Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I'm Coming to Alexandria, Minnesota!

Saturday, December 13, 2008, I'll be at

Cherry Street Books
503 Broadway
Alexandria, MN
from 11:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

I think I'll be doing a "book talk" at 11:00 a.m., sharing about the writing journey and doing Q&A, then visiting and signing books the rest of the time.

Sharon Hinck

Please come on out! It's a GREAT time to do a little Christmas shopping.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Visit from Bryan Davis

I've always loved books. Growing up, authors were mysterious and amazing gifts to my little world. So once I became a novelist, one of my favorite perks was the opportunity to get to know other authors and spend time with them.

Each week for the next two months, I'll share a little about one of the authors from the Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour. I toured with these authors from October 3-12, 2008, all over the West Coast. You get to know a lot about an author when they get up at 4:00 a.m. to hit the road for another long day of events, or you see them sit beside a child in an oncology unit to share a book, or you teach an English class side-by-side with them. I hope whatever genres you read, you'll enjoy hearing about the HEART of each of these authors.

This week I'm showcasing Bryan Davis.

Bryan is a prolific author with a testimony of incredible persistence. You can read all about his many books at his website, and interact with other readers at his forum.

But after touring with him twice, I can share that one of his special qualities is that he has a passionate father-heart that extends beyond his own family to all young people. Even with his busy writing schedule and huge commitments of writing, teaching, and traveling, he gives many hours of time each week to chatting with youth at his forum, mentoring young writers, and praying for young people seeking Christian truth in a difficult world.

On the recent tour, I got to hear amazing stories of risks he took in order to step out in faith and obey God, and about miraculous answered prayers. But what touched me the most was when he spoke at the Calvary Chapel service about his longing to provide stories that will help young people who have been tormented by the enemy. He is a man with a heartfelt calling and pushes himself beyond the limits to carry out that calling. I teased him that he's an android, because I've never known anyone who can function on so little sleep, work so tirelessly, and continue to write at such a pace.

While many different ages read and enjoy his books, his series are particularly geared toward teens. My teen daughter gobbles up his books, so I'm glad he writes as fast as he does!

Sharon Hinck

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sharon Visits Australia

Sort of...

My Aussie friend from Relz Reviews hosted a book club that read and discussed The Restorer.

I often visit book groups via speaker phone, (if you're part of a book group, feel free to email me and request a visit if you're discussing any one of my books!)

For my visit Down-Under, because of time differences, the women gave all their questions to Rel, who emailed them to me. She's posted my answers here - some fun inside scoop about The Restorer and about me.

They asked some unique questions...and I learned a lot, too.

Who knew that Aussies don't enjoy Chex snack mix? :-)

And who knew that women in another hemisphere would identify with the faith journey of a middle-American mom? Isn't it neat that way that God weaves us all together?

I hope you enjoy your "visit" with my Australian friends, too!


Friday, October 24, 2008

Having Then Gifts Differing

When I was in high school, I memorized Romans 12 in the King James Version.
In fact, I did a lot of memorizing in my childhood - all KJV. Now I use the NIV, so I get hopelessly muddled when I seek to call scripture to mind; but that's another story.

Some of the KJV wording just sticks.

One phrase that has been floating through my thoughts lately is "having then gifts differing . . . " It's a call to use the unique gifts God has given to serve the Body of Christ. If you have the gift of teaching, then teach, if the gift of service, then serve, etc.

As I've processed the Motiv8 tour, thinking back over the days on the road with seven other authors, I rejoice in the diverse gifts God gave even this band of writers. We traveled together because we have in common that we are Christians, that we have a passion for using the written word to communicate about our faith, that we all write fiction, and that we specifically write fantasy fiction. That's a lot to have in common.

Yet even among this homogenous group, the variety of callings, spiritual gifts, and artistic talents was immense. Several of the group are teachers, and their skill at speaking to grade-school or middle-school audiences was obvious. One of the group is a youth pastor, and his ability to grab the hearts of high-school students was tremendous.

