Finally, this isn’t a deal per se, but one of my favorite websites, (in)courage, is currently open for submissions! This only happens four times a year for a limited period, so jump on your chance to contribute! Submissions will be accepted through March 15th. Themes and details can be found at incourage.me.
Back in September last year, I got the news that my manuscript was approved by Discovery House.
Just after noon on an otherwise ordinary Tuesday, I read the e-mail from my phone while holding a paint roller in my other hand. I was decked out in my grubby paint clothes, having just finished rolling a coat of white paint onto the ceiling where the drywall had to be repaired after the bathtub leaked.
My eyes caught the words “Congratulations! Your book was approved!” just before they caught my son “wiping spilled water off the counter” with his Matchbox car. I looked at our disheveled reality and breathed out a laugh of disbelief and gratitude and terror.
It’s a memoir, you see. And while I thank God for this incredible opportunity, deep down I have mixed feelings. A blend of bitter and sweet flow within, because much of my story was motivated by my mom’s death.
After reading the acceptance e-mail, a swirl of emotions coursed through me — shock at the fact that they actually accepted my work, heaviness as the weight of responsibility descended, giddyness that it was really going to happen, sadness over not being able to share the news with my mom.
To be honest, I’d much rather have my mom than a book with my name on it. Any day.
But she’s gone, and there’s no going back, and so the chance to bring part of her story back to life feels a little like redemption. Like one way that God might bring beauty out of the ashes.
I’ve been wanting to tell you for a while, but it never quite felt like the right time.
But now I’m neck deep in revisions and edits, and oh my goodness, I just had to spill the beans. Mostly, because I’m desperate for prayer.
I have the most amazing editorial team. God gave me just the right publisher to fit my personality and this project. My editors have poured so much time and energy into this project already, and I can’t thank them enough. But the truth is, even with their help and expertise, writing is hard work. Writing memoir is particularly draining. It saps and empties. But oh, how it fills.
I’ve been stretched and pressed and turned inside out in the writing, but I know it’s all for my good — and for your good, too, I hope.
This books is more than just my story — it’s the story of everyone who has felt the tension of living in two worlds. Maybe that looks like growing up in a divorced home. Maybe it looks like being an expat or a third-culture kid. Maybe it looks like living as a Christian in a dark place, longing for heaven.
I pray that this book will challenge each reader to look beyond the shadow of this life to the home that awaits all who put their faith in Jesus Christ.
It’s been a long journey in trust already, and still a lengthy road ahead — but all happens in God’s time and for His glory. I’m resting in that truth, and thanking Him for the opportunity to use the gifts He’s given for His sake.
I covet your prayers as I write and re-write and add and delete. That God would give me the words He wants published, and that He would fetch glory for Himself in the process.
For those who want a glimpse into the waiting game and how the process unfolded:
March 16, 2015: E-mailed an inquiry to Discovery House
March 17, 2015: Acquisitions Editor asked for two sample chapters
April 16, 2015: Editorial team gave the Acquisitions Editor the green light to advocate for my book at the next Publication Board meeting; asked for platform stats, whether I had any more chapters to share, and whether we could meet in person
April 16, 2015: I sent a 29,000 word first draft to the Acquisitions Editor and made arrangements to meet the following Tuesday
April 21, 2015: Had a lovely, encouraging meeting with the Acquisitions Editor and Senior Editor at Panera; left feeling very positive and affirmed in my purpose
April 22, 2015: Received a five-page revision memo from the two editors I met; both had read the 29,000 words I sent and offered helpful feedback; part of the revision request included asking me to add at least 20,000 more words to the manuscript; Learned that the Publication Board would meet to discuss my book on April 28
April 28, 2015: Discovery House Publication Board met at 4pm to discuss the possibility of publishing my memoir. I spent the day asking for the Lord’s will to be done. Whether they said yes or no, I wanted to trust that their decision was God’s decision.
April 29, 2015: Looked at my watch and checked e-mail approximately every twenty minutes, anticipating an answer. By 3pm, I still had no response and assumed that no news was bad news. At 3:40pm, I received an e-mail from the Senior Editor. The publishing committee had expressed interest, but wanted to see four revised chapters before making a final decision. I was more surprised than discouraged, as I was expecting a straight “yes” or “no.” I took the fact that it wasn’t a rejection as a positive sign, and promised to work on revising four chapters for their consideration.
May 2015: Worked like crazy to bring my manuscript up to 49,000 words and make the changes requested in the revision memo
June 12, 2015: Submitted a revised draft of 49,000 words to Discovery House
September 8, 2015: Sent an inquiry to literary agency Credo Communications
September 9, 2015: Received response from agent at Credo
September 15, 2015: Publication Board met to discuss my book for the second time. At 12:19pm, I received an e-mail that read, “Congratulations! Your book was approved!”
October 9, 2015: Met with agent from Credo at writers’ conference
October 12, 2015: Received the first draft of the contract from Discovery House
November 2, 2015: Met with Credo agent to discuss DH contract
HUGE thanks to all of YOU for your involvement in this group! It’s been such a delight to interact with you at this level, to wrestle through the questions together, and to strive toward better habits in our writing lives.
And huge thanks to co-authors Ann Kroeker and Charity Singleton Craig, for writing this wonderful resource, for compiling these helpful videos for each chapter, and for joining us in the comments and on social media!
Here is our final video from Ann and Charity:
“Sometimes the writing life itself puts limits on us; sometimes we have to limit the rest of our lives in order to be able to write.” ~ Charity Singleton Craig
As Charity explains in the video, “We have to determine what we have to back away from in order to continue to live the writing life.”
I suppose half the battle is actually acknowledging and admitting that we have limits. I tend to err toward the “I can do it all” mentality — but inevitably, at least one area suffers. If I’m homeschooling and writing, the house is not clean. If the house is clean and we finished homeschooling for the day, I didn’t get time to write. You get the picture.
By default, there are limited hours in the day. This is God’s design. He does this, in part, to help us recognize our frailty and our complete dependence upon Him.
“Because we have only a certain amount of time, resources, and energy, we limit ourselves to make room for mastery.” ~ Charity Singleton Craig
Another challenge for me personally goes back to placing enough value on the writing life to give it space in my schedule. Is it worthwhile enough that I would decline a lunch invitation with a friend? Would I skip an event to have more time to write?
These are personal questions that must be asked, and possibly answered differently depending on the circumstances. Either way, the writing life has to be viewed as important, otherwise we’ll never give it the space it requires.
Here’s one final encouragement from Ann, and I echo her sentiments. I hope this has been true for you as a result of this six-week discussion:
It doesn’t have to be week-long vacations, does it? I find that if I’m writing in a public place like the library or Panera, just getting up to go to the bathroom or even switching tables for a slightly different view and perspective goes a long way to serve as a brief respite.
If I’m writing at home, sometimes just changing the load of laundry or unloading the dishwasher is enough to reset my mind to be ready for more productive work.
I do think it’s worthwhile, even when I think I’m finished with a piece, to step away from it for a while. It might be for one night, or even a few days — but leaving the article or blog post and coming back to it always gives a fresh perspective. Often I’ll revisit the work and decide to tweak a few sentences here and there. Sometimes I re-read it and remain convinced that I’ve done my best. Either way, the break in proximity is helpful.
You might also try the Pomodoro technique that Ann and Charity mention in their book and earlier videos. It’s a method in which you set a timer for 25-minute increments, and take brief breaks between those designated periods. It’s supposed to optimize productivity. I’ve been using it while homeschooling my kids these past few weeks, and I think it has helped!