Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Revell Signs Gary Smalley and Me to Write 4 Book Series

This is probably the biggest book news I've posted on this blog to date.

It's a major book deal that's been brewing for several months. So glad I can finally talk about it freely. This is a press release from "Rush To Press," a news publication for the Evangelical Christian Publisher's Association (ECPA). It explains the details.

Revell Signs Smalley, Walsh for New Fiction Series
Four Book Fiction Series Set to Debut in Spring 2013

(Grand Rapids, MI, July 8, 2011) Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, has signed Gary Smalley and Dan Walsh for a series of four new fiction books, with the first set to debut in spring 2013. The new novels will follow a family through a series of defining life events, challenges, and triumphs that readers will relate to in their own lives.

“When I first got involved in fiction, I thought it would be a fun way to try something new as an author,” Smalley said. “But I never dreamed that the Redemption series would be among those most often cited by my fans as having ‘changed their lives.’ That experience taught me how much power exists in story to transform lives and marriages.” Smalley’s Redemption series, co-authored with Karen Kingsbury, has sold over 1.5 million copies.

Over the Christmas holidays, Smalley and his wife Norma read Walsh’s first two novels and fell in love with his writing, drawn to his strong characters and relationally-driven storylines.

“Gary’s sense of relationship and Dan’s ability to write in a way that brings characters and their joys and heartaches alive for the reader makes this a wonderful partnership,” said Jennifer Leep, Editorial Director for Revell. “This partnership really exemplifies the kind of synergy that makes a real impact on the hearts of readers.”

Gary Smalley is one of the country's best known authors and speakers on family relationships. He is the author and co-author of 16 best-selling, award-winning books along with several popular films and videos. He has spent over 30 years learning, teaching, and counseling. In the last 30 years, Smalley has spoken to over 2 million people in live conferences. Smalley has appeared on national television programs such as Oprah, Larry King Live, Extra, and The Today Show, as well as numerous national radio programs. Gary and his wife, Norma, have been married for 40 years and live in Branson, Missouri. They have three children and six grandchildren.

Dan Walsh is the award-winning author of The Unfinished Gift, The Homecoming, and The Deepest Waters. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Dan served as a pastor for 25 years. Dan is a rising star who’s been hailed as a born storyteller with a style similar to Nicholas Sparks and Richard Paul Evans. The rich characterizations and stirring romance in his stories are quickly winning him a loyal fan base. Dan and his wife, Cindi, have been married for 34 years. They have two grown children and two grandchildren and live in the Daytona Beach area, where he's busy researching and writing his next novel.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They have published three recent New York Times bestsellers.

Baker Publishing Group publishes high-quality writings that represent historic Christianity and serve the diverse interests and concerns of evangelical readers. Founded in 1939, today Baker Publishing Group is composed of six divisions, each reflecting a unique segment of Christian publishing. These divisions are Bethany House Publishers, Revell, Baker Books, Baker Academic, Chosen Books, and Brazos Press. Baker Publishing Group is also the exclusive publisher of God’s Word® Translation (GW). Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Baker Publishing Group is one of the world's largest publishers of Christian books. For more information, please visit www.bakerpublishinggroup.com.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

My First Television Interview

Yesterday, we confirmed the dates, so now it's official.

Since my first novel, The Unfinished Gift, released in September 2009, I've done dozens of blog interviews, magazine interviews and even quite a few radio interviews. Now for the first time, I'm being interviewed for TV.

The hosts of a It's A New Day, a 1-hour daily television show in Canada, have asked to tape a series of interviews with me for the upcoming Christmas season. We'll be flying up to Canada to talk about my first novel, which is set during Christmastime in 1943, as well as my next release, Remembering Christmas, which releases on September 1st (the interviews will be taped in mid-October, so this book will be out by then).

Another exciting aspect to this is that my wife, Cindi, is coming with me. They may even include her in the interviews (I've mentioned how involved she is, behind-the-scenes, in my writing). Another very cool thing, we'll be taping these interviews just a few days after we celebrate our 35th anniversary.

