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Folks, it’s my privilege today to present an interview with author Chad Gibbs. He is the author of the bestselling God and Football: Faith and Fanaticism in the SEC, and the recently released Love Thy Rival: What Sports’ Greatest Rivalries Teach Us About Loving Our Enemies. (Head here if you would like a signed copy).

 

1) When did you first know that writing was something you wanted to pursue? And who supported you early on in pursuit of your calling?

I didn’t really start reading until after college. I mean I knew how to, just never did it for leisure. I think a love of reading really turned me on to writing, and my girlfriend at the time (now my wife) was and is my biggest supporter (figuratively, not literally).

2) You are the (regional) bestselling author of God & Football. What kind of pressure did you put on yourself to follow that book up with something as strong (and as funny)? (And what does a typical Chad Gibbs work day look like?)

No pressure really. I mean I’d love for each book to be better than the last, and each one to outsell the last, but that’s not going to happen. In the end I just want to write stuff that makes my wife laugh. Not sure if there is a typical work day. Some days I write all day, some days I drive all day to talk to a church or group, some days I watch a lot of soccer.

3) Your wife is a doctor? What’s it like having a live-in patron? Ok, just kidding! How supportive is your wife of your work? How does she help keep you grounded?

Tricia could not be more supportive. It’s obviously a blessing to be able to pursue writing full-time, and not something I could do without her. All aspiring writers should hang around medical schools to look for potential mates.

4) Your second (published–we know all writers have trunks, and in them are manuscripts mouldering far from the light of day) book, Love Thy Rival, came out recently. How did the idea for that book come about? Is there really more sports in it? 😉

More sports I’m afraid. With the first book I looked at how fans love their teams, and in this one I wanted to look at why sometimes they hate their rivals even more. To me it seemed a natural progression, although publishers didn’t think so, which is why I self-published it.

5) As a writer, who do you like to read? What kind of work nourishes your creative soul? Along those lines, would you agree, or disagree, with the following: Worship is whatever we attempt to derive life from? In your case, what is it about sports that so nourishes you?

Oh I read all sorts of stuff. Enjoy Nick Hornby, Bill Bryson, AJ Jacobs, Malcolm Gladwell. Older stuff I enjoy is Hemingway; read Great Gatsby every year, and To Kill a Mockingbird is a favorite. I love reading about travel, and I love funny writers. Sometimes reading this stuff ‘nourishes my creative soul’, and sometimes, if it’s too good, it makes me want to give up. I’m not sure if sports nourishes me, but I enjoy the drama of it. I think that’s why I write about fans, and not really the games.

6) As intimated above, your books are funny. What pushed you in that direction? What, in your view, makes for good satire?

It’s the only way I know how to write really. I just put down my thoughts and observations, which I guess are oftentimes humorous. I get that from my mother, who sees the funny side in every situation.

7) I’m not so much a sports fan (a huge failing, I know); as such, what would I (or readers like me) get out of your books? What is there that’s applicable?

I think the two books are entertaining, even if you’re not a sports fan. Spiritually, they take a look at idolatry, something we all struggle with from time to time.

8) You’re currently engaged in a campaign to build a women and children’s clinic in Haiti. How did that come about?

After writing God & Football I started getting emails from fans who shared my struggles. I remember thinking, “great, a community of like-minded Christian sports fans. I just wish we could do something.” So I spoke to Samaritan’s Purse when wrapping up the new book and we came up with a giving campaign that would pit rival fans against each other with the goal of raising 40K to build the clinic in Haiti. We’re over 1/4 of the way there, but still have a ways to go, so if any of your readers are feeling generous you can send ’em my way.

[Note: to learn more about the Samaritan’s Purse campaign, and how you can help, please visit Chad’s blog]

9) I’ve heard that you’re a rabid Star Wars fan? (I am, too). What do you like about Star Wars? Which one is the best (if you say Phantom Menace you’re never welcome back here again)?

Empire is the best film, and the best thing about Star Wars is Lando Calrissian.

10) What’s next for Chad Gibbs? I hear you’re working on a travel book for Zondervan–how’s that coming along? Any fiction in your future? Any questions you’re surprised you’re never asked that you would like to address? Speak now, or forever… Oh, never mind. 😉

Yes, a travel book with Z that looks at Christianity around the world. Been to Brazil, Spain, England, Russia, Uganda, and Italy so far. India, Japan, The Netherlands, China, Australia, Israel and Turkey to come. No fiction for now, unless you count the parts of God & Football I made up. Oops.

