Dreams Coming True is a Thursday feature on my blog, a way to highlight those whose goal is to create community. The dream might be a blog, a published book, a small business, volunteering, or even fundraising for a charity. Something that makes the world a better place . . . for others.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin” (Zechariah 4:10, NLT).
Welcome Sharron Cosby, author of Praying for Your Addicted Loved One, to Dreams Coming True! Congratulations to the winner of last week’s giveaway, SHARON CHASE! Email email@example.com to claim your prize. Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of Praying for Your Addicted Love One!
Tell us a little about yourself, Sharron:
I’m a true Southern gal hailing from the great state of Alabama and now residing in Florida. I love grits with butter, cornbread, and collard greens, not necessarily in the same meal. I married my high school sweetheart, Danny, and we have three adult children and five incredible grandchildren (four boys and one girl). Danny is a Certified Addiction Professional (C.A.P.) and pastor of Recovery Church. We attend another church on Sundays for traditional worship.
My daytime job is with The Salvation Army as the Legacy/Legal Department Director for the state of Florida. I’m proud to say that the National Commander of The Salvation Army wrote the Foreword to the book. Shortly before the book published, Commissioner Roberts was promoted to the Chief Secretary and now resides in London, England. He’s second in charge under the General of the International Headquarters in London.
My nighttime hobby is writing and perusing the Internet. My lifelong passion is reading—a gift from my mother. She passed along her love of books, and I can be found with my nose stuck in my Kindle or a book any time of the day or night.
When did this creative dream begin?
In the fifth grade I wrote a paper on The Great Depression and my teacher praised my writing. I think her encouragement struck the spark that continued to burn throughout my school years. My high school English teacher furthered my love of writing and reading, and we’re still in contact to this day. I’ve always enjoyed words and how they can be strung together, much like jewelry making. The jeweler adds pearls, diamonds, and beads and forms a work of art. Words are like that for me.
How did this project/idea get started?
Our son began using drugs and alcohol in the eighth grade and his usage escalated for many years. During the early years of his addiction, I was frantic for a book that would help me understand what was happening in our family. I wanted to know I wasn’t alone in my helplessness. Peace was absent, and I needed to know where to find it. I didn’t find anything. In 2009, Josh’s addiction had reached a new level, and the bookshelves remained barren for family members coping with an addicted loved one. At that point, I decided to write a book to encourage families in their journey.
What makes your project stand out from the crowd?
Praying for Your Addicted Loved One: 90 in 90 is different in that it’s devotional in format, a memoir, and a journal. Each day begins with a scripture verse, then a story illustrating the verse—most of which are about the struggles with our son’s addiction—a closing prayer, and a page on which the reader can journal their thoughts about the day’s content. It reflects the Twelve Step model for newly recovering addicts to attend ninety meetings in ninety days. While the addict goes to meetings, family members are reading devotionals specifically to lift their loved one up to God .
The book’s heart is found in Day 84, “The ‘So That’ Story.” The scripture passage is 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 that says, in part, “so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” My family’s story is much like thousands of other families. The real story is what God did with it. I thrill at telling of His grace and restoration. I comfort with the comfort God lavishly poured into my life on October 8, 2009.
What are the goals and intentions of this project?
The goal in writing Praying for Your Addicted Loved One was to provide a resource for families hurt and broken from a loved one’s addiction. In reading our story, others will find they are not alone in their struggles and there is hope.
Shame is a constant companion for families in this situation and keeping the addiction and its inherent problems secret is common. Many times family members feel they can’t talk about what’s happening, and they isolate from friends and even other family members. I know that’s true because it’s what I did for many years. I hid the problems from my family until they were too big to hide. This book offers hope and encouragement that God can make all things new and that He can restore what years of addiction stole from the addict and their family.
There comes a point in the journey when hope is all that is left.
How does your project create community?
Praying for Your Addicted Loved One creates community by encouraging community. I encourage family members to seek out Twelve Step groups. If there isn’t one, form one. I encourage church involvement to help fill the spiritual needs that exist when fighting this particular battle and to have fellow believers praying on your behalf. We need support and a shoulder to cry on when the props are pulled out from under us.
Many have creative ideas but trouble following through with them. What advice would you give to creative types who start projects eagerly . . . but then enthusiasm drizzles off?
I find myself staring at the computer screen at times, and I’ve found the best thing to do is to write something. One writer friend suggests writing prayers when you’re stuck, and the words bounce off your brain like ping pong balls. He types his prayers right along with his story line, asking God for wisdom and a creative nudge. We have to keep at it and eventually we’ll get over the hump of lack luster creativity.
Describe the behind-the-scenes effort of your project. Where do the ideas come from? How many are involved in the process? Does each contributor have a specific role?
