Fiction’s Delight and Truth

2015-06-nov-dec-outlook-coverAn article I wrote about why Christians should read fiction appears in the November issue of The Outlook. You can page through this online preview to read that article as well as a lovely review of my Matthew books.

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Local Book Launch

MMAFasten your seat belts! Books 2 & 3 of my Matthew in the Middle series will officially launch this afternoon at 5-4-3-2-1 PM.

Patricia, whose melodious voice and godly spirit warm listeners’ hearts, plans to interview me at 1:00 CT today on KCWN 99.9, where hope shines. If you’re out of range of the station’s reach, you can listen live on the website.

on air
General Manager Bev De Vries took this picture through the production room window while Patricia and I were on the air on December 19, 2014.

Having grown up as a pastor’s daughter, Patricia feels as affinity for my book boy, Matthew. After she read Matthew Muddles Through, she said it seemed like I must have been in her childhood home. She interviewed me about that first book of the Matthew in the Middle series last December (you can read about that day here.)

Matthew Makes Strides and Matthew Moves Aheadthe second and third books of the Matthew in the Middle series, are far more exciting, so I’m eager to hear what Patricia thinks of them. Tune in at 1 PM today to find out!

Local people, send all your friends and relatives over to the station at 304 Oskaloosa St in Pella to get signed copies of these and my other published books. Thanks for supporting this official launch and helping place quality literature into the hands of middle grade readers!

If you or your children have already read the books, what are some things you enjoy about the stories?

 

Redeemer Reader reviews Matthew Muddles Through

PrintGreetings, readers!

Janie over at Redeemed Reader has posted a review of the first book of my Matthew in the Middle series, Matthew Muddles Through

Her review captures the spirit and time frame of the novel as she describes Matthew and his problems in creative ways. She notes that any reader with siblings can relate to some of them. She also mentions his struggle with how to grow up as a Christian “without necessarily thinking in those terms.” She writes:

As the son of a pastor he knows the expectations of his community, but his inclinations don’t always match up. He’s at the age where kids are beginning to question of what they’ve always been taught and how it applies to them personally. Matthew has no hidden supernatural abilities and will not be chosen to save the world, but the Holy Spirit is at work in him anyway, and it’s a struggle worth watching.

Check out the entire review here!

Dedicating Matthew, Take Three

Wes-me-1What fun to place the final Matthew in the Middle book into the hands of the grandson to whom it’s dedicated! The first book in the series, Matthew Muddles Through, is dedicated to my oldest grandson. The second book, Matthew Makes Strides, is dedicated to  my second grandson. And this third book, Matthew Moves Ahead, is dedicated to my third grandson. The boys are all brothers, sons of my oldest son.

Matthew began as an experiment in a creative writing class, but grew over the years to a vibrant book boy. This third novel, Matthew Moves Ahead, includes the following “Birth of a Book” section at the back:

My book boy Matthew grew for more years than his age. Although Matthew is eleven, his story is thirteen.

He was an experiment, conceived in a fiction writing course I took in 2002. I challenged myself to write in a point of view very different from personal experience. Could a boring and sedentary mature woman write the first-person perspective of an imaginative and active young boy?

I named that embryo Caleb to reflect the faithfulness and zeal of the biblical believer who urged the Israelites to fight the giants and enter the Promised Land (Numbers 13:30), and who at eighty-five years of age remained eager to fight for the Lord (Joshua 14:6-12). Military matters interested Caleb, the middle child in a minister’s family, who befriended a Vietnam veteran named Fred Winters.

The initial short story began with Caleb washing his toy soldiers in the bathroom sink and went on to show him playing a basketball game with his older brother, while Dad spoke to Mr. Winters in the kitchen. I hadn’t planned that basketball game. It just happened.

I loved this imaginary family. And my instructor loved the story, calling the scene with the two boys playing basketball in the cold “beautiful.” He suggested I submit another Caleb narrative as my next assignment.

That second short story described the chaos of a Sunday morning when everything goes wrong. Later that day, Mr. Winters shared a glimpse of his tormented past, and Caleb witnessed to him about the truths of God’s word and how those things are worth fighting—and dying—for. The story concludes with the two going upstairs for apple pie.

Readers of Matthew Muddles Through will recognize these stories in Chapters 10, 14, and 16 of that book.

My book boy grew in the womb of my imagination until he was born in 2007 as Matthew Henry Vos. Exactly like parents who decide on the right name once they see the baby, I knew this was the perfect choice.

