Monday with Chris Martin

Good morning, friends. One of my favorite things to discover is other authors who not only love to write, but use their talents to show others the depth of God’s love–especially in out-of-the-box ways. Chris Martin is an author, blogger and family man. Please read his story–follow his journey in using his gifts to bring God’s story to prisoners. There’s even an opportunity for you to help.

 

I remember the exact moment my passion for writing ignited.

The year was 1990. I was one of three seniors who attended a small, Christian school nestled deep within the mountains of Western North Carolina. A week of testing was coming to a close, and I had finished the particular subject earlier than everyone else. I pulled out a blank sheet of notebook paper and began to write what was on my heart.

It turned out to be a poem about the crucifixion. I still have the original piece of paper from that day. I recall reading those words over and over, amazed that I could rhyme so well. Thrilled that I could write something so poignant and real. It contained emotion, substance and hooked me right in, even though I had penned the words myself. I will never forget that day.

I can’t remember when, but at some point after that, I felt the urge to start writing fictional stories. While I absolutely enjoy writing fiction, it always leaves me feeling a little empty inside. I question whether or not my writing is truly having an impact on the lives of others, or if it’s just giving them a few hours of entertainment.

A couple years ago, everything changed. I was listening to music one day when the Casting Crowns song, Glorious Day, came on. I’ve listened to that song a million times. It’s one of my favorites. The second verse always speaks to me in such a way that pulls the strings of my heart taut, and my eyes well up with tears. It talks about Jesus being led up Calvary’s mountain and being nailed to the Cross. His hands, the very same ones that healed nations, were stretched out on a tree. And then, manifesting pure love, He took the nails for me.

I began to think about everything Jesus did for me that dark day, when He endured the most horrific beating and crucifixion ever recorded. These thoughts inspired me to write a stranger’s view of Calvary entitled, I Was There. It was the beginning of what would evolve into several stories written in a first-person perspective.

Recently, a friend of mine took two copies of I Was There into the prison where she works and gave them to some inmates. The response was humbling. They struggle to read the Bible and understand it. They were amazed at how my first-person perspectives gave them a brand new outlook on God’s love for us. They were encouraged. They were renewed with hope.

I finally found the purpose for my writing.ChrisMartin_Kindle-1

I decided to combine both of my first-person, Bible story collections into one entitled, I Am Free. I have two versions available. One is for Kindle at $1.99. The other is in paperback form, and I will be sending copies to inmates free of charge. I am starting to get in touch with chaplains at various prisons to see if I can ship I Am Free to them for distribution. A woman from England contacted me and said her husband speaks at prisons once a month. He will check with the chaplains over there and see if they will hand out copies.

I’m already amazed at what God has done in just a little over a week. If this takes off and becomes larger than I can even imagine, I hope to one day meet inmates who have read the book, hear their stories and eventually turn those into a book that will encourage others.

I set up a GoFundMe page in case anyone wants to donate funds to help me with shipping out copies of my book. Even if I don’t raise much money, I am still going to send these out to as many people and places as I can. There are so many incarcerated throughout the world. I believe they all have a common need. Encouragement and hope. If my words can help lift them up in even a small way, I will stop at nothing to get I Am Free into their hands.

Here are my social media links, email and link to my GoFundMe page.

Email – qualityupgrades@gmail.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692428536
Twitter – https://twitter.com/WriterChrisM
Blog – http://chrismartinwrites.com
Contact page on my blog – http://chrismartinwrites.com/contact/
GoFundMe page – https://www.gofundme.com/myp8m2pz

CMartinChris currently lives in the mountains of North Carolina with his wife, Jennifer, their two daughters, and a two year old Beagle named Rocky. He is passionate about the written word, and believes it has the power to encourage, uplift and spread hope.

The Power of Fiction

As an older teen I was a teacher’s aide for a semester, and spent the majority of my time at my desk reading for pleasure until a project presented itself. On one of these half-busy days the teacher picked up the book on my desk, read the description and squinted at me for an awkward moment. “There are lots of good magazines and books in my room you can read. They talk about Hinduism, Buddhism, open-minded ideas.”
My book talked about God.
When I walked through the halls of my college dormitory, girls of all kinds engaged in everything their parents told them not to: Drugs, alcohol…use your imagination. Even most of the Christians joined in, extinguishing this little light of theirs. The first taste of independence reigned, leaving not-quite-grownups at the mercy of their insecurities.

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If you didn’t anchor yourself to God, and I mean really held him tight, you became a party favor – a dancer at the base of Mt. Sinai.
Many of the teachers encouraged (not so) “open-minded” ideas. A large portion of them agreed with a camp counselor I had one summer that the Christian way of thinking was harmful and therefore should be eradicated. Nothing much has changed. This is how kids are met when entering college. Out of context Bible verses get thrown in their faces, and unless they know the real deal, the arguments against God become siren’s songs.

Have you walked through the book section in WalMart lately? Take a look and see what the youth are reading.

According the Steve Laube Agency, “There are 200,000 new books published in the United States each year from traditional publishers (self-publishing would more than double that). Of those, less than 10,000 would be Christian books from Christian publishers.”

How many faith-based books are written for late teens and early twenty something’s? Very few compared to the majority of books that hit the shelves. Most of them are permeated with vampires, zombies, and many hopeless messages, submerging our youth in many “open-minded” ideas. These books become best sellers and then get made into movies. They get printed into posters, stamped on itsy bitsy T-shirts and get worn by young mothers who name their children after vampires and other similar influences. Books are powerful.

The New Adult genre popped in the book world a few years ago when a handful of authors thought,” Why aren’t there books for 18-25 yr. olds?” Finally, our readers who are struggling with the shift from childhood to adulthood have relatable characters. The problem? These books are not much different from the YA books for older teens, except they are stuffed with more sex. Yep, that’s their answer for the New Adult generation.

When researching the popular books and movies for youth, my husband and I went to see one of these very-popular-books-turned-movie and I was so disappointed when one of the main characters (a Nephilum) announced the challenges they faced. They would fight, and keep fighting, but they could never win. There was no hope. This was the main theme of the movie.
Parents – reading, yes, even recreational reading, is a huge part of education/inspiration. It is powerful. By throwing your support to Christian writers/publishers, you nudge the faith based books onto the shelves, giving your child options that have what so many of the secular books don’t have: hope, truth.
Christian Writers—if you’re feeling the nudge to write for youth, and are keeping your sights on crossover books – don’t forget the Christian youth surrounded by dark—too dark, influences. They need your support. Meet them right where they drown in the world’s mud (And the Amish books aren’t going to do it for them).
I asked the sales clerk at the local Christian bookstore how many New Adult books she had in stock. After scratching her head and some keyboard pounding she found ONE on the way. ONE. Get writing.
Readers—thank you for your unfailing support. God is bringing his love and His eternal truth to you in the art of fiction. Look for it!

How do books influence you/ your family members? Tell us in the comments.