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NOTE FROM JERI
I've been surprised by the volume of reader mail I've received lately. A lot of readers are students assigned to do a report on an author. I've correlated the most typical questions and put them into this FAQ. I do read every e-mail that I receive from readers, and I try to reply. If you send me an e-mail and I don't reply, check your subject header. If it says something like "Hi" or "Just saying Hi" or "Want to talk to you", my SPAM filter may have thrown it away because SPAM often carries general titles like "Hi" or "I need a favor." If you want to send me (or anybody) an email, make the subject line very specific. Include a title of a book you've read or the name of your school or your purpose, as in "This email is about VALKYRIES". That will get through the SPAM filters and reach me, and I will try to reply.
I like getting feedback from my readers, so please let me hear from you on e-mail. But if you just want author information for a report for school, here is a page just for you.
Nuttin' But the FAQ
Where were you born?
Levittown, PA. I am a Yankee by birth. But I live in the South and love it.
What are your hobbies?
I am an avid martial artist. I hold a fourth degree black belt in military style tae kwon do and several other lesser belts in other styles.
I read quite a bit. I read a lot of history, especially church history, and I also enjoy treatises on strategy, warfare, and martial thinking.
I love to write adventure stories, and I enjoy tinkering with sound and sound production.
When did you become a Christian?
Just before I turned 14.
Where do you get ideas for stories?
I think that chocolate has a lot to do with gaining a proper state of mind for writing stories. My favorite stories to write are Doctor Who stories. If you do not know who Doctor Who is, you were just born too late. Sometimes if ideas are slow in coming, I listen to music. Vangelis' soundtrack, Antarctica, is a favorite, as well as his CD entitled Themes. These two compilations are very good for helping me think of ideas. Sometimes personal experience plays a role in coming up with story ideas, but often seeing what other people experience gives me ideas for stories.
What is your favorite food?
Once a person gets past 40, he or she has to give up favorite foods. All foods become fattening, so liking anything too much carries enormous (literally) consequences. Therefore my favorite thing to imbibe is Barnie's German Chocolate flavored coffee.
How many books have you written?
That depends on how you define the word "book." I have had about a dozen (give or take one or two) books published by BJU Press and the two-volume series VALKYRIES published by Moody Press. In addition, I have produced several book-length Doctor Who stories on my web site, as well as my memoirs of studying martial arts, and other longer works. A few things I have written for small publishers have gone out of print.
Can you send me a picture of yourself?
You can see pictures of me on my web site in the martial arts section.
What's your favorite book?
That's hard to say. I would suppose that CS Lewis is my favorite Christian writer, and Richard Wing's translations of Chinese martial thought are my favorite non-fiction reading materials. I don't think I have a single favorite book. Robert Lipsyte's The Contender had a lot of influence on me, and Jeanne Merrill's The Pushcart War is a book I've read too many times to count, simply because it is so charming. I consider Charlotte's Web by E.B. White to be the Great American Novel of children's literature. I've also read large servings of Agatha Christie and Louie L'Amour.
Do You Write Full Time?
I don't write fiction full-time. I am employed as a contract technical writer, and I usually work for pharmaceutical companies doing validation documentation. Sometimes I work as part of an IT department, creating user manuals or help files.
If you work full-time, how do you find time to write fiction?
I gave up doing housework about 20 years ago, and I don't cook. This saves a lot of time, and I use that time to write. When the place gets too messy, I will stop everything and clean up, but I don't do a very thorough job. As for eating, I eat a lot of Power Bars and I know how to make stir fry. I eat stir fry nearly every day. Otherwise, I eat out (but usually it's stir fry). Sometimes I make sandwiches.
Are you Tracey/Liz/Maddie?
Will there be a sequel to VALKYRIES?
VALKYRIES is one story, broken into two volumes. So if you've read only Volume One (VALKYRIES: Some Through the Fire), then yes, there is a sequel (VALKYRIES: All Through the Blood), and it's really crucial for you to read the sequel, as it is the second half of a complete story. Some of the pressing issues raised in Volume One are not answered until Volume Two.
As for anything beyond the two-volume set, at the present time I have no plans for a sequel, beyond a line that goes "And they all lived happily ever after..." And I'll give that to you for free.
Are you writing anything else?
I write all the time, and I suggest you visit my web site to stay updated on what I am writing. I am not as keen to be commercially published as most writers are. If a great opportunity from a publisher came up I would seize it, but in the last several years two publishers have approached me for further books, and I turned them both down because I didn't believe they would give me the freedom to write what I think should be written as Christian fiction. As long as the Lord provides me with employment, I believe that I should write according to the rules that govern Christian story-writing rather than the rules that govern commercial Christian publishing.
Do you keep any type of journal?
I have just started web logging (blogging). In my blog, I get to lecture the world on a variety of topics, and I never have to pass off the microphone! Click here to read my blog. But check with your parents first, as my blog is not really intended for a young audience.
I sent you mail, and you never wrote back!
So far, I've been far more able to answer reader mail via e-mail than by snail mail. (I cannot afford the snail-mail postage, for one thing, but e-mail is free.) So if you sent me an e-mail, one of my filters probably interpreted it as SPAM and kill-filed it. You have to make the e-mail title very specific. Anything like "Hi" or "Glad I found you" is a favorite of SPAMmers, so they get deleted before I ever see them. I'd suggest a title that refers to a book you've read or that includes a reference to a topic from my site like "Dr. WHo" or "Bible" or "Martial arts." Those should get through. I do read all mail that comes to me from readers, including snail mail. But it has become very difficult to answer snail mail with any regularity.
I'm a new writer, just starting out. Do you have any advice for me?
Make a rule for yourself to keep your mouth closed when somebody who you've asked gives you a critique of your story. Just say thank you and don't argue. Within a few hours you'll probably start to see a lot of truth in what they say. Then revise like crazy. If you asked a person to review a story, you owe it to the person to listen and be courteous. But once you've sold a book or story and cannot revise it, just move on to the next story.
How do I get published?
There are numerous books and several periodicals on the topic of getting published. Go to your local library or bookstore, or look up some newsgroups on the internet, and do some research. Getting published is the science of having what a publisher needs at the moment that the publisher needs it. So you have to understand what publishers need and make sure they know you can provide it. Publishers usually don't want to publish what people want to write, so much as they want people to write what the publisher needs.