But the poor fellow experienced a sickly childhood, suffering through innumerable surgeries and lengthy hospitalizations. Blog reflections on these can be found on my website: glendafayemathes.com.

Plans for his entrance into society changed from one novel to four, to three, and back and forth between four and three a few more times.

Matthew survived preliminary auditions in 2009 and flew to the big city in 2010 to make a name for himself, but returned home feeling rejected. Occasionally I visited him while he languished in recovery.

Until Thanksgiving of 2013, when my oldest grandson asked, “Grandma, did you ever finish that story about Matthew?”

Well! If my grandson wanted to read Matthew’s story, I wanted to give it to him before he lost interest. And he was almost a teenager. I determined to place the first book in his hands for his thirteenth birthday.

I did.

Matthew now lives in the hearts and minds of more readers than I’d ever imagined.

I love hearing from readers. Moises read the first two books and has been begging his day for the third one for months. Recently I received this message from Moises (age 9), who lives in California:

Dear Glenda Faye Mathes,

Thank you for the books you wrote. They are very good books. I liked them a lot! They are the best books I have ever read! I liked them because they are Christian and Reformed. I liked them too because they were very interesting! There were no bad words or bad pictures in them! I learned not to be selfish, to obey our parents, not to get angry at them, and to help others whenever they are hurt!

Moises

After church services, Asher often came up to me with shining eyes. “Mrs. Mathes, Mrs. Mathes. We’re reading your book!” Only all summer, it was: “Mrs. Mathes, Mrs. Mathes. When will your next book be ready?”

It’s finally here, Asher. Enjoy.

Wes-me-3
Wes was happy to receive his signed copy of Matthew Moves Ahead. What do you like about the books? Please comment below.

Matthew is moving ahead!

MMAFew things thrill a writer more than holding a hard copy of a finally-published book. It’s a rush to see your name on the cover, but it’s also such fun to see how the colors and artwork look in real life. With all three of my Matthew in the Middle books, I’ve been pleased that the actual books look even better than the PDF cover files. Ken Raney, over at Clash Creative, did the artwork for all three novels in this series and he did a fabulous job.

What a pleasure to receive this afternoon my first hard cover copies of Matthew Moves Ahead, the third and final book of the Matthew in the Middle series! All three novels are now available on Amazon: Matthew Muddles ThroughMatthew Makes Strides, and Matthew Moves Ahead. Check them out!

If you enjoy them, please leave a review. Any reader can review a book, and it’s easy to do. It takes only a few minutes, but it means a great deal to the author because reviews drive ratings and sales. And being able to pay for groceries thrills a writer almost as much as holding a hard copy of a published book.

Matthew Moves Ahead!

M Moves Ahead frontMatthew Moves Ahead, the third book in the Matthew in the Middle series is now available on Amazon!

After three long years of waiting, Matthew Vos is finally going to the Cadet International Camporee! He’s earning money to buy supplies, but the lawnmower slips from his grip and cuts through a customer’s garden. Matthew’s hopes wither like the sheared-off plant tops. What more could possibly go wrong? And will the Camporee turn out to be all he’s imagined?

Click over to Amazon and check it out! Better yet, put a copy in your cart. Read it. Write a review. Spread the word. Buy more books. Give them as Christmas gifts. Tell your friends to give them as Christmas gifts. Not sold yet? Consider these endorsements and their sources:

I love this kid. Of course, I love Matt’s fondness for The Accidental Detectives books, but I also love his humorous voice, active imagination, and fledgling faith. Glenda Faye Mathes crafts vivid scenes and authentic dialogue that draw me into the story and into Matt’s head. Because Matthew Moves Ahead in realistic ways that reflect universal childhood disappointments and joys, readers will love Matthew, too.

— Sigmund Brouwer, best-selling author of over 40 novels, including many series for young readers and Thief of Glory, Book of the Year Christy Award 2015

‘He leaned over the table and contorted his face like speckled Silly Putty.’ This playful line (one of so many) from Matthew Moves Ahead aptly demonstrates how well the author pegs fun, insightful, and altogether natural word pictures. Reading through a brief period of Matt’s everyday life is much like living a brief period of your own. The young boy in the heart of Glenda Faye Mathes is us—and he comes to life with rich and believable detail, warmly testifying to God’s love in real time.

