Category: Why Publish?

Scattering Books Like Seeds

In my mind, a publisher distributing books is like a farmer broadcasting seeds. We send them out in every direction, hoping they fall on ready, canstockphoto2973557-sowerprepared soil that will receive the message and take it to heart.

This wintry time of year, seeds lie dormant in the ground waiting, sealed. When days grow longer and warmer, the seeds will awaken, sprout and eventually produce leaves and fruit.

Same with books. You may buy a book or be given one, but the season of your life isn’t right yet. The book sits on a shelf, or under a pile of other volumes—or a list of Kindle files—you plan to read sometime. Then one day you pick it up, or click it open, and start reading; and you marvel that these words are exactly what you need at this time of your life.

Casting/sowing seeds or books takes faith. A Christian publisher must believe that these books, which contain kernels of life-giving truth, will be carried by the Wind of the Holy Spirit. And when prepared personal soil opens to them, we pray that their message will be watered by the Living Water. The resulting fruit will be minds and hearts growing and encouraged to flourish in hope, wholeness, spiritual insights, and joy.

So I choose the mindset of an under-gardener. My Father is the Gardener. By his grace I’ll do my part. His is the overall plan, purpose and power. The resulting fruit cannot be fully seen or measured this side of Heaven.

Then, how can we fail? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must lick my finger and hold it to the wind.

Books Showing Up in Every Corner of the World

Map-with-pins

As a publisher of Christian books I love to hear stories of how our titles have found their way into every corner of the world and into the hands of readers. I occasionally hear from authors with stories like the following.

From Judy Pex, author of Walk the Land : A Journey on Foot through Israel :

“Last night in the Shelter an ultra-orthodox [Jewish] man — with a long beard and dressed in black — about our age checked in and wanted to talk to John and me about the Israel Trail. He was not in the usual age category of hikers who stay at our shelter, and it is unusual to find an ultra-orthodox walking the Trail. He’s from England, and turns out he already read Walk The Land in English and even quoted bits of it. Now he plans to walk the Trail for a few days and had some specific questions about water, sleeping, etc. After talking for about 45 minutes, John asked him what he thought about the spiritual parts of the book. He answered diplomatically that we had our differences. But it was an interesting conversation and contact.”

From Susan Jenkins, author of Scandalon:

“An old friend back in high school found me on Facebook and we got together for coffee. She told me that she was attending a women’s conference in Texas a couple of years ago and Scandalon was offered as one of the books to buy. She bought it and then realized that it was me who wrote it. As it turns out, she told me that her parents didn’t allow her to attend church back in high school, but she came to my dad’s church once with her next-door neighbor. As a result of that service she became a Christian. A few years later, she married a pastor and has been a pastor’s wife for decades.

“The second story is from one of my former students in southern China, Muti. Muti wrote me recently and told me he was walking along a street in Hong Kong, and on a shelf outside a bookstore was Scandalon. He talked with the bookstore owner and she told him she liked the book because of the stories about China. So, of course, he bought a copy.”

Whether they find their way to Texas, Hong Kong, England, or Israel – What a joy and privilege to publish books that honor the Lord, Jesus Christ!

Boutique Publisher

Boutique

I received an email from someone who casually commented that Cladach is a “boutique publisher.” That struck me as a fitting descriptor of what we hope to offer to our authors, customers and readers.

What does the word “boutique” bring to your mind?

These words come to my mind: Unique, Hand-picked, Entrepreneurial, Personal, Artsy.

