Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Son of a Soldier Review @ By the Book


Son of a Soldier book review by By the Book ... 

 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Son of a Soldier Review @ Deco My Heart


Son of a Soldier Book Review by Deco My Heart...



Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Son of a Soldier Review @ S.A.G.A.


Son of a Soldier
Book Review by S.A.G.A. ...


Monday, July 23, 2012

Son of a Soldier Review @ A Year of Jubilee Reviews


Son of a Soldier Book Review by A Year of Jubilee Reviews...


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Son of a Soldier @ Mary's Cup of Tea


Son of a Soldier is featured on the wildly popular Mary's Cup of Tea today! Enter to WIN an autographed copy!



Monday, July 16, 2012

Aiken Brown Interview @ Literarily Speaking

Check out my guest post on Literarily Speaking today! I talk about the inspiration behind my latest novel, Son of a Soldier. Also, please check out my interview with Literarily Speaking below:



Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Aiken!  Can you tell us where you are from?


I grew up in Alabama. I was born and raised in the South...Southern traditions and experiences are what I know, and, though I love traveling, I enjoy writing about a section of the United States that I absolutely adore! It's home...no matter where I am or where I go, this landscape, this way of life is a part of me. My writing is just an extension of me, so, when I write, the southern girl in me comes out. My books are classified as Southern, Christian Fiction. It was the natural fit for me. I’m a proud, Southern girl; I feel led to share my faith through my work, and I have always been inspired by stories about characters who have overcome real-life issues. So, for me, to be able to combine all of those things in Southern, Christian Fiction is just perfect!

Q: How did you come up with the title?


The title Son of a Soldier was inspired by the title of a song that’s lyrics always grab me. The lyrics, “the only one who could ever reach me was the son of a preacher man…the only boy who could ever teach me was the son of a preacher man” are favorites of mine.


Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover.  Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it? 


I designed the cover of Son of a Soldier! I had a distinct vision of an Army green cover with the protagonist, Grant, depicted as a child, standing in his father’s boots, which, of course, represents the coming-of-age story in the novel.

Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?


I can really only say that I feel like this book has a little of something for everyone, and that anyone who reads it will be blessed by the characters you get to know within the story. My books all focus on real life issues and the role that faith plays in everyday life, so I feel like everyone, no matter your age, gender, occupation or current circumstance, can relate.

Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?


Son of a Soldier is the powerful story of how God used one unlikely, country girl to change the course of history. It seemed impossible to believe that an eighteen-year-old girl from the middle-of-nowhere, Tennessee would have any real significance in the history of our nation…that is until God chose her to make a Godly man out of a flawed, military hero’s stubborn son. 

Hailey was a small town, farm girl who had never left her home state of Tennessee. She was a naïve tomboy who possessed an unassuming charm, the power of which she could not comprehend.

Grant was a rebellious Army brat who had seen the world. Glib, sarcastic and self-destructive, he was a loner lost in a world he had never felt he fit into.

They seemingly had little in common, but when two hearts collided, two worlds became one; while Hailey embarks on a beautiful journey of self-discovery in this unique coming-of-age story, Grant travels a winding, dirt road that helps him rediscover a lost innocence and discover a renewed purpose.

Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?


It would be impossible for me to pick a favorite chapter because they are all so crucial to developing the characters and telling their stories, but, of course, there are those great moments in storytelling that, as a writer, you can really sink your teeth into and have fun with. In Son of a Soldier, I really enjoyed the whole Grant and Hailey dynamic as well as Grant’s relationship with his father and with his siblings. Grant Cohen has such a special place in my heart because, as an author, the character has provided me endless inspiration to do what I do; he made the whole book an honor to write.

Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?


I consider it not only a desire but a responsibility to honor God in my work. We are taught that God blessed each of us with various spiritual gifts. I discovered my passion and aptitude for writing very early on in my life, and I have no doubts that God gave me this gift with a responsibility to use it for His glory. My goals in everything I do are just to be open and willing to be used however God sees fit. If we are not open to what God wants to do with our lives, we will miss blessings beyond anything we could have imagined for ourselves. When I write, I pray for God to give me the words He wants me to say. I want to be a gateway through which God blesses others. I want to plant that seed in the minds and hearts of readers. My books are about life and love, and I can't imagine either without Christ as the center.

Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?


I was a dreamer as a child; I am a dreamer as an adult, and I hope that fire in me never burns out. I always had an active imagination; when I was in the fourth grade, we had creative writing each week, and my teacher would choose the best stories to be read in front of the class. That was it … I had discovered my greatest passion! When I was in the fifth grade, my class visited the school book fair, and I used the money that my mom had sent with me to purchase a book that would change my life. It sits on my bookshelf to this day; I could not put the book down … it excited the writer in me! I knew, without a doubt, that all the stories written on notebook paper in my drawer back home were not just a favorite hobby, but my future career.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Son of a Soldier Book Spotlight, Aiken Brown Author Feature & Giveaway @ Peeking Between the Pages


Son of a Soldier is spotlighted on Peeking Between the Pages today! Visit their site to learn more about Son of a Soldier by Aiken Brown and get entered to WIN a signed copy of Son of a Soldier!


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Son of a Soldier Giveaway @ Night Owl Reviews


What Inspired Son of a Soldier? Read the Guest Post by Aiken Brown on Night Owl Reviews! Also Enter for Your Chance to WIN a free, signed copy of Son of a Soldier!



Thursday, July 5, 2012

Character Interview @ Beyond the Books

Beyond the Books Character Interview features Son of a Soldier protagonist Hailey Nelson today!  Hear what Hailey Nelson has to say about Aiken Brown's Son of a Soldier!


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Aiken Brown Interview @ Review From Here

Read my interview with Review From Here!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Aiken Brown Interview @ Examiner

Read my latest interview with Examiner!


