Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Part of the Healing

Marginalized. Disconnected. On the outside. Most of us feel that at one time or another. As a writer I often feel that way; perhaps writers feel it a little more than most. We are often the watchers, the recorders, the scribes, as we would have been called in the times of Jesus. Sometimes it's a lonely place to be; sometimes it's even a little frightening.

I wrote a devotional some time ago about standing in an isolated cemetery watching a tiny casket being put in the ground as friends buried their baby. It was a lonely place, a frightening place. As a cold March wind whipped at us I felt the icy numbness of our friends’ shock, the desolation of their loss. And I felt impotent in the face of it. There were no answers to the hard questions in our minds.

Writing about it helped me, but I wondered how others would feel when they read what I had written. The devotional was published in a local paper. The next Sunday the father of that little baby tapped me on the shoulder just before the morning service. He told me he had been in a restaurant on his lunch break and had picked up the paper to read while he ate. He saw the devotional. He said he ate his burger with tears streaming down his face. Then he said, "It was good, what you wrote. It was part of the healing." There were tears streaming then, too.

Then I realized I wasn't an outsider. I wasn't just one who was there to record the event. I was one who was to be part of it, part of the process of pain and solace, fear and courage. I was struck with the awesome grace of God that He would give me such a gift, the awesome plan of God that He uses each of us, in so many different ways, to bring healing and reconciliation and love to one another.

Feeling marginalized, disconnected and isolated is a common human condition. We are all broken in many ways, and often living with pain. Perhaps when we feel it we should look around and ponder, in that place, how God is going to make us part of the healing.

Cover Survey from Bethany House

Go to this link to vote on the cover for a new Bethany House novel by Anne Tatlcock

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Tricia Goyer

This week, the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance is posting about Arms of Deliverance (Moody Publishers, 2006) by Tricia Goyer (fellow CFBA member, blogger, writer, and homeschooling mom!)

Tricia Goyer was named Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference "Writer of the Year" in 2003. Tricia was also a finalist for the Gold Medallion Book Award and won ACFW's "Book of the Year" for Long Historial Romance in 2005 AND in 2006. She has written hundreds of articles, Bible Study notes, and both fiction (three other WWII novels, From Dust to Ashes, Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights. Night Song, the second title in Tricia’s World War II series, won ACFW's Book of the Year for Best Long Historical Romance.) She's and non-fiction books. married to John, and they have three great kids whom she homeschools: Cory (17), Leslie (14), and Nathan (12). They make their home in Northwest Montana with their dog, Lilly.

The fourth and final novel in this exhilarating series capturing the tales of men and women swept into World War II.
EUROPE, 1944
Katrine, a Czech Jew, is so successful in her attempt to pass as an Aryan that she finds herself dating a Nazi officer. Having convinced him of her genetic purity, the officer sends her to stay at a Lebensborn home--a Nazi breeding program in which children are raised and indoctrinated by the state.
Meanwhile, two friends, Mary and Lee, one a socialite, the other a working class girl, land similar reporting jobs at the New York Tribune on the eve of the war’s outbreak. Now rivals with assignments on the frontlines of war-torn Europe, Lee joins troops sailing for Normandy, while Mary's destiny lies in the cramped quarters of a B-17 bearing down on Berlin. Before the presses roll, their lives will be indelibly marked by a caring American navigator, brave French resistors, and a maniacal Nazi officer. Arms of Deliverance is a story of unexpected redemption.
Read Chapter One on Tricia's Blog.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Taking my Homework Seriously

This past week I’ve been taking an online course through American Christian Fiction Writers. It’s a marketing course for people with at least one book in, or about to be in print. The assignments have been hard to keep up with, but very good. A lot of what we’re doing is looking at what others have done – the famous and not so famous who have gone before us. Clicking into all these websites has been interesting – just looking at the sites for tone/colour/take-away value has been an eye-opener.

Cyndy Saltzmann, who teaches the course keeps a steady refrain in front of us – “It’s not about you!” She keeps telling us to always keep our reader in mind – what colour should your website be? What colour will your reader like? What media are best suited? What media does your reader follow?

It makes sense and it makes me laugh (and groan!) to realize how often we all continually go back to what we like/want/need. I guess writers are a lot like most people – self-centred – and it’s not easy to break the pattern.

