Birthing My Book: From Conception to Miscarriage

Finger  Lakes Country. An hour or two from Rochester.

On June 13, 2009, I was driving along the scenic shores of the Finger Lakes region of New York wondering what I was going to do with my life.  I was 45.  I had spent most of the last two decades serving as a pastor while battling bipolar disorder. At my best, I had time and energy left to enjoy family life with my wonderful wife and four beautiful children.  At my worst, I either laid under the covers in a dark bedroom or frantically pursued plans ill-conceived and left undone.  I looked out the window and prayed for vision.

Suddenly, it came to me. I would write a book about bipolar and the faith that either fuels us to distraction or saves us from self-destruction.  In less than 20 miles, I conceived of a collection of devotions, inspired by the Psalms and a title — from Sheol to the Highest Heavens: 101 Devotions for Persons with Bipolar (and those who love them).  By the time I pulled into the driveway, I had most of the introduction in mind (which has remained largely the same), and some thoughts on one devotion (which is now the “Epilogue”).

Over the course of the next six months, I poured through the Psalms and wrote 1-3 devotions a day.  Some days as I felt like working more, I would re-write earlier devotions.  By early 2010, I had a manuscript I just knew would be embraced by countless publishers.  I bought a copy of the Christian Writer’s Market Guide, found 15 publishers I felt were appropriate and sent out quickly composed queries.

I waited.  And waited.  And waited.

Out of the 15 queries I sent out, I received a total of one response – a two sentence form e-mail.

It was as if I had a miscarriage.

I stuffed the manuscript in my chest-of-drawers under a pile of junk mail, unfolded underwear and mis-matched socks.

I didn’t write another word for over a year.

The Bible says, “Without vision, people perish.”  I was dying on the vine.  My mind was consumed with grief which actually felt a lot like nothingness.  Each day, I sat in my recliner and stared at the ceiling.  At night, I slept fitfully, listening to BBC radio through my pillow speaker — a reminder at least that life went on — somewhere.

Meanwhile, my wife was fed up.  Understandably.  Here we were, living on a fruitful homestead, financially secure, with four adorable children and nothing to do but delight in the Lord and love one another.  What was wrong with me?

I tried many things – counseling, gardening, volunteering, working with men from the church.  Something was still not right.  We searched our minds for an answer. Was I over-medicated? Did my overdose damage my brain? Or the E.C.T.? Was it my illness? Or just me?

Only God knew.  And for some reason, God was not giving us the answer.

(image above from Jenny Russo)

Reaching Out with “Delight in Disorder”

When I first conceived writing a spiritual memoir about my faith journey battling bipolar disorder, I had no idea where it would lead.  It took almost four years for the seed to really germinate.  In March of this year, after the suicide of Matthew Warren, I sensed a greater urgency that God was calling me to share the hope of Christ with my brothers and sisters who wrestle with mental illness and foster greater compassion among my brothers and sisters in the faith community towards those of us with “disordered minds.”

When God gives direction, He also paves the way for us to follow.  God guided me to Leanne Sype who first helped shape my disordered devotions into a marvelous house of meditations.  From March – July, Leanne helped me craft a second and third draft.  Once we felt we had a good working draft, Leanne helped me write a query and synopsis to see if a conventional publisher might pick us up. August and September was a “pruning season,” as God snipped away at branches that would not bear fruit.

In late September, after much thought and prayer, we came to the conviction that God was leading us toward self-publication and that the best path would be to recruit a team of gifted specialists to see that the final product was more “delightful” than “disordered.”  Lyn came on as a prayer captain. Nicole was brought in to design the cover and produce the video. Kevin has served as music consultant.

Friday night, I unleashed my Facebook Author Page, which already has 104 “likes.”

Sunday night, we unveiled our mission campaign on indiegogo – Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission which, as of this writing, has attracted 149 views, has 10 followers, and 5 funders for a total of $300 (towards a goal the $2,000 goal).

More than the numbers, however, God is reaching out through the mission campaign to share hope with those battling mental illness and promote compassion within the faith community.  Here are two testimonies that have already been shared –

 I just spent the morning getting to know a gal who is in the trenches of a heavy spiritual battle at this very moment. She’s fresh out of drug rehabilitation, looking at incarceration from past choices that she’s trying to clear up, and going to counseling with her non-medicated bipolar husband, all while FULLY knowing the Lord and clinging desperately to his promises and his will for her life… I was actually able to mention Delight in Disorder to her and share a little bit about the book and the mission. I showed her just the video on the campaign page and she started to cry. It’s already touching lives, my dear.

I appreciate what you’re doing with this ministry you’ve started. We have a son who has battled depression on and off since late elementary and sadly the church has sometimes been the last place we wanted to talk about it!  Keep up the good work—the church needs your message as much as the “disordered”!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

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For more information on our mission campaign, click on –

Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission

Sharing Delight in Disorder

Delight

Over four years in the making, my spiritual memoir – Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission has finally grown legs and is moving forward thanks in large part to an incredible team of young, creative, faithful artists I’m dubbing “Team Delight.”

Team Delight is comprised of….

Leanne came on board as editor back in March and has help shape a disordered collection of meditations into a delightful house of prayer.  She is now directing our indiegogo campaign to raise money for publishing costs and 100 advance copies.

Lyn has been a faithful reader and a strong supporter for many months.  She has recently become a prayer partner.  She will serve as the “prayer captain” for our Delight in Disorder mission.

