Sunday, October 12, 2014

Author interview: Jerusha Agen

Today I am especially delighted to share a new author interview of a real, professional screenwriter and novelist named Jerusha Agen!

An aspiration of mine is to be a screenwriter so to interview someone who has done that was special to me. I hope you will be encouraged and inspired by Jerusha’s story!

Now here’s what’s in it for you: Jerusha would like to give one signed paperback copy of This Dance and an e-book of A Ruby Christmas to the winners of her book giveaway contest! Please note: if you want to enter this contest, simply reply to Jerusha's question at the end of this author interview. You can reply in the comment section. When you reply, please include your e-mail address so if you win the book giveaway, I can contact you to share the good news and make arrangements for you to receive your FREE gift from Jerusha! 


The two winners will be selected in a random drawing done by me (Alexis) on Sunday, Oct. 26. So you have two weeks from today to enter this book giveaway contest. I will announce winners under the comment section of this post and will notify the winners by e-mail.

So without further ado, here’s Jerusha’s interview with questions by me (Alexis) in bold font and Jerusha's answers in in plain font.

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Alexis: When did you start writing contemporary fiction and why is it your genre of choice?

Jerusha: Since I started writing as a young child, through my teens, and now as an adult, I’ve written nothing but contemporary fiction thus far. Writing historical fiction has never appealed to me, since I’m a coward when it comes to research. 

I can already get overwhelmed with the surprising amount of research required for a contemporary novel, so for me, tackling the amount of research required for writing historical novels would feel a bit like climbing Mount Everest with just a pick axe.

You’ve said on your official website, “Words are powerful. When words are used to tell stories, they’re unstoppable.” What do you mean? Share an example.


The best examples I know of are found in Scripture. When Jesus Christ wanted to get a point across that His followers would ponder and remember after His departure, He used stories we call parables. He created us, humans, in His own image and instilled in us a tremendous love of story. Stories move us like nothing else, inspire like nothing else, and teach us, for good or bad, like nothing else.

The best evidence of the power of words? Our Lord chose words as the mode of communication with humanity. He could have communicated with us through movies, music, or some other medium, but He instead used the written word for His letter to us—the Bible.

And to top it all off, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is also called “the Word.” Enough said.

Your book This Dance and holiday novella A Ruby Christmas looks especially fun and interesting. What can you tell my readers about those two books?

This Dance, Book One in the Sisters Redeemed Series, means a lot to me personally, since it was both my first novel to be published and the first novel I ever wrote. The work took many years to get finished, and I often despaired that anyone would ever read it.

I’m so thankful that God allowed it to be published so that others can enjoy this story about a former tango dancer who emotionally isolates herself because of a tragic loss. I hope that the tale of how God breaks through her defenses with a handsome lawyer and new difficulties will touch many readers. As the first book in the Sisters Redeemed Series, This Dance also spawned more special stories than I expected all those years ago when I began writing my first novel.

A Ruby Christmas was an entirely new experience for me, since it’s a novella written by a total of nine authors. Each author wrote a chapter in this story that follows Ruby Joy Buckner as she travels the world collecting special Nativity pieces and finds love along the way. There were unique challenges to writing a character and one small part of a story that a different author had created. God worked in this project to bring about a miracle of actually having the story be both cohesive and fun!

Every creative writer has a muse. What’s yours?

I get inspired with new ideas for stories whenever I travel and meet new people. As a homebody introvert, however, those aren’t my favorite things to do, so I prefer my other source of creative inspiration—good movies with powerful stories.

When did you start writing movie reviews? Why did you start? What do you hope to accomplish through your blog “Redeemer Reviews”?

I started writing movie reviews about three years ago when my brother encouraged me to do so, since he noticed I always had very strong opinions about the movies I watched. My goal with Redeemer Reviews is to help fellow Christians wade through the vast movie choices available to them with the discernment that comes from a biblical world view.

