Ennis Smith has been a FaithWriters member for a few years now, and he is delighted to have won the Xulon Bestseller Package from Xulon Press and FaithWriters for his manuscript “The Walking Dead.” Read on to learn more about Ennis, his manuscript, his journey to FaithWriters, and God’s provision for him.

JOANNE SHER: First of all, congratulations on your win! Can you tell us a bit about how you found out? What was your reaction?

ENNIS SMITH: Thank you Joanne! I’m actually still processing the blessing and thanking God for the opportunity. FaithWriters is a community full of awesome writers.

I first learn my submission was chosen through a routine email check. Mr. Mike Edwards sent a message notifying me of the winning entry Friday the 19th. It’s funny, one of the things he said to me was,“This isn’t a joke, Ennis. You really won!”Dad's WordPress Photo 5-16-14

My initial reaction was complete shock. My wife and I like to give our years individual labels. Back in January, we dubbed 2014, “The Year of Blessed Victory.” This year has been a particularly tough one for our family in terms of breakthroughs, but we never stopped trusting in God. Although we held out hope for blessings, it really seemed as though we were circling the desert with no end in sight. Just as I was brooding over my writing seemingly going nowhere, Mike Edwards sends me an outstanding email! Never doubt the Lord’s promises!

JOANNE: God IS faithful – and I love when He shows His children just that! When do you first remember developing a passion/love for writing?

ENNIS: At 12 years old, I began journaling. My aunt in San Diego sent a blank diary to me as a birthday gift. I can remember thinking, “What am I supposed to do with this thing?” Surprisingly, I started writing in the little book when I found out my father had thoughts of moving the family from Ecorse to Canton, Michigan. I needed to vent my emotions, and that diary just happened to be within reach. I never looked back from that time. I’ve been writing ever since.

JOANNE: Love how that worked out 🙂 Is writing a hobby or potential career for you? Or something else?

ENNIS: I would honestly say…writing is a hobby I would like God to bless into my profession. I didn’t always write for the Lord. In fact, before coming to Christ, I wrote some pretty questionable material with the idea of making money first. I even saw one such story published by a well known erotica author. But, once the Lord entered my heart, I had a need to share the gospel through writing. If money comes along, that’s great. I just know that my calling isn’t to write for material riches, but to glorify the Lord. I’m at an age where I want to use my talents exclusively for the kingdom; no more working in a field I have no passion for. I want to focus everything I have on writing for the Lord.

JOANNE: I need to give an “Amen” to that! Share a bit about your winning manuscript The Walking Dead. Where did you get the idea for it? What’s it about? How far along in it are you?

ENNIS: This admission may shock some folks, because I’m excited and terrified at the same time. It’s also a testament to what God and Him alone can do. I am exactly one chapter into my manuscript, “The Walking Dead!” It seriously started out as just another short story, glorifying the Lord. Once it was finished, I thought it was a really nice concept, but I initially had no plans to take it any further. When I learned of the Fiction Contest, I thought to myself, “Eh, I’ll tweak, ‘The Walking Dead’ a bit; give it a synopsis, throw a story line at it-something I would want to read; and submit it. Nobody’s going to want this.”

The idea is one that’s been with me for quite a while, actually. I once wondered what the world would look like if sin within the human heart was visible. As a writer, I’ve always struggle with writing fictional scenes (relevant to our time) that might appear to be realistic. One of the things I love about Mitch Albom’s writing style is his ability to tell a story that appears to be realistic and relevant. So I thought, “I need to pick a time where we can’t really know what our surroundings will look like, but it has to seem familiar.” Viola! Life after the Second Coming! We really don’t know what life will be like after Jesus reigns for 1000 years, and then releases Satan for a time, to roam the earth again. This is what the entire story will focus on: the events leading up to the final confrontation between Jesus and the forces of the evil one.

JOANNE: Wow – that sounds fascinating! How did you find FaithWriters and what made you stick around?

ENNIS: I played the massive multiplayer online game World of Warcraft for almost four years. It was a welcomed distraction after I lost my mother to cancer in October of 2007. I was angry with God. When I began seeking Him again, almost a year later, I realized I needed to let go of my idol: the game. It was really tough for me, so I found myself trying to bargain with the Lord. “Okay God, I’ll give up the game, but you have to find something else for me to do. Otherwise, the deal is off.” In March 2011, I deactivated my gaming account. That same day, God led me to FaithWriters. It was such a cool site! I found Christians who wrote fiction and non-fiction alike. I never looked back.