Unfortunately, we don't get It's A New Day in Florida where we live, but their program is available and can be viewed online. Here's a little bit about the television show and its hosts:

Now in our 30th year of television, It's a New Day broadcasts on various stations throughout Canada, via satellite in the U.S. and Europe, and is streamed online throughout the world. Featuring leading authors, theologians, pastors, and teachers from Canada, the United States, and other international countries, this one-hour daily program provides solid content in a range of Christian teaching, testimony and music.

Hosts Willard and Betty Thiessen (far left and far right) and Bob and Audrey Meisner (in the center) are excited about communicating the Christian message in an understandable and relevant way. They desire to bring hope and healing to Canadians and connect people to the love of Jesus Christ.

Needless to say, we are SO excited! To find out more about the program, Click Here.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Writing for an Audience of One

I'm aware that a number of people who read my blog are writers, some published, some who are not. I share the following hopefully to encourage fellow writers, especially those struggling through a season of discouragement.

I’d like to offer a reminder that there is One who sees all we do and all that we write, and this One has a different way of measuring its value. I remember a worship song a few years back titled, "Audience of One.” I loved it immediately because it reminded me of what Jesus said was the first and greatest commandment.

And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, "Which commandment is the most important of all?"Jesus answered, "The most important is, 'Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:28-30)

The idea here is to also love the Lord our God “with all we write.”

I’ve been a published novelist for two years now (under contract for four). I’ve seen a snag in writing that can sometimes trip us up, cause us to lose sight about writing for that “Audience of One.” Once this shift occurs, we can become prone to discouragement. If it goes on long enough, we may be tempted to give up altogether.

The snag is our target audience. Unless you’re writing a worship song or a devotional prayer, it’s likely your target audience is people, not God. You may even be writing about God, but not to God. So your mindset as you write is connecting well with people, hopefully having your work reach them in some published format.

Over the past week, I attended two Word Weaver groups. The first was my local chapter. At the second I was a guest speaker. If you haven’t heard of Word Weavers, they’re a wonderful group of Christian writers who gather together in various chapters to support each other, primarily in critique groups. Here's a link if you'd like to find out more about them: Word Weavers Online. At the beginning of each meeting, they go around the room and share any bit of encouraging news or progress they have made in their writing over the past month.

For me, this is often a challenging moment (probably should explain why).

Many of the writers I’ve talked with in these groups have two things in common: a) they hope to one day become a published author of a full-length book (fiction or non-fiction), and b) so far that hasn’t happened. Certainly, some attending these groups don’t share that goal, but it seems fair to say the majority do.

The things typically shared during this part of the meeting are more often things like an article someone had published in a small magazine or local newspaper, something they had written on someone else’s blog, or perhaps a rejection letter from an agent that offered a ray of hope (vs a standard form letter).

After hearing these things, I’m hesitant to share my updates.

The reason? For some unexplained reason, God has poured out a great measure of success in my writing life in a fairly short time. In the last two years, I’ve had 3 novels published by a major publisher (Revell). All 3 books have received rave reviews. A 4th novel is coming out in September and a 5th in the spring. This past month, Revell signed me to write 7 more novels over the next three-and-a-half years. Oh, I almost forgot, they emailed me this week because a major Christian television show wants to fly me out to tape a series of interviews.

But as I listened to what others shared at these meetings, I was struck by how meaningful and important these “smaller” success stories were, especially when you consider God's perspective. I’ve talked with some of these writers; they have important things to say, and I’m glad others are getting to read their work in these “lesser” formats (meaning less than a full-length book). My desire is to encourage them not to view these other writing opportunities as small or insignificant. It can be an easy snare to fall into, especially if our eyes are locked onto that over-arching goal of getting our dream book published.

God doesn’t see or measure things that way.

Jesus saw a lone woman at a well. He saw a much-hated tax collector named Zacchaeus sitting alone in a tree. He felt the touch of a single woman in a large crowd, afflicted for years by a terrible disease.

He sees you there, writing alone. Every time you write.

He sees the people on the other end, who need to read what you’ve written. He is glorified and pleased when others are encouraged and stirred by things you’ve written. Whether that audience is large or small, whether you’ve been paid much or little, or nothing at all.

I’m reminded of these encouraging words from Paul: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” (1 Cor. 15:58)

It is not in vain because the One who matters most is always watching and always ready to commend and encourage. Allow your hearts to be refreshed as you write by God’s assessment of things.

Reset your gaze and write once again for that Audience of One.