Writers can be naïve. At least once a week, I see a post in a writers’ Facebook group from someone who just finished writing their first book. Now they want their fellow writers to share the secret to getting everyone in the world to buy their book. “What do I need to do next?” they ask. “Oh, so, so much,” is my answer.
Writing a book is hard. Marketing it is harder. One thing we writers forget is that not everyone is interested in the same topics we are. And people who are interested in the same topics may not agree with our treatment of the topic, our conclusions, or even our facts. I found this out the hard way over 15 years ago.
The first book I wrote and published was a historical fiction novel with some fantasy and romance thrown in. I had fun writing it, and I think it turned out pretty well, but I was struck with the idea that maybe I could use any writing talent I had to share my faith instead. That was 20 years ago.
The second book I wrote and published was non-fiction. For years, I had wrestled with questions about the connection between our Christian faith and our public duty in a democratic society like the United States. I didn’t fully agree with the position some Christians were taking in the “culture wars.” As a former attorney, I thought I could make a reasonable argument to help Christian rethink their role as Christian Americans based on what the Bible says about living out our faith.
One publisher looked at the book but eventually rejected it. Every other publishing house and literary agent I reached out to turned me down. “This book won’t sell,” they said. It turns out, they were right. Eventually, in 2005, I had the book published through a Christian self-publishing company. We marketed it to Christian bookstores. I marketed it online. It didn’t sell. And I was beginning to realize why.
I was naïve. Not just as a writer, but as a Christian. I thought most Christians believed in the same fundamentals of the gospel that I believed in. And I thought those shared beliefs would provide a common ground for us to discuss how we should view our culture and our role in it. I was wrong on both points. It turned out that the position I took in my book was a lot more controversial than I imagined.
For my next book, I stayed on safer grounds and wrote a Bible study on the Armor of God. This one sold a little better, but I was still an unknown author with no credentials and no reputation as a teacher of God’s word. So, I went back to school to get a master’s degree in biblical studies to add to what I had learned over a lifetime as a church-going, Bible-reading Christian.
By the time I graduated, I was no longer naïve. I understand now that there are different ways Christians view the big story of what God is doing in our world and how we are supposed to live as Christians. Not only do sincere Bible-believing Christians disagree about how to interpret the Bible, there are people who call themselves Christians and evangelicals who have very limited understanding of what the Bible teaches. I’m no longer surprised that my idea of living a Christian life is radically different than many others.
My fourth book was born out of these realizations. Finding Your Part in God’s Master Story, which releases on August 31, helps Christians examine their personal worldview to make sure the beliefs they hold are consistent, comprehensive, and—most of all—biblical.
We won’t all agree on every question of Christian faith or how to live out that faith in our culture. But if we all tried harder to seek God’s answers instead of settling for what’s easy, comfortable, or popular, wouldn’t that be an amazing thing!
I’ve been focusing my attention on promoting my new book, but recently I was asked to give an interview about my first non-fiction book. I wasn’t planning on calling attention to that somewhat controversial book at this point in my writing career. I would prefer to shine the light on my new book instead. But God opened a door, and I walked through it.
Today, the Kingdom Culture Conversations podcast aired the first of a two-part interview about my book, Separate for a Reason.
Part One of the interview provides some background information about me and a tease about the book. Part Two airs tomorrow. I hope you will listen to both parts of the interview and come away with a determination to think deeply about how you are living out your faith in your culture. We might not agree on how to do that, but if we’re putting God’s desires ahead of our own we’ll get to the right place eventually.
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Stories are a metaphor for life. That's a deep way of saying we can learn life lessons from stories we read or watch on stage or on big or small screens. When viewed through a Christian worldview, even secular films and books can tell us something about our Christian walk. Here you will find a collection of blog posts with lessons I have learned from stories. I hope you enjoy them!