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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Interview & Giveaway: Michael Leonard Jewell ~ Author of the Old Sodus series!

Welcome to Christian Bookshelf Reviews, Michael!! Will you tell us a little about yourself?

I currently live in Sodus, Michigan with my wife Rita. I am a communications specialist for Berrien County and am also an indie publisher under the name First School Press. I attended college in Indiana majoring in pastoral theology. I tend to be a little old fashioned which is reflected in my writing. I have attended one room and two room rural schools, lived in a house that my father built on a sixty acre farm and yes—I did walk three miles per day round trip on a dusty gravel road to school. My father led me to Christ when I was eight years old. He was an amazing man.

Will you tell us about your books?

I am currently working on a series of books called the Old Sodus series. These books center around the life of a rural family in the 1970’s using Sodus, Michigan as a setting. Although I am not Amish and neither are my characters, I think anyone liking that genre (or Laura Ingalls Wilder, Gene Stratton-Porter, etc.) would enjoy these books. I have plans for at least two more in the series.

What is something the average reader wouldn't know about you? 

I have written poetry for years but shied away from prose because it intimidated me. I had a lot of ideas and partial manuscripts written but didn’t know if I had what it takes. Several years ago after the death of my first wife, I was challenged to “fish or cut bait” and try my hand. I soon published my first book—At Home In Old Sodus.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I have wanted to be a writer since I was about eight years old. My father had a large library and a love for the classical writers and poets which influenced me greatly. I remember thinking then, that to be an author like Charles Dickens (my favorite), Doyle, Twain, Poe, etc., must be the finest thing in the world.

How many books have you written/published and do you have a favorite?

I have just published book three of my Old Sodus series. I also have several unpublished manuscripts in the hopper that I am working on. I don’t really have a favorite. Each book means something special to me.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I will often work through a difficult plot in my head, especially in the early morning hours while in bed. Also, as I am composing, I am able to see the story as it unfolds in my mind as if I was a fly on the wall. I think this is what makes the stories seem real and down home.

Where do you like to write?

I have an office with a desk and wall to wall books but my favorite place to write is in my living room in front of my picture window where I have a view of the woods. I use a laptop with a remote mouse and keyboard. It is comfortable and helps to set the mood I need.

What is the best and/or worst part about being a writer? 

The best part of being a writer is that I simply enjoy the experience and am able to use the gifts that God has given me.

The worst part of being a writer is that I am unable to concentrate on it the way I would like since I must work a full time job.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

Alas, I must work full time as most self-published writers do but I enjoy doing the research for what I write. I also enjoy teaching on Creation and other subjects for our church youth group and academy.

Is there a place you’d like to visit, but haven’t yet?

I would like to visit more of the Old West and other historical places I have read about. I look at these as opportunities and settings for new books. I fell in love with Montana on my recent visit and plan on visiting there again soon.

Do you have a favorite song and/or movie?

Favorite song:   It Is Well With My Soul by H.G. Spafford
Favorite movie: Gettysburg (1993)

What is your favorite dessert?

German Chocolate Cake (the way my mother made it from scratch, of course!)

Do you have a favorite Bible verse? 

My life verse is Luke 18:1 “And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; . . .”

Here are a few this-or-that questions:

Snowstorms or Thunderstorms?  

I love them both but snowstorms are the best. Living in southwest Michigan and in the lake effect “snow belt”—they can be intense! My favorite was the blizzard of 1967. The only way you could find the street was by the tops of the mailboxes which looked like they were in the middle of an open field. It was a “three days” blizzard and took the county a whole week to dig us out. Great memories!

Tea or Coffee?  

Tea is okay, sometimes, and I like good, strong iced tea, but I am a coffee person. Nothing tastes or smells better in morning.

Movie Theater or DVD? 

The last time I was in a movie theater was 1977. I prefer to rent or purchase what I watch on line through Amazon or some other service.

Early-bird or Night-owl?

I generally become more efficient as the day wears on. I do my best writing from about midmorning to late afternoon.

Cats or Dogs?

I like them both. Dogs are the most loyal and ask nothing of you, whereas with cats, it’s always on their terms. I’ve had some great cats though.

Are you currently working on any new novels? If so, could you give us a hint?

I have just completed an historical fiction novel that takes place in Montana Territory in the late 1890’s. I am in the editing stage now and hope to have it available by late summer or early fall. I just recently spent time in the West and in Canada doing research for it.

Thanks so much for being here! Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers and where can we find you on the web? 

I have a blog: First School Press   www.firstschoolpress.com
My books are available on Amazon and can be accessed through the blog. I also write poetry and some of my favorites are here. In parting, let me say that what I write is always something that anyone from YA on up could read with confidence. I try to portray ordinary people going through the things that ordinary people go through, with a little added spice, suspense, mystery and warmth. My motivation is to honor Christ and He is the ultimate hero of every story.


