If at First …

I carefully read all of your comments, and I enjoy each one of these gifts.  Why then did I feel slightly uncomfortable, when I read a comment that complimented my writing abilities?  Somewhere around twenty years ago, I mailed a manuscript to several publishers.  Somewhere around ten weeks later, I learned that all of them thought my manuscript stunk.  They didn’t say stunk – they were professionals – they used a much more courteous approach.


I’d never attempted creative writing.  I was home with my newborn, and my job-from-home workload was under control, so I decided to venture into the world of fictional writing.   My hope of becoming a writer was dashed as those letters started arriving in the mail.  As I write about this, I’m experiencing that same sick feeling in my stomach.  Why didn’t my writing attempts stop there?


It’s because of my own personal ending.  Not a literal ending, but where I decided to finally accept that a handful of publishers didn’t own the world.  Their pass on my work, didn’t mean that I was a failure.  It simply communicated that they weren’t on board with my writing, or that I needed to eventually go back and work to improve my writing.  But when it first happened, it negatively impacted me.  I was embarrassed and felt like a loser.  I was dejected and out of sorts for a time.  I grew to accept the rejection, and even realized that it was proof that I was courageous.  I had tried something different and challenging, and that fact made me proud.  I always knew that being published after my first attempt was a long-shot, and I don’t want to diminish the efforts of those that have or haven’t been published after years of perseverance, but I had stretched myself and I’d tried despite the odds.  As the years passed, I was honest about the inferior quality of my writing, but I also chose to be gentle with myself.  I accepted that it wasn’t the season to put more work into this, but nothing had to stop me from trying again someday.


Working through this taught me a valuable life lesson.  Rejection should not define me.  Easier said than lived out – rejection hurts.  We either believe that it tells our story, or we fight hard to come back from it.  In this way, I’m a fighter.  I fought and refused to allow the rejection to speak for me.   I speak for me through the good things that have already happened, and will continue to happen because of my involvement.   I’m a good wife, mother, daughter and friend.  I’ve encouraged and stood by my husband through many difficult times, and as he completely changed his career at age forty and moved us to an entirely different environment and lifestyle.   I’ve had success in the corporate world, but left it, to go home and do my most important job – raise my children.  I’m far from the perfect home-school mom, but I’ve demonstrated tenacity by sticking with it from kindergarten through high-school.   There are people who trust me and desire to share their time with me.  And yes, I’ve attempted writing again.  This time I chose to write about my own experiences, and my hope is that my writing will reach a special person at precisely the right moment.


I’m not the sum total of all of my rejections and neither are you.  You now know more about me, and why your encouragement means so much to me.  Is there something that you need to try, try, again?


Comedy Over Adversity – Interview with Bob Smiley

He’s the picture of a successful man.  As a working comedian, he has a hilarious, clever, self-deprecating style and a never-ending supply of gigs and opportunities to work alone and with some of the comedic greats.  His family is beautiful, he has no mortgage and writes a five-digit check when he buys a new car.  From the outsider’s point of view, his life looked perfect but what happened when the man returned home from a weekend of shows to discover that his wife had left him?  Stunned, grieved and angry, Bob Smiley began the journey of healing his heart and raising his sons.  He is now using this experience of flying solo to help others.  Now, let’s meet this inspiring man – Bob Smiley.

Madeline:  Welcome Bob, thank you for joining us.

Bob: Thanks for using the word ‘working’ in my introduction.  I’m going to show this to my Dad, to remind him that I do actually work.

Madeline:  Once you learned that your wife had left and was pursuing a divorce, did you immediately begin seeking support or did you hide?  What did you learn from this and what advice would you give to others?

Bob:  It was such a shock.  I mean…look at me.  Who would throw that away?  I’m totally kidding obviously.  In fact, that was my first response.  When she told me the news, she also told me that she didn’t want to discuss it.  So I started trying to fix anything that I thought may have been the problem.  I started working out for 2 to 3 hours a day and not eating.  I dropped 36 pounds in just a few months.  I got to where I could use ChapStick as deodorant.  I kept asking what I could change to fix this, which I now realize made me look desperate and unattractive.  I also didn’t tell anyone.  She didn’t want to tell the church elders and I didn’t want to tell our friends.  I was embarrassed and felt like a failure.  I also didn’t want our kids to know that there was a problem.  We’d always been a close, fun family and I didn’t want our kids to think that we were entering a rough patch in our lives.  I had no idea what lay ahead for us all.  So I sort of hid, which leads to my advice.  Seek counsel from your church the second you think there’s a problem.  Satan loves to use isolation to wreck our lives.  This goes for any problem.  God made us for community and we need to lean on and help each other.  So don’t hide.  Don’t give Satan a foothold by hiding your shame.  Bring your problems into the light and let God do His thing.  And don’t spend two hours on the treadmill a day.  No one needs to be so skinny that they look like they went to a blood bank and forgot to say “when”.

