Interview with Josh Baker

We recently had the privilege to interview Catholic author Josh Baker. Josh was the grand prize winner of the Xulon Press Christian Choice Writing Contest, and chose to have his wonderful book Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses! published. This book is Catholic fiction, which I believe is a very underdeveloped genre that could potentially be a wonderful tool to evangelize with. We touch on that topic in this interview, as well as others including Josh’s inspiration for his book, Josh’s faith, the Xulon Press contest, and even Josh’s favorite Biblical verse. This is a great chance to learn about a truly unique and terrific person!

By leaving a comment on this post you are also entering yourself to win a signed copy of Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses! The contest will be open until this coming Friday (02/01/13) and a winner will be selected/informed by 5 PM of that day.

Catholic author Josh Baker signed copy of bookTo watch a video trailer about Josh’s book Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses you can visit his blog at MarGreatsGlasses.com. You can also find links to follow Josh on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, as well as to purchase the book!

Your book Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses! came out in November of 2012, what was your inspiration for this book?

The main inspiration for, Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses! was my desire to provide hope and clarity to young people entering adulthood who are questioning their faith, have abandoned it altogether, or are distressed by secular messages contrary to their beliefs.

Is there a reason that you chose to write this book for the intended audience of young adults?

I feel it is critical to evangelize to young people, and to do it in terms they can relate to. The enemy certainly knows this as evidenced by today’s mainstream television programming and popular music. In this digital age, we cannot be complacent and rely solely on traditional means of evangelizing. The book does a great job addressing common misconceptions and misrepresentations of our faith in contemporary language and presentation which young adults will find credible and engaging.

You were raised Catholic, but abandoned your faith after high school for some time. Thankfully you have returned to the Church now. How has this experience affected you as a person?

Being someone who was once seduced by secular thinking, I have an intimate understanding of the mindset of those who reject our faith. When the Lord woke me from my stupor, I was as far from God as I had ever been. I held harsh, intolerant positions, backed by self-serving motives. If you were to tell me three years ago that I would today be an active, repentant disciple of Jesus Christ, I would have scoffed and sent you on your way. Knowing that God loved me, even when I was disrespectful and disobedient – that He loved me so much that he pulled me out of a ditch – has been an overwhelming, life-changing experience. When I encounter a spirited non-believer, my heart bursts with compassion because I’ve walked in those shoes and I know God has great plans for them if they would receive Him. My reversion back to Catholicism has brought about a tolerance and love for my follow man that I never had before. My experience has made it clear to me that Jesus wants a personal relationship with every living soul, especially those in most need of His mercy.

Do youPlease Don't Remove MarGreat's Glasses reflect some of your own personal struggles with faith in Timothy (the main character of Please Don’t Remove MarGreat’s Glasses!)?

Like Timothy, I am very fond of science and technology. And similarly, I developed an attitude that one needed to choose between science and religion. This attitude is prevalent in today’s scientific community, which I find very odd. You’d think that as one unraveled the intricacies of the human genome, studied the interoperability of the circulatory, skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems, analyzed the uniqueness of our fingerprints, witnessed human reproduction, that they would be left in awe – not denying the creator. It was more convenient (for my lifestyle) to defer giving credit to God when I could lean on the convenient assumption that all would be explained by science – eventually. Timothy exhibits a similar attitude.

You were the Grand Prize Winner of the Xulon Press Christian Choice Writing Contest. How did you come across the contest and what helped you to win it?

My whole life, I have always loved to write. After my renewal of faith, I often recorded the day-to-day graces I experienced. Late-night, after everyone was in bed I’d meditate on whatever had transpired that day. During one of these late-night reflections, the character Timothy Clement, and God’s plan for him came to me. Over the next few weeks this vivid story of Timothy’s journey of faith flowed out. Before I knew it, I had a lot of unexpected material. I wasn’t sure what I would do with it – in anything. Self-publishing was gaining traction and so I did a basic inquiry into what options were available. I quickly realized that self-publishing required a significant budgetary commitment that I was not in any position to make for casual late-night ramblings. Several months later the representative who had answered my inquiries about publishing opportunities at Xulon Press contacted me regarding a Christian Choice Writing Contest. I decided to enter one of my short stories, but ultimately, I did not win, or even place for that matter. In April of last year I entered another Xulon Christian writing contest with a short Easter story. I had come home that day around six p.m. and saw an email in my inbox announcing that the contest was ending that same evening at midnight. I figured I might be able to crank out a short story in time – but then I noticed that the deadline was six p.m. Eastern time leaving me just three hours! I hunkered down and got to work on a short Easter story. I ended up submitting my entry just minutes before the deadline- with very low expectations since I hadn’t adequate time to polish it. The next morning I received a call informing me that I had won the Grand prize which was a book publishing package! I just about fell off my chair! There truly was no limit to the Lord’s mercy. Over the next four months I finished assembling the book and submitted the completed manuscript for production in October of last year.

