Tell us about the four books that are out and are coming out in 2009?
The year started off with our book “Sticks and Stones – How To Make Your Words A Powerful Force.” It’s a book that really embraces the way that I live and allows me to share what I have learned from the thousands of interviews I have done over the years. When you read this book you are pretty much reading my philosophy of life.
“Stories Behind Men Of Faith” is a companion book to one on women of faith that was released a year ago. It was a great learning experience researching the sixteen men who were placed in this book. There are some angles and stories in MOF that will surprise readers who thought they knew every facet of these men’s lives.
“Swope’s Ridge” is my second adventure novel in the Lije Evans Mystery Series. The reviews of this and the first book in this series, “Farraday Road,” have been super and I hope that this series finds a loyal audience because I want to continue to develop these characters. They are a joy to write.
“25 Days 26 Ways To Make This Year Best Christmas Ever” is my fourth book in our Christmas book series. Prepublication buzz has been very good on this and even though all the other books in this series have been bestsellers, I really think this one has the potential to bring the greatest joy to the holiday season and may ultimately have the biggest sales numbers too. It seems like a perfect book for the age we live in.
What do you have coming out in 2010?
We have a fifth Christmas book that comes out next year that centers of the stories behind the greatest hits of the season. This book will allow us to get the stories behind great sentimental favorites as well as some of the novelty songs Christmas. That book is due for a late fall release.
In the first quarter I have a neat book called “Gratitudes” that will be released by Zondervan. This book follows in the steps of “Sticks and Stones.” It presents life lessons and allows the reader to adapt a positive approach to every facet of life. This book is all about embracing the great gifts we are given that we often take for granted.
I have heard there is going to be a special coffee table edition of my “Stories Behind The Best Loved Songs Of Christmas” books that will include incredible art as well as sheet music to the carols.
Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
The inspiration comes from all around me. I take a good dose of it from my study of history, but I think most of it comes from observing people and visiting with them about their interests. If you know what folks want to read, if you know the kind of things they are curious about, then that knowledge allows you to merge ideas with practical direction. Thus it gives you a much better chance at ending up with a book that has a built in audience.
I also have a log book and if I see a story in the news, a quote, get an idea from a sermon or a speech, have someone tell me a story and even hear something in a song that sends me on a new direction, I write it down. In fact, I have book outlines in my files from twenty years ago that I am still anxious to develop and write.
How long does it take you to write a book?
That varies…if I am writing in a genre that I am very familiar with and working with an editor I know, then the process can go very quickly. The actually writing (and rewriting) time on my novel “Swope’s Ridge” was less than six weeks. Realize that does not include the prewriting time of outlining and putting together the story concept. Nonfiction books that require lots of research take much longer.
As I am usually working on a couple of different projects at the same time, and may be gathering research on one while I actually pen another, it is hard to say exactly how long each book takes. I do like to write four books a year. That keeps my in what I call “writing shape” and I stay focused that way.
What do you hope people will take away from your writing?
Working on several different things including some new directions in novels as well as a book idea that ties in with “Sticks and Stones.” I also have a couple of novels I’ve written that I hope to place with publishers this year.
I am writing an ABA novel called “Words of The Father.” This is a mystery/adventure book I can only describe as “Indiana Jones meets the Di Vinci Code.” With a mix of ancient history, theology and faith tossed in with modern terrorism and commercialism, this is a very different book and a great challenge to write. Yet I really like it and I am hoping the lead character, Harlow Burke, is just beginning his literary appearances with “Words of the Father.”
Any advice you’d like to give new writers?
It is important to fight for what you believe in, but remember an agent and your editors will see holes in your work that you don’t see. Listen to them and adapt your work using the information that give you. Nine times out of ten your final product will be much better because you included the ideas of others.
Also, remember that you never write a book alone. It is a team project. So do all you can for that team, from your agent, to your editor, to marketing, sales and publicity. If you constantly assure these team members how important they are to you, your chances of finding success will be much better.
Finally, my very bestselling book was rejected more than two dozen times over a decade before it found a home at a publisher who originally didn’t want it. So if you have a good idea, don’t give up on it.
Where can the readers find information about you and your books?
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
I have many friends in the entertainment business who are very successful, yet they all talk about the time when they almost “starved out.” What separated them from those who quit was continuing to believe their work was their calling. During these tough periods they found themselves walking on water (faith). That faith in my calling has sustained me over the years and it can sustain you as well.