Madeline:  I’m certain that you must have received good advice and bad advice.  What were some of the wisest things said to you?

Bob:  The best advice came from my friend, comedian Tim Hawkins, (You should check him out.  I promise he is the second best comedian out there.)  I waited about three months before reaching out to my friends.  Once I knew my wife had flipped a switch, and there was no hope or desire to let God fix our marriage, I knew I had to start telling people to prepare for the new life that I was being forced into.  I called Tim and told him what had been going on.  He’d known my wife and me for many years, so he was shocked as well, but quickly said, “Don’t go through this on your own.  Depression can generate some crazy and dangerous ideas.  So be in constant contact with your friends and be as open as you can.  Now, lose this number.  Good luck.”

I’m kidding about the last part, but the first part of what he said was absolutely true and was what got me through the darkest part of all of this.  Talking about everything with my closest friends helped me to process everything, and get a game plan together of how to move on after the floor fell out from under me.

So I cannot stress enough, that God created us for community and good friends will help you through the hard times.  I seriously hope Tim reads this, or that someone will text me what his new number is, so I can tell him myself.

Madeline:  What have been some of the hardest aspects of grief for you and how did you get through them?

Bob:  When someone leaves you, you instantly think that you’re a failure.  You think you’re a loser with no redeeming qualities.  And again, that’s Satan trying to get you to give up on trying to be the person God created you to be.  And I have to admit, Satan was winning that game against me for a long time.  I was angry and depressed and hurt.  However, the more I relied on my friends and the more I dove into the Bible, I was reminded that God can use the most messed up people in life.  The Bible is full of losers that God used to do great things, therefore making them winners.  I knew that I had to get up every day and face the shattered life that I had worked so hard to create, and start allowing God to shape and build a new life for me, with new adventures and opportunities.  And He has.  You know, God saved Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego IN the fire.  He didn’t save them FROM the fire.  That story really hit home.  I was in the fire … but God was right there with me.

Madeline:  How has humor helped you and your sons to grieve and get to where you are today?

Bob:  I’ve always heard that laughter is the best medicine but after the year I’ve had, I can honestly say that it’s Vicodin.  I’m kidding!  Laughter has so much healing power and I went months without that power.  I remember being on stage two weeks after my wife had moved out.  I was telling a joke and watching a room full of people laughing uncontrollably while I was thinking in my mind, “why are you laughing – don’t you know how much pain there is in the world?”  Then I thought, “maybe that’s why they’re laughing.”

So I started looking for humor and laughter more in my personal life.  I remember one of the first things that I laughed at.  I was in the shower and I thought how nice it was that now, I don’t have to read 18 different bottles of stuff so that I don’t accidentally wash my hair with Shea Butter Foot Scrub … which is something that I’ve done in the past.  In fact, I’ve washed my hair with so much foot scrub, I’m surprised I don’t have a toe growing out of my head.  But now I have one bottle in the shower.  It says Holiday Inn on it.

My kids and I then started playing more silly games together like Tele-strations or charades and watching funny videos together.  We tried to make each other laugh more and more and really started seeing some healing happening.  It got to a point where we realized that we were going to be ok.  It wasn’t the life we chose, but it was going to be ok.  You see, God can use joy to remind us that no matter what tragedy you’re facing at the time, there is still good times ahead of you, if you will continue to rely on Him.

Madeline:  How can church leadership and people in the Church be an effective help to someone going through an unwanted divorce?

Bob: Reach out to them.  Especially in the beginning, a daily or weekly phone call from the leaders in the church can make a huge difference.  An unwanted divorce is a terrible thing.  You are suddenly forced to sit back and watch everything that you’ve worked so hard to build just crumble away and you can’t do anything about it.  It usually involves lies and justification from the other side, which angers you even more.  So a simple phone call, just to let you know that you have friends on your side can make all the difference in the world.  And prayer is obviously a huge tool to get through any pain.  Going back to what Hawkins said about not going through this alone, I would tell the church not to let their wounded go through anything alone.

Madeline:  Will you use your comedy act as a platform to talk about divorce?  If so, how?

