Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Publishing Process

Last week I was snowed in as jaw-droppingly low temps, snow, and ice gripped much of the nation. This week is much better and I'm loving it. Having spent my first decade in Africa, I'm still not used to cold weather, though I do think it's beautiful. The picture is of my back yard, early in the morning as the sun came up over the snow.

In my writing world, though, things are heating up. I've had developments on two different fronts and it makes for the perfect time to share a little about the process involved in book publishing.

There are actually different ways to get a book published. An author can self-publish, also known as independent publishing, or she can be published through a traditional publisher, either via small press or larger press. If traditionally published, the author does not pay anything involved in the publishing of her books and splits the royalties with the publisher. (If indie published, they absorb all costs but do not split commissions.) If traditionally published, usually small press books do not end up on shelves in book stores while larger press books do. Both can be ordered online.

I am contracted with a small press, PixNPens, a company based in Texas. PNP is the nonfiction arm of Write Integrity Press. They have published two of my books, Prayer: It's Not About You and Glimpses of Prayer and they have plans to publish more. Several of these books are and will be co-written by my childhood friend, Shirley Crowder. In that part of my writing world, things are going well and we just sent our latest manuscript to them. They will put it on their publishing schedule, will edit it, format it, and eventually publish it sometime next fall.

I also have a manuscript I co-wrote with my husband that is currently being considered by a larger traditional company. It's hard to get in the door of larger publishing companies. Usually it takes an agent. In our case, a friend connected us with a man who had been an agent but is no longer one. Nonetheless, after reading the manuscript, he agreed to help us and made the contact with the company that is currently considering it. That company, who will remain unnamed at this point, has had our manuscript since Nov. 1. We heard from them yesterday saying they are still considering it and are currently doing some market research. They also said asked if we would willing to reduce its length if their publication committee gives a favorable response. Of course, we said yes! At this point we're still in a waiting game on that manuscript.

So, there's a snapshot of some of the many things that go into getting a book published. It involves so much--getting a contract from the traditional publishing company, whether large or small press, writing and turning in the completed manuscript, then months of work on the part of the publisher before the book is finally released and ready for sale.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Welcome 2018!

I love the look of fresh fallen snow ... as long as I am safely inside a warm house when I'm looking at it. Growing up in Africa, snow took some getting used to but I have grown to love it (as long as I don't have to drive in it.)

As a writer, seeing a scene like this pulls at me the way a blank page does--it almost begs for me to venture out there and leave my mark.

2017 was a busy year for my writing endeavors and 2018 looks to be just as busy. Here's what it looks like so far:

I have three articles coming out it "The War Cry" (Salvation Army's magazine) in 2018, the first being in January. I will author articles in several issues of SEEK in 2018, and The Secret Place, and those are the ones I have already been contracted for. Hopefully there will be others too.

Along with keeping up two blogs of my own, I will be guest blogging on Inspired Prompts Blog, as well as occasionally contributing to my publisher's blog: Write Integrity Press

I will have at least one new book released in 2018--an anthology compiled by my friend Shirley Crowder and me. I will say more about that in the days to come. At the moment we are working feverishly to have the finished manuscript to our publisher by mid-Feb. We are hoping for a summer release. Shirley and I are also working on some other book ideas and hope to make more announcements in the days to come about those. And a manuscript I co-wrote with my husband is currently under consideration by an large, traditional, press. I will share more about that if and when we know more. For now suffice it to say that this is a book we have poured our hearts and lives into and we covet your prayers that God will see us through the publishing process and land it with the right publisher.

Teaching/ Speaking:
I am excited to have been asked to teach two workshops at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference in June. Though that seems like a long time away, the committee has been working hard for some time to put together a great conference and I am humbled and honored to have been asked serve on the faculty this year.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Mery Christmas!

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the word through Him might be saved." John 3:16-17

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of His kingdom and peace there shall be no end." Isaiah 9:6-7a

Merry Christmas to all! May this year find you rejoicing in the gift God has given to us. And may 2018 bring you good tidings and great joy. 