Me? I generally speak to church women's groups, book clubs, writer's groups, and retreats, so as far as our programs, I appreciated the last evening's event where I could share a brief devotion with adults.

I took away a few thoughts about "having then gifts differing."

* Seeing the beautiful talents of others being used (music, acting, story-telling, writing for children, counseling youth) helped me appreciate that God is doing amazing things around the world through His people.

* Serving in ways that are not my calling is so good for creating humility. Too often, I embrace opportunties to use my gifts that allow me to shine. Doing work that I was clumsy at was a good reminder of how flat and lifeless my efforts are if they aren't anointed by Him.

* I have a new appreciation for the times that God matches up the gifts He's given me with an opportunity to serve. That's a privilege, not a right. I'm looking forward to upcoming speaking events with new enthusiasm.

* Frederick Buechner wrote, "The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet." I've always liked that explanation of vocation. But above and beyond that, I'm a servant. And sometimes God calls me to a place that isn't such a good fit - and then my job is to obey and lean on Him even more.

* The tender love of Christ was manifest to me in new ways by the other members of the tour - again through their different gifts: humor, prayers of faith, firm admonition to sit and rest, kind offers to help me with my suitcase, a quiet question about how I was doing. It was another example of how precious each member of the Body of Christ is, and how uniquely able to meet needs.

So let's face this new day ready to use the gifts God has given us, and even ready to serve in ways that we are NOT gifted, if that's what He asks.

Just by BEING the person He made you to be, you are bringing Him joy.

Sharon Hinck

Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Quiet Moment from the Tour

One of the activities on the Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction West Coast Tour was a community service event to support literacy. We donated books and spent time with children at a housing project.

The photo shows me chatting with one little girl. We shared a love for Dr. Seuss.

And yes, you can just make out that I'm wearing my baldric and sword. It's been odd since being home to get up in the morning and NOT strap on my sword.

I hope I can keep looking for the person sitting alone who needs someone to come sit beside her. I hope I can strap on the sword of the Spirit each day.
I hope today will provide a quiet moment of fellowship.

I pray your day will include a quiet moment, the blessing of a new friend, and the joy of shared interests.

Sharon Hinck

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Winner - Starting From Scratch

I drew names from those who commented on the post about Starting From Scratch,
last week and the winner is Cheryl K.


The authors will be sending you an autographed copy of the book.
I've had an opportunity to read several of the true stories in the book (and know some of the women who shared their stories) and it is truly encouraging and inspiring.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Reviews for Stepping Into Sunlight

I recently heard from my publisher that ForeWord journal will include a favorable review of Stepping Into Sunlight in their Nov/Dec issue.

In part, the reviewer wrote, ". . . At this moment, Penny’s long journey of healing begins. If this were all the book had to offer, the author’s language and pacing would be enough to carry it forward, but Penny confronts not only the fear prompted by her brush with death, she also discovers pockets of shameful judgments she holds about people."

I loved that the reviewer commented on some of the secondary character-growth themes that mattered to me in the story. I'm always tickled when someone catches what I'm going for in a story (besides my mom or my wonderful editors).

I've been so humbled and blessed by the positive reviews from Publisher's Weekly, Library Journal, and other journals like ForeWord. You can read professional reviews and endorsements here.

But I'm also delighted when I hear from readers.

Here are a few thoughts from recent emails about Stepping Into Sunlight:

"Your writing reached so deep into the hurting places of my own life that I could only read a chapter or so at a time. I could so identify with Penny and her pain. Yet, hope shone through, too." -- Judy

"I have NEVER related so deeply with a fictional character before... that was so perfectly descriptive...I even had my husband read some of the passages because you were able to articulate things I have been unable to." -- Robin

"You gave voice to the broken and showed how beautiful we are in God's eyes." -- Amy

I treasure mail from readers and am in awe that God had a message of hope for various people who picked up the book with a variety of needs. He's amazing that way.