Aiken Brown Featured in the Mobile Press-Register


Aiken Brown Interview @ Blogcritics

Visit Blogcritics to read my latest interview and learn more about Son of a Soldier



Monday, June 11, 2012

July 2012 Virtual Book Tour


Son of a Soldier Virtual Book Tour Schedule

Monday, July 2
Interview at Examiner

Tuesday, July 3
Interview at Review From Here

Thursday, July 5
Character Interview at Beyond the Books

Friday, July 6
Interview at Blogcritics

Tuesday, July 10
Guest Blogging & Giveaway at Night Owl Reviews

Friday, July 13
Book Feature & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Monday, July 16
Interview at Literarily Speaking

Wednesday, July 18
Book Feature & Giveaway at Mary’s Cup of Tea

Monday, July 23

Wednesday, July 25
Book Review at S.A.G.A.

Thursday, July 26
Book Review at Deco My Heart

Friday, July 27
Book Review at By the Book

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Book Tour 2012

Son of a Soldier Book Tour Dates 

I hope to see everyone @ a stop on my 2012 Book Tour, so mark your calendars now! We will be adding more dates/cities soon! Bring friends! Even if you prefer the KINDLE/NOOK versions, come on out and join the party!



Saturday, February 25th
Barnes & Noble
Eastern Shore Centre
30500 State Hwy. 181, Suite 414
Spanish Fort, AL 36527

(251) 621-3545
Time: 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.




Saturday, March 17th
Azalea Festival
Mary G. Montgomery High School
4275 Snow Rd. North
Semmes, AL 36575
9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
  



Friday, April 13th 
Mobile Expo 2012
Dauphin Way Baptist Church
3661 Dauphin St.
Mobile, AL 36608
9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Son of a Soldier is IN STORES!

Son of a Soldier is officially available for pre-order! Book tour dates for Son of a Soldier will be available on this website next week! For Such a Time as This is now available in Kindle format, so you Kindle lovers be sure to get it!





Thursday, October 20, 2011

Son of a Soldier 2012 Release Date

I am proud to announce that my third novel has a release date:

Son of a Soldier by Aiken Brown
Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

*Kindle & Nook versions will be available


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Event Bookings

Are you an individual interested in booking a Christian Author for your gathering, a bookseller organizing an in-store event, a media outlet looking to do a feature on Christian Fiction, or a charitable organization with a fundraiser in mind? Learn more about booking Aiken Brown (author of In a Brother's Eyes: the Brant McLachlan Story and For Such a Time as This) by visiting the following page of this website:

BOOK ME!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Faith and Fiction with Aiken Brown

Aiken Brown talks faith, fiction and goals for the future...

Q: We have heard you refer to your novels as being Southern, Christian Fiction. Can you expound on that a bit for us?

Aiken: Sure! I was born and raised in the South...Southern traditions and experiences are what I know, and, though I love traveling, I enjoy writing about a section of this country that I absolutely adore! It's home...no matter where I am or where I go, this landscape, this way of life, it is a part of me. My writing is just an extension of me, so, when I write, the southern girl in me just comes out. I enjoy reading books written by authors from all over the world, but, for me when I write, my inspiration is the South, so that's what I stick to! The same thing goes for the Christian aspect present in my work. If a book doesn't have a moral or a lesson to be learned, I just don't see the point. And, from my perspective, the lessons I am convicted to share with others have been learned through my deep, personal relationship with my Lord and Savior. So, it's just a good way to classify my work...it is always about the South...it will always, even when not pointedly so, be driven by the responsibility I have to share my faith with others.

Q: Is it important to you that faith plays a prominent role in your novels? Why?

Aiken: Absolutely, I would go even further than that; it's not just important to me, it's a must! I consider it not only a desire but a responsibility. We are taught that God blessed each of us with various spiritual gifts. I discovered my passion and aptitude for writing very early on in my life, and I have no doubts that God gave me this gift with a responsibility to use it for His glory. He has given us all individual gifts; we are not identical; we don't have the same personalities, abilities or interests, but we all have a gift! I feel blessed to have found mine, so I am determined to use it! When I write, I don't even necessarily try to create a story about faith. You know? I don't sit down and try to map out a book that is particularly Christian...it just happens; it is just there....it is the driving force in my life, and I honestly couldn't imagine it not being a part of my novels. My books are about life and love, and I can't imagine either without Christ as the center.

Q: What are your goals for your novels / your career?

Aiken: My goals are simply to be used as God will have me to be. My goals in life and work and everything I do are just to be open and willing to be used however God sees fit. Trust me, I like to make my own plans as much as the next person, but, if we are not open to what God wants to do with our lives as opposed to what we think we want to do with our lives, we will miss blessings beyond anything we could have imagined for ourselves. So, I guess that sums it up! I want to be a gateway through which God blesses others. I want to plant that seed in the minds and hearts of readers and people I come in contact with through my work, and just let God do His thing!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Frequently Asked Questions

I have compiled a list of questions taken from old interviews and reader e-mails and created a FAQ post! Don't see the answers you are looking for? To ask me any additional questions, shoot me an e-mail at aikenb45@yahoo.com or join my new Facebook Fan page HERE! I love hearing from my readers!

Q: When can we Expect the Release of your Third Novel?

A: By far, the most frequently asked question concerns the release date of my new book! I am very excited about the release of my third novel this year...2011 is going to be a special year for me! Unfortunately, there is not too much that I can reveal about a specific release date right now! I appreciate your patience; I thrive on your interest, and I look forward to announcing the release date information, along with dates for the book tour, very soon! I have always had faith that God is going to use this new book in mighty ways for His glory! I know that many of you have been anticipating the new release for quite a while, but I truly feel like this one is worth the wait! Your support means the world to me, and I can't wait to get this book in your hands SOON!

