Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?
Steven: I have the feeling I always was and just didn't know it until much later. To detour for a moment, I had my first crush in third grade and strange as it sounds, I think that set the stage for me to begin expressing myself in written words and deep reflection, although I was very shy by nature even into high school. The shyness may have caused me to be introspective. I wrote poetry in fifth and sixth grades, a short sci-fi story in grade six and I started writing lyrics when the Beatles became popular in the sixties. Over the years, I have probably written lyrics to over 200 songs, including a libretto for a stage play based on the Book of Esther. It wasn't until 2002, during a period when I was unemployed as a welder, that I started writing a novel. I would look for work in the mornings and while waiting afternoons for calls to interview, I wrote the novel. I was pleasantly surprised when the characters themselves began to dictate to me the story and it was done in six weeks. That's how the Shining Armor novel came to be; a romantic thriller of sorts, followed by two novellas to complete the series.
Deirdra: What genre(s) do you write?
I have also a good start on a fantasy story entitled The Truth and the Power, based on the priesthood and faith in God. Additionally, I have ideas for about 40 other projects, including some few non-fiction works--The Superhuman Owner's Manual (tools and techniques to improve the human condition) and Who's Fueling Whom?, dealing with technologies already in existence as alternate fuel sources. I am currently working on a fiction novel based on a theme in the Star Trek realm, to be called BORG: ORIGINS. Now my only problem is getting published. Haha. I have recently finished my sixtieth short story in the inspirational genre, under the collective title The Visitor, which can be read at http://ctrstories.com.
Deirdra: Is there anyone who has inspired or influenced you in your career?
Steven: First, the author Edgar Rice Burroughs, who penned the Tarzan stories, the Pellucidar series and the Mars series and more. As a teen, I read his works voraciously and seem to have absorbed his excellent writing techniques by osmosis, as I found when I later read a short work by Algis Budrys, entitled Writing to the Point. Burroughs imagination captured mine and never let go.
Secondly, the writings of C.S. Lewis on the subject of religion. I admired his approach to convincing naysayers by means of logic and reason. I have made every effort to use the same approach in my blog postings. Because of that, I have had the pleasure of hearing that an atheist friend actually ordered a Book of Mormon and is considering the existence of God. That touched my heart deeply and gave me great joy and reason to give thanks.
Deirdra: What is the most exciting thing that has happened in your career?
Steven: Laugh if you like, but being asked to interview with you is a great honor to me. I do not take lightly such invitations and am grateful for the opportunity. It gives me hope that I may be able to continue doing what I love to do--write. Also, I was close to being considered for publishing by a few names you would recognize, if I were to name-drop. Unfortunately, financial reversal and the present state of our nation took some toll on them and progress was placed on hold. I wish them well in all their endeavors and hope to work together in the future.
Deirdra: For you, is writing a full time job, part time job, or a hobby?
Steven: It is certainly far more than a hobby, but I don't consider it to be a job, either. "Job" sounds like a drudgery. Although the acronym "just over broke" certainbly applies right now--starving artist syndrome, if you will. Writing is a great pleasure and pastime that I thoroughly enjoy, although it can be hard work at times.
Deirdra: Writing a novel is time consuming. What is the most effective method you have found for managing your time?
Steven: I really don't have a system. I write when I have the inspiration and I make notes if I have ideas, but am unable to write immediately. My schedule is fairly flexible right now, thankfully. When writing that first novel, I was awake almost all night at times...okay, I WAS awake all night some nights. When the characters themselves are dictating, you write down what they tell you or lose the opportunity. I was done with it in six weeks and then spent a few years polishing and restructuring sentences. I know that's a long time to fiddle with it, but it was a learning process, a learning curve I needed to hone my skills. I was almost sick of it once I was finished polishing, but the effort was justified, according to those I had proof and critique it for me. And speaking of critique, I was deeply grateful for the attitude of those I first asked to read my works. I knew that it made no sense to ask family, as they would be biased in their answers, so I went to a reader's group online--people who didn't know me from Adam and would owe me nothing but the brutal truth. After all, I didn't want compliments, but to improve my skills. I got more than I bargained for. I got encouragement, really good critique, great suggestions and even an entire proofread and commentary from a good woman who went the extra mile for me. I give credit in the acknowledgments page to such people.
