What I Learned When I Died (Author Interview)




What I Learned When I Died looks like a unique book.  Can you tell us a little about what it’s about?

Well, thank you for asking. I’ve written/co-authored nine other books, and they’ve all been really special to me, particularly Letters to Ethan, which is a series of letters I wrote to my grandson after he was born.

But the creation of What I Learned When I Died: Life Lessons From Heaven actually began when I was born, and then died shortly thereafter. Because of my death, I was immediately baptized as a Catholic and, with no heartbeat for an extended period of time, was pronounced dead by the delivery room doctor. It was in those moments between life and death and then coming to life again that I experienced the presence, the peace, and the love of God in the most beautiful of all places, Heaven.

The shocking experience of almost losing their first-born son emotionally froze my parents to the point that they never discussed it with me until my mother shared the story during my teenage years. The more I thought about it after our tearfully joyful discussion, I began to discern even more clearly some of the things I had been thinking, feeling, and experiencing as I grew up.

And so, from those teenage years until I wrote the book, I’ve spent countless hours reflecting upon the time I spent in God’s arms and the lessons I now know He wanted me to learn and to share. And those ten lessons are the subject of What I Learned When I Died.
           

How long did it take you to write What I Learned When I Died?

Honestly, it took my entire life to write the book in my head and in my heart. When I had it all figured out, I just sat down and typed it in about two weeks. Trust me. I asked God a lot of questions along the way. I just didn’t want to sit down and write about an event. I wanted to share a deeply personal story that was practical, meaningful, and something that would offer hope to those that read it, as well as some practical advice on how to experience and enjoy a little bit of heaven on earth, despite the myriad of disappointments and challenges we all face along the way.


What inspired you when writing What I Learned When I Died?   

Not long ago I served as a hospice chaplain here in Florida. When I became a part of a patient’s death journey, for example, many of them would feel guilty that they had not “been to church” for a long time and, in some cases, decades. In spite of that, the life stories they shared with me were replete with examples, often heroic examples, of  living a Christian life. One young hospice patient, twenty-eight-year-old Shannon, convinced me that sharing what I had experienced when I was born would help others to see and to feel God’s presence not only in a church, but in many other places as well. Shannon was homeless, lived in the woods, but walked to a mission once a week to help a local minister distribute food and clothes to the poor. She died on our hospice service with no family except our doctors, nurses, and care staff. Serving Shannon’s spiritual needs during her final days with us at hospice inspired me to share my story with others.

Framing Your World (Author Interview)

www.amazon.com/dp/1661961576/




Framing Your World looks like an interesting book on faith.  Can you tell us a little about the book?
 Framing Your World Against All Odds is a book on faith and overcoming obstacles.  All of us endure some type of negative word and stigma spoken over our lives at some point.  People will speak all manner of evil over your life.  I want you to know “you are not what they say”.  “They” may be family, friends, church members, associates, or your enemies. God has given you the power to “Frame Your World” with what you believe and the words that you speak. How long did it take you to write Framing Your World? I started writing Framing Your World right after my first book release “Positioned to Prosper” in 2018.  It took about a year and five months from beginning to end.    What inspired you when writing Framing Your World?     I was inspired by God and my life.  I have had to walk out the principles in this book throughout my life.  I have had to overcome challenges, issues, and problems.  I knew from a young teenager that God had more for me.  I refused to give up and I fought to become the person I am today.  

How did you come up with the ideas in Framing Your World?
 
The ideas in Framing Your World was birthed through prayer and life experience.  As a Christian Life Coach and Counselor I encounter people who have allowed what others have said to dictate how they live their lives.  After seeing this time and time again I decided to write and help people get free.  I want people to know no matter what you have endured you are an overcomer.  

Greater Grace (Author Interview)




Greater Grace looks like a fantastic devotional book.  How did you design and pick your devotions?

For some of them I let the hymn inspire me to seek out relevant scripture and study it. For others I knew what passage of scripture I wanted to write about and found a hymn that fit well. I really wanted to go deeper than most devotionals that have a short bible reading and commentary that is focused only on that specific portion of scripture. Using the hymns to ground each devotion really helped me to think in terms of themes and God’s message to us regarding certain topics (ie. prayer, freedom, mission, grace etc) and seek to understand concepts holistically rather than be laser-focused on a few verses. I tried to include as much relevant scripture as possible in addition to the devotional reading in hope that readers would spend significant time meditating and reflecting on each devotion.


What will readers get out of your book?

