Interview with Valerie Limmer, Author of ‘Captive Set Free: How to Find Freedom Through Forgiving’

Jan. 9, 2023

I was privileged to invite Author Valerie Limmer for an interview to discuss her latest book Captive Set Free: How to Find Freedom Through Forgiving, and the inspiration behind it. Enjoy!


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What's your book about, and what inspired you to write it?
Captive Set Free is a guide on how to find freedom through forgiving for people who want to forgive but don't know where to start. It’s really an invitation to step out of being imprisoned by pain and toxicity, and into the free and abundant life that Jesus has to offer.

Sometimes, when we think about forgiveness, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by our heavy feelings or spooling thoughts. This book helps to cut through all of that with simple tips and tricks, real-life examples, and opportunities for application.

If we are Christians, most of us have heard about the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, and so on), and the gifts of the Spirit (e.g., pastor, prophet, evangelist). The Holy Spirit also seems to also choose certain life themes for each of us. One person might learn a lot about what it means to be His child, another person might continually learn more and more about God fulfilling His promises, and another might learn about the ways God provides for us. One of my major life themes is forgiveness.

Over the course of my life, I’ve been badly abused by half a dozen different people, starting in childhood. I started writing this book when I was healing from some horrific abuse I’d experienced as an adult. I realized that the things I was learning, the principles and techniques I was applying in my own journey of forgiveness, might be useful to people who might be struggling with the same issues. It’s a beautiful thing to witness God redeeming the horrors we’ve experienced and transforming them into something beautiful that can help other people.

 

Who is your target audience, and why do you think this book will appeal to them?
Captive Set Free is meant for anyone who is hurting, especially for Christians.  As followers of Jesus, as recipients of His love and forgiveness ourselves, we have access to an emotional and spiritual toolkit that can help us apply the principles of forgiveness in a way that’s intensely powerful and transformative. Jesus is not content to leave us hurting and broken. He is the Gentle Healer, and through applying the principles we find in the Bible, we can experience not only healing, but increased joy and trust, and a renewed sense of our own belovedness in Christ.

I supposed Captive Set Free is appealing because it isn’t theoretical. It’s practical. It’s not written by a theologian. It’s written by someone who’s been in the trenches of abuse and despair. It’s conversational and vulnerable, and willing to tackle difficult topics because the truth isn’t something that has to be scary. It can be freeing. We can find freedom through forgiving. I want to journey with you through those dark places and show you the beauty that’s waiting on the other side.

What message do you wish to pass across to your readers with this book?
Forgiving someone who has hurt you is possible! Not only is it possible, but the journey towards forgiveness will deepen you—both your faith, and your understanding of the forgiveness that Jesus offers to you. Forgiveness requires courage and endurance, but you don’t need to have it all at the start. Sometimes starting with a prayer (“Jesus, please help me want to forgive”) is all we can do, and God delights to honor this type of prayer. You will grow through the process, and as you do, Jesus will unlock doors to joy and peace in your heart that you might never have realized were there!

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
I tend to be a very private person. Whenever I write, I try to be vulnerable enough to be effective, but without feeling like an exhibitionist. However, often God asks me to share more of myself than I might be comfortable with the average person knowing. For me, this is really scary—especially when hearing about all those internet trolls out there, or people who are super-critical. But the verse that keeps drawing me back to trusting and obeying Jesus is:

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Your works.(Psalm 73:28)
Jesus is my refuge. I can trust Him, and I won’t hide away His good news of salvation to protect myself.

As a writer, is there anything you've learned about yourself while writing this book?
I’ve enjoyed putting these life lessons on forgiveness onto paper. With a sense of delight and awe, I've even found myself referring to my own book as a reference manual for what is pure and honoring to God in the midst of some of my own decision-making of late. I love that not only can we learn from other people in the family of God, but sometimes (through reading our past journals) we can learn from our younger selves when the way forward becomes painful and confusing.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books, and why?
If I had unlimited space, I would choose paper-based books every time. I’m a very tactile person, and I love being able to read and re-read an old favorite, physically underline and notate it, and know exactly where my favorite passages are on the page.