Monday, November 27, 2017

Cyber Monday

Thanksgiving is behind us, Christmas is right around the corner, and I have a book about to be released! Woohoo"Glimpses of Prayer: A Devotional" will release on December 5th. It is currently up for pre-order at the discounted price of $2.99 for the Kindle. This price will go up once the book is released. So, if you are looking for a cyber Monday deal, this is it. 

The book is another collaboration between my childhood friend, Shirley Crowder and myself.

 Shirley has a passion for disciple-making and loves to share about her spiritual children who are scattered across the world serving the Lord. She is a never-married single woman and a Biblical counselor; a regular guest on "Think on These Things," a Birmingham AL radio/TV program for women; and a freelance writer. Shirley is certified by, and serves on the national Advisory Committee for The Addiction Connection. She co-authored the chapter, "Paul and Women in Ministry" in the book “Paul the Counselor” published by Focus Publishing and has several articles which have appeared in “The Gadsden Times” Religion Section's Paper Pulpit. Follow her blog at: Through the Lens of Scripture.

And the book is illustrated by my daughter, Kristin Michael.

Kristin is a freelance artist whose preferred medium is oil painting. Her style is contemporary expressionist with a focus on light and water. She obtained her liberal arts degree at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Ky with a double minor in fine arts and literature.

Kristin continued her education at St. Catherine College in Bardstown, KY where she earned an associate degree in Cardiac Sonography.

She is now employed full-time by Ky Children's Hospital as a pediatric and adult congenital cardiac sonographer (she performs ultrasounds on children and adults with congenital heart disease).

Kristin works hard in her healthcare and artistic endeavors as a single mother in order to take care of her sweet young son who is the light of her life. You can find more of Kristin's artwork at
 Kiki paintings

Friday, October 27, 2017

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is right around the corner. (I realize, as I write this, that the calendar still says October and we haven't even had Halloween yet. But I don't celebrate Halloween and the weather here has turned much colder, so I'm in the mood for Thanksgiving.)

What am I thankful for this year? In particular, what about my writing journey do I have to be thankful for? 

The answer to that is myriad. The ability to write is a gift God gave me which I enjoy "playing" with daily. I told God once that I feel like a child whose Father gave her the greatest gift ever and she loves to take it out and play with it every chance she has. And I play with it in so many ways--writing blog posts, articles, devotions, and books (both fiction and nonfiction).

Currently, I am juggling many things, as usual. I have magazine articles coming out in the next few months in "War Cry" and "Seek", devotions coming out in "Reflections" (7 days of devos) and "The Secret Place" (both fall and winter issues), more themes lists I am perusing, writing, and submitting to, and three books I am juggling. One of the books (a devotional I co-wrote) will be released by PNP in Dec, another (an anthology I am compiling & writing many stories for) will be released from PNP next summer, (that manuscript is due to my publisher in mid-Feb) and we are still looking for a publisher for a completed nonfiction I co-wrote with my husband. I also just submitted proposals for two more books. Whew!

But right now, I have something else I am rejoicing over. Several people I have mentored or helped in some way have seen their work contracted in just the last few months! This warms my heart like nothing else! One has her first published devotion coming out in the winter issue of The Secret Place, another has been notified that his devotion is being held by The Upper Room, a third just received his first contract from SEEK, and a fourth also just got a contract from SEEK, though not his first (I started helping him a few years ago. He also just recently had a story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul that I helped him tweak and submit.)

That makes me happiest of all!   

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Cover Reveal!!!

My co-writing friend, Shirley Crowder, and I are at it again. The third in our four-part series of books on prayer will be released by PixNPens Publishing in early December  and today we can finally reveal the cover! We are so excited!

The book will be a 50 day devotional on the topic of prayer. Just as a review, our four part series on prayer include: Prayer: It's Not About You by me, Study Guide on Prayer by Shirley, "Glimpses of Prayer" to be released soon, and a collection of true stories about prayer tentatively titled, "Prayer Warrior Confessions" coming out summer '18.

The soon-to-be released book also fits into plans we have for a devotional series that will be written and in one case re-vamped in the next couple of years. These "Glimpses" devotionals will all be illustrated by my talented daughter, Kristin Michael. 

