Hands and Knees Navigation

“Perhaps the greatest achievement of writing is to become less sure of oneself.”
~ Brian Doyle

The aged rarely hurry. Time and use and strain deplete muscle and bone and marrow of youth’s vigor, suffusing the void with a dichotomy of uncertainty and wisdom which beg measured steps.

Writing likewise begs an unhurried pace. My fingers manage about 70 words per minute when I transcribe the exact words of someone else. My own thoughts might read in my mind with equal clarity and run toward a clear destination, but they’ll crowd over one another and onto a page at a somewhat slower WPM.

What’s more likely is a meeting between a sheet of white before my eyes, strands of understanding and feelings in my mind and heart, and a gripping compulsion in my soul to bring concrete shape to the altogether abstract. My fingers then wander and grasp for each word as they crawl across the page.

For fiction and non-fiction alike, whether my outline and components are defined with precise or rough edges, the navigation of crawling requires the use of both hands and knees. Whatever gift I have, however developed my writing craft, no amount of raw talent and polished skill can bridge the spiritual and mortal without divine empowerment.

“I am like a little pencil in God’s hand. He does the writing. The pencil has nothing to do with it.”
~ Mother Teresa

Do I believe I can present some worthy work that originates with me? Or do I simply offer myself to God, asking Him to use me for His work?

If our writing is His means of conveying stories and ideas and a purpose bigger than the entertainment or information transfer we’d otherwise compose, then allowance must be made for God to be actively engaged in our writing.

The suggestion to pray throughout the process of writing may be stating the obvious to you, or it may be a great new idea. Either way, this reminder comes with a few practical pointers:

• Before sitting down to write, check with the Lord for other priorities.
• If writer’s block strikes, be still and wait for the Lord’s leading.
• Allow God to take an idea in another direction than you had in mind.
• Edit with a spiritual eye, asking God’s Spirit what is pleasing to Him.
• Work toward deadlines with intentional room for chats with the Lord.
• Seek God to resolve conflict (with schedule, editor, outline, etc.).
• Prioritize time with God’s Word to sharpen your power with words.
• Shelve preconceived ideas of God’s intent and timing for the end product.
• Recognize, thank, and praise the Lord for every blessing along the way.
• Before considering a work complete, ask God if you missed anything.

[May God] make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever.
Amen.
~ Hebrews 13:21 (NKJV)

What other specific elements bring the Lord into your writing?
Do you have a testimony of God at work through your words?

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WordServe News

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ books releasing in the upcoming month along with a recap of WordServe client news from the current month.

New Releases

Sifted by Wayne Cordeiro (Zondervan). This was the lead book at the Exponential (church planting) conference in Orlando.

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You’ll be Sor-ree by Sid Phillips (Berkley Caliber). Sid was one of the men portrayed in the HBO series “The Pacific.”  He’s still alive and well and living near Mobile, AL. A very fine Southern Christian gentleman.

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Red Blood, Black Sand by Chuck Tatum (Berkley Caliber).  Chuck was another one of the Marines portrayed in “The Pacific”. He’s also still alive and living in Stockton, CA. Stephen Ambrose called this book (originally self-published in 1995) “Probably the best WWII memoir ever written.”  Chuck’s book served as part of the basis for the 10-Part HBO series.

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The Pursuit of Lucy Banning by Olivia Newport (Revell).

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Playing with Purpose: Baseball by Mike Yorkey (Barbour).

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Always the Designer, Never the Bride by Sandie Bricker (Abingdon).

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Toward the Sun Rising by Lynn Morris (Hendrickson) book #4 in the republished Cheney Duvall series.