In my mind I picture many of the shops I’ve walked into while sightseeing and browsing in charming, coastal and mountain towns. These places offer something that WalMart, as predictable and cheap as it may be, can’t. As you step in the welcoming entrance, all the senses are soon pleased. You breathe the aroma of potpourri, and you’re enticed by complimentary samples of coffee, herbal tea, or truffles. Beautiful music plays unobtrusively in the background. Color, artfully arranged merchandise draws your eye and causes you to “oooh” and “ahhhhh.” You feel a sense of appreciation for the evident care that went into selecting the articles of clothing, gift items, handmade pottery, and other specialty items. You assume this boutique shop is an expression of the owner’s taste, and if you find their style appealing, you have a sense that you can trust their choices of items offered. You may think, “I’m glad I could experience this place! I want to take something home with me to remember my stop in this little town,” or perhaps, “I want to buy something to take back to my friend or family member, just to share a bit of this experience with them.” You may find the items offered so unique that you feel you must buy something, because you may regret it later when you are unable to find this particular, pleasing item again. The shop owner, who may even live upstairs, engages you in conversation. When you complete your purchase and walk back out onto the sidewalk with a custom-printed bag in tow, you have a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

Cladach is a boutique publisher in the sense that we want to offer an alternative to over-hyped, mass-produced, predictable books that cram the catalogs and warehouses of huge publishing conglomerates. We are picky and look for style that is artful, content that is meaningful and might give you an experience outside the box. We can offer ingenious, personal, one-of-a-kind books by authors both “down home” local and fascinatingly cosmopolitan. We can try new trends without being faddish. Quality matters to us and reflects our personal convictions. We hope our books give you an opportunity to step off the trafficky, noisy street and breathe deeply of heavenly scents; taste morsels of truth, goodness, and beauty; and give you the experience of delightful, soul-lifting discoveries.

A Christian Writer’s “Wildly Unbalanced Life”

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I hear writers bemoan the demands and distractions in their days (including technology) and how hard it is for them to achieve balance in their lives. Perhaps you’ve felt that, too. You’re working at the computer and think you’ll just check Facebook for a few minutes. An hour later, you wonder where the time went. Or you hear the musical tone that tells you new emails or text messages have arrived on your cell phone. You were just about to focus in on the theme of a blog post you’re preparing to write. You touch your phone screen, read the text and one thing leads to another. Let’s see, where did that inspiration, that thought, that focus go?
Not to mention the many “oughts” that press constantly upon your consciousness: I ought to read more, pray more, call so-in-so, go shopping, attend those meetings, deep clean my house/office, sort through papers, watch those recommended movies, re-decorate my house, exercise more … while tweeting, blogging, posting, submitting copy to editors.
So, how do we achieve “balance”?
Or, is that even the right question?
I got help on this issue a few days ago when I attended the “Writers on the Rock” Christian writers conference in Lakewood, Colorado, as a workshop presenter. Happily, I had opportunity to go to a session taught by Allen Arnold of Ransomed Heart Ministries. “Balance isn’t the key,” he told us. “God wants us to write—not for him or about him—but with him. This leads to a wildly unbalanced life. Let other things fall away.”
Demonstrating his teaching, Allen presented a creative, God-breathed message that brought clarity to my mind and both piercing and encouragement to my heart. In fact, the heart was his theme.
“Infuse Your Creativity with Heart” was his topic. “Nothing great was ever achieved without great heart,” stated the workshop blurb in the conference program. “Yet writers often become disheartened, discouraged or overwhelmed” (that’s where I started this post, remember?) “and when they do, their stories slowly begin to die.” Allen’s workshop promised to tell us “how to discover the truer you, consecrate your creativity, and feast on hidden Spiritual Manna.” He delivered on that promise.
A tall man with a joyful smile and eyes that seem ready to laugh with you or cry with you according to your need and the Lord’s leading, he said, “God cares far more about the story you’re living than the story you’re writing. Live well. Then write well.”
Does living well mean keeping up with everything the world, and even the church, often tells us we should keep on top of and keep “in balance?”
“You can’t write a better story than you’re living,” Allen Arnold states. “Nothing is more important than how a story was born—what your heart is like at the time of writing. … Get in touch with the truer you. Remember you and your story have an enemy. … Your writing changes when it becomes about presence over productivity.”
If writing and connecting with readers to encourage them, lift their sights to Jesus, come alongside them, instruct them in the living Word, bring them hope through a well-told story, is what gives you life … then this may be what the Lord is calling you to do; and to live out this calling, you will have to let some other things fall away.
Tend to your heart. Then write and connect and live a “wildly unbalanced life” in—and flowing out from—the presence of Jesus.

