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Scoop ~ Interview with Bestselling Author, Karen Kingsbury, & Music Artist/Screenwriter, Tyler Russell

Tyler Russell is no stranger on TBAP (read his 2018 exclusive interview here) and he and his mom, bestselling author of Christian Fiction, Karen Kingsbury, are no strangers to the Christian literary/entertainment audience either. They recently co-authored a book, Finding Home, a new addition to the dearly loved Baxter Family series, coming out this February 25th. Karen and Tyler graciously talked with TBAP and granted us a peek into the writing journey of this latest addition. Take a look!


Miranda ~ Hello! Delighted to have you both visit TBAP today. Please tell us a bit about this latest book.

Karen & Tyler: Thanks for having us! Our collection for 8-12 year olds, The Baxter Family Children follows the adventures, trials, and triumphs of the five young Baxter Siblings, Brooke, Kari, Ashley, Erin, and Luke. Finding Home is a companion to our book Best Family Ever, which finds the family relocating from Michigan to Bloomington. But a new move means new struggles. And through it all one question remains, will a new house ever become a home?

Miranda ~ When did you both decide it would be a great idea to add this story to the collection— what led to it?

Karen: We always viewed these stories as more than one book.

Tyler: There are so many lessons to be learned in childhood, and so many stories to tell about growing up.

Karen: With the Baxter family having become so beloved through my other novels, starting with the Redemption series and beyond, I have seen how so many readers have been impacted by those books and that family. So, we wanted to be able to reach a new generation of readers and inspire them, challenge them, entertain them, and hopefully teach them some life lessons along the way.

Tyler: Hopefully the collection can continue as long as people resonate with the characters and themes in the book. And there’s always young people eager to read! So it’s a blessing for sure.

Miranda ~ What inspired the idea that Tyler should be a part of the writing (which is fun and intriguing, by the way!)?

Karen: Tyler has read so much of my work and throughout his adult life has helped me with my company and we have had the chance to collaborate on various projects over the years. So, when the opportunity came to work on a series for middle-grade readers, I knew that working with Tyler made the most sense. And we work well together!

Tyler: It’s so fun to have grown up watching Mom write and work, and I learned a lot in that sense. But now, to work alongside her and see how things are really done, it is like immersing myself in the best masterclass. And I really enjoy working with her. It’s fun to write a book about family as family members.

Karen: It’s been reminiscing about earlier years, when the kids were younger.

Tyler: And…we’ve even borrowed some stories from when me and my siblings were growing up. So that’s been cool for sure.

Miranda ~ Karen, your books have always had the aim of leading broken people (especially the adult audience) back to the arms of a loving Savior—a place of hope. Who’s the audience this time, and what do you both hope they’ll walk away with?

Karen: Thank you. That’s the most important thing. I always say that God may put a story on my heart to write, but He has other people’s hearts in mind. He knows what stories people need so they can find healing and hope. While Finding Home was written with 8-12 year old’s in mind, we have had people of all ages enjoy it. For the student reader, we hope they leave feeling like they can relate in some way to a character of scenario in the story. It’s been fun for me and Tyler to visit schools and talk about the book. Because you really get to see who this book is impacting.

Tyler: It’s such an honor to write stories for a younger generation.

Karen: And then, for the adult reader, I hope they can relive childhood memories and look back on a simpler time in life. It’s also a great book to read out loud to a student that you may know. It makes for great conversation. Everyone has responded positively and we are both grateful.

Tyler: I second what she said. And… this book deals so much with change, starting over, and being brave, so I hope that people can take away the notion that change is inevitable and that, while it may not be easy, it doesn’t have to be scary. God is with us in those seasons of change. The most unlikely of people can become friends, and the most unlikely of places can become home.

Miranda ~ What can we expect from you both in the future?

Karen: We have another book in this Baxter Family Children collection coming out next year! And I have a new book coming out May 5th called Someone Like You. I am also loving being a Grammy to my three grandsons (Karen’s daughter Kelsey is married to Kyle Kupecky and they have three boys). My husband (Donald) and I are treasuring this sweet time with them.

Tyler: I am working on a few different screenplay projects, and recording some music as well. I’m really excited about a new musical I’ve started working on. It’s a musical modernization of a biblical story. So… Hopefully, God willing, something with that will happen this year. We will see.

THIS or THAT (The Fun Qs!)

Coffee or Tea?
Karen and Tyler: COFFEE!

Gym or Outdoor?
Tyler: Gym
Karen: Outdoor… with my husband and our dog!