Deirdra: What is your writing and educational background?
Steven: The only formal training I had was the English classes I was exposed to throughout K-12 school and in college, including the Shakespeare studies course I took. I consider my real training to be the reading of those I consider master writers. What better course is there to learn by than to read the works of those who are experts at it?
Deirdra: What makes you passionate about writing?
Steven: I love the feeling I have when the 'Muse' hits and the words flow like water in the stream. I was laughed at while writing the first novel, because I said, "I can't wait to see what happens next." I was asked, "Don't you know? You are the author, after all." I honestly did not know what was to come next. It was literally as if I were taking dictation. I think that is why it came so quickly. In the end, I looked back at all the details I thought odd as I was writing them and saw how they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle.
Deirdra: What is the most difficult thing about being an author?
Steven: For me, it is being a perfectionist and impatience. It's a mixed bag. I get impatient when the ideas stop flowing, so I have to begin or continue another project. And wishing for perfection in my writing, because when I send it to a publisher's editor, I want them to read as if they were fans, instead of as editors. I want them to get twenty pages into it and suddenly realize they have found no problems and have really been grabbed and dragged into the story.
Deirdra: Where is your favorite place to write?
Steven: An interesting question. I haven't really thought about that before. But I have written for hours in a closed room and have written on an airy open porch. Often it is in the living room in a chair or on the couch. Other times it is in my bedroom. I have written with pen and paper and transcribing later with PC. That was how the first three novels and novellas were written. I learned that I hate transcribing and got smart after that.
Deirdra: Besides writing what other talents do you have?
Steven: I am reasonably good at drawing and painting, designing logos and trademarks. I also write lyrics, poetry, psalms and write copy for advertising. I design mechanical parts, fabricate them, weld them (if metal) and invent when the mood strikes. I know how to install satellite TV equipment and can do almost anything I am given time to learn and have interest in (and my interests are many and varied). I am interested in reseaqrching Book of Mormon lands and the evidences for the authenticity of the book, and there are many I have found on my own.
Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Steven: I haven't had the honor yet of being published, but the path has been made more difficult because of my lack of knowledge of the process, I am sure. I am willing to learn and appreciate every suggestion I get, and I have acquired a few books that I am reasonably sure are good authority on the subject (if I can quit writing my own works long enough to read them--haha).
Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?
Steven: I think anyone who undertakes to do a great work, whether it be a painting, a story or an architectural feat, is at some time in the midst of the project struck with either a sense of futility or feeling of being somewhat overwhelmed. I have been one who had the shotgun approach in my younger years, going off in all directions after my interests and seeming to finish few of the projects I started, except those that managed to plant the hook deeply into my flesh. Lyric and song-writing was one of those that has never passed away. Now writing stories has engrained itself within me and won't let go. I guess years and maturity has taught me to hang on to what you love and given me the stamina to do so, against the odds and constraints of life. I just muddle on through until I feel the job is accomplished as intended. I am by nature a creator and always will be.
Deirdra: What is your writing schedule like?
Steven: I have no concrete structure to my schedule. I have been known to awaken the night and begin writing what the Muse tells me and then I have been known to write all night and not go to bed until the sun is coming up. Additionally, I have gone several days without writing a single word, allowing my mind to rest and my subconscious to mull over the details of the story. I am a great believer in not writing unless you are sure you are being inspired to do so. There are many writing styles, I know, but that works best for me.
Deirdra: Where do your ideas come from? How do you know the idea is good enough to write a book about it?
Steven: The ideas come from the spirit of inspiration. I don't write until I feel inspiration. That's what works for me. And when I get that inspiration, I know it is worth writing about. I trust the Lord to inspire me only with what is good enough to consider in print. Sure, it is entertainment mostly, but I incorporate elements of our faith at times, faith-building events often based on real life and humor that allows the reader to escape and laugh while at it. I want to make a mini-vacation for my readers, from the boredoms or strife of their own lives. A good way to tell if it works is if it moves me as the writer. I have been blessed with a vivid imagination, ideaphoria and can 'see' the elements of the story as if it were on a movie location. If I can 'see' that in my mind's eye, then illustrate it so my readers can 'see it', then I know I am on the right track and I feel confident the story will be good.
Deirdra: What are your techniques for writing?
