About The Author

Michael Neale is a gifted Dove Award-Winning songwriter, a talented performer, and a masterful storyteller. Neale’s songs have been recorded by artists such as Michael W. Smith (“Rise Above”), Natalie Grant (“Your Great Name,” Worship Song of the Year in 2012), Rebecca St. James (“In A Moment”), Todd Agnew (“I Need No Other”), and Phillips, Craig and Dean (“Saved the Day”), to name a few.

Songwriting is different from writing novels but they share some similarities—both tell a story and both inspire. And with the highly anticipated September 2012 release of his first novel The River, Michael is finding more and more ways to share his gift of storytelling as an author.

Neale decided to write The River because he had a story to tell. “It had been coming to life in my heart and mind over time. It’s almost as if the story picked me. I had to bring these characters to life. I would have never guessed that I would write a novel, but when you have something in you that is so vivid and so real, you have to get it out. That was me. I don’t think I could have survived not writing this book.” That’s a fitting feeling since the initial event that compelled him to write this story is one that his wife nearly didn’t survive.

Neale loves the outdoors and during one white water rafting trip with his wife Leah, they encountered some tough rapids. In fact, a man perished there the week before. One second, they were all in the raft; the next, Leah had fallen overboard into the whitewater. For fifteen seconds, she was trapped underwater and all Neale could do was pray. When she popped up and floated downstream, she was fine. She got back in the raft and they finished the run. But that moment left an imprint on his soul.

Over the next few years, he started piecing together the story of The River. And while writing it was important to him, it was more than just a good story. Neale was very intentional about the message so that it would be relatable to a wide range of readers: “I really did want to reveal some deeper truths through all the channels of the novel. The entire story, the plots and sub plots, the characters…everything has a deeper meaning to me. I really wanted to try to craft the best story I could, all the while, weaving nuances of faith and life throughout.”

He wanted readers to see the story through their own “lens” and ask deeper questions about their life and purpose, and of faith, forgiveness, and redemption. He wanted them to get a greater understanding of how much God loves them and that He is with them, even in their pain.

Above all, Neale wanted to leave readers with hope—hope that they can do more and be more, that they can confidently take more chances. “We are made for so much more than we often realize. There is a greater story unfolding. We all have a vital role to play. It is a thrilling adventure! We must not settle for what is simply familiar or safe. We cannot let our fear of the unknown hold us back. The only true joy and fulfillment in life comes from living out our purpose and destiny in the greater story of life, which I believe is God’s story. To live a life that is wide open, moving towards that purpose with everything we are, is the only way to live!”

Michael divides his time among leading worship in churches, songwriting, and being a featured leader and teacher at conferences around the country. In between his travels, Michael serves on the team of Worship Leaders at Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, where he lives with his wife Leah, and their three children Micah, Maisie, and Wyatt.

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“The story of The River is inspiring and uplifting! Reaching deep into your heart from the opening pages, The River and its cast of characters takes you on a life‐changing journey. Everyone needs to read it. I believe this story will impact the world!”

— Dr. Tom Mullins, Founding Pastor Christ Fellowship Church, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida

“Neale’s novel is filled with likeable characters, and The River itself is one of them, suffused with mystery and power. This is a gentle, nostalgic story that should draw in many readers with its heartwarming tone.”

— CBA Retailers + Resources

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