Running or Walking?
Tyler: Running
Karen: Walking

Juice or Smoothie?
Karen: Neither
Tyler: Juice. Any green juice all the way.

Salad or Fruit?
Karen and Tyler: Salad

Movies or Books?
Karen: Books
Tyler: Movies

Vanilla or Chocolate?
Karen and Tyler: Chocolate

Summer or Spring?
Karen and Tyler: Summer

Rain or Snow?
Karen: First impulse… Rain. It sets the perfect mood for a writing day. But snow is prettier to look at.
Tyler: Rain. But I do love the snow for a few days.

Blazer or Leather Jacket?
Karen: Blazer
Tyler: Leather Jacket

About Karen Kingsbury & Tyler Russell


Karen Kingsbury, #1 New York Times bestselling novelist, is America’s favorite inspirational storyteller, with more than twenty-five million copies of her award-winning books in print. Her last dozen titles have topped bestseller lists and many of her novels are under development with Hallmark Films and as major motion pictures. Her Baxter Family books are being developed into a TV series slated for major network viewing sometime in the next year. Karen is also an adjunct professor of writing at Liberty University. In 2001 she and her husband, Don, adopted three boys from Haiti, doubling their family in a matter of months. Today the couple has joined the ranks of empty nesters, living in Tennessee near five of their adult children.

Tyler Russell has spent most of his life performing, writing, and singing. He grew up doing theater and acting and began songwriting in high school. He went on to study worship at Liberty University where he toured in a gospel choir. He then moved to Nashville to pursue music and finish his degree, earning his BFA in theater from Lipscomb University. He debuted his single Now or Never in 2018, and has toured the country singing and leading worship, sharing the stage with artists like Jeremy CampMandisaTremaine Hawkins, and Michael W. Smith. Along with music, Tyler is also a screenwriter and novelist. He is currently working on recording and releasing original music and you can visit Tyler on Twitter at @TyRuss107! Ephesians 3:20

Book Review ~ Come As You Are By Anne Marie Bennett

About the Book


This relevant, adventurous young adult Christian novel explores faith, community, and family relationships within the setting of a church youth group’s theatre production of the musical Godspell. 

Fifteen-year-old Casey Donovan wants nothing more than to live wildly. In her town of Woodfield, Connecticut, she is more than content to toe the line of danger while trying to put away memories of a painful past.

But then she and her boyfriend are arrested for drug possession. To have the charges dropped, and keep peace as her mother goes through a bitter divorce, Casey reluctantly joins her local church’s Youth Group.

She expects a boring summer as she helps with the church’s summer theatre production of the musical Godspell. Though she longs to return to her old life, Casey soon finds herself bonding with the other teens in the group who have their own struggles. Slowly, this once lonely teen realizes that she is not alone in the challenges she has been afraid to face.

Part of Casey’s journey involves letting go of two people who have harmed her in the past, even though at first she doesn’t want to admit that they hurt her. Watching Casey grow in faith and become stronger and more confident as the novel progresses is a testament to the author’s own experiences with growing up, letting go, and finding strength and faith in community.

As opening night of the musical nears, Casey will soon have to confront her own faith and connection to God.

Category

Christian/Fiction/Young Adult

Genre

General

Rating

4 Stars

Review


Come As You Are is the story of fifteen-year old Casey Donovan who, after watching her father constantly abuse her mother and facing the final collapse of her family, believes she can only find happiness and self-worth in the arms of her nineteen-year old boyfriend who’s criminally inclined. Events unfold where God intervenes and sets her on a path where she discovers what real joy, peace and fellowship mean even in the midst of life’s troubles. She sees life in new light, and gains faith, love, hope, and a new sense of worth in the God that she never knew truly loves her and is bigger than all her troubles.

Bennett’s tone is sweet, soft, and elegantly paced. Her writing is comfortably visual in a way that easily carries a reader along. Much wisdom is nicely tucked into the plot in a way that it blends well with the overall theme.

A nicely done book!

*Though I offer this review to the public, it is my opinion and simply that. A ‘thank you’ to the author, Anne Marie Bennett, for a free copy in exchange for an honest opinion.

About the Author


Anne Marie Bennett began writing stories with multi-colored pens on lined notebook paper at the age of six and hasn’t stopped since. She lives, writes, creates art, sings, and prays in eastern Massachussetts with her husband, Jeff, and two beloved felin friends named Louis and Seymour.

