Next week I’ll be heading for Nashville, Tennessee. At the kind invitation of HarperCollins Christian Publishing I’ll be attending their sales conference looking at forthcoming books and Bibles. I’m very excited about this opportunity and grateful to HarperCollins for allowing me to participate. When I get back I’ll give you some of the highlights and some of the titles I’m most excited about. I’ll be leaving on Monday (Mar. 10) and returning Friday (Mar. 14). The added bonus in all of this is getting away from Michigan for a week. I’m so tired of the snow and frigid temperatures. My hometown has had over 145 inches of snow.
I found this beautiful hymn called “Our Father, We Have Wandered” in a Lenten devotional. I offer it today as a prayer for Ash Wednesday. It can be sung to the tune of O Sacred Heart Wounded.
Our Father, we have wandered
and hidden from your face;
In foolishness have squandered
your legacy of grace.
But now, in exile dwelling,
we rise in fear and shame,
as distant but compelling,
we hear you call our name.
And now at length discerning
the evil that we do,
Behold us, Lord, returning
with hope and trust, to you.
In haste you come to meet us
and home rejoicing bring,
In gladness there to greet us
with calf and robe and ring.
O Lord of all the living,
both banished and restored,
and ever-caring Lord,
Grant now that our transgressing,
our faithlessness may cease.
Stretch out your hand of blessing,
in pardon and in peace.
The Wesleyan church is having a denomination-wide campaign to read through the New Testament for Lent. They will be using the popular Books of the Bible version of the New Testament from Biblica. Here’s the announcement from Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent. The campaign starts February 24th. Participants will read for approximately 30 minutes a day Monday – Friday. We’ve had a couple of local churches do this and really enjoyed it.
The American Bible Society lists the 100 most “Bible-minded” cities for 2013. According to the survey Chattanooga, Tenn., ranks number one, claiming the spot from the 2012 leader, Knoxville, Tennesee.
Along with ranking the most and least Bible-minded cities, the study also found that an inverse relationship exists between population size and Bible friendliness. Of the top 25 Bible-minded markets, only three have a population of greater than 1 million households: Charlotte, N.C.; Nashville, Tenn.; and Dallas.
The top 10 cites were:
- Chattanooga, Tenn.
- Birmingham, Ala.
- Roanoke/Lynchburg, Va.
- Springfield, Mo.
- Shreveport, La.
- Charlotte, N.C.
- Greenville/Spartanburg, S.C./Asheville, N.C.
- Little Rock, Ark.
- Jackson, Miss.
- Knoxville, Tenn.
The bottom ten were:
- Providence, R.I./New Bedford, Mass.
- Albany, N.Y.
- San Francisco
- Cedar Rapids, Iowa
- Buffalo, N.Y.
- Hartford/New Haven, Conn.
- Burlington, Vt.
- Portland, Maine
I looked for Grand Rapids and found it was # 30 along with Kalamazoo and Battle Creek. Other Michigan cities listed were Flint/Saginaw and Bay City which all came in at #52.
Yesterday I told you about The Christian Writer’s Marker Guide. I mentioned that there were some great short essays offering tips to new writers. The one entitled “What Not to Say to an Editor” caught my eye. Here’s part of what it says (the author is Peggy Sue Wells):
Do Your Homework
Publishers market to targeted readers. While most writers know not to send a children’s book manuscript to a publisher that doesn’t produce projects for young people, there are other areas to steer clear of.
‘I cringe whenever I see ‘there’s nothing else like it on the market.’ says Nick Harrison, Harvest House editor. ‘First, if there’s truly nothing else like it, there’s probably a reason. Second, there usually is something else out there like it, and the author is showing his or her ignorance by not being aware of the competition.’
Watch What You Say
Ann Parrish, an editor at Bethany House Publishers, loses interest when a writer claims,’ The Lord told me your company is the one to publish my book.’
Other statements that do not make best friends and influence editors:
‘It’s an instant bestseller.’
‘This is the next Left Behind series.’
‘This is the Christian Harry Potter (or Twilight).’
‘My mom (spouse, critique group, parrot) loves this, so I know you will too.’
Integrity is Critical
Don’t put words in an endorser’s mouth. ‘My pet peeve is when someone writes, ‘Doc Hensley thought it was wonderful,’ says Dennis E. Hensley, director of the Professional Writing Department at Taylor University. ‘In fact, I said it had potential but needed a lot of copyediting and revision.’
Errors like these flag you as an amateur. Editors and publishers are drawn to writers who present their ideas–and themselves–professionally.” (184)
But the book contains positive advice as well. Peggy also has an article entitled “Formatting–and More–for Success.” I enjoyed these tips:
“Omit needless words like:
“Very. It was very large. How large? The size of a South Carolina palmetto bug? As big as a beluga whale? Be specific.
Just. Just is just not needed.
Really. It was really sweet. How sweet? Like southern tea? Like sugared breakfast cereal that makes your teeth hurt just looking at the box? Describe how sweet, or even better, show it through the character’s reaction.
