Why I Write

My first book has been out in the world (at least electronically) for a little over a week now. It hasn’t made The New York Times bestseller list, or been chosen for Oprah’s Book Club. I guess some dreams (or delusions of grandeur!) I’ll have to let go. But a dream that is in many ways far superior has come true. When I first decided to actually try to get my story published, my hope and prayer was that I could do for someone else what other writers have done for me. At different times, the words of Margery Williams, Phillip Yancey, Anne Lamott, Lauren Winner, Frederick Buechner, Marcus Borg, Barbara Brown Taylor, Madeleine L’Engle, Brian McLaren, John Claypool, and other authors have literally saved my life, at least my spiritual one. God used their words to patch holes in my faith, to keep me going while I healed instead of lying down and giving up (like I sometimes wanted to do). There was such power in reading exactly what I needed at exactly the moment I needed it, of feeling that this person I had never met had reached through the page to touch my very soul and let me know I was not alone. If being an author meant the chance to do that for someone else, I thought, it might just be worth all the hard work and stress and rejection that it takes to finally get a book published. Continue reading “Why I Write”

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K is for Kids

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(This post is part of my ongoing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

Working closely with children is one of the best and worst parts of my job. Sometimes it means I get to hold a new baby and speak a blessing over her, as I did with my friends’ daughter, Elli, in the above photo. It means playing Legos with the kid whose mom is working one of her three jobs and who just wants some company while he recovers from another round of chemotherapy. It means talking to the very tall 12-year-old boy in the emergency room in a way that lets him know I understand he’s still a kid, and that it’s okay to be scared or to cry. I love being with kids in those moments. Continue reading “K is for Kids”

An Author at Last

My very first book, Being Called Chaplain: How I Lost My Name and (Eventually) Found My Faith is now available on Amazon for Kindle! This is a red-letter day for me. I can’t even describe how excited I am. You can read the first two chapters for free by clicking Look Inside. I hope that you will then want to read the whole book and post reviews, and spread the word to your friends if you enjoy it! For those waiting for the print version, pre-order will be available soon, and it should be printed in just a few weeks. If you need me, I’ll be over here doing my happy dance!

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Writing Blindly and Remembering DEG

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This is the dedication page of my new book, Being Called Chaplain: How I Lost My Name and (Eventually) Found My Faith. It was an easy decision whose names should go on that page. I wish I could tell you about Sam. God, I loved Sam. But because I met Sam through my work at the hospital, confidentiality has to be protected. DEG, on the other hand, I can tell you a lot about him. He is never far from my thoughts, and today especially, he’s on my mind and in my heart. Dr. Daniel E. Goodman, my friend and divinity school professor, died on January 13, 2009, six years ago today. Continue reading “Writing Blindly and Remembering DEG”

On Not Hiring a Butt Double

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As hard as it is to believe, tomorrow will be the electronic release of my first book, Being Called Chaplain: How I Lost My Name and (Eventually) Found My FaithAt least I hope it will. There are still a few things to iron out. This publishing a book thing is nerve-racking stuff. And maybe the most stressful part of it for me has been getting the cover just right. I know everyone says, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but we still do, don’t we? I wanted a cover that would make people want to know what’s inside this book, that would make them pick it up off a shelf or a sales table or click it on Amazon. It wasn’t my choice to put me on the cover. Let’s be honest, I don’t really have a look that sells books. Continue reading “On Not Hiring a Butt Double”

An Epiphany Miracle (of Sorts)

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We’re now two days away from the electronic release of Being Called Chaplain: How I Lost My Name and (Eventually) Found My Faith. In another post (which I am still trying to recover from the internet abyss), I explained how I ended up publishing with Harrelson Press and how smoothly everything was going, right up until the last minute. This is the rest of that story. My editor, Merianna, and I set a timeline for publication. We wanted to release the ebook in January and the print version in March. Merianna suggested Epiphany as a good and theologically interesting date for the ebook launch. She began formatting the book for 6×8 pages and quickly realized that, even after my initial edits, it was still way too long. Even when she changed to 6×9 formatting, we were looking at a book the length of a historical epic or late entry in the Harry Potter series — far too lengthy for the spiritual memoir genre for which we were aiming. Mere days before Epiphany, she emailed me the sad news that there was just no way we could print the complete book in this form. I was devastated. Continue reading “An Epiphany Miracle (of Sorts)”

Being Called Author

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We are just four days away from the ebook publication of Being Called Chaplain: How I Lost My Name and (Eventually) Found My Faith, my very first book! This is a dream come true for me, and a process six years in the making. I still remember the day, just a few months after moving to the Charleston area, that I was walking the Ravenel Bridge with my friend Anita and I told her, “I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I just don’t know what I’d write about!” The next year or so was a case of “be careful what you wish for,” as I got enough material for two books, at least. Continue reading “Being Called Author”

J is for Journaling

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(This post is part of my ongoing series ABCs of Hospital Chaplaincy.)

I have stacks and stacks of old journals at home. The earliest one goes back to when I was eight years old. I was never one of those people who writes every day, unless something really special was happening – a trip overseas I wanted to remember in detail, a new medication the doctor asked me to monitor my response to over the first few weeks. Most of the time, I wrote when I needed to write, no more, no less. There were times when it was a fire in the bones, when I could agree with the quote from Charlotte Brontë on the cover of my journal above: “I’m just going to write; I cannot help it.” Continue reading “J is for Journaling”