- Contact information
- Product information
- Promotional information
- Interview questions and answers
- Press Release
- True Status book excerpt—Chapter 1
- True Status One sheet
- Contact information
Email: [email protected]
Author Bio – Short
Chuck Richardson was born and raised in Rome, New York. He currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky with Ruby, his wife. They have two adult daughters, Brittany and Jillian. He has served as an elder, deacon, and teacher in the churches of Christ for more than thirty five years. Chuck enjoys teaching adult Bible classes and especially likes helping teachers become better teachers. Visit www.chuckrichardsonstories.com to learn more.
Author Bio – Long
Chuck Richardson was born and raised in Rome, New York. He always loved reading and writing and even considered majoring in English in college, but practicality won out and he earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Education degree. Over the years, Chuck pursued his interest in writing as a freelance writer for a Black community newspaper and a local business newspaper, editing newsletters for a Friends of the Library group and for a professional association. Chuck considers himself to be an educator, so after fifteen years as an engineer for two large manufacturing companies, he changed careers to work as a quality management consultant and trainer in which he endeavored for eighteen years.
Chuck now lives in Louisville, Kentucky with Ruby, his wife of thirty-six years. They have two adult daughters, Brittany and Jillian. Chuck was a Curriculum Developer for a company that produces e-learning technical training materials in Southern Indiana until in retired in March 2023. Chuck’s position combined technical writing and being a subject matter expert.
Chuck has served as an elder, deacon, and teacher in the churches of Christ for more than thirty-five years. He is a passionate believer in Jesus Christ. Chuck enjoys teaching adult Bible classes and especially likes helping teachers become better teachers.
Chuck enjoys doing yard work, and before he began spending most of his free time reading and writing, he tried to complete one or two woodworking projects each year. He ran track and cross-country in high school and is still interested in sports, watching college and professional basketball and football games now and then.
Visit www.chuckrichardsonstories.com where Chuck blogs on various topics including the Bible, teaching, and writing stories as a tool to teach the Bible.
2. Product Information
Title: True Status
Author: Chuck Richardson
Publication date: July 26, 2023
Available at: www.amazon.com paperback, hardcover, and eBook.
9798891340015: Trade Hardcover
9798891340022: Trade Paperback
9798891340039: e-book (Kindle)
Available on Kindle Unlimited
Hardcover: $ 27.99
Paperback: 322 pages
Kindle: 278 pages
Christian fiction/spiritual warfare/mystery
3. Promotional Information
Front cover tagline:
From death into life—A perilous passage.
Back cover blurb:
Billy Yates, a forty-two year old Black college math professor, holds deep skepticism about God’s goodness and power, but after a series of strange occurrences, Billy realizes that he is the prize in a terrifying spiritual battle between good and evil.
While recovering from surgery Billy is confronted by an angel who challenges him to examine his past rather than accuse God of wrongdoing. After the surgery, Billy discovers a strange message on his body that he believes is from God. Confused and afraid, Billy accepts the angel’s challenge and in so doing he learns the depth of his own sinfulness which plunges Billy into despair.
Ezriah Reynolds, a Christian and Billy’s best friend, encourages Billy to join him in taking a seminary class called Jesus in the Old Testament, and for the first time in his life, Billy seriously considers what the Bible teaches about covenant, sin, and salvation. Billy, smitten with Nurse Angeline Otl, begins pursuing her even as his surgery commences. Angeline struggles with her own past, but she and Billy draw together and become vital pieces in the other’s spiritual journey.
Praise for True Status
“True Status is a life-transforming book that possesses the ability to inspire the reader to possibilities of tremendous proportions.”
Bryan C. Jones, Senior Minister of Newburg Church of Christ in Louisville, Kentucky, author of Finding My Good Thing, The Art of Soul Winning & The Converted to Christ Personal Bible Study Series.
