Tuesday, June 27, 2006

An Interview with T.L. Hines

Today the amazing and incredibly multi-talented and multi-layered T.L. Hines is with us today. Tony’s been a professional writer for more than 15 years and has an amazing background in advertising (hence his awesome PR strategies). I read his bio on his website, and let’s just say this designer-girl is blown away. Click the link for all that tantalizing information or go explore his stunning site after the interview. Be sure to check out his blog as well.

DM: Tony, thrilled and jazzed to have you here. This is your big week. WAKING LAZARUS, , your first fiction book, is about to be released. You’ve been building recognition and exposure for months now. Tell us a little of what you’re feeling?

TLH: I think I feel somewhat like what most marathon runners must feel like about 25 ½ miles into the race: ready to have the whole thing done, but also exhilarated to know you're about to accomplish something special. Actually, it's all a little bit surreal now; I've heard people saying they've spotted the book in stores, but the books haven't made it to my area of Montana yet. Of course, Montana's still waiting for electricity and indoor plumbing.

DM: LOL! Okay, let’s back track a bit. When did you start brainstorming this amazing concept for Volunteer Book Publicists, before or after your book was contracted?

TLH: It was right about the time the ink on the contract dried. When I signed the contract, I immediately started thinking about ways to help support the launch. I got a copy of Seth Godin's "Launching the Ideavirus," and that helped spark some of the initial thinking—along with my admiration for the open source software movement. (Firefox, for instance, is open source—software developers make the source code available to other developers, who then, in turn, write plug-ins for added functionality.) I wanted to "open" the behind-the-scenes stuff to anyone willing to help promote the book, so I created the Other Side for Volunteer Publicists at www.tlhines.com/breakonthrough. In exchange for helping to spread word about the book, Volunteer Publicists can win unique prizes such as an iPod Nano, a share of my first royalty statement, or a role in my next novel.

DM: There’ so much information about the book itself on your website , so I encourage everyone to take a look, but let’s talk about what made you explore the world of fiction. What was the spark or catalyst that plunged you into the world of Jude Allman, starring character of WAKING LAZARUS, and writing his story?

TLH: A couple things from my own life led to the story for WAKING LAZARUS. First, when I was a young child, I fell through the ice and nearly drowned. Even today, I can recall the shock of that moment. Many years later, while working my way through college, I was a janitor in the University of Montana's Chem/Pharm building, where I cleaned the cadaver storage room. When I was alone in that room with the two cadavers late at night, I always pictured them sitting up suddenly. Those two images—a drowning boy, and a cadaver sitting up—converged to become the idea for a story about a man who has struggled with recurring Near Death Experiences.

DM: You’ve had a very interesting faith journey, Tony. You used to be an atheist and now you write fiction from a Christian worldview. Can you share how this journey started and what you feel God is compelling you toward in this writing adventure?

TLH: That's right. I considered myself an atheist until age 27. Most Christians, I thought, were cultural Christians—they only called themselves that because those were the beliefs they were raised with, and they'd never explored anything else. But then it hit me: I was guilty of the exact opposite thing. I was a cultural atheist, blindly believing what I'd grown up with. How could I knock people for doing the exact thing I, myself, had done? So, I began to read about different faiths, and started trying to look at my atheism objectively. And really, it came down to this for me: all of us have to make a leap of faith with our beliefs. We have to make a leap of faith that a loving God created the universe, or we have to make a leap of faith that the universe created itself, or whatever. We can't totally KNOW, and probably never will, the origins of existence; a creation, I think, can never fully understand its creator. But for me, it was ultimately easier to believe in a self-existent creator of all other existence. I made that leap to an existent God, and from there, a further leap to Christianity.

One of the first things that struck me, after I began looking at things as a new Christian, was the realization that God had been at work in my life all along—even when I was an atheist. That still amazes me, in fact. And in a metaphorical way, that's the story I explore in WAKING LAZARUS. Jude Allman is a man called by God, even though Jude rejects that call.

DM: I love that you can look back and see that. Amazing. Now, tell us a little about your writing process? Is writing a daily endeavor?

TLH: Writing is a daily endeavor when I'm working on a new project. Currently, I also work a full-time job, so my writing "day" is really two hours in the morning—roughly from 5:00 to 7:00 am. People talk about being an outliner, or a seat-of-the-pants writer. I'm a politician, claiming to be both. I've found a process that works for me. When I write a story the first time, I draft it as a screenplay. This gives me a rough, 100-page outline with key scenes and dialogue, and acts as a detailed plot outline for my first draft of the novel. So I get the joy of discovery that comes with being a seat-of-the-pants writer, combined with the focus an outline provides.

DM: Wow, that sounds cool. Do you find your stories or do they find you? What comes first, the story or the characters?

TLH: That's a perfect way to say it: the stories find me. That's the seat-of-the-pants part of me talking. When I set out to write a story, I have a rough idea in place. I might know what the "hook" of the story is, and I might have a rough idea where I'll end up. But I usually don't have a good idea how I'll get there, and a lot of things work their way into the story along the journey. So definitely, the story finds me. And I’m a firm believer that characters always define story—if you have an interesting enough character, anything that character does will make an involving story.

DM: What can we expect from T.L. Hines down the road? Will those other two books you worked on see the light of day? Will Jude Allman have another tale to tell?

TLH: I’m working on my second book for Bethany House right now, another supernatural thriller set to release Summer of 2007. The two other books you refer to might see the light of day sometime; we'll have to see. At this point, there's no real plan to create a sequel for WAKING LAZARUS. That's not to say it won't happen; down the road, who knows?

DM: Tony, thank you so much for sharing with us. I can’t wait to read WAKING LAZARUS. The story is so intriguing and original.

