WordServe News: April 2016

Exciting things have been happening at WordServe Literary this month!

On the final post of each month you’ll find a list of Water Cooler contributors’ recently released books along with a recap of WordServe client news.

New Releases

georgeJosh Aronson and Denise George released Orchestra of Exiles  with Berkley Books. This compelling biography tells the story of Bronislaw Huberman, the violinist who founded the Palestine Symphony Orchestra and saved hundreds of people from Hitler—as seen in Josh Aronson’s documentary of the same name.

51v21ckDovL._SX347_BO1,204,203,200_Wayne Cordeiro released the NIV LifeConnect Study Bible with Zondervan. Intended to help you grow deeper and stronger in your spiritual life, this feature-packed Bible offers helpful notes and articles, a variety of study tools, and links that direct you to an incredible set of digital resources. At home, online, or wherever you go, connecting with the Word of God is never more than a click, a tap, or a swipe away.

61VwcpvzlKL._SX398_BO1,204,203,200_Debora M. Coty released the Too Blessed to be Stressed coloring book  with Barbour. Encouraging readers to “color your way to calm,” the book offers 45 unique images on quality stock to comfort and inspire through beautiful design, refreshing thoughts, and scripture selections. Perfect for  anyone who enjoys a touch of inspiration alongside their creativity.

51S3bnXfyKL._SX355_BO1,204,203,200_Greg Johnson released If I Could Ask God Just One Question with Barbour. Written for teens, this short, question-and-answer format book offers solid, biblically based answers to teens’ most-asked questions about life, God, the Bible, and faith.

 

krusenCristóbal Krusen published They Were Christians with Baker Books. With passion and precision, Krusen brings to light the little-known stories of faith behind twelve influential people of history — including Abraham Lincoln, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Louis Pasteur, Frederick Douglass, Florence Nightingale, and John D. Rockefeller Sr.

41VN6aCurjL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Gillian Marchenko published Still Life with InterVarsity Press. This touching personal memoir describes Gillian’s journey through various therapies and medications to find a way to live with depression. Real and raw, Still Life affirms that while there are not always quick fixes, hope remains, and living with depression is still life.

New Contracts

Jonathan McKee signed with Barbour Publishing for his next book, If I Had a Parenting Do-Over, coming in Spring 2017!

Tricia Lott Williford signed a two-book deal with NavPress! The first, Every Confidence, a memoir of the pursuit of confidence, courage, and joy in a world that teaches women to be anything but brave, will release in July 2017.

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What We’re Celebrating!

Tough As They Come by SSG Travis Mills and Marcus Brotherton received a Christopher Award in the Books for Adults category. Mills and Brotherton will be honored at the 67th annual Christopher Awards, to be presented in New York City on May 19th, 2016.

Orchestra of Exiles by Josh Aronson and Denise George was featured in the New York Post’s “Required Reading” column.

Dianne Christner’s Covered Bridge Charm reached #9 on the EPCA Fiction Bestseller list!

Tim Maurer, author of Simple Money, appeared on the Today Show to discuss his book and questions about personal finance! You can see the segment here.

Creation: The Writer’s Privilege and Calling

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Easter is over. Strands of pink and yellow plastic grass are strewn all over the living room. Painted eggs will be peeled and mashed into egg salad later today. The kids are shipped off to school bleary-eyed, nursing sugar hangovers. I look around at the disaster of a house I just cleaned for company, sigh, and sit down to write.

The blank page on my computer screen stares back at me, cursor blinking at the top. Write. It is time to write. But I am empty, hollowed out, barren. I am still winter, even though yesterday at church, everything around me screamed spring. I look out the window and notice signs of new life. The lilac tree has fresh buds. The grass is becoming crisp and green.

Easter is my favorite holiday. My heart pumps fast every year. On Resurrection Sunday I get caught up in the story of Jesus in spite of whatever else is happening in my life. I can be downhearted, exhausted, bored, or troubled. Easter morning is bigger than my emotions. Easter is always bigger than me. My knees can’t help but bend. As a person of faith, how can I not be moved by Christ’s sacrifice for me and his ability to conquer death?

But today my life is back to normal. I have my to-do list. I’ll match socks at the bottom of the laundry hamper. I’ll make myself something to eat, and take small bites as I wonder where the excitement went, and how it can leave so quickly. I’ll write because of deadlines. It is my work. It’s what I do.