— Norm Bomer, God’s World News, Senior Editor (retired) and author of Sons of the River: A Nebraska Memoir

What an adventure! Matthew Moves Ahead is a delightful story and a great addition to the library of any young boy, especially a Cadet who has actually participated in an International Camporee. Glenda Faye Mathes has obviously done a lot of research and accurately portrays Kamp Kananaskis details, even down to menus and devotions. The characters develop well as the story progresses, and the reader will see Matthew’s cadre grow into a unit of close friends by the week’s end. All in all, it’s a tale well told.

— G. Richard Broene, Executive Director, Calvinist Cadet Corps

I’m thrilled and thankful for these amazing endorsements from men with specialized expertise. And while I’m a little sad to bid adieu to Matthew, I’m happy to announce this final novel’s availability.

The Matthew in the Middle series is aimed at middle grade readers, ages 8-12, but can be enjoyed by any age. Other novels in the series are Matthew Muddles Through and Matthew Makes Strides, both also available on Amazon.

In the course of the series, Matthew develops relationships with people very different from himself. He discovers the pitfalls of being a hero and how to overcome fear and anxiety. And he grows in his faith as he lives more and more for Jesus.

Matthew has moved ahead

My book boy Matthew has moved into his final phase. He’ll leap only a few more hurdles before crossing the finish line.

Matthew Moves Ahead is the third and last novel of the Matthew in the Middle series. My wonderful online critique group reviewed all the chapters in it, and I’m finalizing end matter prior to submitting it to the proofreader. I’m seeking endorsements. The artist is working on the cover. I hope hard copies will be published this summer, perhaps in July.

The first two books in the series, Matthew Muddles Through and Matthew Makes Strides, are already available on Amazon, and I’m excited for the third one to join them. Writing this series has been quite a process, with Matthew sometimes sidelined for long periods of time. (You can read more about that here and here.) I recently took some time to reflect on how my book boy was born.

Several young boys (and some girls!) have asked about this final Matthew book, and I’m eager for them to hold it in their hands and turn the pages.

Here’s hoping Matthew clears those hurdles and soon rejoices in the winner’s circle!

Birth of a Book

PrintI’m excited to share this first blog look at the cover of my newest novel, Matthew Makes Strides, which will be released soon. The wonderful artwork by Ken Raney captures the emotion of this intense moment.

Matthew Makes Strides is the second novel of my Matthew in the Middle series for middle grade readers. Book 1, Matthew Muddles Through, is already available on Amazon.

Yesterday I finished the final revision of the final book of the series, Matthew Moves Ahead. It still needs to go through a lengthy editing process, but the Matthew narrative is now—and finally—complete.

I spent some time this morning thinking about how Matthew came to be and crafting the story of his birth.

My book boy Matthew grew for more years than his age (11) in these novels. He was conceived in a course I took on fiction writing in 2002, as an experiment challenging myself to write in a point of view very different from personal experience. As a boring and sedate old lady, I’d write from the first-person perspective of an imaginative and active young boy.

I named that embryo Caleb to reflect the faithfulness and zeal of the biblical believer, who urged the Israelites to fight giants and enter the Promised Land (Numbers 13:30), and who at 85 years of age was still eager to fight for the Lord (Joshua 14:6-12). Military matters interested Caleb, the middle child in a minister’s family, who became acquainted with a Vietnam veteran named Mr. Winters.

My short story began with Caleb washing his toy soldiers in the bathroom sink and showed him playing a basketball game of Horse with his older brother, while Dad spoke to Mr. Winters in the kitchen. I loved Caleb. And my instructor loved the story, calling the scene with the two boys playing basketball in the cold “beautiful.” He suggested I submit another Caleb narrative as my next assignment. That second short story described the chaos of a Sunday morning when everything goes wrong. Later that day Mr. Winters shared a glimpse of his tormented past, and Caleb witnessed to him about the truths of God’s word and how those things are worth fighting—and dying—for. The story concludes with the two going upstairs for apple pie. (Readers of Matthew Muddles Through will recognize that these stories developed into Chapter 10: Banished, as well as Chapter 14: Trouble with a Capital T, and Chapter 16: Peace Follows Battle.)