Matthew  is a young Australian poet whose words both inspire and console.  He has contributed seven of his poems to Delight in Disorder.

Nicole was recommended by Leanne as a graphic artist who could design our book cover.  Working diligently and faithfully, she has conceived and produced a visual representation of Delight in Disorder that is riveting.  We have now contracted with her to produce a promotional video for our book.

David Zucker, a mental health advocate with University Presbyterian Church in Seattle has agreed to write the foreword.

Kevin – This past weekend, I had the pleasure of staying with Kevin and his lovely wife Megan.  We talked about Delight in Disorder.  On the drive home, I was inspired to contact Kevin and he has agreed to serve as musical consultant for our promotional video.  Kevin is also doing a beta-reading of my autobiographical prelude.

This is the current “starting six” for Team Delight.  There are others actively contributing to the mission, including –

– Pastor Andy, Gary G., Gary M are doing a “theological beta-reading” and serving as spiritual advisers.

Jen is doing a beta-reading.

I have also received offers to help from –

Katie of White Fence Media.

Iona of A Whispered Wind.

Chris from The Musings of C.p. Singleton42′s mind.

Rara of rarasaur

I have been tremendously blessed by this group of people.  I would encourage you to check out their websites and blogs.  If you pray, please pray for each of them.  I may be delusional (in fact, I have paperwork to prove it), but I also know there are very real “powers and principalities” at work preventing hope from reaching those struggling with mental illness.  Please pray for our mission – to share delight with those wrestling with disorder.

(image above from Hannah Zapf)

Pursuing Self-Publishing with Delight in Disorder

After extensive prayer and exploration over the publication of my spiritual memoir, Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission, I am currently feeling led to explore self-publishing.  I have visited the websites of four companies and spoken to representatives from two of them.  Right now, “Lulu.com” seems to offer the best terms and service for me to accomplish the mission of bridging the distance between faith and mental illness.

To read more, click on —

Pursuing Self-Publishing with Delight in Disorder” 

Self-Publishing: The Seven Best Kinds Of Books For Self-Publishing Authors

Finding a Partner in Publishing

Yesterday, I spoke with Bill Carmichael, co-owner of Deep River Books, who expressed interest in reviewing my spiritual memoir Delight in Disorder: Ministry, Madness, Mission.  After a week of rejections from agents and traditional publishers, and disheartening contacts from questionable self-publishers, Mr. Carmichael was a breath of fresh air.

To continue reading, click on title below —

A Partner in Publishing?”

#YOLO #Adventure well, shall we?

Looking for a Literary Agent: 5 Agents Who Represent Christian Authors

As I sent out book queries for my spiritual memoir to Intervarsity and Wm. B. Eerdmans, I contemplated my next move.  I had consulted The Christian Writer’s Market Guide and found that my next top choices for publishers require that I be represented by an agent.  I’m not yet convinced this is the right path, but that a good next step would be to query agents I thought might represent my book well.

To read more, click on the title below —

“Looking for a Literary Agent: 5 Agents Who Represent Christian Authors”

Books

“Books” from Karen Martinez in Things!!!

I Submit to You… a Productive Day

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Above is the fruit of over four years of labor – the guts of Delight in Disorder: Meditations from a Bipolar Mind, packaged in an attractive black binder, with a query letter and author’s card attached to the front.  Early tomorrow morning, I will put it in the mail to Jon Pott, Editor-in-Chief at Eerdmans Publishing.

To read more, simply click on the title below…

“I Submit to You… a Productive Day”

Prayer Request 9:45-9:50 a.m. (EST)

As soon as I finish this post, I will be going to Alumni Hall at Ball State University to attend day two of the Midwest Writer’s Workshop.

From 9:45-9:50 a.m. (EST), I will be doing an “agent pitch” with Amanda Lueke from MacGregor Literary.  If you should read this by then, I would appreciate your prayers at this time — that I have peace to represent my book well and that God’s will be done.

Thanks,  Tony

Prayer

“Prayer” from Anna Vanover in Our Wedding

Read a Good Story; Support a Good Cause

Midlife Collage is currently publishing a piece I wrote called “In the Beginning: My First Time (as a storyteller).” It will be posted (along with four other stories) on their site through noon (Pacific Time, U.S.A.) on Sunday, July 7.  If my story gets the most votes, I receive $50 and potentially could receive $100.  I would really appreciate it if you would click on the link (below), read my story, and vote for it (if you feel so led).  To whet your appetite, here is the opening of an early version of the story –

Last night, I attended The Bloomington Storytelling Project’s event “In the Beginning” which was held at The Bishop – a very friendly neighborhood bar on South Walnut St. (near the courthouse).  I arrived early.  You see, there is a superstitious technique I learned from some Indiana high school football players who, the night before and away game would visit the opponent’s stadium and urinate on the four corners of the field (thus “claiming the territory”).  Though I kept my pee to the men’s urinal, I did go four times before I shared my story and I really think it helped.

Note: The story is now up.  The direct link is here: “In the Beginning: My First Time (as a storyteller)”.  “Like” it to vote. My chances to win are greatly enhanced if you also leave a comment.  If you are truly inspired you can read the other stories as well, then go to the Closing Argument page and explain why my story is the best.  If you do this, I’ll probably be your virtual friend for life.

As the Chicago alderman said, “Vote early, and often.”

 

Vote

“Vote” from Becky W. in Black and White