Save A Prayer: Author Paul W. Meier Chats To Nick Wale

Paul W. Meier sat down with me for a second interview. (Please see the first interview here.) This one was as fascinating as the first– we really wanted to expand our conversation and I really want you to know how great this guy is. I discovered that not only was he an excellent writer, he is also a great human being and a very forward thinking and compassionate guy. I present Paul W. Meier to you again and I hope you are all listening for that voice in your gut—that’s the voice you need to hear.

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Q) Hi again, Paul! So tell me what did you think of the last interview?

A) Great! It went places I never expected.

Q) That’s the way with me! So let’s talk about you as a person. What do you like to do for recreation?

A) I’m just now trying to find that out. In the last year, I’ve been working on getting four books out. Two were 80% written before the year started, and then two shorter books I put together during the year. Now that I’ve gotten those out of the way, I think I’ll have some time to go fishing – that’s my recreation. My wife and I are also catching up on some movies. We hadn’t seen any new ones in a long time, so they’re still new to us.

Q) How does it feel to have written four books? That’s an achievement in itself.

A) It’s a relief to get them done. I wanted to have several available so that my blogging and other activities might be more useful. The best part is that I learned more than anyone about the stuff I was writing as I wrote them.

Q) How about your congregation? Have they been supportive?

A) Very much so. They are an incredibly loving and generous group of people. It helps that the research I do for my sermons is much of what I include in my books, so the two activities go hand in hand.

Q) Tell me– how are the books doing? Are you reaching a strong audience?

A) I’ve had a good two weeks since the release of my new book. I’ve done some specific marketing for them because Lent begins on Feb. 13 and two of them will make good devotional books for the season – Praying the Gospels with Martin Luther and O Taste and See. I put together a plan on how to use each of them that can be downloaded from my website for free.

Q) I received an interesting question through my Contact Me page that the writer requested be passed onto you. Does God hear every prayer?

A) Of course. According to the New Testament, we are temples of the living God. God dwells within us. How else would God be able to know our heart? We just forget to look for God within…that’s usually where many of the answers to our prayers lie anyway.

Q) How would someone without any religious education find God within?

A) The same way the Himalayan masters find the Source that Christians call God. The same way people who have never been able to read have found God through the centuries– meditation, prayer, spending time in the quiet. Remember that religious education is simply that, teaching about what someone else thinks about God. You still have to choose whether you agree with them or not. Not enough people think they have permission to think for themselves.

Q) It’s interesting that you mention people following rather than thinking. Have you always had the ability to think for yourself? Or have you learnt that quality?

A) I trusted what others told me for fifty years. That’s when I began the practice of centering prayer and it changed my whole theology and life. It did lead me into spiritual leadership in the Christian faith because I had to start where I was. I think that’s how the Spirit teaches us and moves us along at the pace we are willing and able to hear. Writing my first two books was all about my learning who God is and giving myself permission to disagree where religion didn’t make sense.

Q) So what didn’t make sense to you about religion?

A) The question I always had was this: Why does Jesus’ Father not look much like the God of the Old Testament? They don’t have the same characteristics or personality. Jesus said God doesn’t kill people because of their bad actions. Is that a loving God? The New Testament says God is love, God is light – in Him there is no darkness at all. This is the good news!

Christianity has blended the Judaic faith with the New Testament revelation of God and God has a split personality.

Let me quickly say that I am not putting down the Judaic faith. There are many faithful Jews who have become kind, generous people because of their beliefs.

Q) For British readers I’ve got to ask this– What’s the difference between the Church of England (C of E) and Lutheranism?

A) That’s a broad question, and my only real contact with a group I assume to be related to the C of E (however remotely) is the Episcopal Church in the States. The Lutheran church has many more divisions than the C of E and Episcopal groupings. The similarities between us might best be found in the liturgical aspect of worship, with C of E being more “high” church than most Lutheran congregations are today. Liturgy is a treasure for all of us.

On the other side of the coin, I think Lutherans feel a little more freedom to depart from doing everything the same way. You can walk into three Lutheran churches and experience three completely different kinds of worship service. Theologically, most Lutherans “say” they believe we are saved by the grace of God, but in actuality, if you don’t think the same way, you may be suspect.

You might also take note that this is my opinion, and there are some who will disagree with my assessment.

Q) I’m actually fascinated because growing up C of E I was never really exposed to anyone who was Lutheran. It’s a huge learning curve for me. So what is the Lutheran stance on things like rock music, drugs, etc? Is it frowned upon as it is by the C of E community?