I hope that readers grasp the fulness of God’s grace as they are invited to reflect on each hymn and the related scriptures. God’s grace is not just for salvation, it encompasses all the benefits available to us as God’s children- His love, wisdom, strength, rest, courage, freedom…the list goes on! The Christian life is so more than knowing some inspirational bible verses, listening to Christian speakers, and attending church programs. It's an invitation to know and walk with God and be transformed by His love. It’s a life of purpose and glory. Every time I open my bible and ask God to speak to me- He does, and it is changing my life. I want everyone to have that experience; not just in the hard seasons of life, but every single day.


What inspired you when writing Greater Grace?   

I was inspired by the poetry of the hymns and the timeless truths they declare. Some of them I have sung my whole life, some I discovered while writing this book. Hymns have transcended generations and cultures because they are so rich with the truth of who God is and what it means to follow Him. I thought they were the perfect backdrop for studying scripture with a fresh perspective.


When did you decide to become a writer and any plans to write similar books?

Dying to Meet Jesus (Author Interview)





Dying to Meet Jesus is an interesting personal journey.  Can you tell us a little about your accident?

I was returning from a long flight, and to relax after the journey I went bicycling along the ocean in San Diego. When I returned home, my calf began swelling and there was a dull ache and heaviness as though I was lifting a large brick whenever I walked. I continued doing my daily routine, planning for a long awaited vacation with my family after months of stress having lost two jobs due to layoffs and the failure of a biotech business I had started. I had been offered a great position with the largest healthcare company in the world, and things were looking up. But, the swelling and pain walking continued. Not wanting to interrupt our vacation, I decided to see an orthopedic physician thinking the calf pain was a muscle strain from exercise. Instead of giving me an anti-inflammatory prescription, the doctor rushed me to the ER at the nearest hospital. By the time an ultrasound, blood tests, and CT Scan were completed, it was discovered that there were six large blood clots obstructing my pulmonary artery, the main airway to the lungs. I was suffocating to death. The nurse told me that I was a “dead man walking.” Most people in my condition die. I was immediately placed on anticoagulants and a breathing apparatus. I continued gasping for air. The doctor came into my room to draw blood, but he could not draw any blood from my veins. An infection had set in through my intravenous line causing infection throughout my body, and compounding the blood clotting, causing blood clotting throughout my body. I started convulsing from septic shock and being depriving of oxygen. That is when I passed out, and my heart stopped for approximately thirty minutes.     
           

What will readers get out of Dying to Meet Jesus?

I pray they will draw closer to God through a deeper understanding of His love. During my NDE, I met Jesus face to face, and that experience overwhelmed me with the consuming presence of Jesus Christ. He was Love; unlike anyone I had ever met. Also, I hope that readers will understand why suffering exists, and how God uses our brokenness. I know that is a huge question for most people – “Why does God allow suffering?” I use my stories as well as many other stories to illuminate how God helps us to overcome pain and suffering to ultimately experience joy, and a deeper relationship with God. I can certainly testify that God and heaven are real, since I have been there. Ultimately, I would hope that readers will feel closer to God, and immensely loved by God.


What inspired you when writing Dying to Meet Jesus?   

I had interviewed on GodTV. The host/interviewer had been the pastor of a church I attended, and he knew about my NDE. During the interview he asked me about my NDE on air, before an worldwide audience up to 300 million people. I cried. Just remembering my time with Jesus took me to a place of being completely overwhelmed with Christ’s love and wonder. On the flight back, I remember staring at my peanuts on the tray, wanting to tuck my experience with Jesus back into my own personal space and memory, but knowing that the ‘cat was out of the bag,’ almost 14 years after my NDE. I then distinctly understood God’s Holy Spirit speaking to me, telling me to write a book. So I began writing, just as I had done for major publications and for my self-help books in the past. Only this time I felt that God wanted me to share not my successes, but my failures. Moreover, He wanted me to share about our special time together in heaven. I resisted at first, but eventually started writing Dying to Meet Jesus.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I started writing while a student at Northwestern University, and wrote some articles for the Chicago Tribune. Then my writing turned to marketing promotions with Procter & Gamble, and then I freelanced some articles to various publications while working in marketing and sales for some medical device and pharmaceutical companies, like Johnson & Johnson. I’ve written several business articles in publications like Forbes. I wrote my first book several years ago, and then published a fiction book to test a different genre. Most of my books are in the business or self-help category, like The 22 Most Important ThingsDaily Keys to Success, and The Power to ThriveDying to Meet Jesus is my first Christian book based on several true stories, such as my near-death-experience, my daughter’s struggles, and stories of extreme hardship that others have experienced. Dying to Meet Jesus is the most significant publication I have ever produced, because it gets to the heart of God’s love, and attempts to answer the question as to why God allows suffering in this world.