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New WordServe Clients

James A. Hall was a successful businessman for many years before working as a vice president with Walk Thru the Bible Ministry. For 15 years, he led their Seminar Division and currently is the Executive Director of a 25-year-old national ministry, Saints Prison Ministry. Some Jungles Have No Giraffes is his exciting memoir that details his amazing and compelling life. From a childhood tarnished because his father was on the run from the law, through his boarding school experiences at a Catholic seminary, to his days as a wealthy businessman involved with the Mafia, and his time spent in prison, the author’s life story reads like fiction, but is true. The miraculous conclusion of this tale again proves that without God life is indeed a jungle. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Kariss Lynch began her writing career in third grade when she created a story about a magical world for a class assignment. Since then, she has received a Bachelor of Arts in English with a specialization in creative writing from Texas Tech University. Kariss believes her readers should expect a journey. Readers can expect to see the beauty that God creates through broken lives and the adventure that comes when we follow the Lord. We serve a God of big dreams, daily adventure, and lasting hope. Making her home in Dallas, Texas, Kariss recently finished the Craftsman course through the Christian Writer’s Guild. She became a freelance writer and blogger for Demand Media Studios in January 2011. In March 2012, Kariss accepted the writer position in the Communications Ministry at First Baptist Dallas. She is very active with her church and family, is an avid Texas Tech fan, and enjoys photography and swimming in her spare time. (Agent: Sarah Freese)

New Contracts

Terry Brennan signed another contract with Kregel Publications for his next book The Brotherhood Conspiracy, a sequel to Sacred Cipher. Terry is in his 14th year of senior management for New York City nonprofits dealing with homelessness. Prior to his present focus with nonprofits, he had a 22-year career in journalism with the Pottstown (PA) Mercury, winning the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing while he was editor. His first novel, The Sacred Cipher, was published in 2009. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Rebecca DeMarino signed a three-book contract with Revell Books for her debut Blue Slate series. The first novel, A Love of Her Own, will be released in 2014, followed by Heather Flower and Pure Patience. A 2011 ACFW Genesis semi-finalist, Rebecca and her husband Tom live in the Pacific Northwest. When not writing, Rebecca enjoys reading, running, gardening, and trying to keep up with her eleven grandchildren. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Steve Addison signed with IVP for What Jesus Started, a follow up book to his first release onMovements. Steve works with Church Resource Ministries in Austraila.(Agent: Greg Johnson)

Calvin Miller signed with Baker Books for The Vanishing Evangelical, a penetrating look back and forward on what has happened to the Church in the last 30 years, where it’s going, what good and what harm has been done, and what we can learn from it all.  This is the 61st book Greg has represented for Calvin in the last 18 years.  (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Joe Wheeler signed with Howard Books for The Civil War Stories of Abraham Lincoln, a follow up to his book: Abraham Lincoln: Man of Faith and Courage (also with Howard). One of America’s top-three story anthologizers, this is the 74th book Greg has represented for Joe, as well as his 64th short story collection. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Lauren Scruggs signed with Tyndale Houe Publishers for Still Solo: A Plane Ride, a Horrific Accident and a Family’s Journey of Hope. The book tells the story of losing Lauren losing her hand, her left eye, and becoming scarred for life after a tragic airplane propeller accident in December 2011. It is written with collaborator Marcus Brotherton, and it will be published this November. Also signed was a second book to young girls on body image. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Jonathan McKee signed with Youth Specialties/Zondervan for More 10-minute Youth Talks, a follow up to his previous book for youth pastors. (Agent: Greg Johnson)

Ken Gire signed with eChristian/Mission Books for Finding God in the Hunger Games, an insta-ebook and follow up trade book on the spiritual themes in the book series and the new movie. The ebook will come out in June!  (Agent: Greg Johnson)

What We’re Celebrating

The Christy Awards committee has announced that Dancing on Glass (B&H Publishing Group) written by WordServe Literary author Pamela Binnings Ewen is one of three finalists in the Contemporary Series, Sequels, and Novellas category. The winner will be announced at a dinner to be held at 7p.m. Monday, July 16, at the Rosen Centre Hotel in Orlando.