A) I’d say that if it’s legal by the standards of the state, who make laws that are hopefully built upon the desire to promote peace, harmony, and justice among large groups of people, then it might be done in moderation and without harm to self or another. Again, this is my dancing on the head of a pin. Let’s just call it the opinion of one Lutheran. Rock music – okay. Drugs – not legal.

Q) You strike me as a very fair, honest and just guy. I’m sure you’re well respected in your community. Do you find people coming to you for guidance and help often?

A) I minister in a relatively small congregation– 75-80 people in worship each week. I’m in a rural, non-farming community in the Bible Belt. It’s surprising to me that not many people in this area know what a Lutheran is either! The Germans and Scandinavians who immigrated to the states settled further north. So I help whoever God brings to me. Maybe that’s why I feel the need to write, to reach a wider audience.

Q) I had a lot of people ask me, “Who is that guy?” They just instantly liked you. I think you are touching a lot of people out there. How does that feel?

A) Anytime someone says you have helped them, it fills that space within you that wants to feel valued, appreciated, and put on this earth to fulfil a need. It’s like the beatitude: Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness – for they will be filled. We always come away satisfied when we do the right thing that brings peace and hope to others.

Q) Yes, well you certainly helped me a lot. I was grateful for your support when my fiancée went home. It’s a trying time, but I talk to God as much as I can. Have you ever had an experience with an angel?

A) My definition of an angel is “a messenger from God.” I’ve encountered many messengers from God on my journey. Somewhere in the psalms it says a man might make his plans, but God guides his footsteps. I think that means go the direction you think you’re supposed to go until the light shines on another path or a door opens that just makes sense. And most of all, be open to appreciating the moment in which you are in.

  1. O Taste and See: Discovering God Through Imaginative Meditations is available now!
  2. Praying the Gospels with Martin Luther: Finding Freedom in Love
  3. In Living Color: The Lords Prayer
  4. In Living Color: The Beatitudes

Don’t forget to visit Paul’s website, Praying the Gospels and his Facebook Author Page!

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Fant Says “No” To Fifty Shades of Filth! Nick Wale Interviews Author James Fant

James Fant is a writer I’ve been waiting anxiously to interview. His busy schedule means that he can only interview when he has time and I was willing to wait. For those of you already aware of his work, you will know what to expect. For those new to the work of James Fant I should explain some important things about him. He is a gentleman above all and his education shines through clearly. James is a sturdy, strong-willed man who loves his family and his wife. He doesn’t need anything other than the family unit to keep him strong. Calm and sophisticated, he’s a man who drives himself along with his own strength and creativity. I am proud to present a true professional to you today. Here is James Fant.

James Fant

Q) So tell me, James, how did you get into writing?

A) My imagination is exceptionally strong. I’ve always been able to see an invisible world and translate what I see onto paper. I’m not crazy, mind you, but I have always enjoyed making up stories. I wrote a story in the third grade about a witch and three pirates. The witch ended up eating the pirates because they tried to kill her. (Crazy, right?) But I received an award for that story in the third grade.

Q) So that one story you wrote in third grade stirred you to become an author?

A) No. That story was a result of the creative gift that God gave me. I started writing professionally because God kept giving me stories to write. I can be driving down the road and see, for an example, an old rusted van in the back yard of a house. I say to myself, “Why is that van there in the back yard? What’s that van’s story?” So, that’s what stirs me to write. I look at things and see the story inside of them.

Q) When did you publish your first book and what was it called?

A) I published my first work in November 2011. It was a short story called “The Mended Fence” and it chronicled (briefly) the adventure of a cheating husband who came home one night and saw his wife returning the favor. I really had fun writing that story because I fashioned it to be a sort of poetic short story. Like all of the works I write, there is a message or theme in that short story that will inspire readers.

Q) I really admire that you always leave a moral or theme in your work. Is that consciously done?

A) Yes. I feel that my work is both entertaining and inspirational. In “The Mended Fence” readers are taken on a wild ride that includes reckless driving, destroyed property, and a bank robbery. You see, the main character of the story was trying to buy a diamond for his wife because she caught him cheating on her. He was trying to fix a problem in the wrong way. The moral of that story is that sometimes you need help, someone greater than yourself, to fix problems that you create.

Q) I think your work sounds wonderful. You don’t care for this current trend of sex and profanity in others’ work, do you?

A) No. I choose not to use profanity and graphic sexual content. However, I do write steamy material. It is all in the way I write.

