Friday, July 15, 2016

Fabulous Feature-J.T. Still: Big Decisions/Rare Certainty

Today we welcome author:
J.T. Still

A commenter will win a copy of
J.T's book:

The Rift

Scroll down to see how.

US Readers Invited to Enter!

Mary here. I'm so happy to welcome J.T. to Let's Talk. Earlier this year I met him at Mt. Hermon's Writing Conference. We both arrived for a chapel service early. He turned and offered friendship and a prayer for my writing. What a godly example of Christ. I was thrilled to invite him to share with us. I asked J.T. how has God led you on your writing journey? Here is what he said: 

With Big Decisions Absolute Certainty Rarely Comes

When the burning leading of God hits you, sometimes you just can’t rationalize it, deny it, or run from it.

I grew up in a Christian family, loved Jesus from my youth, and have always loved to write. I had countless story ideas as a kid which never really went anywhere—I didn’t have the discipline. But as I studied computers in college, I managed to squeak out a novella and a novel—terrible writing that should never see the light of day—but at least I finished something.

About three years ago, I was up a little late one night spending some time in the Word and prayer. My life was going well. I was part of an amazing church, living with roommates I enjoyed, and making a six-figure salary as a software developer for Amazon. In fact, I was thinking of buying a house.

It was that thought which triggered everything. It filled me with a deep unease. Because once you buy a house, that’s it. You’re locked in. That night, I felt a conviction in my heart. Before buying a house, I needed to take this last opportunity to pursue writing full time.

A difficult choice
When you churn software for The Big A, you don’t just up and walk off. I mean, there’s all those stock options and free company lunches. And how was I supposed to maintain my wardrobe without that stipend of free company shirts?

I immediately started fasting and praying. God gave me unusual grace, and I barely felt hungry. After a full day, I woke up in the dark hours of the morning and saw a white light in my room which looked like a small bird and vanished after an instant. It immediately took my mind to Luke 12: “Fear not, for you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Throughout the decision making process, Luke 12 became a theme chapter. Look at everything packed in that brief space:
·      Don’t worry (vs. 22-31)
·      The parable of the rich fool (vs. 16-21)
·      Life does not consist in an abundance of possessions (vs. 15)
·      Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (vs. 32-34)

I can’t explain seeing a light in my room, but I do know that it led me to Scripture and was one more clue God left for me on the path.

It took about six months from that first night to reach the goodbye cake and the “It was nice working with you.” The closer my last day came, the more I doubted.  I find that with big decisions, absolute certainty rarely comes. But one direction or the other, we have to move. Look around, pray, fast, then plug our noses and take the plunge.

One Who is Greater
I write for the secular market. Consider for a moment the Hunger Games trilogy. It was spectacular, brilliant writing, and millions read it, but the ultimate message and tone were really negative. Meanwhile, “Christian” novels mostly reach other Christians. Those outside the church often don’t want to read “Christian” stories, because they fear they’re going to be preached at, which of course ruins the fun of a good story.

I think of the call of Jesus to be a city on a hill. I believe that means writing in such a way that attracts the world’s notice and even admiration. We often worry about worldly books and movies seducing Christian kids. I'm busy writing in order to seduce the world - to One who is greater.

Since then
I’ve now finished two books in my series, The Rift. I still consider myself a rookie author, and I’m definitely not making a liveable income from writing. About a year ago, I took up part-time employment back in the software industry.

I mention this simply to say how our expectations don’t always intersect God’s plans. Don’t worry when you take a step of faith only to find that everything goes wrong. You’re in the company of childless Abram, fugitive David, and lowered-in-a-basket Paul.

Well, that’s my story. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I’m a work in progress, but I serve a Savior who accepts no other kind.

J.T. Stoll (called Joey by his friends. And his enemies. And pretty much everyone) wrote his first fantasy story when he was five. The prose was… brilliant. The accompanying stick figure illustrations… breathtaking. The lack of complex vocabulary underlies the deeper human condition.

It was terrible. His mother refuses to destroy the only copy because it has “sentimental value.” He has always loved fantastical stories of all kinds: fantasy novels, 16-bit RPGs, superhero movies, whatever. If reading helps to escape the real world, why not go somewhere fun?

J.T. lives in San Luis Obispo County, California in a classy bachelor pad. He splits his time between rock climbing, writing eCommerce software, penning out imagined worlds, and going to crazy Jesus parties.

J.T. wants to hear from you! Contact him at:    


The Rift

A bitter civil war from a world of magic has spilled over into the small California town of San Luis Obispo. In a desperate act, a warrior from the world of Ruach gives soul armors—the ultimate weapons of his world—to four high school students. 

This sounds like the exact opposite of how Vero would like to spend her senior year. Poor and new to the area, she finds surviving in her new surroundings hard enough without stepping into a war of wizards.

Unfortunately, two soldiers from the other world know what she looks like and want her dead. In the small town of San Luis Obispo, it’s only a matter of time before they find her. She might have to fight, whether she wants to or not.

Enter the contest to win a copy of J.T. Stoll's book:
The Rift
US readers invited to enter!!

Here is how:

1. Leave a comment (and email address)

2. AND sign up to receive my newsletter -in the right column

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Thank you, J.T, (Joey), for joining us this weekend!

We enjoy chatting with you, Reader, and look forward to reading your comments and questions. Or at least your hi, hello, or hey.

Thanks for stopping by!

Don't forget to comment!


Connie Porter Saunders said...

I absolutely loved this interview. I agree that Luke 12 has an abundance of encouragement and instruction and I greatly admire J.T.'s willingness to step away from his worldly success to search for personal satisfaction. J.T., by following God's Will, I am sure that great success in the publishing world will soon be yours again!
Mary, thanks for another great author chat. You have a knack!

Mary Vee Writer said...

Hi Connie!!
So nice to see you today. It is a great day to welcome J.T. I don't think I've hosted a guest who gave up so much to write stories for God's people.
This has been a great weekend. We need more friends to rally round J.T.

Unknown said...

Awww, shucks =D