ABOUT JOEL

As you may have guessed, I am a writer who loves great stories and helping writers of all ages get their ideas on the page.

I've spent most of my life studying the literary classics, exploring the history of mythology and grand narrative, and trying to figure out why we love stories and tell them the way that we do. I've even been known to tell a few tales of my own through the handful of books, plays, screenplays, and articles I've written over the years. Of course, there's also the joy of a great conversation. Just make sure there’s coffee and a nice fire pit to fuel the taletelling. Nothing’s worse than having to sit through a boring story on an empty mug.

Prior to becoming a full-time writer, I was a Youth Education Series facilitator, trainer, and content writer for the Walt Disney Company and have helped equip the next generation of pastors, storytellers, and artists as a writing and communications professor at Life Pacific University. When I’m not discussing the craft of writing, I love watching hockey and going for a walk with my beautiful wife and baby girl. I currently write for Lifeway and Salem Web Network on the topic of theology, the church, and the Bible, which you can find in the articles page on my website.

To quote Eric Liddell, "I know God made me for a purpose... but he also made me fast; and when I run I feel His pleasure." In my case, if you substitute the written word for running, you'll have a pretty good idea of what motivates me in life.  

​Make no mistake. What I offer is no master class. I am as much a gardener pruning his own work as I am a student of life and the craft of writing. Here, I offer a thoughtful analysis and honest perspective on what makes a good story great and how to make the stories you write even better.

 

Thank you for your continued encouragement and support. I hope my perspectives offer insight, truth, and new joy into your life and creative goals. Now get back to writing! Those stories won't write themselves.

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QUESTIONS I GET ASKED A LOT

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK?

One? There's never just one is there? While I have many personal favorites (The Lord of the Rings, Into the Wild, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Tuck Everlasting) it's impossible to deny the power and influence of the Bible. Beautiful poetry, amazing character studies, history, wisdom, and generations of brilliant set up and payoff that only God could write, the Bible is not only the foundation for the Christian faith, it is the font in which Western civilization is written and the inspiration for almost all great stories that have followed.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE BOOK OF THE BIBLE?

I love the history of the Old Testament, particularly the David Narrative (1&2 Samuel) and Israel's Return from Exile (Ezra/Nehemiah), though I have developed a new love for the Minor Prophets and Paul's letter to Titus. 

 

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE AUTHOR?

I adore the wit of Oscar Wilde and am a huge Tolkien fan. Other than them, I really admire the writing of Jon Krakauer, Neil Gaiman, Ray Bradbury, Mary Shelley, Flannery O'Connor, Roald Dahl, CS Lewis, Jules Verne, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. 

 WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?

It's a tie between 20000 Leagues Under the Sea and Jaws.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE PLACE TO WRITE?

Anywhere we I can get free refills on coffee or tea. I do have the tendency to write long in my early drafts, and I've been known to turn the diverse terrain of California into my own personal office on occasion.

DO YOU LIKE TO WRITE TO MUSIC?

Classical or movie scores? Absolutely. I can only listen to music with lyrics if I'm trying to get into the headspace or voice of one of my characters before I write. I often create playlists with the type of music they might listen to if I'm writing from their point of view but then unplug before I start writing. I'm too distracted  otherwise.

WHERE DID YOU GO TO SCHOOL?

I received my B.A. in Screenwriting from Azusa Pacific University, and just because I was crazy enough about writing, I decided to go double-or-nothing by studying  English Literature. I completed my M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults at the always merry and magical Vermont College of Fine Arts several years later.

WHERE IS SOMEWHERE YOU'D LIKE TO VISIT?

Ireland. Hoping to get there someday. I also love camping so Yosemite is high up there as well. And I would happily go back to Alaska or Spain 

 

WHAT'S YOUR GUILTY PLEASURE?

Coffee. The darker the better.