I want to encourage Christians to be bold and counter-cultural in our thinking, especially when it comes to our media choices. We need to stand out from the rest of the world as different and not be ashamed of our differences when they stem from our godly perspective that leads us to pursue living godly lives.

As a result of writing for Redeemer Reviews, however, I think that God has actually taught me more than any of my readers. He has used my movie review efforts to give me a greater understanding of what it means to think and live as a true, bold, and unashamed Christian in a world in which that is increasingly unpopular.

Where were you born and where did you grow up?

I was born and raised in the Midwest, a particularly beautiful and special part of the country if I do say so myself.

Where did you go to college and what degree did you graduate with? Did that degree help you in your career as a writer? Why or why not?

I graduated from St. Norbert College in Wisconsin with a B.A. in English (with a Creative Writing emphasis). The education that I received to attain that degree definitely helped me in my career as a writer, since I had the opportunity to do a great deal of writing and receive excellent instruction from my professors. Having foundational “nuts and bolts” knowledge of writing under my belt when I graduated was a tremendous asset to pursuing a writing career.

Do you only write novels or novellas (or both)? Explain why/why not.

In addition to participating in the serially published novella, A Ruby Christmas, I participated in another serial novella for Valentine’s Day this year, called A Dozen Apologies. The latter novella, written by twelve authors, is a fun romantic comedy that, when it was first published, allowed readers to vote for their favorite hero who would “get the girl” in the end! Since this novella was such a success, Write Integrity Press is releasing a sequel to A Dozen Apologies on Valentine’s Day 2015! Look for news about the release and another chance to vote for a happy ending at my website, www.SDGwords.com (news will be posted in late January).

On my own, however, I stay with writing novel-length pieces, since longer stories are what I most love to tell.

What would you say is the most challenging part of the book-writing process? Explain why.


I think the answer to this question is different for every author. For me, plotting is the most difficult because it requires intense mental concentration and a great deal of patience, which I am sorely lacking.

I’ve found that the plotting phase is where God tests me to see how much I trust His timing and actually believe that He is the one giving me ideas to write and the ability to write them.

What do you think is the most rewarding aspect of publishing a book?

There’s nothing quite like the feeling of finishing a novel. Then again, seeing my name on a book cover was always a dream of mine, as I know it is for many authors.

As I continue to publish and move beyond those first milestones, though, I’d have to say that getting positive feedback from readers who are touched by or just enjoyed my stories is very rewarding.

Who is your book publisher? Are they a traditional publisher or an imprint?

Currently, I’m published with Write Integrity Press. WIP is a small publisher that is fairly new to the industry, but has already become a launching point for many new Christian authors. Keep an eye on the WIP website at http://writeintegrity.blogspot.com/ for contests that offer unpublished authors the chance to become published!

I got my start through one of the WIP contests, and I’m forever grateful that Write Integrity took a chance on me and let me get my “foot in the door” of the publishing industry.

Do you have a literary agent? If yes, share their name/agency and tell us the story of how you landed your first writing contract.

I am blessed to be represented by Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary. I was actually offered my first writing contract with Write Integrity Press thanks to one of the publisher’s contests that I entered, which took place before I had an agent.

You are a screenwriter! How did you land that gig? Do you have any movies in theaters yet?

Yes, I am a screenwriter! I truly love screenwriting better than any other writing genre. I was able to do some screenwriting professionally thanks to getting involved in the local independent film industry in my area.

What type of stories do you tell as a screenwriter? Name a few of your films and tell my readers where they can go to purchase and view your movies.


I’ve had the chance to write films that span from comedy to artistic drama, but I’m most proud of my own independent short film that I was able to write and direct. That film is called Ornament, and is a hard-hitting look at a little girl’s trauma at Christmastime when she’s caught in a world of domestic violence.

In the hope that this short film will impact many lives through individual and group showings, I’ve made Ornament available for free viewing on YouTube.

The motto on your website reads, “shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life (Phil. 2:15-16).” What does that saying and the Bible verse mean to you?

