I was fortunate enough to meet an outstanding woman, courtesy of the power of the Internet! Jocelyn Andersen is a writer, speaker and publisher. She is the author of "Redemption: Bible Prophecy Simplified" and "125 Years of Bible Version Debates: Why?" Jocelyn and her husband, Butch, are passionate about their mission and message. I got a chance to ask her a few questions regarding her upcoming book, "Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence”, and about her ministries & other activities.
Your next book, Woman Submit! Christians & Domestic Violence”, comes out this fall. How hard was it to write? Wow, talk about cutting right to the heart of the matter!
When I felt I finally had something relevant to say and got serious about writing the book, I began going through my journals and notes and found I had already written a rough draft of approximately ten chapters (which is how many chapters the finished book has).
Most of what went into the first draft had been written over a period of several years and was written while I was still living in the crucible. I would say that was the easiest part of the writing the book, as the hard part was what I was living through at the time.
The difficult part of writing the book came when I began editing my journal entries into what is now the finished book. I share in the acknowledgments section of the book that "The subject of domestic violence is not a subject I would normally choose to immerse myself in. God knows it is only by His grace that I was able to complete this work at all. I confess I set it down and allowed it to collect dust far too often while burying myself in other projects." It was an extremely emotionally charged project for me, while at the same time, I felt an incredible burden to speak up and speak up now.
What are your goals for this book? First of all, to save lives. Over 1000 women are beaten to death each year (in this country alone) by their husbands or male companions. I should be dead, but by the grace of God I am not.
I hope that by sharing my own personal experiences, insights, and research into the subject, I can impart a greater understanding, among the uninitiated, of the dark arena of domestic violence. And that it will serve to generate greater compassion for battered and abused women within the evangelical community--and that evangelical Christian women will more consistently be given life-saving counsel rather than the regurgitated, archaic, destructive platitudes they are constantly being fed today--even in these "modern times" we live in.
I guess you can tell that was not a neutral question for me. Even after writing a book, I still get emotional about the subject.
The genre of Christian fiction seems to be growing – would you agree? Yes, it seems to be, but I am not certain it's growing in exactly the right direction. I am happy to see that Christian Publishers have loosened up a bit and are allowing less preachy work to be published. However, to be fair, one of my favorite authors, John Aubrey Anderson, makes no effort at all not to be preachy, and the man writes absolutely riviting and believeable fiction.
My concern is that Christian authors and publishers are loosening up a bit too much. I saw an absolutely pointless nude scene in one of Frank Peretti's books. It was a very short scene, and he managed to redeem himself as a Christian writer by the end of the book, but, nevertheless, it really upset me. It was a great book, and Frank did not need to pull a cheap stunt like that in order to spice up his book. The editors did not need to allow it in order to generate future sales of his books. The man's fans literally chomp at the bits and foam at the mouth waiting for his next release. It seems that Christian publishers are trying to blend just a little too much, and I hope that is not the reason for the growth of the Christian Publishing industry.
On a more positive note, since I do book reveiws, I am on the mailing list of several Christian publishing houses and receive some really excellent fiction books to review, both preachy and non-preachy (my preference is non-preachy, because few authors can pull off the preachy while keeping it in a natural, real-life context). Authors I feel write excellent books are high-lighted at http://www.thehungryheartsbookreview.blogspot.com/ .
Are people seeking out these books just because they are a Christian or because they want a good, clean book? Probably a combination of both. I know I initially began shying away from secular fiction several years back when it became difficult to find a good clean book. I used to love those paperback romance novels, but I found my favorite authors incorporating practically pornographic love scenes into the books, and I would find myself skipping several pages just to avoid these and get back to the story part. if it wasn't a romance novel I was reading (I have always had very diverse reading tastes), the strong language was usually atrocious. And if the strong language and pornographic material wasn't prominent, I noticed the characters lived in a spiritual vacum that was just un-natural. It turned out most of my favorite authors were athiest/Darwinists/humanists or couldn't care less about God, and their views were naturally incorporated into the very fabric of their work. How could it not be? It all got too much for me to handle.
But I love to read, so what does a Christian gal do? Over time, I began seeking fiction written by Christian authors as I realized that an author's world view, romance writer or not, was going to come out in his or her writing.
Well, I don't read romance novels anymore (except Mary Lu Tyndall's--hers are delightful. The woman wrote about a born again pirate of all things. And pulled it off!), but I still love fiction. And I'm constantly looking for Christian authors who spin a good yarn. Thank God, a fairly steady stream of them keep arriving in my mailbox.
You publish an online magazine, "God's Amazing Love”. How did this get started? I started the ezine in order to spread encouragement through real life stories of God's Amazing Love. One of the catagories of stories published in the ezine is "Miracles Along the Way," and I have been able to publish some amazing testimonies. Another catagory is, "Real Men Love Jesus," where the guys get to tell their stories. I also highlight my favorite books and authors, both fiction and non-fiction. And my husband, Butch, writes a column entitled, "Faithful Notes," on his favorite subject--music.