Amy Sorrells is the grand prize winner of the 2011 Women of Faith Writing Contest for Comfort and Salvation (now titled Canary Song). Amy is a wife, mother, registered nurse, and blogger, but most importantly, she is a woman of faith and a WordServe client. Recently, Amy received an offer for the manuscript from a well-known publisher. More to come later. (Agent: Barbara Scott)

Sarah Freese attended the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, April 19-21. She met with several editors and potential future WordServe authors. Various current WordServe authors, including Patty Kirk, Anne Lang Bundy, Leslie Leyland Fields, and Margot Starbuck, were in attendance, and a few of them presented on panels and led forums. Leslie and Patty’s forum was so full that people sitting in desks and on the floor had to make more room for people to stand around the perimeter of the room! The picture below doesn’t even show the room at its fullest.

What can we help you celebrate?

Success and Spiritual Warfare

"Christ in Gethsemane" by Michael O'Brien

Today, Good Friday, we remember the great cost paid for our lives.

And [Jesus] said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will.”
~ Mark 14:36 (NKJV)

When our Savior pleads with His Father in Gethsemane, exactly what does “the cup” contain? Jesus has already given His word that He will accept the contempt and degradation, scourging and crucifixion, and the death required by bearing sin, horrific as these all are. The cup evidently contains something far worse, so terrible that Jesus Himself wishes to avoid it.

I believe “the cup” contains sin’s monstrous, consummate penalty—isolation from God as He turns away from the one bearing sin (Matthew 27:46).

We who are Christ’s will never taste of that cup. The veil is torn asunder, and we have sweet fellowship with God, to our everlasting gratitude and praise.

I shall not die, but live,
And declare the works of the LORD.
~ Psalms 118:17 (NKJV)

Christian authors declare faith in penning everything from theological resources to respectable entertainment, inspirational devotion to suspenseful adventure, history to romance. Our works usually combine such elements, for we use all possible means to connect with readers and build up their faith.

Would we expect success to go unnoticed by our enemy?

Whatever else is shared and learned about writing, publishing, marketing, etc., the substantial spiritual warfare that many authors experience should also be noted. The wider our sphere of influence becomes, the more important it is to prepare ourselves for spiritual attack.

The devil will use anything he can to diminish our spiritual vitality and fruit. Among his weapons are:
• deceit or distortion of truth
• distractions
• conflicts or division / separation among believers
• strong temptation to fall into immorality
• inflated feelings of success and pride
• discouragement or overwhelming feeling of failure
• depression, confusion, or other mental impairment
• contempt from impersonal critics
• betrayal by personal friends
• attacks on reputation or unfounded accusations
• unusual stress in health, finances, and relationships
• terrifying demonic presence, perhaps via nightmares

I unhappily confess that although I’d waged and won smaller spiritual battles, my strength faltered when the fight became fierce. I had lost top fitness, gradually spending more time serving the Lord and less time in simple fellowship with Him. I was then blind sided by the intensity of an all out spiritual attack, which occurred on the heels of publishing successes.

Just as we acquaint and train ourselves with the publishing resources made available to us in order to succeed, we do well to acquaint and train ourselves with the spiritual armor made available to us through the price paid at Calvary.

I write to you, young people, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have victory over the evil one.
~ 1 John 2:14

Today we remember the great cost paid for our lives—and we may think of our lives as the goal for which Christ died.

Our lives, rather, are the means for a greater end—fellowship with God. And fellowship with God is what drives our spiritual fervor, empowers our spiritual gifts, and wins our spiritual battles.

Q4U: Have you experienced spiritual attack, concurrent to your successes? How have you overcome?

© 2012, Anne Lang Bundy

#1 in Marketing: First Love

photo source: streetJesus.info

To the Chief Musician…
A Song of Love.
My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
~ Psalms 45:1 (NKJV)

Confession #1: Though people have long commended my writing, being published was never a dream.

