With the release of my latest collaborative book a couple of days away, people ask me, "Hey Mark, when are you going to write another of your own books?" by which they mean, a book where my name doesn't come after the word "with". It is a fair question, one I've asked myself many times over the past year. The problem I run into is basically this: I don't have any good ideas that should grow into books. That doesn't mean I don't have any possible books floating around in my head. I have this one about a dachshund who takes over the world, or at least the US of A, and when you hear the story you will say to yourself, yep, that's plausible. Maybe I'll write that someday. Maybe not. Perhaps I'll save it and tell it to my grandkids someday in the distant future since I'm not sure it has any real potential to grow into anything larger.
Yet when it comes to ideas burning inside me that I simply must write, the well is dry. Honestly, I don't see it as a big deal. Out of my 12 solo titles, three are what I refer to as life message books. (That is, books that I HAD to write.) Of those three, two are actually the same book. That leaves just two books as my core books, the books for which I became a writer, books that I pray stay in print for a very long time, books that I want everyone I can reach to read. Anyone who knows me can name the titles. They are "How Can A Good God Let Bad Things Happen?" (aka, Out of the Whirlwind), and "Living with Less, the upside of downsizing your life." God gave me the ministry of writing for these two books.
Perhaps God will give me another life message book at some point in the future. I don't know. Until then, I find collaborative writing to be a natural extension of both my calling as a writer and the pastoral gifts God gave me. The collab books with which I work are not the basic celebrity tell alls. Instead, I primarily write books that tell of finding great hope in the midst of tragedy, of seeing God at work when it appears He has forgotten us. From Clay and Renee Crosse's book, "I Surrender All," to "Mistaken Identity" and on to the book on which I will start this week, "The Sacred Acre, the Ed Thomas Story," I find myself working on this theme time and time again. One of my favorites, and I believe one of the most powerful stories I have yet told, is Jerry Yang's "All In," which comes out next July. It weaves together the theme of God's faithfulness in suffering along with the idea that true success in life is measured by the lives we touch.
For the eight or nine people who have read both "How Can a Good God..." and "Living with Less" you should now see a connection. As a collaborative writer, most of the stories I have the privilege of telling echo the themes found in my two life message books. I don't see this as a coincidence. When will I write another of my own books? people ask. The way I see it, I never stopped.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Yesterday afternoon the UPS guy delivered a box of 20 copies of "One Step at a Time." I love opening my new books for the first time. After so much time of staring at the words on my computer screen, they take on a whole new quality when I see them in book form. Josh appeared on Fox and Friends today (Sept. 10) to talk about the book. He did a great job. Check out the video below.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Seeing a new book's cover for the first time is a little like seeing a new baby on a sonogram or ultrasound. Triumph Books, the publisher for my book with Josh Bleill, just released the cover. The book itself comes out next month. When I step back I am more than a little blown away by this timetable. Josh and I sat down to work on the book for the first time on June 3. Forty-five days later we had a final manuscript. For those outside the world of collaborative writers, that's really, really fast. I love the cover. The story is incredible. I can't wait for the book to come out. By the way, you can order the book at http://www.triumphbooks.com/products/one_step_at_a_time/1572436184.php?page_id=340
Thursday, August 5, 2010
Wednesday, August 4, 2010
My next book, One Step at a Time: A Young Marine's Story of Courage, Hope and a New Life in the NFL, comes out on September 19. That may not strike you as significant, but it does the other writers out there. Most publishers prefer a one year turn around between the time I turn in a manuscript and its release. To put this in perspective, I wrote two books last year, both of which will not come out until 2011. I hope I get a chance to enjoy the release of "One Step at a Time," because I am also counting down the days until I can formally announce my next project. All I can say at this time is it is unbelievable. Many of you have already watched a preview of the project without even knowing it. Check back here in a day or two. I should have a huge announcement.
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
The deadline for my book with Josh Bleill is bearing down, so what do I do? I post something here. That's pretty much normal behavior during deadlines, especially as I retool my brain to move from chapter 11 which I just finished, to chapter 12 which I hope to knock out in three hours or less. That would be a record, by the way. I am very excited about this book, even more so knowing it comes out in two months. That's crazy fast. You can order the book now at Amazon.com (One Step at a Time: A Young Marine's Story of Courage, Hope and a New Life in the NFL). I'm thinking about ordering a copy so I can find out how it ends. In the meantime, I appreciate your prayers as I finish this mad dash toward an insanely tight deadline. Pray that the book will glorify God above all else. I think it could be a life changer for readers. That's my goal for all my books.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Here's more video that gives some of the background on my next book. The book, "One Step at a Time" is available for pre-order through Amazon.com.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
I am very excited about "One Step at a Time", the new book I am writing with Josh Bleill. Check out more below. The deadline is tight, unbelievably tight, so tight I shouldn't go to bed at night and should write 24/7. Watch for the book's release in September. More soon.
