Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"How Did Your Books Get Published?"

Many people have asked me this question. The answer is...

I didn’t want to get out of bed or brush my teeth.

I was so broken emotionally, it hurt to breathe.

My upper body was in such pain that I rubbed it constantly. As I spoke to people I would cross my hands over my body and knead my shoulders, back, neck and arms over and over again - not caring about how bizarre it must have looked. (No one can ever tell me that emotional injury doesn't manifest in one's body.)

Credit: freedigitalphotos.net
I could have cared less about appearances. If people thought I was a freak, so be it. I was so terribly wounded and quite frankly at a dangerous place. I was close to checking in to a hospital. I really don't know what stopped me.

A visit to a Christian therapist revealed I was suffering from complex trauma, significant loss and complicated grief. 

In the midst of my suffering, I blogged for catharsis. I didn't care about prettying anything up. Quite a number of people read all of the anguish I poured out. Maybe it was like when you drive by a bad car accident...you can't help but look. For better or worse, people read my story, in droves. Women and men. People from every walk of life. Christians, Buddists, Universalists, atheists, agnostics, and  Pentecostals. Doctors, lawyers, professors, pastors, college kids, the unemployed and stay-at-home-moms. The young and old and everyone in between. They not only read --they interacted with me, and encouraged and spoke into my bruised spirit.

I met Laura Dennis online, who became a very close friend. She’s an adoptee, a blogger and well known in both of those communities. She is also founder and CEO of Entourage Publishing.

When I was going through some of the most agonizing moments of my life, Laura said, “I think your 14-post blog series of your personal story should be a book." “No," I sighed. "I’m doing well to just get out of bed. I’m going to therapy to try to move forward, and I am in no shape to do a book.”

I kept saying no, and Laura kept saying, “Please consider it?” Finally I said, “What would I have to do?”

“Nothing but take your story down off of your blog and turn it over to me," she said. 
Ugh.

I didn’t want to do that, because of the comment section. On especially terrible days I would go through and read all the comments. There were hundreds of them on some posts. The comments were overwhelmingly positive and a comfort to my soul. I didn’t want to part with all of this life-giving encouragement that kept me going on many days.

Laura kept prodding.

I finally decided that if I could copy the comments into a document and still have them to read, I could handle taking the story off of the blog.  At a time when my trust level was at an all time low, I trusted Laura. I’m so glad I did.

We gave a two week warning to readers that the story was coming down off of the blog. I will never forget a frantic call that came into our church office from a woman in California who had just started reading it the day it was to come down. She discovered the story that day -- was in the middle of it and was upset that it might be removed before she finished. Reading my bio she saw the name of the church where my husband and I pastor, Googled the phone number and called. I let her know we would be removing  the story from the blog at midnight and she had a few hours to hurry up and finish. She did.

A year later after removing the story from the blog, Worthy To Be Found was released and the same people who loved the story as a blog also seemed to love it as a book. Actually many of them seemed to love it even more because I expounded on it in the book and filled in more details.

I am eternally grateful for saying yes. Entourage Publishing also re-released my former book, Juggle. I had self-published Juggle two years prior and the response to it was excellent, however Laura asked to re-release it to make some improvements and more in line with where I was going with Entourage. It made that book all the better. Subsequently, Restored, the sequel to Worthy to be Found, was released. In March of 2016 my book, Stronger: 30 Powerful Principles for Leaders debuted.

I am now years beyond that difficult time in my life. Jesus, counseling and community have done wonders in mending my broken heart. 

People hunger for transparency. In a world of fakes, phonies and frauds they crave the real thing. I find that the more openly I share, the more people showed up to read and interact.

In addition to my four books with Entourage, I was asked to be a contributing writer for five anthologies. I discover that the more transparent I am, the more opportunities come.

Every writer seems to have a unique path to publishing. 

Mine was an emotional breakdown.

I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, but it's my story.

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