Steven: First and foremost, I never "try to write." That doesn't work for me. I either have a firm idea and concept of where the story will go or I don't and there is no sense trying to force an idea out that isn't there to begin with. There are no outlines in my work, except very rarely. With me, the story begins and I follow it until it is finished to the point that it is ready to be polished. Writing is a creative process and the creative juices need to be flowing in order for me to have success. You will never see me participating in the write-a-book-in-a-month projects, for example. I say that with few reservations, as life takes funny twists, but at this time, it seems too much like forcing creativity. I don't think you can do that and win. It comes on its own or it doesn't come at all. It's like water flowing. You can't make it flow uphill without the most difficult of efforts. At least the results I would get by forcing it would be nothing worth reading, I am sure.
As for techniques I employ, I learned a lot from the writings of E. R. Burroughs. He employed parallel plotlines, alternating through several chapters, and finally coming together in the end. I recall reading a chapter and when it eneded, I had to read the next one in order to get to the one beyond it that I knew held the continuation of that plotline. He was the master of cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, as well. Applied properly, it is quite effective and I have even tried to use a variation of it in the first pages of a story, wrapping it up later in the tale. I learned that imagination, within reason, was the key to believability. It needs to be in some way believable. I have always felt that a story must take place somewhere, so why not make that place one that is interesting? I have felt that the reader deserves to be entertained from the start, so why not make the opening scene one that reaches out and grabs them, pulling them into the tale right away. And I believe that the reader is a very real part of the story. You need a balance, not giving so much detail that you bore them or lose them in the details, but not so little that they cannot imagine the settings.
The characters in my stories should also be quite atypical, in my opinion. Stereotyping them is a mistake in my stories. Being unpredictable, within reason, is a key approach. For example, the first novel I wrote had a reluctant hero. He wanted to be left alone, but was drawn into the plot by circumstances he could not ignore; his concern for the safety of two women who were being abused by a bully. Then there were the women themselves, strong while being in trouble. Not your typical damsels in distress. One even knew how to hotwire a car (you'll have to read the Shining Armor, part one, to understand that detail--one of the ones that puzzled even me until later in the story, when it resolved itself quite nicely). The characters should be clearly defined, even if they are entirely at odds with one another, such as the slightly-older-than-expected reluctant hero and the ultra-aggressive and possessive, psychotic ex-boyfriend in my first novel. I included a backwoods friend with a heavy accent as an army buddy for the hero. Not your typical approach, but the Muse dictated, so I followed.
I learned from noted author Algys Budrys that there needs to be a conflict or a problem, at first seemingly easy to solve, but surprisingly more difficult than anticipated. Then it escalates again when attempts are made to solve it. And finally, becoming life-threatening, it is overcome by a supreme act of will or of God, against all odds. That is what keeps a story interesting. I have always been an incurable romantic, so I always have to seek a way to have a love interest in the mix. A sense of humor also keeps it interesting, so I inject my odd brand of humor where I can (you'd need to know the family I was raised in). ;>)
Deirdra: When did the idea of writing a book first come to you?
Steven: When I was bored out of my mind, waiting afternoons by the phone for calls from prospective employers I had given resumes to in the mornings. I figured that I should put the time to somewhat productive use and began writing that "great American novel." I feel I was successful in that effort. I became hooked at that time and have been writing ever since.
Deirdra: Can you tell us about your book?
Steven: Oh, my.... Well, the first novel, Shining Armor--The Knight Appears, is a modern love story about two people who should never have met, by all reasonable thinking. A good friend of the heroine pushes the two star-struck lovebirds together after he steps in to save them from the abusive ex-boyfriend. That ex- does not give up so easily and becomes totally unbalanced, following and terrorizing the couple at every opportunity, intending to be the only one to possess her. He eventually kidnaps her and intends to break her spirit. The going for her and her new love does not get easier from there. In the end, lives are indeed in jeopardy.
Parts two and three, The Evil Returns, and The Rival, continue the story from there, with new twists and turns of plot that were exciting to me and surprising even as I wrote them. I am just recently finished with a short story series and now am doing a sci-fi story.
Deirdra: What is the pathway like for you to get your first book published?
