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An Ogre’s Castle and My Own Cottage

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 5.46.55 PMI’m writing this in the Forge. A bluejay is bouncing outside my window in front of an ambling caravan of deer. Squirrels range through the trees behind and the leaf-strewn trampoline sits there pouting, waiting for children to liven up its otherwise sedentary life. I have so much to be grateful for. God has been profoundly kind to me, even amid challenging and painful times.

Life is hard for all of us. It is a riddle and a ride, a war and a wonder. But there is joy to be had, beauty to be enjoyed, and good fellows for the grand fight. I don’t want to paper over pain, to leave you with an attractive illusion of the writer’s life to deceive you. But I do want to be positive, because my life is anchored in real hope.

“We do not want joy and anger to neutralize each other and produce a surly contentment; we want a fiercer delight and a fiercer discontent. We have to feel the universe at once as an ogre’s castle, to be stormed, and yet as our own cottage, to which we can return to at evening.” G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

So to ward off my woeful wonderings, I produce the following broadside of gratitude. Be careful, lest ye be struck.

Five Things I’m Profoundly Thankful For

My FamilyFamily

I have a very supportive wife who has been an amazing partner in this adventure. Gina works incredibly hard and has been with me all along the ups and downs of the writing (and every other part of) life. She’s what so many creative people long for, a person who is positive, encouraging, long-suffering, and supportive. She is the best. Also, she’s gorgeous. My kids! Oh, man. Our kids have been little encouragement machines. Their enthusiasm has been a constant joy. Also, they are the first audience and they were the first ones to say, “I love this!” They keep saying it and I keep needing to hear it.

My Publisher

Many people think I’m self-published, but that’s at best only barely true. I do not do cover design. I do not typeset my manuscripts. I do not have any idea how to get my books an ISBN or on Amazon. I don’t set up free DSC_0125 (1)promotional days. I don’t do title pages. I don’t do a thousand other things. I write books. I share/promote my books. That’s what you do when you have a publisher. That’s what I have in Andrew Mackay. He is a phenom. Diversely talented in a plethora of non-sports areas (burn!), this guy can do just about anything. Technology? He knows it better than almost anyone you know, I guarantee. Publishing? Can do anything and has been doing everything in the industry for over 10 years. Seriously, this guy can do it all. He’s incredible and it amazes me that some huge publisher, or some other business, hasn’t offered him a six-figure salary to run stuff for them. Because he. Can. Do. Everything. Also, he’s a great guy and a fantastic partner. He’s an advocate. He’s an encourager. He’s focused and positive. We’ve been on lots of trips together and he is all about just setting me up for success. He doesn’t often get noticed and he’s fine with that. But I notice. I see him. This guy is a star. I don’t know anyone who has anything like the same mix of soft and hard skills. A very sweet and gentle guy who can outwork the next ten guys and make a stormy, complicated operation go as smooth as the kiddie pool. Anyone would be fortunate to work for, with, or near this guy. I’m super grateful for Andrew Mackay.

Advocates All Around

AAA for me means Advocates All Around, and I’m incredibly blessed to be surrounded by them. I open up my email, or go to my mailbox, and there’s another letter, email, message from another somebody bent on encouraging me, helping me, Family-0631advocating for me and my stories in some way. I have had my share of accusers, and have had critics both subtle and sharp, but they are dwarfed by the number of allies who have become partners with us in sharing these books with kids and families all over. I’m so incredibly grateful! These folks share my books with their friends, their schools, their homeschool co-ops, their libraries, their bookstores, and with all their on-line friends. These advocates include people you may have heard of, like Sarah Mackenzie, the Champion Advocate of The Green Ember, and people you’ve probably never heard of in Indiana, California, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Missouri, in (aptly-named) Reading, England, in Cape Town, South Africa, and elsewhere! I can see your faces in my mind. I’m so grateful for you. Thank you!

Story Warren

merch teamThe team that offers free resources and inspiration, encouragement and illumination is a beautiful group of people. I am so grateful for them all, and for those who support what we do by sharing it with your friends. There are also many who have helped with our Inkwell conferences and who have come alongside us and helped us fulfill our mission of being Allies in Imagination to parents. Many of these teammates have been editors on my books, volunteers reading drafts and sending feedback that helps shape the final draft. I am profoundly grateful for this team. Out of the Story Warren team, I have the best editors, the best cheerleaders, and the best artist (Zach Franzen) I can imagine. This group is doing great work fighting back against the darkness in this world, offering light in lovely ways. Thank you!


You are reading this. Whatever the reason may be, thank you! You are likely a friend, an advocate, or just a person who likes my books and wants to stay in touch with what’s happening. I am deeply honored that you’d spend time paying attention to me and my stories. Thank you. I’m spurred on by hearing that there are families out there eager to find out what happens with Picket and Heather. It’s so encouraging to hear from you, to receive letters packed with art by little hands, sweet letters from kids all over. Nothing encourages me more than hearing from kids and so thank you to all of you who have done that. I’m really overwhelmed by those gestures. As I type, all the art I’ve been sent is sitting in a pile beside me! I love it. Thank you! Some of you just read the books, maybe share them with your kids. That is wonderful. I’m so grateful to you for that.

   Child Reading The Green EmberScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.41.09 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.39.46 PM

 Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.40.43 PMbeautiful kids in africa!!Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.39.56 PM
Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.40.53 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.38.20 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.39.01 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.41.00 PM Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.39.30 PMScreen Shot 2015-09-21 at 2.39.15 PM

So there’s my broadside of gratitude done and I feel better for having written it. While you listen to the song below, write something you’re thankful for in the comments!

Hey, don’t you want to thank someone for this?

This song is by my friend, Andrew Peterson, and you can find it on this incredible album: Light for Lost Boy. (I reviewed it here, BTW.)


  1. Ah, Sam. Thank you for giving us such wonderful reasons to love the work that God is doing through you.

    We can’t wait to see you in Nashville tomorrow!

  2. I am a young-at-heart 74 year old fan. I just discovered “The Green Ember.” I loved it! Some of my grandchildren will be getting a copy for Christmas. Thank you for writing a book with well-drawn characters with real character flaws and honest emotions who have the strength of character to take responsibility and overcome their weaknesses and face their failures and learn from them. Our society, at present, seems to want to erase all responsibility from individuals and blame all failures on society in general and excuse bad behavior by finding scapegoats and shifting blame onto others.

    Also, I LOVE the music video!!! I’m posting it to Facebook and recommending your books.

    God bless you…please continue to write the kind of books that present truth, steadfastness, morality, courage, humility and good character as highly desirable qualities to be sought and developed as we go through life.

    1. Patti,

      I’m honored by your words. It’s very encouraging to hear someone of your experience share these things, and it spurs me on to keep at it.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the video. It was fun to make. 🙂

      Grace and peace to you. And thanks again for sharing these encouraging words with me. I need it.

  3. Sam,
    My daughters insisted that I send you a note and let you know how much they love your books! We are eagerly awaiting your next work of art. . They want to know when your next book is coming out??

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