Attempting the Impossible

Cyclist-on-Boulders

We shivered in ski jackets on the beach in January. With my son David and his family, I was walking a stretch of Long Island Sound. A shrub-lined, curving trail took us over a hill and down upon a tumble of boulders, where we met an unexpected sight: a fit young man bouncing his seat-less bike from one precarious, rocky perch to another. He was focused, concentrating, balanced in spite of what seemed insurmountable odds. He worked silently to the music of the wind, lapping waves, laughter of children, and calls of gulls.

David continued up the trail with binoculars, intent on birding. The children explored shells and driftwood. My daughter-in-law, Hannah, and I stood watching the cyclist.

He hopped off his bike and looked our way. Hannah called to him, “Are you training for something?”

“To be a better man!” he answered without hesitation.

Taken aback briefly, Hannah blinked then said, “God bless you!”

“I’m a stuntman,” he explained. “Just came out here to practice.”

Hannah and I enjoyed the show a few moments longer then hurried to catch up with the family. But the image of someone doing with apparent ease and grace something that to me seems impossible, has stayed with me.

Like my grandchildren, since childhood I’ve loved exploring beaches, forests, rivers and meadows. In those places my imagination soared. If I had a book with me, all the better. Good stories opened a world of possibilities. Early I dreamed of writing a book myself. But in my child mind it seemed impossible. How could anyone choose and balance and fit together so perfectly that many words, to make characters and places come alive, to create meaning so believable and absorbing? To me such a process held as much mystery as the thought of God creating the flowers in the meadow and the fish in the creek. But he did. And people do make up stories and write books.

I found out later in life, just as the stuntman on the boulders had no doubt learned, that such talent and achievement requires diligence, work, and passion.

Sixteen years ago, as I prepared my first book for publication, I felt as if I was trying to balance two narrow wheels on steep, slippery boulders, and I felt dizzy and inadequate. One night, as deadlines approached, I cried to my husband, “I can’t do it! This is too hard.” He just hugged me and silently prayed for me.

The next morning I woke with new courage. The book came to be and has found readers—opening windows of possibilities to those readers—around the world.

The stuntman probably started bouncing his bike on the pebbly beach and the uneven, rocky trail before he mounted boulders. If you have the passion and the vision, then the way of carrying out that vision will come clear. Maybe not all at once or as easily and quickly as you would like; but the path will open to you and the grace will come, as you practice, learn, and keep trying.

Along the way you will have the opportunity to pursue an even greater purpose. Like the stuntman on the beach, you can say, “Yes, I’m in training—to be a better person.”

Holding Out Jesus

Chapel in Brittany

The Chapel we visited in Brittany

A few years ago my husband and son and I were traveling through several regions of France. We spent one night in a farm house on the edge of a misty, green village of Brittany. We had walked through grand cathedrals in large cities. But here our host gave us the opportunity for a private tour of a small, rustic local chapel.

A diminutive, sweatered Breton woman took us into the dimly-lit chapel. She explained in detail the colorful stained-glass windows made in centuries past by artisans from Italy, Spain, and Germany. (Our son spoke French, and so through him we could understand and communicate with our guide.) Each window told a story from the Bible and church history for the country parishioners who, in olden days, could not read the scriptures for themselves.

You could tell the historic chapel — still very much in use today — was built by Breton ship builders, our guide explained as we walked down the narrow nave, because the ceiling was curved and ribbed like the hull of a ship. Traditional craftsmanship also showed in the wooden carvings — displayed high above the chancel — representing the Trinity and each of the apostles.

Inside a village chapel in Brittany

Inside the village chapel we visited in Brittany

Surrounded by such reverential art, my eyes were drawn again and again to one particular piece — a wooden carving of “God the Father.” How had the artisans captured such a look of love, such a demeanor of all-power, all-knowing, undauntable gladness? He was depicted sitting on his throne. His arms were outstretched and holding in front of him Jesus, also carved in wood, but in a smaller scale.

