Thursday, December 29, 2011

It's probably not what you think: Reflections on writing a book

One of the first impulses I had when I opened the box and took out Awaken Your Senses was to find a place to hideaway so that I could read it. Funny, isn't it? After all, by the time the book made it to print, Brent Bill and I had read and reread the manuscript more than a half-a-dozen times. Just the same, and maybe from the realization that others can now read what I've written, I wanted to experience the book in the same way you might. I wanted to hold it in my hands and take it in.

There are lots of things that have surprised me about writing and publishing a book. My guess is, it's probably not what you think it would be like, either. For instance:  

I'm not famous.

I'm not rich.

And I don't (think I) have a big head.

Writing a book doesn't make you famous. It's not uncommon to sell only a few thousand copies of a book. And, if you haven't noticed, there are a few thousand titles to choose from when you're looking for a book to read. The competition is stiff. But I have noticed that writing a book opens doors to good conversations. It's very cool to me when someone picks up my book, reads it and then emails or Facebooks me to talk about it. In fact, not long ago, someone with whom I went to high school but never knew well read The Wide Open Spaces of God. As a result, we got together for coffee and had an awesome conversation about our spiritual journeys that would have never happened if she hadn't read my book.

Writing a book doesn't make you rich, either. It was a bit of a shock when I published my first book and discovered that I only made a couple bucks from each copy. So, you can do the math--if you only make a couple bucks and you only sell a few thousand copies, it doesn't add up to much cash. The reward for me is more personal than it is monetary. My heart feels incredibly full after completing the process of writing and publishing a book. The conception, creation, writing process and completion is a huge accomplishment with very personal dividends.

Finally, writing a book doesn't really give you a big head. (Well--maybe if you became rich and famous.) Undoubtedly, some assume that if you write and publish a book, you must be full of your self. You must think you're an expert and everybody should listen to what you have to say. Maybe this comes from believing that writing a book is a bigger deal than it really is. Now--don't take this wrong. It is a big deal to me and to my publisher for sure. We want Awaken Your Senses to be a tremendous success--to sell thousands of copies and, most of all, to help people connect more deeply with God. But for me, writing a book feels natural, like it's the work I was called and created to do--not some extraordinary feat.

Ever since I wrote and published my first book, I've met lots of people who say they want to write a book. If you happen to be one of them, I hope my honest reflections haven't discouraged you. It's one of the most satisfying and rewarding accomplishments of my life--but probably for different reasons than you might think. And one last thing--if you are thinking about writing a book, I would love to send you a great resource called Writing a Winning Book Proposal. (It's what you provide a publisher--not a whole manuscript.) This resource was written by Michael Hyatt and is very helpful for writers who have never written a book proposal before. Just email me at and I will send you a pdf.

There you have it! Honest reflections of a very grateful author. I hope this was helpful. Have a blessed New Year!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Advent: Jesus Came; Jesus Comes; and Jesus will Come Again

It wasn't until I served in an interim role at a Lutheran church that I really understood the significance of liturgical seasons like this one. Since that time, I have come to appreciate the historical (since the beginning of the early church) and global practice (with Christians from around the world) of joining the common prayers and reflections of a given season in the church calendar.

This is the second week of Advent, a period of preparation, a season of anticipating the coming of our Lord. It a beautiful perspective--one in which we look at the past, the future and the present. Advent celebrates the truth that Jesus came; Jesus comes; and Jesus will come again.

Jesus came: a truth that can sometimes feel sentimental, as though it's a fairy tale. Yet, when I reread the gospel accounts of the little babe born of a virgin in Bethlehem, I am rooted once again in the solid, historical and undeniable truth of the human Jesus.

Jesus comes: a truth that can feel mysterious and squishy, applying to those who have a mystical relationship with God, but not the rest of us who live very tangibly in the hear and now. Yet, when I awake to each ordinary day with eyes wide open, I do see Jesus come to me: alive in Scripture; in the words of my husband, daughter, or friend; through the natural world speaking; and through my daily bread.

Jesus will come again: a truth that has been propagandized and can often feel irrelevant in light of the work that needs to be done today. Yet, something inside me knows. It knows that time is moving forward, culminating in a day, someday, in the future. That something is the notion of eternity, planted in me by God who made my spirit/soul eternal. One day, I will bow the knee of my heavenly body, and my tongue will confess in unison with all humanity that Jesus Christ is Lord.

So, I'm curious. Which perspective is hardest for you to believe? That Jesus came? He comes? Or He will come again? Maybe that's the direction you need to face as you look for Him during this Advent season.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Giving Birth to Our Dreams: Consensual Pregnancy

I held Madonna in my hand--a small figure from our Nativity. Her head was slightly bowed; posture tipped forward, as if bowing her heart, as well. I studied her, something of her form speaking to me  about myself.

A word came to mind--a strange word, at first. Consensual. It was a consensual pregnancy that led to the birth of Jesus.

Typically, when we hear or use the word "consensual" it is in relationship with the word sex. We speak of two "consenting" adults, agreeing to engage in sexual relations with one another--often illicit sexual relations.

Yet I saw it here, as well. Consensual pregnancy. Holy Spirit consenting to impregnate. Young virgin consenting to be impregnated. Both with postures low, head's bowed. One, not considering equality with God something to be grasped. Another, not considering being chosen by God something conceivable.

Protests rose up within her. "But how can this be? I'm a virgin; unworthy; not capable." Protests rose up within him. "Must I take on human flesh; leave the heavens of my home; suffer?"

In the end, both said yes. 

Giving birth to our dreams begins with the same consent on both our parts--God's and ours. Our being humbled by being chosen; God's humility in choosing. Heads and hearts bowed.

What protests rise up within you and me? Do we have the courage to consent, to say, "Be it unto me as you have said."?