Jenny Fulton: Let’s Chat!

linda brooks davis

Welcome, everyone.

Jenny FultonJenny Fulton, our current chat circle guest, is a multi-faceted author with a wide range of life experiences. She tells us about them and more below. Join in the conversation, and you’re in the running for her giveaway.

Now, here’s Jenny … (You’re in for a treat.)

Jenny Fulton: Small-Town Girl 

I’m a citizen of a heavenly world, have traveled across the earth, and journeyed through a fantasy realm.

I was born and raised in Quinter – a small town on the plains of northwest Kansas. With a population of about 800 people, my childhood was filled with days of roaming freely about the town and countryside, climbing trees, and playing make-believe with anyone who would indulge the never-ending flow of my imagination.

Jenny FultonMy younger sister, Holly, and I in one of our tree-climbing adventures.

Jenny Fulton: World Traveler

With the arrival of my teenage years came also a deep yearning to travel and experience other parts of the world. After graduation, I made it as far as Omaha, Nebraska where I attended Grace University. My love for kids, cultures, and learning propelled me into the teacher education program. In addition to a degree in elementary education and the required Bible degree, I also pursued an endorsement in English as a Second Language (ESL).

Jenny Fulton

Jenny: Mexico

One summer, in a collaborative effect between the Teacher Education department and the Intercultural Studies program, I traveled to Mexico with others from Grace. While there, we taught English at an elementary school in Puebla, studied Spanish at La Universidad International in Cuernavaca, vacationed on the beach in Acapulco, and took classes in Cultural Anthropology and World’s Living Religions while living in Cholula.

Jenny Fulton Jenny Fulton

(L) Clesta and I (on the right) taught a group of students at an elementary school in Puebla.
(R) Our barrio in Cholula with a view of the neighborhood friendly volcano, Popo.

Jenny: China

I had tasted life abroad and longed for more. In my senior year at college, one of my advisors suggested I apply to teach in China. At the time, it was one of the few places I wasn’t interested in visiting. However, I agreed to consider and pray about it.

It’s truly incredible how God works in our hearts. He planted a love for that nation within me which grew stronger with each passing day.  After a few months and two phone interviews, I accepted a position as an ESL teacher at an International school in southern China.

Jenny Fulton Jenny Fulton

(L) Hanging out at one of the malls with some of my fellow teachers.
(R) Hiking in the Western Hills just outside the city.

I lived in China for three years and loved it. While there, God stretched my faith and perspective. He put me in positions of complete vulnerability and showed me His strength in carrying me through. I witnessed people in poverty praise God with all their heart, beheld the steadfast love of those who served them, and experienced the vitality of a Christian community committed to serving God and others each and every day of their life.

Jenny Fulton: Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, & Hawaii

In addition to the day-to-day cross-cultural living, being in China opened up other opportunities to travel. I went to Singapore with the volleyball teams, vacationed in Thailand, embarked upon a day-trip in South Korea, and visited my youngest sister in Hawaii. While there, I snorkeled in crystal clear waters, climbed and jumped off cliffs, and swam in the pool of a hidden waterfall.

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(L) The waterfront in Singapore. (M) Koh Phi Phi Island in Thailand.
(R) A hidden waterfall in Hawaii.

My days in China ended when I came to the realization that my American debt made it unreasonable for me to continue working overseas.

Jenny Fulton: Navajo Reservation & More

I then pursued and achieved another dream: to live and teach on the Navajo Reservation – the land of my ancestors. Unfortunately, it turned out to be an extremely rough year. Every day felt as though I was immersed in a great spiritual battle. Although God was with me and sustained me, I was drained. I stayed only a year and then moved most of my belongings to Albuquerque. But first, I flew to Alaska with a friend to explore the state.

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(L) Megan and I in front of Denali National Park. (M) Kayaking in the ocean near Seward.
(R) Deep-sea fishing hours away from the coast of Homer.

That trip was incredible, but I was tired. I’d had my fill of living and traveling alone. I had accomplished everything I’d set out to do. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have a goal.

Jenny & John Fulton

A month later, I met John. A mutual friend connected us after she learned I needed a guy with a truck to help me move the rest of my furniture from the Reservation. John happened to be available. We met in August, began dating in October, were engaged in January, and married in June.