When writing Dying to Meet Jesus did anything stand out as particularly challenging?

Oh yes! I did not want to share my NDE with anyone outside of my wife and less than a handful of people, because it was too personal, and I did not want my experience with Jesus in heaven to be trivialized. Since writing Dying to Meet Jesus and meeting other NDE survivors, I have learned that many if not most have witnessed similar characteristics of heaven. Those who have met Jesus oftentimes become very emotional, because meeting Jesus is all-consuming, and unlike any other personal relationship in this life. I even tear-up thinking about it. The absolute conviction of God’s love, and the feeling that Christ was completely focused on me was extraordinary. I found it difficult to explain, but many of the experiences in heaven defy any comparison to this world. And, trying to answer the question of why a loving God would permit suffering was at times daunting, but I think the book points the way to a solution focused on drawing nearer to God.    


What do you like to do when not writing?

I enjoy time with family, teaching, and exercising as a way of countering the damage that was done to my organs and vascular system from my NDE. My favorite time is time spent with my Lord, Savior, and Friend, Jesus Christ. Our alone times together are especially close since meeting Him, and there is nothing…absolutely nothing in this world that compares to times spent with the Author of Love.


Where can readers find out more about your work?

I have an author page at randykayauthor.com, and a Facebook page for Randy Kay Author and Dying to Meet Jesus. The book can be found at any of the major outlets. I just wanted to mention that during the book launch period, we have been donating a book to charities for each book ordered. For example, we are donating Dying to Meet Jesus books to our military service men and women, and to Bridge of Hope, which supplies food, clothing, and other essentials to those facing extreme hardships. That was our way of practicing the commandment of loving our neighbors. Thanks for listening and for your interest. God bless you and yours!





100 Minutes with God (Author Interview)




100 Minutes with God looks like a great spiritual book.  Any plans to write similar themed books?  

With the release of 100 Minutes with God, I have had many request more ‘minutes’. I will release a second book in the series, 100 More Minutes with God in March/April 2020.
           

What will readers get out of your book?

When someone reads 100 Minutes with God, they will receive a devotional that literally, takes a minute of their time to read. Each ‘minute’ will list a Bible verse to look up and a brief three to four sentence reflection that ties in to the verse listed. Each ‘minute’ is practical and thought-provoking.


What inspired you when writing 100 Minutes with God?   

I have been sending out what now is each ‘minute’ to my mailing list for a year and many urged me to compile them into a book.

Another factor that pushed me in this direction is I receive so many emails and newsletters, I find it hard to get through them but there is one I love, Seth Godin’s marketing emails. I love his messages because they are short and practical. I thought I could do the same with my subject area, Christian devotionals. Readers’ feedback reveals that many appreciate these brief and practical reflections for their spiritual lives.


When did you decide to become a writer?

I have written my entire life but the biggest boost to move in this direction came when I was working on my Master’s degree at Walden University. I had several professors express how much they enjoyed reading my papers and, as a teacher of writing myself, it has progressed from there.


When writing 100 Minutes with God did anything stand out as particularly challenging?  

The biggest challenge to me in writing 100 Minutes with God was in keeping each reflection brief and yet practical. I find it easy to write 1,000 words or more on a subject but keeping it under 70 words was difficult.


What do you like to do when not writing?

As I am still a full-time teacher, my writing takes a lot of my free time. I love singing with a local chorus, reading and taking my little red dachshund, Boone for a walk.


Where can readers find out more about your work?

You can purchase 100 Minutes with God on Amazon; both in paperback and ebook formats. You can also find more of my work and sign up for daily messages on my website, susan-grant.com.

I am found on Facebook, @susangrantcom, and Twitter, @susangrantcom .



Unpacking God for the 21st Century (Author Interview)




Unpacking God for the 21st Century presents spiritual truth through storytelling.  Can you tell us a little about your writing process?  

Unpacking God for the 21st Century took more than twenty years to complete.

My writing process, you can say, began when I read the bible from cover to cover while making notes; doing research, drafting questions that I needed answered, and reflecting on all the different doctrines and dogmas. This process of reflecting and making notes became the foundation of “Pushing The Envelope To find God” published in 2001.   After the first book, it became clear that I wanted to focus more on the teachings and the life of Jesus.

As the social and political climate changed after September 2001, some of these events was recast in “Stories From The Sandbox of Life”.
After several years away from writing, I felt the urge to complete a prequel; tie up loose story lines and reboot the book of psalms. This became the foundation for “Unpacking God For The 21st Century.”

