Posts Tagged ‘spiritual journal’

PostHeaderIcon Writing Heavenly Father’s Day, Part 4–The E-Book Check List

One thing that’s been very interesting to me all along while writing Heavenly Father’s Day is how the Holy Spirit seems to know how to write a publishable book. (I know I shouldn’t be the least bit surprised at this because God invented everything…including writing and publishing and reader psychology.)

The first instructions the Spirit had given me were to assemble everything I had written over the last twenty years: my spiritual journal, summaries of books I had read, every sermon I had given, and any other scrap of writing I could find. This all came up before I even started researching the topic of how to write an e-book.

But one of the “rules” of e-book publishing I ran into, in multiple places, was to use what you already have. Check.

Second rule:  find a title that is a hook. If you remember, I rediscovered “Heavenly Father’s Day” in an old sermon from 2005. Check.

Third rule:  have a clearly defined message that is distinguishable from the messages of others. Check.

Fourth rule:  know who your target audience is. This would enable me to write as if I was addressing an ideal reader. Check.

Fifth rule: have a plan for how to get published: e-book, print on demand, or traditional publishing. No check…yet.

On the brink of actually writing the book, the Spirit still hadn’t told me how to get the book published, except that I should try everything–traditional methods and internet methods.

Now the experience I gained in playing with eBay appeared to have been part of the whole plan. (“All things work together for good for those who love the Lord,” Romans 8:28.) The Spirit did suggest that I should consider learning website design.

The Spirit warned me that I would be subject to scorn, misunderstanding, and prejudice because of this book–a scary thought. One chapter, called “Ministry by Monogamy” will be especially controversial because of the extent to which it challenges traditional Bible theology. But lots of other parts will be controversial, too, in a Shack sort of way. This leads me to the next rule of publishing.

Sixth rule:  controversy is good. The worst thing is for people to be indifferent about your message. (And remember that scripture about not being lukewarm in your testimony.) Check.

As I continued to work on the book, I kept hearing sermons and testimonies that fit really well with what I had to say. This encouraged me to continue. But I also heard of others’ reactions to some of these same testimonies that let me know that many will think I’ve lost my mind. The Spirit has told me that I should be prepared for the pain this work will bring me.

General rule of life: be careful what you ask for…you may get it. In response to this rule, let me just say I have wanted to become a published author for at least fifteen years. (But I wasn’t planning on any pain. Then again, nothing worth having or being comes free.) Check.

By the end of May, I had mailed a tentative outline to a few people I had asked to be reviewers. I was making progress and look forward to finishing by late June. In my email one day, I got an offer for an e-course called something like “Finish Your E-book in 72 Hours or Less.” Could I do it? Should I do it? Or would I be running ahead of the Lord? Stay tuned!

P.S. In case you’re an aspiring writer, here are my two favorite resources:

Earma Brown:  http://www.WriteToWin.org/

Ellen Violette:  http://www.TheEbookCoach.com/

(I am not receiving any form of remuneration from either of these authors.)

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PostHeaderIcon Writing Heavenly Father’s Day, Part 2–Making Sense of It All

I had pretty much finished transcribing my spiritual journal entries by April 2008. Next, the Spirit told me that, beside my spiritual journal, I was to consider using anything I had written over the last twenty years. This included the beginnings of a book I had dictated onto a micro-cassette in 1995, every sermon I had ever written (I was ordained in 1999), and miscellaneous other outlines and notes based on spiritual insight which I had written down but never used for anything.

I was also told to consider most of the non-fiction and religious books I had read in the last twenty years, which is a fairly large stack of books. Many of these I had been specifically led to read by the Spirit as part of my spiritual development. I began to appreciate the value of note cards. I did 4×6 note cards on everything and quickly had a stack of hundreds.

When I was about done with that, I starting wondering how to organize all that information. I struggled with how it all fit together. Where was the common thread? Usually an author knows what the basic theme is before she even begins. But I did not. It was like writing a book backwards. The only thing I could do was to rely on the Spirit to show me the way.