Jenny Fulton Jenny Fulton

I was given new life and with it, a new dream. Although I’d always enjoyed writing and had been posting short stories online, I’d come to believe that writing and publishing a book was too lofty a goal.

When our first child was a year old, I stopped teaching and began applying for freelance writing jobs.

Jenny & Writing

This is when God made my impossible possible by means of a young man named Eric. There was a story Eric had wanted to write for years but hadn’t been able to. After several conversations with me, he was convinced I was the person God had called to turn his vision into a reality.

Jenny Fulton

It’s hard to say no to something like that, so, after discussing it with God and John, I said, yes.

And thus, our partnership began. Eric had developed the fantasy world, the types of creatures, and the overall concept. The story would allude to Biblical principles without using Christianese terms.  That’s where I came in. Using the pieces Eric had in place, I developed the characters and plot necessary to bring his vision to life.

Jenny Fulton

After months of writing and checking in to ensure the story aligned with Eric’s vision, it was finished. Several months later, after receiving input from beta readers and making significant revisions, it was published. By this time, the book had become as much a part of my heart as it was his. The characters and their struggles were as dear to me as the people in my life.

Jenny Fulton

My endeavors to travel the natural world had ended, but my ventures through the world of writing had just begun.

Jenny Fulton Today

These days, I’m a blogger, author, freelance writer, and stay-at-home mom to my three beautiful daughters. I’m currently working on a non-fiction book, a children’s picture book series, keeping a sharp eye on my baby, and potty training my 3-year-old. I’m navigating through Coronavirus distance learning with my 6-year-old. Although she is enrolled in a Christian school, we’re back to doing school at home like everyone else right now, most of it online. In this way, the wonders and adventures of life continue, even if they’re more centered within my home than beyond it. 

Jenny Fulton

Invisible Battles: The Quest for Hope

Jenny FultonWritten by Jenny Fulton in collaboration with the vision of Eric Griffin
(under the inspiration of the High King).

In the newly created land of Novus, a powerful and immortal being known as the Dark One has all but succeeded in erasing the name of the High King from the hearts and minds of the people. The battle, however, is far from over. Unbeknownst to the Dark One and his minions of Chashaks, the High King has been at work among a loyal group of followers. Now he is ready to make his move.

Invisible crystalline beings known as Erela are being sent out across the land to seek out those who are willing to play a part in this unfolding story. Among them a young apprentice named Levi emerges. Although he never traveled beyond the borders of his own home, Levi sets out on an important and dangerous mission. In another part of the kingdom, Aliatta, a proud young royal, is about to have her safe and comfortable world turned upside down. Seemingly opposite in almost every regard, these two young people soon find their lives intertwined in a cosmic quest for hope and truth.

Purchase the Book: Amazon

Connect with Me

~ ~ ~

Lord, please bless each word Jenny writes for You.
~ For Jesus’ sake

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Author Chat: C. J. Darlington

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control;
against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 ASV

Reader Friends,

The Apostle Paul admonishes his student and beloved friend and helper Timothy in 2 Timothy 1 to hold onto Paul’s sound words and to guard the treasure committed to him in the faith and love of Jesus. He reminds the younger man that doing so is possible through the Holy Spirit which indwells him.

In Galatians 5 Paul speaks of the “fruits” of the indwelling Spirit. These come to mind when I read our guest author C.J. Darlington‘s answers to questions about her journey from aspiring writer to award-winning author and now publisher as co-owner of Mountainview Books LLC. In particular, four fruits of the spirit–love, joy, peace, and long-suffering–shine when C.J. writes about her Paint mare named Sky

