Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Catching up with Author Rick Barry

Hello everyone! For your reading pleasure today, I'm happy to catch up with longtime friend and writing mentor, Rick Barry. 

DARREN: Rick, thank you for taking time to "e-join" us to bring everyone up-to-date on your life events and writing journey.

RICK: Thanks for the opportunity, Darren!


DARREN: Where in the world are you now and what have you been up to?

RICK: For the past 2+ years, I’ve been in northern Alabama, where I’m a caregiver for my mother. Since I can’t really fulfill this role of caregiving while holding a full-time job, I live in her home and do freelance writing, editing, and translating to earn income.


DARREN: I know you've recently published a follow-up novel to The Methuselah Project, can you tell us a little bit about that novel?

RICK: The follow-up book is titled Methuselah Project S.O.S. Although it’s a sequel, I purposely crafted the story in such a way that readers can understand and enjoy it even if they never saw the first book. The action takes place a few years after the original story. Now, Roger Greene is a pilot in the modern Air Force. But when the CIA taps him for duty on a covert mission involving the Heritage Organization (which he once escaped), this pilot lands in more than danger than he ever imagined. It includes a touch of romance, too.


DARREN: Who is your primary audience for these suspense novels?

RICK: Interesting question. As I wrote these Methuselah novels, I wrote in a such a way to appeal to both male and female fans of suspense. But when I check the statistics of readers who follow my Facebook author page, I see that nearly half of them are women, ages 35 to 65. Of course, there are male and female followers who are younger and older, but this is my largest block of readers. (And it’s so fun when reviewers write something like, “I don’t usually read this kind of novel, but I gave it a try and loved it!”)


DARREN: What has been your experience on the self-pub journey? Software used, platforms, etc. Can you compare the journey in self-pub vs. your prior novels being published traditionally?

RICK: With more and more terrific authors diving into self-publishing with good results, I’d been wanting to give it a try for some time. I had a couple different manuscripts as options but ended up choosing Methuselah Project S.O.S. I confess that working with traditional publishers is much easier. They provide the editors, proofreaders, cover designers, and they resolve all of the technicalities of the actual printing process. 

A self-pubber must be ready to learn many new skills and be prepared to solve one problem after another in prepping the manuscript for publication: Hiring experienced editors & proofreader, cover designer, formatting the polished manuscript and using Scrivener or Vellum or other software. The designer’s cover art might need adjusting from RGB color scheme to CMYK for professional printing procedures. You might need to convert the final formatted PDF into a different type of PDF, too. (I had no idea how many different types of PDFs exist until I self-pubbed.) 

Furthermore, the self-pubber needs to learn the disadvantages and advantages of various companies to partner with in order to produce and market paperback versions and ebook versions. (Examples are Amazon KDP, IngramSpark, and Draft2Digital.) There is so much more to learn before you can self-pub. New questions and problems constantly confronted me.  


DARREN: What is your greatest struggle as a writer?

RICK: The time barrier. There are only so many hours in a day, and as a caregiver not all of those hours are mine to use as I would like. Still, I press forward with what time I have.


DARREN: How has "the Covid life" affected your writing, or has it?

RICK: It hasn’t affected my writing much at all. I was already confined to working alone, at home, long before Covid-19. When other people started complaining that they had to work from home instead of in an office with colleagues, I thought, “Join the club!”


DARREN: What is your next writing venture? What’s next in the Rick Barry Universe?

RICK: I’m now heating up a fun project that has been on the back burner for a long time. It began as a series of 3 short science fiction stories that I wrote for Focus on the Family years ago. I’ve taken the original premise and expanded and continued the story into a YA sci-fi tale revolving around a 17-year-old Christian guy who winds up in a bizarre adventure that I call The Next Fithian. I contracted speculative-fiction author Sharon Hinck to do the substantive edit. Imagine my excitement when this seasoned writer declared the story “great” and “wonderful”! To be sure, she found many passages that needed polish, but her enthusiasm has been extremely encouraging.


DARREN: Can you give some advice on writing to non-fulltime writers who can only write during "spare" time?

RICK: I wrote my first three novels while working full time, so I can relate. The fact is, MOST novelists have fulltime jobs and write whenever they can fit it in. My day job required much time in front of a computer screen. Sometimes my eyes grew sick of gazing at a monitor. Other times I felt brain dead. Excuses for not writing are a penny a dozen—“I’m too tired,” “I don’t have enough time,” “I’m not ready,” “My idea needs more development before I can start,” “I can’t concentrate unless I have large blocks of time,” “I have to watch my favorite TV show and read all of my books first,” etc, etc. 