Q: What Genre do your Books Fall Under?
A: My books are classified as Southern, Christian Fiction. It was such a natural fit for me. I am a proud, Southern girl; I feel led to share my faith, and I have always been inspired by stories about characters who have overcome real-life issues. So, for me, Southern, Christian Fiction seemed like the perfect union!

Read my blog about Young Adult Fiction!

Read my blog about Reaching Teen Readers!

Read my blog about Christian Fiction!

Q: Are you Currently Accepting Speaking Engagements?
A: Yes! For any inquiries about speaking engagements, please e-mail me (aikenb45@yahoo.com) and be sure to include your name, the event, date, time, any topics of interest and any contact information you would like me to have. Each inquiry will be reviewed on an individual basis, but, if I feel that God is leading me to participate, I will most certainly be there! I love speaking to different groups and always get such a blessing out of it!

Q: Do you Like Doing Book Signings?
A: I love doing book signings because I enjoy the opportunity to speak face-to-face with the people who are reading my work. I find it incredibly interesting to hear what people have to say…which characters they related to most and why. Every book signing that I have done has been a very positive experience, thanks to all of the wonderful people who have come out to support me. I will never be able to thank all of you enough for your continued support.

Feedback from my fans is always appreciated! Click on the links below to see what fans had to say about In a Brother's Eyes: the Brant McLachlan Story and For Such a Time as This.

Q: Is Aiken Brown your Real Name or a Pen Name?
A: I love this question! It has tickled me that, over the years, I have been asked this question rather frequently. Aiken Brown is indeed my birth name; it's not a pseudonym as many people seem to believe. It's unique, and often mispronounced, yet I wear my Nana's maiden name proudly! As for those of you who have suggested that it just sounds like an author's name...thank you very much...I guess it was meant to be!

Q: When did you Know you Wanted to Become an Author?
A: I always had an active imagination. For as long as I can remember, I made up stories in my head for my own entertainment. When I was in the fourth grade, we had creative writing each week. My teacher chose the best stories to be read in front of the class. I remember that some of my classmates were shy about reading their work aloud. I, however, had discovered my greatest passion. When I was in the fifth grade, my class visited the school book fair, and I used the money that my mom had sent with me to purchase a book that would change my life. It sits on my bookshelf to this day. As a fifth grade student, I could not put the book down; it excited the writer in me. I knew, without a doubt, that all the stories written on notebook paper back home in my drawer were not just a favorite hobby…but, my future career. From short stories, written as a kid, I evolved to writing novels because short stories, in my estimation, never provide the detail that I am looking for as a reader. I want people to know the characters that I write about as well as I do, so character development is something that I always pay particular attention to.

Q:Who is Your Favorite Character from your First Two Novels?
A: Oh, that is like asking a mother to choose a favorite child! I love each of them for their individuality. Like a good parent, I’m not blinded to their faults, but I root them on in hopes that they will overcome whatever stands in their way and, in doing so, become all that they can be. People naturally assume that, as the author, I have total control over the fate of my characters, but I will attest to the fact that they very much take on a life of their own and guide me in the way that they must go.

Q:What is your Favorite Novel by Another Author?
A: Here is a list I compiled in 2009! Of course, I am always adding new favorites to the running list in my head! Pat Conroy, Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult are some of my all-time favorites, however!

Q: What is your Inspiration for Writing?
A: Writing is my great passion. My characters inspire me. They take on a life of their own and tell me their own stories. Every book is inspired by something different, of course, but, what keeps me writing is my belief that God has given each of His children spiritual gifts that we are required to use for His glory! God has given me the gift of the written word, and it is my duty, and also my pleasure, to use that gift that He has given me. God has given everyone different gifts that all work together for His glory. I believe that discovering your spiritual gifts and being prepared and willing to use them is expected of those who seek a closer relationship with God.

Q:Do you Only Write Fiction, or do you also Write Nonfiction?

A: While I love reading nonfiction, and do so quite often, my one venture into the world of nonfiction was enough to remind me why I am addicted to the creative process involved in writing a novel. There is far too much fact checking involved in nonfiction, and, in my opinion, the players too frequently screw up their lines! Hehe! I was intrigued, though not entirely surprised, to hear the incomparable John Grisham express the same exact sentiments after publishing his nonfiction Bestseller The Innocent Man (highly recommended). Yet, what I also recall is that Grisham claimed he had never been so proud of a book as he was of his nonfiction work, because, while writing novels comes to him naturally, completing and accurately portraying a true story of justice gone horribly awry was a whole new challenge. I can appreciate that sense of accomplishment that he felt upon the book's completion, and, for that reason, I would never completely rule out nonfiction in the future. If the right opportunity arose, I might be up for the challenge, but my love is creating a story from scratch, watching it develop and seeing what it turns into.

Q: Do all your Novels have to do with Sports?
A: I grew up playing sports. I come from a very sports-oriented family. We are dedicated Alabama Football fans! I love all different kinds of sports! My books are about the South, and sports are such a huge part of the landscape here. The actual sport itself is never the overriding theme of the book, however; the focus on athletics deals more with the role it played in shaping the life and character of the protagonist.

Q: Is there a sequel to In a Brother's Eyes: the Brant McLachlan Story?
A: I have been asked this a lot. I wouldn’t call it a sequel, but there is definitely a future book that catches up with members of the McLachlan clan. It's already been completed, and I can't wait for y'all to read it!

Q: Where Can I Find the Blogs Submitted During your Guest Blogger Series?