Bob:  I’m so surprised by this answer, but yes.  One of my biggest fears was that the divorce was going to also end my career.  I didn’t know if churches would even allow a divorced Christian onto their stages.  I wasn’t going to hide my divorce if people asked me directly but I definitely wasn’t planning on talking about it.  However, I was going back to Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas for a second time to do their marriage date night event.  It had been a huge success the year before and I had, as always, talked a lot on stage about how amazing my wife was and how great marriage could be.  I was now returning a year later, a broken wounded warrior.  So I called them and explained my situation expecting them to find another comic.  I’ll never forget what the guy said.  He said, “Do you have Tim Hawkins’ cell number?”

Ok.  That’s not true but this is the longest I’ve gone without making a joke.  What he said was, “There’s an attack on marriages so, if you feel comfortable, you should talk about it on stage.  I think it could really help people.”  So I started thinking about what to say on stage that would be positive and uplifting, and I realized that God had given me an amazing platform to remind people of two things.  If your marriage isn’t good, don’t just walk away.  Satan would love nothing more than to rip apart your marriage.  Satan has so much to gain by ending your marriage.  It causes so much pain.  It will damage your kids and most likely lay the ground work for them to have failed marriages.  It will make you feel like giving up and not feeling worthy enough for God to use you.  It’s no wonder Satan is attacking marriages.

So stay and fight.  Let God create a new marriage for the two of you.  That’s the first message that I gave that night.  The second one is: if someone that has pledged to be committed to you for the rest of your life, just up and walks out of your life … you have to know that God will never do that.  Back to the Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego story.  God will walk you through the fire.  He will get you through the hurt, the pain, the anger and He will continue to use you, if you will let Him.

I walked off the stage that night not really knowing what to expect.  The crowd had laughed at several of my stories about how my kids and I had adapted to our new lives.  However, I had no idea how the serious part of my show had been received … until I got to my merchandise table.

There was a huge line of people waiting, not for my autograph and unfortunately not to buy anything (I have a lot of debt now so merch sales are all of a sudden very important) … people were lining up to tell me what they were going through.  I was surprised at the brutal honesty of couples coming up saying that their marriage wasn’t good, but that they just weren’t doing anything about it.  They didn’t see it as an attack from Satan, they just thought they’d grown tired of each other.

So after that night, I decided to start talking about it on stage.  I was starting to realize that God was continuing to use me…just in a different way now.

The fourth time I talked about it on stage was in Michigan.  As I walked off the stage, I was met by a guy who told me that his wife had left him yesterday.  He said that he didn’t want to come to the show but his buddy had dragged him to it (again, community and friendship is key to getting through tragedy!).  He and I talked for a while and he was reminded that God wasn’t through with him.  He just had to get through the fire.  So, I know you asked a simple question and I’m giving you a lot but the answer is yes.  I’m using comedy to remind the broken that God is the ultimate healer.

Madeline:  Incredible.  How else has God brought good out of your experience?

Bob:  I have a lot more room in my closet now.

Madeline:  What is the most significant thing that God has taught you so far?

Bob:  He is faithful and He is freeing.  I now know that anyone is capable of disappointing you.  I’m capable of disappointing you.  We are flawed.  We are sinful.  We can be persuaded by Satan into thinking that the grass is greener somewhere else.  However, God’s love is never ending.  He will never walk away.  His vow is unbreakable.  So as I continue to see His love, it sets me free to forgive easier, to love easier, to seek opportunities to spread God’s love.  It gives me purpose and the armor to fight any battle.

John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Madeline:  Grieving can take a toll on your physical health.  How did all of this affect your strength and vitality?

Bob:  At first, it crippled me.  I wasn’t eating and if I did, it wasn’t healthy.  And after she moved out, I just didn’t care about myself.  I was very destructive.  I didn’t care what happened to me because I felt like no one cared what happened to me.  Again, Satan loves to use divorce to wreck people’s lives … and it does.  It wrecked mine for a while.  What pulled me out of that, was the realization that I had 3 amazing kids that needed me.  I knew that I had to pull myself out of the pity party that I had created, and just go on with life.  My kids’ worlds were crashing in as well and they needed me more than ever.

Now I’m eating healthy and working out properly.  In fact, this month I’m training for a 1K!

Madeline:  What advice would you give about dating when children are still in the home?

Bob:  That’s a tough question that I think needs to be answered on an individual basis.  I didn’t want to be lonely but I also didn’t want to expose my kids to anything that might be confusing or frustrating to them.  They were already being taught through example that divorce is completely ok.  I didn’t want to do anything else that would damage them even more.  However, each of them brought the subject up to me over our Thanksgiving holiday.  They all had different questions for me but all 3 of them were of the opinion that I should start dating again.  So I did and it has gone well and by that I mean, “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

I say this as nicely as possible but there are some crazy people out there.  So my advice on dating, especially when kids are involved, is proceed with caution.  I wouldn’t let your kids meet anyone until you’ve dated them for a year.  I have gone out with a few women that have seemed amazing at first, but after a few months I have been so grateful that I hadn’t allowed them to meet my kids.  I won’t name names on here, because I don’t know if the restraining order includes getting 50 feet from any of my online interviews, but proceed with caution.  Take the time to truly get to know who you are inviting into your life and more importantly into your kid’s lives.  Keep your kids first in your life which includes your dating life.  That being said…Ladies, I’m single and can be reached at 555…..  🙂

Madeline:  What would you like to say to the person who is struggling in their marriage or even considering divorce?

