Recently my phone chimed with a message from a friend. It was one sentence: “Why did you write a book?” Such a seemingly simple question, but I thought about it all day before answering. There are so many reasons I wrote my first book, and few of them are simple to explain. I loved to read from a very young age, and loving books led me to want to be an author. That one’s pretty easy. But the whys of writing this particular book get more complicated. Continue reading ““Why Did You Write a Book?””
Writing a book is hard. I started one in 2009, and finished it five years later. Getting a book published is very hard. My first one was published last year, and it was very exciting. Selling published books is really, really hard. Every day I have to fight the fear that I’m a failure as an author because we haven’t sold out our first printing in a year. Every time I open the trunk of my car, I see a box of unsold books, taunting me. There are reasons not to lose hope, I remind myself. My publisher forwarded me a newsletter from Bibliocrunch that mentioned industry averages, so I could see that my first year sales are almost exactly what the average author can expect. I remind myself all the time that the people who have read my book, though fewer in number than I’d like, have loved it. And they want more. Continue reading “Confessions of a Frustrated Author”
Some of my favorite reviews of my book are from readers who perhaps stumbled onto it or didn’t expect to enjoy it. The latest one on Amazon (where you can buy the Kindle version only; the paperback version is available here) is one of the best so far. It’s from a nurse with the screen name london68, who headlined it, “A must read for those who work in the healthcare setting.” How’s that for a recommendation?! The reviewer writes: Continue reading ““A Must Read for Those Who Work in the Healthcare Setting””
I’m excited for the arrival of September. It will bring with it slightly cooler temperatures in Charleston, less crowded days on the beach, Clemson football game weekends with my boyfriend, and the debut of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Ever since the final episode of The Colbert Report, I’ve been eagerly anticipating the host’s return to television. (And this very insightful interview in GQ only made me a bigger fan.) In preparation for his new show, Colbert has been doing a Late Show podcast, and I found the latest episode more interesting and relatable than any other so far. By the end I was thinking, Stephen Colbert is just like me! Continue reading “If It’s Good Enough for Stephen Colbert, It’s Good Enough for Me”
In just a few days, I’ll be leaving home and heading home. It might sound confusing. Charleston, South Carolina is the place I have lived for more than seven years now — longer than I’ve lived anywhere else in my adult life. I love it here. I have a job and a church family and a house and a dog and neighbors and friends, and I love them all. This is home. And this weekend, I’ll drive back to the place I called home for the first half of my life – Harlan, Kentucky.
Harlan is a special place. There are numerous Bluegrass songs about my hometown (like You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive), a National Geographic Channel reality show, an Oscar-winning documentary, and the recent FX series Justified (which definitely offered a more drama-filled version of the town than real life). But for me none of that matters as much as the history I have there. Continue reading “Where I Come From and Where I’m Going”
June 5th is my birthday. A lot has happened since the last time I celebrated another year of life. There have been some challenging moments, to be sure. I continue learning how to navigate through episodes of depression and anxiety attacks. I’ve experienced disappointments both personal and professional. But as I look back on the last year, the positives far outnumber the negatives. I think it’s safe to say that 37 really has been one of my best years yet! Continue reading “37 in Pictures”
In its first month in paperback, my book Being Called Chaplain sold over 100 copies! I continue to get messages from readers who find something in the story that touches them personally. As I was reminded in church this second week of Easter, when we always hear the story of the apostle Thomas, doubt is an integral part of faith. My pastor quoted Frederick Buechner (one of my favorite authors) who said that doubt is “the ants in the pants of faith.” That seems to be the element of my story that most resonates with readers. One handwritten letter I received recently expressed it this way: Continue reading “A Pretty Good Month”
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”
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!
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”