Most of the time I used pen and paper for the first draft; going over hand written notes; and using several dictionaries. Moving from pen and paper to a word processor was a much slower process to flesh out characters, but it made for faster rewrites. 

How did you come up with the concepts and stories in Unpacking God for the 21st Century

The concept of the book started with two questions: How do you take the book of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and make it relevant for the 21st century; while keeping all of the core teachings of Jesus? The second question was; How do you take the book of psalms and make it relevant for the 21st century?  Jesus often taught by using parables. I began using parables to highlight timeless spiritual truths, and began to search for what would bring us together rather than those ideology that divides us.

 What will readers get out of your book?

The readers will gain insight into what it takes to live the life of Jesus, in the 21st century, and the current challenges we face as a society.

What inspired you when writing Unpacking God for the 21st Century?   

I was inspired by the simplicity and straightforwardness of the timeless spiritual truths of the gospel message. 

When did you decide to become a writer?

My writing journey began in the 1980’s when I began writing short stories centered around current events. I found that writing gave voice to my thoughts and opinions. As my spiritual journey evolved; so did my writing style, leaning towards becoming a storyteller, rather than a novelist.

When writing Unpacking God for the 21st Century did anything stand out as particularly challenging?  

I found writing the prequel challenging as I had to keep track of the continuity between the characters and the plot lines, yet advance the story as current events changed. 

What do you like to do when not writing?

When not writing, I am spending time with family, and helping others connect to God in a meaningful way.  Nature and landscape photography plays an integral part of my life.

Where can readers find out more about your work?

The book is available on Amazon; while my podcasts are on YouTube.





The Fear of the Lord (Author Interview)


The Fear of the Lord looks like a great Christian self-help and growth book.  What will readers get out of your book?
In this book, you will learn that the fear of the Lord isn’t something to be scared of but how it brings you into the promise of a new life. It is within this life that the solutions to  life’s most difficult problems become known for both teens and adults. The book talks about:
  • ·         Understanding God and following Jesus – powerful tips for hearing God
  • ·         The importance of obeying God and being a God-fearing Christian
  • ·         How to overcome fear and live your life to the fullest
  • ·         Proven parenting skills reinforced by Scripture and living in God’s image
  • ·         The strength provided by Christian prayer and fasting
  • ·    Is the Bible true? Understanding common misinterpretations of the Bible and having confidence in the truth of Scripture, almost 2,000 years after the first Bible was written
  • ·       Defining sin and identifying evil – how to avoid them
  • ·       How to avoid the temptations of adultery and seduction – the pleasures of sin are fleeting, and God is all-knowing


How did you come up with the ideas in The Fear of the Lord?    
The book came about from various lessons and experiences in my life over the years, that not only did I want to pass onto my children to give them a head start on understanding but anyone and everyone, because we all ask ourselves a lot of the same questions. Repentance removes hindrance to walking in the power of God.
           

What inspired you when writing The Fear of the Lord?
I drew much of my inspiration from an inner witness, a knowing that the Fear of the Lord is the ABC of wisdom and it is the most essential thing to have and build upon.


When did you decide to become a writer?
 I have always wanted to put my thoughts into writing, but the real take-off was in 2004 when I started putting the ideas together. I am a teacher by career, and I love to understand things honestly, and I love it even more when I can pass that on my students having practised it, and they can go from a lack of understanding to an increase in knowing the truth, and that is the power of expressive thoughts. I wanted to be able to share that with a broader audience, and I have been significantly impacted by many different authors from across the globe many in which I have never met and may never meet. We all have the same privilege to share with others what has impacted us so that the body of Christ can be built.


When writing The Fear of the Lord did anything stand out as particularly challenging?  
Time was a challenge but I was really helped when writing the book.


What do you like to do when not writing?
I devote much of my spare time to reading, loving family, and people. I love to find myself in the company of people, what better pool of knowledge is there than from many people with different experiences cultures lessons, etc., all combined into one mind.  



Where can readers find out more about your work? 




Questions About Sexuality that Got Me Uninvited from My Denomination



https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07Z28W12N/

Click on any conservative Christian denominational website, and you'll find stories and images of all kinds of people finding hope through the efforts of the denomination. But are pastors, churches, and denominations committed to revolutionary hope? Or are they committed to tribal rules? "Questions About Sexuality that Got Me Uninvited from My Denomination" is an insightful, concise disclosure of how one pastor in good standing found answers to those questions.