Bob: First, tell your spouse how you’re feeling.  Make sure your spouse knows that there is a problem at the beginning and keep a constant line of communication open.  Don’t wait until you’ve decided that it’s over before you say anything.  Again, Satan loves using isolation to wreck lives.  Communication is key.  If that doesn’t fix things, go to the church right away.  Seek counsel.  Each of you should find an older person and submit to them for mentoring.  Seeking wise advice and mentoring can sometimes help break bad habits or cycles and start the renewing process.   And lastly, be willing to fight for the vow you made to God.  Divorce sometimes looks like an easy out but it’s a horrible tough road full of pain and suffering.  Creating a Godly marriage is worth the fight.

Madeline:  Bob, I have no doubts that there is someone who is reading this interview and is going through a very similar event in their own life.  If you could sit with them, is there anything else that you would you say to them?

Bob:  Would you please buy my DVD?  I have a lot of stuff to replace.  🙂

Actually, I would say everything that they’ve just read.  God won’t leave you, so don’t give up on Him.

Let’s lighten up with lightening round.

Madeline:  Kombucha or sweet tea?

Bob: Sweet Tea mostly because kombucha sounds like a foot disease.

Madeline:  Exercise or napping?

Bob: Napping on the treadmill.

Madeline:  Hunting or playing sports?

Bob: Hunting.  Kids got to eat!

Madeline:  Flying or road-trip?

Bob: Road trip…because then I’m in control.  American Airlines won’t sit me in my truck next to a stranger that smells like if a foot could fart, all while delaying me pulling out of the driveway for no reason at all.  Not that I’m bitter about flying.

Madeline:  Sleek sports car or crew cab pick-up?

Bob:  I’m a huge hunter from Texas…so…..

Madeline:  Please tell the readers where they can follow you.

Bob:       http://www.bobsmiley.com

Twitter: @bobsmileycomic

Facebook: bobsmileycomedy

Instagram: bobsmileycomic

Snapchat: bobsnapperchat

email: bob@bobsmiley.com

Madeline:  Bob, thank you for joining us and sharing your story.  I’m very sure that you will reach someone out there that needs to hear your message of hope.  My best wishes to you and your sons.

Bob:  Thanks Madeline!  Hey … you aren’t single are you?  🙂  Actually, I’ll throw in one last thing about dating after divorce.  I understand why a divorced person would think that any relationship is better than nothing at all.  What I don’t understand, is that person thinking that they have nothing at all.  You’re God’s child and really, that’s all that matters.

Thank you for reading.  If you have enjoyed this post, please leave your feedback.  You can follow Madeline on Facebook and WordPress.

Tim Hawkins – Interview With a Creative Genius

This ordinary woman has again been blessed with an extraordinary opportunity.  I have the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite people in the world – Tim Hawkins.  He is a creative genius – making wonderful things out of nothing with his original music, clever musical parodies, relatable jokes, hilarious impersonations and now he’s an author with the recent release of his first book entitled Diary of a Jackwagon. Still, with all of Tim’s success, he 20160313_191449 (2)exudes a humility and genuineness that is rare in the entertainment industry.  This humility and genuineness makes him powerfully credible as he slows down his show for a few moments and effectively shares the message of abundant life, joy, freedom and hope that comes through Jesus Christ and the victory that we can have through placing our trust in His completed work on the cross and His powerful resurrection.  Tim calls his fans Jackwagons and they absolutely adore him for it.  If for some reason, that I personally cannot fathom, you are unaware of who Tim Hawkins is, buckle up because you are about to find out and go on a truly joyful ride.


Now let’s meet the man behind the incredibly funny comedian and masterful musician –


Madeline:  Welcome Tim. Your comedy career requires that you be on the road touring most weekends out of the year.  What are a few of the practical things that you do in order to capitalize on your time at home with your family during the week?

Tim:  I’ve become a lot better about balancing my time. When I’m on the road, I’m on the road. When home, I’m home. I don’t write as much at home anymore. I focus on the act more when I’m on the road. I had a couple months off recently and I was encouraged that I wasn’t anxious about getting back out on the road. Some comics don’t take care of themselves that way. You have to let the cup be empty so you can fill it back up again.


