Genesis 5020

Stories for His Glory

Write to the Point with Henry McLaughlin August 22, 2012

This week we get write to the point with Henry McLaughlin.

Tell us about yourself, family, where are you from, how long have you been writing?

I was born in Rhode Island. In November, my beautiful wife, Linda, and I will celebrate our 44th wedding anniversary. We have five children, three sons and two daughters. Our oldest son is in heaven. The other children are spread out among New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Missouri. We have one grandson and several grand cats.

After working in public child welfare in Rhode Island for nearly thirty years, I retired in 1999. My wife and I moved to Texas to be part of Kenneth Copeland Ministries. I worked for the ministry in several areas, primarily human resources and the road crew.

In 2002, I became serious about writing when, after serious and complicated heart surgery, the Lord put it on my heart to write. Putting years of dabbling aside, I completed four years of courses through the Christian Writers Guild: Apprentice, Journeyman, and Craftsman, including a residency.

To improve my knowledge and skills, I attend writers’ conferences, workshops and retreats, and participate in online and local critique groups. I also belong to the Christian Writers Guild, American Christian Fiction Writers, and North Texas Christian Writers.

My bachelor’s degree in American History helped develop my research skills and an appreciation of the physical and spiritual greatness of this country. The post Civil War era and the settling of the American West have long been areas of interest to me.

Through my master’s degree in social work and years working in public child welfare, I learned insights into human behavior: what motivates people, how people cope in a crisis, and how lost they are without Christ.

My first novel, Journey to Riverbend, won the 2009 Operation First Novel award sponsored by the Christian Writers Guild and was published by Tyndale House in January, 2011.

In September 2010, the Lord opened the way for me to move into full time writing. Now, I have four other novels completed and waiting for publication.

The Father has opened the door for me to mentor other writers one-on-one, to give to them the insights, knowledge and encouragement others have poured into me.

In addition, I teach writing at conferences and workshops and as well as a creative writing course at my church.

I am honored at this time to serve as President of Fort Worth Chapter of Word Weavers. This local writers group is part of the Christian Writers Guild and provides a forum for teaching, critiquing, and encouraging fellow writers.

In January, 2012, I began serving as a writers coach for North Texas Christian Writers. I oversee and provide direction, encouragement, and guidance to four writers groups.

How did you come to know Jesus as your Savior?

In 1974, my wife and I made a Marriage Encounter Weekend. During that weekend, we not only recommitted to our marriage, we had our first spiritual encounter with Jesus. He became Lord and Savior, not only over us as individuals, but over our marriage and our family, as well. That weekend launched us on a journey of knowing Him more and more and of serving Him through loving each other and becoming more active in our church life as well.

Tell us about your latest book. What do want your readers to take away after the last page?

Journey to Riverbend is a novel of historical suspense and romance. Set in the American West in 1878, it is a story of the prodigal with a twist: the prodigal son dies in the first chapter. Michael Archer promises to find the young man’s estranged father to attempt the reconciliation the son greatly desires. Complicating the matter is the father is not at all like the prodigal’s father in the Bible.

Michael meets Rachel Stone, a former prostitute who is a new Christian seeking to establish herself as a dressmaker. Their relationship is strained by Rachel’s desire for independence and Michael’s feelings of not being worthy.

Keeping his promise becomes even more difficult when the father is kidnapped by an old business rival. Michael decides to join the posse to search for the father and embarks on journey that leads to danger and death. At the climax, Michael must confront his darkest secret—he killed his own father—as he faces the challenge of having to kill again to save the kidnapped father.

Michael’s journey challenges him to face his darkest moments and to recognize the good in him and forgive himself. Rachel’s journey dares her to risk being loved. The father’s journey brings him face-to-face with his past and the hurt he caused numerous people and has him wondering if he’ll have time to right the wrongs.

The themes, the takeaways, of Journey to Riverbend are restoration, reconciliation, and forgiveness.

I have your book downloaded on my kindle. I can’t wait to read it!

How often do you blog and what do you cover in your blog?

I blog on a weekly basis, on some aspect of writing and also on the spiritual journey I am taking with the Father.

Can you share with us a favorite book you have read?

Just one? There are so many. From the craft side, a book I recommend to every aspiring writer is Orson Scott Card’s How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy because it teaches how to build characters and construct a story world that applies to every genre, not just sci-fi or fantasy. If we’re writing fiction, whether it’s historical, contemporary, or other worldly, we build a story world for our characters.

From the fiction side, I just finished Fifth Man by Randy Ingermanson and John B. Olson. Not only is it an exciting, edge-of-the-seat story, it is also a great example of how to have tension on every page.

Can you share with us a Genesis 5020 in your life?

There have been two incidents in my life.

The first was the death of our eldest in a motorcycle accident in over the Christmas season of 1993. The Father showed His mercy and grace by opening the doors to get us to our son’s side in England when we didn’t have passports or the money for airfare. It took Him less than seven hours to get us on a plane. After our son’s death, the Father again gave my wife and me the strength and grace to support our other children through the grief. He gave us friends who went to our house at 6:30 in the morning so our children wouldn’t be alone when we called with the news. Those friends took care of our children until we could return from England several days later. Those friends were, and are, a shining example of the Love of Christ in action. Instead of the enemy hurting us, we walked in the cocoon of the Father’s love.

The second was my heart surgery in 2002. In essence, I was near death several times but a praying wife and friends and church showed the power of God. The ICU nurses referred to me as their miracle patient when I was moved to a regular room.

Praise God. I am so grateful you saw the Father’s love in your life during those times.

Do you have a life and/or a ministry verse?

When we moved to Texas to serve in Kenneth Copeland Ministries, we left family and friends behind. My life foundation scripture is Luke 18:29 (NLT). “And I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”

My writing foundation scripture is Habakkuk 2:2, 3 (NLT). “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a messenger can carry the correct message to others.…If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.”

I am sure I have read the verse in Habakkuk but never applied it to my writing. What a great verse of encouragement.

Where can we find you on the web?

Is there anything I didn’t ask that you would like to add?

To all the aspiring writers who read this, if the Father has called you to write but it seems so far away or too hard, don’t give up. Keep writing. Learn all you can about writing. Learn all you can about obedience to His call, and about patience, and the craft and art of writing. Be obedient and diligent and trust Him.

It took nine years and eight complete re-writes for Journey to Riverbend to be published. And if the Father will do it for me, He’ll do it for you.

Melissa, thank you for the opportunity to do this interview.

May the Father abundantly bless you as you continue your Journey in Him.

Thank you so much Henry, it has been an honor to have you on my blog.

Readers, leave a comment for Henry by August 28 at 5:00 PM to be entered to win a paperback copy of his book.