But a person who truly has a God-given yen to write absolutely MUST overcome all of the excuses and find a way, or it will never happen. If we give excuses the upper hand, then they will keep us from writing all the way to the grave. Can’t you find time to sit and compose just one double-spaced page (250 words) a day? (It’s totally okay if each page is garbage that needs a ton of editing. Just get it down.) What, you seriously can’t carve out enough time to type just one page? Okay, then, sit down and type just one paragraph each day. Or even one measly sentence per day. 

If you can consistently add something—anything—to your manuscript 5 or 6 days per week, then in time that steady persistence will grow full novels. I’ve seen such simple stick-to-it-iveness work for busy homeschool moms with many kids. I’ve seen it work for a secretary who composed her very first novel one letter at a time on her cellphone (incredible!) each day during her lunch break. It’s not easy, but nobody ever said writing is easy.

DARREN: Well, thank you for taking time to chat today. If we want to learn more about you, where can we go and where can we find your books?

RICK: The best place to go is my website, rickcbarry.com. It includes more about me, plus a page dedicated to all of my published novels. The books themselves are available on Amazon and anywhere books are sold.


DARREN: Thank you again for taking the time to interview and I'm really excited to see what comes next for you!

RICK: Thank you very much!

Darren Kehrer writes Science Fiction and Christian Speculative Fiction; however, his current writing project is a book on leadership: The Adventure Guide to Leadership, which views leadership as a journey accumulating best practices along the way.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Writing Light 🌞


Covid was bad enough, but as I watched political events unfold over the past year, and especially in the last three months, I performed the stereotypical turtle move and disappeared into my shell. Writing has been almost nonexistent.

I’ve been afraid to speak what’s on my heart. If I click the “send” button too quickly after writing with passion or fear, will I regret hasty words? 

Do I have any understanding of my times at all?

The Lord has been patient with me. He’s allowed me to whine, to mindlessly watch TV game shows for hours on end, and to type away on my keyboard—and  delete. The grand entry of 2021 didn’t change my behavior, but a recent, online prayer service has nudged me to the point where I’m peeking out from my shell.

Last Sunday’s prayers were filled with the vision of moving toward our future with God’s help. The youth pastor used an amplified version of Psalm 23:4. “Fear will never conquer me, for You already have.”

Yes! I belong to Jesus! My job is to listen for His guidance and write what He wants me to write—in fiction and in blogging.

Another prayer reminded us of Who God Is. How I needed that assurance! I could move forward in writing and in life with that standard before me.

The prayer for our national leaders pointed us toward praying blessings over them, and for We The People to do what is right in God’s eyes and to teach our children to do the same.

We prayed for healing, looking forward to the time when the pandemic will be behind us and for the Church and its leaders that they may have wisdom for these times. And we finished with the Serenity Prayer.

The prayer service hadn’t shown me anything new, but the reminders encouraged me to:


  • Listen to God and know when to move, when to speak, or when to wait. 
  • Pray for my leaders, both within the church and in our country, seeking blessing and wisdom for them.
  • Realize God can see it all—the global pandemic, the political maneuverings, the cry of every person’s heart.


God has always known that I would live in this era, in this nation, and that He would gift me with the skills of writing and teaching. It's time to come out of my shell and move toward new challenges and adventures.


With God’s help I can overcome fear.

With God’s help I  can write with a voice of reason and inspiration.

With God’s help I will speak Light and Life to all who can hear.


God has done the same with you. He has known you would live in Indiana in 2021 in the years of pandemic and political upheaval. He has given you the skills to write, and you have other talents as well. If you've had the same problem as I've had this year, read those words again--

With God's help you can overcome fear.

With God's help you can write with a voice of reason and inspiration.

With God's help you will speak Light and Life to all who can hear.

Go write.

Linda Sammaritan writes realistic fiction, mostly for kids ages ten to fourteen. She is currently working on a middle grade trilogy, World Without Sound, based on her own experiences growing up with a deaf sister.

Linda had always figured she’d teach middle-graders until school authorities presented her with a retirement wheelchair at the overripe age of eighty-five. However, God changed those plans when He gave her a growing passion for writing fiction. In May of 2016, she blew goodbye kisses to her students and dedicated her work hours to learning the craft.