The blank computer screen studies my face, and I think about my feeble attempts to create something from nothing. The book of Genesis comes to mind.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. -Genesis 1: 1-3

And God said… God used words to create the world. For writers, this profound truth is even more precious because we are word people. This is what we love and it is baffling and exhilarating that God used the same method. Creation brought order out of chaos through words.

But God doesn’t stop there.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. -John 1: 1-3

Jesus is the Word in the Gospel of John. And through his life, death, and resurrection, God continues to create. He creates new buds on barren trees in the spring. He creates a desire in a person’s heart. He makes us new creations through faith in his Son. And as his creation, we participate in the awesome privilege of proclaiming Jesus, both with words and in being the word to a world that a lot of times looks everywhere but to him.

And we get to sit down at the computer and play with words. We start with nothing and hope it turns in to something. We have all these words and thoughts and try to put them into some kind of order that will hopefully makes sense, and more importantly, bring glory to God.

It doesn’t always happen but when it does, its magic.

Easter. Through Jesus’ resurrection God makes all things new. He creates. He is always creating. Words are an essential part of how he does it. Doesn’t it just blow your mind that we are in the same business?

So, when you go to write and instead sit, look, start, stop, put words down, and erase, do this: Look outside your window for signs of creation. Look for new life because it is always there somewhere. See fresh buds on the trees as the world wakes up to warmer days and the promise of sun-kissed skin.

When you write, when you create, you participate in something bigger than you. You are emulating your creator, the one in whose image you were first created.

The one who started it all with words.

What a privilege.

What a calling.

I open the window nearest to me, and let the warm spring air in.

Dear Mom Who Wants to Write

mom who wants to write

I usually have stains on my shirt. I sweat a lot from picking kids up and down all day, and if I am talking to you in a public place with my children in tow, I am typically looking out of the corner of my eye to ensure they don’t run away.

I’ve been a mom for over thirteen years. It’s the one part of me that is constant. Whether I am grumpy or happy, chubby or thin, motivated or lazy, I’m always a mom.

About six years ago I admitted to a quiet desire to write. Not just “please excuse Evangeline from school on Tuesday because she had a doctor visit” write, but the other kind. The writer-possibly-author kind. The produce-readable-work kind.

With my husband’s support, I rearranged our family’s schedule. Instead of doing housework, making doctor appointments, and keeping the ship running smoothly at home, the things I used to do during the three short hours when my youngest was at preschool, I wrote. Our family adjusted. Sure, our house was messier but everyone pitched in more. Some days I ignored laundry. Some days I ignored my kids. Life went on, things got done, and I got to write.

When I typed on my trusty old laptop, I felt closer to my true self. I was still mom to Lainie, Zoya, Polly, and Evie, but I was also Gillian, the person who liked to examine life and craft sturdy sentences that hopefully, when put together, built a story.

Today, my first book is published and I am working on a second. I love my work, but this writer/mom business is still a challenge. Every day I reconcile writer and mom and try to make both parts add up. I’m a walking checkbook that needs a continual balance. Ethal Rohan once said, “Essentially, I have three children: two daughters aged ten and seven and my writing. I strive to do my best by all three.” Due to sickness, doctor appointments, homework, and soccer practice, writing doesn’t always happen for me. But I keep going. And I write.

If you are a mom who wants to write, here are a couple of thoughts that may help you today:

1) Start writing.

It is the best and most difficult advice. We are busy. Time and energy are hard to come by, and we have kids around who, frankly, aren’t too happy that we pay attention to our computers. Get up an hour before the kids. Ignore the dishes once they are down at night. Kate Hopper, an author and champion of mama writers, says you don’t have to write every day to be a writer. Finding time to write with children is tricky but even if you carve out one hour a week to sit down and put words together, you are on your way.

2) Find blogs about motherhood and writing.

Information is free and available when you have time to view it. Two blogs to check out are www.MotherhoodandWords.com and www.motherwritermentor.com.

3) Learn the craft.

If you want to be published you must write well. Writing muscles take time to grow. Pick up Kate Hopper’s book, Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers. Join a writing group at your local library. Take a class on writing. There are classes both online and in real life. I have a mama friend who took the online class called The Momoir Project. She loved it.

4) Don’t give up!

Writing with kids at home is a challenge. But women have done it with great success. J.K. Rowling has three children. Toni Morrison is mother to two. Mary Higgins Clark has raised five kids. I have a lot of friends who are juggling motherhood and getting words down on paper. If you have a desire to write, make it happen.

Writing makes me a better mom. And my work helps form my daughters, too. They are empowered by watching me pursue and achieve my goals. They see that I am happy. They understand they can have more than one dream in life, and with God’s help, they can do things relatively well most days.