My book boy continued to develop and was born in 2007 as Matthew Henry Vos. The poor fellow suffered a sickly childhood, undergoing numerous surgeries and lengthy hospitalizations. His debut presentation plans changed from one novel to four to three, and back to four and then to three again (more than once). Matthew made it through some preliminary auditions in 2009 and flew to the big city in 2010 to make a name for himself, but came back home feeling rejected. I visited him from time to time; however, he languished in recovery for years.

Until late in 2013, when my oldest grandson asked, “Grandma, did you ever finish that story about Matthew?”

Well. If my grandson wanted to read Matthew’s story, I ought to finish it before he lost interest. And he was almost a teenager. I determined to put the first book in his hands for his thirteenth birthday. Which I did in 2014.

Now the second one is almost ready to be released, and the third one is written. And that’s the story of how my book boy Matthew was born.

Extraordinary Endorsement

It’s a wonderful Wednesday because I just received this extraordinary endorsement for my upcoming middle reader novel, Matthew Makes Strides:

Glenda Mathes writes with energy and intentionality. When she writes about a coming tornado, it feels so real, I start glancing nervously out the window. Young people will feel like the author knows them, is inside their heads, so intimate is her knowledge of her readers. This is a frank and honest portrayal of growing up a preacher’s kid, but one that speaks to the extraordinary struggles and challenges of ordinary growing up. Highly recommended.
~ Douglas Bond, author of Duncan’s War and many other works of historical fiction

This endorsement means a great deal to me, especially since Douglas Bond is an interesting blogger and writes exciting novels that appeal to readers of all ages. You can check out Duncan’s War and his many other books at his website.

Douglas Bond in Scotland (photo from his Facebook page)
Douglas Bond in Scotland
(photo from his Facebook page)

Matthew two, too

Soon, very soon I hope, the second novel in my Matthew in the Middle series will be available.

PrintThe first novel, Matthew Muddles Through, is already available on Amazon. In this story, readers meet Matthew and his family, which includes a dad who’s a minister, a mom who’s sick all the time, an older brother who harasses Matthew, and a younger brother who annoys him. But he struggles with difficulties on more than just the home front. Trouble swirls around him in every part of his world. Although he’s longed for three years to attend the 1996 Cadet International Camporee, he wonders if he’ll ever go.

In the second novel, Matthew Makes Strides on multiple levels. He meets new people, becomes a faster runner, and draws closer to his Camporee dream. But he really progresses in overcoming his fears and in his understanding about what it means to be a hero.

Because this second novel explores the concept of courage, and because part of that involves Matthew’s deepening friendship with a veteran, I wanted the professional opinion of a military expert. I asked an Army chaplain, a West Point graduate with combat experience who now teaches ethics, if he’d be willing to review some chapters. He was. And he sent me the most encouraging message I’d ever received that said (in part):

The chapters quickly captured my attention and provoked thoughts and emotions that are sympathetic with those of several characters in the story…. Your description of the accident…especially the fear, injuries, and actions of [multiple characters] prompted in a cathartic way several memories of my and my soldiers’ experiences in Iraq. You did an excellent job describing and portraying the trauma, excitement, and relief of events where there is great danger and courage present.
You also did a wonderful job introducing [the veteran] to the circumstances of this particular event as a wounded yet compassionate figure who is being healed while he helps heal Matt. I found his conversation with Matt to be very touching and also appropriate. He could have said more about courage, heroism, and his combat experience, but what he did say was just the right amount for a boy of Matt’s age and for your audience to hear.
Lastly, I thought the chapter on the Memorial Day flag-raising ceremony was very good. You rightly begin it with the rifle salute and playing of Taps. Those two parts of every memorial or funeral service typically occur at the end of the service, but for all practical purposes they are the beginning and the invocation of the emotions held unexpressed up to that point. In the dozens of services I have performed, the rifle salute and Taps are followed by the sobs of those who have lost those whom they love.
Your chapters are rich in narration, imagery, momentum, and emotion. They also contain a good amount of humor to guard against overly heavy emotion or intensity. I am thankful that you are writing Matt’s story and sharing it with your readers of all ages. I applaud you for taking up the topics of courage, authentic masculinity, fear, and loss. I pray that the Lord will use these books as well as the other things you have written on these topics to comfort and encourage many others. You certainly did that for me.

How wonderfully his words encouraged me! They reinforced my commitment to keep marketing Matthew Muddles Through, the first novel in the Matthew in the Middles series, and made me eager to share Matthew’s continuing story with you when Matthew Makes Strides, the second novel in the series, becomes available, too. Soon. May it please God.