For this giveaway, there will be three winners who will each receive the first three books in Michael's Old Sodus series! (At Home In Old Sodus, Life In Old Sodus, The Big Farm In Old Sodus). Giveaway is open to the US and Canada.

Enter via the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. What a great series of books for the Young, Teen and Adult. Easy read yet thought provoking and keeps you coming back for more. Once you start reading you wont be able to put it down. Wholesome. And realistic. Focuses on family and values with real life challenges for all ages. Deals with issues of faith and unbelief alike in a small country town setting. Enjoy.

  2. thanks for the interview. These books sound wonderful I look forward to reading them. Gale Nelson

  3. I would love to be entered!! I've not heard of this author before :)

    cbus.blogger at gmail dot com

  4. This sounds like a really good series thanks for chance to win

  5. Congrats Michael on the release. I am a fan of homemade German Chocolate cake too! Great interview Melanie.

  6. This sounds like a great read. Can't wait to read it now. Great interview also.

  7. Would love to read this series. julierupert@gmail.com

  8. Great interview, I really enjoyed reading it. Funny that my all time favorite dessert is German Chocolate Cake just as his is...it's good stuff! ;-) I would love to win and read these books. Keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks for yet another great giveaway!
    My Rafflecopter name=Jeannette Laframboise.

  9. I love German Chocolate Cake!! These books sound great and are already on my to-read list.


  10. These books look great. THanks for the opportunity to win them!

  11. Sounds like a great YA series:) Love those:) Thanks for hosting the giveaway, I hope I win!

  12. Enter me these books look great!!

  13. Great interview! Sounds really good! Thanks for the chance to win!

  14. these sound great, I would love to read them!! and I love GCC too...yummy!! Cindy

  15. Very generous giveaway from the author. I enjoyed your review and Michael's testimony of his goal in writing. If I win the books, they will go to the Alamance Christian School library. :)

    godleyv at yahoo[dot] com

  16. Thank you for the Interview, the Books sound real good and I would love to be included in the Giveaway.
    God Bless


  17. What a fun interview! I love that Michael hasn't been in a movie theater since 1977 - at least I know I'm not the only one! I would love to read these books - thanks so much for the chance to win a copy:)
    Julie Witt

  18. Thank you for sharing with us. Looking forward to reading this series.

  19. Looked these up on Amazon and they look very interesting. Thanks for a great interview!


  20. These books really do look pure and enjoyable. Hope I win!


  21. These look interesting & the covers are gorgeous!

    eve @ essence of eve

  22. I would love to be entered! These books sound wonderful! :)

    I am going by Bekah on Rafflecopter.

    You may contact me at:

  23. This sounds like an interesting series, I love Amish books and love the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.


  24. Being from MI originally, I always love to read books set there! And a new author recommendation is always a great thing...


  25. I would love to win the christian fiction series of books.....'Old Sodus Series;...( At Home In Old Sodus, Life In Old Sodus, and In The Big Farm In Old Sodus) by writer Michael Jewell ...the books all sound soo wonderful...can't wait to read em.....I have shared on facebook and twitter......babyruthmac16ATyahoo.com

  26. Loved your interview!
    Sounds like a great series!
    I grew up in the 70s.
    Would love to learn about growing up in the rural Midwest!


  27. Thanks for the interview, it was fun to read. I too am a major Dickens fan and definitely prefer coffee. =-)

  28. Thanks for the Interview, these Books soundreally good and I would like to be added to the Contest
    Thank you


  29. The books sound great and interesting, thanks for sharing them. And thank you for the giveaway !


  30. Thanks for the opportunity to win!

  31. The previous for awhartness. I signed in as Angela Hartness.

  32. Great interview! I loved reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's books.


  33. Thanks for the interview. I love that the author was inspired by classical authors and found it interesting that he walked to one and two room school houses.

  34. I would love to win!!!
    Enter me!
    God Bless!
    Sarah Richmond

  35. Great interview, Melanie and Matthew. i enjoyed getting to know you a little better. i have not read any of the Sodus novels, and i would love to win. Thanks for the chance.

  36. I enjoyed the interview very much. I sure want to read these books after reading about them.Thank you for the giveaway. May God Bless you and keep you.
    Cyndee Thomas

  37. I've never heard of this series but it looks very interesting!


  38. I would like to thank Melanie and all those who participated in the interview/giveaway. It was exciting. Congratulations to Gale, Saundra and Jeannette who were the winners. Your books will be in the mail tomorrow morning.
    Michael Leonard Jewell
    First School Press


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