That being said, my husband and I are missionaries in Japan. We have a 450 square foot apartment there, and there’s almost no room for books! So, we usually use e-books, simply because paper ones aren’t practical for our lifestyle.

What is your niche genre, and if you were to write in a different genre, what would it be?
I usually write Christian non-fiction books on topics related to spiritual growth. However, if I were to write in a different genre, it would probably be historical fiction or fantasy.

What books and authors have most influenced you?
I love the writings of Amy Carmichael, Beth Moore, and A.W. Tozer.

If I had to pick specific books, I would choose “The Pursuit of God” (Tozer), “Rose From Briar” (Carmichael), and “When Godly People Do Ungodly Things” (Moore). Also, I’ve found “Boundaries”, by Cloud and Townsend, to be transformative.

Do you have any more books in the works?
Yes! I can’t stop writing. I have ideas for abut 11 more books. My next one will be on the armor of God. Right now that’s in second draft. After that, I’ve got two more in first draft. One is a book specifically for missionaries, and the other is about listening to God.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Sometimes I read reviews, but I generally try not to. I don’t want to get sucked into investing too much mental energy in what other people think of me or my work. Dealing with bad reviews is like dealing with any other type of criticism. You try to listen/read humbly, you resolve to forgive anything hurtful, you search it to see if theres something true in the criticism that you should address and change in your life, and then you give the rest to Jesus and don’t worry about it anymore.

Mention 3-5 fast (and/or fun) facts about you that you'd like to share
I can burp on command!
I enjoy making Japanese wax food models as a hobby.
I host my own Japanese-language cooking show on YouTube.
I’m part of a neighborhood network of ladies that takes care of stray cats in Okinawa, Japan, where I live.
I’m always losing my phone. I have to use the “Find My Phone” app at least once a day!

Last book read?
The Humans, by Matt Haig. I’ve only read one other book by him, which was very good. This fictional story is about an alien who’s come to earth and is inhabiting a human body. He doesn’t understand anything about human culture or customs, and it’s ridiculously funny to see the world through his eyes.

One book that changed your life?
Boundaries, by Cloud and Townsend. I grew up in an extremely abusive household, and this book helped me to develop my own personhood, distinct from my parents. It helped me to understand that I wasn’t responsible to keep my parents happy so they didn’t mistreat me, and that although I had certain responsibilities to them as their daughter, I was not responsible for their behavior or emotions. This was transformative not only for me personally, but also for my marriage.

Your favorite quote/saying to live by?
It’s a little quote from the Bible: “He must increase, I must decrease.” (John 10:10)

Any advice to new/aspiring authors?
The Japanese language is consistently rated one of the top five most difficult languages in the world to learn. My language teacher likes to encourage me, saying: “Drops of water can wear away stone.”

Find a regular time to write. It doesn’t have to be often; it just has to be consistent. If you stick with it, you can accomplish amazing things! I write on our day off, once a week for a couple of hours, and I’m able to publish a new book every 5 years or so.

“Drops of water can wear away stone.”

I believe this is just as true for writing a book as for learning Japanese!

How can readers get in touch with or follow you (website, personal blog, social media handle, Goodreads)?
I have an author Facebook page, a website, and a blog with a variety of spiritual insights and stories from our ministry. Earlier, I mentioned that my husband and I are missionaries. Every two months, we send out a newsletter about what’s going on in our ministry, so you’d be welcome to sign up for that as well.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorvalerielimmer
Author Website: https://www.valerielimmer.com
Missionary Website: https://www.peterandvalerie.com
Blog: https://www.peterandvalerie.com/PartnersCorner/OurBlog
Newsletter signup: https://www.valerielimmer.com/Contact/


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Valerie Limmer lives in Japan, where she works as a missionary, sharing the good news of Jesus’ love, hope, and salvation. She is neither a therapist nor a theologian, but she has experienced severe abuse from a handful of people. In Captive Set Free, her second book, she shares many of the principles and techniques she’s learned and applied to her own life on her journeys towards forgiveness.