Album Review ~ Within the Mystery By Rachel Zello

Category

Religious/Christian

Genre

Contemporary/Pop

Rating

4.5 Stars

Review


Soft. Passionate. Powerful…are just a few words to describe Rachel Zello’s Within the Mystery album. Filled with personal prayer, humble worship, and beautiful surrender, Within the Mystery is so much more than a group of amazing melodies, diving deeply into the matters of life and faith that truly matter, while entertaining any contemporary/pop fan with its excellent execution of music. There’s a clear sign that Zello’s faith isn’t only seasoned, but in deep pursuit of God’s love, promise, and desire, with a heart to tell the whole world all about the goodness of God.

Within the Mystery is a testimony of who God is, and His abundant faithfulness to those who draw close and search to discover Him.

*Though I offer this review to the public, it is my opinion and simply that. A ‘thank you’ to the artist, Rachel Zello, and music producer, Glenn Tabor III, for a free album copy in exchange for an honest opinion. 

About Rachel Zello


Rachel Zello is a contemporary Christian music singer and songwriter from Fredericksburg, Virginia.  She has performed across America, in India, Uzbekistan, Israel, Guatemala, and  toured with Aaron Boyd (formerly BlueTree), Dove nominated writer of the hit worship song, “God of This City” in 2018.  In 2018 she caught the attention of the Recording Academy and was placed on the ballot for two Grammy considerations (2019). Zello’s debut single, “Set Me Free,” released on August 10, 2018, is inspired by her personal story and Psalms 34:18. Working with multi Grammy and Dove Award winning producer Glenn Tabor III (Elevation Worship, Matt Redman, and dozens of other notable clients) Zello has crafted an exceptional debut that showcases her heartfelt vocals and meaningful songwriting. She completed her full length 10 song album in 2019, “Within the Mystery” with songs being released progressively.

“I don’t want others to just be entertained and observe when I sing,” Zello said about her performances. “I also want them to participate and encounter a personal, loving God who identifies with them in every way, and who cares about every detail of their lives.”

Book Review ~ The Collagen Diet: A 28-Day Plan for Sustained Weight Loss, Glowing Skin, Great Gut Health, and a Younger You By Dr. Josh Axe

About the Book


Dr. Josh Axe, bestselling author of Keto Diet and Eat Dirt, explains how to lose weight, prevent disease, improve your digestion, and renew your youth by taking advantage of dietary collagen.

Today, interest in dietary collagen is growing at an astounding rate, and with good reason. The benefits of a collagen-rich diet are remarkable, ranging from better weight control to enhanced digestion, clearer skin, reduced inflammation, and improved immune function.

Dietary collagen provides a unique blend of amino acids and other compounds, making it critical for everyone, including infants, young children, the elderly, athletes, pregnant women, new mothers, and adult men and women. Simply put: When we don’t get enough of the beneficial compounds found in collagen-rich foods, we experience more injuries, chronic aches and pain, digestive issues, and other symptoms associated with aging. And most people don’t get enough. Collagen is the missing ingredient that can help all of us live longer, healthier, more vital lives.

In The Collagen Diet, Dr. Axe describes how collagen helps maintain the structure and integrity of almost every part of the body. You’ll learn how your skin, hair, nails, bones, disks, joints, ligaments, tendons, arterial walls, and gastrointestinal tract all depend on the consumption of collagen-rich foods.

Featuring a twenty-eight-day meal plan, seventy mouthwatering recipes, and specific advice for supporting your body’s collagen production with exercise and lifestyle interventions, The Collagen Diet provides everything you need to take advantage of this overlooked cornerstone of modern health.

Category

Non-fiction

Genre

Health/Food/Diet

Rating

5 Stars

Review


The Collagen Diet by Dr. Josh Axe is quite a remarkable book, and brings so much more to the table than the subtitle suggests. Beyond the treat of a 28-day diet plan, in this book of 300+ pages (Hardcover) Dr. Axe dives deeply into what collagen really is and its essential role in the overall human nutrition. He covers all the basics, even including some of the most modern cutting-edge theories that support stem cell growth/production, and then leans specifically into the full-scale benefits of collagen in the human body—touching on repairs/regeneration of tissue, anti-aging, and healthy gut function, discussing the prevention of a bad one, and maintaining/repair of an unhealthy gut; finally, Dr. Axe provides not just the 28-day diet plan as promised, but also a pre-3-day cleansing program, as well as 70+ recipes to help ease a beginner into the collagen health lifestyle.

The Collagen Diet could very well be Dr. Axe’s finest work yet—expressively impressive as it is simple to understand and follow.