Some. Some children went to the beach. How many? The grandmother’s seven grandchildren? A first grade class?
All. They all arrived at the battle. Remove all and the sentence reads better.
Literally. Anne’s hair was literally green. It was either green or it wasn’t. Literally is literally not needed.” (179)
Every now and then we’ll get someone in who wants to know how to get their book published. My expertise comes after a book is written and published. My job is to sell the book. So, I can sell you a good book to help you in your effort. The place to go for help is The Christian Writer’s Market Guide. This has it all. It’s loaded with information. There are numerous short essays (many just a page or two) to offer tips for writers. Looking for a publisher? They’re all here. I looked up Baker Academic and it lists the address, phone number, fax and email. Here’s what follows:
“Jim Kinney, ed. dir. Publishes 50 titles/yr.; hardcover, trade paperbacks. 10% of books from first-time authors. Accepts mss through agents, submission services, or editor’s personal contacts at writer’s conferences. Royalty; advance. Publication within 1 yr. Guidelines on website (‘Contact’/'Submitting a Proposal’); catalog on website. Nonfiction: No unsolicited queries. This publisher serviced by ChristianManuscriptSubmissions.com.”
So after you’ve read this you might have noticed that one of the ways this publisher finds authors is through writer’s conferences. If you’re in Michigan you might wonder if there are any upcoming conferences. Look no further. The information is at your fingertips. Chapter 8 lists all the upcoming conferences by state for 2014. For Michigan there are five listed for this year. Three of them are in Grand Rapids: American Christian Writer’s Mentoring Retreat (June 6-7, 2014); Breathe Christian Writers Conference (October 2014, exact dates TBD); Festival of Faith and Writing (April 2014, exact dates TBD). Each has the location and contact information for easy follow up.
Need to find editorial services? They’ve got it. Want to know if a periodical publishes your kind of material? Chapter 5 gives a topical listing of periodicals by subject. Need to find a literary agent? Look in chapter 11. Do you want to submit something into a contest? Chapter 12 is for you. Which publisher publishes your kind of material? Chapter 1 gives a topical listing of book publishers. I told you it had it all.
This book should easily become a new writer’s best friend. Get inspired, get educated, get connected and hopefully when all is said and done, you will get published!
I confess I wasn’t expecting to find instructions on preparing a homily in Pope Francis’ book The Joy of the Gospel. For many pastors much of this will be basic but I found his discussion lively and helpful. Francis says the homily is a vital part of the liturgy since it “is the touchstone for judging a pastor’s closeness and ability to communicate to his people.” (101) He starts with saying that the preacher “must know the heart of his community, in order to realize where its desire for God is alive and ardent, as well as where that dialogue, once loving, has been thwarted and is now barren.” (102)
1) Call upon the Holy Spirit in prayer. (108)
2) Give your entire attention to the biblical text “which needs to be the basis of our preaching.” This should be done “with the greatest care and holy fear lest we distort it.” (108)
a) Be sure you understand the words. “Even if we think we understand the words translated into our language, this does not mean that we correctly understand what the sacred author wished to say. (109)
b) Discover the principal message and purpose of the text. “If the preacher does not make this effort, his preaching will quite likely have neither unity nor order; what he has to say will be a mere accumulation of various disjointed ideas incapable of inspiring others.” “If a text was written to console, it should not be used to correct errors; if it was written as an exhortation, it should not be employed to teach doctrine; if it was written to teach something about God, it should not be used to expound various theological opinions; if it was written as a summons to praise or missionary outreach, let us not use it to talk about the latest news.” (110)
c) Relate the text to the teaching of the entire Bible as handed on by the Church. This is important because “the Holy Spirit has inspired not just a part of the Bible, but the Bible as a whole, and that in some areas people have grown in their understanding of God’s will on the basis of their personal experience.” (110)
3) Have a personal familiarity with the word of God. Head knowledge is not enough. “He needs to approach the word with a docile and prayerful heart so that it may deeply penetrate his thoughts and feelings and bring about a new outlook in him.” (111) The preacher should examine himself “to see if [he has] grown in love for the word which we preach.” (111) “Yet if he does not take time to hear God’s word with an open heart, if he does not allow it to touch his life, to challenge him, to impel him, and if he does not devote time to pray with that word, then he will indeed be a false prophet, a fraud, a shallow imposter.” (113)
4) Use the method of lectio divina. “It consists of reading God’s word in a moment of prayer and allowing it to enlighten and renew us.” (113)
5) Take care in the way the homily is crafted. “Concern for the way we preach is likewise a profoundly spiritual concern. It entails responding to the love of God by putting all our talent and creativity at the service of the mission which he has given us; at the same time, it shows a fine, active love of neighbor by refusing to offer others a product of poor quality.” (117)
“Proclaiming Christ means showing that to believe in and to follow him is not only something right and true, but also something beautiful, capable of filling life with the new splendor and profound joy, even in the midst of difficulties.” (123)