Interview with L. Diane Wolfe, Author of 'In Darkness: The Shark’

Jan 4, 2023

I was privileged to invite Author L. Diane Wolfe for an interview to discuss her latest book In Darkness: The Shark, and the inspiration behind it. Enjoy!


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What's your book about, and what inspired you to write it?
The story follows Jewels, college student and aquarium worker, and a talking great white shark she meets one morning in the tidepools. Jewels trusts no one, but she comes to trust and love Clarence the shark.

There are a lot of stories out there about shifters and talking animals, but I’d never read one about a shark. I loved writing the exchanges between shark and human. I hope people are curious enough (a paranormal romance with a SHARK?) to pick it up and read it.

What message do you wish to pass across to your readers with this book?
That there is redemption for anyone. That someone lost in the dark can find the light again. And often it takes love to do that.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
I wanted to keep the story and the idea of a talking shark from degenerating into silliness. We’ve all seen movies with talking animals and I’m sorry, when their lips move, it looks ridiculous. So I chose an alternate way for Clarence to communicate and for his exchanges with Jewels to be plausible.

As a writer, is there anything you've learned about yourself while writing this book?
I think I learned how much I really would love to swim with a great white! If there was ever an opportunity to touch a baby one in an aquarium, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books, and why?
I usually buy and read eBooks. Between my husband and I, we have A LOT of bookshelves stuffed with books and we’re just out of room. Some books I do prefer print, such as cookbooks. At least if I slop oil on the print book, it’s not an emergency!

What is your niche genre, and if you were to write in a different genre, what would it be?
I don’t think I have a niche genre. This is paranormal romance, so probably my niche at the moment, but I’ve also written two kinds of non-fiction books and a new adult series. After this series, I might return to non-fiction.

What books and authors have most influenced you?
Growing up, I was a big fan of Anne McCaffrey and read all genres she wrote in. Her books so focused on the interactions of characters. I also love Watership Down and I’ve read it well over thirty times. It’s also a great story that focuses on the characters.

Do you have any more books in the works?
Yes! This is the second of a series of four, so In Darkness: The Werewolf comes out this September and the last one, The Alien, the following late winter.

Mention 3-5 fast (and/or fun) facts about you that you'd like to share
I have not consumed chocolate in over 20 years. (And no, I don’t miss it.)
I love steel roller coasters, the more loops the better.
I’ve been a vegan for over half my life.
I have a very large collection of Minions. (They cover one whole wall of my office, all the way to the ceiling.)

Your favorite quote/saying to live by?
Get inspired to achieve your dreams!

How can readers get in touch with or follow you (website, personal blog, social media handle, Goodreads)?

http://www.spunkonastick.net/ - Spunk On A Stick
http://www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com - Spunk On A Stick’s Tips
https://www.facebook.com/l.diane.wolfe - Facebook
https://www.pinterest.com/ldianewolfe/ - Pinterest
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/117664.L_Diane_Wolfe - Goodreads

 

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A professional speaker and author, L. Diane Wolfe conducts seminars, offers book formatting, and author consultation. She’s the senior editor at Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. and contributes to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. 


Interview with Jen Ludwig, Author of 'Embracing Advent: Rediscovering Christmas in the Chaos'

 Oct. 31, 2022

I was privileged to invite Author Jen Ludwig for an interview to discuss her latest book Embracing Advent, and the inspiration behind it. Enjoy!




What's your book about, and what inspired you to write it?

Embracing Advent is a devotional meant to help people slow down and reflect on God's gifts of hope, peace, joy, and love in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

I am a planner – so I love to prepare for Christmas. But, over the years, I found myself caught up in all of the "stuff" that we do to enjoy the holidays – parties, gift buying, and other traditions. While I still LOVE these things, I've found that the best way to soak in the season is to sit at Jesus' feet for a few minutes each day. I hope this book is a tool for other's to be able to do the same!

