Threads in the Fabric (Part Two)

 

As promised last week, during this Christmas season, I want to share with you all the immeasurable gifts I’ve found in the wondrous world of words. So…

Welcome to my office!

The entrance is, as you can see, humble. But what delights I find inside! So let’s slip past my four-legged greeters (Kirby, our Corgi is welcoming you in today), to the first room, which holds not only a table for work and conversation, fellowship and study, but one of the most important elements of my office: the coffee corner! I start each day here, brewing some special creation that will not only energize me for work but fills my office with the delectable fragrance of dark-roasted coffee.

The first of my many bookshelves rests in the kitchen. This unit holds the books I’ve loved longest. On the top, nestled amongst pictures of family and friends, are the very first books I was ever given: a Nutshell Library of Maurice Sendak books, which started me on the path to learning both numbers and letters (A alligators all around…); A Little, Little Golden Book, We Like Kindergarten, which took me on a journey with Carol as she went to kindergarten for the first time, and, my favorite, a Tiny Tales book, If I Were… (If I were a robin redbreast, I’d merrily fly and sing…). It was in these books that I first discovered my love for words and imagination. From hearing my parents read them, then learning to read myself—Oh! Wonder!—these books propelled me on to ever greater stories, stories that, though they carried me around the world, sit contained on this small wooden shelf. All I have to do is read the titles and names on the spines, and the stories come to life again. Trixie Belden and the BobWhites, the Miss Bianca books (the originals, not the Disney version), The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Holt, Peter S. Beagle (“The unicorn lived in a lilac wood…”), Jane Eyre, To Kill a Mockingbird, Georgette Heyer, Elizabeth Peters (“And what happened next, dear reader, is none of your business…”), The Little Prince (in both English and French), Grace Livingston Hill, C.S. Lewis, Winnie the Pooh (and Tigger!), Edgar Rice Burrough (was any so brave as John Carter from Mars?)…these authors and characters brought me such joy!

In their company, I discovered myself.

Some of the quotes I shared last week come from these early loves:

 “Safe?” said Mr. Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

–C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I actually read this book in installments, in the Sunday School paper, which carried a chapter a week. You can imagine my delight when I realized there were more books to follow!

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“I am what I am. I would tell you what you want to know if I could, for you have been kind to me. But I am a cat, and no cat anywhere ever gave anyone a straight answer.”

–Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn. This magical novel instilled in me a deep love of unicorns. I collected them for years, long before they were popular. And as fanciful as it may be, I’m hoping against hope that maybe…just maybe…I’ll see a unicorn in eternity.

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“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?” he whispered.
“Yes, Piglet?”
“Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. “I just wanted to be sure of you.”

–A.A. Milne, Winne-the-Pooh. I spent countless hours wandering the Hundred Acre Wood with Christopher Robin and his little bear, and learned of life and friendship and faith.

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“If you have no faith in yourself, then have faith in the things you call truth. You know what must be done. You may not have courage or trust or understanding or the will to do it, but you know what must be done. You can’t turn back. There is now answer behind you. You fear what you cannot name. So look at it and find a name for it. Turn your face forward and learn. Do what must be done.”

–Patricia McKillip, The Riddlemaster of Hed. I discovered fantasy and scifi novels in middle school, and fell in love with this series. The whole concept of knowing and cherishing your true name still resonates today.

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“Is it not unsupportable to be held down to a canter when you long to gallop for miles?”

–Georgette Heyer, The Grand Sophy. Heyer introduced me to a whole new world of historical romances, and I’ve never been the same!

So how about you? As you prepare for Christmas this year, a season so enriched by the wonder of words and story, take a moment to remember your own early days of reading. In childhood, what stories first caught your imagination? What characters first moved and delighted you? In middle school, what writers caught your imagination? In high school, what words from books planted themselves within, nestling deep in your heart and mind?

I look forward to reading your thoughts. And stay tuned for next week, when we venture from the kitchen into the office proper. I’ve many more friends nestling on their shelves, waiting to meet you. To confirm what writers and readers alike know:

There are few things so powerful in our lives as words.

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News You Can Use – Dec. 6, 2011

Is Amazon a “Ruthless Money-Making Devil”? – James Daunt, UK bookseller extraordinaire, makes a bold claim

Five Tips on Writing…from the Grinch – Fun article for the Christmas Season

EMI is sold! – Music giant will be split in half and sold to Universal and Sony. Yes it is the music industry but it would have the same impact if one of the Big Six were split up and sold. Further consolidation in the media world. The sale includes their Christian label which includes Amy Grant and Steven Curtis Chapman.

23 Questions to Ask Your Novel – A fantastic exercise to go through after you’ve typed “The End.”

How Many Christmases Until We See a Whole New Industry? – Mike Shatzkin asks some great questions about the future of Publishing

An Excuse for Plagerism? – Quentin Rowan blames his plagerism on his addiction. Personal responsibility never crosses his mind. “I lost my job in the Brooklyn bookstore where I was a part-owner, my beautiful girlfriend left me (and the apartment we were going to share), and my future in the only field I know anything about, books, came to ignominious end.”