*Though I offer this review to the public, it is my opinion and simply that. Much appreciation to Little Brown Spark Publishing/Hachette Book Group for  a free copy in exchange for an honest opinion. 

About Dr. Josh Axe


Dr. Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, is the founder of the world’s #1 most visited natural health website, DrAxe.com. He is also the bestselling author of Eat Dirt and Keto Diet, and the co-fouder of Ancient Nutrition supplement company. Dr. Axe appears regularly on the Dr. Oz Show and has written for Shape, PopSugar, Huffpost, Men’s Health, Forbes, Business Insider, Goop and Well+Good.

Book Review ~ Jesus, Day by Day: A One-year through-the-Bible Devotional to Help You See Him on Every Page By Sharon Kaselonis

About the Book


This unique 365-day devotional infuses your daily Bible reading with deeper meaning, helping you develop the habit of looking for signs of Jesus woven throughout Scripture while meditating on the Bible with a chronological one-year reading plan.

Jesus is the very essence of the Scriptures. The Old Testament points to Him and the New Testament reveals Him. If we look for Him, we will find Him on every page and in every story. When reading through the lens of Jesus, we find purpose in the Old Testament sacrifices; pictures of our Savior in the rejection and heartache of Joseph; a future hope pointing directly to Christ in the sweet love story of Ruth and Boaz; and meaning to even the deepest sorrows in Job.

This daily devotional will help you learn to recognize Jesus written on every page of God’s story. Come along on a journey that will…
– guide you in reading the entire Bible, chronologically, in one year
– help you see connections to Jesus throughout the Old Testament
– deepen your understanding of the themes of Scripture
– inspire you with 365 daily devotions to strengthen your love for Jesus and intensify your appreciation for God’s Word

Jesus, Day by Day will bring renewed life to your devotional time as you learn to recognize God’s plan of love, mercy, and grace woven through every page of Scripture.

Category

Religious/Christian/Non-fiction

Genre

Christian Living/Devotional

Rating

4.5 Stars

Review


Jesus, Day by Day is a remarkable devotional that not only takes you through the entire Bible in one year, but the author meticulously combs through each read Scripture to point out the threads that shape Jesus in the pages, in both Old or New Testament—as it has been rightly said numerous times that Jesus is the Word, the Old being Jesus concealed, and the New, Jesus revealed. This devotional shines the light for this truth to be clearly seen.

Interestingly, Kaselonis does a fine job of not making this study tedious or difficult to accomplish, as is seen with a lot of through-the-year schemes. Her structure and short essays allow a reader to be done in less than 20 minutes. For anyone interested in reading through the entire Bible in a year with the hope of seeing Jesus through its entire pages, as well as understanding how the Old and New are interconnected, this is a fine material to begin with.

About the Author


Sharon Kaselonis is an attorney, homeschool mom, writer, speaker, and educator whose passion is to inspire believers to read, know, and study the Bible for themselves. Previously, she practiced law in the washington, DC, area before serving as the director of women’s ministry at a large church in Jacksonville, Oregon. Sharon and her husband, Ray, live in Scottsdale, Arizona, with their children.

Album Review ~ Amazed By Alexandria Levin

Category

Religious/Christian

Genre

Contemporary/Worship

Release Date

January 17, 2020.

Rating

4 Stars

Review


Levin’s Amazed is a powerful testimony of God’s love and faithfulness on a personal level and in a tangible way. The song, Amazed, by which the album is titled, mirrors the general theme of the album, which through lyrics and music, portrays a faith and journey that have weathered many storms to reveal something stronger and beautiful. The organic testimony is uniquely refreshing and softly bold, with a flow that uplifts heart and spirit.

Amazed tells a story of love, trust, faith, and hope in a God Who stands true and unchanging in every season of life.

 

About Alexandria Levin


Alexandria Levin is a passionate worshiper and follower of Jesus. From the age of 12 she began singing in churches, traveling with ministry teams and for the past ten years has served in worship leadership. For years Alexandria has written songs and used music as an expression of her worship. In 2018, she took a more intentional approach to her songwriting and began collaborating with friends and family. Having discovered a deep love for the process, she continued working, growing and writing songs that give expression to her love for Jesus and the amazing story of His love in her life.

Late in 2018, Alexandria connected with Glenn and Susan Tabor of Gat3 Productions. Glenn is a multi-grammy award winning Engineer and Producer in Charlotte, North Carolina (read Tabor’s TBAP interview here). With the encouragement of Gat3 and Dream Records, she began work on her first full length album. This album will consist of 10 original songs and is scheduled to release in the first quarter of 2020.