I have a novel available now on Amazon.uk called “An Ode for Orchids.” It is about four beautiful woman and their relationships with men and with each other. This is a romance novel, but this is a novel that a reader can read out loud to their pastor. The content is steamy, sensual, and exciting; yet, it is totally clean.

Q) I was going to ask about “Ode” next. You beat me to it! How is the public receiving it?

A) Very well. I have glowing reviews of the work. Several readers have said that it made them laugh out loud as well as cry. Readers also say that they can identify with certain characters. I really love when readers pull something out of the book that I had not consciously thought of. I’m reaching readers and enhancing their life through the power of inspirational fiction and I absolutely love that about writing.

The Secret Branch

Q) Where do you get the inspiration to write your books?

A) Divine inspiration. Take “An Ode for Orchids,” for example. I started writing the story in 2006 and nearly shelved the idea after I started graduate school, but the story would not go away. No matter how busy I was with school work, with church, or family life, the story would come back to me. It needed to be told. I’m sure readers will be able to identify with the story and say, “Yes. I went through something similar.” I believe God inspired me to write the story to be both entertaining and edifying.

The idea came from my appreciation of the enduring strength and tenacity of all of the women in my life. My hardworking mother, my loving grandmother, my strong sisters (related and non-related), no-nonsense aunties, and last but definitely not least, my beautiful wife. A lot of women are holding it down on their own for one reason or another. They endure many hardships and have become tougher for it. However, they still have the power to be nurturing and sweet. So, I believe that God gave me this story to edify not only women, but also the men that want them and must have them in their lives.

I have to give credit to God for the ideas that He gives me because that keeps me going. He’s the Master Communicator and everything starts with His Words. So, I’m a big student of communication and the art of wordplay. An author can project a certain theme and really draw the reader in just by choosing the right words and putting them in the right place at the right time. It’s really a beautiful thing.

Also, as a storyteller, one has the luxury of creating utter chaos for the reader’s enjoyment. I recently read “One Blood” by Qwantu Amaru and the chaos was in full swing. Powerful storms, heated battles, tragedy and triumph. All without the need of a stunt double. Knowing that I have the opportunity to write literature that is both endearing and exciting motivates me to want to write forever.

Q) How do you go about writing your work? Do you need silence or do you listen to music? How does James Fant write?

A) James Fant writes to the rhythmic sounds of Robert Glasper, a jazz pianist with such albums as “Mood,” “In My Element,” and “The Experiment.” The list goes on. But I’ll put in my headphones and let the syncopated rhythms pump as I punch the QWERTY.

My writing process is very simple. The story starts off as divinely inspired idea. Then I outline the entire story, trying to be as brief with the outline as I can be. Then I just write. And, I mean, I don’t sit at my laptop and think about what I’m going to write. I just write.

One of my favorite movies is “Finding Forester,” with Sean Connery and Rob Brown. In one scene, William Forrester (Connery) and Jamal Wallace (Brown) were sitting at their typewriters. Forrester starts typing away while Wallace just sits there. He tells Forrester that he’s thinking, but Forrester replied that the first draft is written with the heart. The second draft is written with the head.

When I’m in writing mode, I really don’t think about what I’m writing at all. I have the story in my head and I just let my subconscious go to work. What I really love to do, especially if I don’t have to get up early the next morning, is to write late at night. I like to see what I come up with in the haze of sleepiness. Sometimes when I get up in the morning, I’m pleasantly surprised by what I wrote. There are some words, phrases, plot twists, and endings that my mind would definitely tell me to avoid if I’m writing earlier in the evening. After midnight, I write with my heart primarily and include every intimate detail of my experiences and thoughts. I usually come up with something pretty cool. Or, I end up writing something really crazy, get a real good kick out of it, and file it away in a folder named DO NOT USE.

Q) It sounds like a wonderful process. I write in a similar way and I always love writing to jazz. I think you have a lovely style. So what sets your books apart from others in the genre?

A) One major distinction is that there is no profanity or lewd sexual scenes in my books; however, the stories are still extremely hot and steamy. There’s a high level of passion and conflict within my stories. There may be arguments and fights. There may even be a great deal of sexual tension. But there is no profanity or graphic love scenes. Now that I’ve given that disclaimer, I love including “OMG” moments in my books, places that will make the reader say, “Wow. I cannot believe the character did that.” It’s all in the way I use words and I actually have a lot of fun crafting hot, steamy, non-raunchy books.