“True Status is a spiritual page-turner that pulls back the curtain to reveal the cosmic battle between God and Satan over the salvation of humanity. It brings us on the fascinating journey of one man’s search for meaning and redemption. From the first paragraph until the story’s conclusion, Chuck Richardson reminds us of the power of faith, the boundlessness of God’s love, and the infinite worth of the human soul.” Carol Schlorff, author of How to Kill a Giant
“With shades of Pilgrim’s Progress and The Screwtape Letters, this novel takes the reader alongside Billy Yates’s journey from disbelief to faith in Christ. In the presence of angels and demons, we are treated to glimpses of his past life and the challenges of the present which he must reconcile to make a decision to follow Christ. Speculative fiction readers will particularly enjoy this book, but I recommend it for general audiences as well.” Linda Wood Rondeau, author of Lessons Along the Way and Ghosts of Trumball Mansion
“In True Status the author, Chuck Richardson, crafts an intriguing story that takes the reader into the consideration of these big questions we all have. As the events of the life of Billy Yates unfold, readers may find themselves asking how such events are unfolding in their own lives. This is a book that is worth reading, sharing and discussing. Enjoy the journey this book can take you on.” KeRusso, author of When God Speaks…Will You Hear? and Leviticus Alive! Your God May Be Too Small
“First the story really excels in drawing from the prophetic and apocalyptic literature of the Bible. The visions and encounters with other worldly creatures are clearly a homage to the individual visions of the prophets in the Hebrew Bible. Later in the book when Yates starts engaging Christianity more directly, there is a real strength in the conversations that come from the Bible classes that Yates attends. These conversations are especially rich with the discussions that occur outside the Bible class, with many ideas and questions coming up. In these conversations you get a glimpse of the nuance and complexity that comes from following Jesus and studying the Bible.” Stephen Lamb, Associate Pastor of Youth Ministry, Living Water Community Church, Chicago, Illinois.
4. Interview questions and answers
Why did you become a writer?
I have always enjoyed writing. During high school and college, I found that writing about the books I had read helped me understand the concepts much better. I probably love writing because I want to teach something.
What inspired you to write this book?
I am inspired by the Bible to write and to teach, but my daughter, Jillian inspired me to try my hand at writing fiction. Jillian was taking a creative writing class back in 2018 and listening to her talk about the class led me to write a short story. Jillian’s interest in what happened to the characters in the short story caused me to expand the tale into a novel.
Can you tell me about the book?
It is the story of a man who is skeptical about God. He is a black college professor who begins having some supernatural experiences that get his attention and cause him to questions his own character and integrity. Eventually these strange occurrences lead him to take a seminary class where for the first time he seriously examines what the Bible says about covenant, sin, and salvation. His encounter with the scriptures is what begins to change his thinking about God to the point that he must make a life-altering choice while being opposed by temptation and the forces of evil.
Tell us about your road to publication.
I started writing True Status in January 2018 and after three years of work I sent queries to ten agents and got only negative responses. Then I submitted the manuscript to a hybrid publisher, a friend who had worked in publishing, and a $99 critique service. These three professionals gave me similar discouraging feedback. Things like:
- “Your current writing style is didactic.”
- “Convey the message you want to convey without the reader feeling preached at.”
- “The pace often gets interrupted by too much description.”
- “We encourage you to work on pacingand showing rather than telling.”
- “The book often includes random details that don’t add to the story.”
- “Certain chapters and passages read more like a Bible tract than a novel.”
This criticism hurt, but it was exactly what I needed to hear. During the next eighteen month I researched fiction writing and rewrote the entire novel. In June 2022, I attended the Kentucky Christian Writer’s Conference and pitched the reworked novel to two publishers. I subsequently submitted proposals to those two publishers and two agents. Elk Lake Publishing offered me a contract in September 2022. I worked with an Elk Lake editor for five months through multiple rounds of editing. My editor urged me to be concise and to only retain content I needed to tell the story and keep the reader engaged. My editor and I formed a great team. On July 26, 2023, True Status was released for sale.
What did you learn when writing the book?
I learned that I had a lot to learn about writing a novel. I had always viewed myself as a nonfiction writer. Many years ago I did some freelance writing for newspapers and other publications.
I have learned a lot about fiction, but there is tons left to learn. I’ve always enjoyed doing research and learning new things, this experience taught me that I enjoy reading and learning about the craft of writing fiction.
One of the most interesting things is that as a novelist you usually have to make the lives of your characters and difficult as possible. If you create conflict at every turn so your protagonist must fight to achieve their goals, then the readers will be engaged to see how the character overcomes challenges or how they fail. But there are so many things I’ve learned like show don’t tell.
