Category Archives: Books

5 Reasons I Don’t Read (Christian) Chick Books

Data on this blog reports that married men, ages 25-35, with children are the biggest frequenters of this blog. I’m really flattered.

It’s a throwback to being picked by the neighbor boys to be quarterback for both teams during the zenith of my football prowess, ages 9-11. I guess they just trusted my skills. (Or, maybe I was bad at tackling.)

It seems I don’t write like a chick. A Lady. Or what have you.

BUT! I KNOW I don’t seem to read like one.

Case in Point:

I’d love to be involved with the women’s book club at my church. I love books and the discussions that ensue. I put one together for Blue Like Jazz. 3 people came, including me. One of them was a friend I drove to it, because I begged her to come at the last minute. She hadn’t even read the book.

The truth is, in general, I like the richness of mixed gender book clubs, and I like to hear various perspectives (unless it devolves into gender battles and insults, like Sunday School this past week. ACK! The men were PENT UP. Arrows were flying!) Plus, I think, this gender war stuff gets old, fast. Hello, John and Stasi Eldridge, can you hear me? Um. You’re causing infighting. It’s the truth.)

But for the exception of the wonderful Brother Lawrence’s Practicing the Presence of God, that came up at book club, it’s been just a slew of girly books. I just cannot stop my gag reflex long enough to muddle through something Pioneer or Amish related. I can’t stomach “historical fiction/dreamy (and yet Christian-safe–in-all-the-right-spots) romance–with–a–God-twist”. This dominates our book club. Completely.

Thanks to a reader’s helpful link, you’ll find a really fascinating rendering of this issue here (Newsweek article).

(Bear in mind that my area can’t support a Walden’s Book store in the mall (which shut down a number of years ago) let alone something mainstream like a Boarders. Something like that is 31 miles away. And a cozy and bookish sole proprietorship? HAA! NEVER. So, it could be the situation that I’m just a fish out of water around here.)

So, in a measure of self-soothing, I’ve come up with a quick list-

5 Reasons I Don’t Read (Christian) Chick Books

1. I don’t care about reading gooey, implausible stories about the Amish. I live near the Amish. You know what? They aren’t that interesting.(Basically, they just dress weirdly, frequent “dent and scratch” bargain grocery stores, and have gaggles of children.)

2. I like history, and I like (good) fiction. But, it always seems like the category so-called “Women’s Christian Historical Fiction” is just a mash up that’s two levels closer to crap than anything else.

I feel insulted by everything from the predictable plot-lines, to the saccharine Christian-evangelism tactics that snake through like, well, “like a string of pearls snaking between ample bosoms”.

3. Since I’m not a big fan of the macho man/Christian book market, I can’t start getting aligned to closely with mushy, girly books. It’ll trash my street cred. (Guilt by association, obviously.)

4. If it makes a guy wince to see a chick book, it makes me wince. I just don’t like feeling I should defend my gender for enjoying overly sentimental tripe, that often sacrifices intellectual integrity for dramatic episodes that involve a high- stakes rescue, or a whore-come-home riff. Call me silly.

5. These books all seem to severely lack in the sense of humor department. This. is. not. okay. This is perhaps the biggest reason I just can’t do it. I need more. I want to be challenged. I want to laugh and cry, but not because “his heart has been too scarred to let her love in, despite their undeniable attraction…but he unknowingly gave himself a milk mustache on his curvaceous and stubbly upper lip, and her heart skipped a beat.” (You get the idea.)

If you are a fan of these books (or a writer of them, or an agent of them (like Chip MacGregor, my agent)), I apologize for being so brash. I’m not trying to be a guy about it.


It’s just my opinion that these books are for women what the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show holiday tv special is for men. They offer something superficial, that aims to scratch an itch, but ends up inflaming the whole thing. Less, not more, is the remedy, but no one wants to give it up.

victoria's secret fashion show 2010

Image by cattias.photos via Flickr

I realize writing this will mean I’ll never get a Christmas card from:

For a long list of these books, click here. If you start to feel ill, even at the sheer multitude, I wanna hear from you.