Madeline:  You and your wife, Heather, will be celebrating 23 years of marriage soon – congratulations!  What, in your opinion, has been the secret to successfully navigating the ups and downs of marriage?

Tim:  Love isn’t a feeling. It’s a choice. It’s also not a competition. It’s a place you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable. That’s not easy, because when you’re vulnerable it exposes the weaknesses of your character. Love is about allowing someone in and trusting them with the most needy parts of yourself. We choose to love one another, and it’s much easier when you really like the other person.


Madeline:  Would you agree that marriages are under attack both inside and outside of the Church?  What would you like to say to the reader that is struggling in their marriage or even considering divorce?

Tim:  Absolutely. I believe (from my own experience) that most relationships suffer because of pride, self-importance and envy. We have these feelings like we’re not getting all out of life that we deserve. The 80’s wasn’t the “me” decade. Every decade is the “me” decade. Because that’s what people do. They think happiness comes from getting things for themselves. Not just material, but social and psychological and spiritual things. Jesus said to gain life you have to lose it. You want happiness in this life? Then die. Die to yourself. Better yet, commit yourself to others. In marriage, commit to die for the other person. What better love is this than to lay down your life for someone?


Madeline:  As the father of your 4 children, what do you want to instill in each of your children, before they leave the provision of your home?

Tim:  I want to instill in them confidence and peace and love and generosity and hard work and no whining and honor. And whatever it takes for them to be able to afford one of those nice motorized scooters for me when I get older.


Madeline:  Assuming that you and the other men that tour with you face daily temptations and struggles, what methods do you use to help each other and hold each other accountable?

Tim:  I have a great friend who I can tell anything to. Isolation is what will kill you on the road. If you have someone you can include in your life, share your battles with, that takes a lot of power away from the enemy. It doesn’t mean the temptations go away, but it does mean you have a great weapon against it when it rears its ugly head. There’s a reason Jesus sent his disciples out in twos. Also there’s some great accountability software out there that works wonderfully.


Madeline:  Which personality trait or quirk inherited from one of your parents, surprised or alarmed you the most?

Tim:  I obsess about car keys. If I don’t know where they are at all times, I can’t function. Like my dad.


OK, lightening round:

Madeline:  New gadget or time spent?  Tim: Angry Birds 2

Madeline:  Soda pop or sweet tea?  Tim: Neither, sugar is the devil.

Madeline:  Football or hockey?  Tim: Footkey

Madeline:  French fries or onion rings?  Tim: Yes please.

Madeline:  Spiders.  Relocated or squished?  Tim: Squished – then relocated.

Madeline:  Chocolate.  Milk or dark?  Tim: Dark as night – with almond butter.


Madeline:  Tim, what’s something funny about yourself that we don’t already know?

Tim:  Diana Ross makes me cry.


Snapshot_47 (2)Madeline:  Road travel can really take a toll on our well-being.  How do you manage to stay fit and strong?

Tim:  I’ve been eating the Whole30 lifestyle. It’s similar to paleo eating. I also stopped eating breakfast. I have more energy that way. Also I try to work out every day. I’ll take a kettle bell and some TRX bands when there’s not a gym available. I’ve learned that most of staying healthy is what I’m eating.


Madeline:  What’s your least favorite aspect of touring?

Tim:  I don’t like it that Heather has to deal with the day to day a lot by herself. Sure, I’m just a phone call away, but there’s something about being physically present as a father that makes a difference. I don’t have a lot of great wisdom to give to my children. I don’t think that’s my main job. My main job is to be present. I feel closer to them when I’m literally closer to them.


Madeline:  Tim, please tell the readers where they can follow you.

Tim:       Twitter – @timhawkinscomic

Facebook – Tim Hawkins

Instagram – timhawkinscomic

Also, Highway 70 usually


Thank you so much for spending time with us Tim.  This has been a real treat for me and the readers.  Special thanks to Tim’s incredible Road Manager, Chris “Freight” Mabrey for coordinating this interview.


So there you have it – Tim Hawkins.  Are you still wondering why 20150530_220041_pp2Tim is someone that I greatly admire or do you now understand?  Many refer to him as “funny man” but he is so much more to me.  Truth be told, God used Tim Hawkins and his very unique set of gifts to restore my joy after one of the darkest periods in my life.  God created laughter.  Thank you Tim, for delivering it to me and to so many others!  Proverbs 17:22 says a joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.