A: The Guest Blogger submissions were all posted on the website! For those of you who may have missed them, they can be found here:
Q: What advice would you give a teenager who wants to make a difference and do something for the Lord but does not know where to start?
A: I would first point you to 1 Timothy 4:12-14. "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. " Secondly, I would urge you not to misunderstand the scripture; public speaking or preaching may not be your strong suit! Please remember that these are instructions to young Timothy based on his spiritual gifts! However, lastly, and most importantly, I assure you that we have ALL been given spiritual gifts, and we are all, like Timothy, expected to use them...whatever they may be! Discover them...use them! I could go on trying to eloquently explain the process and necessity of discovering your spiritual gifts. However, I will do you one better and point you to the most beautifully written explanation of this process that I have found to date. Pick up a copy of and study Day 32 of The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. (I STRONGLY recommend reading the entire book, and when you are done, starting back at the beginning and reading it all again. YES, it is that awesome!)

Q: What is your Charity of Choice?
A: First off, I would like to say that I am grateful to have the opportunity to answer this question. Many of you may know that this is actually a subject that I am incredibly passionate about. My charity of choice is the Victory Junction Gang Camp founded in honor of Adam Petty. This awesome (in every true sense of the word) camp for critically and chronically ill children is a labor of love built to fulfill the dream of an amazing nineteen-year-old young man who loved his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and is now in Heaven watching his dream of serving those in need become a reality for countless children and their families. This is a subject that I could easily go on about because it is so dear to my heart; I will end by saying that it is a dream of mine to one day be in the position to do a national book tour with the entirety of the proceeds going to Victory Junction.

One of my dreams came true in December 2010, when I completed the Run to Victory!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Facebook Fan Page

The Facebook Fan Page is now live! Please "LIKE" the fan page to keep up with the latest updates on past, current and upcoming novels by Aiken Brown via Facebook!

CLICK HERE

Share the link with your friends and help spread the word about Southern Christian Fiction written by author Aiken Brown! By adding the Facebook fan page, not only can you find out the latest happenings with In a Brother's Eyes: the Brant McLachlan Story and For Such a Time as This, but you can also join other fans in discussing Aiken's novels, learn more about the next release date and post comments to the author!

2010 Favorite Character Poll

Who did you vote as your favorite character of 2010? With over 2,100 votes submitted, the winner of the 2010 Favorite Character Poll is ... BRANT MCLACHLAN from In a Brother's Eyes: the Brant McLachlan Story!

Thank you to everyone who voted! I look forward to introducing you to several new and interesting characters in 2011!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Run to Victory

On December 12, 2010, one of my dreams is coming true! I will be traveling to North Carolina to participate in the RUN TO VICTORY. As all my readers know, the charity closest to my heart is VICTORY JUNCTION, a special camp for kids with special healthcare needs. I will be running to raise money for the camp and helping to KEEP ADAM'S DREAM ALIVE! Your support and prayers are appreciated! This is such an exciting way to end 2010 and begin a 2011 that promises to see a few more of my dreams coming true!

To learn more about Victory Junction and what it means to me, click here!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Young Adult Fiction

Defining Young Adult Fiction seems fairly simple, although, the simplicity of the label is what some writers (and potential readers) find troubling! Novels that fall into the genre that has come to be known as Young Adult Fiction generally possess several common characteristics. So is Young Adult Fiction defined by the subject matter discussed, the age of the protagonist or, as many suggest, the need to have all loose ends tied up and presented in a nice, neat, complete package while conveying a positive, happy message?

Freelance columnist Francine Morrissette
defines Young Adult Fiction this way: "Don't let its name fool you: Young Adult Fiction is not watered down adult fiction. It's also not children's fiction with older characters. It is literature that doesn't waste a breath. Young Adult Fiction moves at a clip that keeps pace with busy teens who are pressed for reading time, whose attention spans are brief, who are accustomed to and crave instant gratification. Young Adult literature is the movie version of a great story."

Others would suggest that the naming of a genre such as Young Adult Fiction is just a marketing strategy, a clever, consumeristic ploy that has succeeded by promoting books to a targeted fan base even as bookstores continually dwindle and readership shrinks. Bookstores have created categorized shelves designed to draw the attention of a specific target audience. Obvious? Necessary? Convenient? Sure! However, the Young Adult label has (perhaps even unwittingly) cast books with certain similarities in a negative light. Young Adult Fiction has become regarded in many circles as simplistic, not credible enough for use in our school systems, written by less serious authors and aimed at teenagers. There is no doubt that the Young Adult tag alone scares off potential readers.

Readers should always be cautious of labels, however! It is important to remember that several books that could easily fall under the current definition of Young Adult Fiction have clearly risen above their categorization and become more than just books for and about teens/children while securing places in history as literary classics: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. There are, of course, others, but despite books, such as the classics mentioned above, rising above their Young Adult labels to become part of the academically embraced literary canon, most serious literary critics continue to cast a negative light on and dismiss the significance of the Young Adult Fiction genre as a whole.

I don't think that many would argue that marketing has had a negative effect on the credibility of the Young Adult Fiction genre. But, I have to say that, while authors feel the negative effects of marketing campaigns that work to streamline and, therefore, limit a novel's appeal, I also see the positive impact of marketing book directly to teens and young adults. As an author I write with a wide range of readers in mind, and I love receiving feedback from my oldest and youngest readers; that said, I am certainly not offended or disappointed when my books are labeled as Young Adult Fiction. Reaching teen readers has always been an important goal of mine, though I certainly feel my novels are relevant to an older set as well and should not be limited by a stigmatic label!

Additionally, I desire to instill and promote Christian values by working to create characters who are relatable, realistic and likable. Just because a book is dubbed Young Adult, or Christian Fiction for that matter, does not mean that subject matter should be dumbed down or ignored altogether. While there are those whose definition of Young Adult Fiction concludes that a positive messages equates to a happy ending, I have always been a believer that, in order for a book to have a positive message, it doesn't need to turn out like you think it should! One reason I am drawn to the Christian Fiction genre is that it embraces the reality that what may seem hopeless on the surface can be filled with hope through God. Life does not always turn out as we would script it, so there is no need to make it so in fiction! One point I strive to make in each of my novels is what I believe to be a great truth: It is not what happens but how we handle it that defines us.

