Ann Harrison-Barnes is the author of four books: Stories Outside the Box, A Journey of Faith: A Stepping Stones Mystery, Maggie’s Gravy Train Adventure, and Inner Vision. She has also been published in several anthologies. Aside from her work as a Christian fiction author, Ann is a professional freelance writer. She also hosts the Inspirational Journeys Podcast, where she gives authors, creative artists, and entrepreneurs a platform to share their work. When she’s not interviewing special guests, she hosts solo episodes providing book reviews, reading selected poems, and sharing tips and encouragement for aspiring authors…
Welcome, Ann. Can you start us off by telling us about yourself and your background?
My name is Ann Harrison-Barnes. I am totally blind, with the exception of light perception in my left eye. I’m a single mom of a ten-year-old daughter. She and I were both miracles. I didn’t know that I was pregnant until the night before she was delivered via cesarean section. We both had a very slim chance of survival. If it weren’t for the grace of God, we wouldn’t be here today. Other than that, I am a published author, a professional writer, and I run a podcast called Inspirational Journeys, which I started almost four months ago.
What is your faith background?
I was saved when I was about ten or so, and after some trials in my life, I rededicated my life back to Christ in my early 30’s. Since then, no matter what trials I face, I have to allow God to lead me down the path He chose for me as a writer and as a podcaster.
What ministries have you been involved with over the years?
I haven’t necessarily been involved in ministry, other than singing in my church choir.
How did you get involved with that ministry?
I simply asked if I could join the choir. However, once I got divorced from my emotionally abusive first husband, I went to sing in the choir at the church I attend now with my mother. I still sing in the choir and perform occasional solos.
What is your life’s mission, and how do you intend to accomplish it?
My purpose in life is to win souls for Christ and to share the message of His divine love through my writing, blogging, podcast, and in any other way that God leads.
What creative tools do you have to accomplish your mission?
For my writing, I use a PC with a screen reader called JAWS, which stands for Job Access with Speech. I also use Microsoft Word for my writing. When I am on the go or away from my computer, I use the Notes app on my iPhone. I use the built-in VoiceOver screen reader that Apple provides on all their devices and computers.
For the podcast, I use the Anchor platform, because hosting with them is free and ridiculously easy to use. I either record my episodes on my computer using Google Chrome, which makes the creation tools more accessible to me. When I’m podcasting away from my computer, I use the Anchor App for my iPhone, which has come a long way in accessibility for VoiceOver users. When I conduct interviews, I use the Zoom software. When the recorded file is converted to audio, I upload it to Anchor along with any other segments I need to add. When I do interviews in both video and audio, I also upload the MP4 files to my YouTube channel. This helps me share my guest’s inspirational story to a wider audience.
What obstacles have you encountered so far? How did you deal with them?
One of the obstacles I’ve faced is getting my books formatted for self-publication. I have learned that you don’t pay a publisher to publish your book for you. When I published a second edition of A Journey of Faith, I had the assistance of an employment specialist I was working with at the time to reformat my book so I could publish it through KDP and Smashwords, and I paid another lady I knew to publish it on Lulu for me. My other books were originally licensed under the Electric Eclectic Books brand. I had help formatting those and I turned those into eBooks. Now, I am working with a publisher to produce them in print and audio under my own brand.
As for my podcast, the biggest obstacle I have run up against was accessibility, as is the case with a lot of things I want to do. If they didn’t work, I either left them alone or I contacted the company, which was what I did with Anchor.
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned about yourself and serving God with your abilities?
I have learned several things about my ability to serve God through my writing and my podcast. First of all, to write a Christ-centered story, poem or novel, I have to listen to what the Holy Spirit tells me, no matter whether I glean my inspiration from the Bible, from music, or from the natural music of the wind chimes on my front porch. Sometimes He gives me scenes of a story or information about His plan for my life in dreams. Another lesson I learned is not to pay a publisher to publish my work. I started revising one of my books last night. I found some glaring mistakes, one of which was the misspelling of a character’s name.
When I want to reach out to people for podcast interviews or don’t know what to talk about in solo episodes, I let the Holy Spirit lead me in the direction He wants me to take the podcast. This is the reason I sent out an invitation to the Christian Writers Support Group.
Who/what are your biggest influences?
The Holy Spirit is my greatest influence, but as for others, I would say that music is the second biggest source of inspiration, healing and comfort, because God has given this precious gift and has called those artists and composers to provide it for us. An artist that touched my life on a deep level was the late great Dan Seals, who was part of the duo England Dan and John Ford Coley in the seventies, but who became a country artist in the eighties. I am also inspired by a variety of books I have read over the years by authors like Janette Oke, Karen Kingsbury and Robin Lee Hatcher, to name a few.
Who or what is your support system?
Although my family supports me in my endeavors, I have a circle of writer friends. This network is constantly growing by the week, sometimes even by the day, on social media, my website, and the podcast.
Do you also have a job or are you in ministry full-time?
My only job is that of author, professional writer and podcaster. The author life is my full-time job because I am in the process of turning it into a creative business.
Other hobbies or interests?
I love to read, listen to podcasts, which is where I did the research before building my own, crocheting, as well as spending precious time with my family.
What advice would you give to aspiring creatives seeking to serve the Lord with their gifts?
Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do what the Lord has called you to do. It doesn’t matter whether you’re called to write, run a podcast, draw, sing praises to the Lord, or to use whatever gifts you’ve been given. If the gift is truly from God, He will provide the way for you to use it.
Can you tell us about your future goals?
I am planning to edit my first novel and publish a new book this year. I have a few more novels in the series I’m working on and I have other unfinished or first draft manuscripts that I want to get published, Lord willing.
Reader, I hope you have enjoyed meeting our guest. Please read on to learn how you can support her and her work for the Kingdom of God.
How to Connect with Ann Harrisson-Barnes:
Visit my website at: https://annwritesinspiration.com
Like me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annwritesinspiration
Follow me on Twitter: https://twitter.com/annwrites75
Subscribe to my podcast on your favorite platform: https://anchor.fm/inspirational-journeys
Subscribe to my YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/annsmusic1