Please check out Tim’s website timhawkins.net where you will find fantastic Timhawkinspoddybreakmerchandise including his hilarious collection of DVDs, touring schedule and tickets to shows and the link to his new free podcast entitled Poddy Break.  Go to diaryofajackwagon.com for Tim’s debut book.

 If you’ve enjoyed this post from Madeline Eatenton, please take a moment to Like her Facebook Page so that you can see her future weekly posts.

16 Hours – An Interview with the Playwright

16 HoursTravis W. Inman, Author and Playwright – his life story is like an epic movie portraying the challenges and triumphs of living the American dream.  As a young man, he begins his life as a cowboy in West Texas on his parent’s ranch and follows a long road complete with the harrowing hairpin turns of two broken hips during military service and a life threatening illness.  He survives and walks again and then becomes a published author and now a produced playwright and there is much that happened in between.  Travis W. Inman’s first produced play, entitled 16 Hours was a huge hit with sold out shows.  It was produced by American Laboratory Theatre and directed by international director and creative genius Jesús Quintero.  16 Hours which was originally entitled Decision Maker and then Forbidden Rose, is a deeply moving story of survival, hope, and retribution.

Let’s say hello to author and playwright, Travis W. Inman.

Madeline:Welcome and thank you for visiting with us again Travis.  Please tell us about your play 16 Hours.

Travis:Hello! I deeply appreciate you taking time to chat with me today!  Isaac Jacobs is a man who survived the Holocaust and WWII but lost his family to the Nazis. He dedicated his entire life to tracking down the men who murdered his wife and kids. He finally traps them in a bank and takes them hostage, along with everyone else in the bank at the time. He intends to execute the Nazis in a very public setting. However, nothing goes according to plan. The other hostages are more complicated than he anticipated, and he has trouble executing his plan. All of his life he hoped for justice, never did he expect justice would bring him hope.

Madeline:I have had the honor of reading your original script for 16 Hours and I was privileged to attend two showings.   The director Jesús Quintero, colored your story beautifully.  What was the most difficult aspect of letting go of your writings and allowing the creative process to work?  What was the most enjoyable aspect?

Travis:Jesús creatively interpreted the script and added many theatrical elements to the play that I did not envision. He asked permission to interpret the play, and I freely surrendered the script to him, knowing that whatever he did was going to be incredible. Nothing he did was difficult for me to embrace. In fact, there are many aspects of his direction that I will incorporate into the actual script. As far as letting go? I had no trouble with this at all. I learned long ago that when I create something in writing, and then surrender it to someone else, they are now the master and commander of the story. I’m honored that they loved my work enough to focus it to fit their needs. I was flattered, not horrified. And I would do it all again! Many writers can be very guarded with their work, and desperate to maintain control over their words. I went through that as well when I first started publishing. But, a good editor (or director) will see a broader picture that I can’t see. I’ve learned to trust that process and allow it to happen. IT WAS A BLAST, TOO!

Madeline:What was the most surprising creative touch added by director, Jesús Quintero?

Travis:Well. He added a whole new character, which shocked me. The death_ncharacter’s name? Death! I know, right? DEATH is now a character in the play. I was so taken aback by the new character; it took me a while to process that. But, once I saw where Jesús was going with it, I was amazed. And then I was jealous. I dearly wish I’d thought of it myself! Death as a character in a story about the holocaust was a stroke of genius, and it worked incredibly well. I already know how I’m going to rewrite the play to have Death as a background character, who is able to influence the characters from near and far, and it would have never happened had Jesús not contributed that change. BRAVO to him!

Madeline:The director, Jesús Quintero placed deep meaning throughout the play using images, objects and music.  I found after seeing a second showing, that many of my questions were answered.  How did that experience “play” out for you?

Travis:Well, some of his meanings and imagery didn’t make sense to me at first and I had to sit and ask him, “What does this mean?” And when he explained to me, “This reflects humanity’s reluctance to stand up against evil”, or, “This is characteristic of human reaction to pain”, I was in awe. Really, there was much of the play I didn’t understand because I was preconditioned to see it from my own point of view. But, once I heard Jesús declare, “This is a dream, a nightmare really, and this is how a dream works” it all clicked for me.

Madeline:Was there anything that you found especially touching or moving about seeing your writing coming to life in this play?

Travis:What a profound experience. It was both exhilarating and humbling at the same time. And terrifying. I felt very exposed and vulnerable at first, but once I saw that people embraced the play, I was at peace. It was quite a ride!

Madeline:As part of an innovative approach to theatre, you were asked to write two endings and the audience participated by voting for which ending that they would like to see.  How did you determine which two endings that you would write?