Here’s the surprise ending:
If any of these authors will have me over for dinner, and try to change my mind, I will indulge that. (In stereotypical male form, you may get to me through my stomach. And that’s a chance I’m willing to take, especially if there is PA German Apple crumb pie involved.)

What do you think about this genre?
Are you a woman who gets embarrassed by what’s available in the “Women’s genre”?


Ladies, if you like these books, have your say.


And guys, what’s your take on any of this? (If you were given $20, would you read a “bonnet ripper” and contribute at a book discussion? Or would you just break out in hives?)

7 Reasons Why my Blog will make you cry LESS than Jon Acuff’s blog

I’ve known Jon Acuff for few years now. We have the same agent. And he’s even given me an invitation to write on his blog. (Here’s the post). I was a fan of Stuff Christians Like long before Jon wrote his first book, called, well, surprisingly Stuff Christian Like. And even long before he was selling ads to….what?! NBC… (what the heck? wow. whoa. Jon Jon, way to go.) Oh! and even way back (sort of ) when he was using his spy name “Jon Christopher”… seemingly to throw weaker fans off his scent.

This is all to say that this post isn’t to actually rival Jon’s awesomeness, or his blog. (Jon gets more views in two minutes than I get all week.)

In fact, I’ll tell you outright that Jon’s new book called Gazelles, Baby Steps, and 37 Other Things Dave Ramsey Taught Me About Debt promises to be awesome. And Jon delivers in a way that could compete with Octomom. Delivers.

Is this a “coattails post”… like something written to ride on another writer’s popularity and winsome humor to get more readers? Of course. [And frankly, I’d be surprised if you’d need me to ask such an obvious rhetorical question. Will I always ask rhetorical questions?]

Anyway: I highly recommend you order Jon’s book for a loved one for the holidays. It makes a great gift. A limited time special here will give it to you for only $10. Laugh, Learn about Money, and Linger on the comedic stylings of Jon Acuff.

If you’re a Jon Acuff fan, you already know all these things, and I hope you’ve stayed with me. We all must be on the same page. You know this. I know this. Jon knows this. We’re a fan club, er…  family, er…community…team. So we have to move like one. As. one.

7 Reasons Why my Blog will make you cry LESS than Jon Acuff’s blog

Jon Acuff: Funny man. Serious man. Modern Legend.

 

 

1. Unlike Jon, I only rarely talk about orphans. Right now, I’m tearing up just thinking about a person (Jon) writing about orphans. So this has to be true. You need more proof, then click here. Orphans break out the water works like nothing else can. The only thing worse for your tissue stock pile is an orphan with cancer. That cute bald head. The sweet bloated belly. Horrible stuff. I’m changing the subject. ugh.

2. Jon can make plenty of us cry, just by being a tad more serious, on Serious Wednesdays. That’s skill folks. I’ll never do that to you. It just not in me. (I mean I don’t haz the skillz) For future notice, I happen to be sillier on Wednesday than Jon is, thereby making my ability to incite tears pale by comparison.

3. Jon writes touching things about his kids, that are profound and can make your eyes as moist and irritated as rubbing a hot chili pepper on your iris. Go ahead get a chili pepper and see for yourself.

4. Jon raises money for orphans. Frickin’ orphans, dude. If that’s not so sweet to be tear jerking, than you must be the Tin Man–pre-Emerald City–my friend.

5. When Jon cries, we cry. More proof here. Don’t miss the comments section. About 400 people admit to crying. Unbelievable. I never cried in an airport except when I’ve been with a TSA.

6. Jon loves his wife, and it shows. Witness this. Honestly, where the heck are my tissues? (I don’t know if people even know if I’m married-which I am. There I said it.)

7. Jon is generous. He’s always helping out struggling writers, ahem, and plenty of other people. Plenty. It’s almost too good to be true. (I have NEVER given iPads, or shuffles, or really any Apple products at all. I’m so lame, but unfortunately not lame enough to stir your tears of pity.)

Have I made my case?

(If you enjoyed this post, please come back soon, or click the “update button” for … you guessed it–post updates. Thanks.) 🙂

P.S.
If you are a blogger that offers fewer crying opportunities than Jon does, tell us your blog, and we’ll stop by.

Mystically Wired: A book review

A book to change the way you see God and communicate with him.

