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Stay Strong During Challenging Times

Author Interview
John Bartell Author Interview

The Pilgrim’s Progress Desert Experience tells biblical stories with a modern twist making them more relatable to today’s readers. Where did the idea for this novel come from and how did it develop over time?

I went to a conference where I learned about the desert experience. It is a time in our lives when we are spiritually dry, and life is hard. Israel had to escape from Egypt and go through their desert experience before they could enter the land of promise. We need to go through a desert experience before we can enter our land of promise, which is when life is easier.

A few years later, I went through a desert experience. I decided to write a nonfiction book called The Desert Experience. I did not think it was good, so I stopped writing.

Years later, I watched a Pilgrim’s Progress movie, and the idea came to me to write a modern Pilgrim’s Progress book. I made the pilgrim progress through a desert experience to enter the Kingdom of Promise. It is better to show people the desert experience rather than talk about it.

It is well overdue for a modern Pilgrim’s Progress book for the modern times in which we are living. Many of the challenges we face today are different to the challenges people faced hundreds of years ago. People need to learn how to overcome these new challenges.

I made the pilgrim progress through Bible stories because they are hard to understand from our modern culture. Many people misunderstand the Bible because they think it is the same as their culture. I wanted to show that the stories are as much for us today as they were thousands of years ago. The stories are more enjoyable to read in the form of a novel.

What is one thing that people point out after reading your book that surprises you?

One thing that surprised me was that it had a veiled critique of modern life. We do not know the full impact of how modern technology affects our lives and how it can be used against us. I do not think we should throw it out. We need to learn how to use it for our good without it affecting us in bad ways.

Technology can be addictive, but if we limit its use, we can avoid becoming addicted. Modern entertainment makes our bodies release dopamine more often than in everyday life. It is easy to become addicted to the dopamine hits in our bodies. Drugs make our bodies release dopamine, which is one of the reasons why people become addicted to drugs.

What George Orwell wrote in his book 1984 has happened. Big Brother is always watching us. Governments are watching everything we say and do. People need to watch what they say and do because computers pick up certain words that we use. Governments have changed their values. Good is called evil and evil is called good. We are not allowed to stand up for our values anymore.

In the last days, many people’s hearts have become cold. One of the reasons for this is because people are viewing more violence than they normally would. It makes them think violence is normal.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

One of the themes that was important to me was how to stay strong during challenging times. The tribulation the world is going through at the moment is different to any time in history. When one trouble ends, another one begins. Viruses, wars, natural disasters and plagues come at us one after another. We have a psychopath making war at the moment. People need to know how to cope so they can have good mental health.

Another theme was that just because something bad happens to people, does not mean they have done something wrong. Sometimes people are falsely accused of doing something wrong when something bad happens to them. Many times, that is the reason but not always. People need to be careful not to assume it is because of that.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

The next book that I am working on is a sequel to this book. The main character is the pilgrim’s wife. It is a journey with a woman’s point of view. Men will enjoy it too because they can have a better understanding of women. It will be available early next year.

I plan to write many books in the series. The pilgrim’s children will also make the journey one at a time.

Author Links: GoodReads

The pilgrim breaks out of an Egyptian prison and makes a journey through the desert in search of the Kingdom of Promise.
He goes through tests and trials and meets people who help or hinder him on his journey.

The Pilgrim’s Progress Desert Experience

The Pilgrim’s Progress Desert Experience is a fascinating Christian fantasy novel told through an interesting first-person narrative. The story is set in Egypt and Jerusalem and follows three distinct characters, or perspectives; Heathen, Pastor, and Messianic. Their journey provides ample opportunity for readers to reflect on life and spirituality.

Heathen’s journey to the King of Promise is difficult and his trials and tribulations are thought-provoking and enlightening. He must stay on the Narrow Path, guided by Evangelist and Comforter. He will meet Suffering and Hardship, but his faith will guide him along the way. He often strays from the path, seduced by greed, false-religion, and entertainment. But the desert will test his faith and teach him how to live with Suffering and Hardship.

Author John Bartell writes this Christian allegory in easy-to-understand language so that even the more abstract lessons and ideas are easily understood. This is an intriguing quest story that will appeal to readers who want a book that focuses on the expedition and the lessons learned along the way, rather than describing elaborate sets and backgrounds. The story proceeds at a steady pace, instructing and informing all the while. This is a wonderfully educational book as well, as terms concerning faith are explained to the protagonist by the other characters throughout the book.

This engaging biblical fiction novel represents the religious story of a pilgrim’s journey to the King of Promise, but is set in modern times. One scene in particular caught my attention; “Heathen, do you want to watch a video of the creation of the universe on my phone?”. I certainly do! This book blends religion and modern society in interesting ways and presents a veiled critique of modernity.

The Pilgrim’s Progress Desert Experience, by John Bartell, is a unique book that will appeal to readers looking for an inspiring Christian fiction novel. With its intriguing images of the Bible and a central message focused on religion, it will be loved by readers keen on faith and religion.

Pages: 147 | ASIN: B09JP6ZMXT

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Stories Should Provoke Questions

Michael Albanese Author Interview

The Boy Who Loved Boxes is a whimsical tale that teaches readers that we can’t control everything in life no matter how hard we try. Why was this an important book for you to write?