We face situations great and small on a daily basis throughout our lives, and how we react to each of them defines who we become. The critical importance that our actions and reactions have on our lives is not only reserved for our handling of tragedies and the like. I have experienced authors who become absolutely outraged over the classification of their novels or remarks made by a critic who seeks to limit their credibility and diminish the significance of their work by assigning it what is viewed as a negative label. While some have openly embraced the Young Adult label, some remain confused by it, and others have chosen to react to it by becoming discouraged and equally as cynical as the critics they are attempting to discredit. I have heard it said that in this business it is necessary to have a thick skin! I would add that it is also important to maintain a perspective that transcends earthly heartaches and frustrations. I was recently reading a work of nonfiction when I came across one of my favorite new quotes...one which I think perfectly sums up my point of view as it relates to life in general, as well as what I strive to accomplish and convey throughout my writing career:

"I'm the keeper of the door to my heart. To love and forgive others as I've been loved and forgiven by Jesus, I have to guard what I allow to take root in my heart. If I open my heart to self-pity, anger, grudges and unforgiveness, I give the enemy of my soul an invitation into a very expensive home - a home purchased by the blood of Jesus. But as I become fluent in the language of Heaven (the language of forgiveness), as I open the door of my heart to Jesus and in His strength forgive others, that's when I'm set free." (The Devil in Pew Number Seven by Rebecca Nichols Alonzo w/ Bob DeMoss, pg 260)

In conclusion, I will remind you that, though there is, of course, necessity in grouping books into genres, it is imperative to remember that stereotyping books based on labels is like stereotyping people. When you lump everyone with similar characteristics and backgrounds into one group, it is very easy to miss out on the individual characteristics that make one unique and special. Never allow labels that others determine prevent you from forming your own opinion.

You never know when a book will contain the very message you need to hear!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

What Value can a Christian Gain from Reading Christian Fiction?

Fiction as a whole (not just Christian Fiction) faces opponents who steadfastly reject the idea that any value can be gained from reading fiction. As someone who advocates reading both fiction and non-fiction, I offer no argument whatsoever against the importance of and the value gained from reading devotionals, theological studies, autobiographies and and so on. Therefore, the scope of this blog is going to explore the very question raised by Christians who oppose fiction: what value can a christian gain from reading Christian Fiction?

I personally believe that there is a wealth of value to be gained from reading Christian Fiction. Fiction, for me, has always acted as an open window through which it is possible to see how other people think, feel and act. It can provide clarity and insight into why certain people make the decisions that they make. Fiction can broaden our horizons and allow us to connect with the human experience of others. Human elements such as laughter, hope, fear, pain, pressure, love, anger and dealing the grief can be viewed and better understood in the form of a story that opens our hearts to such emotions as sympathy, empathy and compassion.

Sometimes events or interactions that we take part in end up playing important roles in future events that we are completely unaware of. The use of an omniscient narrator often allows us to see how events tie together, even if, as in life, the characters involved remain unaware of the role they played in each other's lives. The ability to see the totality of a story come to fruition within a work of fiction can often serve as a reminder to us of the importance of the relationships we form and the impact or influence that we have on the lives of others, even beyond our scope of knowledge or understanding.

Fiction can be cathartic in a way, forcing us to become engaged with the issues others face and, perhaps, allowing us an outlet through which to deal with matters and questions we harbor in our own hearts. Fiction can also be educational. Understanding why people make certain decisions and what thought process or world view led them to that point can spark our interest and catapult us into searching out answers in works of non-fiction in order to fully educate ourselves on the realities that exist in the world today.

Of course, as Christians, it is always important when selecting fiction to be mindful of the type of books we are reading, which segues perfectly into my point about the value of the genre of Christian Fiction. I am a fan of both secular and faith based fiction; I read constantly, and I find value in every novel I read. However, I always find it particularly refreshing and inspiring to read the work of authors who write from a Christian point-of-view.

Reading about how christian characters deal with situations can, many times, prepare us or provide us a base of knowledge and experience in the event that we ever face similar situations or emotions in our real lives. Because we lived through certain experiences with the character we loved in our favorite book and got to contemplate, as an outsider, a problem or life experience from their perspective, all the while asking ourselves how we would handle the same situation, it is reasonable to conclude that if the time came when we were faced with a similar situation, we would feel more prepared to handle it, perhaps even benefiting from mistakes the character made during his or her journey through the same trials.

All Christians are charged with sharing our faith with others. Being open-minded does not mean falling into agreeance with beliefs or actions that go against the teachings of God. However, we can never hope to influence others in a positive way if we don't take the opportunity to see things from various perspectives. Making an effort to understand why people think, feel, act or believe the way that they do makes our interest in their lives more legitimate and provides a much more educated platform from which to present our message. Reading Christian Fiction can expand our horizons as it broaches difficult subjects that are a reality in the world today and allows us the benefit of seeing how the story is resolved, so that we may avoid downfalls a character faced, heed relevant advice that was given, demonstrate kindness that was shown in the midst of difficult circumstances or reflect on how God's timing was perfect even if the character may have doubted this was true during portions of his or her journey.

I would also remind opponents of Christian Fiction that Jesus himself taught using parables. Parables are fictional stories used to illustrate particular situations for the purpose of educating the reader/listener by teaching a moral lesson. In this way, Christian Fiction serves as a useful extension of devotionals, which commonly use stories to demonstrate applications of a particular portion of scripture.

Christian Fiction's value is priceless, as it entertains us, educates us, enlightens us, and reminds us that we are not alone in the trials we face as Christians. Christian authors seek to deal with a wide variety of current issues in a way that realistically describes the challenges faced by christian characters. When reading Christian Fiction, it is important that we recognize the applications to our daily lives, act on those realizations and learn to open our hearts to the plight of others. Fiction allows us a rare opportunity to become invested in the lives of fictional characters to an extent that we see both their goodness and their flaws; we are privy to their shortcomings, their failures, their moments of weakness and their struggles, but, ultimately, what stands out is the crucial role their faith in Christ plays in guiding them through each of these difficult moments.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Guest Blogger X: Let's Hear it for the Girls!