Thomas Nelson Publishing, through their poorly-named, BookSneeze I review for BookSneeze initiative, sent me Ken Wilson’s book Mystically Wired: Exploring New Realms in Prayer.

This book promised to hit the sweet-spot of my spiritual interests, and I was not disappointed. Wilson was spot on starting out in his book that our first priority in seeking God and utilizing prayer is to pray for the desire to pray. This often overlooked first-things-first way allows us to receive from God a thirst for him (which comes via God, not us). This step invigorates our longing to communicate and be more aware of God.

Wilson gives a thoughtful and careful look at prayer, and our inherent basic need for interaction with God as Spirit shows us that we actually all pray for peace–peace of mind.

A “mystic” sense of God is not a pickled and preserved static view of a far-off Being, but an ongoing dew-kissed refreshment to our souls that adds richness to our spiritual life, our growth, meaning in life, discovery, and general renewal. It is realizing that God is great, mysterious, unfathomable, available, and quite nearby. It’s the beginning of a deep and nourishing relationship.

This way of apprehending God is a critical aspect of a walk with God. It is also a seminal part of Christian history, faith, and ongoing transformation toward holiness.

As a person who’s spent hundreds of hours studying prayer on the graduate level, and enriching my own walk with God through a rich prayer life, I can truly say, “Well done, Mr Wilson.”

Here’s the product page description from the publisher.

To read samples, find out more, or purchase it, you’ll find it here at Amazon.

A Pathway to Publishing, Interview with Ed Cyzewski

A Path to Publishing, by Ed Cyzewski, 2010

Interview with Ed Cyzewski

Author of  A Pathway to Publishing ©2010

1. At the end of each chapter you give Action steps to help a writer move toward concrete goals. Is this what you did when you wrote, or do you wish you had done it? How important is this element?

It’s some of both. Most of the action steps are based on what I have found most helpful, but a few of them come from what I have learned from other writers and publishing professionals. I’ve had some wonderful guides throughout my brief career and they helped me take the right action steps along way, though sometimes I stumbled onto what worked best for me.

Beginning writers need to take themselves and their work seriously, and the best way forward is to take action. Whether it’s something as simple as reading the latest edition of a writing magazine (such as Poets & Writers, Writer’s Digest, or The Writer) or jotting down ideas for books and magazine articles, we all need to start somewhere.

2.      Which part of the publishing process is a beginner most likely to overlook?

I think there are two things beginners can overlook. The obvious one is the degree to which writers must be able to market their work on their own, but the more subtle one is learning how to write a book that is both true to their vision for it and suited to a specific audience. I believe that getting into the heads of readers is one of the most challenging and important aspects of writing. There are a lot of writers who labor over manuscripts that will not connect with readers because they aren’t asking the questions that readers will be asking. I have made this mistake far too often myself.

3.    From the start of your book, you tell readers to prepare for rejection. Aren’t you afraid you’ll scare them off?

I used to work at an art gallery, and I was in charge of the volunteers who returned work to artists after it was rejected by a jury. About a quarter of them acted surprised, outraged, and suspicious that their work was rejected. I’ve always thought they shouldn’t submit their work unless they are prepared to see it rejected, and that’s how I feel about writing. Publishing hopefuls should not try this unless they are prepared for editors to say “no,” reviewers to say “not quite,” and readers to say, “That book’s not worthy my $15.”

Handling rejection is a necessary and ordinary part of the business for every writer. Even Christian literary legend Fred Buechner shared at an event last year that his regular publisher rejected his latest book proposal. It never ends, but it does become easier to deal with. In addition, if you can keep the big picture of your writing career (and/or ministry) in view, then a few measly rejection letters aren’t too big of a setback. For a bit more about dealing with rejection, I have a series on it at www.edcyz.com.

4.      Do writers really need literary agents in order to succeed?

Agents aren’t exactly required for everyone. I have a friend with a really influential blog, and he was offered a book deal based on this amazing series he posted. No agent necessary. However, for the vast majority of us hoping to secure a book deal with a major publisher, an agent is necessary. Most editors will not even look at a manuscript unless an agent sends it to them.