Look carefully, and I think you’ll find the clues …

~~~

C.J. Darlington Welcome, C.J. What an honor it is to have you as our guest today. 

1) How would you categorize yourself as an author?

I mostly write contemporary stories that include elements of suspense, but I also have a lot of fun writing my speculative YA stories. It’s a great time to be a writer because we don’t necessarily have to stick to one genre. I love the variety!

2) You won the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild Operation First Novel award for Thicker Than Blood. Can you give us a brief summary of the plot, C.J.?

thicker-than-blood-250Thicker than Blood is the story of two sisters who meet again after fifteen years of estrangement. The older, Christy, is a troubled alcoholic who works at a rare bookstore. The younger, May, is the co-owner of a failing cattle ranch. They both have something the other desperately needs, but they don’t realize it.

A bit about the main character … The majority of the story follows Christy, who is becoming adept at the intricacies of rare book buying and selling. She works at a four-story used bookstore called Dawson’s Book Barn. But on her thirty-third birthday she’s arrested for drunk driving and has to decide whether to return to her abusive ex-boyfriend or face the consequences. It isn’t long before she hits rock bottom.

The main theme? No one is ever too far gone for God. (Tweet That!) I also love weaving a story of sisterly love and devotion.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

It was always about two very different sisters. The plot grew from there. I loved being able to share about rare books, and that was something that developed over time. Christy was actually a real estate agent in early drafts! A first edition of Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls plays an important part in Thicker than Blood, which is especially neat for a book lover like me.

3) Tell us about the other three novels in the Thicker Than Blood series: Bound by Guilt, Ties That Bind, and the latest, Running on Empty:

Brief summaries and a little about the characters:

bound-by-guilt-250Bound by Guilt: A botched robbery at a used bookstore sends a teen girl on the run. The story focuses primarily on teen Roxi Gold who’s desperate for the love of a family. She’s been in and out of foster care since she was eight and just wants to fit in and have some stability. We also get to know police officer Abby Dawson who’s determined to find out who killed her brother.

ties-that-bind-250Ties that Bind: On a quest to find her father, a young woman discovers she has two sisters who have no idea she exists. Brynn Taylor has just gotten out of prison and is finally ready to fulfill her mother’s dying wish and find the father she’s never known. She ends up in the small cattle town of Elk Valley, Colorado, where her plans and her life begin to unravel.

running-on-empty-250Running on Empty: A lonely, down-on-her-luck young woman suddenly finds herself the guardian of her much younger half-sister. Not only is she blindsided with the news that she has a biological mother out there somewhere, but now she has to take care of Callie. But Del and Callie soon develop a sweet bond that I really enjoyed writing. Plus there’s a greyhound named Utah who I hope readers come to love too.

The theme of families and reconciliation is woven into all my stories (Tweet That!), right along with the theme of Thicker than Blood about the amazing reach of God’s love to all of us, no matter what we’ve done.

How would you compare/contrast the four novels?

I wrote all four with the intent that they stand completely by themselves. You don’t have to read Thicker than Blood to be able to enjoy Running on Empty, for instance. But there is a deeper experience if you read them in order. They all have the same flavor but take a look at a different issue.

Do the novels’ main characters intersect in the four stories?

Yes! That was something I enjoyed a lot. Most of the main characters from each book have a supporting role in the next.

In which main character do you find the most of yourself?

I think May Williams from Thicker than Blood is the closest to me in some ways. She has a deep love for animals and the outdoors and she’s trying to live a good Christian life. When she messes up and makes mistakes, which she does, she picks herself back up and keeps going. That’s what I hope I can always do in my life.

3) Your novel Jupiter Winds was a finalist in the 2015 American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award contest. How does it compare with the other four? How different was the writing experience?

jupiter-winds-250Jupiter Winds was a novel I wrote originally for pure fun. I had all these crazy ideas in my head and just spilled them out on the page, which I think allowed for some interesting plot twists! The book is different from my other books mostly just due to the genre change and that it features two teens. I came away from writing Jupiter Winds with a renewed respect for those who write fantasy and science fiction because world building is hard!

4) Having won Operation First Novel Award for Thicker Than Blood, you’ve been asked many times how the win changed your world. Now that you’re a publisher, how do the life changes compare?

Every new venture creates some great experiences. The great part about working as a publisher is the chance to bring even more stories to readers. I love great stories. Period. So it’s been a privilege.

5) How do you balance writing and publishing on a daily basis?

I am still learning! One thing I am discovering is the need to set a writing quota based on words rather than time.

6) Tell us about your Paint mare named Sky.horse-422111_1280

Sky is a sixteen-year-old Paint mare who has been such a blessing to our whole family. I have learned so much from this horse. Sky teaches me how to be patient, listen to animals, work hard, and have fun. (Tweet That!)

Have you written into a story an equine character with Sky in mind?

Not yet, but in Ties that Bind I wrote about a troubled horse named Lacey who was based on the horse I rode before we got Sky.

piercing-the-darkness7) You’ve said reading the Frank Peretti novel Piercing the Darkness was a turning point in your writing journey. Can you point to one scene or one element of the story that transformed or inspired you?

His character Sally Beth Roe is still one of my all time favorite characters. Her spiritual journey (I won’t give too much away) is beautiful. In fact, I think it’s time I picked the book up again!

8) Mountainview Books is a family endeavor. And home schooling was a family endeavor. How do they compare? Which has been the most challenging?

Each are uniquely challenging, but homeschooling taught me so many value things I am now able to bring to life as an adult. Pretty much everything I do stems back to the sacrifices my parents made to homeschool me. I am convinced I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

8) Describe for our readers your spiritual purpose in writing for the Christian market.

You know, each book provides a different answer to this question. With Thicker than Blood I was focusing on a salvation message.

In Bound by Guilt it was about unconditional love.

Ties that Bind continues with that.

Running on Empty is about child-like faith.

And Jupiter Winds challenges us to realize no matter where we go, God is with us. (Tweet That!)

I also value just telling a good story and have learned not to try too hard to force a spiritual take-away.

9) What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from your writing/publishing experiences?

Oh, my. Trusting God with everything!

Thank you so much, C.J., for taking the time to chat with our circle of friends. You are a young adult possessed of uncommon wisdom. Thank you for sharing with us.