Who is your target audience, and why do you think this book will appeal to them?

While I hope that anyone would enjoy what Embracing Advent has to offer… My target audience is someone who is looking to spending 5–10 minutes each day reflecting on the Christmas season and preparing to celebrate… so that December 26 doesn't roll around and leave you saying, “What happened? Is Christmas over already?”

What message do you wish to pass across to your readers with this book?

God loves you and – more than wanting you to DO anything – He just wants to spend time with you, renew you, and grow you!

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

The hardest thing about writing this book was finding the time to get it done!

As a writer, is there anything you've learned about yourself while writing this book?

LOL. I've learned that the principles I'm encouraging people to engage in… taking time to rest, wait, and pray… are ones that I, too, need to be reminded of!

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books, and why?  

I read my Bible – and often an accompanying book or devotional – every morning. These HAVE to be paper! There is just something about cuddling up in the same cozy chair with a cup of coffee with paper in my hands that feels very familiar and comfortable.

That said, I love to load up a Kindle when I travel!

What is your niche genre, and if you were to write in a different genre, what would it be?

My niche genre is definitely any and all things Christmas. I actually am also a songwriter, and more than half of what I have written are songs for the holidays.  

If I were to go beyond Christmas (which I am currently working on!), I would still stay in the Christian/spiritual/inspirational genre!

What books and authors have most influenced you?

Number one… The Bible.

In addition to that I love reading Beth Moore, N.T. Wright, Shauna Niequist (I just finished I Guess I Haven't Learned that Yet and LOVED it!), Nancy Guthrie (I really appreciate her devotions), and many others!

Do you have any more books in the works?

Not a full-length book… but I'm currently working on a short devotional.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I sure do! Of course, I LOVE a good review. A friend and fellow author told me that a bad review just means your book is getting outside your circle (and, perhaps, echo chamber), which is a good thing!

Mention 3-5 fast (and/or fun) facts about you that you'd like to share

When I came to college in Southern California, I thought I would only be here for four years, then would return to Northern California. But here I am 32 years later…

I LOVE LOVE LOVE to travel and have lived abroad for several stints.
One of those stints was in South Africa, and I speak just a little bit of Zulu!

How can readers get in touch with or follow you (website, personal blog, social media handle, Goodreads)?

My website is www.jenludwig.com, and you can follow me during the holiday season at @embracingadvent on Instagram!




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Jen Ludwig is a Jesus-follower, worship leader, and songwriter. After attending Pepperdine University and finishing her graduate studies at UCLA, she settled in Southern California, where she currently resides with her husband and two teenagers. Follow Jen during the holiday season on Instagram at @embracingadvent.




Book Review: "Sorry I'm Late, I Didn't Want to Come: An Introvert's Year of Living Dangerously", by Jessica Pan

 Oct. 15, 2022


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What would happen if a shy introvert lived like a gregarious extrovert for one year? If she knowingly and willingly put herself in perilous social situations that she’d normally avoid at all costs? Writer Jessica Pan intends to find out. With the help of various extrovert mentors, Jessica sets up a series of personal challenges (talk to strangers, perform stand-up comedy, host a dinner party, travel alone, make friends on the road, and much, much worse) to explore whether living like an extrovert can teach her lessons that might improve the quality of her life. Chronicling the author’s hilarious and painful year of misadventures, this book explores what happens when one introvert fights her natural tendencies, takes the plunge, and tries (and sometimes fails) to be a little bit braver.

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"Sorry I'm Late" was incredibly funny and enlightening, and I would recommend it to everyone to check out! It's amazing how much I could relate to a lot of what the author said. Here are just a few takeaways I got:

✔️ It's okay to step out of your comfort zone sometimes; you never know what you'll discover about yourself.

