WordServe News: April 2017

Exciting things have been happening this month at WordServe Literary!

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

Steve & Misty Arterburn, with Becky Johnson, released The Mediterranean Love Plan this month. Unveiling the “7 Secrets of Passion” from some of the most romantic countries in the world, it answers age-old questions about how to keep your marriage interesting, fun, and romantic–burning with passion that stands the test of time.

Carole Engle Avriett published Under the Cover of Light with Tyndale. In 1965, Col. Thomas “Jerry” Curtis’s helicopter was shot down over North Vietnam. He was immediately captured and spent 7½ years confined in a filthy 5′ x 7′ cell at the notorious Hanoi prison camp. Now, Jerry shares the full story of his 2,703 days in captivity and what he learned about faith, hope, and the indomitable power of the human spirit.

David & Claudia Arp and Peter & Heather Larson released He’s Almost a Teenager with Bethany House. Based on tried-and-true parenting wisdom, this book shares fun, thoughtful questions and talking points that lead to meaningful, natural conversations with your son as he approaches those difficult teen years.

Sue Detweiler published Women Who Move Mountains with Bethany House. Prayer was never meant to be a recitation of requests, but rather a drawing close to the heart of God. When you learn to exchange the obstacles of life for the promises of God, you will pray with passion and confidence rather than fear or insecurity. From this place of surrender and intimacy, you will discover what it means to become a powerful, effective woman of prayer.

Lynne Hartke published Under a Desert Sky with Revell. Tracing Lynne’s experience with cancer–her own and the diagnoses of both of her parents–this lyrical work considers how even life’s most desolate experiences can bring beautiful surprises.We are never alone in our fear, and we are never forgotten by a loving, pursuing God.

Marjorie Jackson published Devoted: A Girl’s 31-Day Guide to Good Living with a Great God with Shiloh Run Press. Featuring hand-lettered art pages for coloring, this devotional teaches us how to let our love and dedication to Jesus penetrate every area of our lives–so that we can be young women of God who are completely, joyfully, beautifully different.

New Contracts 

Mary Davis signed a 3-book deal with Love Inspired for a series of romances to be published in 2018.

Jan Drexler signed a 3-book deal with Revell for a new series, Storms on Weaver’s Creek, a historical romance series set against the Civil War and the Amish church’s commitment to non-resistance.

Leslie Leyland Fields signed with Kregel for the publication of Happy Over Forty, an anthology of 40 incredible women writing from their own lives, that provides a biblical, inspiring and unforgettable guide to all that God can do in and through women over 40, making the second half of our lives the most fruitful and abundant half.

Sandy Silverthorne signed with Revell for the publication of two new joke books for kids, which will include illustrations by the author.

New Clients

Paul Basden, Jim Johnson, Chris Langlois, Ross Owen, and Linda MacKillop joined WordServe this month. Welcome!

What We’re Celebrating

Tina and Dave Samples‘ book Messed Up Men of the Bible was named as a finalist for the 2017 Christian Books Awards in the Bible Study Category! Winners will be announced May 2.

A Library Located in a Village of Stilted Houses by the Sea

library-story

I loved going to the library as a girl. In the summer, after chores were done, we would go to town once a week, a trip that included a stop at the library.

I would always get the allowed quota–four books. 

At home I would sit in the tire swing under the elm tree and escape to faraway places in the pages.

I never imagined in the shadow of cornfields, alfalfa, and soy beans, that one day I would travel to a library in a village of stilted houses by the sea:

Our driver parked the van at the curve of a road on the mainland, near a dirt entrance across the bay to a smaller village of sea gypsies, the gypsy part of the name being a misnomer because they don’t move from place to place. They live there, a few hundred yards from the mainland in their simple stilted homes, because the lore of their people states that if they would leave, their skin would become diseased; they would grow sick and die.

sea library 1

“Where’s the library?” we asked our host as we passed a group of boys listening to a boombox, while laundry dried outside a simple house with a satellite dish in the backyard. As part of a literacy program we had been invited to check out the library in this small fishing village in Indonesia.

sea library 7

Our host pointed in the distance, to a destination I could not see, because all I saw in front of me was a series of rough wooden planks, nailed together in a single, rickety path above the water.

Walking the plank suddenly had an entirely new meaning as the boards weaved side to side as I shuffled across one and then another. I peered at the water six feet below as it flowed back and forth with the current. What happens when cell phones get wet? I wondered, as I took step after cautious step, on planks number three, four and five.

What happens when library visitors get wet?