TLH: Thanks. It was a lot of fun for me to write—and, oddly enough, very emotional. It's a suspense/thriller, but I found myself really plumbing the depths of my own emotions with it. And, based on some initial feedback, readers are picking up on that. That’s so great to hear. I do hope folks get a couple hours of escapism with the book. But I also hope the book gives them a few things to think about, as well.

DM: Again, I encourage you to check out Tony’s website. It’s packed with great information for readers and writers alike.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of WAKING LAZARUS. I'll draw one lucky name on Sunday. Blessings!

Monday, June 26, 2006


Stay tuned for an interview with T.L. Hines later this week. Tony will share some his journey from atheist to Christian fiction writer. You'll also have a chance to win a copy of his book, Waking Lazarus.

M.L. Tyndall will be here next week to talk about her first book, The Redemption. You'll have a chance to win not only a copy of he book but tickets to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

July 5 marks the date for the revealing of Scenes and Beans, the Kanner Lake Blog. Trust me, you don't want to miss that.

So stay tuned and be blessed!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A Two Year Test of Faith

The article by this title is posted today at Spiritually Unequal Marriage. I hope you'll stop by and check it out. I love this site. It's so encouraging. Lynn Donovan is an amazing lady to follow God's call in such a manner. I'm honored to be able to participate.

Yesterday was the summer solstice, so happy summer! Keep cool...

Friday, June 16, 2006

Are You Free?

Beth Moore defines a stronghold as anything that prevents a Christian from experiencing the abundant life God intended for us (Breaking Free). The Bible teaches us that Christ is to be our stronghold, the one true focus of our lives. But let's not fool ourselves. We're at war. The enemy can't take our salvation away, but he sure can hinder our sanctification and joy.

I'm not saying strongholds are caused by the enemy, although some are. But we are fleshly beings by nature and that human nature is what trips us up. Anything that moves our eyes off God and takes a higher place of importance in our lives than Him is a stronghold. And you know what's scary? It can happen in an instant. The temptation sits there. The enemy uses it to taught us, to ply our attention from God. And before we even realize we've taken a step, and this thing, this peace-buster, has chained us. We are no longer free, but slaves once again.

Galations 5:1 says,
"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery." (NIV)
I also beleive this is part of what Paul meant when he said to continue to work out our salvation (Phil. 2:12). What strongholds keep you from experiencing the abundant life? I know I have at least one that plagues me constantly, but I keep hearing this soft voice telling me I'm free. Maybe I'm just that bird who has been caged so long that when the door opens, I can't grasp the idea of truly being free. Something to ponder...

Here's another Casting Crows song that's really speaking to me at the moment. I hope it speaks to you as well.

Set Me Free by Casting Crowns

It hasn't always been this way
I remember brighter days
Before the dark ones came
Stole my mind
Wrapped my soul in chains

Now I live among the dead
Fighting voices in my head
Hoping someone hears me crying in the night
And carries me away

Set me free of the chains holding me
Is there anybody out there hearing me?
Set me free

Morning breaks another day
Finds me crying in the rain
All alone with my demons I am
Who is this man that comes my way?
The dark ones shriek
They scream His name
Is this the One they say will set the captives free?
Jesus, rescue me


As the God man passes by
He looks straight through my eyes
The darkness cannot hide

Chorus 2:
Do you want to be free?
Lift your chains
I hold the key
All Power on Heaven and earth belong to me

You are free
You are free
You are free

Monday, June 12, 2006

Praise You in This Storm

by Casting Crowns

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen"
and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God
Who gives and takes away

I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God
Who gives and takes away


I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

I'm not usually a big Casting Crowns fan. I tend to like my music a little "harder," but this song won't leave me alone lately. I've come to realize the storms of life are a constant. There is no such thing as still waters. Not in this life, not as a Christian.

Time has taught, and is teaching me, that life is full of trials. You have to roll with the waves or get sucked under. God didn't put me on this earth for the easy ride. I've rebelled against that lesson for a lot of years. I guess now I've accepted it, at least as far as I'm able. The rest I leave to Jesus to show me the way.

What calls on me most in this song is the idea of praising God in this storm. It doesn't make sense at all to our human natures, but what's truly amazing is that it makes perfect sense to our spirits. When we praise Him in the midst of our storms, our burdens are lightened. That's because He comes along side us to help carry the load, or even carry us.

What trials or storms are you facing today? I know it's hard sometimes to see God's hand, his great plan. How can we trust He has our best interest at heart when the punches come one after another? That's the thing, we don't know. We have to trust and believe God. Believe He's right there, ready to carry us. Believe his promises. Believe He loves us with a consuming passion.

I'll leave you with that thought for now. Next stop—freedom. Stay tuned...

Mish Mash

What a week! I'm in full edit mode, getting a manuscript I already finished ready to send to an agent. The request was for a full so here's hoping...

Be sure to check out Spiritually Unequal Marriage this week. They're running a four part series about my friend MaryLu Tyndall and her husband. Both share their testimonies about how her husband came to faith.

I auditioned for Brandilyn Collin's Scenes & Beans blog. Found out today I will be one of four bloggers for the character of Bailey Truitt, owner of Java Joint and creater of the Scenes & Beans blog. This is all from Brandilyn's latest book, Violet Dawn. Be sure to get a copy when it comes out in August. Talk about a fast-paced read. One scene will live in my brain forever. Ask me about that one later. I'm thilled to be a part of this project and such a great team of writers.

Hope everyone has an awesome week. Let me know what you're up to. Anything new on the horizon? Any prayer requests? Any miracles to report? :-)

Hey, God's everywhere. Let's hear about it.