About Chad Gibbs:

Chad Gibbs, former baby, is the best-selling (okay, regional best-selling) author of God & Football: Faith and Fanaticism in the SEC and Love Thy Rival: What Sports’ Greatest Rivalries Teach us about Loving Our Enemies. He has written for The Washington Post, CNN.Com, RELEVANT, and has made multiple (okay, two) appearances on ESPN’s Outside the Lines. If you’d like to talk to Chad about his books, or about life, or about how to lose baby fat, he can be reached at emailchadgibbs@gmail.com or by raven.

Today’s post is an excerpt from my work-in-progress, tentatively title Monty & Me: From Fractured to Free, a Memoir. I am posting today as part of a larger synchroblog started by the wonderful Jim Woods. Jim issued a challenge at the beginning of the month to focus on writing that matters. What follows is my attempt to show that I’ve been doing just that. In doing so I’m uniting in solidarity with other writers from around the country, and indeed the world, who have similarly taken up Jim’s challenge.

——————

Suburban white boy tragedy is still tragedy all the same. Look beneath
the facade of the nicely painted house, the bushes trimmed just so,
and you’ll find suburbia’s dirty little secret: despite their best efforts, not
even the Joneses can keep up. They never could. There is a crumbling
marriage, two boys to corral, a mountain of bills, and a man who wants
out.

But nobody on the outside knows any of that; all they see is what they
want to see: a happy family.

How did people live next to John Wayne Gacy all those years and not
know the truth of him? Because he looked like such a nice man. And he
was a clown for goodness’ sake! A clown! Everyone knows that clowns
love children. But some clowns are scary, and like the whitewashed
tombs Jesus spoke of, beneath the facade of the happy clown were
dead men’s bones.

Unlike Gacy, there are wounds which do no seeming harm, but rather
seek to kill the soul. Just because I grew up in suburbia, doesn’t
mean–despite having a roof, clothes, food–that I grew up happy,
well-adjusted, whole.

Suburbia is full of whitewashed tombs: the people living in them
appearing alive, but dying inside. I know because I lived in one.

Let us look beneath to the fractured bones of my soul.

Because you see broken men beget broken boys–boys who grow to be broken
men, further begetting brokenness of their own.

This is the story of Monty and me–of how I went from fractured to free.

——————–
Continue Reading…

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As with his previous book, 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo, Allain has writting another winner. He knocks it clear outta the park! It’s smart, yet simple, clear, and actionable. Anybody wanting to build a tribe can follow these steps. Bryan shares the lessons he’s learned from:

Over 10 years of blogging,

Putting on his own conference,

Reaching out to people he admires.

This book is packed with such practical wisdom that it would be cheap at twice the price! It really is that good.

Don’t take my word for it–pick up a copy, and put the steps into practice. And watch your tribe grow!

Click here to get your copy on Amazon. Starting tomorrow, October 30th, the book is free (through November 3rd).

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What you can do to help:

1) Do Bryan, favor, and read Community Wins, or Bryan’s previous book, 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo.

2) Leave favorable reviews on Amazon.

3) Tweet out your love: “@bryanallain is at it again with #CommunityWins. Check out @randomlychad’s review at http://randomlychad.com”

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Facebook. Twitter. Shoutlife. LinkedIn. Dopplr. Google+. Plaxo. Blogger. WordPress. Shelfari. Goodreads. Writer’s loops. Conference loops. Endless loops.

By the time I finish updating my status, writing my blogs, tweeting, pasting my bulletins, my newest pictures, my URLs and YouTube links, recruiting friends, recommending friends, sharing reads, rating reads, ranking reads, ranking friends, tagging friends, responding to posts, responding to friends, responding to blogs, ranting, reblogging, re-bulleting, re-accepting (plants, gifts, pinches, bits o’ karma, flowers, flare, tickles, candy, drinks, siege warfare by angry goats and lil green patches–what the heck is a lil green patch anyway??) it’s time to repost my status–and respond to those responding to my status who are reading their walls, shuffling friends, organizing bookshelves, recommending contacts and waging mob wars.

By then, the day is over. I have missed my hair appointment, my deadline and a conference call, needed to go to the bathroom three hours ago, blown off dinner, ticked off my friends (who live in town and did not check my wall to see why I never showed up), neglected my Significant Other, alienated my family, and defaulted on my mortgage.