My husband comes across

I was thankful for the years I spent as a child balancing on railroad tracks as I imagined being a tightrope walker on my way to our no-boys-allowed fort in a culvert under the tracks, never imagining I would need those high-wire skills four decades later.

Eventually all six of us made it across, some uttering not-very-silent prayers for God’s deliverance.

When we arrived at the library in the village school, we discovered the building was closed. School testing happened that week and the kids had a half day, an education reality that is common around the world. We stood around in the 85-degree heat with 90% humidity. The circle of sweat on my cotton t-shirt widened exponentially with each ticking minute.

“We can come into this home,” our host said, motioning us into a blue house with a corrugated metal roof across from the school.

sea library 4

“Have a seat, have a seat.” The woman and homeowner directed me to a far corner. Our group of six and a dozen children trooped in behind. Candies and other snacks hung down from the ceiling. The home was also a store.

We were invited to tell a story while the woman served crackers and bottled water. My husband told a tale of another stilted house with a boy, his noisy sisters, and their cows. It was a story about gratitude. Our interpreter echoed my husband’s hand motions and side effects, adding a few of his own, while the children listened, entranced.

The homeowner smiled as the children sang a song, moving with the tempo. More children arrived on the front porch, but there was no more room inside. 

In our culture, I hear arguments about the relevance of libraries in a digital world, but those debates were silenced for me in a stilted village where children pressed against the metal screen covering the front window in hopes of getting closer to the words, while the sea and the people swayed.

Do you have a library story?

Lynne Hartke’s first book: Under a Desert Sky: Redefining Hope, Beauty and Faith in the Hardest Places is coming out with Revell/Baker in May 2017. She blogs at http://www.lynnehartke.com.

Writing for a Superlative Culture

We are an -est society.

Happiest. Saddest. Loneliest. Hardest.

I recently returned from a trip overseas and I was asked, by various people:

“What was your hardest time?” “Give me your happiest vacation memory.”

I had to stop and ponder.

Was the happiest moment when my husband captured a photo of a monkey trying to find another banana under my hat? Was it scuba diving in the waters of Nirwana Beach off the coast of Indonesia? Or climbing the slopes of Mt. Batur for the sunrise and being served tea heated in the steam vents from this still-active volcano?

Monkey Forest

Was the hardest moment going days and days on limited sleep as my body refused to adjust to the fourteen-hour time difference? Or when a person on our team was diagnosed with dengue fever? Or the humbling moment when I realized our young guide didn’t read or write?

I found myself in a quandary as I sifted through my mind to try to come up with the -est story. Not sure if the tale I was contemplating qualified for the perimeters or was just an average, good story, I found myself silent.

We live in a culture of superlatives. Highest. Lowest. Hottest. Fastest.

Yet, as writers, the challenge remains to take what has been written a thousand times before and make it fresh. To take the mundane and ordinary and breathe new life into the sentences. To find a new way to write about a sunrise. Or washing the dishes. Or camping out under the stars.  Skill is necessary to take the images and everyday events and draw the reader into deeper emotions. To tell again the story of love. Of grief. Of redemption. Of faith.

I have lived for over thirty years in Arizona. Same house. Same church. Same husband. 

Same desert.

I have hiked the trails surrounding Phoenix and beyond. This permanence allows me to write from a deep sense of place, yet I am still discovering new things in this desert home.

Earlier this summer I was working on a piece about palo verde trees and needed a photo. The palo verde tree has green bark with each twig terminating in a thorn. The palo verde lives up to its Spanish translation of “green stick,” as the tree tosses aside all its leaves during times of drought. The tree sprouts tiny leaves after rain, but can perform photosynthesis through its green bark, even when leaves are absent.

I needed a photo of the tree after rain. I didn’t have one. Thirty years of hiking in the desert and I didn’t have a photo of a palo verde, one of the most common trees in our area. I had sunsets. Sunrises. Mountain peaks. Cactus. Wildflowers in abundance.

I had photos of the driest. The tallest. The orangest (this should be a word).  But not one picture of the ordinary palo verde with its amazing green bark. (A fact I remedied the next day.)

trunk of a palo verde tree

Thoreau once said that because he could not afford to travel, he was “Made to study and love this spot of earth more and more.” 

Ah, this is our challenge. As our readers settle into the pages, can we–through our words–make them love and study the spot we describe more and more? This story of reunion? This story of loss? This story of returning to God? 

This story of the ordinary and mundane? A story that has nothing to do with volcanoes or monkeys or strange tropical diseases.