If you want to try publishing without an agent, keep in mind that you’ll probably make tons of mistakes, some of which may affect your bottom line, control over your material, and future works. One friend I know narrowly avoided legal trouble because of some misunderstood contract terms. I view agents as an insurance policy and as a first line of defense to make sure your proposal/manuscript is as bullet proof as possible.

5.      You mention self-publishing as an option in this book, and the book itself is self-published. This has been thought to not be a legitimate form of publishing in the past. Is that still true, and what makes a self-published book succeed?

As far as legitimacy, let’s note the three major things publishers provide: editorial/design development, distribution/marketing, and authority. Today writers can hire their own editors, designers, and publicists, while selling through online sites instead of book stores. Most nonfiction writers won’t get in the door at a publisher without a marketing platform that will enable them to sell their books anyway.

If an author can make a legitimate case for writing a book and selling it to a specific niche, then I think it has a shot as a self-published work. Many authors are publishing commercially and self-publishing, but they are doing so with an established marketing platform and a degree of authority—Cory Doctorow and Seth Godin come to mind. I have spoken with one very well known editor at a major NYC publishing house who said, off the record, that self-publishing has lost its stigma for the most part. I don’t think self-publishing in and of itself is illegitimate. Authors who skimp on editorial development, design, and building their credibility are the ones who give self-publishing a bad name.

Let’s face it, book covers with clip art and tacky fonts are a tough sell. I hired my brother-in-law (www.joelinmotion.com) who is fresh out of Savannah College of Art and Design to put my cover together. He’s not a professional book designer, but he knows how to pick fonts and colors. The small investment I made in his help made a huge difference in the quality of the book in my opinion.

Having commercially published first, I can say that self-publishing involves a ton more work since you’re doing all of the little things yourself, such as book lay out, sending out press releases, and worrying about how your book appears at online sites. Since I can’t say this self-published book is a success yet, having just released it, I can’t quite answer this question definitively. However, I think the key to success, however you publish, is to market your work until you drop and to contribute to your community of readers.

6. First time writers don’t think too much about marketing their book. You seem to speak to that issue a lot. Was this a surprise to you, and what nuggets did you learn when you published?

I was blown away by how hard it is to sell books. The most effective way to sell books is in person. I’m a big fan of blogging and all that, but when you can hand someone your book and tell its story in 30 seconds, that person will most likely buy it. The personal connections you build online may be significant and may sell books, but selling it in person is quite effective. In addition, I’m a big believer in radio and podcast interviews, as well as online videos. Anything that helps readers make a personal connection with the author will be most effective because we’re all wondering, “Do I trust this person?” Think of the best ways you can answer that question, and that’s how you need to market. Having said all of that, writers need good web sites with stellar blogs in order to stay connected with their readers.

One other nugget is to begin thinking of every personal connection that can help you book speaking events. I find it really tough to find speaking engagements where I can talk about my books, and it can be hard to land events at book stores. Start thinking about this now. If you’re going the self-publishing route, keep in mind that many book stores will not want to host a self-published author, so think up some plan B options.

7.   You offer lots of extra free goodies and resources for new writers, tell us about some.

I think most writers will benefit from the online marketing chapter that I listed online. It covers everything from setting up a web site and writing a blog to using social media. This is a good place to begin building a platform, even if your long-term goal is to integrate speaking engagements and radio/podcast spots. I also have a sample of the book available for those who aren’t convinced by my “brilliant” answers here.

There is a growing list of links at the Resource page, but a glitch in my blogging program erased about 90% of them. I’m adding them again, so keep dropping by there for suggested articles and books on publishing.

Lastly, my writing blog www.edcyz.com has a bunch of series that writers will find helpful. My latest series covers what I learned from the self-publishing process.

Thanks for hosting me on your site Lisa! Happy writing.

Ed

Have you Ever Wanted to Write a Book?

Writing a book...

Writing a book is something many of us have considered. Some of us feel a gnawing something within indicating that a book is waiting to get out. An experience needs to be shared. A story idea needs to be brought to light. A character with an adventure needs a life to come into existence on the page. A How To needs to be How Told. Somehow we are “pregnant with book,” and it’s time to do something about it.