Sharon Hinck

Creative Writers at Crown College Rock!

Last night I had the privilege of hanging out with a college class and chatting about the writing journey, answering questions, etc. It was my first time visiting Crown College (St. Bonifacius, MN).

I had an incredibly uplifting and inspiring time.

The students were earnest, engaged, bright, fun, and asked terrific questions. Their faith and mission-minded hearts were obvious. They didn't only care about "How do I get published?" sorts of questions - but also the "How do I serve God as a writer? What does it mean to be a Christian who writes novels?" issues. I sensed that they really cared about communicating effectively for God's kingdom, and serving Him with excellence.

Their professor, Casie Szalapski, is a treasure, and I'm so grateful she invited me to visit.

If you are ever feeling a little blue about the world, find a Christian college's writing class to visit. You'll be smiling for days.

Sharon Hinck

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Visit from Wayne Batson

I've always loved books. Growing up, authors were mysterious and amazing gifts to my little world. So once I became a novelist, one of my favorite perks was the opportunity to get to know other authors and spend time with them.

Each week for the next two months, I'll share a little about one of the authors from the Motiv8 Fantasy Fiction Tour. I toured with these authors from October 3-12, 2008, all over the West Coast. You get to know a lot about an author when they get up at 4:00 a.m. to hit the road for another long day of events, or you see them sit beside a child in an oncology unit to share a book, or you teach an English class side-by-side with them. I hope whatever genres you read, you'll enjoy hearing about the HEART of each of these authors.

This week, I'm welcoming Wayne Batson. His website and blog do an excellent job informing about his books, so be sure to visit them. He's the author of the best selling Door Within series, and Isle of Swords books. He's been a middle school teacher for sixteen years, and although readers of many ages enjoy his books, he has a special appeal to the 10-12 year-old reader.

Anyone who has heard Wayne do a reading from his stories, complete with English accent, creepy voices, and dramatic pauses knows that he is a gifted actor and story-teller. And he and Christopher Hopper could do company clubs with their improvisational skits and comic sword fights.

But there is something that impresses me even more than his talent for writing and performing. After two tours with Wayne, and many conference calls and emails, I have deep admiration for his passion to give God his best every day, and his empathy for the hurting. When I've felt discouraged by a professional setback, he's been the first to email and agree that the road IS hard, but he also reminds me of God's love and purposes.

If you have children in your life who enjoy fantasy tales, or pirate adventures, (or you enjoy them, too!) they will be drawn closer to the heart of God by Wayne's stories.
I know that to be true, not only because I've seen hoards of kids mob him at book signings, but because he's talked to me about his walk with God, and I know his kind of faith will always bleed through the pages of a story and impact the reader.

Sharon Hinck

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Author of the Month

One of the highlights of the Fantasy Fiction Tour was getting to meet Deena. She's had a long-running blog that actively and fervently promotes Christian fiction, posts reviews, and supports Christian authors.

The photo shows our meeting in Sacramento.

Deena has begun a new feature on her blog - highlighting one author, in depth, each month. The month of October she's been posting about me - including a new interview, a review of Stepping Into Sunlight, and several contests. You can see the menu of features here.

Be sure to stop by and thank her for all she does to help get the word out about novels by Christian authors!

Sharon Hinck

The Secret Life of Becky Miller (2007 ACFW Book of the Year - 2nd place, Lit category)
Renovating Becky Miller
(2008 Audie Award Finalist, ACFW BOTY finalist)
The Restorer
(2008 Christy Award Finalist, ACFW BOTY finalist)
The Restorer's Son (ACFW Book of the Year Winner, Romantic Times 4.5 stars, Reviewer's Choice Award - Road to Romance)
New Releases:
The Restorer's Journey
Symphony of Secrets

Now Available:
Stepping Into Sunlight

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Starting From Scratch

For several years, I've been a member of the Minnesota Christian Writer's Guild - and during many of those years, Sharon Knudson has led the group with grace and encouragement, and Mary Heitzman has also served as a board member and generously served other writers, and is now stepping into leadership.