At one point I had index cards spread over most of my dining room table. I tried organizing my topics along the lines of ways God is like an earthly parent. Then I tried organizing things along the lines of “where much is given, much is expected.” But neither approach seemed quite right. I was putting together a jigsaw puzzle without benefit of the picture on the box, and doing it badly.

Then I remembered some notes I had written just a few months earlier, in February 2009. The Spirit woke me up in the middle of the night and began putting thoughts in my head. At the time, I assumed these thoughts were supposed to lead to my next sermon. I had gotten up and made notes, with lots of arrows and diagrams.

The next day I had written it all out like an outline. Six handwritten pages. This was way too much material to be a sermon. Not only that, it had nothing to do with the next sermon topic I had been assigned. I had just set the notes aside, not knowing what I was supposed to do with them.

Now, these notes ended up being the perfect outline for most of my book. It was as if someone had handed me the lid to the jigsaw puzzle box. Suddenly, I could see how all the pieces fit together.

This experience confirmed for me that I was following God’s plan. He had given information to me before I needed it. I was just a little slow in remembering and recognizing what I had. And what I had was a topic–discovering your personal ministry–and an outline.

Now that I knew what the book was about, I needed a title. Some of the internet articles I have read on getting published said you have to have a hook–a title to get people to pick your book off the shelf and look at it. One day as I was looking through my old sermons, I realized the theme of one I had written in 2005 would be the perfect hook I needed:  Heavenly Father’s Day.

Despite having the title and the topic, I still wasn’t ready to write. I had a new “burning” question:  what was the message?

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PostHeaderIcon Writing Heavenly Father’s Day, Part 1–Transcribing My Journals

After nine years in the convenience store business, my husband and I sold our store in mid-2008. About the same time that we were making the deal to sell, the Spirit impressed on me that I should start entering my spiritual journal into the computer. I was told that eventually I would write a book.

However, the Spirit told me not to worry at this point about how the book was to be published or what form it would take (physical book, e-book, or blog). I was further told not to worry about approach, theme, or title. The Spirit said I was to proceed one step at a time. Once I finished Step 1 (entering my six full 5×7 notebooks worth of journals), I would be given Step 2.

So basically, I was being asked to “step out in faith” in the writing of this book. I was reminded of the scripture that says we will be taught “precept upon precept…line upon line, here a little, there a little” (Isaiah 28:10). And this is indeed the way Heavenly Father’s Day came to be written.

Let me tell you–transcribing handwritten journal entries is not an exciting thing to do. It helped that I am a pretty decent typist, but it’s still grueling work. And I could only stand to do it for a few hours at a time.

Although I have to say it was interesting to go back and look at what my issues were twenty years ago. I just don’t understand people who wish they could go back and re-do some portion of their life. I personally am happy to be done with child care and discipline worries.

But it is also interesting to see how some things never change. I was always thinking about where my career was headed back then, and I’m still thinking about that now. Only the geography and the options have changed.

I worked on entering my journals in fits and starts. Months went by when I completely forgot about it and instead focused on trying to start an eBay business. After all, I wasn’t gainfully employed, so earning some cash selling my old junk on eBay seemed like a good plan. And, in fact, the Spirit encouraged me to try some sort of business on the internet.

In mid-February (2009), the Spirit told me to back off of my frantic selling on eBay and to return to my spiritual journal work. By early April, I had put eBay on a slow simmer and had turned my full attention to the Lord’s work. Just as I finished entering the journals (all six of them), my faith was rewarded, and I was told what to do next.

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PostHeaderIcon Heavenly Father’s Day – Discovering My Spiritual Gift

You were born with at least one unique spiritual gift. However, this gift may never become known to you unless you prepare to receive it. Sometimes you have to experiment to discover it. Sometimes someone else will point it out to you.

Here is the story of discovering my spiritual gift. It takes place years ago, when I was first learning to live by faith. This discovery would ultimately lead to writing the book Heavenly Father’s Day.

Read the rest of this entry »

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