My original book plan was to write a memoir . . . until I met Cecil (Cec) Murphy at a She Speaks Conference. I shared with him my idea, and he looked at me and said something like this, “Honey, find a different way to tell your story. There are thousands of memoirs on the market. Make yours different.” I took his suggestion to heart and when I read Jeremiah 30 and 31, the basis of the devotionals, I knew this was my something different.
My blog ideas come from many sources. A road sign catches my eye on the way to work, and I’ll incorporate it into a blog. Making a Christmas dessert with one of my grandsons inspired a recent blog. My pastor’s sermons (not my husband) are great resources for blog ideas. One of them worked its way into a story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul. I jot down ideas in my calendar so I don’t forget them when I’m ready to compose a new blog.
I am a member of Word Weavers International, a writer’s critique group, and use the group’s feedback to tweak my blogs and articles.
What’s been the hardest part about getting it off the ground?
Self-promotion has been one of my highest hurdles. I was raised not to toot your own horn and talking about the book requires a lot of horn tooting. Another toe stumper is getting speaking opportunities to share the story and the book.
What have you learned?
I’ve realized that I’m not selling myself or my family. I’m sharing a message of hope to a population that is hopeless, and the only way to get it to them is to talk about the book and the God who inspired it. Writing this devotional has opened many doors, whether one-on-one or in front of a group, to share about God’s grace and the hope of a better day. The tag line on my blog and the books I sign is, “Blessings and hope for today.” My son taught me to live one day at a time, and I pass that message along to others.
I’ve also learned that writing a book requires reliance on others. From running ideas past my husband and children, to my Word Weaver buddies critiquing the manuscript, I could never do something like this by myself.
Another lesson learned is vulnerability. I’m a bit of a perfectionist, and having my life examined by strangers is disarming. Well, truth be told, it’s downright scary. People who don’t know me or my family will be judging us and that’s frightening. They will be criticizing my writing abilities and that’s terrifying. But I know God placed this book on my heart to help other families, so He’s helping me learn vulnerability.
Have there been any unexpected surprises?
I’ve been surprised by my mother’s response to the book. I knew she would be proud of my accomplishment, but her response has been overwhelming. She’s my biggest fan. She reviewed the book for a group of ladies at her church, has sold multiple copies, sent bookmarks to relatives and tells everyone she knows about it. We were together at a recent book signing at a former church, and I don’t know which one of us was the proudest to be standing there together.
Another was a semi-surprise book signing at work. We have a wonderful library that services Florida Salvation Army, and the librarian and another friend hosted my first book signing. I felt much loved that day.
What are the biggest misconceptions people have about starting your project?
I think most people think you write a book, get it published, and within two or three weeks it ends up on the New York Times Bestsellers list. They don’t understand all the hard work of editing, re-editing, and rewriting that is required to reach the finished project. I have a whole new respect for authors and cherish books even more than before because I now know the path to publication isn’t an easy one.
Facebook is my first go-to spot. Then Twitter and Goodreads. I had a blog tour when the book first released and have had some giveaways.
Creating something is one skill. Marketing and promoting it is an entirely different skill set. How has that gone for you? Shocked by the amount of work marketing takes? Or pleasantly surprised?
Promotion is still a monster-in-the-closet for me. I know it’s there and it’s something I have to do, but I’m afraid to tackle it head-on. It is a huge amount of work and working a full-time job and assisting my husband with our ministry, Recovery Church, my time is spread thin. I’m a novice at this aspect of the industry and feel intimidated by all the things a writer/speaker “should” do.
Any marketing mistakes you would avoid?
My biggest mistake is shyness in the marketing area. I’m hesitant to test the waters sometimes and launch out full force to promote Praying for Your Addicted Loved One for the resource that it is. I’m not particularly tech savvy and become frustrated at trying to make things work through social media.
What social network has worked best for you?
I think Facebook is the best for me. My friends have been great to share news about the book or speaking opportunities, so I’m getting exposure. Twitter is my next social media spot for talking about the book.
What advice would you give someone else who has a creative dream like yours?
I have several friends wanting to write a book. I encourage them to start with a blog, join a critique group, attend writers’ conferences, read books on the craft of writing, and then write.
Where do you see this project in five years?
In five years I’d like to see Praying for Your Addicted Loved One: 90 in 90 listed as a resource with Celebrate Recovery, in major bookstores and in treatment centers and pastors’ offices across America.
Families often aren’t included in the treatment process, and this book is an excellent resource to give families when their loved one is admitted for treatment. Pastors and youth workers meet with families whose loved ones are struggling with addiction, and the book is an excellent, current resource for the epidemic plaguing our country.
How can we find your creative dream come true?
My blog can be found at www.erecoverychurch.com along with speaking topics that might interest your church or other group. I’d appreciate if you’d subscribe to receive weekly updates on recovery-related topics. Praying for Your Addicted Loved One: 90 in 90 is available through Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com in both print and e-reader formats. For personal contact, please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.