~~~

Did you see the fruits, Readers? Look at how C.J. described the lessons she’s learned from her Paint mare Sky:

…What’s patience if not long-suffering?
…Doesn’t listening to animals require a listener at peace?
…Doesn’t love of life require hard work?
…And isn’t having good fun just plain joy?

Father God, we bow before you as Creator, Sustainer, and Thicker-Than-Blood Friend. We thank and praise You for stooping to love us, for coming so near You’d reside within us. Keep us in You, the Vine. Feed us as we cling to You. And produce fruit from us according to Your perfect will. For Jesus’ sake …

12 thoughts on “Author Chat: C. J. Darlington

  1. Thanks so much for having me, Linda!

     
     
    1. Having you was an honor, C.J. Thank you for being our guest.

       
       
  2. I like your thought on not forcing a spiritual take-away, C.J. So many books that have challenged my faith really didn’t seem to have a spiritual agenda, but it was THERE.

     
     
    1. Thanks for joining the chat this past week, Gail. Sometimes I feel as if C.J. writes her books–and lives her life–rather effortlessly. And that’s a spiritual lesson in itself.

       
       
    2. It’s a challenging balance, I know, but you are right–sometimes we get the most out of books that were more subtle.

       
       
  3. G.J. Hoffman

    Thank you, Linda, for hosting this.

    And thank you, C. J. Darlington. It was fun to hear more about you.
    A couple of years ago, I picked up Bound by Guilt at a Barnes and Noble to read the back and realized you were an Operation First Time Novel winner. At the time I was taking classes from the Christian Writers Guild, so I actually knew what that meant. So I bought your book.
    I enjoyed it and found it refreshing, particularly because it was different from the run of the mill adult romance or teen genres. And, I just finished Ties that Bind a couple of months ago.
    I did not, however, know that you had published anything in the speculative genre so that was fun to find out here. I too love the fact that, as writers, we can jump from contemporary to speculative, or in my case, to period medieval.
    So, I’m curious. What are you working on now/next?

    G.J. Hoffman (https://whentherocksspeak.wordpress.com/)

     
     
    1. Thanks for joining the chat this past week, Given. C.J. and her writing and publishing story are an inspiration to both of us and many others.

       
       
    2. Hi G.J.! Thanks for the comment, and I’m glad you enjoyed the stories. Running on Empty was just released in December of last year (Book 4 of the Thicker than Blood series), but I just finished the first draft of the next Jupiter story (sequel to Jupiter Winds.) I am also in the beginning stages of a completely new book! I still don’t know where I’m going with it, lol.

       
       
      1. G.J. Hoffman

        Wow, sounds like you have been busy. 🙂 I look forward to checking out your other books. Thanks.

         
         
  4. C.J.’s books definitely held my interest–for all the right reasons: well-developed characters, mystery, tension, history, and clean, crisp, intelligent writing!

     
     
    1. Ditto, Clarice! Thank you for joining the chat.

       
       
    2. Thanks, Clarice! Appreciate it.

       
       

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