband Paul, her life is often in danger. But there is a problem between her and Paul with no easy solution.

Colonel Ben Alier has been fighting and leading the southern army of Sudan for nearly two decades. Often referred to as a warlord, Ben fights his own demons.

The three are friends, an unlikely friendship forged by their love for Sudan.

How do you build your plots?

Always out of character with two simple words: what-if? John Gardner said to create the best possible characters and allow the worst possible things to happen to them. That says it all. It’s easy to coat our darlings with easy trials and struggles, but the hard stuff, the struggles that define the character are what has to happen. I’m a huge fan of Donald Maass and wouldn’t consider writing a paragraph without using techniques found in his books Writing the Breakout Novel and Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook.

What are you goals for this novel?

To increase awareness about the situation in Sudan and to share my passion for the Sudanese people through a compelling story.

The proceeds for this novel go back to aid the Sudanese.

What do you hope the readers will gain?

To lose themselves in the novel. That’s every writer’s goal. But I also want the reader to sense a call to action and support the Sudanese cause.

What is your next project?

I’m currently writing a romantic suspense series with a working series title of “Behind the Sunglasses”.

How can readers learn more about what you are doing?

Check out my website at I have sections about Sudan, and for readers, and writers. Those signing up for my newsletter get to download a chapter of an upcoming release.

Aside from your passion for writing, what else are you doing?

Speaking to groups about the situation in Sudan.

Teaching at writer’s conferences.

Conducting Fiction Mentoring Clinics. These are small groups who work closely together for three work-filled days to develop their craft.

A little more about DiAnn Mills:

Award-winning author, DiAnn Mills, launched her career in 1998 with the publication of her first book. Currently she has over forty books in print and has sold more than a million copies.

DiAnn is a founding board member for American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Inspirational Writers Alive, Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope and Love, and Advanced Writers and Speakers Association. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. DiAnn is also a mentor for Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writer’s Guild.

She lives in sunny Houston, Texas, the home of heat, humidity, and Harleys. In fact she’d own a Harley, but her legs are too short. DiAnn and her husband have four adult sons and are active members of Metropolitan Baptist Church.

Thank you, DiAnn, for visiting. God bless.

Friday, September 7, 2007

No Dream Dissin'!

Okay, I have no idea if I spelled that correctly, but you get what I mean.

I'm a dreamer. You can scroll down the past several blogs and somewhere back there I've written about dreaming big. You'll find me talking about dreams in devotionals, too. Or as a motto. I can't help it. For some reason (probably a whole lotta grace) God has chosen to show up when I start dreaming.

Like tonight. Tonight I sat down with my husband in a store and browsed. I've been wanting to browse for this specific thing for A LONG TIME. And finally, it's looking like it may just happen. Won't say what it is, but suffice it to say our evening was special, just sitting there dreaming.

I think the world comes down to two kinds of people---those who dream and those who don't. I'm a dreamer. I try not to let realism cancel hope. I believe God has inspired my dreams and many of them, He has made come true. Still others, I wait for Him to fulfill as I keep pressing close to Him.

I believe God entrusts dream fulfillment with us when He knows He can trust us not to turn that thing into an idol. I've gotta keep that in mind. He's got good plans. And as I watch those dreams on the horizon come into focus, I know I can pray for the grace to keep Him first while I enjoy the smile I know He wears when I turn to Him with so much joy----the joy of a dream fulfilled.