This verse is one of my favorites (of many!) because it resonates with me as a Christian and especially as a Christian writer. Like all Christians, I am to hold out the “word of life” to an unbelieving world. That “word of life” is Scripture and is also the Gospel of “the Word,” Jesus Christ.

For me as a writer, I actually get to write words of life in every story I put down on paper. And, as this remarkably poetic verse says, when we do “hold out the word of life,” we “shine like stars in the universe.” Just stop and really picture that for a moment. Stars are amazing, beautiful, and shine with a light so powerful that it can be seen for incredible distances and contribute light in dark skies to an entire world. WE get to do that. What an unbelievably beautiful promise and encouragement for us as followers of Christ!

Your website is called Soli Deo Gloria. Is that Greek (literally)? Explain why you chose that name.


“Soli Deo Gloria” is a Latin phrase that means “Glory to God Alone.” The phrase was made famous by Johann Sebastian Bach, who inscribed those words on all of his compositions to signify that his creative work was for God’s glory alone. Other great artists such as George Frederic Handel also employed the phrase in a similar manner.

I chose the name because, wherever my writing career takes me, I want the focus of my work to be on God and His glory. I am only able to tell stories and write as God enables me to do so, every step of the way. I am nothing without Him, and my stories would not exist without Him. I also wouldn’t write if not for His calling me to do so. I write for Him, for His glory alone.

Do you have a question for my readers? If yes, please write it now.


Do any of you have a Scripture verse that particularly resonates with you? Perhaps it’s your “life verse” or a “career verse”? Please share!

~*~
Author bio: 
Jerusha Agen is a lifelong lover of story—a passion that has led her to a B.A. in English and a highly varied career. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Jerusha is the author of the Sisters Redeemed Series, which includes the titles This Dance, This Shadow, and This Redeemer. Jerusha co-authored the e-books A Ruby Christmas and A Dozen Apologies from Write Integrity Press.

Jerusha is also a screenwriter, and several of her original scripts have been produced as films. In addition, Jerusha is a film critic with reviews featured at www.RedeemerReviews.com

Jerusha relishes snowy Midwest winters spent with her three large, furry dogs and two small, furry cats.

Where to find Jerusha online:

Website: www.SDGwords.com

Facebook: (Jerusha Agen - SDG Words) https://www.facebook.com/JerushaAgenSdgWords

Twitter: (@SDGwords) https://twitter.com/SDGwords

Look for Jerusha Agen on 
Goodreads

Buy Jerusha’s books online via  AmazonBarnesandNoble 
and BookDepository

7 comments:

  1. Hi Jerusha,
    It was lovely to read your interview! Thanks for sharing your time with us. I am a member of the ACFW and have found the organization so supportive of my career aspirations. Hopefully we get to meet sometime through the ACFW. My favorite Bible verse is "Love your God with all you heart, and all your strength, and all your mind," because it is a constant reminder to our lives for God and always do everything through Him and for Him.
    Blessings,
    Marisa

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    1. Thanks for sharing, Marisa! ACFW has been a tremendous help to me in my career, as well. What a wonderful verse to have as your favorite! Such a hard one to live up to, but praise the Lord He enables us and forgives us when we don't love Him as we should. Thanks for the great reminder of this wonderful verse!

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    2. Dear Marisa,
      You WON Jerusha's book "This Dance"! :) I will connect you and Jerusha by e-mail today so you can claim your prize! :)

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  2. Loved the interview. Am reading her book, "This Dance" now! Excellent!

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    1. Hi Holly! I am happy you loved my interview with Jerusha and are enjoying her book. Please visit my blog again. :)

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    2. Thanks, Holly, for reading This Dance! I'm so pleased you're enjoying it!

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    3. Dear Holly Michael,
      You WON Jerusha's e-book "A Ruby Christmas"! :) Please e-mail me directly via alexis@alexisagoring.com so I can connect you with Jerusha so you can claim your prize.

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