It was important to write this book because one, it came fully formed and downloaded to me during a walk in the woods. I was thinking a lot about how we lose our childlike wonder as adults and, as adults, how we live in a constant illusion of control. I started working on the book, which started off very differently than it ended, as these things do. During the middle of it, the pandemic hit and the very thing I was writing about strangely paralleled my own reality. My anxiety, the illusion of control I had in my life, how things fell apart despite how ordered my life was oddly similar to The Man in the book. I conceived this as a picture book for adults to hopefully recapture the wonder of childhood.

What is one piece of advice someone gave you that changed your life?

I was having coffee in Los Angeles many years ago with my friend, Denise Spatafora. She told me that I can design my life on my terms. And for some reason, at the moment in time, it really resonated. And I began to explore what that actually looked like. Intentionality, saying no to things and people that didn’t support my goals, eliminating toxic situations, being bolder and clearer in what I wanted, etc. It’s a lifelong process, but it’s been transformative.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your story?

If they get the intent and spirit behind the book – and some do not, and that’s okay – I hope they realize that peace is not found in the things we own, build or obtain and that they ask themselves what the last box means to them. I know what it means to me personally, but I believe that stories should provoke questions instead of giving answers. So, my ultimate hope is that the story raises some meaningful questions and discussions.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

My next book is a picture book (this one is actually for children) about two sylvan creatures and their fun-loving adventures. I am collaborating on it with my wife. It’s a story we actually wrote before we had children. We hope it’s the start of a series, but it will be about kindness and not judging others by their appearance. It will be available in the fall of 2022.

Author Links: GoodReads | Website

There once was a Boy Who Loved Boxes…

Written and illustrated against the backdrop of the global pandemic, this children’s book for adults is a modern-day allegory exploring the illusion of control and the pursuit of peace. Join our hero and discover that happiness is not always found in the places we expect.

The Boy Who Loved Boxes

The Boy Who Loved Boxes: A Children’s Book for Adults tells the story of a boy who stores everything he owns in nice organized boxes. As he grows, he learns to sort all the parts of his life into compartmentalized boxes like work, emotions, faith, money, and relationships. Then one day, all the boxes fall apart and he is unable to repair them or replace them. All of his things are a mess, broken, or lost. He doesn’t know what to do as his stuff sits in a pile. He is too overwhelmed to sort through or try to fix. Will he ever be able to find a box to hold everything he cherishes?

Author Michael Albanese has written a heartfelt picture book for adults. Choosing to use this format to get his message across adds weight to what he says. This modern-day allegory about trying to control your life and keep everything organized and running smoothly is a common mindset for adults these days. When the pandemic hit, all our boxes fell apart, school, work, relationships, everything around the world changed fast.

The simple verbiage combined with Tod Wilkerson’s artwork really brought the message home. Seeing The Man’s expressions as everything of his falls apart and sits in a pile reminds me of how I felt in those first few weeks that stretched into months. The hopelessness and the joy and acceptance that followed. All the emotions that people worldwide felt can be seen in the pages of this thought-provoking children’s book.

The Boy Who Loved Boxes: A Children’s Book for Adults explores the illusion of control and helps readers gain peace by finding it within themselves. This captivating and poignant book can be shared with children and adults. Adults will understand what The Man was going through, and children can learn that controlling every part of their life and separating it all out will only end with a mess.

Pages: 36 | ISBN : 1732898731

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Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge

Tiny Tim and The Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge: The sequel to A Christmas Carol by [Whaler, Norman]

It takes a bold artist to follow up a masterpiece. Far too often, the original creators can’t even recapture a work’s magic in its sequel. Sometimes though, the most devoted admirers are up to the task. Norman Whaler’s Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Ebenezer Scrooge – The Sequel to A Christmas Carol might be derivative, but it’s derivative in all the right ways. Whaler knows he’s trying to extend Dickens classic, and he succeeds.

Whaler opens his sequel by briefly summarizing the ending of A Christmas Carol – which quickly helps ground any readers who haven’t read it recently. Here, we see right away that Whaler makes the smart decision to evoke Dickens rather than imitate him. He echos Dickens’ source of tension in the characters’ lives: for crippling poverty still grips this corner of London. And with the newly philanthropic Ebenezer Scrooge now deceased, the citizens again find themselves facing an English winter without money for food or clothing.

My favorite part of the reading was hearing more from the side characters whose voices drive the plot. Unfortunately, the illustrations that start each chapter vary wildly in terms of style and medium. They all match the subject of the story well, but fail to match each other. Some appear hand drawn while others have been made on a computer. Even just applying the same filter to each illustration would have helped unify the novel.

Whaler clearly admires and respects Dickens, but I do think he missed out on an opportunity to be a little more self referential with the sequel – Dickens might very well have appreciated just such humor. Regardless, the voice and tone that first made this Christmas classic are there in full force. If you read the conclusion of Dickens’ original to your children while a cold winter blast beasts against the frame of the house, they might just turn up toward you and ask, as so many readers have over the decades, “what happens next?” In such an event, you now know where to turn.

Pages: 96 | ASIN: B076YGMGF9

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