Book Update


I write on a MacBook Air, just like this guy.

Some authors have the luxury of holing away and writing full time. Fellow Edinan, the late Vince Flynn, went to a rich guy’s pool house every day and wrote for 8 uninterrupted hours (this was before wireless, and he’d jammed a screwdriver into his laptop’s ethernet port to fight the temptation of the internet).

I, however, am not such an author. Like most authors, I write in fits and starts between my several jobs, grading papers, coaching a baseball team (we won last night!), and other commitments. As such, I haven’t looked at the manuscript in a week. But today I revise chapters 3-5.

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10 Tips for Working with an Editor [Manuscript Monday]

This post is sponsored by Grammarly. I use Grammarly’s┬áplagiarism checker┬ábecause so many people have accused me of stealing my theology from Pope Francis.

A month ago today, I was in Chicago, meeting with my editor about my next book. I’ve known him professionally and as a friend for over a decade, but we’ve never worked together before, so I didn’t know quite what to expect. Over the course of a day, sitting at his kitchen table, we talked about everything from what I see as my role in the wider world to what should be my “voice” in this book to how the table of contents should flow.

As a result of our meeting, the table of contents is, in fact, completely different. I had written about 23,000 words of the manuscript prior to our meeting, so we also went over some passages, talking about my voice, my writing style, etc. All in all, it was a great meeting, and I’m fortunate to be working with him.

With a dozen books in print, I’ve worked with almost that many editors. I’ve also worked as an editor, both in my role at sparkhouse, and in a couple book projects. So, from my vantage point, here are my Top Ten Tips for Working with an Editor:

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Manuscript Mondays: Finding a Writing Rhythm

Mark Twain said, “Write what you know.” So, since I’m neck-deep in a book project, I’m going to start writing about that process on Mondays.

My next major book, on the atonement, is coming out in February…2015. That’s right, 2015. Seems like a longs way off, doesn’t it? It does to me, too.

I work best under deadline. A book I’m editing that is a tribute (aka, festschrift; aka liber amicorum) was due last Thursday. After putzing away at it here and there in the preceding months, I buckled down and worked on it night and day for the ten days prior to the deadline. And it got done — done well, I think.

There’s a certain kind of rush that comes when a deadline approaches. My creative adrenaline spikes. I become singularly focused on that project.

However, when the deadline is months away, there is no such adrenaline, no such focus. That’s especially true when the book manuscript is due over a year before the book will release, because I know that there’s lots and lots of time to edit the book, to fix mistakes, and to tighten up the prose.

So here are some things I do:

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Something’s Gotta Give

Today I started writing a new book. A big book: hard cover, 250 pages, 85,000 words, due out in February, 2015. You read that right: 2015.

Since I finished writing my dissertation in early 2011, I haven’t undertake a project of this scope. Instead, I’ve focused on blogging and short-form ebooks. I approach this new project with excitement and trepidation. I have downloaded Scrivener, which I’ve played around with in the past but never fully committed to. This is going to be a major undertaking with much research and widely cast nets, so I’m hoping that Scrivener will help me organize all of the sundry details.

I’ve also got to make some choices. Life is already full, and writing 85,000 words between now and the end of the year is daunting. I cannot do it if I don’t simplify my life. So something’s gotta give.

Of course, the family will suffer, if only because I will be mentally preoccupied with ideas and deadlines, but I hope they won’t suffer too much. I’m coaching Little League again this summer, and there will be soccer games to attend and weekends at the family cabin.

I will continue to blog, both because I absolutely love the literary form of the blog post and the immediate responses I receive, and because the publisher, of course, wants this blog to be vibrant and robust right up to the time the book releases.

I can’t quit my day job because, contrary to popular opinion, writing Christian non-fiction doesn’t pay all the bills.

Here’s what I have changed:

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