Sunday, August 29, 2010

Book Signing!

Today I had another first as a first book signing!

My church (as you could see from the last post and the article that ran in the newsletter last month) is filled with an incredibly supportive bunch of people. Today they showered me with all sorts of love in hosting a book signing luncheon for me!

They put a picture of the cover of my book on the front of the bulletin, even! WOW! And at the end of the service, Pat, who organized the whole thing, took me to the front of the church and introduced me as an author. She asked me some questions about the book itself and how I came to write it.

I was so thankful that she had specific questions for me and I didn't have to come up with things myself! Public speaking is still part of this whole gig that I'm not entirely comfortable with!

After church concluded, we moved into the fellowship hall, which had been transformed into an Advent wonderland! All the tables had pictures of my book cover, and a host of nativity scenes to decorate it as well! I had my own little table where I could sign...

Some of the decorations...

At my signing table!

Some people did their Christmas shopping, so I was busy with a stack of books...signing away!

My friend Sara - we were in high school together. :) I like to think we've improved since those days!

Another friend - Leah Joyce. She's a sweet and spunky lady. Love her!

Our pastor, Jesse. He's been a great supporter of my writing.

And here I am with Pat, whose hard work made it all possible!

I truly had a blast at the signing. Loved getting to talk to everyone...loved seeing the book going out into even more homes. Can't wait to hear what these folks think when they read it! :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Church Newsletter...

My church has been very supportive of my publishing adventure. I was asked to submit an article for the July newsletter to introduce the book to the congregation. This is what I wrote:

When I was a junior in high school, I sold my first piece of writing to a little devotional magazine called Youthwalk. I'd been writing for several years but that was the first time my words traveled into the homes of people I'd never met. And that was when I knew I wanted writing to be a permanent part of my life.

Even though I didn't attend this church during high school, that article also appeared in this newsletter, and I really appreciated the encouragement many of you sent me after you read what I'd written.

After graduating from high school, I enrolled at Indiana Wesleyan to study writing and my dream was to be a fiction author. With a host of very predictable short stories already in my portfolio, I began taking classes to learn more about the craft. I ended up taking quite a few Bible classes as well and was surprised to learn that God was calling me to write about Scripture.

In the years that followed my graduation from IWU, I wrote several articles and daily devotions for the Wesleyan Sunday School curriculum, and I began to write material for the ladies' Bible study I taught at the church I attended then. Three years ago, at Christmas time, I wrote a study for the advent season. I didn't set out to write this study. I wanted to purchase a book to read during Advent, but I couldn't find one. So instead, I wrote one.

I thought the study was just for me, but I gathered the courage to share it with some friends along the way, and they encouraged me to publish it. Within the past few months, that dream has become a reality, and the book His Advent: Still His Greatest Gift is scheduled to be available shortly after the first of July.

The book is published through WestBow Press, which is a division of Thomas Nelson publishers. As soon as it's ready, it will be available through the publisher's website, and I will also have copies available.

I really appreciate all the encouragement so many of you have given me starting back with that first article I sold...and even now. Even while I publish this book, I'm working on a couple of other projects. One is a women's Bible study and the other is so new, it's still hard to describe. It is (still) being born out of a very difficult journey God has chosen me to travel these past few weeks. I am excited to see what comes of both these projects. I also blog regularly. I'll tell you that the blog is quite an unpredictable blend of my heart's thoughts, lessons I learn, and the truly crazy things that would only happen to me!

If you choose to read His Advent: Still His Greatest Gift, I hope it will cause you to see the familiar in a new way and perhaps help you see just how much His presence can touch your own life!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Cover Story

If you know me (or read my main blog much) you know I love the details. Love a great detail story. It's probably the writer in me...and God is so good to honor that by bringing me sweet details to love throughout my life

One such story is hidden in the cover of my book.

Part of my work in the self-publishing process was to choose the cover for my book. WestBow sent me a link to a site with cover art and I could choose an idea for the design team to work with in the cover art. I had a difficult time with the decision, because I needed something that would encompass the entire book. While it is a book to be read during the Advent season, the lives I studied move past those of the traditional Christmas faces. I wasn't sure how to embody the full scope while still honoring the idea of a Christmas book.