The devout Breton woodcarvers depicted the Father holding Jesus out to the world, offering the supreme Gift. I could almost hear the voice from Heaven say, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased” (Matthew 3:17).

Truly, God offers us his Christ to become our savior, our sacrificial lamb, our friend, our example, our victory, our hope, our way to eternal life.

We receive him. He changes us. And we begin to ask, “What should we do about a lost and dying world?”

The Father answers, “Show them Jesus. Hold him out for the world to see.”

Who is this Jesus we are to show the world? He’s not a statue for us to display. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15, NRSV). He came to earth as a helpless baby, lived an earthly life, and suffered death for us in order to give us the gift of his life, his Spirit, his indwelling presence.

“He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:18-20, NRSV).

I pray, “Father, fill us with your love, your power and your joy that we may hold Jesus out to a needy world through our faith, our words, and our actions.”

And that must be the underlying reason we publish books and hold them out to the world. To show them Jesus.

Running the Race ~ Writing for the Lord

A line-up of Cladach authors

Cladach’s Talented and Dedicated Authors

What makes a good author?

A good author is someone who has a burning desire to communicate through written expression, will pay the price to learn the craft of writing, will apply themselves to the process of writing, and will always keep their readers in mind. A good Christian writer loves the Lord, loves words, and loves people.

They can clearly answer the reporter’s questions:

Who: They know for Whom and to whom they are writing.

What: They have a clear focus and plan for what they are writing.

Where: They have a place to write and regularly “apply the seat of their pants to the seat of the chair” with pencil in hand or hands on keyboard.

When: They have a regular time to write and also have learned to snatch the moments and ideas as they come.

Why: They know why they are writing. A writer’s motives may vary: money (dream on), fame (rare and elusive), satisfaction, to scratch the itch (they can’t not write),…  Or, they relate to what the Olympic runner, Eric Liddell ‘s character said in Chariots of Fire: “God made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.”

If God has truly gifted these writers to write for Him, then their writings will give pleasure to readers also. From their writings readers will gain inspiration, courage, hope, understanding, insight, help.

These Christian writers have taken to heart Hebrews 12:1-2.

What does CLADACH mean, anyway?

Cladach ~  Kla’ dak ~ Scottish Gaelic for “shore,” as in “seashore.”

“Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore.” ~ John 21:4

The Lord sends us forth on life’s sea to venture for him, then welcomes us to the safety of his shore; and always he is with us.

Meeting Authors at Colorado Christian Writers Conference

A mountain view at YMCA of the Rockies during CCWC

This week, Thursday through Saturday, we (my husband and I) will be present at Colorado Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park, Colorado. We look forward to this event—just an hour’s drive from our publishing office. I will be wearing my Acquisitions Editor “hat” hat-3as I meet with prospective authors and consider their queries/proposals. I enjoy meeting writers and hearing their stories, each one unique and usually heartfelt and sometimes downright inspired.

While I visit with each writer in 15-minute appointments during those three days high in the Rockies, I will also be trying to listen to a still, small voice, silently asking Him to give me wisdom, discernment, and guidance, to help me really hear the heart as well as the mind of each person who has poured out their insights, experiences and passions on paper.

One author I met last year at CCWC – Jimmie Kepler

We have found six of our authors at this conference: Donna Westover Gallup, Kyleen Stevenson-Braxton, Gayle M. Irwin, Loritta Slayton, Templa Melnick, and Marilyn Wentz.

Will this week see another name added to the list?

 

 

 

Easter is the Reason

Easter (that is, Jesus’ resurrection) is the whole reason why I …

  • have hope in the future.
  • find prayer, praise, and song rising from within me.
  • must also die (to self) but can also truly live.
  • desire to tell others about the empty tomb.
  • have something worth telling/writing about.
  • want to publish the Good News!
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