One year, I had breakfast with them both at Mt. Hermon Christian Writer's Conference. I shared some difficult challenges I was facing in the writing journey, and Sharon said, "Could I pray with you?"

She took my hand and poured blessings over me. Her words literally gave me strength that year.

I have also enjoyed speaking to the MCWG, and always felt tremendous support from Sharon and Mary. (Not to mention that great lunch at Cheesecake Factory!) ;-)

So it is no surprise to me that Sharon and Mary have created a touching and encouraging book for people facing difficult change--often unwanted and unexpected. You can learn more at their website.

Q: Mary, as you talked with women, what did you find helped them cope with their situation?

Mary: Many of the women we visited with often spoke of turning to Scripture. While some had a strong faith that allowed them to draw comfort from great passages in the Bible, others questioned God at first, or had feisty conversations with Him.

All were needy of, and appreciated, kind words and gestures from friends and family. But I was struck at how they all found comfort when their supporters were not available. Many of the women we visited with mentioned a devotional, a workbook, or some special story that encouraged them. Some started blogs or began a ministry. Many swallowed their pride and accepted help from others, including the government, recognizing that this was just for a season.

For most of these women, dependency on God Himself seemed to be the key ingredient when tragedy first struck. After that they allowed others to minister to them. And then eventually they took that one small step necessary to move forward and accept change.

Q: Sharon K., the first story in the book is from your personal experience and is titled, “Telling.” Why is talking to others—even friends—about your situation so hard?

Sharon Knudson: When I suddenly got divorced, no one knew what to think or say. It was a complete shock to everyone (including me), and it felt like a bomb had gone off in the night. People want an explanation, and if one is not readily apparent, they make their own guesses as to what probably happened. Some gossip and take sides. Some get very angry and feel betrayed: in a way, their own security is threatened and they wonder, “If that could happen to her, could it happen to me?”

“Telling”came right out of my journal. It was written as I grappled with how to tell people what had happened just a few months after the divorce. We have included this as a book excerpt on our blog.
Thanks so much, Sharon and Mary! I know many women will be blessed by these stories.

And I'm giving away a free copy - drawing from names of everyone who comments to this post and leaves a working email where I can contact them if they win.

Have you ever had to "start from scratch"?

Sharon Hinck

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday in San Diego

My last post was a week ago - hard to believe!
And it feels like that was a month ago. So much has happened on the road. But blogging didn't. In spite of my best intentions I didn't find many opportunities for internet access or time in our full days.

This morning I'm going to church with my friend Susie Meissner who opened her home for me to stay and then is taking me to the airport (in spite of the fact that she has a book launch today, for her wonderful new title, The Shape of Mercy).

When I get home, I'll have many days of catch-up. Catching up on family time, sleep, emails, laundry, all the revisions I wanted to work on while on the road. So blogging may continue to be sparse.

So I'm grabbing this moment to share a little about the tour.

God was present.

We had some convocations with hundreds of students and teachers and parents. We had some bookstore signings with huge turn-out, where I was chatting with people and signing non-stop. And we had other events with tiny groups and various unexpected challenges.

But each place, I met at least one person who had been a long-distance friend, or met a reader who had been blessed by one of my books, or heard stories of people's lives and was able to pray with them. Those encounters were a joy.

I also got to hear seven other amazing Christian authors share about their journey, their faith, their passion for the written word, and see their travel-weary silliness--a blessing that will live with me during my next year of solitary writing work.

I also have to share that I experienced a true, gentle miracle. The first couple days, I was so sick that friends and team-mates were giving me the option to fly home. I remember one teammate kindly saying, "no guilt. no one will think less of you." I knew I should be home. Yet I still felt that God wanted me on the tour and determined to try to make it one more day. And then one more.