AIKEN'S NOTES: I hope that you have all enjoyed reading each of our Guest Blogger submissions as much as I have! Thank you so much to everyone who participated in our 2010 Guest Blogger Series; your opinions, comments, compliments and critiques mean the world to me! I look forward to hearing everyone's feedback when our new Favorite Character Poll goes up on the site next month!

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Let's Hear it for the Girls!

Aiken BrownJennifer Smith. Summer Greene. Mallorie Wright. Cute, smart, friendly, sports-loving young ladies who make me want to stand up and cheer, not because all three are sweet, beautiful and charming, but because all three of them are tremendous role models for the countless young women who will read their stories. They are girls unashamed of their faith and resolute in their faith. They are young women who face various trails of life with class, grace and maturity that comes from their firm foundation as children of Christ.

Whether facing tragedy, heartbreak or the unknown, these characters turn to God for answers in dealing with situations too difficult for them to handle on their own. These characters are not perfect, nor do they profess to be. They are simply sold out to a savior who uses them to touch the lives of others within the pages of their respective novels, and, I pray, to shape and encourage those In a Brother's Eyes Aiken Brownof us who read their stories.

I encourage young women to read In a Brother's Eyes: the Brant McLachlan Story and For Such a Time as This and learn from characters such as Jennifer, Summer, Mallorie or more. I encourage young men to read In a Brother's Eyes: the Brant McLachlan Story and For Such a Time as This and to remember when searching for a mate that women like Jennifer, Summer and Mallorie are the sort of helpmate that God desires you to seek out. Together, the two of you can build a relationship centered on His love and grow stronger in your walk within Him.

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*Submitted by Theresa, a Christian prosecutor who frequently travels to Romania on mission trips and organizes fundraisers in her community to help the homeless.

Guest Blogger IX: Not Just Another Football Book


AIKEN'S NOTES: I thoroughly enjoyed this tag-team approach to critiquing In a Brother's Eyes: the Brant McLachlan Story. My novels have received positive reactions from both male and female readers, which is always an important goal of mine. If you doubt whether a football book is something you would enjoy
, or if you're not sure that love stories are the genre for you, be sure to read the following blog!

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Not Just Another Football Book

My husband, David, grew up in northern Alabama. To say he is a sports junkie is an understatement! He is obsessed with all sports, but his favorite has always been football. When his younger sister showed up at our house in New York reading a book with a football field on the cover, David was immediately curious. He borrowed her book that night and knocked it out in a couple of hours. The next morning over breakfast, he told me I should read it too. I laughed! As David enjoys spending hours reading about the history of his favorite teams, I doubted I was interested in any new In a Brother's Eyes Aiken Brownbook he had discovered.

Then my young sister-in-law began chiming in about what she enjoyed about the book. My interest was sparked! Was I hearing her right? Was it possible that my husband was gushing over a LOVE STORY? Surly this was just another football book talking about how the favorite team wins the big game, otherwise, my husband would not be interested. I picked up the book and read the back cover, ready to dismiss the notion of reading it. Instantly, I was hooked! In a Brothers' Eyes had enough football action for my husband and a love story that we could both get behind. It wasn't sappy or overdone; it was honest and real. The balance of football and other aspects of life and love made the book an easy read that I simply could not put down. I fell in love with Brant McLachlan, and so did my husband! Haha!

-Amy

My wife, Amy, has always been in to chick flicks. When we were dating, I had to sit through dozens of ridiculous movies at the theater, all of which ended with the leading man and his leading lady discovering their love for each other after an epic struggle that leads to the obvious. In the end, everything is wrapped up in a pretty package with a nice romantic bow that leaves all the ladies wiping tears away, swept up in the romance of it all as though they didn't know how it would end all along. They are the kind of movies Amy likes and the sort of books she likes to read. Me, I'm a sports guy, and I don't read much. I generally stick to books about the tradition of football at the University of Alabama and occasionally thumb through an autobiography of an athlete or political figure.

I was roped into reading In a Brother's Eyes: the Brant McLachlan Story based on the cover, then I couldn't put it down! I read it straight through in one sitting, finding myself rooting for Brant on the football field and off. To any guy who reads the back cover and dismisses the book based on the mention of true love that makes it sound like typical chick lit, I caution you to give this book a chance. The love story is not overdone and easy to relate to, and, unlike most chick lit, the love story is not only one between a guy and his girl. This is the story of a boy who loves a game and a town who loves an athlete. It is a story about bothers bonded by a game and a lifetime of shared memories. It is a love story of a father and coach who loves his wife and his four sons. It's a book I am proud to say I enjoyed and a book I would recommend to the guys I went to college with and the women in my wife's bible study group with equal confidence that they would find themselves wrapped up in the story of Brant McLachlan and his hometown.

-David

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*Submitted by David, a 2003 University of Alabama graduate who works as a marketing executive in New York City and his wife, Amy, a stay-at-home mom raising their two children.

Guest Blogger VIII: Friendship


AIKEN'S NOTES:
A true friend is, indeed, a priceless gift, and I think that is evident throughout my novel, In a Brother's Eyes, a book which, to me, epitomizes something I have always believed: your closest friends become your family. I have heard it said that, "a friend is someone who knows everything about you and loves you anyway," and this is, of course, true of the circle of friends within this novel. It touches my heart to know that the author of this Guest Blogger installment and her friends used my book to remind themselves of the importance of friendship.

