To see the interview with 2017 Page Turner Winner Joe Moreland, click here. The interview with fiction runner up Nola Passmore is here.

Phillip Cimei is a regular writing challenge entrant and a man of many interests. And now, his nonfiction work in progress, The Perfect Religion – Where Have You Been Hiding, was selected as a Page Turner runner up. Read on to learn more about Phillip, his book in progress, some of the many jobs he has held in this life, and more.

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on being the non-fiction runner up in the Page Turner contest! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?

PHILLIP CIMEI: When FaithWriters sent out the notice of winners for the Page Turner contest, I was struck with two emotions. First, I was very extremely humbled, mostly because I know there are so many outstanding writers that have deserve to have their works recognized. Not in a boastful way, but to share their love for God through the written word. Secondly, I realize that God has a hand in this. There is a purpose for entering this contest. It reaffirmed what I felt God wanted me to do to bring Glory to Him and to give some Christians and those seeking THE WAY a compass.

JOANNE: When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing?

PHILLIP: When I was a principal and near retirement I had this urge to write a young adult novel. I had a lot of ideas for the book and played off the experiences I had as a father of seven and being a principal to develop the story. However, grammar and composition were not my best areas throughout my education. I was a math and science minor with a major in school administration. I struggled with the mechanics and still do today. But there was this yearning to express myself.

JOANNE: I love that you pursued this for the first time just before retirement. Never too old! Is writing a hobby or potential career for you? Or something else?

PHILLIP: Writing started out mostly, at first, as a means to better my writing skills:  I was in a position (principal of one of the top schools in my state) that required a great deal of communication with parents, staff and the community. I was very consciousof my writing weaknesses, so I wanted to improve. That motivated me, along with the desire to share the plethora of experiences my children had growing up in writing. Then, because of many experiences as a Christian and evangelist, I felt that God wanted me to share my fifty years of Christian experiences and study of His Word to those that were wandering around lost or misguided in their religious endeavors.

JOANNE: Sounds like it has been a lifelong process for you! Share a bit about The Perfect Religion – Where Have You Been Hiding? Where did you get the idea for it? What is the genre? What is it about? How far along in it are you?

PHILLIP: The Perfect Religion-Where Have You Been Hiding is a non-fiction book. It is a unique attempt to answer the question, “What is religion and is there such a thing as the perfect religion?”  It is unique in the sense that it takes the Sermon on the Mount as an example of what the Kingdom of God and its members should look like.

There are 34,000 branches of Christianity. These branched off of the 270 branches of religion stemming from the 19 major religions in the world which we are familiar,i.e., Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hinduism. Why are there so many? Is everyone right? Is no one right? Where can I go to find the perfect religion? And, If I am part of it, how can I validate it?

I had preached on the Sermon on the Mount for a year straight. I looked at each of the “Blessed are the…” and the points Jesus emphasized throughout Matthew chapters 5-7. This book is not a compilation of my sermons, but a study of the Sermon on the Mount. I tried to use illustrations that were, hopefully, poignant as well as insightful into what Jesus is wanting us to learn from the greatest sermon every preached.

The book could be used for personal growth, or for group studies by churches. It might raise a lot of questions. My hope and prayer is that God will use this book to bring together and not divide the religious world, “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord,one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” That to me is the perfect religion. I try to emphasize what Paul wrote, “For in Him we live and move and have our very being.” That to me is the perfect religion.

I am about a third of the way complete in putting it together. I have the material and rough draft to complete it, but just need to put it together.

JOANNE: Sounds fascinating. How did you find FaithWriters and what made you stick around?

PHILLIP: As mentioned earlier, I struggle with grammar and the mechanics of writing. I had the desire but needed some guidance to get me going. I found FaithWriters and thought I would give it a try in the weekly challenges. I was so encouraged when my first story was highly recommended.

I look back now and, oh, my, the mistakes I made. I think a fifth grader would have done better. But the feedback I received was so encouraging. And I was determined to be open to their red ink. Thanks to those that took the time to encourage and help,  I have grown. That is why I was so humbled by being runner up. FaithWriters gave me the courage and the tools to grow. I tried to take every bit of feedback and judge’s critique to heart and improve. I have a long way to go, but I feel that I will only get better and I will only be able to share my desire and love for writing with others if I pray for guidance from God, and accept the loving encouragement and instruction from those dedicated FaithWriter partners.

JOANNE: FaithWriters is a wonderful place to learn, and receive encouragement. I am so glad you found us! What kinds of books or genres do you prefer to read and/or write?

PHILLIP: My favorite books to read are fiction books. That sounds silly since I wrote non-fiction. But I felt God wanted me to do this first. I hope to one day write a novel. I like to read mystery novels. I also enoy Early Christian writings to get a sense of how early Christians lived and worshiped. Of course, I first of all like to read God’s Word.

JOANNE: Tell us about your family.

PHILLIP: I am married to a wonderful Christian woman. We will celebrate our 50th anniversary next July. We have seven children. Six are on the mainland (USA). My wife and I live in Hawaii. We moved here three years ago due to my wife’s failing health. I built an apartment onto my daughter’s house (one of the forty or so jobs I had before preaching and being a principal was home construction). Several of our children are active with their churches, but we have some we hope will find their way to serving the Lord with all their heart.

JOANNE: What are your other passions besides writing?

PHILLIP: I am about as diverse a person as you can find. I have tried a lot of things. I like any kind of sports. I was gymnast in school. I like softball, baseball, football, tennis, golf, and on it goes. I guess I am a perfectionist. When I take a liking to one sport, I watch videos to perfect my gulf swing, my tennis swing, my three-point shot. I like scuba diving, but am just now learning. Shark! I collected stamps and was a chess coach when I was a principal. I metal detect, garage sale… I don’t think there is enough space to list all of my hobbies or passions. I love my family. We would camp, fish, RV, hunt picnic and travel. Lots of memories.

JOANNE: I guess you are never bored! Where can people find you online?

PHILLIP: My email address is pcimesr@yahoo.com I hope to have a web page someday. When my book is published (Lord willing and I get a publisher to back me) I plan (again Lord willing) to go around to various churches to promote the book (not for money, but for their use) and to spread the word about FaithWriters.

JOANNE: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

PHILLIP: I just hope this book will be well received. It is not meant to bash any religion, but to show the world that there is hope and that hope is in that perfect religion that Jesus died for and that it will not be obtained through works, but through the grace of God and faith in his Son.

JOANNE: AMEN! It sounds like you are on your way – I am sure, with God’s hep, your book WILL help many! Congratulations again!

The 2018 Page Turner will open this month. YOU could be one of the next winners!

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