Confession #2: Though I’ve written professionally since 1981, and for ministry and Sunday school since 1991, writing fiction wasn’t something that crossed my mind.

Confession #3: I know almost zero about marketing.

: : :

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.
~ John 1:1-2 (NKJV)

Jesus, the Word of God, enjoys telling stories. I didn’t anticipate that He might infect me with the same pleasure. Not on that autumn day in 1985 when I met the Word of God, and it was love at first sight. Not when I read the Bible cover to cover, over and over. Not during the decades when I found myself studying anything Bible-related, reading little else.

By 2007, the people of the Bible had become so alive to me that I couldn’t stop pondering them. I compared passages of Scriptures to learn more about these saints. I factored in all I’d learned about history, archeology, and ancient culture. Then, imagination began to fill the remaining gaps.

How could I help but write the stories in my head and heart?

I went on to educate myself about publishing, which includes marketing and “platform.” Ack!

“Lord, I don’t want to tell people about me. I want to tell them about You, and Your Word, and Your amazing people. I’m a nobody!”

He gently molded such whining into a prayer:

Lord, please help me develop a platform that gives more prominence to You than to me.

: : :

My heart sank when I signed up to write a post this month. All the Wednesday slots had been taken.

And no WAY I’m gonna take a Tuesday and write about marketing!

Good grief, I have hardly a thousand Twitter followers! I could have more, but I only follow back people I know personally, or people who are still my followers a month after they start following me. I’m interested in real people, not mere numbers generated from auto-follow programs.

Then the Lord reminded me of the marketing strategy He gave me a long time ago:

“It matters less what people think of me than what they think of Jesus Christ because of me.”

And so I’m here, telling you that neither writing nor publishing nor platform is my first love. They’re simply the means to an end with me. My real passion is people, and the Word of God, and Jesus.

As I said, I know almost zero about marketing—almost.

But I do know what’s #1 in marketing: you’ve got to be passionate about whatever you market. Marketing is simply the means of making known our first love.

Q4U: What aspect of marketing to you actually LOVE?

A Time for Every Purpose

Perhaps an author of bygone days was permitted the leisure of penning a work and leaving all else to publishing people. Today’s author must also be given to social media engagement, marketing, writers conferences, blogging—where is the time to write?

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven …
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1 (NKJV)

My time-management skills are far from perfected. But as a homeschooling mom and lay minister with precious few hours to write, I’m motivated to faithfully put into practice three things I’ve learned so far.

Time needs to be ORDERED. A no-brainer, right? Ordering time begins with a calendar and then goes on to account for the items without an entry. Household chores, down time, and fitness for both soul (Bible-reading & prayer) and body (exercise) can get pushed aside if time is not allotted for them. Omitting them on occasion is unavoidable. Missing them regularly may overtake us with a vengeance.

Time needs to be RESPONSIVE. You can only call it flexible if you’ve ordered your time and then have something to flex from. Responsive time allows me to be sensitive to the needs of others and cultivate healthy relationships. (Some of the most important conversations I have shift something else.) Perhaps most importantly, responsive time helps me accept God making a change to the schedule He owns anyway.

Time needs to be PURPOSEFUL. Urgency and deadlines do motivate a person to focus on the task at hand. But unless I’ve defined with God what His purpose for my life is, and I keep my eye on that goal, my less-focused hours are easily wasted on activities which undermine my true purpose. Like money and seo services, time impulsively spent on the wrong thing makes it unavailable for the right thing.

The writer’s soul longs to produce something bigger than itself. Our art is transformation of ideas from abstract to concrete, leaving our stamp upon the world. Words are our medium—words of purpose purchased with time.

… What profit has the worker from that in which he labors?
I have seen the God-given task
with which the sons of men are to be occupied.
He has made everything beautiful in its time.
Also He has put eternity in their hearts …
~ Ecclesiastes (3:9-11)

The rest of us are dying to know! What’s your own best time-management tip?