At last, I chose a cover and submitted it with the rest of the book information.

I received an email a short time later saying the particular cover I'd chosen wasn't usable because of some copyright issues with that image. I went back through the site again, searching for a new cover, and I couldn't find anything I liked. I didn't want to hold up the entire process for the sake of the cover, so I tried to figure out what to do.

Last Christmas, I went all around the house and took pictures of my decorations (I'm a little ridiculous about them) for my blog. As I flipped through the pictures, hoping to find inspiration, I found a couple of pictures I'd taken of my grandparents' family Bible and a ceramic holy family:

If you look closely at the Holy Family, you'll notice the Baby Jesus has a broken arm. As in...completely dismembered. I do need to invest in some super glue. But I figured a cover designer and some Photo Shop magic could fix about anything. So...I sent the pictures. I wasn't sure they could use them, because they weren't terribly high quality. (The author photo I sent had to be reformatted by the photographer into a really high quality file.)

They moved forward with the book production, so I assumed what I sent had been usable.

I was thrilled when I saw the cover for the first time. I thought they'd done a beautiful job with it (and many people who have seen the book have commented on the cover, actually). And what I loved even more was that through this disaster-at-first-glance, my grandparents' family Bible is now the cover of my first book. Complete with the little tear in the page.

My grandparents both died before I graduated from high school, but they were both amazing influences and encouragments to my life. I'm so glad they can be honored in this tiny way!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Reading Has Begun!

Contrary to what it may look like, I don't actually take pictures of everything related to the book. Close, but not everything.

I have completely enjoyed the chance to sell my books to people. Since I went the self-publishing route, I have to do this part of the work largely on my own, and there are parts of it that are difficult, since self-promotion is not my strong suit. The part I LOVE is being able to write notes to these people and share with them what they've meant to me and how they've encouraged me. In those moments, I count it a joy to do this portion of the work, because it gives me that privilege.


I've loved the beginning of the feedback. I know it's not Christmas yet, but a few have already started to read, and I've loved hearing their first thoughts. I'll keep these excerpts anonymous, but I wanted to share with you some of the early response, and it will give you another way to peek into aspects of the book you may not have known:

I love it! Rooted in Scripture as I would expect from you :) Love the thought provoking questions too. A really nice different take on things in a way I hadn't thought about them before. Looking at Mary that way helped show that while Jesus was fully God he was also fully human when he came to earth.

** Note: It was very important to me, while writing a devotional study, to keep things as closely tied to Scripture as possible. Throughout the chapters, you'll find footnotes that direct you to the references I've drawn from, and if you'd like to further explore them, you can. But at the same time, if you'd rather just read straight through, you can, and the footnotes won't interfere.**

Who else could have written this "Advent Book?" He wanted YOU to do it & you didn't disappoint Him.

** This was a sweet compliment to read. Several years ago, I spoke at a women's retreat, and our theme for the day was "Fanning into flame the gift of God that is in you." It's always my hope that I can use anything He's given point right back to Him. It meant everything to me that this reader could affirm that! **

Your book arrived on Saturday and I could hardly wait to start reading! I was glad to be alone in the house for several hours and read the first five chapters non-stop, taking notes along the way of the special nuances that leaped off the pages...what a Treasure! My mother had a saying that I'll apply here..."I glory in your spunk!" I gloried in the way you skillfully crafted words and phrases that took me inside the thoughts and emotions of the characters ~ places I'd never been before.

** I will drop all professionalism here for one second to say - SOMEONE TOOK NOTES! That may be the ultimate compliment. I attended a seminar at a writer's conference last fall, and the speaker gave us suggestions for how to edit manuscripts. He said one of his edits is called the "underline edit." He reads through his manuscript and tries to imagine what readers will underline as they read. I loved that. To know that someone would underline or take notes - that's huge! I also loved knowing that these readers were able to go inside the thoughts of the people on the page. That was one of my main goals in crafting this book. I labored extensively over that part, hoping it would convey...and I'm so happy to know it did for them! **

Can't wait to hear what others have to say along the way - good and bad!