So from one mom to another, I say go for it.

I’m cheering for you,

Gillian

Want to Write a Book? The Next Patch of Light

file6041243276582I was privileged to attend my former advanced memoir workshop a few weeks ago to share my publishing journey, both with my first memoir that came out in August of 2013, and the news about recently signing a book deal for a second memoir. As I talked through the six years it took to publish my first book, as my fellow writers threw questions at me left and right, “How did you find an agent?, what did you do to build a platform?, how do you plan to structure your current project?, how do you even go about writing a book?, a thought occurred to me.

If you want to write a book…If you really want to do this…

Step into the next patch of light.

That, my friends, is the best writing advice I have to date.

I’ll let you in on an author secret. We all started at the beginning. And I think most of us make this life up as we go along. Even New York Times best-selling authors, at one point, stared at the cursor on a blank page.

Still afraid?

Step into the next patch of light.

Are you already a writer, a person who has honed her craft and has literary muscles? Have you always been interested in memoir and look!, your uncle gave you a book on writing memoir for Christmas? Were you walking down the street when you stepped in a mud puddle, and while stopping to shake off the mud you happen to notice an ad on the flag pole in front of you for a writing class in your neighborhood?

Any of those instances may be your next patch of light.

You have to start somewhere, so look around and see where you stand. Stephen King said, “The scariest moment is always just before you start.”

If you hope to publish a book, than do what’s in front of you today. Don’t worry about a two-year plan complete with a detailed description of how you’ll construct your book while you also build your platform and research literary agents. (If you are naturally a person like that, email me, OK? I may need a little help.)

No, do what is in front of you right now. And when it’s time (and you’ll know it is time because you’ll itch for something else, or get bored, or curious), look ahead for the next little patch of light. Pay attention to your surroundings: follow authors on Twitter, look out for workshops, read blog posts for fun, pick up a book at your local independent book store on a Saturday afternoon that might apply to your writing journey. Any of these things could be your next patch of light. And before you know it, (and trust me, if you follow the patches of light, you will move in this direction and it is crazy and cool at the same time) you will be writing a book.

But for today, resolve yourself to take it one step at a time, and pay attention to the writer light in your life.

WordServe News: December 2013

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

InMyDefenseLeigh Ann Bryant’s first book, In My Defense, has just released through Authentic Publishers (WordServe’s first release with this imprint).

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SolomonsSongRoberta Kells Dorr’s next biblical fiction release, Solomon’s Song, has debuted with Moody Publishers.

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VoicesofPacificAdam Makos has the trade paper edition of Voices of the Pacific releasing from Berkley Caliber.

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TheRavelSaintThe Raven Saint from Marylu Tyndall came out in mass market size paperback from Barbour Publishers.

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New WordServe Clients

Bryan Bishop, a researcher who has discovered hidden movements of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists experiencing and following Christ outside the boundaries of Western Christianity, signed with Alice Crider.

Tim Lucas, pastor of Liquid Church in New Jersey, signed with Alice Crider.

New Contracts

Jim Burns and Doug Fields have signed a two-book contract with David C. Cook for Preparing for Marriage and an untitled marriage book.

Julie Cantrell signed a movie option agreement with Emily Morrow Chenevert, a Louisiana-based production company, for her New York Times Bestseller, Into the Free.

Rebecca Kells Dorr’s estate signed an option agreement for a TV series based on her novel Queen of Sheba with Sphere Media Plus, a Quebec Canada-based production company.

Bill Donahue signed with Baker Publishing for his new book, Irresistible Community.

Gillian Marchenko signed a contract with IVP for her book on motherhood and depression. Way to go, Gillian!

What We’re Celebrating!!

2013 was another great year for WordServe clients. We released more than 70 new books and signed contracts for more than 60 new projects.

How My Agent Found Me

agent found me

My agent found me.

It’s true.

I didn’t believe it at first either.

And I am oh, so grateful. Her council, editorial skills, business savvy, and contacts make a huge difference in my budding career.

And I know… it doesn’t seem fair.

How exactly did she find me?

Through two chapters released to The Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2012. As a participant of the conference, I submitted part of my memoir for agents to review.

Sarah Joy Freese found my chapters, and contacted me for the full manuscript.

But why did she find me?

Because people I met along my writing journey told me to work hard.

And I need to be able to say this although it feels a little strange, like a pat on the back or something, but I realize now that I did work hard. I worked hard and long for her to find me.