Steven: It's been difficult for me, as I really have no idea how to do so properly. I guess that's a learning curve, too. I am learning to write query letters properly, will be learning about writing proposals and even about self-publishing, getting ISBN numbers and more. I feel comfortable about speaking engagements, due to the times I have performed before audiences and with all the opportunities the Church has offered me over the years to teach and to speak in classes and meetings. And now, thanks to you, I have had my first interview as an author. I thank you sincerely for that, Deirdra.
Deirdra: How many beta readers do you have review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?
Steven: I guess that first project had as many as five or six readers/critics, but my confidence level after that was pretty stable, as I had learned to trust the spirit of inspiration that comes to me. I make it a matter of praying for the inspiration and giving thanks for it when it comes. Of course I have readers who show interest and when they do, I let them read it and am always interested in any comments--good, bad or ugly. I take it all seriously, as I wish to offer the best product I can. I don't want compliments for the sake of having compliments or feeling good alone. I want to offer the best that Steven O'Dell has to give and no less.
Deirdra: What do you hope readers will get from your books?
Steven: From the sci-fi, fantasy, romance and fiction, I hope they will get some hours of satisfying entertainment, some pause for thought and some good laughs. From the non-fiction, I would hope they may derive something that will make them better as a person or enrich their lives with information they previously didn't have. And from the inspirational stories, I would hope my readers will be touched deeply, having a tear come to their eye and a leap of growth in their faith, as some of the stories are entirely true, but all are faith-building and entirely possible.
Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?
Steven: A few years back, I was sitting in a Sacrament meeting and the idea for a short story came to me. I truly felt I was to write it, by the Lord's wishes, and it came so easily and quickly--8 pages. Once it was finished, I had the distinct impression there was to be a sequel to it, which there was. I now have sixty short stories in the inspirational genre. A few years ago, I would never have guessed I would be able to claim such an accomplishment and I am quite grateful to the Lord for giving me the chance to be his instrument for bringing them forth. Frankly, I cannot read many of them anyone without crying, the Spirit is so strong.
My process is to sit down and write when I have the bug hit me. I seldom know ahead of time more than just the next chapter and its concepts. The details, I write as I go. I envision the chemistry between the characters; the conflicts, the communications, the sexual tensions and love interests, etcetera. Dialogue seldom escapes me, as I can easily envision what the characters would say and how they would interact.
Keeping it interesting from page to page, making it pertinent to the storyline and so on becomes the major concern for me, but only after the fact. I write and then go back to edit later, most often. I do have a good balance of left and right hemispheres of the brain, so I can wrote and edit simultaneously, but will follow the instinct and do what is needed. Often it is to let the creative side flow unimpeded and then go back and let the editor side take over. What works for me at the moment is what I do. Being that I am using a notebook PC of late, I have become an accomplished typo-ist, which lends great need for the editor function later.
Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?
Steven: I learned on my first novel that writer's block can take place. It hit me at about 16,000 words on that one, so I let it go a few days and suddenly everything went into auto-pilot mode. From then on, I was taking dictation from the characters themselves, which worked just fine. Since then, I have done the same thing, quit when the inspiration stops and resume when it returns. If I do that faithfully, the results are always better.
Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
Steven: I prefer no interruptions, but I can sit and write while watching TV or listening to radio or even stopping to read something else at times. It all depends upon the project, of course. Humor, sci-fi, non-fiction, etcetera. Some take far more concentration than others, but I try to be flexible in my approach to writing. I have even written on bus trips across country, but prefer to have a non-moving platform.
Deirdra: What kinds of inspiration do you use during your story creation periods?
Steven: I take inspiration from all parts of life. Even sitting in a mall or doctor's office, watching people, would possibly give me an idea for a character or plot. I think one needs to be exposed to the world around them in order to come up with the files in the cabinet if it is expected to have fodder for the Muse to work with. I sometimes take events from my own past and alter or adapt and employ them in ways that work with the storyline. I may tell of my first love, my first heartbreak or my first fight, but it will be the character who is living it and telling it. I may tell of my love for the outdoors and the variety of life, but it will be through the eyes of the characters in my stories. The idea is for me to include real life as much as possible, if only in a fictional story.
Deirdra: Who has made the greatest difference for you as a writer?