What surprised you the most?
How difficult it is to be a published writer and how much there is to learn about better fiction writer.
How are your characters like you? Different?
My protagonist and I are both teachers and analytical thinkers. We both question things and demand logical answers, so my own spiritual search was similar to that of my character. We are different in that my main character is much more negative about God than I was and he has many more tragic experiences than I have had.
What does the title mean?
I heard that the most important thing about a person is what they believe about God. A related but more important question is what does God think about you. The title has to do with what God thinks about you.
Where do you get your ideas?
I get lots of ideas from the Bible. I also get ideas when I listen to people interviewed in the media. A few of the scenes in the story were inspired by exercises from writing craft books.
Does your book relate in any way to current events?
Yes. True Status touches on issues of racial prejudice, abortion, and domestic abuse. However, it is primarily about the gospel of Jesus Christ, so it is most relevant because of the uncertainty of life. At any moment, we should all be prepared to meet our maker and give an account of the way we lived.
What is your advice to fledgling writers?
Read blogs and books on writing craft, read the work of other writers in your genre, attend writer’s conferences, and join professional organizations for writers. Every manuscript can be improved, so seriously consider feedback from readers and editors. However, have a clear vision of what you want your book to be so you don’t make changes that result in something that you will not be happy with.
5. Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
From Engineer to Christian Novelist
Retired engineer, Chuck Richardson, has written a novel, True Status, published July 26, 2023 by Elk Lake Publishing.
Debut novel asks big questions and takes readers on a spiritual journey with a religious skeptic.
LOUISVILLE, KENTUCY —Longtime Jeffersontown resident, Chuck Richardson, recently retired after a 43 year career as an engineer for several manufacturing companies. Most recently Richardson worked as a Curriculum Developer for a southern Indiana company where he wrote technical training materials.
He always loved reading and writing and even considered majoring in English in college, but practicality won out and he earned a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Education degree.
Award-wining Christian author Linda Wood Rondeau said of True Status, “With shades of Pilgrim’s Progress and The Screwtape Letters, this novel takes the reader alongside Billy Yates’s journey from disbelief to faith in Christ. In the presence of angels and demons, we are treated to glimpses of his past life and the challenges of the present which he must reconcile to make a decision to follow Christ. Speculative fiction readers will particularly enjoy this book, but I recommend it for general audiences as well.”
True Status is a Christian mystery and suspense story with a strong spiritual warfare component and a dash of romance. Protagonist, Billy Yates is a forty-two year old Black college math professor who holds deep skepticism about God’s goodness and power, but after a series of strange occurrences, Billy realizes that he is the prize in a terrifying spiritual battle between good and evil.
Available from Amazon as paperback, e-book, and hardcover.
Paperback: 322 pages. E-book: 278 pages
9798891340015: Trade Hardcover
9798891340022: Trade Paperback
9798891340039: e-book (Kindle)
About the author
Chuck Richardson was born and raised in Rome, New York. He currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky with Ruby, his wife. They have two adult daughters, Brittany and Jillian. He has served as an elder, deacon, and teacher in the churches of Christ for more than thirty five years. Chuck enjoys teaching adult Bible classes and especially likes helping teachers become better teachers. Media press kit available at www.chuckrichardsonstories.com
6 True Status book excerpt—Chapter 1
On the third Monday in April, the battle burst from unseen realms into my consciousness and altered the course of my life. It was also the day of my surgery.
The pre-op room was chilly, but without a word from me, my nurse brought me two warm blankets, sky blue and silky as a cloud. At first I’d thought she might be an angel, but she turned out to be as human as me, and I soon learned angels are not sweet lovely things, unless they’re in disguise.
My name is Billy Yates. I had a personal dilemma I hoped surgery could resolve, but my nurse gave me the first hint my problems were bigger than just a dilemma. At forty-two years old I was four weeks from a fork in the road, an intersection which would force me to choose which way my life would go.
When she breezed in, she said, “Hello, my friend. I’ll be taking care of you.”
She leaned her tall frame close as she spread the blankets over me, gave me a pat on the chest, and said, “Is that better? Comfy now?”