If you want an agent to find you, here are four things you can do.

1) Write well.

Make sure your writing continues to improve. Read a lot. Write even more. Attend a class. Submit your work for critique. Spend time in the chair, churning out pages. If your writing isn’t at its best, even if an agent finds you, he probably will pass.

2) Build your platform.

Gone are the days of a writer hiding away in an upstairs attic penning the next great American novel. In the publishing world today, writers have to do more than write beautifully. They need to build a following. Want to learn more about this idea? Read Seth Godin’s book Tribes.

Warning: when you begin to work on a platform, you will feel ridiculous. When I started a Facebook author page, I joked with my friends about ‘fans’ liking the newest dirty diaper I changed at home. As a stay-at-home-mom with four children to wrangle, I didn’t think I was qualified to have a fan page, but I did have a goal: to publish a book. So I began.

Other platform ideas: blogging, speaking, writing e-books, the list can get really long and daunting. The important thing is to start, and to remember platform building as an important element to your future in publishing. It needs to grow with your writing skills. You need to be a package deal.

3) Have polished, edited chapters of your current work in progress ready.

Spend time on a couple of your favorite chapters in your work in progress. Make them strong. Hire or ask someone you trust to edit them. Rewrite them. Rewrite them again. Make sure that even if you don’t know every nuance of the book that you have a general idea of the story arc, so that your chapters fit when you pitch the idea to the agent.

My husband and I cobbled together funds so I could pay two freelance editors to work through drafts of my recently published memoir Sun Shine Down. After writing a third draft of the same book, I started to feel like I had something I could show someone with my head held high. Yes, it takes work, and time, but your best work is worth it, and it is your best chance to have an agent ask to see more.

4) Attend writers conferences.

Before attending conferences, I queried countless agents to no avail. I hardly got back a standard rejection email.

I can’t stress enough how helpful conferences were/are to my career. In 2012, I attended Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and the Festival of Faith and Writing, where I met my agent. Both were amazing experiences. I shook hands with people, passed out and retrieved business cards, and submitted my work for review and critique. While buoyed in my fervor for the written word, I soaked in lessons about the craft and business of writing.

I think every writer should attend as many conferences as they can.

Be encouraged.

If you want an agent to find you: do good work, put yourself out there, be ready at a moment’s notice to submit, and go where the writers, agents, and editors go.

If this stay-at-home-mom, queen of diapers and ruler over tantrums can do it, so can you. I’m rooting for you!

Now get to work. Your agent may be looking for you right now.

*Do you have an agent? How did that relationship come to be? Do tell.

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WordServe News: October 2013

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

SunShineDownGillian Marchenko’s memoir, Sun Shine Down, was released with T.S. Poetry. Sun Shine Down is about Gillian’s journey through the grieving process of discovering that her daughter, Polly, has Down syndrome. Gillian takes an honest look at what it really means to be the mom of a child with a disability. Her writing is both powerful and poignant and encourages her readers to grapple with the reality that is life.

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SamsonMarcus Brotherton’s collaboration with author Shawn Hoffman for his novel called Samson released from Thomas Nelson.

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RelatedbyChanceDeb DeArmond released her first book, Related by Chance, Family by Choice with Kregel Publishers.

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RebelliousHeartJody Hedlund released Rebellious Heart with Bethany House Publishers.

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HeartFailureRichard Mabry released Heart Failure with Thomas Nelson

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New WordServe Clients

Sarah Varland

Sara Davison

Patricia Lee

New Contracts

Deb DeArmond signed two contracts with Abingdon; one for I Choose You Today, the second for Don’t Go to Bed Angry, Stay Up and Fight. Both are non-fiction books on things that truly matter in marriage.

Deb Coty signed with Barbour Publishers for another book of humor with a message. The working title is Too Loved to be Lost, a book on the depth of God’s love for us.

Janice Dunlap signed with Authentic Publishers for her nonfiction memoir Saved by Gracie, the story of her dog that helped bring her back from an emotional and spiritual brink. It will come out in the Spring of 2014.

What We’re Celebrating!!

CONGRATULATIONS AND HAPPY ANNIVERSARY WORDSERVE LITERARY!

November 1 marks YEAR 10 of the agency! During that time, we’ve represented nearly 600 books. Our biggest claim to fame, our biggest joy, is the authors we work with on a daily basis. They’re the real stars, and we’re grateful to be here to serve.

The cover of Becky Johnson and Rachel Randoph’s book, We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook was voted one of the top-10 covers for all of CBA in 2013. Great job, Zondervan!