Do you have any advice for Catholics who are looking to get more involved with writing?

Write more Catholic fiction! Catholic bookstores are filled with many wonderful books providing important teachings about our faith. We are very fortunately to have such an abundance of Catholic resources available to us. However, I would love to see the anemic genre of Catholic fiction develop and spread the message of our faith to a broader audience. In this year of faith Pope Benedict XVI has called us to not only rekindle our relationship with Jesus, but also share the good news of the Gospel. I think Catholic fiction is a worthy manifestation of the New Evangelization.

If you could choose only one Biblical verse as a favorite, which would you choose and why?

1 Cor 12:4-11 because it shows how God has a plan for each of us. He has blessed us with unique talents that allow us to be instruments of His will, if we choose.

Brothers and sisters:
There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit;
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.
To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom;
to another, the expression of knowledge according to the
same Spirit;
to another, faith by the same Spirit;
to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit;
to another, mighty deeds;
to another, prophecy;
to another, discernment of spirits;
to another, varieties of tongues;
to another, interpretation of tongues.
But one and the same Spirit produces all of these,
distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.

What can we expect next from Josh Baker?

I am currently working on a series of MarGreat comic strips for children learning about their faith. They are a humorous, but tactful attempt to engage young people and drive home Catholic fundamentals.

Additionally, I am working on a new faith-based mystery that explores the ethical conflicts faced as new advances in genetic-engineering are achieved. It will have you guessing right up to the end!

Interview with Michael Seagriff

We recently had the honor of interviewing Catholic author Michael Seagriff. Michael is a Lay Dominican who has devoted his time to helping the cause of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration grow. He also led a Prison Ministry for a decade. We had a chance to talk to Michael about these experiences, as well as his his book Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire!: Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct.

Michael Seagriff Catholic author

Your book Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire!: Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval in 2012, what inspired you to put together this collection of inspiring and instructive quotes?

There were a number of reasons. Whenever something I read struck me spiritually, I wrote it down on an index card. Over the years I accumulated thousands of these cards – words which had touched my heart, stirred my soul and changed my life. I was convinced they would do likewise for others who read and reflected on them. This collection of eternal wisdom fills a great void in the Church – a need for catechesis and evangelization. The book presents essential and often forgotten truths of our Faith in mouth size bites – a few quotes at a time. As a Lay Dominican I am required to share the fruits of my contemplation – hard to do that if I just kept these treasures on index cards in my desk drawer, Finally, and most importantly, because God persistently prompted me to do so.


You include quotes from the Bible, different Popes, saints, priests, and just regular people in your book. This is a really large base to draw from, why did you choose to do that?

When I became hungry to learn the Truth, I read as much and from as many sources as I could get my hands on. Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Papal encyclicals are obviously essential reads for anyone seeking to grow in their faith and love of God. After Vatican II we mistakenly got away from the written spiritual treasures left behind by so many of God’s great saints. I wanted others to discover these valuable gems. There are saints and prophets among us today whose work has much to offer as well. The book contains an extensive bibliography for those wishing to go more in depth than the limited quotations I have complied allows.


Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire!: Words to Challenge, Inspire, and Instruct includes seventeen different chapters that cover a plethora of topics. If you had to choose just one chapter as a favorite,
Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instructwhich one would it be and why?

That’s tough and I’m going to cheat and pick two, since both are really inseparable: – Chapter XII – The Source, Center and Summit of Our Catholic Faith which focuses on the Eucharist, Eucharistic Adoration and the Sacred Heart, and Chapter XIII – The Greatest Event On Earth Each Day which discusses the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and our Priests. Why these two?