And now for the cover reveal:
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Sunday, September 17, 2017

High School Football and the Age of Innocence

I try to keep this blog mostly about writing so I use it to share writing updates and news. But from time to time, I will also share pieces I have written. Today, I'm in the mood for autumn, so in the spirit of fall, here is a piece that I wrote several years ago. I posted it on my other blog last year and on a blog I contribute to the year before. Maybe next fall, I'll give it a rest but I do so love the memories of my high school cheerleading days and our AAA state football champions. It's titled

"High School Football and the Age of Innocence"

On a late August night, the temperature still sweltering and people still sweating even as the sun went down, I stood on the field with my fellow cheerleaders. A harvest moon rose over our heads and our hearts filled with hope as we eagerly awaited the opening game of what should be a great season. We had most of our starting players returning. I was the co-captain of the cheerleaders. The outlook for this season, my senior year, was promising.

It was the fall of 1975–many years ago. Much has happened since that warm August night. Karen, the captain of the cheerleaders, and my close friend, died just three years later in a double murder which is still unsolved. Her death shattered the innocence of the sleepy little mountain town in southern West Virginia where I lived. Other members of that team have passed away as well but we have a few success stories. Donnie, the offensive captain, played football at Wake Forest University. He is now the CFO of an Atlanta-based business. Wayne, a junior that year, also played football at Wake Forest, setting some Atlantic Coast Conference receiving records while there. Joey, the quarterback, is a tenured professor now. I married, moved to Louisville, raised four children and eventually became a writer. Those of my classmates who remain see each other once in a while at class reunions.

Reunion weekend always starts with tickets to the Beaver-Graham game. It is tradition for my high school, the Bluefield Beavers, to start their season playing cross-town rivals, the Graham G-Men. This annual match up in the same stadium we used in 1975 has much the same feel as it did back then. There is still the cracking of helmets, enthusiastic cheerleaders on the sidelines, excited fans, and the hot August night skies still boasts a harvest moon.

Young Again

As I sat in the stands on such an August evening a few years ago, my mind could not help but wander to bygone days and I was once again on the field next to my friend Karen cheering our team on. We lost only one game that year. But our hopes faded as our team dropped into fifth place in the statewide poll. Back then, only the top four teams in the state earned the privilege of moving on to post season play-offs.

But in the middle of the last game of the season, our luck changed. Over the public address system, the announcer loudly proclaimed that George Washington High School was beating Charleston in their season’s last game. A cheer rang out, first in a low rumble then building to a frenzy as the impact of the news sank in. If George Washington could pull out a win against #4 Charleston, it would change the ratings. Charleston would fall to fifth and we would move up into that much coveted fourth place position, gaining a right to post-season action.

As the second half of both games progressed, forgetting our own game which we were handily winning, we waited with bated breath for each update on the other game, several hours away. Finally, the last announcement came–Charleston lost! Our own win a few moments later was rather anticlimactic. We were flying high just the same because we knew we were headed to the state football play-offs!

Play-offs, Here We Come!

The semi-final game pitted my high school, fourth-ranked Bluefield, against first-ranked and unbeaten Buchannan–Upshur. The Buck–Ups had a player named Tinker Jackson, reputed to be the top running back in the sate. Our lead scorer’s name was Donnie Jackson. Someone in our fan club had made a huge sign that read, “Our Jackson is better then your Jackson.” The game ended with Bluefield routing Buchannan–Upshur 42-0! Donnie scored three touchdowns in that game. I guess our sign was right.

November 22, 1975 was the coldest ball game I have ever participated in. It would have been bad enough had I been sitting in the stands under a blanket, warming my hands around a cup of hot cocoa; but I was on the field in a cheerleader skirt that barely covered my bloomer clad butt. The layers of shirts under my thick white sweater and the gloves I wore did nothing for my exposed legs that had only a pair of sheer panty hose between them and the frigid air! I think that’s the coldest I have ever been in my life. But it was worth it. We came from behind at the half to claim the title with a 20-7 victory.

That was many years ago and much has happened since. But hidden away in my heart will always be the treasured experience of cheering for the 1975 West Virginia AAA High School Football Champions. Every fall when the leaves look festive, the air feels crisp, and harvest moons hang in the sky like giant pumpkins; America turns attention to its favorite pastime and my mind remembers days gone by, dear friends I have lost, and the glories of high school football in the age of innocence.