Can you give us a little bit of information about your publishing history?
I started writing articles for publication in 1980. In the nearly 30 years since then, I’ve written more than 1,400 published articles and four published books. In 1998, God took me on a lengthy detour from fulltime writing. In the last 10 years, I’ve primarily written two ongoing columns, a weekly and a monthly one. However, during that decade, God did surprise me with a couple of unexpected writing blessings: He opened the way for me to write devotions for the Focus on the Family women’s website and to publish my fourth book, Focused Living in a Frazzled World: 105 Snapshots of Life.
When in the process of writing your book did you begin to look for a publisher?
To my surprise, the publisher came looking for me. After publishing three books with a denominational publisher, I spent seven years in a ministry position that allowed little time for writing and no time for preparing and sending out book proposals. Near the end of those seven years, I was approached by a subsidy publisher who had seen and liked my writing. I made the investment in order to get my foot back in the book-publishing door.
What has been the best part about being published?
By far the most fulfilling part has been finding out that, perhaps months or years after I wrote an insight or told a story, someone read it – and God used it to speak directly to their need of that moment.
What do you want readers to remember and carry with them after reading your book?
I want each “snapshot” in Focused Living in a Frazzled World: 105 Snapshots of Life to offer readers the blessing of an aha! moment when they really see what they’re seeing. I want readers to learn to see life differently and, as a result, to live their lives differently.
What do you wish you had known when you first started out as a writer for publication?
I wish I had known how religious I was – but at the time I wouldn’t have seen it or believed it. I wish I had known how easy (and devastating) it is for us Christians to try to get our significance from things connected with Christ, rather than from Christ himself. Yet because I didn’t know those things, I now have true stories to tell and insights to share that can help others experience freedom in Christ and fully live out their God-given identity.
Has it been a bumpy ride to becoming a published author or has it been pretty well smooth sailing?
In writing, as in life, I’ve gone through different seasons. As a young wife, knowing God wanted me to write for publication, I learned as much as I could from writers’ magazines, writers’ conferences and other helps. Then I plunged in, quite successfully. In that first season, I wrote primarily for denominational and regional publications and often had as many assignments as I had time to write. At home with a toddler and a new baby, I wrote my first book (a devotional for young women) because a publisher for whom I’d written numerous articles called me and asked me to do so! Two other books followed, and lots and lots of articles.
Then, I entered a frustrating season: With our two daughters in elementary school, I had more time to write. I had developed better writing skills. Eagerly, I tried to write for new markets and to publish another book. But every door that seemed to be opening slammed in my face. The article-writing assignments continued, yet no matter what I did I couldn’t seem to move beyond the “box” that held me.
As our daughters entered middle school, I entered a paid ministry position. In order to fulfill family and work responsibilities, I had to lay down every writing endeavor, except for a weekly newspaper column and a monthly column in a women’s devotional magazine. I had to fight to find time to write those two columns. Repeatedly, I asked God if I should quit writing them. He told me to persevere and, as mentioned above, even gave me grace during those years to write a series of devotionals for Focus on the Family women’s website and to compile some of the best of my Perspective columns into my book, Focused Living in a Frazzled World.
Now, I’ve entered another new season. Our daughters are grown. I’m helping my parents as they face the challenges of aging. With regard to my life and my writing, I’ve catapulted out of the box! I’m in a totally new place, at once wonderful and challenging. I describe that place on my website, www.keytruths.com, and on my new blog, http://religioushasbeen.blogspot.com, where the picture of me riding a mechanical bull says it all. Before, I had a passion to write. Now, I have a passion to tell what I’ve seen and heard. I have a passion to help others catapult out of religious boxes. I have another book inside me, clamoring to be born. It’s tentatively titled, You Get Your Life Back: Confessions of a Religious Has-been. My struggle? To find the keys to get this message out to the many churched or formerly churched people who are, in the words of Matthew 11:28 (MSG) “burned out on religion.”
How important do you think self-promotion is and in what ways have you been promoting your book offline and online?
I can recall times in grade school when the teacher asked for volunteers to read parts in plays in our school reader. I desperately wanted to read one of those parts – but did not raise my hand. No surprise: I didn’t get picked. Whether you want to read aloud in school or you want other people to read what you’ve written, it’s vital to present yourself. That doesn’t mean bragging or pressuring people or pushing others down. For me, it means seeking every appropriate venue to confess who I am and what I do, to tell what I’ve seen and heard with candor and humor – and then see who comes forward to connect.
One of the most effective ways I’ve found to present Focused Living in a Frazzled World is to read excerpts from it when I speak. Before the book’s release, I presold copies at a discount rate. When the book came out, I sent an email announcement to my database list. I’ve also done book-signings and an interview that aired on Focus on the Family Weekend Magazine. Online, I’ve promoted the book through:
my website: www.keytruths.com,
my Facebook page,
and the two free e-columns I send out. (You too can sign up for Perspective and/or for Key truths, Open gates at http://visitor.constantcontact.com/email.jsp?m=1101137250569&p=oi.)
Where can readers find a copy of your book?
Readers can order Focused Living in a Frazzled World: 105 Snapshots of Life online at my website, www.keytruths.com, and at amazon.com and www.tatepublishing.com. They can also order Focused Living through any local Christian bookstore.