Everyone’s Story welcomes this week’s guest, debut author John F. Harrison. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know John a bit through our Facebook connection since we both belong to the NE ACFW chapter. I also had the honor of endorsing John’s novel Fighting Back. Here’s a snippet of what I wrote: “What I liked most about Fighting Back is the unashamed showing by Mr. Harrison that although one can try to right one’s life, it’s where and what God has to show you that matters. In Eddie’s case, faith, forgiveness, and love are rediscovered against the backdrop of the hideous crime of human trafficking, leading the reader to conclude what in life is worth fighting for.” So, this being Christmas week, please take in all that John shares with us, including his excerpt, message, a Q&A, and his BookGiveaway. We’re looking forward to chatting with you.
John is offering 1 randomly chosen commenter 1 print edition of Fighting Back. The winner will be announced here on Friday, December 30th between 5-6 PM EST.
** For Giveaways: it’s not necessary to insert your private email information within comments.
Excerpt from Fighting Back:
The Ziklag Conundrum By John F. Harrison
I realize The Ziklag Conundrum sounds like it might be the title of a Robert Ludlum thriller. But it’s just my way of describing one of life’s mysteries. You know those times when it seems like things can’t get any worse — and then they do? How do you survive those times with your joy intact?
You’ve probably read how David fled persecution by King Saul, finding sanctuary in a city of the Philistines. The Philistine king gave the city of Ziklag to David and his 600 followers. After living there for sixteen months, David found himself in the awkward position of being required to join his traditional enemy in an attack on King Saul and the armies of Israel. But the Philistines got cold feet about having 600 Israelite warriors in their midst, and sent David and his men back “home” to Ziklag. When the exhausted warriors arrived after a three-day march, they found the city burned and their wives and children gone. The Amalekites had raided, and taken the women and children captive.
David and his men wept until they could weep no more. It must have seemed that life couldn’t get any worse. And then it did. And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. (1 Samuel 30:6, KJV)
And that’s the Ziklag Conundrum. The Bible doesn’t say how David encouraged himself. But it would be a great thing to know! Often when we feel down, we turn to others for encouragement. Sometimes it works. Sometimes the people around us are apathetic. Or maybe, like David’s men, they’re set on doing us in. Whatever the reason, when you find yourself without an encourager, you need to be able to encourage yourself.
I’ve found a few things that work for me:
I stand a little taller. A slumped and defeated posture accentuates feelings of despair. “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;” (Hebrews 12:12)
I refuse to suffer in silence. When I fill my ears with uplifting music, my mood soon improves. Whether it’s Bach, Fred Hammond, or the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, music keeps me emotionally afloat until I rediscover the song in my own heart.
I clear out the clutter. The goal is to devote more mental shelf space to God’s promises than I do to my problems.
I seek perspective. God is bigger than my troubles. Therefore, “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” (Psalm 56:3)
Fighting Back is the story of a young man who finds his life disintegrating all of a sudden. He ends up running from more than one “Saul.” And because he does not always know how to encourage himself, his road from ruin to recovery is not as direct as it might have been. [Interestingly enough, the word Ziklag means “winding.”] Along the way, he learns a great thing about God that I’ve learned for myself: Not only can God rescue us from our mess; He can birth something wonderful from it!
Questions for John Harrison:
John, you’ve worn many professional hats and have juggled a lot through the years. How does the hat of a published author feel?
I could get used to this! I published my first book in 2009, a nonfiction title about personal finance and biblical money management. Back then I had no idea I had a novel in me. But the creativity required for fiction writing feels like even more of an achievement in some ways. It’s addictive, and a sequel is already in the works.
What childhood influences have shaped your author’s voice?
I’m probably not consciously aware of most of them. But I recognize a few. The first is the fact that I was very introverted as a child, spending a lot of time alone with my thoughts. So my fiction writing delves deeply into the inner life of the main character. It was natural for me to want to spend time in his head. Second, I fell in love with music and songwriting at an early age, so I have an awareness of the sound and rhythm of words. I don’t think I’m poetic, or even deliberately lyrical, but the words have to sound good when read out loud. And music plays an important part in this story. Finally, my parents instilled a hunger for knowledge in me. I loved learning about almost anything at all. This is probably responsible for the “how stuff works” component that crops up in my writing.
I had the pleasure and honor of reading and endorsing Fighting Back. The story’s premise, plot, and characters impressed me, but I must add that either you’ve done considerable research on the topics of fighting and deluxe cars (among heavy-duty themes) or you’ve had first-hand experience. Any confessions?
First, thank you very much! I’m thrilled that you enjoyed the book, and I really appreciate your endorsement. I admit to being a research nut. I obsess over getting the details right. One of example of this is when a character in the story needed her car fixed. I watched videos on how to do the repair on that particular make and model of car. And I spent months hanging out on automotive forums as part of my homework. I’m a bit of a car guy in real life, so I didn’t mind. But I did that with everything: drive times between locations, menu items at restaurants, police procedures. Because I had to research a number of those “heavy-duty themes” you mentioned, I made sure to infuse the story with enough fun and good humor to be an emotional counterweight to the heavy stuff. As for any first-hand experience I may have had with fighting … that would be telling!
Did you originally set out to self-publish Fighting Back?
Yes. By self-publishing, I got to make all the design decisions such as what the cover and interior look like. I’m also the only member of the marketing department with a say. Another factor is the novel’s frank treatment of potentially controversial topics. I didn’t want a publisher pressuring me to tone down the messaging for the sake of playing it safe. So self-publishing has always felt like the best path for me.
Since this is Christmas, do you have any Christmas wishes or tidings you’d like to share with viewers?
I wish you and all the readers the simple joy of the holy day, and none of the stresses of the holidays. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
John’s Ah-hahs To Tweet:
John F. Harrison @authorJHarrison Speaks Up: Surviving the The Ziklag Conundrum with joy intact. (Tweet This)
Without an encourager? See what #motivation @authorJHarrison advices. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)
Check out @authorJHarrison’s #BookGiveaway of Fighting Back about a young man in a big mess. (Tweet This)
John F. Harrison has been a minister, a musician, a business owner, and an author. He’s still happily involved in three out of those four vocations, and greatly misses his music. John’s greatest ambition is to get up eight times after falling down seven. He chronicles the tribulations and triumphs of deeply flawed people, because he knows no other kind. John and his wife live in the Boston area.
Places to connect with John:
On SALE only through the holidays on Amazon.