I nodded. The warmth from the blankets flowed into my body and helped relieve the knots in my stomach, which were there because of my impending operation. After adjusting a nearby cart, she went over my medical history, how I was feeling, and when I had last eaten. She focused on getting me ready for surgery, and to my dismay her eyes did not meet mine. Her oval face and dark brown skin had the gloss of burnished bronze, and light flickered in her brown eyes like lightning flashes across a clear sky. She had a small scar under her left eye and another on the side of her face, but they’d healed long ago and the scars could not detract from her beauty. She enchanted me, and the electricity of desire surged in me.
Did she feel it too?
No rings on her fingers, but she also had some scars on her hands. What kind of brawls do angels get into?
She pulled on medical gloves, settled herself on a stool with wheels, and commenced preparing the surgical site on my right underarm.
Her name tag read A. Otl. I couldn’t recall if she’d said her name. I asked her, “Does the A stand for Angel?”
“Pretty good guess. It’s Angeline.”
All right, I’m a genius.
My attention then shifted to saying her last name.
“Angeline Oh …”
I could not figure out how to finish it. After a few moments of study, I said, “I’ve got it now. It’s not a name at all. They’re your initials. Angel of the Lord.” Pride beamed within me at my own cleverness.
She smiled and finally turned her gaze on me, and I drank in the sight of her lovely eyes.
“My name is Angeline Otl. It rhymes with bottle, not Angel of the Lord. That’s way above my pay grade. You’re really silly.”
Angeline made an on-target assessment of my demeanor, but it was likely the medicine they gave me. My mood was relaxed, sleepy, and goofy. A few weeks later I learned some other things I’d said to her as the anesthesia took effect. Angeline moved over to work on the site under my left arm.
This surgery was my last hope. My overactive sympathetic nerves caused me to produce too much sweat, ruining a lot of nice shirts, and dinners with lovely women. And concentrating for a class or waiting calmly to be interviewed for a job while sweat poured down my sides? Forget about it.
I’d tried many less drastic remedies. Nothing solved my problem. But I did my research and learned about the surgery, so there was hope. I’d told all of my students there is always a solution if you put in the work to figure things out. I taught math at a community college and worked with kids fresh out of high school, adults who hadn’t been in school for years, and all ages in between. As long as they put in the work, I would do everything in my power to help them succeed.
My approach to life was the same. Each of my problems had a fix, and I just had to put in the work to uncover the solution. I was glad I’d done the research and found out about the procedure that could solve my problem—endoscopic thoracic sympathectomy. The doctor said he would make a few incisions under each arm and then use some special instruments to disrupt the nerves in my underarms and stop the sweating in that area. The surgery required general anesthesia, so I would be unconscious for about an hour, but I’d be able to go home the same day.
Angeline had removed the hair from my left underarm. She looked startled, stopped working, and peered at the spot. She leaned closer and said in a low voice, “Why does it say that?”
She sat up and looked directly at me. “Why does your tattoo say that?”
I laughed. I had no idea what she was talking about. “I don’t have any tattoos.”
“Whatever you say,” she said. “It looks like a tattoo to me, and it has a message for you.” Then she said in a whisper, “Lord, it may be his true status, but don’t let it be his final status.”
I smiled. “Did you just say a prayer for me?”
“Yes. I pray for all my patients.”
As I drifted off to sleep, she leaned over and said, “My friend, do not give in to fear and despair anymore.”
I laughed to myself. “I know them well. They’re old friends. They’ll be so disappointed.”
“They are demons.”
She looked worried. She saw me, and I think she liked me. A chuckle again left my lips.
“Angeline, are we friends?”
“Yes, Mr. Yates, we’re friends.”
“That’s good, because this procedure worries me. You can call me Billy.”
“Okay, Billy.” Angeline looked puzzled when she said my name. She squeezed my hand. “We’re going to take good care of you.”
That was the last thing I remember her saying before the surgery.
When I woke, my mother was gazing down on me.
Adorned with earrings and a matching necklace framed by black hair with a few streaks of gray, my mother presented a striking image of beauty. She answered gently, “Hi, baby. How are you feeling?”
“A little tired and sore, but otherwise I feel good.”
“The doctor said everything went fine, and you just need to take it easy for a few days.”