The Eucharist, as Sacrament, Liturgy and Real Presence, must be everything to a Catholic and especially to our priests. Nothing less is acceptable to our God. The crisis in our Church today centers around the loss of reverence for and belief in the Eucharist. We must rediscover a sense of awe and amazement in this great Gift because It is the means through which God intends to transform all of us -clergy, religious and laity – into the saints He created us to be.


How has being a Lay Dominican affected your life?

Although I will remain a work in progress until my death, my Lay Dominican vocation has completely changed my life. Among many other things, it has provided me with a solid spiritual framework from which to work out my salvation, gave me a zeal and concern for the salvation of other’s souls, created an insatiable appetite to learn and share the Truths of my Faith, enhanced my ability to pray, re-invigorated my love for the Eucharist, Eucharistic Adoration, the Mass, the Rosary and our Blessed Mother, fuels and inspires my writing, and has helped me immensely in my vocation as husband, father, grandfather and friend. Have I left anything out?

If your readers are interested, they can find out more about the Lay Dominican vocation at: http://www.3op.org/.

You have spent a long time promoting Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration and led a Prison Ministry program at one point. Can you talk a little about these experiences and what they did for you and your spiritual development?

Sure. Let’s start with Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. More than 20 years ago, a friend invited my wife and me to get up on First Fridays each month at 2 AM to be with our Lord. We had never participated in Eucharistic Adoration, did not really understand it, and could not see how we could possibly get up so early in the morning and function at work the next day. We thought our friend was crazy, but we went, mostly out of Catholic guilt.

Our lives have never been the same. Ten years later, I came to believe that one hour a month was simply not enough! I helped our former parish and another nearby parish initiate Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration and for more than a decade now someone has been with our Lord every hour of every day at both of these parishes. So many lives have been changed! So many souls saved! Four years after our Chapel opened, a total stranger gave us a Monstrance that had been blessed by John Paul II the Sunday before he died!

I am a much different person today than I was before making a commitment to weekly adoration. I have a deeper and more profound love for God, my wife and my family. I think more often of others before myself. I still offend God but am quicker to seek the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I love Mass and the Holy Eucharist.

My hunger to know and share the Truth, my vocation as a Lay Dominican, the inspiration to write Forgotten Truths and to create a blog all originated in the Presence of our Eucharistic Lord. I would not trade a second of the time I am blessed to spend with Him for anything.

Eucharistic Adoration is not a ministry; it is not limited to a special few. It is the premier devotion among all of the Church’s devotions. It is the fuel that sustains our faith and enables us to love others on God’s behalf. God deserves our Adoration. He is entitled to it.

What follows are links to three frank and challenging articles that I have written and shared over the years in an attempt to interest others in this essential devotion:

Unlock Doors Before It Is Too Late

Reflection on Unrequited Love

Prison Ministry

At a time of great personal and spiritual struggle in my life, a friend invited me to a weekend retreat. He promised me that I would not regret going. He was right. That weekend God became very real to me.

So when another friend later invited me to come to prison with him, I accepted his invitation hoping that God would use me to make Him real to someone else who was in need of experiencing His unconditional love. He did.

Amazing what God can do through simple sinful men who come to prison and simply treat their “brothers in green” with the dignity and respect they deserve as creatures made in the image of a loving God, let them know God loves them, is ready to forgive them and able to transform them into new men – men of God and of Faith.

The following example illustrates how powerfully God can work when we simply love someone on his behalf.

On one weekend we had a “Charlie Manson” look-alike at our table. They could have been twins. He meant business. He had intentionally come to the program with filthy clothes, smelling as if his body had never been touched by the cleansing and aromatic qualities of soap or deodorant. There was no way we would accept him, he thought. As difficult as it was, we did. Throughout the day, he challenged us and questioned us and then he began to listen.

When “Charlie” returned the next morning, he was clean shaven, freshly showered and wearing impeccably pressed green pants and white shirt. He was physically different. He joyfully interacted with us. He started the second day at least exteriorly different then he was the previous day.