The book and the included companion discussion guide acts as a code unlocking healthy ways to approach the six passages out of 31,000 verses in the Bible that deal specifically with homosexuality. Along the way, you'll wrestle with questions about the beauty of non-sacrificial love and its relevance to all people, including LGTBQ+ human beings.

Rise Up! (Author Interview)




‘Rise up!’ looks like a great book Christian motivational book.  Any plans to release similar books or turn it into a series?  

I am in the process of finishing my second book, but it will be geared more towards my life coaching business. I do not plan to making “Rise Up “ a series.

How did you come up with the concepts and ideas in ‘Rise up!: Be a Saint not an Ain’t’

I came up with the concept for “Rise Up” when I realized that so many people (including myself at one time) who call themselves Christians are just mean and show no love (the “Aint’s). They make it hard for people who may want to come into the faith or are new to the faith to stay in the faith. When I came to understand that we are supposed to mirror the example that Christ himself lived while He was on the earth, my whole life changed. I started to understand that love covers a multitude of sins and that when broken people receive love their world begins to change as well. Saints are simply people who have a heart to be love and give it to those who may have none.
           
What will readers get out of your book?

Since the book is geared toward Christians, my hope is that they will come to see when they are acting Ain’tish and get back to treating people the way they want to be treated, stop being judgmental, and show the love of Christ and get back to loving the lost and help them get on a path to right living.

What inspired you when writing ‘Rise up!’?   

I was inspired to write “Rise Up” because I saw too many people being discouraged, too many people left hurting, and too many people turning their backs on Christianity, because the so-called Saints were running them away because of their dogmatic approach to the bible. I saw that people in the church forgot that they too were once lost and did not have it all together. Everyone is an ex something, so I wrote this for us to remember just that, that there is no perfect people in the world, not one.

When did you decide to become a writer?

My love for writing started way back in the 3rd grade, but I did not start to take it seriously until I around 2008 when I wrote my first magazine article for my church. From there I challenged myself to complete a book and I did. It is one of the biggest accomplishments of my life.

When writing ‘Rise up!’ did anything stand out as particularly challenging?  

The most challenging thing with writing was being disciplined to sit down and do it. It took me 9 months to finish this book as it was truly a labor of love. I have since learned my lesson and now my second book is nearly complete. I just have to have it edited, because that is another difficult task for me as well.

What do you like to do when not writing?
I love watching movies and listening to jazz. I am next going to challenge myself to write a screenplay so watching movies is no longer a guilty pleasure of mine, but a necessity. I also love to travel.

Where can readers find out more about your work?

More information can be found about my book on my website shannonowenspdc.com and on Amazon and Kindle.



Diary of a Divine Relationship: Jack & Kelly



www.amazon.com/dp/B07MTT1G37/
   
Diary of a Divine Relationship looks like a compelling Christian story.  Any plans to release similar books?
I’m currently working on a sequel to answer so many questions about some of the characters in the first book. This book will tie up loose ends and I think readers will feel satisfied. I will also work to bring Diary of a Divine Relationship (Jack and Kelly) to the stage as a play and one day onto the big screen Now that would be a dream come true.  


How did you come up with the story in Diary of a Divine Relationship?  
I think the story of Cinderella may have something to do with it, lol, but seriously, I like taking underdogs and changing their lives for the better. God will use anyone that allows him to use them. He takes the perceived ordinary, misunderstood and seemingly strange or different person and uses them for the extraordinary. He uses the humble and those who offer their faithfulness and willingness in saying, “Yes, God I agree with you.”   
           

What will readers get out of your book?
The main message of the book is that we are all flawed, whether it is very apparent to the eye or hidden behind the clothes, image or personality. We can do and be more, no matter what we perceive as limitations if we trust in Him. We should not let others influence our destiny.  God is the only one who determines our value and worth. They will also get a lighthearted and funny, yet serious story of a couple and their struggles as they come together for God’s purpose.


What inspired you when writing Diary of a Divine Relationship?
I’m someone that resonates with the underdog. For lack of a better word, this is how Kelly perceived herself but she fought that title and I and Jack wanted her to see herself differently.


When did you decide to become a writer?
I had no idea I would be an author.  I used to dabble and scribble with writing thoughts down about my life, and I even attempted to put together an essay, but I did not finish that.  I believe this book was divinely inspired because of certain things I was going through at that time in my own life.


When writing Diary of a Divine Relationship did anything stand out as particularly challenging?  
Yes, the storyline as to what happens to Kelly Sanders and where should I take the story. I really struggled with that.  Believe it or not, I’ve had anger directed toward me regarding the ending.