✔️ Just like extroverts can learn from introverts' personalities about the power of 'quiet', introverts can also learn from extroverted personalities about the benefits of being a little more expressive, as well as exploring new adventures.

✔️ Don't try to become someone you're not, or change your personality (i.e. from introvert to extrovert); you'll only make yourself more miserable and exhausted. That being said, it's perfectly okay, and highly encouraged, to evolve and grow.

I highly, highly recommend!

ᴍʏ Κ€α΄€α΄›ΙͺΙ΄Ι’: 4.5/5
ɒᴇɴʀᴇ/α΄›Κœα΄‡α΄α΄‡κœ±: Self-help, memoir, humor⁣
α΄α΄€α΄›α΄œΚ€Ιͺᴛʏ Κ€α΄€α΄›ΙͺΙ΄Ι’: 14+



Interview with Seeley James, Author of 'The Rembrandt Decision: A Pia Sabel Mystery'

 May 30, 2022




I was privileged to invite Author Seeley James for an interview to discuss his latest book The Rembrandt Decision: A Pia Sabel Mystery, and the inspiration behind it. Enjoy!

What's your book about, and what inspired you to write it?

'The Rembrandt Decision: A Pia Sabel Mystery' is a murder mystery with a touch of psychological thriller and references to ancient literature. The murder of a small-town drunk exposes long held secrets and family trauma. Visiting industrialist Pia Sabel quickly determines the town’s police chief will never believe who the murderer is and sets out to show him, clue by clue. The problems her investigation uncovers range from community and family inclusion and adoption to racism and dealing with unintended biases. Her revelations lead to a shocking conclusion not just about whodunit but why. And that brings the story full circle for the reader.

What inspired me to write this (my fourteenth novel) was my adoption history. When I was nineteen, I adopted a three-year-old girl and raised her. (For details, visit http://seelyjames.com/adopted .) We faced many struggles and challenges but overcame a good deal and managed to survive. I wanted to express the challenges of alternatives to nuclear families. The feedback, reviews, and critics tell me I managed to convey a new and interesting look at family, loyalties, race, and blood lines.

Who is your target audience, and why do you think this book will appeal to them?

Because it's primarily a mystery, starting off with a dead body in the classic murder-mystery vein, it has a very wide audience. I sneak in the literary issues of inclusion, family values, unintentional racism, privilege and so on, so as not to scare off the masses.

This book appeals to a wide, general audience because it provokes thought without preaching. It demonstrates small incidents in one person's life that have a large impact on someone else. Fan mail tells me people have discovered tidbits of personal growth buried in different parts. There's something for everyone.

What message do you wish to pass across to your readers with this book?

We are all in this together. The Golden Rule means we respect and help others without reservation.

Regardless of where we come from, who we think we are, who we called Mom, we are all related.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

There was one discussion between two adults who were adopted as children. There are many facets to adoption, many scars, many inherent psychological issues, and writing a dialogue that represented the triumphs and tragedies properly took days.

As a writer, is there anything you've learned about yourself while writing this book?

Great question. I tend to tear myself open to write every book. It's become a form of therapy. In this one, I re-learned something from long ago. When my adopted daughter was in her teens and struggling with abandonment issues, I had a moment of clarity about what empathy really means. In that moment, I knew inside my skin, exactly what it felt like to be her and wonder why my parents weren't there. Writing this brought back that deep sorrow and the common parental desire to make all that pain and anguish go away -- while knowing fixing it is impossible.

For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books, and why?  

Hard cover books are the only books! I love them, the smell, the feel, the weight. BUT, I read ebooks because I can steal ... I mean, I can highlight great passages and export them for later study. For really great books, like "Their Eyes were Watching God", or "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" I buy both.

However, I hike mountains for an hour+ every day, so I listen to audiobooks. Because it isn't a good platform for deep subjects (I space out from time to time), I listen to things like romance novels, or classics like Jane Austen, Arthur Conan Doyle.

