Posted on Leave a comment

7 (of the many) Authors Who Have Influenced Me As A Writer

by C.S. Elston


C.S. Lewis

While the list is in no particular order, I thought I’d start with C.S. Lewis and his fantastic Chronicles of Narnia series because of both comparisons to my series, “The Four Corners,” and the fact that we share the same first two initials (although, I’m Christopher Scott – not Clive Staples.) The Narnia books were staples (pun absolutely intended) in my house when I grew up. “The Screwtape Letters” also blew me away in high school and books like “Mere Christianity” and “A Grief Observed” are works I recommend to everyone. C.S. Lewis has had as big of an impact on me as a writer and a person as anyone else on the planet. Absolute genius.


Dean Koontz

The “Odd Thomas” series is very popular and very fun. Koontz is another prolific writer with great commercial success. One of the more underrated books he’s written is called “Relentless” and may be a compilation of every author’s worst nightmares.


J.R.R. Tolkien

The entire Middle Earth saga (The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, and “The Silmarillion”) is a breathtaking masterpiece. The Peter Jackson films are awesome, too. But, the books the movies come from were a revelation when they were written in the 1950’s. Tolkien made me realize that both the devil and God can be found in the details.


H.G. Wells

Novels like “The Time Machine, “The Island of Doctor Moreau,” and “War of the Worlds” captivated my imagination when I was growing up. Wells had a brilliant mind and he made me realize the importance of romance in stories that, on the surface, seem to have nothing to do with love but the deeper you dig the more you realize that’s what they’re all about. That’s not just a lesson on writing, but on life.


Richard Matheson – “Somewhere In Time”

Richard Matheson is another excellent writer who has had a lot of his books turned into movies (“Stir Of Echoes”, “I Am Legend”, etc.) including the well thought of “What Dreams May Come” which was both enjoyable and disturbing for me due to it’s distorted view of heaven. But, I first discovered Matheson when I saw the movie “Somewhere In Time” and loved it.  starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour and Christopher Plummer. It was captivating to me. So, I read the book (originally called “Bid Time Return” but changed for marketing reasons to match the film title) and liked it even better.


The Stephen King & Frank Darabont collaboration

Stephen King is a brilliant and prolific writer. No question. But, I would argue that some of his best work is after it has been polished into a screenplay by Frank Darabont. This is how we got the movies The Green Mile (adapted from King’s serial novel of the same name) and The Shawshank Redemption (adapted from King’s novella “Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption”). The latter is a particularly wonderful screenplay to read and my favorite movie of all time.


Harper Lee – “To Kill A Mockingbird”

This book (as well asthe 1962 movie starring Gregory Peck) made me want to write about real people and real problems. It also cemented, in both my writing and me as a person, themes of justice, redemption and truth. This is not only the greatest novel of the 20th century, it’s one of the greatest, if not the greatest, novels of all time. I have to admit though, I wish they had left “Go Set A Watchman” in the drawer where it was kept for 55 years.


Of course, I could easily go on and make this list a lot longer.  How could I not include the likes of J.K. Rowling, Madeleine L’Engle, Arthur Miller, Richard Adams, Tennessee Williams, William Goldman, Chaim Potok, Diane Kinman, Shel Silverstein, Dante Alighieri, Richard Connell, Horton Foote, Nora Ephron, John Grisham, Michael Morris, John Steinbeck…? See how long this list could get? Too much for one post. Perhaps “Part Two” will be in order at some point. Until then, I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts and reflections on some of the superb writers who have influenced me over the years. Happy reading…


Posted on Leave a comment

The Inspiration Behind “The Blue Phoenix and the Silver Foxx”

by Elaine Beth Doebereiner

Readers have expressed a curiosity about where I discovered the inspiration for my first novel. The truth is that the story was born from a dream I had at age 16. I was an aspiring writer in junior high and high school. The only thing I found time for was my poetry, however. I never forgot that dream even into adulthood. I tried several times to sit down and write the story that had been born in my mind. I would get 10 chapters written and then scrap it. Then, a year later, I would write 12 chapters and throw those out, too. The story was not good enough in my eyes. So, I took a long break from it but never stopped thinking about the characters that I had not been able to do justice. Created and birthed in my mind, I watched as they grew up and developed. Soon I was losing sleep thinking about them and their story. The characters had become like children to me and I believed it was my duty to give them life. So, I took the sleepless nights as a sign from God that it was time to finally write this story for real.