Alexandria is the proud wife of a Philadelphia Police officer and two amazing sons. They live in Northeast Philly and serve in the church where she grew up. Christian Life Center, in Bensalem, PA, led by Pastor Mark English, is a diverse community of faith and the church home of many passionate worshipers.

 

Article ~ Conversations with God (Part 3): Unpleasant Revelations

When things go wrong and we don’t understand why, especially after we’ve tried everything in our power to fix it, and prayed every prayer we know to pray, and yet the situation remains unchanging or grows worse, we often come to God baffled, and sometimes even, indignant, with questions about why He’s letting things unfold the way that they are without intervening. It’s not wrong to ask why (as long as you do it from a posture of humility and not entitlement), as God Himself invited us to do so, saying, “Call to Me, and I will answer you and, show you great and mighty things that you do not know(Jeremiah 33:3).  Don’t be surprised if God will show you baffling things that you never knew were intertwined with the events that have happened to you.

You may ask God why your third marriage has failed and why He did nothing to change the heart of your spouse despite your endless prayers, and God may show you a cycle of bad behavior that started with your great grandfather/mother and has now been passed on to you and you never noticed in yourself until now. This great discovery as you realize, is the reason you’ve had a legacy of dysfunctional family all along.

You may ask God why poverty has been a mark on your family line for generations, and why you’ve supposedly tried all things, yet, this curse remains unbroken despite your serving God, and He may show you complacencies—traditions passed on—that you and your family figured were nothing serious, but are directly related to why you and your family have suffered this for generations.

And so it goes.

Many folks don’t like what they see, and most fall into the slimy pit of excuses, self-pity and blame, and remain there, rather than turn to God for the salvation and wisdom that will lift them out of their trouble. Often, God lets you get to a place of seeking so that the hidden things He reveals will lead you to be the one to break the evil cycles in your family, town or country.

The Prophet Habakkuk experienced something similar. In alarm, he asked God why He continued to allow evil to prevail in Israel despite Habakkuk’s many prayers (Habakkuk 1:1-4), and God told him that He was doing something so unbelievable that if told, Habakkuk would not believe it (Habakkuk 1:5). God was raising the most ruthless nation from a far place to discipline Israel (Habakkuk 1:6-11). Further alarmed that God would venture to use such a heathen nation against God’s chosen, he posed a second question (v. 1:12-17), concluding with the remarks, “I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He [God] will say to me, and I will answer when I am corrected” (v. 2:1). After God’s second reply and revelation (v. 2:2-20), Habakkuk was awestruck by God’s majesty, righteousness, and wisdom, and concluded with a lengthy praise and worship of who God is (v. 3:1-16), and then renewed his faith with these famous words,

“Though the fig tree may not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines; though the labor of the olive may fail, and the fields yield no food; though the flock may be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my Strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, and He will make me walk on high hills” — Habakkuk 3:17-19. 

Have you called on God in the day of your trouble? Has He shown up with a revelation that is less than pleasing, as the solution to your problem? Have you placed your heart in a posture that allows you to be corrected by God’s wisdom? Have you chosen thanksgiving and praise for who He is based on what He’s shown you, or will you continue with prideful indignance and bitterness that will darken your heart? God will not often give a quick fix to your problem. Where there needs to be repenting and a change in character, God would rather take you through that painful dark valley with the promise to never leave you nor forsake you. But He won’t do what you want, how you want it, and when you want it, because, He is a righteous Savior God. Not a genie or a magician who are there for the sole purpose of fulfilling your wishes, good or bad.

About the Editor


Miranda A. Uyeh is the founder and editor of To Be A Person (TBAP), the author of Christian Romance/Suspense fiction, To Die Once: Child of Grace #1, a Mogul Global Ambassador, and a screenwriter. She was a one-time shortlisted judge for the Inspy Awards, in 2014, in the Contemporary Romance & Romance/SuspenseCategory. In 2017, she was invited by actress, Jenn Gotzon to become one of contributing writers for the forthcoming and highly anticipated Christmas comedy movie, The Farmer and the Belle, presently in production. In 2018, Miranda was invited by Waterbrook Multnomah to be one of book bloggers to be part of a special launch team that helps launch its elite authors whose books have been listed as bestsellers on the New York Times Lists.

You can also connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

*The article, Conversations with God (Part 3): Unpleasant Revelations, first appeared on To Be A Person (TBAP).