Welcome back, T M. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
Love the question. I went back to school and attended seminary after our youngest son graduated high school. It was there my passion for writing developed. What began with theological expositions and sermons blossomed into Bible studies and regular devotional messages as my internet presence grew. However, I felt my writing failed to communicate as I wanted it, especially with my grandkids. Right after we moved to
before I retired, my wife challenged me: “If you want to reach folks,
especially your grandkids, write real-to-life stories that will exemplify your
inspirational messages - stories that will become a legacy of love your family
will cherish for years to come.” I accepted the challenge and over time
conjured up the settings and characters I felt most comfortable spending
endless hours talking with and about. Up sprang little old Shiloh, a time-lost Georgia South Georgia town, and all its colorful cast of
characters tackling 21st-Century challenges and changes while dragging their
heels in their 20th-Century traditions and pace of life. I have tried to create
believable Southern flavored mysteries with a setting and cast of characters
that readers can identify with, and eagerly ask, “When’s the next book coming
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
At 66 years of age, married 45 of those years as of this August to my best friend, this question poses a lot of possibilities for me. However, over my dresser rests a charcoal portrait of my wife Connie drawn during our fifth-anniversary celebration in
. It reminds me that every day
with her is the happiest day in my life. As corny as that may sound, I am
eternally grateful for her love and inspiration, and the growing family who
surround us today. That is God’s grace poured out in my life every day. New Orleans
How has being published changed your life?
Being published helped me to realize there were lots of others beyond my grandkids, family, and friends interested in my stories. Being published also has allowed us the opportunity to visit a host of new places and gotten to greet a passel of folks we would never have had known otherwise. In fact, signing books at all these events continues to be one of the most humbling experiences for me. Thanks to getting published, my golf clubs sit waylaid in the garage, collecting dust beside my fishing gear.
What are you reading right now?
The table beside my bed holds an ever-changing stack of TBR (to-be-read) books by any number of my favorite authors, as well as some written by author-friends. When not writing, I am reading, always leaving a positive review for each book I invest time to finish.
What is your current work in progress?
The third story in my
mystery series is entitled Purgatory,
A Progeny’s Quest. It continues with most of the characters my fans have
enjoyed in the first two stories, but this installment focuses on a band of
teenagers during a summer of misadventures after an unlikely orphaned young
girl arrives from
seeking to learn about her family. Louisiana
What would be your dream vacation?
My dream vacation would involve sharing a large, rustic cabin somewhere in the
Blue Ridge Mountains
with my two sons and their families. We would all be unplugged and off the grid
so that we could enjoy each day hiking, swimming, and kayaking. Sitting beside
a lazy creek flipping rocks across the surface with each of my grandsons and my
granddaughter, talking about nothing particular, just enjoying time together.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
Wow! I guess I’d love to spend a lazy evening rocking on a porch with John Grisham because I’d pick his brain about his inspiration for his older stories that evolved around Ford County, Mississippi, and all the quirky characters in those stories. I would ask him about the transformation of his writing as his celebrity grew in recent years. Then I’d ask if he wanted to write another story in follow up to The Painted House, one of my favorites of his.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
One of these days I wipe the dust off my golf clubs and pick up some new fishing gear, but right now doodling around in my flower beds is all I have time to do outside of my author activities and spoiling grandkids. I’m just having too much fun doing what I’m doing right now.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Not having an extensive writing background has been my second most significant obstacle. The first is my passion for being the best I can be at whatever is worth doing. Thankfully, God gave me a phenomenal writing coach and editor. Without Kari Scare I would still be staring at my first draft of Sanctuary. I also know God prepared my wife to be my number one encourager along the journey.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Once you begin, never, never, never quit! And, accept the fact there are no shortcuts. Always know why you started the journey and then remind yourself daily because it will be easy to get off-track and derail your project. Finally, if money, fame, and prestige are your motivators, then I suggest becoming an author may not be the right endeavor for you. Maybe you can attain a little of each along the way, but they are rewards, not goals.
Tell us about the featured book.
Testament, An Unexpected Return is the second in the Shiloh Mystery series.
In this sequel to Sanctuary, A Legacy of Memories, Theo and Liddy are finally sinking deep roots into their new hometown of
Shiloh. Friendships are
blossoming as Liddy ponders an offer to become the new art teacher at Shiloh
High while Theo sends off his manuscript for Jessie’s Story to be published. Life appears to be settling down,
but ominous shadows from the town’s past herald more tragedy lie ahead in
little old Shiloh.
“The testament of a man lies not in the magnitude of possessions and property left to his heirs, but the reach of his legacy long after his death.” Theo Phillips
Please give us the first page of the book.
“Theo, wake up! Mary’s here.” Liddy jostled my hammock, disrupting my mid-summer siesta.
Pressed by Cornerstone Publishing, my former employer until eight months ago, the final draft of my expanded manuscript of Jessie’s Story rested in the gifted hands of Mary Scribner. Over the past four months, I had holed myself up for hours on end leaving no stone unturned as I combed through dog-eared files and scrawled notes used in writing the articles first published in the Sentinel last December, retelling Jessie Masterson’s story.
As Mary exited her sky blue hatchback, I swung my legs onto the floor and stepped beside Liddy at the foot of the steps.
Liddy tendered an approving smile as she smoothed the back of my hair. “That’s better,” she whispered as she squeezed my waist and added, “Mary’s Cheshire Cat smile must be a good sign.”
“Theo, I think you’ll be happy. Jessie’s Story is ready to earn Cornerstone’s editorial final blessing. Your rewrites provided the conclusion the entire town will be proud to read.” Mary extended the swollen envelope she’d been cradling.
“Thanks, Mary. I couldn’t have done this without you.” I slid the immaculate manuscript from the envelope.
Liddy chuckled. “Mary, this most certainly looks a far sight better than all those raggedy, yellow legal pads filled with his chicken scratch.”
Mary’s eyes danced between Liddy and me. “Oh, it wasn’t that bad Miss Liddy,” she managed to say stifling her giggles.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you, Mike, for sharing Testament with me and my readers.
Readers, here is a link to the book.Testament: An Unexpected Return
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