Writing a book is one thing. Publishing it is a whole other thing. Writers MUST know a lot about publishing, but they rarely do. They fumble, stumble, and fail; and they don’t get to see their creativity come to life in print. Many writers wish that the route to getting a book published was simply mapped out in some simple form, where the pitfalls, tricks and tips were out in the open, and easy to find.

This is just why author and speaker Ed Cyzewski authored his new book A Path to Publishing: What I Learned Publishing a Nonfiction Book. He gave me a copy to read, and I know it’s going to make things much easier for people who want their books published.

A Path to Publishing -by Ed Cyzewski

In the next post, (or soon) I’ll ask Ed a few direct questions about how his book can be helpful. If you have something you’d like to ask him about his publishing experience with his book Coffeehouse Theology, or about writing or publishing, leave questions in the comment section.

Until then, enjoy a full chapter free right here.

Why the Body of Christ (people) is Inhospitable to the Disabled

Excerpt from my Book Review Paper of – “Vulnerable Communion: A Theology of Disability and Hospitality”  -by Thomas E. Reynolds

copyright Lisa Colón DeLay © 2010

Caring Stops at Fear

To put it bluntly, the problem lies in the fact that what we hate and fear is personified in a disable person. What we grieve and pity on a grander scale about human existence can be seen in the disabled. What we dread about ourselves, or how the broken world can be, takes on fleshly form, right in front of us, in the acute helplessness of the disabled one.

On a gut level, we realize at some point we too may be helpless and dependent. It seems frightening. We feel weak, inferior, and can be dreadfully aware of our imperfections. We resent being reminded of it. We also fear that grace will not abound for us in these cases. Consequently, we hope the subject does not come up, or that the disabled stay a bit out of view. Disabilities are variations of the vulnerable life that God has given us. They are too, the life he lived out, in human form. It seems a most basic dilemma of human existence is whether there is welcome when it is most needed. Can we can find a safe place to abide, and be with others who recognize us, value us, and empower us to become our best selves. We remain insecure.

Interdependence

Reynolds asserts that the Christian story is, and has been, one of strength coming from weakness, of wholeness emerging from brokenness, and of growth budding from vulnerability. This comes by the grace and almighty power of God. As able-bodied people, we underestimate our need. We admire, idolize, and pursue independence, on all levels.

In contrast, the common good is not achieved unilaterally (individually), or selfishly. The disabled understand experientially what the able-bodied can only know partially, and, by in large, theoretically: we need relationships in order to exist. As we embrace our vulnerability and mature to depend on other, we become more fully human. Weakness, in the interdependence played out as servant host and guest, gives us the privilege of reliance, vulnerability, and the opportunity to pursue abundant life together. It is part of how we develop in trust and faith.

Reynolds delves into theological issues, related to Trinitarian theology. They are discussed in terms of God and his creation, Jesus’ redemption and interaction with humanity, and the Spirit in the context of the Spirit-filled church living as a vulnerable inclusive communion in the redemptive kingdom of God.

Your comments and ideas are encouraged. Please post them.

(Nancy Eiesland) ‘The Disabled God’ -How do we define “normal”?

In reality, all of us “healthy” or “normal” people can more aptly call ourselves, “the temporarily able-bodied.”

Theologian, sociologist, and author Nancy Eiesland was wheelchair bound since childhood. She surprised many when she said she hoped to be disabled in heaven. She died at age 44 of congenital lung cancer, but not before she made huge inroads for the Rights and Dignity of the Disabled, and penned a groundbreaking book about understanding disability, and suffering, in light of God, and his nature.

Nancy Eiesland 1965-2009

Article excerpt on Eiesland from the “Scotsman” publication:

By the time of her death, Eiesland had come to believe God was disabled, a view she articulated in her influential 1994 book, The Disabled God: Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability. She pointed to the scene described in Luke 24:36-39 in which the risen Jesus invites his disciples to touch his wounds.

“In presenting his impaired body to his startled friends, the resurrected Jesus is revealed as the disabled God,” she wrote. God remains a God the disabled can identify with, she argued – he is not cured and made whole; his injury is part of him, neither a divine punishment nor an opportunity for healing. FULL ARTICLE HERE

Toward a Liberatory Theology of Disability