I want to write stories that will encourage readers to analyze and repair their personal relationships. That’s what I love about writing fiction. You can create this wonderful and exciting story with lots of twists and turns, but the story can also have meaningful characters and situations that readers can identify with and learn from. Another distinction, like my upcoming novel titled “14-Pages,” is that I may write love stories that involve married couples. Many romance novels are about people actually hooking up and eventually getting married, but I believe that love stories don’t end when the wedding ring goes on.

Q) As an author, what are the keys to success that lead to your book getting out to the public?

A) Enlisting the help of others is a major key. You don’t know everything, and you can’t be good at everything. As an indie author, I had to realize that it doesn’t matter that I run a small publishing company and that I have to wear many hats. I still need to surround myself with talented people.

Education is another key. As a graduate student I learned that the true goal of any Masters or Doctorate program is to teach the student how to learn, how to educate himself. To be successful as an author, publisher, or anything for that matter, you can’t be scared to learn new things. You actually have to embrace learning.

Q) I agree. So what is your publishing company called? Are you taking manuscripts right now? If so, what genre? How can people approach you with their work?

A) I created my publishing company REAL FANTASY PUBLISHING to release only my work at present. That doesn’t mean that I will never publish other authors. That is actually phase five of my long-term plan. But presently, I am only publishing books by James Fant and I’m having so much fun doing so.

Readers, however, can check out my website www.jamesfantbooks.com for information on my work.

Q) Can readers of your books contact you? How about publishers?

A) Readers and publishers can contact me at the following places.

Email
jamesfant (@) yahoo.com

Facebook

James Fant Facebook Page
Facebook Author Page

Twitter

Other social media sites:
Blog
Book Blogs

Q) So what is next for you? Another book? A new idea?

A) What’s next for me? My novel “14-Pages” will be released soon. “14-Pages” is about a newlywed couple who argue so much that they discuss divorce, but a marriage expert tells them that their issue is that they signed a marriage license and not a marriage contract– a document that will govern how they treat each other.

So the couple draft a 14-page contract with step-by-step marriage instructions. It even includes crazy clauses like the Tip Out Clause, The Quota, and Chill Therapy. Everyone thinks the contract is crazy and they may be right. But for Marco and Venice, the newlywed couple, happily ever after needs all the help that it can get. So here’s the question– is a 14-page marriage contract enough to save a failing marriage? Only time will tell. (Or in actuality, only I will tell since I’m the author of the story!)

Q) I will be getting a copy, James. I have really enjoyed this interview. So is there anything you would like to add? Any last words, so to speak?

A) I’d like to leave this little bit of encouragement to the readers of this interview. Please, whatever you do, continue to dream. No matter how busy you get with the cares of life, dream and I mean dream drastically. As children we fantasized about what we will be. We even tell people proudly about our dreams without an ounce of trepidation. Any and everything was possible when we were children. Then came adulthood and what many term as the real world. And many times we stop fantasizing because we’ve gotten a healthy dose of reality. But here is the real reality. All things are possible if you believe. Do you believe that?

Q) I do, James. I have dreamed my whole life and tried to make them come true. I finally met the girl of my dreams and everything fell into place. Your words really hit home with me there.

A) Now that’s alright with me. Love’s alright, isn’t it?
An Ode For Orchids

Check out “An Ode For Orchids” right now for a great read! Then check out “The Secret Branch“!

Dealing with Grief: The Effects of Not Doing So

Below is an article that I believe will help many of you. Grief and loss are terrible things and  I myself can tell you that the death of a parent is one of the hardest things you can go through. I would like to introduce you to a friend of mine called Ashley and I would like you all to read his words. I believe you will be touched as I was by his honesty. 

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I’m Ashley, a 23 year old male, a lad that likes all of the better things in life, the typical “hard man, emotionless”. Two years ago my life changed for the worse. My father, aged fifty-eight, was diagnosed with lung cancer and less than five months later he was dead. The effects this had on me and the others I loved around me were devastating.

So it all started on the way to work in November 2010. I had a phone call from my mum to tell me Dad was on the way to hospital for an X-ray because of what the doctor had said to him minutes earlier. He had been suffering from a cough for a few weeks which wouldn’t seem to budge and after a coughing fit he had a sharp pain which resulted in this trip to the doctor to try and get it all sorted out. I thought it was going to be a routine job and 25 minutes later he would be out. How wrong I was.