There have been times when Satan has tried to lure me away from Faithwriters, with promises of riches and fame if would simply write other genres besides Christian. But the Lord is so awesome, he sent us Mike and Bea Edwards, to man the helm of this ship. They are truly a blessing. They have no idea how much they both mean to me, because of the continued support and encouragement they give not only to me, but countless other writers within our community. What made me stick around, Joanne? This is where I belong.

JOANNE: I couldn’t agree more. 🙂 What kinds of books or genres do you prefer to read and/or write?

ENNIS: Fiction is my bread and butter. I love the stories of Mitch Albom, Ted Dekker and James L. Rubart, just to name a few. Recently, I finished up a book by WM. Paul Young who is another outstanding Christian fiction writer. I would be remiss in not including the dynamic duo of Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. Their collaborations on the entire Left Behind series is simply phenomenal.

If I had to further define my specific taste in reading, I would say Christian fantasy keeps me up at night. I love realistic stories, but I love a great fantasy story glorifying the Lord, even more.

JOANNE: Tell us about your family.

ENNIS: Two words: tax deductions (lol). Seriously, my family make me who I am today. My wife Misty and I have three boys, two girls and a family cat who will outlive us all. Tomas is our 22 year old son, followed by Nathaniel (18), Dominique (16), Jordynn (12) and Isaiah (9). Our 15 year old cat, Pumpkin, actually owns the house. My wife and I were high school sweethearts prone to do everything backwards. At the lowest point in our marriage, we almost divorced. But God had other plans for us. Today, we all serve him. This past Christmas, we even included the cat in our circle of prayer for Jesus’ birthday celebration, before opening gifts.

My children seem to have developed their father’s affinity for music. Last year, Tomas, Jordynn, Isaiah and I put together a song featured on my EP, “The Sheep In Wolf’s Clothing.” The song is called “Let Me Show You,” and praises the Lord’s work in our lives. The whole 6 track EP can be found at Bandcamp: (http://ennissmith.bandcamp.com/album)

It’s amazing being a dad watching our kids grow up loving the Lord. Yeah, we have our struggles. But God is always faithful and takes care of us.

JOANNE: Sounds like a wonderful bunch. What are your other passions besides writing?

ENNIS: Funny you should ask, Joanne. I love to make my own music. I’ve been dabbling with piano chords almost as long as I’ve been writing, but never pursued music. Once the Lord saved me, he quite literally put a song into my heart and taught me to play piano, as a novice. The very last song on my EP is my song of praise to God, and the first song I ever wrote. “I Look To You” expresses my deep appreciation to the Lord, for everything He’s done to turn my life around. It’s also a reminder of who I turn to in times of trouble. I really hope my music speaks to people on a personal level, but I go through the same struggles everyone else does. But, I serve an awesome God who is faithful and true! Amen!

When I’m not tapping away at the keyboard or piano, I’m teaching the “Discovery Rangers” age group of the Royal Rangers, for River of Life Assembly of God, in Belleville, Michigan.

During the summer months, I can be found playing softball for the River of Life softball team. I may be 42 years old, but I like to sprint around the diamond like I’m still 20. Don’t tell my knees that.

JOANNE: Oh – another Michigander 😀 Do you make New Year’s resolutions or goals? If so, what do you hope to accomplish in 2015?

ENNIS: Ha! Misty and I just gave 2015 a moniker two days ago: The Year of the Successful Soldiers. We are determined to praise God in everything we do, and we want to see blessed victories in everything we do.

Personally, I hope to see this book completed and distributed, along with another book I finished two years ago. I also would like to see my music sprout wings and fly throughout the world.

JOANNE: Where can people find you online?

ENNIS: “About.Me” is a beautiful site that allows its member to link every place they can be found on the web, onto one convenient page. All you need to know about me, can be found on my page (http://about.me/ennissmith). I have links to my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, SoundCloud and Soundclick pages. I also have links to where you can find my writing. Feel free to stop by and visit sometime.

JOANNE: I will definitely have to check that site out. Is there anything else you’d like to add?

ENNIS: Yes ma’am. On a very personal note, I need to thank Jesus for never giving up on me. There are times when I allow the circumstances of this world tell me I’m no good at what I try to do for the Lord. But God, in his infinite wisdom and compassion, gently encourages me to keep going; keep writing; keep singing; keep teaching; keep laughing. Even when it seems no one is listening, He is.

Don’t ever doubt the power of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He’s always there when we need Him most. He is closer than the closet friend, and more faithful than the most loving parent. He is God made flesh. He is my Lord. Without, I can do nothing. But with Him…I can do anything. You can too.

JOANNE: LOVE your closing words, Ennis! Thanks for sharing your heart and your journey with us. I am sure God will give you many blessings in the year to come. And once more, congratulations!

 

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