The initial dream that I had at 16 was basically just one short incident with one character. A young girl falling from a mountain top with the mission of saving earth. The scenery was vivid, and the girl was so real to me. I constructed the other characters and plot around this singular point of origin. Other constructs came to life as I realized, I have always wanted to make a difference in the world. I have always had this burning desire to help others. What better way to reach an audience then through a story where they can see themselves in the characters and experience what the characters feel? So, I set out to write a book that could be a beacon of hope and inspiration to the world.

I added in the bible verses because I saw them as favorites of the characters writing the journal entries. They serve to make the characters feel more connected to God as they find comfort in His Word and I wanted the readers to feel that same comfort. My desire is that my readers will know that they are not alone. God’s not dead. There is hope. Your prayers are indeed answered even if you don’t realize it at the time. They may be not answered in the way or the timeframe you think they should be but God knows better than we do. Be patient and trust Him. We all make mistakes and those mistakes do not define us, you just have to learn from them and move on. Its healthy to experience sadness, failure and all the bad feels. You cannot grow as a person, or in faith, or in spirituality without facing fear, going out of your comfort zone, and learning from life’s experiences.  If you need guidance or counsel, open the bible, the answers are there.

I also made the characters a hodge podge of people. Different genders, races, ethnicities, angels, humans, demons. . . a total mixture. This was purposefully executed in the hopes that I could convey the fact that it does not matter who you are or where you’re from, you can do the work of God and we can all do it together. We are all His children. We should love one another no matter who or what we are and regardless of the color of our skin. You can choose your own path no matter the manner of your birth or where you came from. You do not have to be perfect to do good things in this world. When you think that God is not doing anything to help the world, stop and think about how much he loves us, His creations, His children. He gave his only son to die on the cross so that we could live. He wouldn’t do something phenomenal like that and then just turn His back on those He sacrificed for. He places special people in our lives on purpose, events happen that shape us, and I believe that angels do walk among us, strategically placed to keep the balance and to help mankind. All you have to do is keep an open mind, be observant, be patient, and have faith.

What started out as just a dream evolved into hopeful inspirational ideals. I pray the world loves the characters and this story as much as I do and I hope it touches the hearts of many around the world. It would be such an honor to know that it helped people and made a difference in their lives.

Posted on Leave a comment

February Book Recommendations

by Andrea Elston

As a teacher, February was always the most overwhelming month. First of all, it’s the shortest month of the year with the most holidays packed into it! Secondly, at least where I taught, we had a “mid-winter break” in the schedule which made an already abbreviated month one week shorter. Finally, the 100th day of school usually fell at the end of the month as well! And the fact that it is also Black History month created an even more packed itinerary! At any other time of the year, I was searching for bulletin board ideas and supplemental activities to keep my kiddos entertained but come February I was wondering how in the world I was going to fit it all in and which event I was going to feature! Between Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, the 100th day of school, and honoring the men and women who helped shape the future of this great nation, I definitely had my pick! Although time was short to fit everything in, these old standbys always made the cut! If your plate is not already full, I encourage you to try and squeeze in one more item from this menu…Bon Appetit!

Groundhog Day: I always made time to read Punxsutawney Phyllis by Susanna Leonard Hill. This is a girl after my own heart…instead of complaining about a problem, she goes right to the solution and isn’t afraid to bend the rules a bit while she does it! I also told my class about the 1993 movie Groundhog Day with Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. Because I taught first grade, the PG rating was a tad too much for that age group, so I just gave them the highlights. We talked about the pros and cons of waking up and reliving one day over and over again, and then I had them choose a day from their past (not hard for a 6-year-old) that they would want to do over and over again. It was so cute to hear their stories that ranged from birthday parties to snow days, to Kindergarten graduations. Depending on the time frame, I’d either leave it at discussion or turn it into a writing project.

Valentine’s Day: I know you have a plethora of choices when it comes to books for this holiday, but please add Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch by the great Eileen Spinelli to your list. Even though this is a picture book, the theme is appropriate for any age and MANY lessons can be drawn from it. And if you can read it while eating a heart-shaped box of chocolates, it just makes it that much better!