What is your niche genre, and if you were to write in a different genre, what would it be?

I have two niches: International Thrillers and Murder Mysteries. The former allows me to spin spy-novel yarns on an emotional rollercoaster about global conspiracies while the latter allows small town exposes about relationships and people in a cerebral engaging context.

I have a dystopian series in the back of my head that I'd like to find time to explore. It's not a total-reboot-of-civilization scenario, though. It fits in that period of time where Climate Change has wrought havoc on civilization but not total destruction. In this scenario, drought and floods have destroyed our ability to support 8 billion people. In the new changed world, only about 2 billion can survive ...

What books and authors have most influenced you?

So many ... hmmm. Ken Follett, Attica Locke, James Patterson, Lee Child, Agatha Christie, SA Cosby, John le Carre for the last century. But more important were the ancients: Shakespeare, Sophocles, Plato, Tacitus.

Do you have any more books in the works?

Absolutely. I'm halfway through Act I of my next book with plans for another after that. I don't have ADD except when I'm thinking about the books I want to write. I'm constantly jotting notes for 2-3 books down the line. (When I get there, the notes are useless as the story has evolved but they are part of the process.)

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes and no. I read some of them and skim most. I glean what I can no matter what the reviewer thought.

Some bad reviews have interesting points. I've stopped writing "gun porn" describing every detail of a weapon that is common in some bestsellers because of a bad review. It wasn't that the person made a good point, but rather that I realized: I don't care for it either, so why bother? That was many books ago and I don't miss it.

Other bad reviews are subjective and so I move on as if walking over a blade of grass. Other bad reviews are funny, "I didn't read it, so I gave it one star." Great, thanks.

One odd experience was a reviewer who thought I was making fun of a certain president and gave me one star, advising others why and that they should avoid my book. About five people commented they were buying it because of his review. There is no end to unintended consequences.

Mention 3-5 fast/fun facts about you that you'd like to share:

1) Because of my teenaged adoption, I now have three children aged 49, 25, and 22. Three grandchildren aged 29, 25, and 18. And two great-grandchildren 9 and 4. Mixed-age, mixed-race, mixed-up, and happy. I think.

2) I'm 66 and hike the Grand Canyon (17 miles, 9,000 vertical feet) several times a year. I hike a nearby mountain every day and challenge anyone under 50 to keep up. (Many do, my speedy days are waaayy behind me.)

3) I wanted to be a Christian writer, but my snarky, cynical sense of humor would get me burned at the stake. (It's true they don't do that anymore, but the crowd at my church are looking for an excuse to make an exception.) So, I afflicted my main character with PTSD-induced schizophrenia: he sees and interacts with Mercury, the down-on-his-luck Roman god. Mercury's morals and ideas don't fit in modern times but allow for hilarious theological discussions and comparisons.

How can readers get in touch with or follow you?

Join my mailing list via https://shop.seeleyjames.com

Or connect on social media:
https://www.facebook.com/SeeleyJamesAuth/
https://www.instagram.com/seeleyjamesauth/




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Seeley James' near-death experiences range from talking a jealous husband into putting the gun down to spinning out on an icy freeway in heavy traffic without touching anything. His resume ranges from washing dishes to global technology management. His personal life ranges from homeless at 17, adopting a 3-year-old at 19, getting married at 37, fathering his last child at 43, hiking the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim at 59, and taking the occasional nap.

His writing career ranges from humble beginnings with short stories in The Battered Suitcase, to being awarded a Medallion from the Book Readers Appreciation Group. Seeley is best known for his Sabel Security series of thrillers featuring athlete and heiress Pia Sabel and her bodyguard, veteran Jacob Stearne. One of them kicks ass and the other talks to the wrong god.

His love of creativity began at an early age, growing up at Frank Lloyd Wright’s School of Architecture in Arizona and Wisconsin. He carried his imagination first into a successful career in sales and marketing, and then to his real love: fiction.