Suspected TB was the initial diagnosis– not great but treatable. A week in hospital and then he would be home, all nice and well again. Unfortunately, as the week went on, this didn’t seem like the likely outcome. Negative tests and inconclusive X-Rays discounted the chance of it being something so simple to treat. He came out of hospital six days later after an MRI to then return later to see a consultant. Little did I know what was then to come.

Monday, 6th December 2010, was the day that my world started to fall apart. Driving home in the dark after a long day at work I thought to myself how slow the traffic was and what would I be having for dinner. I got home in a pretty good mood, walked into the kitchen to find Mum and Dad just standing there chatting, but stopped immediately as soon as they saw me. Then the bombshell dropped. Mum said Dad had something to tell me. He said, “ I’ve got cancer.” Great, I thought, treatable but we could do without this. “It’s terminal,” he followed up straight away before starting to cry. This was a knife straight through the heart. I was full of anger almost instantly, wanting to tell him it was going to be OK, but not wanting to lie. I went outside to hear Radio 1 playing Our Song by Ellie Goulding. “How wonderful life is now you’re in the world” all of a sudden had a more poignant meaning. This was the start of me not dealing with the grief and anger I had.

The treatment started pretty quickly after the initial diagnosis and was pretty brutal. The toxins used had an effect almost instantly, and the dad I did have had changed from being the carer to being the cared for almost overnight. On 10th April 2011, he died. I was upset and yet at the same time I was full of anger. How could he just go like that, so soon, so young? However, being able to see him still and peaceful was a wonderful thing after seeing him struggling to breathe and being in constant pain.

The first couple of months after this seemed to be OK. I was basically emotionless, in a state of disbelief that this actually just happened to me and the family. A lot of people asked if I wanted to talk, the answer was always no. At the start of July I started to get into a relationship with a girl that was a friend of my cousin. Blonde hair, pretty blue eyes and the perfect body, I thought to myself that this is the start of something good and that all the shit that has just happened will sort itself out in the next couple of months. Come September our relationship was made “Facebook Official” and was the start of what was to be an amazing relationship.

This is where things started to fall apart very slowly. Every so often I would feel like the world was so unfair to me. I had found the girl I would marry for sure, yet my Dad wouldn’t see that. I was the happiest I had ever been, but Dad couldn’t see that. I had the girl my Dad would have loved, he couldn’t see that. After all every major event in my life, moving out, getting married and having children wasn’t going to be seen by the person I most wanted to impress.

She was showing me nothing but love and yet sometimes I turned into a selfish monster. The smallest arguments would end up blowing up into a full blown shit storm. We would both say things we didn’t mean. After every one of these she would say to me to speak to her about how I felt, but why would I want to tell her that really I’m not the hard man I try to make myself out to be? Long story short, I rejected the advances of help from her and other people. I mistakenly thought I could sort all of this out myself; after-all, I was always right.

The final argument came and she decided that she wanted a break. She suggested that I should talk to somebody about everything. I didn’t respect this and kept trying to sort things out myself, only to have her push me away more. I would try harder, but ended up pushing her away more.

In my own self-delusion I thought I could still sort it all by myself, but I couldn’t  After realising that I had just lost everything I had ever wanted, I went to speak to somebody. It was the best thing I ever did since Dad had died. I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to be the boyfriend I wanted to be at the start of the relationship; I was frustrated and angry that Dad had gone and at the things he wouldn’t see; I was frustrated at the fact that my own stubbornness had just ruined the trust of the number one girl in my life and ruined the relationship we had. Within two days, I felt the weight of all the anger fall off my shoulders, the stomach cramps had gone, and I felt truly happy apart from the fact that I no longer had her.

Is the relationship salvageable? Probably not. While I would love to think it could be in the long run, I know the stuff I did would be hard to forgive. The trust would need to be built again.

What are the takeaways from all this? No matter how much of a rock you think you are, talk to somebody, and don’t wait until is too late to do anything about. Anger and grief will ruin any relationship no matter how much you love the other person. You need to start the conversation about it– people won’t ask you how you are or if you want to talk as they don’t want to upset you. When you get the chance grab it with both hands and be 100% honest with the person you are talking to. It’s hard to tell people your deepest emotions, but it pays massive dividends. Since then, I have been able to speak openly about my life and my feelings towards it.

The reason for writing this is to help even one person avoid the issues I went through and caused– the heartbreak of the breakup and the feelings of losing two things I loved most within the space of two years. After-all  I have nobody to blame but myself and the fact that she was willing to walk away for me to sort my life out has given me a lot more respect and love for her.

By Ashley H