A wife, mother of three, and grandmother to seven, Linda regales the youngest grandchildren with “Nona Stories,” tales of her childhood. Maybe one day those stories will be in picture books!



Where Linda can be found on the web:  












Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Are you fully invested?

Saturday night my husband and I finished viewing a crime-thriller-drama series via online streaming. Thirty episodes spread across three seasons but all accessible to watch at the time of our choosing. We love how streaming services make it possible to “binge” or, in our case, watch an episode or two each night. My aging memory so appreciates not having to wait seven or fourteen days for the next installment.

With social engagements being slim these past months and network TV shows forced to take an extended hiatus, the appeal of anytime, anywhere viewing of a vast selection of series took on even greater appeal. As a lover of stories—of both the true and fictional varieties—I adore how these new-fangled viewing options allow me to more fully immerse myself in the characters’ lives and become super invested in the storylines.

The downside? Due to the easy-peasy access coupled with the high engagement factor enhanced by the easy access, we tend to “blow through” said series at a pretty good clip. And then it’s all over, leaving us sad and a bit mopey which soon finds us channel surfing through 200+ cable channels of mostly reruns and offerings that do not interest us.

Sometimes it takes a few days before we’re ready to take the plunge again, to dive wholeheartedly into a new series. Why the hesitation, especially seeing as how we love this whole streaming thing? Well, what if  . . . 

  • We don’t LIKE this series as much as the last one? 
  • What if the storyline is lame? 
  • The characters unrealistic or underdeveloped? 
  • The actors run-of-the-mill or just plain bad? 
  • What if the amount of foul language leads us to abandon the show despite other positives? 
  • What if we just can’t get “into” the story?

You can imagine the dilemma. And understand the wavering.

Despite a carefully curated watchlist, one never knows if a series will pass muster once we venture past the description and reviews. Remember, we will potentially be spending many hours of unwinding time within this story world. We will allow the highs and lows of these characters’ lives to take us away from the realities and mundaneness of daily life. We will anticipate their fate even as we cheer for their success. We are choosing to invest ourselves in the unfolding of this particular story.

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash
 Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

As I look ahead into 2021, I have similar hesitation-related questions. 

  • What if THIS year is no better than LAST year? 
  • What if it’s WORSE? 
  • What if the key players really muck things up?
  • What if more bad things happen? 
  • What if ___________ ?

While most of us are anxious to leave 2020 behind, the mere flip of the calendar page doesn’t insure we can simply close the door on the happenings of an unprecedented year. And considering the events of the very first week of this brand-new year, the above noted concerns have already been proven valid. We sincerely, with our whole hearts, hoped for a better, brighter, smooth-sailing 2021. But the unknowns loom as large and worrisome as ever.

Back to our which-series-next dilemma. Last night, with remnants of the last series still swirling in our minds, we chose a new a show from our watchlist. Settled into our recliners, we took the plunge. Heart, mind, and soul engaged, we dove in. It wasn’t the thrilling, edge-of-your-seat kind of action we’d enjoyed from the last series. But the cast of characters—some endearing, others villain-like or humorous—piqued our curiosity as numerous, subtle questions posed in the first episode began to engage our minds. While it didn’t garner an immediate, “I LOVE this show!” from either of us, we concurred we’d give it a go. We’ll invest our end-of-the-day unwinding time in this series.

I doubt any of us have yet announced, “I love this year!” But it’s what we’ve got. While no year—day, week, or month even—comes with a script, still we are tasked with diving in. And unlike the streaming series that we can choose to stop watching at any point, we can’t get out of 2021 so easily.

So, what do we do? We commit to giving it our best effort, to being all in. We cling to the fact that Jesus never, ever changes. We walk close to His side, seeking direction and discernment and wisdom. We lay our 2021 questions at His feet. We walk through the doors that He opens. We guard our hearts and our minds and our tongues. We remind ourselves that He has a plan. With the Father’s help, we invest our time and energy and passion where He directs. 

Here's to traversing 2021 with Him. All in and fully invested. 

Beth connects with the YA crowd via substitute teaching and through her “back booth” office at the local fast food joint, and by reading YA fiction. 

She's a "cheerleader" for saving sex for marriage and for "renewed waiting" because it's never too late to make wiser choices. She writes and speaks about her experiences as a "foundling" who located her birth parents and is making up for lost time with her biological family. Find her at BethSteury.com and on Facebook at Beth Steury, Author.