Friday, September 12, 2008

These Books Are Made For Walking

On any given fall day, there are three types of walkers one might find circuiting the park. The first are the strollers – these people are in no rush and have no greater purpose in mind but to saunter along filling their lungs with the cool afternoon air while they enjoy the beautiful sights of the changing leaves.

The second are the exer-walkers – easily identifiable by their steady pace, these folks take pleasure in their surroundings and their companions while never forgetting their overarching goal of getting the legs moving and the blood pumping.

The final group are the power walkers – these are the funky ducks-on-speed-looking people who don’t really care where they’re at as long as they’re keeping up their 5.5 mph.

If you transfer this to the book world, the first group is made up of those who are primarily out for a good story – a wild ride, a steamy romance, a well crafted who-dun-it. The third are the literary equivalent of Sergeant Friday’s, “Just the facts, ma’am!”

The second group, however, is a blend of the two, and this is where you’ll find most successful fiction written. In these books are great stories that have the added benefit of educating, challenging, and changing. The reader will experience new cultures and new situations. They will go to the front lines and behind the scenes.

Many people have asked Jason and me why we write our books. Unashamedly, we answer that our primary reason is to tell an exciting, frightening, and, often times, humorous story. But that’s not where our vision ends. Along the way, we want our readers to confront truth – this is who the real Jesus is, this is what true sacrifice means, this is why we don’t grieve like others grieve, this is why we have such hope. There is no hidden agenda – we’ll come right out and tell you our motivation. We write fiction with purpose, and our hope is that our readers are changed as a result of reading our books.

So, to the strollers we say, “Pick up the pace a bit. Enjoy your environment, but stretch yourself while you’re at it.” To the power walkers we sing (along with Simon and Garfunkel), “ ‘Slow down, you move too fast.’ There’s nothing wrong with taking the time to laugh, gasp, or even shed a tear.” And to all we say, “Grab a book, kick your feet up, take a ride, learn something, and, most of all, have fun along the way!”

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Tale of One Cover

Being a fairly laid-back guy, it’s not often that my jaw drops. That’s why this two-drop weekend was so unusual for me. The second instance came when Dante Rosario snagged that bullet from Jake Delhomme with no time left on the clock putting the Carolina Panthers over the top of the San Diego Chargers. Wow… nothing else to say, just Wow.

However, my first instance of plummeting mandible occurred when I turned on Fox & Friends earlier Sunday morning. Former NFL tight end Mark Bavaro was being interviewed about a book he has just written, Rough and Tumble. Football + Fiction? That’s worth delaying a shower for.

The jaw droppage happened when I saw the cover of the book. It was the exact cover of Blown Coverage, Jason Elam's
and my upcoming January 2009 release. I’m not talking similar or bearing a very close likeness. Minus the writing, it was identical! Not believing my eyes, I quickly confirmed the bad news on Amazon. Un-stinkin’-believable!

Not content to let the news ruin just my morning at church, I immediately shot off an email to our publisher. Soon, I received the answer, “Not great news. We’ll get our heads together first thing on Monday.” When Monday rolled around, Tyndale House decided to pull the cover. However, they still will have to send out the already-printed advanced reader copies, but with stickers saying "Not Final Cover". Good quick fix – three cheers for Tyndale.

Not really knowing the publishing industry, I shot off a griping email to my agent. His reply? No big deal – “Covers get changed all the time.” Yeah, I suppose. But, dang, I really loved that cover.

Don’t get me wrong, I wish Bavaro nothing but the best on his book. In fact, I went out and picked it up this morning, and am looking forward to the read. He’s got great endorsements and a fantastic cover – a really fantastic cover; a really cool fantastic makes-you-want-to-pick-the-book-up-and-read-what’s-inside cover – our cover. But as the Stones have oft reminded us, “You can’t always get what you want.” Okay, Mick, I hear you. And I’ll just have to trust that you’re right, and, instead of having the cover we wanted, we just might find that we got what we needed.