Good Friday morning to all of my fellow writers and readers! I hope you've had an enjoyable week and are looking forward to spending a relaxing weekend. I do love Fridays because of the soon-to-be weekend, but I also look forward to posting these blogs every week. It's really what makes my Fridays downright wonderful. I hope you have all enjoyed reading them as much as I've enjoyed writing them and getting to know my fellow authors.
Today's writer of the week is Charleton Mills. He graciously allowed me to interview him a few weeks ago, and this is what he had to say.
AJ: Thank you for joining me today. Tell us a little about yourself and your background that led you to become a writer.
CM: My name is Charleton Mills. I was born in 1994 in Plano, Texas, lived there until I was five, and then we moved to Southern California, where I spent most of my childhood. At the age of 13, my family moved to the Branson, Missouri area, where I have lived since then. I have been a Christian most of my life, but it was never real to me until I was 13, when I was struggling with an addiction that God convicted me over. It was at that point that I started taking my faith seriously. Today, I am married, and will be celebrating our 4th wedding anniversary on Thursday, May 24th. My wife and I are starting a home church, which has been an adventure. Not to mention that we are designing Christian-hinted board games, which is kind of weird, but strangely fun. I am also going to Graduate School to get my Master of Divinity Degree, which I will get in about eight years since I’m taking one class at a time.
I got into writing probably because I like to learn. Writing essays in school was one of the easiest things to me. To be able to learn, and then restate what I learn to reaffirm it. It was in this way that I have learned a lot in college. It was also this way that I have learned a lot about Christ.
AJ: How many books have you written and in what genre would you classify your works?
CM: I’m somewhat new to the game, I suppose. Thus far, I have written five books, only one of which are published. The other four are still in the mid-to-late processes of writing. The published book is something of a textbook for Mime Ministry, which I wanted to offer as a resource for my Mime Ministry website. I offer that book free of charge for ministry purposes here.
The other four books are part of a seven-book series that I am writing. This series, titled Harla’ak Chronicles, is what I would call fiction, with perhaps a bit of fantasy. It is a series about a demon named Harla’ak who seeks repentance from heaven, so he goes to earth to attempt to obtain it. The first book centers around that idea, and then the rest of the books write from the perspective of different main characters in the first book. The timeline of the seven books takes place from the beginning to time to the end of time (there is actually a book that outlines creation, and the last book is about the apocalypse). So, definitely fiction, but with some theological points that I hope make people scratch their heads and figure out if it is true themselves.
AJ: Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you work from an outline, or do you prefer to see where the story leads you?
CM: A bit of both, honestly. I usually mock up a general outline, especially inserting key plot points, but I let the writing take me where it needs to go. I try to be led by the Holy Spirit as well, since what I’m writing I believe is ministry as well. When I’m done with my first draft, I set the book down for at least six months before coming back to it. I have been writing the first book of this series for about three years now, and I am in, I believe, the last draft. The others I have been working on for between one and two years now, but they are still in their early to mid-phases of development. Anyway, when I come back after a few months, I read over it once again, smooth out some of the rough parts, and even overhaul a few really awkward portions (even if they are entire chapters). In addition, I will find points where chronologically time has passed very quickly and try to add in some detail between those points. For example, if in my first version I say, “a week later,” I may try to describe what happened that week, even if it is just in an additional paragraph. That process works well for me.
AJ: Have you had much success in marketing and selling your books? If so, what tips could you give fellow writers who haven't been as blessed?
CM: This is not something I can answer well. I have only used Smashwords for Mime Theory Lectures, which seems to be a really affordable way to publish your book. As far as actual publishing and actual marketing and selling, I don’t know. I do know that word of mouth is best, and seeking friends and family first helps in the early development.
AJ: Do you have any interesting writing quirks? If so, how does it help your writing?
CM: My least favorite thing about me is that my creative process happens in waves. Sometimes I will be on fire, wanting to write and write and write uncontrollably. This is where a lot of my best writing comes from. However, sometimes I am exhausted from life and my mood changes to where I might go weeks without writing at all. This is terrible to my creative process. I have learned not to force it though. I pray for inspiration often, but I do not force writing. I have been known to go a solid month or two without writing in the Harla’ak Chronicles because if I tried, it would be mediocre at best.
AJ: Do you see writing as a career? Or, is this just a hobby?
CM: You know, I don’t know. God has placed so many weird and random projects on my heart. Like I mentioned before, I have a website designed to help mime ministries out. I also am making board games, which I received inspiration from a dream for the first one. Now, I’m starting a blog about my life and projects here, and we have a home church out of our home. Not to mention my Master’s program and just general other hobbies. I have felt called to be a teacher when I finish my degree, but I may also be a pastor. At the same time, I try to be open to the Holy Spirit’s leading, since I do not want to miss what He intends for my life. I leave that to God in prayer.
AJ: What is your goal, or mission, as a writer?
CM: From the beginning, there are only two things I want from writing. First, I want to honor God in what I do. Second, if one person comes to Christ because of this, it will all be worth it. As a tertiary goal, I do want my writing to inspire and encourage others, as well as offer something legitimately interesting for people today. In the midst of secular writing and popular books that are sinful (e.g. Fifty Shades of Gray), Christians often have very little to counteract that. In recent days, I have seen amazing developments in Christian media, especially with recent movies like I Can Only Imagine and God’s Not Dead. Christian media has been notoriously cheesy, but I think it’s about time we take it back.
AJ: What social media outlets have you used to reach your readers? And, which ones have you found to be the most successful?
CM: Once again, I am not skilled in this outlet. Smashwords is a cheap and easy way to self-publish books. I
recommend it above other eBook publishers, simply because it is the most well-used. Facebook is a great tool as well. I like talking to other Christian writers on the Christian Writers Facebook group, they have a lot of experience and opinions there from all walks of life and it’s good to see what people say. Blogs are also good. I have just recently started a blog myself, mostly because I have heard how important community is. For some writers, they have a great following that is excited whenever they create anything. Building community is so hard, but getting to that point is, I believe, what we all aim to do.
AJ: Have you been able to travel for your writing? If so, what was the most exciting place you visited? If not, what would be one place you would choose to visit and write about?
CM: I have not. I was invited to a writer’s retreat once by a publishing agency, but was unable to go. That was about the extent of my travels.
AJ: How can readers discover more about you?
CM: At the moment, my personal blog is where I do my writing and talk about it (or at least will at some point in the future), but once again, I am very early into having that. At some point, I will make a Facebook page with additional information about it all, but that is something that will come at an appropriate time. I also have a Patreon, which I barely advertise for, since I do not believe I have anything worth supporting at the moment. I will at some point with the board games I’m making, the books I’m writing, and the blog I’m upholding.
If you'd like to find or follow Charleton, click on any of the links, or pictures, above.