Steven: The best answer--God, the father. And, of course, through the Holy Ghost. I credit my Father in Heaven with granting me the talents and the attunement to the ideas that are out there floating around in the aether. After that, I credit those who have encouraged me and have made it possible for me to take time to hone my skills as a writer. I have to admit that there is within all of us the desire to have the occasional pat on the back, an attaboy. I would be less than honest if I claimed I did not have that urge, too. I am pleased when those I love and respect have a good word for the efforts I have made and recognize that mental work is still work. I am also pleased when they give me constructive criticism. Anything that keeps me going and makes me do better is good.
Deirdra: What’s your secret to making the character’s in your books come to life?
Steven: I guess it's having them be different in small ways and in large ways. That takes some explaining, I guess. In small ways, they need to react somewhat differently than you would think they should. Some degree of unpredictability. In larger ways, they need to be atypical in themselves. A reluctant hero, a not-so-helpless damsel in distress, a supposed fool that has the brilliant answer everyone is seeking. Differences make for interesting chemistry. Conflicts that need to be resolved.
Deirdra: What authors do you admire and why?
Steven: I cut my teeth on Edgar Rice Burroughs and have admired his style ever since. I love the way he threads multiple plots through a story and keeps you drawn in, making you want to stay with to its conclusion. Not only parallel plotlines, but making them dovetail, employing cliffhanger techniques at the end of each chapter, almost forcing you to continue or suffer from 'not knowing'. My father, I am sure, cursed the day he ever introduced me to Burroughs, as he found it hard to get any work out of me when there was another book to read. I recall him saying, "Get your nose out of that book and go get some sunshine." Even then, I would bypass the 'stopping points' he told me to mind.
From Burroughs, I moved to other sci-fi writers, as that was my favorite genre at the time. I loved many sci-fi writers and considered them master storytellers, as well. The variety of approaches even in that genre left an impression on me.
I admire the works of C.S. Lewis and find it odd that as a fiction writer, I have read none of his fantasy, but only his essays on religion and philosophy. He is a masterful logician and his reasoning skills are formidable. As an ex-atheist, he could argue another atheist into a corner without appearing to do so until it was almost too late. His 'targeted prey' either submits to reason or runs in panic and never returns. I admire skills of that magnitude.
One of my sons has shared with me a story that has been brewing in his mind for about twelve years or so and just keeps getting more brilliant. From the moment he told me of the details of it, I was stunned and said "it must be a film someday." I still think so. It would be an epic to match Lord of the Rings or Dune. I know that is quite a claim, but the story has all the incredible elements to back up that claim. His Turncycle series will be amazing. So, he inspires me and I admire him greatly, but I admire all my children in one way or another.
Deirdra: What is your favorite snack to have while you are writing?
Steven: Haha! An excellent question, if unusual. I am somewhat of an omnivore. I can eat crackers, chocolate (semi-sweet, please), raisins, almonds, party mix and more. Strangely, though, I have an odd eating schedule. I can go all day and suddenly realize at 9 P.M. that I have yet to eat anything. Unfortunately, then I eat a full meal before bed, which hasn't helped my girlish figure one bit. I could stand to lose a few pounds and get more sunshine and fresh air.
Deirdra: What words of advice do you have for other writers who desire to have their manuscripts become books in print?
Steven: Don't give up if you love it. Even if you haven't a clue as to how to get into print, keep writing what you love. And write what you know. Or at least what you can convincingly fake knowing. The I would say they should do as I am doing--learn as much as you can about what editors want, how to make your product better, how to improve your characters, how to hear the spirit of inspiration and more. Learn about anything that will make you a better author and learn to take criticism well. Some of it may have merit. After all, if you are writing just for yourself, why worry about publishing? If you are writing for an audience, you had better take their needs into account.
Deirdra: What are you working on now?
Steven: Well, I just finished the inspirational short story series (as far as I know at this time) and am working on a Star Trek-based theme called BORG: ORIGINS, which will tell how the Borg came to be. It will have political overtones in the vein of Animal Farm and 1984. I don't think there would be any way to avoid including such concepts. I have about five chapters in skeletal form right now, needing to be fleshed out a bit better. If this one goes well, I will follow it with BORG: CONQUEST. So far as I have been able to verify, no one has done a work on this theme yet adn there should be a viable market for it.
I also have the fantasy, The Truth and the Power in the works, as well as a novel called Amnesia. The truth is that I have started several works and alternate amongst them as I am moved to do. When one is simmering, another is boiling.