Her complexion and eyes were dark brown, just like mine, and her face was symmetrical, perfectly balanced. At seventy-three years old her skin was still smooth, almost flawless. Any scars she had could not be seen from the outside. Mom and Dad—June and Lancaster Yates—had six children—Dolyana, Sabrina, Henry, Rueben, Daphne, and me, the youngest. People always said I looked just like my mother, but as I grew up my mustache, goatee, and closely cut hair ruined the resemblance.
Ezriah Reynolds, my best friend, stood next to Mom beside my bed. Ezriah, an attorney and my elder by nine years, also taught at the community college where I worked.
Before meeting Ezriah, I often saw him in the student center playing chess with students. One day he, a clean-shaven, broad-shouldered Black man, sat alone in front of a chess board in the student center. I paused briefly to eye the chessboard, and he looked at me and said, “Pawn to queen four.”
He saw my blank look and added, “That’s an opening move. Have you ever played chess? It’s a great game.”
“No, I haven’t.”
We introduced ourselves, and Ezriah proceeded to teach me the game of chess. He loved people, and continually found ways to reach out to all kinds of folk to make them feel at home, a talent I admired and wished was mine.
Ezriah helped me from the hospital bed to a nearby recliner, and I daydreamed in the tan vinyl pull-out sleeper chair while waiting to be discharged. My thoughts drifted to Mom’s little brother, my Uncle Jimmy. He was two years older than I, and we were inseparable until he left Chicago for college in Louisville.
Jimmy had died in this same hospital twenty-five years earlier at the age of nineteen. I couldn’t fathom why God allowed such things to happen, and the thought of it always brought tumult to my mind and tempted me to shake my fists and curse God to his face. So with clenched teeth and a trembling body, I did something I hadn’t done in years.
I prayed silently. “God, I believe you exist, and that makes what I’ve seen all the more maddening. My parents have always said to praise you. I love them, but I cannot praise you because I don’t trust you. Why do you crush the innocent and never rescue them? You let my uncle die and left my mother to dissolve in tears and did not help her. Show me if I am wrong. Show me if you even care.”
Sorrow for my insolent prayer immediately gripped me. My parents had taught me better than that, but strangely I felt better. I really needed to rest. At least for the next few days, I was going to eat, sleep, and read, and try not to think too much.
As I sat there, Ezriah and Mom talked about getting me home. My thoughts returned to Angeline, and I hoped she would reappear in my hospital room so I could gaze into her eyes again and hear her calm, low voice. Angeline had such romantic loveliness, but more than that, she was refreshingly good, graceful, and attractive. My aim was to see her again.
But instead of Angeline, a giant in white clothing as bright as lightning bent down and squeezed himself under the door frame, pushing a wheelchair. When he straightened up, his hair brushed the ceiling. He looked like a warrior bent on vengeance and destruction. I shivered, and the hair all over my body stood at attention. I wanted to scream, to look away, to run and hide as his eyes pierced my soul, but instead I froze and sat silent. The giant wheeled the chair right past Mom and Ezriah and over to me. He motioned for me to get in the chair.
I didn’t move. Human beings were not that big. He was not, could not be human, and I had no intention of going with him. With the doorway blocked I considered vaulting from my chair and crashing through the window to escape. Instead, I remained motionless.
He reached down, touched my shoulder, and said, “I am Alexander. Do not be afraid.” He again gestured for me to get in the wheelchair.
I wobbled as I rose. Alexander reached out and steadied me, and as though I was a child, he lifted me and placed me gently in the wheelchair. Ezriah and Mom continued to talk as though they did not even see Alexander. Then Mom turned and said they would pick me up at the front doors of the hospital, and they left me alone with the giant.
The thing I’d feared from the moment I learned the place of my surgical procedure reappeared in my mind, and I slumped in the wheelchair. Had Death come for me? Would this angel bear me to my final resting place? He was nothing like my sweet Angeline. Grief would strike my mother hard again, as it had when Jimmy passed away. Her grieving was unbearable to me. It was unfair. How could God be so unfaithful as to bring this repeated suffering upon my mother?