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Friendship

In a Brother's Eyes: the Brant McLachlan Story is a book that I think most teenagers can relate to. If you have ever attended high school or grown up in a small town, you can certainly relate to the characters in this book. I was a cheerleader in high school, just like Jennifer. I had a close circle of friends like she did. I even had a little brother who worshiped my boyfriend, the starting free safety on our high school's football team. After I finished reading In a Brother's Eyes, I In  a Brother's Eyes Aiken Brownmade my boyfriend and my best friend read it too because I thought they would enjoy the story and perhaps learn the same lesson that the book reminded me of.

We saw ourselves in the characters in the book, though our lives didn't exactly mirror the characters. In a way, I was envious of the lives the characters in the book led because, no matter what happened, they always fell back on their love for each other. Even when relationships became strained sometimes, they always found their way back to what mattered most! They were a family, and the friendship shared between this special group of people was the basis for the entire novel. The part of the book that my friends and I could agree on is that friendship is something you have to nurture, work on and be dedicated to because it doesn't always come as easy as it should.

My boyfriend and I broke up this year, and I am proud to say that we genuinely remain friends. Because we had always hung out in the same circle, an awkward breakup would have been difficult not only on both of us, but on all of our friends. So my boyfriend and I were not meant to spend forever as a couple. We have moved on. But the one part of our relationship that we hold on to is our friendship. We have talked about what we both learned from the characters in this book, and we know that, though our feeling for each other are not what they once were, our friendship will always remain strong. We still watch Georgia football games together and cheer on the Falcons together with all our friends. We go to the movies and hang out like old times. We have been so close for so long that he is like a member of my family, and I hope that no matter where life takes us, that will never change!

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*Submitted by Laurie, a former high school cheerleader and an avid football fan who will be a freshman at the University of Georgia in the fall.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Guest Blogger VII: Finally, a Book my Daughter and I BOTH Enjoyed


AIKEN'S NOTES:
It is such a joy for me to know that my book provided the mother/daughter experience documented below. I have an extraordinarily special relationship with my own mother, so knowing that I contributed, in some small way, to Janet finding literary bonding with her daughter, is special for me. And I must say, dear reader, while it may not have been the answer you were anticipating, if she's looking for a man like Jared Wilson...I think she's on the right track! Team Jared all the way! ;)


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Finally, a Book my Daughter and I BOTH Enjoyed

I haAiken Brownve always loved reading; I read stories to my daughter when she was growing up, hoping to instill in her my love of books. It didn't! She loved the Boxcar Children series just fine when I read it to her as a kid, but as she reached her teenage years, getting her to read a book was worse than pulling teeth! And I should know, I have worked in a dentist's office for years!

I could hardly get her to read the books she was required to read for school, much less expect her to read for pleasure. Then the Twilight series became all the rage with her friends, and it rekindled the interest that I had tried to encourage in her as a child. She started reading again, and, like her mother, she has not stopped.

While I was glad she had discovered a new love of reading, I secretly longed for us to be able to read books together and discuss them in our own personal mother/daughter book club. We did read a couple books together, but inevitably, one of us, usually the one who selected the novel in the first place, preferred the book over the other of us.

This held true until my daughter suggested we read For Such a Time as This by Aiken Brown. I was immediately drawn to the cover, as a I have been a baseball fan for years! Little did I know, I was in for so much more! My daughter loved the story; I admired the message, and we both fell in love with the characters!

I was so proud, when, as we read For Such a Time as This together, my daughter came to me and announced, "I want to be Summer Greene!" I was touched, wondering what it was specifically about this strong, faithful young woman had made such an impression on my daughter. "Why's that?" I asked her, looking forward to the thoughtful answer about Summer's role as a role model for young women that would follow. But, instead, my daughter brought her hands to her heart. "Because I'm in love with Jared Wilson!"

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*Submitted by Janet, loving mother of an eighteen-year-old daughter.

Guest Blogger VI: Shades of Kingsbury


AIKEN'S NOTES:
First of all, I consider any comparison to Karen Kingsbury a premier compliment. I am not only a fan of her work, but of her life. Secondly, I strongly believe that we have all been given unique and specific spiritual gifts which we are expected to use for the glory of our Savior. Therefore, for me, writing Christian Fiction is not an option, but a responsibility. I will continue to be open to the messages God places on my heart, and I pray for Him to guide my pen always. Lastly, I love the play on words used in this blog title! If you have not read Karen Kingsbury's "Shades of Blue"...I highly recommend it!


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Shades of Kingsbury

Aiken BrownI am an avid reader and a long-time fan of popular Christian Fiction author, Karen Kingsbury. Like most of us, I have read several Christian Fiction authors over the years, and I have learned that finding one who gets the balance right is a rare find. Kingsbury accomplishes it, and, with her own fresh approach, so does relative newcomer, Aiken Brown.

For Such a Time as This
, while less subtle than her debut novel In a Brother's Eyes: the Brant McLachlan Story, still maintains a good balance between a captivating storyline and a moral statement. Christian books such as those written by Kingsbury and Brown are able to operate as mouthpieces demonstrating the love God has for his people without turning off critical readers such as myself.

Karen Kingsbury has had a sucessful career in Christian Fiction because I truly believe that God gave her a gift, and He uses her novels to speak through. I believe He gave Aiken Brown this same gift, and, as a fan of both women's work, I hope they both continue to use their gifts for years to come!

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*Submitted by Sandra, an avid reader, book critic and frequent speaker at Christian conferences nationwide.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Guest Blogger V: Importance of Family in the South


AIKEN'S NOTES:
"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." (Proverbs 22:6) There is no greater compliment for me as an author than to have a parent express a desire for their children to read my work. It has brought me such joy to hear from teenagers and pre-teens who have read my books and been positively impacted by the messages they contain. Continue reading to see what a Guest Blogger with an extensive background in child development had to say about In a Brother's Eyes: the Brant McLachlan Story.