Deirdra: What is the most difficult thing about being an author?
Steven: Being patient until the story is finished and ready for publishing...then it's getting published. Haha.
Deirdra: What is the best thing about being an author?
Steven: The love of what I am doing, the excitement of seeing a story come to life through characters on a page. The whole thought of being able to translate scribbles on paper into meaningful thoughts is fascinating. And then there is the mechanics of constructing a perfect sentence. I can't tell you how often I have rephrased a sentence until I thought it was perfect and clearly conveyed what I wanted it to. Being careful to use synonyms to avoid boring repetitions--that may sound like a chore to some authors, but it excites me to be able to do so. Thesaurus.com is one of my favorite sites. There are plenty of wonderful words waiting to be used. I love the way some authors paint pictures in words. You can see the illustration in the words they choose. They add color and motion to what they say. That takes talent and it doesn't come right away. Making someone laugh or making them cry with the written word is a skill that takes time to cultivate.
Deirdra: What are your goals as an author for the next three years?
Steven: To have a few of my works published and be doing speaking tours and book signings. I seem to be traveling the country anyway the last few years, so why not make it profitable? I want a long-lasting win/win situation for myself and a reputable publisher.
Deirdra: Where is your favorite place to write?
Steven: From a nice, airy, sunlit porch or anywhere with a view of the woods or mountains. Barring that, a room with a sunlit window.
Deirdra: How do you come up with your character’s names?
Steven: Another good question, Deirdra. I experiment with names and sounds until I come up with one that sounds right for the character. In a sci-fi genre, it may be syllables we would never find in our language at all. My Borg story has characters such as Farr Kalvik and Noralda Vinda. In my other fictions stories, it could be a foreign name or an unusual one. I don't like too many Tom's, Dick's and Harry's. That shows a lack of creativity, in my opinion. I would prefer an Alberto or a Han Su to keep it interesting, but I make it fit the need of the story.
It's funny you should ask this, actually, as my mother recently was remarking how I came up with unusual names for my characters. I do like to mix it up. In some of the inspirational short stories, I wrote about the three Nephites as if they were to come into the lives of ordinary, everyday people. I had to choose some names from the actual names of the disciples inj the Book of Mormon. Although I made it a matter of prayer to be inspired with their real names, should the Lord have willed it, no answer came and I chose at random an unusual one or two to use, along with a more common one.
Deirdra: What is the best complement you’ve received from your work?
Steven: There were a few times, like when I was told that reading that first novel was "...more like watching a movie than reading a book." She found it to be very visual in nature. That was very gratifying to me and I have been grateful for such a compliment ever since. Another was when I was told that I had made the reader feel as if she was the character herself. That same reader said she had gone beyond wanting to know more (after a few chapters sample) and that she now needed to know more. Such comments can bring a tear of gratitude to my eye and continue to inspire me to always do my very best for the reader as I write.
Deirdra: Where can our readers go to find your books and order them?
Steven: I have yet to be published by conventional means, but have posted numerous writings at http://ctrstories.com. I have used that as a backup storage area and had wished to have comments and critique, which unfortunately have been slow in coming (hint, hint). There are my novels and novellas, my short stories, some vignettes and poetry, humor, etcetera. I have several essays posted at http://deeperthings.webs.com. Those deal with government, politics, archeology, the Book of Mormon and its evidences, plus numerous other subjects, including evolutionary criticisms and scientific critiques of the 'big bang theory'. I also spend time at http://sodahead.com, posting thoughts and debates on politics, government, science vs. religion and more. Writing for these sites keeps my hand in, so to speak, when I need a diversion and other ideas come flooding in.
Deirdra: Any final words you would like to share?
Steven: Yes, I would like to point out that my stories are not so mechanical as the process of creating them sounded. Haha. They are engrossing and entertaining, even if I say so myself. I know that because they were inspired and I trust that inspiration. Please don't take that as bragging. I am humble enough to give credit to the Lord, from whom the stories come.
I would also like to thank you sincerely for the chance to interview, Deirdra. I am now no longer an 'interview virgin', thanks to you. It made me think about things I hadn't been asked or answered before. Exercising the brain cells is good. You are doing a great service here and those who are fortunate enough to be invited should be very grateful to you. I wish you well in all you do.