Presidents’ Day:  If there is one person from the past I would like to sit down and have a cup of coffee with, it would be Abraham Lincoln. His historical interaction with Grace Bedell strikes a chord with me and I believe will with your children and or students as well. Mr. Lincoln’s Whiskers by Karen B. Winnick highlights this relationship in a sweet and accurate way, even picturing a copy of the real letter from the sweet 11-year-old girl. Just like the above book, this literary work lends itself to SO many extension activities…or just serve to be a heartwarming story for bedtime, snacktime, circle-time, or History-time.

100th Day of School: Again, you have a multitude of titles to choose from for this special occasion like 100th Day Worries by Margery Cuyler, but I always added in Michael Frith’s I’ll Teach My Dog 100 Words. Because I taught the littles, I would turn this book into a spelling exercise and have the kiddos write down all 100 words that the narrator taught his dog. If I was teaching older students, I would have them debate what the 100 most important words to teach a dog would be. Plus, it’s illustrated by P.D. Eastman which is always a bonus!

Black History Month: I usually read this book in January when celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but it would also serve to highlight the struggles needed to be overcome for African Americans in the mid-20th century. If you haven’t already, please do not miss the opportunity to read and discuss Goin’ Someplace Special by the amazingly talented and prolific Patricia McKissack. I always get a little choked up when I read the information at the end of the book that describes how Nashville’s public library board of directors quietly voted to desegregate all their facilities in the 1950’s. Being a semi-autobiographical story as well makes this literary work that much more , well…special, and the beautiful illustrations by Jerry Pinkney make it not only good for the soul, but pleasing to the eye as well.



Posted on 3 Comments

Goodbye 2020, Hello 2021!

by Andrea Elston

2020 is officially history and it’s hard to imagine that makes too many people sad. It was a tough one, in many ways, but there were also some great things that happened. For example, while we formed this company in the second half of 2019, it really started ramping up in early 2020. The first author we brought into the fold signed with us in April and we are thrilled to now have 14 members of the Shine-A-Light family with several others currently under consideration. We also published 14 manuscripts (not including the 4-6 freebies per month we have been putting on our site since September) this year and are excited about the 24 that are in the editing/formatting phases right now. Within our family, we are aware of 48 additional projects that are currently in the writing and/or development phases, too.

All of that makes the prospect of 2021 very exciting to us and we are intent on it being the year we build the support element of the family atmosphere. To aid in this process, we have reserved a private Facebook group and a new YouTube channel. We are hoping that the “members only” Facebook group can be a place where we are all able to communicate with one another and share ideas about how to promote our work. The YouTube channel will be a place to help us gain exposure. We would like to produce material that both private schools can use in chapels and educators in the classroom.

Speaking (or, writing) of exposure, we wanted to attend private school and homeschool conventions in 2020 but they all got cancelled due to COVID-19. We are currently signed up for an event here in Arizona scheduled for July, one in Tennessee scheduled for March and a third in April that will hopefully happen in Texas. There are others we also plan to attend in Florida, Colorado and New York. These conferences would be great exposure for Shine-A-Light as a company as well as for the whole family and their individual works. Please join us in praying that these opportunities are not taken away from us again this year. Especially now that we have built up a bigger inventory of great material and have so much more to offer.

Goodbye, 2020. You weren’t all bad. Cheers to 2021!

Posted on

The Three-Week Shine-A-Light Giveaway Extravaganza!

Who doesn’t love free stuff?

This couldn’t be any easier. Just go to our contact page and enter your e-mail address to sign up for our newsletter anytime between now and Labor Day and we will e-mail you after the promotional period ends to give you a unique, one-time code that will give you $10 off of any order on our site!

Even better, the first 125 people to sign up will also receive an author-signed and numbered, limited first edition hardcover copy of either The Four Corners, The Gift of Tyler, or The Gift of Rio, all of which are currently on their second edition and the first two of which currently have corresponding curriculum (and the latter will soon.) We will email the winners and ask them to put the three books in order of preference and then we will give them out on a first-come, first-serve basis while the supplies for each book last. And, the best part is, we’ll even cover the shipping on those 125 books!

Just visit our contact page, enter your e-mail address to join our newsletter subscribers list, click the submit button and you’re done. Easy peasy, lemon squeesy!

But wait…you guessed it, there’s even more!

We will also be giving away a GRAND PRIZE!

Everyone who enters will be put into a drawing for a Premium Single-Family Annual Membership (current price: $245) which gives the winner one free download of all digital content on our website along with a 15% discount on every other product in the store – all of which lasts for the duration of the one-year membership!

The giveaway ends September 7th so don’t delay…enter today!