It reminds me of Jesus’ command to “love one another,” and “prefer one another in love.” He scolded his friends for coming to the communion table and gorging themselves while others went hungry. He pointed out the weak and helpless time and again, lifting them up, giving them places of honour and respect. He was always other-focused and directed his disciples to strive to be that way.

I realized today that all of what I’ve been learning about marketing is really the same thing. It’s not just about selling books. It’s about preferring others in love – finding ways to offer them what they need, what God will use in their lives to help, to heal, perhaps even to save them.
So I’m taking the “homework” seriously. I owe it to my readers.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Faith In Fiction Contest

Dave Long, (acquisitions editor at Bethany) posted at FaithinFiction that he has just announced the doors are open for submissions to the new contest - Daily Sacrament. I look forward to reading the winners. Hope to enter it myself. :)M

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ray Blackston

Blogging for this guy tonight. Check out his book, A Pagan's Nightmare at Amazon.

Here's the review from the Christian Fiction Blog Alliance website -

Christians can buy gas for twelve cents a gallon, while everyone else (the pagans, that is) have to pay $6.66. The radio stations alter all song lyrics to conform to "Christian" standard--the Beatles belt out "I Wanna Hold Your Tithe"; ABBA's "Dancing Queen" becomes "Dancing's Wrong". Even French fries, newly labeled "McScriptures", are tools for evangelism.
Larry's novel is a big hit with his agent, Ned. But Ned's wife..a committed Southern Babtist...is less than amused. And Larry has yet to show the manuscript to his new girlfriend, even though he's made her the unsuspecting heroine. It will take deft handling from both men to keep their lives and their relationships intact when the world witnesses A Pagan's Nightmare.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Manuscript has arrived

Hello, folks. Just thought I'd let you know that my manuscript for One Smooth Stone has arrived from the editor, Janet Diamond. She had said there were few changes but I was surprised at how few. :)
I'll be reading over the ms. in the next while and will undoubtedly find more that I want to add or change. Please pray that the Lord will direct me as I do this. The publisher, Larry Willard is also reviewing the ms. and will get back to me some time next week with his thoughts.
Thanks for the prayers and support- I appreciate you all!

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Randy's Rant

Here's a rant by Randy Ingermanson. He promised me something free if I told you about it, so here it is! :)M

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Squinting into The Future

I have a friend whose son has a form of autism. It’s a rather mystifying condition that presents with many different kinds of symptoms. One of the problems this boy has is called the “blank face syndrome.” For some reason his brain does not recognize the details in faces. Even faces that should be familiar, like those of family and close friends, appear blank to him. You can imagine the difficulties that arise as a result. I noticed the problem when I would greet this young man at our church. I'd say hello, or good morning; he would frown and squint and say nothing. After a while I realized if I said more than a word or two, he would recognize my voice and respond.

I thought about that as I contemplated the ending of 2006 and the beginning of 2007. The year ahead is a lot like a blank face to me. Because we are launching into a year of so much change - two daughters leaving home and a third being married, a move to a different community and different ministry, a book coming out and opportunities for speaking and teaching opening up - I find myself trying to see what that will all look like.

How will we cope with the empty nest? What strategies will be effective in planting the new church? What kind of ‘day jobs’ will we have and how will that affect the other aspects of our lives? Will my book be successful and will I have time to do the other writing I want/need to do? What are the best strategies for promoting the book? Will the sequel be accepted by the same publisher? There are a lot of questions about the future.

None of the details of the face of 2007 are clear and I’m finding it a little disconcerting. So when I opened my e-mail inbox the other day and read these two scriptures, my heart was lightened and my spirit soared -

“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19 KJV). “And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8 KJV).

What comfort to know that God is making a way - and not just an ordinary ho-hum kind of way, but a way that leads to things that will spring forth like rivers in a desert! What comfort to know He will be with us then, as He is walking with us now and will remain right here beside us, no matter what.

I guess I can stop squinting, stop trying to see the details of what might be in the days, weeks and months ahead. All I need to do is slip my hand into the hand being held out to me and trust that its owner knows the way – the best way – and will lead us through to blessings.