On the Future Partnership of Thomas Nelson with HarperCollins – A great interview with Mark Schoenwald, CEO of Thomas Nelson

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Author Accolades – Dec. 5, 2011

We are very pleased to announce that we have two client’s whose books have been named as “The Best Christian Fiction of 2011” by The Library Journal.

Ted Dekker and Tosca Lee’s Forbidden (Center Street) – we represent Tosca

Tracy Higley’s Pompeii: City on Fire (B&H Publishing Group)

Also Debbie Ulrick and Liz Tolsma are part of the Log Cabin Christmas collection of novellas which is #7 on the ECPA Fiction bestseller list for December.

Congratulations to all!

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Christian Romance — Fact or Fiction?

In response to a recent blog post, “A Matter of Taste,”  a reader asked what I would say if someone claimed there is no such thing as Christian romance.

In fact, I have been confronted with this question before. At a Christian writers’ conference a few years ago, a woman told me in a snide manner that romance is a “fantasy” and walked away before I could respond. I felt especially sad that the woman was no doubt a fellow Christian, but it sounded like it had come from a jaded secularist. I believe this woman’s attitude reflects her own experience rather than the state of Christian publishing. True, not all real life endings are happy, and Christian romance novels traditionally end with the premise that the couple will enjoy a bright future. That is the hope and promise these books offer. Indeed, isn’t that the hope and promise of weddings in real life?

The Lord never promised Christians perfect unions. My heart aches for anyone in a miserable marriage. Hurt people hurt people, so no amount of convincing will change some minds about romance. But God is bigger than any situation, and He heals willing hearts.

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Threads in the Fabric

If you came to visit my office, you’d see my walls are lined with bookshelves. Twelve in all—six ceiling-to-floor shelves and another six half that height. Plenty of room for all my books, right? Yeah, that’d be nice. I still have box upon box of books, all awaiting the day they can come out and play. Trouble is, I’m out of room for bookshelves. So I find myself faced with the painful duty of culling. I’ve done this difficult task probably 10 times since we moved here 8 Thanksgivings ago, and still the boxes aren’t empty.

What can I say? I love books. Always have. The feel of one in my hands, the smooth pages under my fingers, the welcoming typeface that works magic and brings worlds to life…worlds that sometimes are more real to me than the one I actually live in. Worlds peopled with characters and creatures that have become threads in the fabric of who I am.

Books are, quite simply, a miracle.

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News You Can Use – Nov. 29, 2011

How Much Does a 99 cent E-Book Cost on Amazon? – This is a chilling story for those who think that going the self-publishing route with the Kindle is all puppies and kittens. And it makes a good case for the International nature of story telling.

Don’t Waste Your Exclamation Points! – Intended for pastors this is a reminder for all writers.

Thoughts on the Future of Book Marketing – Insightful thoughts.

Does the Internet Kill Your Productivity? – Ironic that the article about this is ON THE INTERNET.

Platform is not everything – Love, love, love this post.

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Reasons I am Thankful Today and Every Day

I try to live in a spirit of gratitude every day, but this holiday is a chance to spend more time meditating upon a few specific reasons to be thankful. I hope you’ll read over this list slowly and think about your own life.

1.) God the Father.

2.) Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord.

3.) My devoted, loving, and godly husband, John.

5.) Our beautiful daughters, Jill and Ann.

6.) That all four of our parents are still in good health.

7.) Extended family and friends.

8.) That I have a great boss and an interesting, challenging job I believe in and enjoy.

9.) The wonderful writers and other publishing professionals I work with.

10.) To live in America.

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News You Can Use – Nov. 22, 2011

Six Things Jeff Bezos Knew Back in 1997 That Made Amazon a Gorilla – Excellent article from Forbes magazine

Reward Yourself with Kittens! – This free “Written? Kitten! tool” provides you a blank page on which to type. But every writing goal you achieve (100, 200, 500 and 1000-word settings are available), you get a picture of a cute kitty! – Part of the NaNoWriMo incentives.

Books-a-Million to Open 41 New Stores this Season! – Anyone who says all bookstores are going away has not been paying attention.

Interview with Nora Roberts – The most prolific author of our era. Amazing.

Special Thanksgiving Special from The Savvy Book Marketer: They are offering a 25% discount this week on these book marketing and publishing guides. The Thanksgiving Special coupon is valid through Friday, November 25. Just enter this code in the coupon field at checkout to save 25% on your order: thanks2:

Ebook Publishing Success
How to Get Your Book Reviewed
Virtual Book Tour Magic
How to Sell More Books on Amazon
Selling Your Book to Libraries
Directory of Top U.S. Libraries
Successful Social Marketing
Twitter Guide for Authors
Facebook Guide for Authors

INFOGRAPHIC:
The Freelance Revolution – While it isn’t a perfect application to all writers this is a very intriguing infographic.

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