Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Why Put Your Story in the Hands of a Publisher?

Why put my book out on a blog rather than publish traditionally through a print house?

I realized in high school that I wanted to write. I had a love/hate relationship with my eleventh grade English composition teacher at Eureka High School. Mrs. Collins would read the writing assignments that scored the highest every week to the class. Most weeks, my paper was on the list. Some weeks, she would read my "A" paper to the class right before I got kicked out of the class at least once being a class clown. She found it was more productive to wait until after I got kicked out of class to read my paper.

It was when I was taking college courses that I realized that I still liked to write. Since then, and I've always wanted to write and publish a book. Almost 20 years ago, when I first saw my own writing on a web page, I knew that the future was going to be different. Traditional publishing where a small cadre of operators decided what the masses would read, listen to, and watch, for the first time, had a short shelf-life. Newspapers, magazines, music companies, and Hollywood were no longer in control. The script was about to flip.

Industry gurus like Guy Kawasaki and Seth Godin are my biggest influencers in my decision to go strictly digital with blogs and social media platforms. Kawasaki's book APE and Godin's daily offerings have empowered the masses. Gary Vaynerchuck reminds his audience that these things in our hands - this phone I'm typing these words into right now - are never more than six inches away. This is true even when sleeping.

So that's the thinking behind launching this book-blogging project. I've put it on the Medium platform because I love the built in social and sharing features. It's simple to use as a digital self-publisher. Viewer statistics are built right in so I can see when you love me and when you hate me.

Here's the thing: you can do this, too. Pause and let that sink in. You found this blog post or read our story because you found it through our mutual social media relationship. 

Why do we need to put a traditional publisher between you and me? You're the one I'm trying to get my message to. You're the one I have to impress.

Here are the next two posts in the book-blogging project:

Post 10

Post 11

Saturday, February 11, 2017

A running thank you

This week, the book-blogging project we launched on Medium last month has gone over 1,000 views. We're really pleased about this and wanted to say thank you. Here's a video I shot really quick with that message.

Begin reading our story here, or read the most recent post and track backwards from there.

Read post 9 here.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Adoption ain't easy, but it's worth it

We have friends that are trying to adopt children from Ethiopia. We've followed their story for years, literally, and it has been grueling for them. We're friends with two other couples — both amazing — that have adopted multiple children while also having many of their own, natural born children. One family has a total of twelve kids and the other sixteen!

I have friends that have traveled to China, others to Russia, some who are empty-nesters starting over in mid-life with adopted kids, and still others who open their homes as foster parents to provide emergency care for children from families in crisis. Many children are rescued by a foster family that becomes a forever family.

As I think through the roster of moms and dads that make room in their homes and hearts for children, they're not super heroes. In most cases, they don't have above average resources or incomes. They just want to make a difference one kid at a time. They find that it's possible and they learn that it is the most rewarding
"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." —Ephesians 1:5
In this eighth post from my book blogging project, I write about the early steps of our adoption journey. The Charming and Beautiful Susan and I have never looked back.

Read Post Eight here.


Friday, January 27, 2017

21 day fast

On January 1, an announcement was made at church that we were, as a denomination, going to participate in a 21 day fast. Everyone was encouraged to pick some activity, luxury, or — I don't know... vice — and replace it with an activity that would help us connect with God.

I liked the idea, but I hate having things dropped on me without time to prepare. It was January 1 and January 1 was the first day of the fast. I felt compelled, rushed, and unprepared. I panicked because I hated that I was instinctively nonspiritual. I have plenty of things I could give up, (i.e., binge watching Netflix series, Ben and Jerry's, Dunkin' Donuts, coffee) but what should I pick. And why should I? I developed an attitude.

We Mondoks have been through some transition in the past year with a job loss and big move to New England, and I've gotten out of the habit of writing. I've actually been in a writing and creativity slump, if I'm honest.

I've been wrestling with this for several months. I've even questioned if continuing to write as a habit or as a creative outlet was even worth it. I've had a hard time answering that question affirmatively.

Before January 1 was over, I decided to participate in the 21 day fast. I gave up watching shows on Netflix and replaced it with this book blogging project. It wasn't planned, but a plan started coming together. I wanted to replace the activity of watching TV with an activity that nourishes my spirit and causes me to meditate on the good things God has done in our lives. That's the precise effect doing this project is having.

The project is going to take longer than 21 days. It already has. If you've been tracking with the project, it has been some very sad reading. It has dredged up painful memories. But I will tell you that working through this has caused me to abundantly thankful for where our lives are now. I'm blessed to recount all that has been provided and all we've learned. I'm amazed at the capacity the Charming and Beautiful Susan and I have to love this little girl we've adopted.

I'm grateful for the 21 day fast and I pray you get something out of what we have to share with you.

In the next post, God sends us more angels. But he also sends more trials.

Read post 7 here.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Why "Where are my Angels"?

Be careful not to despise these little ones. I can guarantee that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father, who is in heaven.
‭‭—Matthew‬ ‭18:10‬ ‭‬‬

This is a verse we told our children about often as we were raising them up in our faith. We wanted to open their eyes to faith early in life when they were most teachable. We didn't want them to be afraid of what they didn't understand. We wanted them to know God was working in places they couldn't see to guide and protect and develop them as his agents in the world. We taught them that God had dispatched angels charged with their care. 

Both of my children are thinkers. From an early age, my children would avoid bed time by asking me questions about God. When Charity was going through a difficult or dark time, she would ask me, "Daddy, where are my angels?" 

As my daughter Charity came into her teen years, she learned guitar and started writing songs. Thoughtful songs. Faith-filled songs. Songs that asked questions that were difficult to answer. One of the songs she wrote was called "Where are my Angels?" I borrowed the title for this book project from her. 

Another verse I taught my children concerning angels is the following: 

Therefore, angels are only servants—spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation. —Hebrews 1:14

This is what I pray this book-blogging project teaches readers. Teaches me.

Read the sixth post here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Our First Angels

I sat down the other day to make a list of all of the angels God sent our way in our journey. I couldn't do it. The list is too long. I know I'll miss some.

But, to the best of my ability, I will introduce and name our angels by name. In the fifth post of my book blogging project, we meet our first angel couple.

Read the fifth post here.

In this post, I mention a movie sequence. Here's a short video of the sequence so you can watch to get some perspective.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Opening Old Wounds

Dragging out my files and putting time into this effort has been tough on my wife and daughter. They just want this to be behind us. They don't want to re-live the experience, but every time I decide to jump back into this project, they feel like they have to.

It's tough on me, too. It's kind of like pressing on an old sore just to see if it's still painful. It is. There's been unbelievable healing in our lives, but it's painful.

If that's how my family feels, you might ask yourself why I'm doing this. For one reason: writers write.

Writers work out their experiences in print. In private, they pour out what's inside into a journal, note pad, or computer screen and process what they're thinking, what they've learned, or how they're healing. As much as I hope you reading these words will add something small to your life, this is mostly about me working things out. There. I said it. This is about me. But I think you already knew that.

I learned something from a writer named Frank Schaeffer. I read his book Crazy for God and reviewed it on my blog. The book was fascinating and irreverent and even, in my opinion, disrespectful to his family and the religious tribe Frank's family was a part of (I'm loosely affiliated with the tribe Frank exposes in his book). And I asked the question: "Why would he write this?" He personally responded to my post: "Because I'm a writer."

So here is the fourth post from my book-blogging project. Thanks for taking the time.

Read the fourth post here.