I’m already grossly behind on an article and some reading, on projects for friends and the synopsis I owe my agent… and yet I cannot tear myself from Facebook because I might miss something important–say, another lil green patch–and then I will have gone from being behind with writing, reading and work, to being behind with the relational fiber of my life that is supposed to make the reading, the writing, the work all meaningful.

***
Bouncing back and forth between the social, networking and professional sites I signed up for to catch up with friends, connect with readers and promote my work, it’s plausible that I might never have time to write another book–or if I do, it’ll be 360 pages of 140-character one-liners.

I don’t know half the people in my extended network, but they came highly recommended. And even though I may not actually know Marlene in Dekalb, I’m fascinated by how white her teeth are in her picture and the fact that her relationship status just changed from “In a relationship” to “Single.” I’m wondering if they broke up or she forgot to change it before her last boyfriend. And if I know any friends of friends willing to dish.

I’m fascinated by hub friends, who seem to know and be on everyone’s page, horrified at how many colleagues know schoolmates who have seen me do stupid things, appalled friends’ exes who never had the decency to settle down more than one degree away.

It gets a bit uncomfortable–I worry if raucous friends will offend the straight-laced among my network (or vice versa). I wonder whether I’ll say something dumb that will haunt me forever–or at least until it scrolls off the new bulletin list, pushed down by the newest rants, requests, ramblings or reciprocal idiocy of others.

The only way to know, of course, is to stay pasted to the screen. I find that trolling for feedback is an especially convenient time to spy on high school friends and frenemies, the real lives of people I only see in suits, my exes, my readers (it seems only fair), my colleagues, my neighbors. And I am at peace with my virtual social life, holed up like a voyeuristic hermit, my picture neatly made up in the window as I sit stinky and unkempt at home in my sweats.

One of these days, God willing, I’ll start a new project. Crickets will chirp from the void that was my blog. The status line of my Facebook page will stare blankly at no one. Invites will turn kudzu on my homepage, and my Shelfari shelves will grow dust. Concerned friends will send notes like morose pings into the ether as I wrestle with metaphors and confront the empty page, wishing I could trade my Roget’s for the tiniest lil green patch or bit o’ karma.

***

Tosca just sent you a lil green patch.

[Accept] [Decline] [Ignore] [Wage Mob War Instead]

#caffiene

———–

This post originally appeared on the blog of Tosca’s agent, Steve Laube, back in January of this year. Because I felt it has something to say to those of us engaging in Jim Woods’s #WritersUnite campaign, I asked Ms. Lee if I could repost it here; she graciously agreed.

Tosca Lee is the author of Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the forthcoming Iscariot. She is also the co-author with Ted Dekker of the NYTimes bestsellers Forbidden, and Mortal. A sought-after speaker and former Mrs. Nebraska, Tosca was a senior consultant for a global consulting firm until turning to writing full-time, making her–for those of us familiar with the work of Jon Acuff–something of a poster child for the Quitter movement. She is someone who left her day job for her dream job. As she would likely tell you, that dream–like a certain branch of the military–is the toughest job you’ll ever love. She holds a degrees in English and International Relations from Smith College and also studied at Oxford University. You can find her on her website at: ToscaLee.com, on Facebook at Tosca Lee, and you can follow her on Twitter @ToscaLee.

UNDEAD Trailer from Clay Morgan on Vimeo.

1) When did you know that you were interested in writing, and was there anyone that stands out in your memory who encouraged you to pursue it?

I was a late bloomer, always a decent writer but never passionate about it until college which is probably when I first realized how therapeutic writing was for me. My great teacher Ron Forsythe changed everything though during the college years. He was brilliant and taught me technique with a lot of passion mixed in.

2) You recently published your first book, Undead: Revived, Resuscitate, Reborn. What was the genesis of the idea behind the book?

I wasn’t even thinking about writing a book. Then one night I was debating whether or not I should read Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith or another book about Jesus by Max Lucado. Then it occurred to me that dead people did come back to life in the Bible. I was surprised to learn that there were six such individuals. I was off and running from there.

3) Who would you count as your creative influences? Who do you like to read?

I wish I could say that I read C.S. Lewis as a young man and then moved onto some of the classics. Instead I started with Garfield and moved onto Dave Barry. I listen to a LOT of audio books. I’m a fan of memoirs, biographies, and more. Stephen King’s often been in front of me and recently I’ve enjoyed Matt Mikalatos, especially Imaginary Jesus.