He finished the day in the arms of a team member, crying uncontrollably and joyfully, having reconciled with his forgotten Lord through the Sacrament of Confession and having received Him in Holy Communion for the first time in twenty-seven years.

What can we expect from Michael Seagriff moving forward into 2013?

I am working on three books. One is a compilation of articles I have written and presentations I have made over the years in an attempt to encourage a greater reverence for and belief in the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist and to promote Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. The second book is a mini-memoir of some humorous, serious and unique life experiences. The last is a novel involving a lawyer who shares his Catholic faith for the first time with a client as the two contest three successive criminal prosecutions and try to thwart a prosecutor’s attempt to send this man to prison for the rest of his life.

I will continue blogging at http://harvestingthefruitsofcontemplation.blogspot.com/ and promote Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration.

God willing, I will attend both the Online and Live Conferences of the Catholic Writers’ Guild this year. Hope to see you there.

Finally, I want to thank you Brendan for this interview and for the opportunity to share a little something about myself with your readers.

I am very thankful that I was able to interview Michael, and I hope that you all enjoyed learning about him and Forgotten Truths to Set Faith Afire Words to Challenge, Inspire and Instruct. I encourage you all to visit Amazon and pick up a copy of this book today!

Interview with Brendan Barth

Author Brendan Barth lives in San Francisco, California with his wife and teaches at a Catholic school. He is the author of Andrew’s Christmas a children’s book about Christmas. The thing that I loved about Brendan’s book was that it is faith based and that is something difficult to find today. We had the pleasure of interviewing Brendan Barth about his inspirations and about Andrew’s Christmas.

Catholic Author Brendan Barth

So your book Andrew’s Christmas came out in 2011, what were your inspirations for creating a holiday themed book?

The inspiration came from teaching; my students came in hardly knowing anything about the origins of the Christmas story, from the Infancy Gospels to how the traditions came to America. So I set aside some time to do a unit plan on the history of Christmas, because if these smart Catholic students are so clueless on the history, how can they be confident about how they, in their present lives, view the season in relation to their faith?

What is the one thing that you want young readers to take away from Andrew’s Christmas?

That Christmas isn’t about commerce, and not to let that divine spark in all of us be dulled by media. This is a time for reflection and redemption, to be better people all year long. Hopefully, it’s a message that will connect also to the parent who is reading the book to their child.

Andrew's Christmas by Brendan Barth It seems that so many holiday books focus on things other than the birth of Christ. What inspired your focus in this book?

Because it’s in the name: CHRISTmas, meaning Rite of the Anointed One. If we as people of faith don’t have this in the forefront of our minds and actions, the reason of the season becomes meaningless. So then people write books on reindeer or gift wrapping.

When did you begin writing and what made you want to continue doing it?

I always loved to write, whether it was letters, stories, even papers for school. If I don’t write every day, I feel bad. And to this day, I believe writing is the most elegant way to express an idea that is lasting.

Where did the idea for Andrew’s journey through the tree’s ornaments come from?

The idea came at a Christmas party at a good friend’s house. His six year old child at the party was bored by all the adults and their conversation, and he sat me on the couch and wanted me to tell him a story. We were looking at their Christmas tree with the angel on top, and I just riffed about what if we became really small and could have an adventure in the tree? He liked the idea, and we just did it. His name, by the way, is Andrew, and he and his family are true faith filled Catholics, and an inspiration to me personally as well as in my writing.

Will there be more children’s books or other books to come from Brendan Barth?

Yes! I have eight more planned based on the Andrew character on topics such as fear, faith, family, and Easter. The next one, hopefully out soon, will be on prayer.

You can find out more about Brendan Barth on his website or by following him on Twitter!

Interview with Charlotte Ostermann

Charlotte Ostermann, a Catholic convert, is a freelance writer and editor. She is also a veteran educator, poet, homemaker, humorist, and spiritual mentor. Her newest book, “Catholics Communicate Christ: How to Serve the Catholic Church as a Writer” came out two weeks ago, and we had the pleasure to interview her about her new book and some of her inspirations!