Travis:The overall connecting theme is the sanctity of life. In the original play, Isaac is torn between doing what he is driven to do and what he knows would violate his conscience. Despite all of the death he has embraced in his life, he discovers that actually pulling the trigger is harder than he imagined. Jesús took that idea and expanded it so the audience would have a chance to experience that conflict on their own. He told me to “come up with an alternate ending.” So, I thought about it. What if the audience voted for justice rather than mercy? How would that look? Well, I concluded that when we, mortals, try to execute our own brand of justice, things can be overlooked. Important things. Such as consequences. So, I wrote each part of the alternate endings to have unique consequences.

Madeline:Did you secretly hope that the audience would choose one ending over the other?

Travis:I very selfishly wanted to see both endings. I was even flirting with the idea of forcing the vote (I was the emcee who tallied the votes during the play), but each night the audience votes were unpredictable. Over the course of five performances, they voted for mercy three times, and for justice twice. Both endings were quite startling, I must say.

Madeline:16 Hours has an overtly pro-life message.  How has the public reacted to this?

Travis:I understand that on our first weekend, we had a few people walk out, but we don’t know why. We deal with really dark material in the play, but it is with the purpose of declaring how precious life is. I was expecting a backlash for being so overtly pro-life, but the audience seemed to embrace it without hesitation.

Madeline:OK, let’s lighten up with lightening round.

Madeline:  Sunny or cloudy?  Travis: Cloudy

Madeline:  Hotel or camping?  Travis: Hotel. I really enjoy lounging.

Madeline:  Surf or Turf?  Travis: Turf

Madeline:  Novel or TV sitcom?  Travis: Depends on how cloudy it is.

Madeline:  Bacon or sausage?  Travis: BACON. Duh!

Madeline:Do you have other plays already written?

Travis:I have a stack on my desk. I have more than I could possibly hope to see produced!

Madeline:Would you enjoy having another play brought to production?

Travis:We will be producing more plays. Sadly, we can only do one a year with our current resources. But, I will continue my relationship with American Laboratory Theatre for many years.

Madeline: Travis, please tell the readers where they can find you.
Travis: http://www.traviswinman.com

Madeline:Travis, thank you for joining us again and sharing your journey with the readers.

Travis:I absolutely love the work you do, and I think it has helped heal and motivate many more people than we could ever imagine. Being allowed to participate in that process is an honor for me, and I humbly thank you for considering me.

Please be sure to check out Travis’ other works on Amazon.com.  He has two excellent choices for you.   For a sweet love story, read When Love Called and for a gripping tale, read Shadows – One Choice a Future Makes.

Shadows – One Choice a Future Makes – An Interview With the Author

Today, I have the honor of introducing you to author & playwright, Travis W. Inman. Travis’ most recent release entitled, Shadows – One Choice a Future Makes, is an intriguing story which causes the reader to consider their own choices.  An ordinary man named Justin “Flip” Grey travels across country where he is privileged to speak at a prestigious banking conference. After a successful night, he fights with his wife on the telephone, meets a seductress and faces the proverbial fork in the road. Will he be faithful to his wife or will he succumb to the most tempting woman that he has ever encountered? Travis gives us a valuable look into the consequences, both good and bad, by taking us down two divergent roads. On one road Justin does the right thing and on the other road, traveled by Flip, we see that when we play with fire, we will surely get burned. I highly recommend this well written book – I enjoyed it so much that I couldn’t put it down. I believe that Shadows is an important story and can potentially prevent extramarital affairs and even stop them and as a bonus, the book contains a study guide.

Now, let’s meet the author.

Madeline: Welcome Travis. I’ve read your first release When Love Called, which is an uplifting innocent love story. Why would you write a dark tale such as Shadows?
Travis: I believe there is great power in any story to teach. Sweet, uplifting stories have their place in our culture, and as well they should. But, what happens when love and marriage go wrong? Where are the stories that demonstrate the consequences of our sinful choices? I deliberately designed Shadows to be dark and edgy because the topic demanded that approach. Affairs are dark and edgy, and in order for the story to be powerful, it had to bear a similar edge. Of course, the dark edge is filtered through a Christian worldview, and is a safe read for older teens.


Madeline: In Shadows, you give the reader a valuable look into possible consequences, both good and bad. As a writer, which did you most enjoy writing about?
Travis: This is like asking if you love your children, even when they do bad things. In the story Justin follows the straight path, and God richly blesses him. Richly? Indeed. Of course my story is fiction, so I bestowed Justin with vast wealth, which he used to invest into the Kingdom of God and made a positive impact in his world. That was fun to write, trying to figure out how to spend and invest his wealth. It was like having a genie in a bottle. That being said, I also had the dark story to write—the part where Justin becomes Flip and walks the sinful path. The people who suffered the most in his dark journey were his family members. While I hated to inflict such pain on them, I enjoyed delving into a story that bears the fruit of redemption. I had to make the darkness miserable enough that the reader understood their pain, but not so much that the reader was dissatisfied. Writers love challenges like that. So, I’d say I enjoyed writing the dark path the most.