3) You’re a teacher at several colleges in the Pittsburgh area, maintain a successful blog, and now have a book out–how do you balance it all? How did you maintain the pace? How did the daily obligations impact your “creative time?” Is sleep overrated?

Man, as I answer this I don’t feel like I’m handling it well! I left my old blog to shrivel while finishing the book. The pace wasn’t sustainable but it didn’t have to be. I made it to the finish line then rebooted this summer. Although now that I’m in the post-release reality I’m wondering why I didn’t write a second book in recent months.

I need sleep though, that’s for sure. I’m the worst at mornings ever. I’ve never been a writer who has my best creativity early in the day. That’s my stupid time. I’m lucky if I can handle emailing and driving, although not at the same time. My brain ignites at night, and much of my best stuff comes after normal people go to bed.

4) In reading your blog, I see that you’re very into pop culture and history. What, in your mind, is the intersection of the two? What is it about pop culture that you love? Who are some of your favorite historical influences? Pop culture influences?

The culture of one era becomes historical record. Shakespeare was Hollywood a few centuries ago. Now he’s studied by academics. Current pop culture is a window to who we are in part and will, believe it or not, become part of our historical record. God help us when archaeologists sift through our ashes and make determinations about us based on Jersey Shore. But they will.

I’m a product of Gen X and always loved TV shows, movies, and video games over books while growing up. I can’t do a math problem to save my life but I can quote fictional characters of the screen from the past three decades. Go figure. When I need to give or take advice, movie plots and song lyrics resonate with me. I’m just wired that way.

As for historical influences, I like guys like Alexander Hamilton and Abe Lincoln. Too many to count really. And I love the world that the Bible was set in. Too many churches miss the rich settings and characters in exchange for dull discussions on theological systems and word studies.

5) In Undead, you reference the current pop culture craze with zombies and tie it into the search for a meaningful life. What is it about such stories that speak to the deeper places in us?

Whether we admit it or not we are preoccupied with death, at least inasmuch as that’s the doorway to eternity. Solomon said that eternity has been set in our hearts by God. We’re obsessed with what happens beyond the grave. Humans have always been that way. So when we see the living dead we can actually relate to them in a strange way. Sure their flesh is decaying and they want to eat brains all the time, but they do that while still wearing Dockers and curlers. It reminds us how close we are to the other side you know? And since we’re compelled by beings that can’t be stopped by death, what then do we make of Jesus of Nazareth and the claims made by his followers?

6) You are a Christian. What can Christians specifically learn from scary stories? Would you generally agree with the following statement: most horror stories are morality tales, crucibles that expose to us what’s in our hearts, i.e. “what if” scenarios that ask us, through identifying the characters, what we would do in similar situations? A sort of “What Would You Do?” with not John Quinones, but Stephen King?

Christian Director Scott Derrickson (The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister) opened my eyes in this regard when he said that the horror genre is perfect for Christianity. With such an emphasis on the supernatural why don’t we appreciate that realm in pop culture? Sure, horror movies might have gratuitous sex or violence but they don’t always have to. And as Derrickson pointed out, Christians admire someone like C. S. Lewis who wrote The Screwtape Letters which is a conversation between demons!

Think of all the people who grew up without any church affiliation or religious encounters. Where have they been exposed to ideas of the supernatural? In cinemas and on TV and through novels is where. We can complain about how evil all that stuff is or we can get in there to offer some thoughtful perspectives. I’ve had a number of meaningful conversations about God with people because of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Many of those folks I chat with aren’t interested in American churches, so culture creates opportunities to connect with people where they are.

7) Are there any questions you’re surprised that you think folks would ask, but don’t?

I never know what interviewers will bring up first. I’ve gone into most of those with no expectations on what might be the favored topic, so I haven’t been too surprised yet. Although I am still waiting for someone to ask me how they should go about supplying their nationwide network of college students with copies of Undead. Kidding. Sort of.

8) What’s in store for Clay Morgan in the future? Will you turn your hand to fiction? Are you working on another book now? If so, can you share anything about it?

Interesting you ask that. I’ve got two projects underway, one only in development. And yup, one of them is fiction which is more terrifying than a zombie squirrel. We’ll see if I can pull it off. But no, unfortunately it’s all top secret at this point.