For sure you will be well ahead of the curve if you pre-order this, because I haven’t finished writing it yet!!
It’s a Lent book, a short chapter to read each day from Ash Wednesday to Easter, with a passage(s) from the Bible and then a chunk from me.
It all started when I was asked to write a Lent devotional book, sat down to plan it, then had to face the reality that I find conventional devotional literature mind-bendingly tedious. Back to the drawing board. I reflected on how much more comfortably assimilated ideas are in a fictional format, and came from there to the idea of writing a series of encounters with Jesus in the here-and-now of the modern world, turning over in my hands some of the questions I bring to faith.
It’s fiction in that it is a journey of the imagination; there again it’s fact in that every day of my life I really do walk alongside the living Jesus. Well, I say I walk alongside Him, but some of our sorties involve Him grabbing me by the shoulder and demanding ‘Where the heck do you think you’re going?’ as I wander off into murky territory and shady paths.
Fiction is almost the opposite of made up: all good fiction is a carrier for truth and sharpens our focus on reality, and I hope this book does exactly that.
I’ll ask my editor a bit nearer the time if I can post one or two of the days for you to read – I guess you’ll be able to on the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ anyway. But that’s a way off yet – we haven’t even got the cover sorted!
However, the bottom line is that I have to have it all in by the end of this month for it to be put through the mill and out the other end in time for the late autumn – which in turn lets people have a chance to have seen it and get their mitts on it in time for Lent 2014. There are eleven more days in March, and I have eleven sections still to write! Most books have one idea and several tens of thousands of words to expound it. I realised once I’d embarked on this one that in proposing a Lent book with a different story and theme for each separate day, I had to come up with forty-seven ideas, not one, and write them in double-quick time too. I’d been poddling along writing it slowly and peacefully, waiting to see if I could get a contract – then it came through in February, with a deadline of the end of March, and rocket fuel had to be applied to the whole process!
So I am writing writing writing, and as always in these circumstances, am grateful for your prayers.
In the meantime, this is out (or will be any day now) in the UK:
Available in the US in a few weeks’ time (Julie Faraway, don't you buy one, I've popped one in the post to you from Amazon).
A variety of friends have test-driven the studies with their home groups, and are coming back with heartening stories of positive experiences. In particular I was pleased to hear that people who had previously lacked the confidence to lead a study group found this material gave them what they needed to make a successful and encouraging start. Hooray, hooray! What better result could I have hoped for?
I like the feel of the book physically too – it flops open nicely and is laid out very clearly – easy to find my way round the page at a glance. The design department at Monarch have done an excellent job there!
And I am really really pleased and proud that it has lovely commendations from Malcolm Duncan, and Gerard Kelly of the Bless Network - I so admire the work of both these men.
If your homegroups decide to have a go with this book, do drop by here and let us know how you get on!