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Importance of Family in the South

Anyone from the South knows how important of a role family plays in all aspects. In Aiken Brown's novel, In a Brother's Eyes: the Brant McLachlan Story, she expertly portrays this fact. It was so refreshing to read how close this family was and how much they leaned on each other during times of trouble. I loved how this book was entertaining, but kept the main characters out of the "usual" trouble of teens. Being a mom myself, I would want my children to someday read the message that Aiken sends to her readers on dealing with problems.

In a Brother's Eyes Aiken BrownBesides family, Aiken also uses Christianity subtly in her books to help guide the younger set in the right direction. It is more of a suggestion than a hardcore push, which is perfect for the developmental age reading her material. Aiken offers her readers another way to look at solving problems, opening minds for thought and group discussion.

Aiken is a very talented writer, and it shows for her storylines, plots and messages. Her third books is anticipated with much excitement!

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*Submitted byTabitha, author of The Seropia Crystal. Tabitha is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in the development of children and owns and operates The Watermelon Patch in Mobile, Alabama.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Guest Blogger IV: The Esther Connection


AIKEN'S NOTES:
I can't thank the author of the following Guest Blogger installment enough for her analysis of my novel. Reading an article like the following is not only incredibly humbling, but also serves as confirmation of the precise point I was making when I wrote For Such a Time as This. None of us are insignificant in God's plan...we all have a part to play! God has blessed us all with such different talents, and he expects us to USE the talents He has given us for HIS glory! He gave me a talent and passion for writing, and it is my ultimate goal in life to write for Him. As someone once put it, I want to be the sort of woman that when my feet hit the floor in the mornings, the Devil says, "Crap, she's up!" I LOVE that quote! ;)


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The Esther Connection

Aiken BrownThere is something powerful about taking a timeless biblical story and showing its application to our modern world in a way that is both seamless yet not understated. That is precisely what Aiken Brown does in her second novel, For Such a Time as This.

For Such a Time as This' lovable protagonist, Summer Greene, is carefully crafted into a modern day version of the inspirational biblical figure, Esther.

Esther was a brave, young girl who saved her people as a direct result of her willingness to let God use her to fulfill His plan. She was not the most likely hero, but God had a plan for her life that would make her one of the most significant women in history. She is a role model to be admired and respected by every woman who came after her. For me, Esther is an incredibly relatable character that woman throughout history can see themselves in.

Aiken Brown's contemporary applications to the faithful character of Summer are spot-on and inspirational. If you have your doubts as to whether or not fictional characters can be role models, I would like to introduce to you a young woman with the power to do just that. Summer Greene has inspired countless young women and will continue to do so as new readers are introduced to For Such a Time as This. Summer's insightful words within the novel represent my wish, and I believe the author's wish, for the novel itself. She prays, "Please just put the words that he needs to hear into my mouth and let me be a mouthpiece for You. Give me the ability to look past all my selfish pride and anger, and let me show him Your love through my words and actions."

The moral of both women's stories is this: God is not limited by anything! He is not restricted to flashy miracles to change the course of history. He frequently uses one simple person to change the circumstances around them, and by changing even one life, that person unknowingly changes countless others. Esther was one such woman, and so was Summer Greene, who brilliantly represents any woman who has ever found herself in a position to demonstrate the faith she professes in action.

I will leave you with this: "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised." Proverbs 31:30

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*Submitted by Anna, a journalism major at Baylor University with a special interest in women's studies.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Guest Blogger III: When Times Get Tough


AIKEN'S NOTES:
I am so proud to share this next Guest Blogger submission with you all. Written by a courageous teenager who learned through her own experiences that God will never forsake her, the theme of this post reminds me of one of my favorite quotes: "Remember that when the world pushes you to your knees, you're in a perfect position to pray."


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When Times Get Tough

Aiken BrownMy mama used to have a saying: "When times get tough, the tough get going." When I was fifteen, she said those exact words to me the day she told me she has been diagnosed with breast cancer. They were words I would rely on for the next two years as I watched her battle her disease with strength and grace. When I was seventeen, my Mom lost her battle with cancer. I felt lost and alone! Even though I was lucky to have my dad and my two sisters who were always there to support me, I missed being able to count on my mom. She was the one I always went to with my problems and the one I always asked for advice. My rock was gone!

A few months after my mother died, I was walking in the mall when I saw a framed copy of a poem that I had seen several times over the years but had never taken the time to read. I stopped, and I read a poem that could have easily been about me! It was about a man who questioned God for forsaking him during the most difficult periods of his life because during those times he only saw one set of footprints in the sand instead of the two sets of footprints he saw during happy times. God explained to him that during the hardest times of his life, he only saw one set of footprints because, during the difficult times, God was carrying him through.

That day, this poem stopped me in my tracks. I had been walking around moping and depressed, feeling sorry for myself and feeling lonely, but I came to realize that the opposite was true. I was not alone at all. Not ever. My true Rock would never leave me! God was right there with me, willing to hold my hand every step of the way if I would just ask him to.

I became more active in my church, and about two months later, a new friend gave me a copy of For Such a Time as This by Aiken Brown! I felt like I could totally relate to several of the characters in the book. I could relate to Summer because I have come to understand that God uses difficult times in our lives to make us stronger, but I could also relate to Scott because I felt like I had been where he was as far as questioning how terrible tragedies could happen to such good people. I learned though my own experience that despite losing my mother, I have so much to be thankful for! In many ways, losing my mother has helped me grow closer to God. It has made me focus on my faith and my relationship with Him. I think the same is true for the characters in For Such a Time as This. As Summer says, "sometimes God has to break you before he can remake you!" I have been remade, and I think my Mama would be proud!

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*Submitted by Katelynn, an eighteen-year-old young woman who helped care for her mother during her two year battle with breast cancer and now helps her father care for her two younger sisters.