I believe it was Portland where I hit my lowest physically and emotionally, and didn't know how to go on. I knew my friends at home were praying for my strength. I had prayed over and over for healing and grace for the work. Then one of the tour mates offered to pray with me and BOY HOWDY did he pray.

I dried my eyes, and got back in the van for the next drive, the next event...
no woosh of sudden peace or healing...
BUT over the course of the next few days I had more stretches of feeling "like me." I was getting LESS rest, working more and more, but God was strengthening me.

Friday night, we spoke at Calvary Chapel in Huntington Beach - and I got to share about the way God's strength is made perfect in our weakness. And my devotion had new resonance. I SO longed to go out in strength on this tour, sharing with energy and enthusiasm, engaging people, encouraging and speaking with lively faith. Instead God called me to go out in weakness and lean into Him. I confess I was often weak and whiney, fearful and frustrated.

Isn't it amazing that we serve a God who can use us even like that? And I continue to pray for His transforming power to reshape me. It's just a LOOOOOOONG process.

I'll try to blog about some of the highlights of the tour soon!
You can see video clips at
Blessed Sunday!
Sharon Hinck

Sunday, October 05, 2008

If It's Sunday, it must be Medford

I hesitate to blog after a few days of the West Coast Tour, and a head full of amazing and varied impressions. I can't imagine I'll get everything straight, or spell things correctly.

I do believe it's Sunday night, and I know we're in Medford.

So far we had a great time visiting classrooms to speak, conducting mentoring groups, and doing a program and then book signing for a middle-school in Abbotsford, Canada. Then we returned to our gathering point in Seattle and did a television interview for TBN, then an afternoon book signing at Harvest Logos bookstore in Seattle - they were able to borrow space from the ministry offices next to the bookstore and had a whole wonderful maze of author tables and enthusiastic readers who came out to meet us. We hurried from there to the Salt Shaker bookstore in Enumclaw for an evening event. They had decorated the walls with medieval castle backdrops, and Wayne and Christopher entertained with a sword fight, and several authors read scenes.

We hit the road early and made it to Portland by 11am to meet in an outdoor gazebo with readers (some of whom traveled four hours to meet a favorite author or two). After a long afternoon driving south, we reached Medford, where we were warmly welcomed to the Bridgeport Mall's Evangel bookstore - and were blessed by a huge group of readers who kept thanking us for the books we write and for coming to visit.

We have been humbled, honored, exhausted, delighted, and amazed at God's provision.

Those of you who've been praying for my health and strength on this tour . . . thank you. Tonight I felt close to normal after a couple days of really struggling. That was such a huge gift, I can hardly express it.

Now I'm off to grab a few hours of sleep. We hit the road early tomorrow.
I must at least mention that:

Jonathan Rogers has claimed ownership of the subgenre of swamp fiction within fantasy,

Amanda explained that she used kitten milk to feed baby squirrels and the guys asked, "How do you milk a kitten?"

The Miller brothers told me gullible isn't in the dictionary...and I believed them.

When crossing the border into Canada, Bryan handed the border guard all our USA passports and was asked where we were from. "All over the country," he answered.
"What country?" the guard asked.

Wayne said (about Seattle), "So this is where the sun goes down in the east." (Um, Wayne. The sun sets in the WEST).

The amazing writers on the tour are not only a bit silly... they are amazingly talented and unceasingly kind - which has helped carry me through feeling a bit weaker than I'd like to be while undertaking this adventure.

More soon!

His on the road,

Friday, October 03, 2008

Fantasy Tour Television - Streaming Live

During the Motiv8 West Coast Fantasy Fiction Tour, we'll be broadcasting live feed from our various events, answering text message questions via the cameras, and virtually inviting everyone along on the tour.

When we aren't live, we'll be playing videos from other events. Think of this as your "Fantasy Fiction Tour" channel, and stop by often!