In the Women’s Fiction Writers Association spotlight

It’s great being in the spotlight—the WFWA Member Spotlight, that is.

The Women’s Fiction Writers Association, with over 850 members, is featuring me and my work this week. I’m truly honWomens fiction logoored – especially because they have accepted me, a male author, into their ranks and recognized my appreciation of women’s roles in American society.

If you’re a WFWA member, you can see the feature here: WFWA Spotlight

For those of you who aren’t, highlights from their interview follow:

Spotlight Highlights

This week the spotlight is on the talented J.Z. Howard!

As a father, husband, professional counselor, and spiritual seeker, J.Z. Howard champions women’s equality and empowerment in every sphere of life. Currently he is writing the outline and synopsis for the sequel to his debut contemporary novel, All of Me Wants All of You. The series explores how each character’s faith (and non-faith) influences their love/sex/partner choices. In this first story, an unlikely friendship develops between a wife struggling in a stale 24-year marriage and a younger single mom of an mischievous teenager which revolutionizes both women’s lives.

What movie actors would you cast your story? The lead actors I’d like for All of Me Wants All of You are:

Kate, the wife                            Kate Winslet
Dean, the husband                  George Clooney
Larissa, single mom               Jennifer Lawrence
Trevor, Larissa’s beau            Bradley Cooper

Cartoon headshotThe sequel builds on the ways that faith shapes these characters and their intimate relationships. As one book reviewer summed it up, “God designed us for love and beauty, and that includes beautiful sex.” A 3-layered, multi-generational tapestry of love, sex and spirituality develops—Boomer, Gen-X, and Millennial generations—that I describe as “sensual intimacy, sacred power.”

Where do you like to write?

In my home office when the house is quiet, day or night, weekdays or weekends, whenever I manage to carve out a few hours (sometimes minutes) to sit at the computer. I live in metro Minneapolis where the icy cold of winter cuts through you like a high-speed snowplow,

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Author Interview: Traditional vs. Edgy Christian Fiction

“[Charles Dickens] was quoted saying: ‘Depictions of cruelty and viciousness must be allowed. Though darkness must be part of a story, the darkness shall not overwhelm. But if the dark is not truthfully dark, the light cannot be truthfully light.’ If anything nails what edgy means, that says it for me,” says J.Z.

Click to read more of this interview where J.Z. discusses what makes Edgy Christian Fiction “edgy,” why it’s needed, and how it’s not really a new phenomenon.


Why do so many Americans ignore Christian media?

christian media

The vast majority of Christians around the globe believe they have the greatest message of all time for all humankind. But a recent survey reports that Christian books, movies, music, TV and radio are doing a poor job of reaching the secular masses — a full 65 to 75 percent of Americans with no religious affiliation or who don’t attend church never hear, never watch, and never read that message.

What’s going on? According to survey findings presented by the National Religious Broadcasters (NRB)/LifeWay Research poll* at the NRB national convention in Nashville, February 25th:

  • 67 % of Americans rarely or never watch Christian television,
  • 72 % rarely or never listen to Christian radio or music, and
  • 65 % rarely or never read Christian books.

Ouch! That last statistic smarts for an author like myself who aims to reach a wide range of readers with stories that portray redemptive themes and Christian characters living out their faith in secular society. When I sit down to write edgy Christian fiction — my attempt to bridge this gap — my goal is to reach both camps of readers, the secular individual who is open to spiritually

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Great time at the Writers’ Institute

JZ at UW writers institute fixed

Basically, I wouldn’t have a novel without the lessons that I learned from attending the UW-Madison Writers’ Institute three times in prior years.

The first visit in 2012 involved helpful comments about my contemporary love story from a critique group. This guidance led to edits I made which engaged the reader immediately in the basic conflict, a stale 24-year marriage in which husband and wife were experiencing zero sexual intimacy. Months before I’d googled “Sexless Marriage” and discovered dozens of online forums, blogs and therapeutic/self-help websites showing huge numbers of miserable spouses in the 100,000s trapped in barren marriages.   

The second year I submitted a finished manuscript for a page-by-page critique. A professional story

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