 So, your Kindle Book, “Catholics Communicate Christ: How to Serve the Catholic Church as a Writer” was released on November 7, 2012. What prompted you, or inspired you, to write this book?
I went to the Catholic Writers Guild LIVE Conference in August, and was profoundly grateful for all the encouragement I received. As I drove home, my heart just overflowed with the desire to share that encouragement, and some of the great practical advice, with others. I know how it feels to be very hesitant and unsure about ‘self-promotion’ as a writer who wants to give God the glory. At the conference, humble men and women, and godly priests assured us all that, if God gives the message and the skill, then we ARE honoring Him if we do everything we can to get that message into people’s hands, computers, consciousness! Something inside me opened up – I say I ‘got over myself’! As I reconsecrated myself, and my writing, to Mary in the days that followed, this booklet became a reality.

How long have you been writing? And how did you get started?

I’ve been writing since I was a child! I don’t know what it feels like to go through life without turning everything into words – experiencing life as narrative, wanting to share what I learn with others, turning passion into poetry. As a non-Christian, I never wrote professionally. After I became an evangelical Christian, I wanted to write – to share the Good News – but God seemed to hold me back. After I became a Catholic, I felt so glad He had caused the seed to ‘fall into the ground’ for a time. I needed to mature, to have my writing burned into my very being, to be purged of self and error as much as possible so that Christ-within-me could shine. My hubby took all the kids to Colorado for a two-week camp out fifteen years ago, and in that at-home quiet time I began to write and haven’t stopped since! One of my first Catholic venues was Canticle magazine, and Envoy published my conversion story, “A Closet Catholic Comes Out’. Since then, that writing retreat has been the annual event I most fervently look forward to! Russ, God bless him, has taken kids as young as two so I could have this amazing experience.

In your Amazon biography, you mention you live on a “farm wannabe” north of Lawrence, KS. What do you mean by “farm wannabe”? I’ve never heard that phrase before.

Ha! If you knew what lame ‘farmers’ we are, you’d see what I mean! We get the importance of sustainable agriculture, organic food, distributist initiative, and all that, but we are city-raised and pretty lazy gardeners, so it is truly a ‘Patchwork Farm’ (our new name for it). Most of our activities are in town, so we don’t feel like ‘real farmers,’ yet the land is here and I think it sort of hopes we’ll grow up. There’s a big garden, chickens who do actually lay eggs for us, two goats that my daughter will be milking in the spring, and some ducks we call ‘farm props’. As Chesterton said, “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly”!



Why do you feel it is important to find more writers in the New Evangelization?

Here’ s the huge truth: EVERY SINGLE PERSON stands at the intersection of a unique set of realities. Only he or she can fully respond to those realities, and to those people. Everything we writers are saying is already ‘out there’. None of it is original with us. We are all re-writing truths you could get from a hundred other places. But each of us is speaking for a new audience. The Gospel hasn’t been realized fully until it is realized, re-presented, made real through each of us. If you deal in words, you MUST get the truth of what God has done for you into words!! Some writers are going to be true ‘artists’, but many, many more will simply be human beings – ordered to words not necessarily because we are artists with words, but because we are humans created in the image of the Word. The use of words is a critically important skill in the New Evangelization because it is, in itself, a recapitulation of the human person!

You mention that our words can help “stem the tide of destruction”. How do you, as a writer yourself, stay motivated to continue writing and spreading God’s word?

Well, I think of the architect Gaudi, in his last years, working on the Sagrada Familia. He was asked a similar question and said that if he did not create, did not do this work, he would die. I feel the same way. I simply do not know how I would live without shouting about the hope that is in me, the joy that overflows from me, and the destiny that is mine and yours and everyone else’s!!

You mention the Catholic Writers Guild. How has the Guild helped you develop as a writer?

Frankly, the Guild hasn’t helped me develop as a writer so much as helped me feel I am in a community of people who understand this Thing I Do! In the ‘real world’ of daily life, there are not a lot of people who understand the drive to be creative, to give oneself with abandonment, to do work that is essentially lonely because of a love for people. People misunderstand and reinforce our own hesitations and inhibitions. They hurt us and that’s a challenge to deal with, because we have to stay vulnerable to keep giving. In the Guild, we have others who understand the various struggles of the writing life, and who can help us stay the course. Since it is solidly Catholic, we don’t have the different issues that come up among fellow writers who understand writing, but have no comprehension of what we go through when writing is a religious kind of vocation.