Where can people find it? God's Amazing Love Ezine can be found online at http://www.godsamazinglove.net/
Your Hungry Hearts Ministries touches on some tough subjects, ones that many people, including Christians, don’t want to discuss. How has the response been to this ministry? I'm smiling. Mixed. Mostly positive. Some extemely negative. Never neutral. At the moment we are averaging over 9000 page hits a month on our website, while that in itself doesn't really tell us what the responses are, we receive a fairly steady stream of emails and testimonies from those whose lives we've been blessed to touch in profound ways. That encourages us to keep on keeping on and serves to remind us that this is not about us.
People are hurting. They need help. Those "tough subjects" need to be dealt with. Butch and I both know that's why we are still alive. I'd lot's rather be in Heaven. I've had a few really great opportunities to be there. God didn't see fit to let that happen. I was truly dissapointed. Butch is grateful Jesus pulled him out of hell. The focus of both of our lives has changed completely since 2003. http://hungryheartsministries.com/
Your huband, Butch, is involved in the ministry- Yes, Butch is very involved in the ministry. He's the man behind the scene. He handles all the audio aspects of Hungry Hearts Ministries. We have five internet radio stations--one http://www.sharecropperradio.com/ is a streaming station, so you hear it in real time. The others are actually webpages with audio.
Butch is my chief musician. He is a very talented musician and sound man, so he handles that part of our ministry when we minister either online, with the radio stations, or live somewhere such as in churches or street ministry. He is also my favorite preacher.
– does he assist you with your writing as well? Actually Butch and I are working on a fiction project together. The title is, Green Briar Lies. He has quite an imagination! Due to everything going on with "Woman Submit..." right now, GBL it has been sidelined for the moment--but only for the moment.
As far as my non-fiction writing goes, I could not do it without his support. The man is a rock. He assists in my writing by creating an incredibly stable, loving environment for me to be creative in.
He works and brings home the bacon. I write. Things are changing a little with "Woman Submit...," though, He will be very involved in the promotional aspect of "Woman Submit!..." In fact you will probably get a phone call or two from him. He has already decided he needs to talk with you. I told him to read your interview first.
One Way Café Press has obviously been a learning experience for you. What advice would you give to others considering a publishing company business? Yes, it has been an incredible learning experience, and I'm learning I still have a lot to learn.
My advice would be directed to writers who would like to start their own publishing company as that is the only experience I have so far.
Do it right.
The people you will be dealing with are professionals. They can smell amateurs a mile away. Do not be chintzy. Whether you are plublishing your own work or someone elses, do not be afraid to pay for professional services in order to make your work as good as any on the market. If it's worth writing, it's worth doing right.
I bit the bullet and paid a professional copy editor to go over "Woman Submit...." for me. The results blew me away. The $230 I paid her was money well spent. I paid a pretty penny for page layout and help with my cover as well. Book buyers can open your book and tell at a glance if it is professionally laid out or not. And you may not be able to tell a book by its cover, but don't kid yourself, you open a book for a first look, why? Because of its cover!
As far as the nuts and bolts of starting a publishing company go, I think I've recorded everything I did step by step on my Publish Yourself™ blog http://www.journalingthejourney.blogspot.com/ . I also have some resources on my Publish Yourself™ website at http://www.publishyourself.info/
I'll also repeat the great advice you give, Diane, that authors had better be prepared to promote their work in addition to just writing it.
I can only encourage anyone who is willing to work "40 hour days," and wants their own publishing company to do it. Butch and I are having an absolute blast.
You have so much going on – how do you keep up with it all? I don't know. We are constantly regrouping. That's not very helpful is it? The writing part was the easiest. Butch went to work every day and I wrote every day. That system has worked beautifully for us. I have written 4 books in two years (expanded versions of the others will be released by One Way Cafe Press after they get the same professional treatment "Woman Submit..." got). In the meantime, they can be downloaded and read on site or a print copy purchased at www.Lulu.com/jocelynandersen .
Two of them are offered free for download. The other one is downloadable for only $3.75. Don't tell anybody, but if you look at the book pre-view, I have included the entire book in the preview. I have a problem with not making ministry materials available to everyone.
Getting back to your question about how we do it all... one thing Butch and I pay close attention to is prioritizing. Even during some of our seemingly most disorganized times (I am not highly organized--wish I was! [Butch is better), we are able to keep a bead on what is most important.
Sometimes we feel like all we're accomplishing is just putting one foot in front of the other, but as long as each foot lands where it's supposed to, we know we are making progress.
Becoming more disciplined and organized is one of our high priority goals, but we are firm believers in Proverbs 3:6, that if we acknowledge God in all our ways, He will direct our paths. And that has proven to be so true in spite of our failings in the organizational area.
Thank you Jocelyn for your answers! (And the kind words about my interviewing skills - I will leave that to professionals, though!)
May God continue to bless you and your mission.