Madeline: Which character was the most painful for you to write about?
Travis: Justin’s wife, Connie, plays a part in both realities. In the blessed path where she is married to Justin, we see how she reaches out to help others and even starts a ministry that helps rescue battered women. We see her as a fun, energetic, witty, faith-empowered woman. However, in the dark path, where she is married to Flip, there is no one there to help her in her moment of need. I really hated to inflict pain on her. She is a strong woman, but even strong women have a breaking point. And taking her to the very edge of that point was hard for me.


Madeline: Tell the readers, in your opinion, what you think is the most important thing that a husband can do to protect his marriage.
Travis: Communication. Open, honest communication with his wife about what is happening in his life, and the struggles he’s facing. Many times men are reluctant to openly share with their wives. Strike that. MOST of the time men are reluctant to openly share what’s going on in their hearts with their wives. If a man can reach a point in his relationship with his wife where he can openly talk about his struggles and his failures without fearing her response, then they will have a foundation of trust and respect. Any marriage rooted in trust and respect cannot only endure the difficult days, it can even repel the darkness. Sadly, most men don’t trust their wives to listen to them without reacting negatively. If they fear their wife will become obnoxiously jealous, why would he tell her that he has a woman at work who was flirting with him? The secrecy of that knowledge can fester in his heart and even cause him to fear that flirtatious woman in an unhealthy way. Soon, his fear becomes shame. From that shame he might feel powerless. From that position of weakness, he might develop intrigue, and his intrigue becomes familiarity, which can become an affair. But, if that same man is able to express his struggle to his wife, she can pray with him, and stand by him, and help him find accountability. Now there is no secret struggle. There is no shame. There are no barriers between him and his wife. They are in harmony, and there is safety for him there. He has to trust his wife enough to share his heart with her. There is a great blessing of refuge and strength in that kind of trust.


Madeline: Now tell the readers, in your opinion, what you think is the most important thing that a wife can do to protect her marriage.
Travis: My answer will piggy back onto my previous response. If you are able to allow your husband to open his heart, don’t judge him. Rather, listen to what he is saying and don’t over react. Don’t go batty on him and then demand things from him that he can’t deliver. Once he feels that you don’t trust him, he’s never going to come to you and open his heart again. If your man trusts you enough to share his heart in a way that makes him vulnerable, then re-enforce that trust with respect. And don’t play games with him. For instance, if you are the wife who withholds sex from her husband and uses it as a manipulative tool, then you might very well foster the environment that enables him to seek out that affair. Another great thing a wife can do is offering her husband respect. Any man who feels respected by his wife will be much less likely to fall prey to an affair.


Madeline: Ok, let’s get serious.
Madeline: Toilet paper – over or under?  Travis: Over. Over and out.
Madeline:  Coffee or tea?   Travis: Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon.
Madeline:  Steak or burger?   Travis: Burger. Whataburger, if possible.
Madeline:  Bourbon or Scotch?   Travis: Scotch. Please!
Madeline:  Chocolate or pastry?   Travis: Chocolate. Goes great with Scotch!


Madeline: Travis, please tell the readers where they can find you.
Travis: http://www.traviswinman.com
And here is a link for Shadows on Amazon.


Madeline: What are you working on right now?
Travis: I just signed a contract to finish out the When Love Called Series, which should be a total of four books.  I am also currently working on producing a play that I wrote.  It is called 16 Hours.


Madeline: Tell us more about your play.
Travis: An elderly holocaust survivor finally tracks down the men who killed his wife and daughter, and traps them in a bank.  Holding the men hostage, along with a few others, he plans to execute them on live TV, but nothing goes according to plan when the hostages refuse to cooperate with him.  All of his life he had hoped for justice.  Never did he imagine that in justice, he would find hope.  Under the expert direction of Jesus Quintero, the play, performed by American Laboratory Theater, has alternate endings, depending on how the audience votes.


Madeline: When will we be seeing the rest of the When Love Called Series from you?
Travis: They should be available by the fall or possibly by the first of winter.


Madeline: Travis, thank you for joining us and thank you for this incredibly courageous and important book.
Travis: Thank you! I can’t tell you how much it means to me to be able to share with your readers. You have an incredible blog, and I’m honored to be highlighted.


Be sure to check out the other works of Travis W. Inman but do yourself and your marriage a favor and get Shadows today.