Book of the Month

A Great Book for Every Author

Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson is my “book of the month” for every writer.

Andrew Peterson is a well-known musician, songwriter, and author. He’s won the Christy Award for best YA novel and WORLD magazine’s Children’s Book of the Year.  Over ten years ago, he founded a ministry called The Rabbit Room which encourages and cultivates a vibrant Christian arts community in Nashville, Tennessee. They publish articles, books, and musicians. In addition, they have an annual conference called Hutchmoot which was just held two weekends ago. (Past speakers have included Walter Wangerin Jr., Sally Lloyd Jones, Phil Vischer, Leif Enger, and Luci Shaw.)

What makes Andrew’s new book fascinating is his wonderful background as a mixture of one who creates in two seemingly distinct areas of the arts: music and writing. To you writers who are also musicians, you understand the connection. To you writers who are not, this exploration can open up your soul to new methods of creativity.

There is a genuine humility in the musings of this volume. He cuts to the heart of every author’s anxiety and the need to face the reality of the creative process. Read this excerpt from page 79:

How do you know if you’re on the right track? You share it with someone. … But not just anyone. Share it with a better writer than you. Share it with someone who’ll be careful with you, who will tell you the truth in love. Sometimes you’ll thank them kindly and ignore them completely because what do they know, anyway? Other times they’ll confirm your worst suspicions, because you knew all along that something wasn’t working, but, let’s face it again, you were being lazy. You just wanted to be done. That’s the cancer. That’s the nest of roaches you have to exterminate from your story. Roll up your sleeves and kill them dead, because the world has enough bad stories. Nobody said it would be easy.

And this excerpt from pages 44-45:

Art shouldn’t be about self-expression or self-indulgence. Art shouldn’t be about self. The paradox is that art is necessarily created by a Self, and will necessarily draw some measure of attention or consideration to the artist. But the aim ought to be for the thing to draw attention, ultimately to something other than the Self. For a Christian, that means accepting this paradox in the knowledge, or at least in the hope, that my expression, even if it is of the most intimate chambers of my heart, can lead the audience beyond me and to the Ultimate Self, the Word that made the world. In that grand chamber alone will art find its best end, as an avenue to lead the audience Home.

Read that paragraph again. Out loud this time. Does it resonate?

This book, Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson, is full of thoughtful words on the life and soul of an artist/author. I highly recommend it to every reader of this post.

You owe it to yourself to get a copy and read it with a pen and highlighter.

[I did not receive a copy for free. I bought it within minutes of hearing about its release.]


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Book of the Month – February 2019

The necessity of proper grammar is a blessing and a curse. A blessing for clear communication and consistency in how we communicate. A curse because it can be so complicated—everything from spelling to punctuation to phraseology. To make matters confusing, there are conflicting style guides. The Associated Press (AP) Stylebook …

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2017 Christian Writers Market Guide Now Online!

The 2017 edition of The Christian Writers Market Guide is officially available in print and ebook (paperback $22.99, ebook $9.99). Check your favorite bookstore or online retailer for a copy. Make sure you have a copy of this book in your arsenal! We are also very excited to announce that all the content …

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In Praise of Slow Reading

When asked what I do for a living I will sometimes answer, “I read.” Then when asked what I do for fun I smile and say, “I read.” That is one of the joys of being a literary agent, the privilege of reading…a lot. As such, the quantity of material …

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Book of the Month – September 2011

Merchants of Culture: The Publishing Business in the Twenty-First Century by John B. Thompson (published by Polity) is this month’s “Book of the Month.”

I took this 432 page book with me on vacation and was mesmerized by its detailed analysis of the history of publishing and bookselling. Thompson’s chapter on “The Rise of Literary Agents” was, of course, particularly interesting.

I have been a student of this industry for 30 years and thoroughly enjoy understanding its nuances. (It just dawned on me that this means I’ve read nearly 1,500 issues of “Publisher’s Weekly!”) In my opinion, this is the one book you should read if you want an overview of everything that goes into the publishing business. Did you know that the practice of allowing booksellers to return stock for full credit did not start in the U.S. until the early 30s? It was used during the Great Depression as a way to stimulate sales and to encourage booksellers to carry more inventory without risk. Eighty years later that practice still plagues the industry (see my post “Many Happy Returns“).

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Book of the Month – August 2011

by Steve Laube

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs (published by Oxford in June 2011) is this month’s “Book of the Month.” I recommend you pick up a copy and enjoy the experience for yourself.

It seems a little odd to read a book about reading. But for those of us who are in the “business” of creating books it is always interesting to read a wise person’s take on the very lifeblood of our profession.

Many people say they no longer read and yet ironically they are always “reading” their texts, emails, blogs or favorite social network hub. They are not necessarily reading books which means they are truly missing out on the experiences of a lifetime. Alan Jacobs, a professor of English at Wheaton College offers some simple, powerful, and much needed advice:

read at whim,

read what gives you delight,

and do so without shame.

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Book of the Month – July 2011

by Steve Laube

Small Message, Big Impact by Terri L. Sjodin is this month’s “Book of the Month.” I recommend that every veteran and aspiring writer read this book and glean from it.

The key to this book is in the subtitle: How to Put the Power of the Elevator Speech Effect to Work for You. Sjodin defines the elevator speech as:  “A brief presentation that introduces a product, service, philosophy, or an idea.  The name suggests the notion that the message should be delivered in the time span of an elevator ride, up to about three minutes.  Its general purpose is to intrigue and inspire a listener to want to hear more of the presenter’s complete proposition in the near future.”

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