She would never even think such a thing. No matter what, she would always be a devoted child of God. But to me, God was not reliable or faithful. He had allowed my uncle to die, he allowed my father to be crushed in a work accident, and he had never answered my prayers for a wife and children, even though I had done much good in my life. God allowed untold millions to suffer all kinds of mistreatment and injustice. Now perhaps I would meet him. I had plenty of complaints and had forgotten all fear of God.
“Why do you think such miserable thoughts about our Father?” Alexander said, as he wheeled me down the corridor. “He determined precisely when and where you were to be born and gave you family, friends, and every resource to care for you. All the gifts and blessings he provided, so you would reach out and find him. He has always been near you, but you refused.”
“You’ve been eavesdropping on my thoughts?” I sat up and slapped my knees. “That is really rude.”
“Did you not know all your thoughts and deeds are an open book? You should examine your own life, rather than cast aspersions upon the God you barely know. Then make peace with your God.”
I was silent, never having considered unseen observers and commentators had witnessed my life and judged it. I swiveled my head from side to side, wanting to discover the spiritual spies that might be surrounding me. There were only a few of the hospital staff, and we passed them in a blur while Alexander whisked me along.
“Do you remember Millie St. Vincent from high school?” he said.
“I’ve never heard that name before. Who is she?”
“You should ask yourself. Do you remember Eddie, Rose, Sharon, and Miros?”
“Of course. They meant everything to me at one time.” I sighed and slumped back in the chair. “But that was a long time ago.”
“Where are they now?”
I didn’t answer, because I didn’t know. I said, “Aren’t you going to ask me about Mrs. Heaviland?”
“Why? Are you responsible for what happened to your beloved teacher?”
“Yes … no.” I wasn’t sure. “I wasn’t, but maybe … I always felt I was.”
“If so, you were a very powerful little boy. You have much to sort out in the past, but don’t dwell on it too long.”
“If I’m dead, why should I look back at my life? Isn’t it too late for that? I am dead, aren’t I?”
“Yes, you are. But who knows? Perhaps you will live again.” Alexander chortled as if he had told a joke.
“You mean like reincarnation? I don’t believe in that.”
“Do you believe in anything?”
“Yes, I believe in doing good. I’ve helped a lot of people. My life is about helping, and I’ve always done that.”
“What?” I paused, and my thoughts returned to Angeline. “What about Angeline? Will I see her again?”
“So you fancy the woman Angeline?” The grin in his voice was obvious.
“If I survive today, I’m going to marry her.” I twisted in an attempt to look Alexander in the eyes.
“You are overconfident. But I did not come to bring you romantic advice. I will tell you a mystery. May you solve it and be blessed. One day ago Angeline took her life and plunged it into death, yet now she truly lives. How can that be?”
That sounded like a riddle. I’d never been good at riddles, so I didn’t even try to answer.
As we approached the final long hallway to the front of the hospital, the translucent doors revealed flickers of red and yellow flames. I cringed, finally realizing where Alexander was taking me. I slammed my shoes to the floor, and pressing myself back into the wheelchair, I strained with all my might to stop. My leg muscles cramped as I resisted my destiny, but I slid on. I tried to get up, but kept falling back. I wasn’t strong enough to stop rolling to my punishment.
“Stop, stop. This isn’t right,” I yelled. “This is not fair. I don’t deserve hell. I’ve done much more good than bad.”
I couldn’t stop the wheelchair. I pulled my feet up and prepared to leap over the side of the chair when the rolling stopped with a jerk, tumbling me to the floor. As I got up, Mom and Ezriah walked through the doors.
“You lied to me.” Shaking my fist, I prepared to take a swing at Alexander. “I’m not dead!” As I got up and turned to face him, the giant was gone. In his place stood an unfamiliar tiny white-haired old woman, barely five feet tall.
“I never lie, Billy,” she said. Her eyes were familiar, and then I knew. Alexander was there, looking out at me from those old but piercing eyes. “Have a nice day.”
She whipped the wheelchair around and proceeded back down the hallway.
Mom and Ezriah helped me to my mother’s rental car, and she drove me back to my apartment with Ezriah following in his car.
I sank into the front passenger seat and stared out at the evening sky painted with the sunset’s lovely orange, red, and yellow reflections—heaven’s fire—but there was no pleasure in the sight.
The ease and rest I craved would not be mine. They would burn on a funeral pyre of fear.
7. True Status One Sheet