A simple story of a tree that sprouts tiny leaves after the rain.

palo verde after rain

palo verde after rain

Lynne Hartke writes stories of courage, beauty and belonging at www.lynnehartke.com. Her first book about the faithfulness of God in the hardest places is coming out with Revell in 2017. She lives in Chandler, Arizona in the Sonoran Desert with her husband, Kevin. Their 4 grown children and 3 grandchildren live nearby.

When There is No Erasing

In my world of too many words — written words, spoken words, printed words, listened words — I need places where there is silence.

Usually I find a Place of No Words in creation as I take to the trails among cactus and creosote with my dog, Mollie, pulling on the leash in anticipation of the next adventure.

The other Place of No Words that I have found is an art museum.

Sometimes I find God there in the standing still.

While in Nashville recently, I went to The First Center for the Visual Arts. When I first entered, I found the silence oppressive. The museum had so many rules about photography and sketching only with a pencil and no shoulder bags, that I wanted to escape… escape to my world of familiar words filling up the spaces.

But I resisted, and stepped forward into the first of four galleries.

The gallery, Ink, Silk and Gold, was interesting, but I only heard facts when I viewed the display. History. I did not linger.

My ear was not yet tuned to the unheard.

I entered the next gallery.

The boldness of Shinigue Smith’s work in the Wonder and Rainbows Gallery, shouted from the walls as she combined paint with textiles and other mediums. As a teen she experimented with graffiti, an interest that eventually turned to Japanese calligraphy. I could see elements of both in her colorful paintings and sculptures.

Forever Strong by S. Smith. Compliments of Google since no photos were allowed.

Forever Strong by S. Smith. Compliments of Google since no photos were allowed.

“In both, you can’t back up,” Smith said in an interview, “You must have a confident hand when you put your brush to the surface. There is no erasing.” 

No erasing.

I liked the thought. I am in a season of editing and rewriting. 

Editing a manuscript. Rewriting life goals and purposes.

What would it be like to put a confident hand to the surface without the paralyzing thought of erasing? What if I didn’t hesitate, but stepped forward without the fear of getting it perfect and simply chose a color and painted boldly?

Where could my words take me?

Where could yours?

Dreams Between Blades

Dreams Between Blades

What are you drawing today?

 

 

Spelunking and Writing in the Deep Dark

When my husband was in college, he and a group of friends went spelunking in an undeveloped cave called Devil’s Icebox near Columbia, Missouri .

Unbeknownst to them, while they spent hours exploring the 6.25 miles of underground passages, it had started raining. When they attempted to return to the entrance, through a narrow tunnel so low they had to meander like snakes on their bellies, they noticed the water was rising. Forced to grope for breaks in the rocks in the tunnel’s ceiling, they were able to gasp for breath in the air pockets.

All the flames in their carbide headlamps became drenched in their scramble to get out of the narrow section and save their lives.

Their lights extinguished.

spelunking

Carbide headlamps or acetylene gas lights were popular with cavers at the time for the bright white light they produced. Unfortunately the flint system–like a lighter–needed to be kept dry.

My husband and his friends, having survived the narrow section, found themselves stranded in utter blackness.

And the water was rising.

Eventually one of the girls in the group found one dry corner on her shirt collar. They dried the flint, lit the lamps and exited to safety.

Despite that experience, my husband still enjoys exploring deep underground caves, corkscrewing his body through narrow passages and entering the unknown.

Me? Not so much.

But I have been in the Deep Dark. My Deep Dark has been cancer.

Perhaps you have your own difficult place.

In the Deep Dark we find ourselves in unknown passageways wondering how in the world we are going to turn on our lights and find our way home.

In the meantime we wrestle in darkness.

Darkness of the unknown. Darkness of our deepest fears. Dark nights of the soul.

Where we wonder where God is in it all.

I have waited on a doctor’s examining table and known the deep darkness. I have sat at a dining room table holding hands with my parents after hearing the diagnosis of my mom’s stage four and heard Dad pray to “our God who is in control.” And I wanted to shout, “God is in control?”

The Deep Dark is a place for shouting. A place for questioning. A place of fumbling for the light.

As writers, one of our challenges is to explore the Deep Dark and take our readers with us as we plunge the depths. One of our most difficult responsibilities is to put into words what people are afraid to whisper in the shadows.

But we don’t leave our readers there.

With our pens … with our pencils … with our keyboards … we craft light in the passages to lead our readers home, home to a God who sees in the dark.

“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,’
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.”  Psalm 139:11-12 NASB

So grab your carbide headlamps. It’s time to go spelunking!