Friday, April 23, 2010
no capital letters. limited punctuation. numrous tpos. and i don't care, even though i am a professional writer. i punched this post out typing one handed, left handed, which isn't easy for a righty like me. my right arm sits in a sling, its home for the next six weeks. the pain in the arm is better than the side effects from the anti inflammatory drug that made me more than a little nuts this week. at least it is healing pain, post op pain, pain i gladly accept because i know the stitches and anchors and all the other refinements the surgeon made to my shoulder will soon knit together and i will be good as new, or at least as new as a 48 year old can be. the happy end is in sight. until then it is left handed typing, typoss and all.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
A few weeks ago I moved out of my rented office space and back into the small home office in which I did some of my best work. "Out of the Whirlwind" (now known as "How Can A Good God Let Bad Things Happen?"), "Living With Less," and everything in between came out of this small space. I don't mind the size. All I need is a keyboard and a window, and my home office has plenty of both.
There is, however, one downsize to the new/ old arrangement, one that slipped my mind during my three year exile to the north side of Highway 40. Six years ago I bought my wife the best birthday present I've ever given her before or since: a miniature dachshund puppy. Back when I first brought him home he spent most days perched on my lap while I pecked out words on my keyboard. His presence didn't create any problems when he weighed three pounds and didn't quite fill my two hands put together. Today he is by no means a large dog, even by dachshund standards, weighing in at a hefty eleven pounds and stretching out a foot and half, maybe a little more from the tip of his nose to the end of his tail. He has, however, reclaimed his daily spot atop my lap, with his his head perched atop my right arm. (This gives him the best view out the window so that he can make sure the neighbor's cats don't get away with anything.) The downward pressure of the family dog on my right arm makes typing a bit tricky even in the best of days. Throw my soon-to-be surgically repaired right shoulder into the mix, and the dog's act has become less than cute and charming.
Unfortunately for me, office politics being what they are, the dog usually gets what he wants. Like a nine year old whose life will end if she doesn't get an iPhone for her birthday, my dog doesn't like to take "no" for an answer. Thankfully the new/ old office has more substantial doors than its previous incarnation. The little dictator may insist on his prime spot with the view out the window, but there's not a lot he can do when he's locked out on the other side. Still, I close the doors with a sense of unease. I full well know that I will be in serious trouble if he ever develops opposable thumbs.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
This is my third post today, yet I felt it necessary. I really needed to explain why, after signing off as a blogger, I suddenly jumped back in with both feet. I have no explanation other than to say that I haven't written a book since October, and the longer I go without writing, the more I feel the life draining out of me. So blogging it is until a new book idea comes along to capture all of my attention. Hopefully this makes sense to the two or three people who read this blog.
Two months ago I hurt my shoulder while fighting a fire. No, my house wasn't burning down. I am a volunteer fire fighter, which is why I was inside a smoke filled house, SCBA on my back, a pike pole in my hands. That latter was a mistake. By the time my airpack ran out of air, I could hardly life my right arm. Doctor's visits followed, and weeks of physical therapy. When my arm still hurt every time I tried to lift anything larger than a carton of orange juice, I told the insurance company I need to see a shoulder specialist. Three weeks later I finally got in to see the doctor. He prescribed an MRI, which only took the insurance company another two weeks to approve. The arm doesn't hurt nearly as bad as it did two weeks ago, but then again, I haven't done much with it. I subscribe to the Archie Campbell school of medical thought (only those of you who grew up watching Hee Haw understand this reference): If it hurts when I do this or that, I don't do this or that.
So now, after all this waiting, I finally get to have a look inside my arm to see how severe of a labrial tear I have. Why we couldn't have done all of this when the injury first happened is beyond me. Hopefully the snapshot of the interior of my right shoulder will help bring all of this to a satisfying conclusion. I would really like to use my right arm again.
I often wonder why lessons from God have to be repeated time after time. Usually this reflection comes in a moment of self pity, when the old "woe is me I thought we were passed this" kicks into high gear. In the midst of one such moment I suddenly realized that these are not lessons to be learned like endless repetition of the times tables in grade school, but skills to be used every moment of every day. The moments of testing are instead an opportunity for me to use the skills, skills which prepare me for more difficult days which lay ahead, the running with horses God promised Jeremiah, rather than mere speed bumps which lay between me and a life of spiritual ease. The latter is an illusion, a lie from the pit of hell itself, which tempts me to question God's wisdom, rather than applauding His grace. Patience is a virtue, a wise man once said. Perhaps. Yet I find that the more I ask God for patience, the more I realize that it is He who must exercise this most illusive virtue with me. Why are we so slow to learn, and so quick to forget?
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I've failed as a blogger. I don't know how else to assess my performance. My blog entries come so rarely, and even then I don't have much to say. I mean, come one, who really cares about my experiences with rental car agencies or my trip to the Super Bowl? So this is probably my last blog entry. Why keep trying? I am a failure of a blogger. The shame of it all is almost more than I can bear, or not. After all, I'm a writer, not a blogger. I never kept a journal, either, and that fact didn't keep me from getting published.